Walk: West Portal
Distance: 3 miles, Yoga
|John Singer Sargent, Women at Work, 1912, oil on canvas|
If Ciwt earned her keep as a professional art reviewer and described the works of one of history's greatest artists as "nice" and "likeable," she would be looking for a new job. But since she is her own 'employer' and sole writer of CIWT, she will go right ahead and say those things about John Singer Sargent's art.
To explain a bit: You know how "he/she/it's so nice" was the complete kiss of death when someone wanted to introduce you to a blind date? But then many years later, when you've matured, you really value nice people, maybe wish you'd gone on that date. Niceness and likeableness are qualities with integrity; they endure. In the face of all life presents it takes character to stay those ways, and they shine through when some of the flashier types don't any more.
The professional and paid art critics would point out Sargent's loose, bold, innovative brushwork. They would speak of his works' lifelike passages that pause or sparkle or nearly break the viewer's heart with their delicacy. Of course they would mention the way Sargent assimilated the techniques of the masters he revered: Goya and Velasquez especially. Sargent worked at that; he was a registered copiest at the Prado and learned directly from their work - as well as Hals in Belgium and other artists across the continent. They would go on to say that Sargent then went on to innovate, to bring his own skilled, exacting, interested, honest eye and talent to his art. And the critic would be spot on about these and other descripitons of Sargent's artistic proficiency. So really Ciwt is just adding "likeable" and "nice' to all that has been deservedly said of John Singer Sargent's artistic output - from portraits, to landscapes, to architectural, costume, ornamental and botanical renderings.
In the works of the Legion of Honor's current show, Sargent and Spain, Sargent recorded aspects of that country he held dear. Instead of the often seen toreadors, romanticized bullfights and alluring festival dancing, Sargent painted Spain's architectural details, courtyards, landscape, everyday life. A virtuoso pianist, banjo and guitar player himself, when he did paint dancing scenes it was the passion of the music, and the perfomer's messmerizingly intricate movements he captured.
|John Singer Sargent, La Carmencita Dancing, 1890, oil on canvas|
|Courtyard, Casa del Chapiz, 1912-13, oil on canvas|