Keep Art Alive!

A friend recently posted this to her Facebook wall:

Icarus by Henri Matisse (1947)
Icarus by Henri Matisse (1947)

The image caught my attention, but what really grabbed me was the caption: Keep Art Alive.

This is a game to keep art alive. Click “like” and I will assign an artist to you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know their work. Just google the artist, choose the image you like best and post it on your wall with this message.

What started as a single post on one friend’s wall soon morphed into a patchwork of posts.  Friends and friends-of-friends being assigned random artists and in turn posting pictures of artwork that spoke to them.  Most of the works I’d seen before, but a few pieces were new, and it was fascinating to see the pattern of preference.  A little like stepping into a friend’s house for the first time and discovering they have a *thing* for [insert whatever]; there’s a sort of “aha!” moment.  Of course I had to play along too!

I was assigned the artist Camille Pissarro.  I remembered he was an French Impressionist, but couldn’t recall much else.  A quick search showed he was a prolific painter, specializing in landscapes and simple portraiture.  I glossed through page after page of paintings, but nothing captured me.  Until I saw this:

Rue de la Citadelle, Pontoise by Camille Pissarro (1873)
Rue de la Citadelle, Pontoise by Camille Pissarro (1873)

Unlike the bulk of Pissarro’s idealized landscapes, this is a simple scene.  People going about their business in wintertime.  The snow muffles footsteps, voices punctuate the quiet.  The men talk, laughing boisterously at an inside joke, their tones melodic as they bid the passing woman a good day.  Rather than distancing the viewer with its perfection, this piece invites us in.  By the very positioning of the figures – relaxed, in the distance, the viewer is projected into the scene.  The colors are bold against the backdrop of white.  There’s nothing cloying or idealized here.  It’s real in every sense of the word, beautiful, and timeless.

Imagine my delight when one of my best friends posted a comment beneath the painting.  “Ooh that’s literally next door to where we live!! I must investigate if that view still exists.”

Two days later she posted this photograph:

Rue de la Citadelle à Pontoise

WOW.  Talk about keeping art alive!

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