November 19th, 2007

little review

Poem for Monday

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After lunch on Sunday, Daniel went to a friend's house and Adam went with a Hebrew school group to the International Spy Museum downtown, so apaulled and I went to the National Gallery of Art, unencumbered by those family members who might have tried to rush us. Our major point of interest was the wonderful J.M.W. Turner retrospective, including a great many paintings on loan from the Tate that we didn't manage to see there and that haven't been exhibited here. The exhibit also has a very good half-hour documentary film narrated by Jeremy Irons. Turner spent a lot of time painting three things I love: light-saturated landscapes (including Tintern Abbey and the Thames), Nelson-era ships (including very famous images of Victory and Temeraire), and big natural scenes that influenced both the Impressionists and the Hudson River School. It's easy to see his influence on people like Cole and Church, who are also well-represented at the National Gallery, though the painting of Turner's with which I am most familiar is one of his Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons -- a scene he painted many times from several different perspectives in both watercolor and oil (there's a whole room of them in this exhibit) -- the one on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which I used to go visit when I was a student at Penn and the museum was free on Sunday mornings.

We also went to see The Art of the American Snapshot, a funny and touching exhibit of the casual photo as it turned to family trips, pets and naughty things after Kodak made it possible for anyone with a few bucks to buy a camera and become a photographer. This is a subject near and dear to my heart, though I came late to the snapshot -- I only ever took a handful of travel pictures and things like rainbows and rare animals before the digital camera very nearly erased the expense and put the entire process in my own hands. And we went to see Let the World In, an exhibit of prints by Robert Rauschenberg (photogravure, digital imaging, prints on textiles, lithographs incorporating newspaper headlines and published news photos), and The Baroque Woodcut, much of which was about the collaboration between painters and block cutters to achieve the results the painters wanted in reproducing their images. Gustave Dore is the only engraver I'm very familiar with, and the techniques in his era were very different from these much earlier ones, so this was all new to me. (The Rubens prints are really extraordinary, not because they're the finest examples of chiaroscuro but because even his Holy Family members look rosy, plump and well-fed as they flee for their lives.)

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The Redskins scored on their opening drive and managed to blow the game to the Cowboys anyway. I hate losing to Dallas. And who can feel good about New England when they're winning by such insane margins? Watched Brotherhood, feel like one storyline has jumped a couple of weeks while another has jumped only a couple of days, and I must admit that my biggest thrill moment was the preview just beforehand for the second season of The Tudors which may be totally ahistorical crack but is really attractive totally ahistorical crack with Peter O'Toole as the Pope! Collapse )