Rachel Cohen

Paint, paint, paint

Paint paint paint

El Greco, View of Toledo, ca. 1599-1600, Metropolitan Museum of Art, all detail photos Rachel Cohen.

On Monday, I went to the Art Institute of Chicago for the first time in six months. It was quiet; everyone had a mask. There were people with devices to check you in electronically and you were informed by text when there was enough space in the one exhibition that is drawing any kind of crowd. The atmosphere was reserved, cautious.

But the paintings.

El Greco, St. Louis King of France, and a page, Louvre Museum

El Greco, Fray Hortensio Félix Paravicino, 1609, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The paintings came pouring and leaping off the walls. The paintings were full of news and observations. The paintings had just left the Louvre and the Prado, and had come out of private homes for the first time in decades, had had the chance to be quiet together in their home in Chicago. They were busy conversing with one another. In the photos I took, and I took a great many, they spoke of humanity, struggle.

El Greco, Portrait of Antonio de Covarrubias y Leyva, about 1600, Louvre Museum

Vincent Van Gogh, Self-Portrait, 1887, Art Institute of Chicago

And of reflection.

El Greco, View of Toledo, ca. 1599-1600, Metropolitan Museum of Art, detail photo Rachel Cohen

Paul Cézanne, The Bay of Marseilles, Seen from L'Estaque, c. 1885, Art Institute of Chicago

Claude Lorrain, View of Delphi With a Procession, 1673, Art Institute of Chicago

Claude Monet, Vétheuil, 1901, Art Institue of Chicago

But mostly they returned to one subject, one of infinite interest and variation:

Paul Cézanne, Still Life, on display at the Art Institute of Chicago but not on their website

paint,

Louise Moillon, Still Life with a Basket of Fruit and a Bunch of Asparagus, 1630, Art Institute of Chicago

Louise Moillon, Still Life with a Basket of Fruit and a Bunch of Asparagus, 1630, Art Institute of Chicago

paint,

El Greco, St. Louis King of France, and a page, Louvre Museum

paint.

Monet, The Water Lily Pond, 1917-1920, Private Collection

Monet, The Water Lily Pond, 1917-1920, Private Collection

Monet, Water Lily Pond, 1917/1919, Art Institute of Chicago

El Greco, View of Toledo, ca. 1599-1600, Metropolitan Museum of Art, detail photo Rachel Cohen.

At the museum, it was delirious and quiet.

Morning Search

Palma Il Giovane St Lawrence Giving the Wealth to the Poor San Giacomo dell039Orio Venice

Palma Il Giovane, St. Lawrence Giving the Wealth to the Poor, San Giacomo dell'Orio, Venice

This morning, the urge to draft. Paged through some photos from the summer. A blurred and distorted picture, from inside a church in Venice.

Had I seen this painting? By the other photos, it must have been from San Giacomo dell’Orio, across from the apartment where we stayed. But I could not recall it. So beautiful, though, and familiar as if through other paintings. The colors and tones like Veronese, mauves and golds. I had taken a picture of the diagram the church provides of its riches. There were two Veroneses, able to find pictures on-line, no, not those.

I went to the church several times, like a small museum, so close, took S with me once. I went especially for the Lotto, which I loved and was thinking about. But this other painting, so striking to me now, but I can’t remember why I noticed it.

The child with its hand out, pointing, indicating. Another child I have looked at often, in El Greco’s The Burial of the Count Orgaz. And the face of the young man in richly embroidered robe.

Consulting the church card again, I see there are a great many Palma il Giovanes, and I try searching that way. It comes up. St. Lawrence Giving the Wealth to the Poor.

Can see so much of what El Greco admired – seems he must have seen this painting, completed between 1581 and 1582. But no, he arrived in Spain in 1577, so it is just a shared development, both Palma Il Giovane and El Greco using what they had learned from Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese. But the verticality. The sense of those higher up gesturing downward.

The white ruffs around the faces of the children, and their somber attention.