Rachel Cohen

Impressionism

Sargent

Sargent Notes

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I am writing this in a notebook that has on the cover of it a part of a Sargent water color.  It's of a house, gray and brown mingled in the wash, with a roof speckled and dashed with white.  An ordinary small mountain house, to which a stone wall in the shape of an S rises. Watercolor is a medium in which it is easy to lose the structures of things, but here everything has the shape that is proper to it because it does not wish to be otherwise. They are what they are, the [...] read more

Feeling the Air, I

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I’ve had a few conversations recently with people who are not that interested in painting. They say, reasonably, that in museums they are overwhelmed by the profusion, or that only really contemporary painting is strange enough to compel their attention, or that in front of paintings long and loudly admired their eyes feel veiled by expectations and history.   It feels odd to say in the face of these large and genuine concerns that when I am at a museum I am often merely after a small, fine sensation.  The movement of light and air.  That’s all.  I know [...] read more

Open to the Public

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Last Friday at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum I had a notion of looking for her Sargents, to keep company with the sense of the artist developing in my mind because of the watercolor show at the MFA.  On entering the Gardner I must have half-noticed a small poster with a Venetian-looking Sargent on it, but this didn’t entirely register. I went first to the new wing to look at the Sophie Calle show Last Seen, about the great theft of pictures from the Gardner in 1990.   This show I liked very much.  Simple, a photograph of a person [...] read more

Watercolor: Translucence and Resolution

Friday, October 11, 2013

On Tuesday the baby and I saw the John Singer Sargent watercolors now up at the MFA.  The baby saw much to please her.  In addition to the particularly nice low cushioned gray benches, she liked best the room labeled “watercraft,” and in particular this image of boats, also my favorite: We seemed both drawn to it simultaneously, though how much each might have anticipated the other’s preference is hard to determine.  She could see immediately that it was boats and then called out the colors – first, her favorite, “orange!” and then, another color she particularly likes, [...] read more