Jules Breton’s The End of the Work Day hangs on a largely unremarkable wall in the Beaux Arts gallery of the Brooklyn Museum. Surrounded by portraits of dour looking widowers and blurry landscapes of English industrial towns, it could be easily overlooked. As was the fashion of the time, the piece celebrates the working poor post-French Revolution in a work that is also noticeably free of embellishment. It carries a warmth, quietude and deep historical context that might not buy it much clout in a collection, but it forced me take pause.
For years, all of my youth really, I gravitated towards the Impressionist wing in any collection. I liked imagining a connection to the spirited, emotional view of the world that the paintings represented and that I supposed the painters must have felt during their creation. I remember begrudgingly humoring my father a few minutes in the New American Wing at the Met, before I could move on to the more “real, adventurous” art.
So what happened? Each time I’m in a museum now I find myself lingering longer and longer in the Classical or Renaissance rooms. I’m compelled by the beauty in the absolute realism of a David painting far more than the supposed liberty found in a Monet. I imagine the countless hours spent working and reworking a canvas and somehow it seems more “real” and perhaps even more “adventurous” than a work done quickly en pleine air. It’s not that I no longer find Impressionist art beautiful, but it seems that, to my eye, the classical pieces have caught up.
I’m unsure whether the Impressionist wing (or what I believed it stood for) means less to me now, or if works of exacting detail mean more for some reason, but I asked my father what he thought and he laughed.
He said, “It means you’re growing up.”
A few more days
A final Hi meeting
The local neighborhood bar has a quiet time between six and nine. It is a place that specializes in coffee, beer and seasonal menus. There is just enough of each for a satisfying snack and effective buzz. After the time when the laptop lids close and before the social gatherings start -- there is a sort of twilight*. Often this time is a fugitive ground rife with creative inspiration and meditative work -- of the kind that results in personal reward.*twilight may refer to civil, nautical or astronomical variety depending on your social or terrestrial condition
A man positions his mouse on the edge of his browser window. He clicks, holds and drags the viewport first left then right. The content of a video game promo micro site responds and adapts to the available space. To the man, this is more delightful than the game itself.
A man laboriously moves his piano down three levels onto the subway platform. Classic vocals and strided chords -- he played so well I swore he was blind. Oblivious to the heat on that August stage, he was most in touch with his audience -- whom he elevated with his music.
A woman should do exactly as she pleases no matter what a man may think.
As the Dalai Lama once said, "It is a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room."
"No one understands me," she said. Her grandmother was silent for a minute. It seemed she was searching for an answer in the star speckled sky. "But no one understands anyone in this world, darling. We are all unique. It is what gives us a sense of wonder."