One Piece at a Time: A fresh take on CaillebotteJuly 27th, 2012 |
Go to an art museum, pick a work, stand before it for a long time. Tell us what you see. TCD’s One Piece at a Time series began with that thought in the summer of 2010. TCD senior editor Tom Strini handled the One-Piece duties then and in 2011. This summer, we have a variation. In the winter and spring, Strini worked with a class of graduate students in art at UWM. They did the One Piece drill at the Milwaukee Art Museum, wrote draft essays, then survived a writer’s boot camp with Strini. We’re publishing the results, one piece at a time.
Boating on the Yerres, by French artist Gustave Caillebotte, quietly dominates the gallery in which it hangs. The painting exudes both a quiet peace and the echo of thousand ripples on the surface of the river.
The three men boat down the river at different rhythms as their paddles touch the surface of the water. Each man wears a white, long-sleeve shirt, which reflects the blue of the river. Each wears a hat. The man in the lead boat faces forward; the other two look down. On the land beyond the boaters, the grasses of the riverbank glow green and rich with summer. The river and the brush echo back and forth, the rich tones a vibrato on the composition. It seems to be mid afternoon. The sky, barely blue with drifts of white clouds across it, juxtaposes the lush and saturated leaves of the trees lining the riverbank and forest in the distance. Each man seems to be deep in thought and a part of the river, boat and paddle.
While the painting is rich in color and its sentiment is peaceful, it is also meticulously planned with precise perspective. The paint is thick and full, yet specific. A strong diagonal cuts through the center of the painting where water meets land. The trees form a grid, and the reflections of the trees wobble in the horizontal ripples in the water. The color is mostly cool, with hints of orange on the boats and through the grasses on the riverbank, causing a bouncing gestalt throughout the piece. Boating on the Yerres, of the Impressionist era, is both luscious and precise. The gesture of the water and the men gliding along is clear; the water and the air, heavy in the heart of summer, flow from the painting.
Previously on the summer of 2012 One Piece at a Time Series: Joe Grennier on Warhol’s Brillo Box; Eric Roman Beining on Torso of a Male Athlete; Aneesha Baldeosingh on Jules Olitski’s Heat Resistance.