Friday, July 31, 2020

Nuts and Bolts Days --- Days 9/108 & 109

Walk:  1. No, preparing donation 2. Goodwill
Distance: 1. Yoga, Pedal  2. 2 miles, Yoga

            From Ciwt's Home 
To New Home Through Goodwill

Goodbye, Stuff.  Hope someone is thrilled to find you at Goodwill.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Homescapes --- Day 9/107

Walk: Hood Errands
Distance: 3 miles, Yoga

Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid, 1657-1658, oil on canvas

We are cleared locally for domestic help so Ciwt - after nearly five monthsis - is happily sitting in a sparkling clean home. Naturally her mind goes (thankfully) to those who help around the house, particularly women.  A popular subject for artists to paint especially during 17th to the 20th centuries, it remains a popular attraction for viewers.  The Director of the Rijksmuseum where The Milkmaid  above hangs declares the painting  "unquestionably one of the museum's finest attractions."  This in a museum full of masterpieces.

The prominence of domestic scenes began in earnest in the Dutch Golden Age (ca 1581-1652) when the country was flourishing economically and had freed itself from Spanish/Catholic rule.  Money abounded especially among the  newly and greatly rich middle class who were no longer constrained to hang religious art and were very interested in images of themselves, their homes, the women, children, pets and objects in them. Amazingly the Dutch were also blessed with many of the finest artists to ever weild a brush,  Rembrandt, Vermeer, de Hooch, Stein, Hals, Fabritius (of The Goldfinch fame) to name a few.

All is not simple these days.  As innocent as The Milkmaid may appear to our eye as she concentrates on pouring milk from a jug into a ceramic bowl, it is possible she would have been viewed as erotic in her era.  In fact most paintings in the 'maid tradition' abound with amorous symbols: receptive bowls, breads, dangling chickens, draping fabrics, use your imagination. 

Vermeer's The Milkmaid is actually one of the rare examples of a maid being treated in an empathic and dignified way.  And to Ciwt's eye and, really the eyes of the multitudes by whom she is beloved, the erotica - if it exists - is so understated it can be dismissed.  

Those who think along these lines see a humble woman using common ingredients and otherwise stale bread to create bread pudding, a pleasurable product for the household.  According to the outstanding Essential Vermeer website, "Her measured demeanor, modest dress and judiciousness in preparing her food conveys eloquently yet unobtrusively one of the strongest values of 17th century Netherlands, domestic virtue."

And a critic in Forbes Magazine says, "In the end, it is not the allusions to female sexuality that give this painting its romance or emotional resonance - it is the depiction of honest, hard work as something romantic in and of itself.  The Milkmaid elevates the drudgery of housework and servitude to virtuous, even heroic, levels." 

Think what you will, to Ciwt the painting is lovely by any measure, and she is very happy to be sitting in the home her housecleaner left so sparkling today.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Red Fox --- Day 9/106

Walk: Hood
Distance: 3 miles, yoga

Nice , CIWT  outdoorsy picture on cold, blustery San Francisco summer day mostly inside.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Artists Teaching Artists --- Day 9/105

Walk: Monday Errands
Distance: 1.5 miles, Yoga, Pedal

Frans Hals (Dutch, 1582-1666), Jestor with a Lute, 1620-25, oil on canvas
Artists may go to art school but more often than not their teachers are the artists who came before them.

For instance, the Dutch painter, Frans Hals, was thought during his life time to be a 'rough painter,' who spent little time throwing his paintings together with loose, visible brushwork.  His early portraits radiated the gaiety and liveliness of  his subjects which was not popular among wealthy buyers who preferred more dignified images of themselves. Of course his 'unfinished' close ups of often engaged in 'frivolous' activities that brought them joy was often dismissed by much of the 17th century public.

But not by Rembrandt a generation later who loved and learned from Hals' daring in capturing the everyday soul of his subjects  .

Or Jan Steen at the same time .

Or by Van Gogh two centuries later who deeply admired Hals' expressive brushwork and once wrote to his brother,  'What a joy it is to see a Frans Hals, how different it is from the paintings – so many of them – where everything is carefully smoothed out in the same manner.' 

And for the Impressionists the painterly techniques Hals developed for capturing the realistic liveliness of mid-motion, the sparkle of light bouncing off fabrics, the happy head cocks and saucy glints in the eyes were precisely the teachings and permissions they were seeking.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841-1919), Dance in the Country, 1880-1882, oil on canvas

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Perspective, 2 --- Days 9/103 & 104

Walk: 1. No, Housecleaning 😶  2. Presidio
Distance: 1. Yoga   2. 3 miles, pedal, yoga

Paul Hosemann, Camping Trip, Trinity County, CA

Thank you to a good friend's grandson for this awesome image of the Milky Way.  To Ciwt the genius of the photo is that single small light at earth level.

Friday, July 24, 2020

She's (Almost) Baaaack --- Day 9/102

Walk: Presidio
Distance: 2.5 miles, Yoga

Johannes Vermeer, Girl Reading a Letter Before an Open Window, 1657-59, oil on canvas

It's thought this young woman Vermeer painted around 1659 wants out of that open window and into a larger life, perhaps with the person who has sent the love letter she is reading. 

Why?  Well, in the mid-17th century (their Golden Age) the Dutch made extensive use of symbolism to communicate meaning.  The open window as a symbol of escape is still recognizable but today we probably wouldn't associate the bowl of fruit in the painting's center as a symbol of extramarital relations.  The fruit meant just that to the Dutch, and in case you missed the point, originally there was a cupid figure on the wall above her.  For unknown reasons Cupid was painted over sometime in the 18th century, but he's about to make a comeback as you'll see shortly.

For a girl who wanted to be part of the world, Vermeer's letter reader has spent much of her time misunderstood or out of sight .  Her original owner thought he had purchased a Rembrandt, and later experts attributed her to Pieter de Hooch until attribution was finally restored to Vermeer in 1860.  Nearly a century later, she was hidden in a tunnel in Saxony just before the bombing of Dresden in World War II.  She was found there by the Russian Army, taken away to Russia and kept behind the Iron Curtain until the Russians decided to return her to Dresden after the death of Stalin.

After all this, in 2017 she was taken off the walls and into the restoration department of the Dresden Museum, The Gemagaldegalerie Alte Meister.  Soon, finally, she will be out in that world she longed for in a special exhibition space of her own at the Gemaldegaleri's important upcoming exhibiton of Dutch genre painting.*

She's likely to be much discussed when the show opens in March 2021.  It will be a highly publicized, internationally attended, superlative exhibition with 40-50 works by major Dutch genre artists, including 10 particularly fine paintings by Vermeer.  Vermeer enthusiasts, expert and laye, will flock to the "new Vermeer" as some are already calling it. And, even though an international committee of experts have created guidelines (including the return of Cupid!) and the Gemaldegalerie's conservation department is topnotch there are sure to be very public disagreements on how Vermeer's letter reader looks when she is unveiled.**

For a girl who longed to shake up the world in the mid-1600's, she certainly got her wish. 

*    Here is the link to the exhibition which will be updated as final selections are made
**  Link to the current available information on the restoration process

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Bouquets to Designer's Choice --- Day 9/101

Walk: No
Distance: 0, Yoga

Usually the de Young Museum's annual Bouquets to Art selects floral designers from a large competition then assigns them an art work from the museum's collection to interpret as their talents guide them.  For instance, this excellent bouquet that echoes the seascape painting.  
   Grace Andrade   Florals with Grace

But this year the de Young was closed during the event, so it appears to Ciwt the designers were given the instruction to interpret an artwork or landscape of their own choosing.  As always, the results were both delightful and stunning to Ciwt.  Here are a few of her favorites from this year's 
Bouquets to Art, 2020.

Agnes Kang  Piedmont Garden Club 

Mari Tischenko  Orinda Garden Club

Im Chan   Cindy Ho

Hiromi Nomura     Bella Flora
Ciwt's Favorite
   Tamara Apple   Bluebird Studio

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

More Happiness is... --- Day 9/100

Walk: Hood
Distance: 2.5 miles, Yoga

Reading Alex Trebek's book on the deck.  If like Ciwt you think Alex is an altogether decent man, you don't know the half of it.  Ciwt loves his book, a generous and intentional gift to his millions of fans and supporters.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Happiness Is... Day 9/99

Walk: No, Drive to Hairdresser!
Distance: A few blocks, small yoga, exercise eyes by viewing shorter hair in mirror

1. First haircut in 6 months!!!
2. Tulips!!!  (And cats, of course)  
    Let the tulip dance begin!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Update --- Day 9/98

Walk: Monday errands
Distance: 2 miles and many trips up/down stairs, pedal, yoga

Alex Trebek beginning his very first Jeopardy show

CIWT belongs to Alex Trebek if there is ever any news about him. So today, the day before his book release and two days before his 80th birthday, here is a update from the New York Times.  You can read the article by pressing the link.

And be sure to read the comments.  Here's one of hundreds and one of Ciwt's (and the NYT's) favorites.

A class act. Alex, you introduced me to a wider world than my uneducated family. A world that valued facts, intellect, and civility. I thank you, and know I'm not the only one. (I went on to get a doctorate degree. My parents did not graduate high school. I had a fulfilling career - and that hunger for knowledge lives on in this senior.) You've contributed a significant, positive influence on many, many lives.

Oh, and many proud Canadians (Alex's home country to which he is very generous) have contributed their thoughts.  Here are a couple:

Alex Trebek stoic in adversity, soft on the outside.. hard as granite on the inside, paid to do a Job and does it no matter what...sounds like Canadian to me. !!!

Just a good-old Canadian-boy, minus the hockey stick ...

And Ciwt likes this one about Alex's great looks:

Alex Trebek has always looked dashing.
And a little bit sly. Love it.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Process --- Day 9/97

Walk: Goldsworthy Hike Presidio (Wood Line, Tree Fall, Earth Wall, Spire)
Distance: 5 miles

Today Ciwt took one of her many hikes through and to Andy Goldsworthy's four site specific sculptures in the San Francisco Presidio. Down to the main parade grounds through Wood Line, Goldsworthy's second sculpture which has areas of such serious rot Ciwt is likely to outlive at least parts of it.  Then to his third installation, Tree Fall, which is housed in an old gunpowder magazine.  It is closed to visitors during the pandemic as is his fourth Presidio work, Earth Wall.  Both are made of wood and surely are deteriorating.  Finally up the hill to his first Presidio sculpture, Spire, which was a recent victim of serious arson.

If Ciwt didn't know Goldsworthy's artistic philosoph,y seeing all this evidence of decay would be disheartening.  But, looking at his works as Andy does, she can be interested.  He knows the very instant he calls a work complete is its high point.  From that moment on it belongs to nature and the passage of time.  This he expects.  As he has said about his work: It's not about art, it's just about life and the need to understand that a lot of things in life do not last.

So now instead of feeling sad as she sees the changes in the sculptures, Ciwt tries to be sensitive and alert, just know and observe that, in his words, "Each work grows, stays, decays.  Process and decay are implicit."  And she finds learning how to look in this more what? detached? interested?, humble? way is also a process.

From that point of view, even the charred Spire has a new magnificence in its blackness.*  

*(maybe, and same goes for the deteriorating tree limbs in the other pieces.  It's a process...)

Saturday, July 18, 2020

They Can Hear Music --- Day 9/96

Walk: No (Housecleaning, whew)
Distance: SmallYoga

Remember that lighthearted period drama movie, Amadeus?  Well, National Theatre Live's rendition of it isn't it.  Equally well done, but so intense and heartbreaking that Ciwt is spent after watching it streamed this afternoon.

It is available courtesy of NTL for a few more days at this link  Thank you National Theatre Live for this offering during our international lockdown.  

Friday, July 17, 2020

The 4% Solution --- Day 9/95

Walk: Mountain Lake
Distance: 4 miles

So Ciwt has a friend who 'tricked her' into humiliating herself each Friday with the NYT News Quiz.*

The screen shot above tells you Ciwt's results on today's quiz. In case you can't read the summary of of her 4/11 score, it says: You did better than 4% of those who took the quiz. 9% of quiz takers got the same score as you.

To make matters worse for poor 4% Ciwt, her friend's son got 10 our of 11, which is Not unusual for him.

Oh dear, back to concentrating on CIWT where Ciwt always gests to be the winner.

*Not true, Ciwt loves games and quizzes.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Sometimes a Faster Gait --- Day 9/94

Walk/Lope: Presidio (to Spire which is stilll there 😊)
Distance: 3 miles, Yoga 

You know those old people you see who are gingerly doing some gait that is a little more than a run?  Well, that's Ciwt sometimes since she started to be more conscious of swinging her arms.  She's found that bent elbow motion naturally encourages her to break into what the chart of horse gaits above calls a "Collected Lope."  For a while, downhill, on the flat, rarely uphill.... Nothing spectacular, but she'll take it.

Just an update on benefits of  arm swinging.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Readying --- Day 9/93

Walk: No
Distance: Yoga

So maybe you remember that Ciwt went down to LA to be an audience member for a Jeopardy taping*.  And, maybe like others there, to pay personal tribute to Alex Trebek. During the break between rounds as he does during every taping session, Alex came down in front of our seats to answer our questions.  But, ahead of that, we were cautioned to keep them on topics Alex enjoys talking about; things like his horses, dogs or techniques he uses in his building projects.  Nothing personal we were told.

Remembering that, when Ciwt read a few weeks ago that Alex is releasing his autobiography late in July, her heart sank. He has been living with advanced stage cancer for over a year, the internaional pandemic has prevented taping any new Jeopardy episodes, and now Alex, the most professional and private of men, is releasing a book about his personal life.

The book will be a gift, but it seems a sign and Ciwt is readying.  Sometime soon, before the book release maybe, Ciwt will probably need to say goodbye to her beloved dinner partner.  Since 1984, for thrity six years, on many nights Ciwt has prepared her dinner, brought it to the table, turned on her tv at 7:00 and tried to come up with the correct Jeopardy questions along with the contestants while she ate.  During all these Dinners with Alex, like his many millions of Jeopardy viewers, she has gained untold appreciation and respect for Alex.

Love really.  Since he announced his illness, several Jeopardy contestants have written their final answers as some variation on "We love you, Alex."  And we all choke up when we see that; even Alex once or twice. Alex is warm, reliable, dignified, calming company.   He is just a thoroughly decent man.

Much has been and will be written about Alex Trebek.  Ciwt will just add for herself that, when the time comes that he retires, the dining chair across from her will feel very empty.

*CIWT Days 297 and 299 (10/29 and 10/31/12)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

All in the Neighborhood --- Day 9/92

Walk: Around/Trader J's/M.Stone's
Distance: 5 miles, Yoga

Someone just down the block from Ciwt has painted their exterior wall white and posted these pictures and a lengthy poem.  

Then just down the way from it is this exterior with miniature Japanese maples and a soft, wispy wreath on the gate.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Distance Learning --- Day 9/91

Walk: No, too much San Francisco summer (ie, cold and windy)
Distance: 0, Yoga, Pedal

Edward Hopper, Western Motel, 1957, oil on canvas
So, Ciwt has been thinking about the relationships between Richard Diebenkorn's and Edward Hopper's art.  They aren't accidental.  

When Richard Diebenkorn was learning to paint in the 1950's, Abstract Expressionism was the vogue.  So much so that, in a determination to be 'with it,'  the San Francisco Art Institute recruited several 'AbEx's" from the East Coast and more or less banned realistic painting. The point of Ab Ex was to let the art 'flow from the artist's emotions and soul (or some mystical realm) directly onto the canvas.' 

Diebenkorn tried and actually succeeded but never resonated with this expressive method.  His natural thinking process was orderly, methodical, architectural; he didn't wear his soul on his sleeve.  So he turned to the study of other artists for his guidance - through books, magazines, and especially actual works if he could get his eyes on them.  

His first main  'teacher' (although he wasn't aware of it) was Edward Hopper. Diebenkorn encountered Hopper's austere Americana at age 20 when he was in Stanford's art program. And he fell hard.  In his own words: I embraced Hopper completely ...It was his use of light and shade and the atmosphere...kind of drenched, saturated with mood, and its kind of austerity.  It was the kind of work that just seemed made for me.  I looked at it and it was mine.

Richard Diebenkorn, Girl Looking at Landscape, 1957, oil on canvas

Diebenkorn filled his his early sketchbooks and canvasses with images that were so like Hopper's "it makes you do a double take when you see the label" according to a reviewer.  Hopper's intense but cold colors are there, the clean lines and shapes, along with the enigmatic estrangement of the subjects and that peopleless, contemplative landscape out the window.  But, these aren't mere imitations of Hopper;  already Diebenkorn is allowing his paint to be 'washy,' to be able to rethink, make changes and get it right directly on the canvas, in front of the viewer.

Diebenkorn enjoyed success with these Hopperesque figurative paintings.  But gradually the landscape 'backgrounds' became more dominant and then paintings in their own right.  Almost from the beginning he seemed to be wrestling with the figurative or the landscape; the realistic or the abstract. The debate is on visual record in many works including the two paintings below painted the same year.

Richard Diebenkorn, Coffee, 1959, oil on canvas

Richard Diebenkorn, View from a Porch, 1959, oil on canvas

Diebenkorn had also encountered and been strongly touched by Matisse's work while at Stanford, and, as he wrestled with this debate, he kept elements of Hopper but turned more and more to a prolonged direct study of Matisse's works for solutions.  Eventually what he had understood and assimilated from both these artists (and Rothko) brought forth his unique, fully realized master works, the magnificent and revered Ocean Park series.

Richard Diebenkorn in front of two of his Ocean Park paintings

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.  Long time Bay Area artist and art teacher 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. 

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 shies 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 is 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.

E.B. 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 gesture was right up Gustave's donating 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.

Gustave Caillebotte in photo taken by his brother, Martial, 1892

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....