Sunday, July 12, 2020

California Beauty Contest --- Day 9/90


Walk: Around
Distance: 4 miles, Yoga Stretch


Granville Redmond, Malibu Coast, Spring, @1910,  oil on canvas

Richard Diebenkorn, Cityscape #1, 1963, 60 1/4x 50 1/2", oil on canvas
Which painting do you prefer?  

One of Ciwt's favorite art critics recently wrote of the painting on the bottom "There may be no more beautiful painting of California than this 1963 work by Richard Diebenkorn."*  And, Wow!, that is saying a lot.

Ciwt can certainly see critic's point.  San Francisco native Diebenkorn is one of her favorite artists, Cityscape #1 lives right here at SFMOMA and is a painting she knows well and likes very much.  But all time most beautiful?  

Ciwt's mind goes to Granville Redmond. His paintings would be exceptionally strong candidates for most beautiful Caifornia images. 

Unlike Diebenkorn who was a Bay Area native, Redmond was born in Philadelphia but relocated with his family to San Jose at a very young age.  He was diagnosed as deaf at age three, but this hearing impairment did not stand in the way of his development and career as an artist. An early deaf instructor who gave young  Redmond courses in painting, drawing and pantomime was extremely important in this development and Redmond eventually enrolled at the California School of Design in San Francisco where he excelled. 

He was well liked and befriended by many of his peer artists, including Gottardo Piazzoni and later Charlie Chaplin, both of whom learned sign language in order to make communication with Redmond easier.  Chaplin was such a champion of Redmond that he included him in several of his silent films as well as collecting and promoting his art.

Like Diebenkorn, Redmond eventually settled in Los Angeles with his wife, Carrie Ann Jean, also deaf, and their three children. Again like Diebenkorn, landscape and California were Redmond's true artistic loves  (Cityscape #1 is essentially a landscape).   But for Redmond it was impressionism and gorgeous poppy fields in broad valleys and gently rising California mountain peaks that called to him.

Granville Redmond (1871-1935), Field of Poppies, oil on canvas


After and before Redmond's and Diebenkorn's  there are the paintings by William Keith, Thomas Cole, even Hockney, Thiebaud... The list of talented artists, traditional and modern, who have fixed their eye and brush on California's vast and complex beauty goes on and on.  So it follows there are many entrants to the Most Beautiful Painting of California Contest.


Saturday, July 11, 2020

What We Notice During SIP Walks --- Day 9/89

Walk: No, Housework
Distance: 0, Yoga, Pedal

Issei Garden























Pretty little rock garden on the way to Japantown.  It honors the first generation of Japanese immigrants who came to San Francisco in the late 1800's, stayed and made it their home.

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Maine Thing --- Day 9/88

Walk: Hood
Distance:  Just 1.5 miles (but arms swinging!), Yoga


Certain American artists live in Ciwt's exalted realm, their works so excellent and reviews so extensive that she shys away from saying anything about them.  But today images of two of them, the writer E.B. White and the painter, Winslow Homer, unexpectedly arrived in Ciwt's email, and this this has prompted her to say a few words. 

Probably she needn't worry about taking them down from their pedestals. Neither of these iconic artists likely gave a hoot whether they were on anyone's pedestal.  Homer devoted numerous paintings to man's tiny, transient, fragile place within the timeless force of nature. And White wonderfully (as always) expressed his thoughts on individual grandeur: "In every queen there a touch of floozy." 

Ciwt can safely say they both chose to live their last years in Maine. And both were originally 'from away,' meaning New York City at least at the beginning of his career in Homer's case.  Of Maine,  White famously wrote “I would rather feel bad in Maine, than feel good anywhere else,” which goes far in capturing White's dry humor and Maine 'soul."

It is anyone's guess what Winslow Homer (1836-1910) said about Maine - or anything personal for that matter.  He craved solitude and was notoriously private, denying commentary even to his biographer.  Prouts Neck, Maine offered him that privacy and silence and appears to be the place that brought out his truest genius.  Already thought by many to be the greatest American artist of the nineteenth century, his paintings took on a new intensity when he moved there late in life.  In Maine he began his deep concentration on the vast, rugged, violent power of the sea.  And these emotional, virtuoso painterly responses to nature are the works - of all his magnificent output - that command the most respect today.

Winslow Homer, Northeaster, 1895, reworked 1901, 34 1/2 x 50", oil on canvas


Elwyn Brooks (E.B.) White  (1899-1985)is the creator of Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, The Elements of Style and This is New York among many other - often award winning - essays and books. To Ciwt much of his  writing is so exquisite and touching that she can nearly cry just thinking about it.  So she's just going to let him speak for himself today and refer you to the writings of his stepson and fellow New Yorker writer, Roger Angell, for biographical and anecdotal reading. 

EB White Typing


“By comparison with other less hectic days, the city is uncomfortable and inconvenient; but New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience- if they did they would live elsewhere.”
― E B White, Here Is New York

“A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive.”
― E.B. White, Here Is New York

“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people - people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book."

[Letters of Note; Troy (MI, USA) Public Library, 1971]”
― E.B. White

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

Life’s meaning has always eluded me and I guess it always will. But I love it just the same.”

"All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world."   *To this Ciwt would like to add This is how she feels about CIWT.


Thursday, July 9, 2020

Swing Those Arms --- Day 9/87

Walk: Lab Corp, T. Joe's, Mollie Stone's
Distance: 3.6, Yoga


Ciwt was telling a friend the other day that, even though she is officially walking and doing yoga as long and often as she did before sheltering made other activities more limited, something felt off.

"Body in motion.  We aren't getting as much of that.  Even when not officially exercising, there are errands in and out of stores, filling your car at the station, just generally using nervous energy and being active." he said.  Then he told her about a doctor in his youth who would almost trot out into the waiting room to get him and then nearly sprint down the hall with arms swinging into his office. At some point her friend asked his doctor about this, and the doctor answered that you can keep more fit and energized simply by swinging your arms as you walk around the house, or in his case, office.

That was many years ago, but, sure enough, the benefits of arms in motion still hold true today.  Turns out arm swinging can increase calorie burning, help distribute physical effort between upper body and legs, tone the arms a bit and generally create and use more energy.

And, actually, there is an optimal way to do this swinging.  The walking pros recommend bending elbows with arms close to body and moving your arms forward/straight out rather than across your body.  It is important not to let the arms come higher than the breastbone.

Sadly, this means that the bear above is moving all wrong.  Oh, dear, Ciwt hates to inform him; he looks so happy and self-satisfied.  So she says, don't worry about form, just worry about remembering to move those arms as you walk around your shelter.


There's a website named "Sit and Be Fit" which Ciwt may have to check out one of these sedentary days. (click link to go there)

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Legacy of Care Continues --- Day 9/86

Walk: Dentist!
Distance: 4.6 miles, Yoga

Gustave Caillebotte, Portrait de Jean Daurelle, en pied.
Donated to Musee d'Orsay, 2019

Gustave Caillebotte died of pulmonary congestion while working in his garden at Petit-Gennevilliers in 1894 at age 45. He is interred at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. 

He had had no need for money or agents to promote his work and sold very few of his artworks during his lifetime.  His motives behind these few sales are unknown.  And the treasure trove of 68 masterpieces in the legacy he left to the French government did not include any by Caillebotte himself. Also, his remaining brother, Martial, retained the remaining artworks by Gustave in the family.  So, it is understandable that Caillebotte became far better known after his death for his collection of paintings by his Impressionist friends than for his own work which was largely forgotten..

Then somewhere around 1950 his descendents began to offer some of his works for sale, and the art world took particular notice in 1964 when the Art Institute of Chicage acquired Paris Street, Rainy Day.  Now the American art market woke up. By the 1970's  his work had been reassessed and exhibited for the first time in nearly 80 years.

But even then, Gustave's descendents have been slow to let go of his art.  Perhaps like him they have little need for the proceeds plus time is certainly on their side as his reputation continues to grow.  Some relatives insist that the only reason the family let go of Paris Street, Rainly Day is that no one had the necessary wall space to display the enormous work.

To Ciwt there is a certain charm in hearing about what has become of Caillebotte's works over the years. There often seems to be a certain care about how his work is passed on; money doesn't seem to be the entire point. For instance, a major work (but not from his most marvelous, early period), Chemin Montant, fetched $22 million at auction at Christie's just over a year ago.  An enormous amount of money yes, but it was sold specifically 'to benefit a charitable foundation." 

And, again very recently, five little-known works which belonged to Caillebotte's butler, Jean Daurelle, were put on view at the Musee d'Orsay.  They were a remarkable gift made by Daurelle's great granddaugher. The works had been passed down to her through her family and could have been sold for large sums. But she refused all offers by hopeful buyers and donated them to the Musee which was thrilled and touched. 

This was right up Gustave's alley, and Ciwt likes to think he would have been pleased and proud.

Gustave Caillebotte, Chemin Montant, 1881, oil on canvas
Sold at auction to benefit a charitable foundation, 27 February 2019.  Fetched $22,000,000







Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Much More Then A Patron --- Day 9/85

Walk: No
Distance: Yoga

Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)


So today Ciwt is wondering where the whole Impressionist and post-Impressionist movements would be without Gustave Caillebotte.

Because the submissions of many of the group of artists who came to be associated with Impressionism were routinely rejected by the Academie's all important annual Salon de Paris they began to organize their own exhibitions.  The first of these, the Salon des Refuses in 1863, was sponsored by Napoleon III, but when the artists petitioned to have another of these salons they were rejected again and again.  So, in 1873, in frustration and desperation, several of them founded a Society to exhibit their artworks independently.

But establishing a formal name and intention was quite a different matter from financing their exhibitions and realizing money on sales.  Their names included Monet, Renoir, Sisley and others, and most of them were living on the edge of poverty.  It is not impossible to assume that many of them - hence the Impressionist movement - might have failed if it had not been for Caillebotte who funded several of their exhibitions and, now famously, purchased many of their works which form the cornerstone of the Musee d'Orsay collection of masterpieces from that period.

Probably because he had inherited a fortune at age 26 and never had to live off his art sales, Caillebotte, arguably one of the most important Impressionists, was the least well known until relatively recently.  (More on making a name in art in another CIWT).  As his name is coming to the fore, a charismatic, energetic, multi-talented man is being revealed.

For one thing, he was a serious, dedicated artist who painted several of the world's most important masterpieces.  Maybe you've read CIWT Day 9/83 or perhaps you've seen posters or been to the d'Orsay and viewed the actual and magnificent The Floor Scrapers.

Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, 1875, 6'4" x 4'9"

Then there is his brother, Rene, looking out of the window of the family home in Paris.


Young Man at His Window, 1875, 46"x32", oil on canvas











































And, if you've been to the Chicago Institute of Art, you've certainly seen its other (besides George Seurat's  La Grande Jatte) most popular Impressionist painting:


Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877, ca 6.9' x 9'

In addition to  being a licensed (but never practicing) lawyer, dedicated art patron, collector, and passionate painter, Caillebotte used his wealth to fund a variety of hobbies for which he was equally passionate.  These included stamp collecting (his collection is now in the British Museum), orchid horticulture, yacht building (he was a studied naval engineer), even textile design.  As if that isn't enough, Caillebotte's garden at his Petit Gennevilliers estate on the Seine was a strong influence on Monet's famous garden.  Caillebotten would sail downstream to Giverny and the two artist-gardeners would enjoy innumerable hours sharing thoughts on their mutual loves.










Monday, July 6, 2020

No d'Orsay? --- Day 9/84


Walk:  Hood/Presidio
Distance:  3 miles walk/lope

One of many Impressionist and post-Impressionist galleries at the Musee d'Orsay

It could be argued there would be no Musee d'Orsay without Gustave Caillebotte.  Or that the museum would not attract as many visitors.  It had 3.6 million in 2019, many of whom came for the sole purpose of viewing the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world.  And most of those masterpieces were bequested by Caillebotte in his will as a gift to the Government of France.

This incredible bequest was accepted only relunctantly by the State.  In fact they refused the paintings at first.  Why?  Well, the 68(!) paintings in his collection were by Caillebotte's friends and acquaintances whom he liked, admired and patronized.  Their names included Monet (they were gardening buddies), Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Seurat, the list goes on.  Virtually all either Impressionists or Post-Impressionists which was France's problem with the collection.  In 1894, at the time of Caillebotte's early death at age 45 and will, those two art forms were still considered minor, possibly a passing fad, by the powers that be in the French art world. The French state was actually quite embarrassed by the gift and reluctant to devote valuable museum exhibition space to it. 

Finally, three years later, they accepted the bequest.  By that time, they had culled through it, and deemed only 40 acceptable.  (The rest were refused and either retained or sold by the family).  Finally the Caillebotte Room at the Luxembourg Palace opened to the public in 1897, the first exhibition of Impressionist paintings ever to be displayed in a French Museum.

The rest of course is history.  Much to the dismay of the French government who made an attempt to reclaim the other 28 works in 1928.  The government was rebutted by Caillebotte's heirs and the works remain in private - or non-Musee d'Orsay museum - collections to this day.  The original paintings from Caillebotte's legacy form the core of the Musee d'Orsay's renowned Impressionist collection.  Heureusement! (ie, Luckily)


Sunday, July 5, 2020

What Work Looks Like --- Day 9/83

Walk: Presidio
Distance: 2.5 miles, Housework (whew)

Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, 1875, 6'4" x 4'9"
Well, Ciwt didn't work quite this hard cleaning her place today.  But it felt this way at times because she doesn't have her housework skills down.

Viewing the famous and greatly respected The Floor Scrapers, it is easy to see how Caillebotte gained his reputation as one of the great realist artists of the 19th century.

The Floor Scrapers is known for its early depiction of the urban working class at work.  Until this painting, nearly all pictures of men and women at work were country scenes of farm workers and peasants (often idealized or standing for a particular political message). Caillebotte has no such message about his subjects here, or, if he does, he avoids the temptation to contain it in his painting.  Instead he paints masterfully in a neutral, nearly documentary style focusing on the workers' actions, tools, muscular bodies and the soft lighting.  Perhaps his neutrality is one of the reasons the The Floor Scrapers continues to be beloved and respected by viewers at all levels of society.

More to come on Monsieur Gustave Caillebotte....