Rachel Cohen

Impressionism

Pissarro

Toward Spring

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In The Times this morning, an item suggesting that blossoming in the New York City parks will be unusually overlapping this season.  I remember this from certain springs.  In general it would be so carefully painted in Central Park – first the yellow forsythia, then delicate whites and rose of cherry and dogwood, then the heavier magnolias.  But that occasionally these would run together.  The effects could be beautiful, but sometimes I remember thinking that the palettes jarred, and that I preferred the slow procession, each tree gravely taking its turn to step forward. Here, though, we long [...] read more

Snow

Saturday, February 15, 2014

* At this time last year, in the days when my father was dying, it snowed and snowed.   From the hospital windows, it had its beauty.  The hallway near the elevators had windows that looked down on to a sort of large courtyard, not rustic, but still made precise by the snow. People crossed and you would see dark footprints.  These would then be covered.  The footprints and their being covered, traces of particular steps and shoes, then again white -- the tiny brevity of each passing figure, of the length of time in which the marks [...] read more

Passages: Pissarro

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Camille Pissarro, theorist and mentor of the Impressionist movement, was known for giving sound advice.  Here are some of his thoughts as later recollected by the painter Louis Le Bail (in Rewald, The History of Impressionism ).  They’re in the order that Le Bail wrote them down in, but I’ve broken them into territories, and set them to some iphone details I took of the last Pissarro I looked at, Pontoise, the Road to Gisors in Winter , 1873, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston: Look for the kind of nature that suits your temperament.   [...] read more

On Photography II

Saturday, October 5, 2013

[This is the second installment of visual notes on this Pissarro, documented by iphone.] Stretch of cultivated field down to earth: Shape of path as it curves back: Shape of hill crest, cypressed, below sky: Step back to look at whole again: Dark paint, just dashed on, group of trees: Really dark, low dark hole, yellow grass across lower right corner: Look again at dark paint just dashed on of upper tree: Once having looked at these two dark areas, upper tree, lower hole, the whole right side of the picture has beautiful [...] read more

On Photography I

Saturday, October 5, 2013

After years of scorning people who come to museums and take pictures – souvenir-hunters! they don’t even look at the paintings! – on Tuesday I found myself in the Impressionist rooms at the Met zealously photographing details with my iphone held up in front of the canvases.  I had two impulses, or justifications: it seemed expedient – I was in New York for a day only, had a mere hour with the pictures – this was a way to take notes.  And at the same time, or even before the thought of expediency occurred to me, I also knew [...] read more