Henri Rousseau (French, 1844-1910). War: The Ride of Discord (La Guerre: La chevauchée de la Discorde), 1894. Oil on Canvas. 1.14 x 1.95 m. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.

Some day I am going to write a novel based on this painting.

(This is another one that I saw at the Musée d’Orsay’s travelling post-impressionism exhibition at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, California.)

“La guerre ; elle passe effrayante laissant partout le désespoir, les pleurs, la ruine.”

Starry Night Over the Rhône

Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890). Starry Night Over the Rhône (La nuit étoilée), 1888. Oil on canvas. 0.73 x 0.92 m. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.

As a teenager, Van Gogh was my gateway into the world of art, and he remains my favorite painter. This particular painting quickly became one of my favorite paintings by my favorite painter. I think my need to champion the underdog and embrace the-lesser-known made me champion this work over the other super-famous, neck-tie-and-coffee-mug-adorning, but nonetheless completely awesome Starry Night that Van Gogh painted a year later.

Last October, we visited my wife’s awesome aunt who lives in the Oakland Bay area, and she took us to the De Young Museum in San Francisco to see the exhibition Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay. As we entered the gallery where the Van Goghs were displayed, lo, here was one of my most longtime favorite paintings, something I thought I would have travel to Europe someday to see. I didn’t even know I was going to get to see it on my little California trip, so that made the experience even better. In my opinion, seeing a Van Gogh in person totally lives up to the hype, and is unlike anything else, even the paintings of other great artists. Still, I couldn’t resist trying in vain to capture and commoditize the magic, so I bought a small print of the painting and it is propped up on a bookshelf in our living room right now, where I look at it all the time.

The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum

Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890). The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, 1888. Oil on canvas. 80.7 × 65.3 cm. Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands.


The Starry Night

Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890). The Starry Night, 1889. Oil on canvas. 73.7 x 92.1 cm. Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.

It’s becoming clear to me that I take a great liking to paintings with stars, and it all probably comes from Van Gogh, so I might as well get his three great star-infused paintings out of the way right now.

Young Astronomer

Brian Kershisnik (American, 1962-). Young Astronomer, 2009.  Oil on canvas, 66 x 84 in.

Here’s a painting that pretty much depicts where my mind is at right now.  I saw this painting a year or two ago at one of Kershisnik’s shows at Dave Ericson Fine Art, an art gallery in an old house in downtown Salt Lake City.  I’ve been to these shows two or three times, and every time there seems to be one or two impressively large paintings that serve as the centerpiece of the show.  This was one of those paintings, and it has entered my imagination and been amongst my most favorite pieces ever since.  I assume someone purchased this painting at the show; at any rate I have no idea where it now resides.  Maybe this should go without saying, as it is true of most art, but this small digital image does little justice to the almost mural-sized original oil painting.  I should also mention that the last time I wrote about Brian Kershisnik on this website a few years ago it led to me meeting my wife, so his art is pretty special to our family.

You can see much more of Brian Kershisnik’s art and learn more about him at his website.

Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray

Brooklyn Museum: Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray (Jésus monte seul sur une montagne pour prier)

Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray (Jésus monte seul sur une montagne pour prier)

from The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ (La Vie de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ)

James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray (Jésus monte seul sur une montagne pour prier), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 11 3/8 x 6 1/4 in. (28.9 x 15.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.137

Last night my father-in-law took us down to the BYU Museum of Art for the final night of an exhibition of paintings by James Tissot.  I was unfamiliar with Tissot and did not know what to expect other than a reference to religious art, but I’m always willing to go to museums and galleries and look at art, so I gladly went.  We descended to a downstairs gallery filled with over one hundred small, meticulous watercolors that took the viewer through the life of Christ, from Annunciation to Resurrection.  They were all from Tissot’s massive undertaking The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on loan from the Brooklyn Museum.  There was a particularly reverent, church-like atmosphere to the gallery; Tissot was so interested in depicting events directly from scripture that looking at each painting and reading the captions became almost like reading the scriptural accounts.  As I embark on teaching a church primary class on the New Testament to 10-11 year old boys this year, it was a nice way to overview these sacred events.

Tissot was apparently a society painter in London and then Paris, until at some point while painting in a church he had a mystical, revelatory experience in which he saw Christ in vision. As a result he became a reformed Catholic and he devoted his artistic work to painting the life of Christ and the events of the New Testament.  He traveled extensively in the Middle East to study  and sketch the cities, landscapes, and people.  His goal was to make more culturally, geographically, and scripturally accurate representations of the subject of Jesus Christ than many artists had undertaken up to that point.  He described his artistic process as something that bordered on revelation, but nevertheless each picture is studied and meticulous, with incredible attention to craft and detail.  The painting above is just one of over 350 images of the New Testament that Tissot rendered, and I particularly liked it.  These paintings are all held by the Brooklyn Museum, and digital images and information can be found in their archives.

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This post commences a new feature here, the Froz-T-Freez Art Gallery, in which I will simply post pieces of art I like.  In some instances, as in this post, I will also take the opportunity to speak ignorantly about art or whatever else I want for a paragraph or two.