Millet and Modern Art

Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí is the full title for the new exhibit at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Produced in partnership with the Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam, it celebrates the art and influence of French painter Jean-François Millet (1814–1875). This show opens to the general public on Sunday and runs until May. As these special art shows at the Saint Louis Art Museum go, this one was certainly one of the best that I’ve seen. It draws works from many different sources that comprise many different artists.

Millet is known as the father of Modern art and in his day was very famous. He attracted many disciples, who imitated his ideas. Now-a-days, their fame has come to eclipse that of Millet. No more ardent a disciple can be found than that of Vincent Van Gogh. This exhibit has multiple side-by-side examples of Millet’s original painting and a copy that Van Gogh made thirty years later. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery and Van Gogh certainly wasn’t alone in this practice. Similar imitation is shown with many of the other artists too.

Pictured is a painting by Van Gogh called Starry Night. In this show it is displayed along side a somewhat similar looking painting by Millet, with an identical title. Unfortunately, my photo of the Millet painting did not turn out that well, so I cannot give you a side-by-side comparison. Like his fame, many of Millet’s artworks have not worn so well. Coincidently, Van Gogh has a much more famous version of Starry Night that hangs in New York and was painted the year after this one was made. The pictured Starry Night reminded Anne of our photos of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine. 

This morning was the coldest day of the winter. It was only four degrees when I got up. There was no school scheduled today, because otherwise it would have been cancelled. It was so cold… How cold was it? It was so cold that the water company workers took the day off. It was too cold for them to dig holes. 

School’s Out

The Country School, Winslow Homer, 1871

Yesterday, Anne completed her long term substitute teaching gig, in the first grade that she had begun in November and today, the woman who had been on maternity leave returned to school. Also today, Anne swung by the classroom one more time, to present the baby quilt that she had made for her. Word gets around about these baby quilts and I think that expecting teachers pick Anne, in part because of them. This trip seemed like it would be problematic, in that the water company had blocked both ends of the block, but she managed to evade their blockade. They were digging Toyota traps to stop her. I labored to get all of our water use out of the way for the day, since they have worked their way up the street to our water lateral and the possibility of a water shutoff seemed quite likely. Anne plans on taking some well deserved time off now, before resuming her regular day-to-day substitute teaching duties sometime in the future. In other news, we got our Federal income tax refund back. We still have to pay on the state. It’s not much, but that can wait until April 15th.

Storm Personified

Thunder God, Katsushika Hokusai, 1847

Last Sunday, we attended a potluck dinner party. We were one of six couples there. Seated around the table were a cadre from our army of bike buddies. All of us still are or were members of the Kaldi’s Bike MS charity team. We talked cycling, travel and then I touched the third rail, politics. The demographics of this discussion was pretty homogeneous. We were all white, upper middle class, heterogenous, empty nest boomers and most importantly, Democrats. So, although I did touch the third rail of politics, there really wasn’t that much danger of causing that many sparks.

As of last Sunday, we had just endured a pretty bad week for the Democrats, what with a less than satisfactory conclusion to the impeachment trial, the unholy spectacle of the State of the Union address and the debacle of the Iowa Caucus. We were united in opposition to Trump, so most of the discussion had to do with a comparison of the Democratic candidates vis-à-vie their chances of beating him. The metric for choosing seemed to be for someone who could win.

Neither of the two frontrunners, Bernie and Buttigieg, seemed to garner much enthusiasm. Bernie was judged too liberal to win, likewise Warren. Buttigieg being gay was viewed as an impediment to victory. Biden, already wounded by then, seemed to have been most people’s candidate, but his show of weakness seems to have made people turn away from him. Everyone wanted a winner. There was some talk of Klobuchar, but since she hadn’t shown herself by then, it was only lukewarm at best. Most of the enthusiasm seemed to be reserved for Bloomberg. This gave me the chance to recite a New Yorker cartoon caption, “Look up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s the good billionaire.”

The Missouri presidential primary isn’t until the week after Super Tuesday, so a lot of water will have flowed under the bridge by then. However, Anne and one of the couples will have to absentee vote before then. Anne will be working as an election official on primary day and this other couple are traveling to India. They are planning on delaying as long as possible. There is nothing worse than voting early for a candidate, who then drops out before the primary. Bottom line, everyone is looking for that person who will win in November and the positions that they espouse are only important in how they effect their electability.