I was in Boston delivering some baby furniture to my nephew. There is a sizeable branch of my family tree located in Boston, and they are all great fun. We enjoyed the hell out of it – well, maybe not the drive up, which involved navigating around every European’s favorite American city, NYC – and took advantage of the visit to hit the extraordinary Museum of Fine Arts for a too-short visit.
I love the MFA. It’s got a stunning collection, and its “new” wing (which is probably over 5 years old by now) must have doubled the size of the collection viewing space while preserving the façade of the former structure. I’ve been lucky enough to see collections of French impressionist paintings at many museums, but the MFA has a strong Monet collection, and we checked it out despite our jaded “we’ve seen a ton of this already” attitude. Well, it was, uh, impressive, and well worth the time. Here’s a non-typical Monet (the kimono painting) that captivated me:
Good stuff, right? Yeah, we all like the Parliament buildings, Giverney and water lilies, but that is one amazing painting that shows the expansiveness of Monet’s creativity. After Monet, we slid on over to the American collection because they have a great collection of John Singer Sargent’s paintings. JSS was American by birth, but like Whistler, lived most of his life in Europe. Hey, we’ll take him because his work is remarkable. I particularly like this painting, which loses something on the internet because of scale issues. Trust me, if you’re in Boston and you can peel yourself away from that city’s other treasures, take the time to check this out (called The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit):
Here’s a cool fact about that painting. The actual vases that were painted in the picture were obtained by the MFA, and are on display right next to the painting. It’s cool – sort of like going to Cezanne’s studio in Aix and seeing all of the props that he used in his paintings. It’s a glimpse of the real world that the artists lived in and memorialized in their work, but with an opportunity to study the objects themselves. And hey, if you are in Aix, a truly wonderful place, be sure to hike up past Cezanne’s studio to the little pocket park where he used to sit with his easel and paints and reproduce Mont Sainte Victoire, the prominent mountain dominating that part of Provence. It’s great.
Back in Boston, we moved on to the contemporary collection, which like most contemporary collections is hit-and-miss. Here are a couple of “hits” for me:
Both of these are from John Cederquist, an American artist living in Orange County, California. Kimono-style wood sculptures decorated with Japanese-style wave visuals. Readers of BRP know that I’m an ocean hound and just love the sea, particularly waves. I just read about Garrett McNamara conquering the largest surfable wave on the planet in Navarre, Portugal, and the story is just harrowing. I love the ocean, and have enormous respect for its power and beauty. Cederquist must share that love.
And his kimonos are also cool to me because I’m pretty partial to Japan. That country is just amazing, with its unique mix of the ultra-modern and the very traditional, and it sports, without doubt, the best toilets on Earth – trust me, they are almost worth going all the way across the Pacific to experience them. But they’ll leave you with the very real sense that we’re living kind of a primitive existence in the U.S. Back to the kimonos, the combination of ocean and Japan was just irresistible for me, and I captured these photos to share with you in the hope that you also went “wow, those are great” or something probably more articulate (I didn’t exactly set the bar high).
The contemporary collection also had this photo:
How BRP is that? A gold covered tongue. Not the legendary silver tongue, but GOLD, baby, GOLD. And drool, too! I thought it was visually stunning, and have no idea what it is designed to represent. Nor was I smart enough to capture the photographer who took the picture – but if you are in Boston, go find out and let me know so that I can properly give attribution.
Here’s the final topic for this post:
That sculpture is outside the MFA’s Fenway entrance, and it looks to me like a large baby’s head. I thought, hmmm, a big head, how appropriate for BRP. Yeah, I don’t think that I have a big head. I think of myself as I truly am: salt of the earth, a man of the people, a humble dude. Why are you laughing? Did I say something funny? Well, anyway, it’s a big baby’s head and I thought it might be appropriate for showing you on BRP.
And with that, I’m back to my all-American middle class life. You know, typical man-of-the-people stuff like sitting on the couch watching pro wrestling on TV and eating a bag of Cheetos or maybe a monster bowl of ice cream. Did you know that I’m a huge ice cream guy? Oh baby, that’s a post for another day.
Rock on, my good friends.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.