Being Fifteen At The MFA

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My little sister came to visit me in Boston a couple of weeks ago, so I took her to museums and a Boston Symphony Orchestra performance that she enjoyed more than I did (she’s a pretty talented flautist, so it figures). Carrie’s turning sixteen on Friday (!!) and I was really interested in getting her take on art, so we went to the Museum of Fine Arts here in Boston on a pay-what-you-wish Wednesday night and had the best time.

She’s only fifteen but she’s pretty brilliant. Sometimes she’d mention a comment about a painting or sculpture I’d spent hours studying, and point out something I didn’t even think to consider. Because with art, what you know doesn’t matter as much as what you see, and how you view it through your own lens of experience.

Inspired by the new People’s Choice section, read on to meet Carrie and hear what she thinks about five masterpieces on view at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston:

Carrie

Hi! My name is Carrie Davis. I’m currently a sophomore at Fairhope High School, and I just happen to be the little sister of the creator of the site you’re on right now. Music is my passion, but I recently went to the Museum of Fine Art with my sister so she’s putting me to work by writing about these lovely pieces of art. I also enjoy playing the flute, riding my horse, long walks on the beach, and bacon. HAVE A GREAT DAY, OKAY?

Alex Katz, "Rush," 1971

Alex Katz, “Rush,” 1971

 

Rush makes me curious as to who the inspirations are, or where they came from. I love the emotion in the faces, too. It’s very interesting how some of the faces are shown straight on, some show their profiles, and others only show the back side of their head.

 

Detail, Alex Katz, "Rush," 1971

Detail, Alex Katz, “Rush,” 1971

Paul Cezanne, "The Large Bathers," 1879-1906

Paul Cezanne, “The Large Bathers,” 1879-1906

 

Paul Cézanne uses an almost watercolor looking technique in The Large Bathers to get a beautiful contrast of colors between the sky and the nature. The women in the painting appear to be doing the cliché deeds of women in the early 1900s when this artifact was created, which gives the viewer a glimpse back into time. The one thing I’m most curious about is the town in the background. It seems to be civilized, yet the people are nude. Could they be a different civilization of people, or possibly a single nudist colony? I’m in love with the way Cézanne makes you think and consider the possibilities of these lovely creatures.

 

 

Alexandre-Georges-Henri Regnault, "Automedon with the Horses of Achilles," 1868

Alexandre-Georges-Henri Regnault, “Automedon with the Horses of Achilles,” 1868

 

The strength and fury of the horses in Automedon with the Horses of Achilles puts me in awe of how much bravery that man (Achilles?) must have. The foaming mouths of the horses as they rear up to the protagonist of the painting makes me astonished by the man’s power. This painting was at least eight feet tall, creating an entirely new feature that a computer screen lacks. The frame of the piece is very forceful. It looks like something that would be in a literary work by Homer. The raging horses, along with the raging ocean makes for an angry and terrifying mood.

 

Annette Lemieux, "Pacing," 1988

Annette Lemieux, “Pacing,” 1988

 

Pacing, by Annette Lemieux, is quite inspirational. It was created so simply, yet it’s so beautiful and interesting to look at. I love how most of the foot prints are very concealed, yet the ones on the outside are so detailed and noticeable.

 

Detail, Annette Lemieux, "Pacing," 1988

Detail, Annette Lemieux, “Pacing,” 1988

Pablo Picasso, "Rape of the Sabine Women," 1963

Pablo Picasso, “Rape of the Sabine Women,” 1963

 

In the Rape of the Sabine Women by Pablo Piccaso it makes me sad for the victims in the painting. The men want them so desperately, and are willing to hurt them in order to obtain that power. The poor child appears to be crying out for the men to cease, but they so crave the power and the sense of control that winning this brawl will give them.

 

 

For more from Carrie, you can follow her on Twitter, and be sure to wish her a happy birthday!

If you have your own impressions you’d like to share, use this form to join the People’s Choice Project and get your own post just like this one.

 

 

The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis

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These characters come from the 1699 French novel Les Aventures de Télémaque that fills a gap in Homer’s Odyssey, telling of Ulysses son Telemachus’ educational travels with a mentor that turns out to be the goddess of wisdom Minerva. The author Fénelon tells of how Telemachus fell in love with this beautiful nymph Eucharis but his duty as a son demanded that he leave her and find his missing father.

In this scene they say goodbye, an image that David makes so powerful and real with a warm white light that sets their light skin aglow. Telemachus stares straight out at us, his face still babyish and framed by blonde curls, like a lamb who doesn’t know to be scared as it’s naively lead toward slaughter. That’s not what happens in this story though. Telemachus is rewarded for sacrificing in the name of his father, and at the end of the story he learns his mentor has been the goddess of wisdom this whole time and he reaches Ithaca safely and smarter and stronger than ever.

Eucharis wraps her arms gently around his neck, leaning her head on his shoulder, eyes downcast because she knows she’s about to be left behind and there’s nothing she can do about it. Telemachus has his right hand placed gently on her leg as a temporary consolation prize, holding his spear in the other hand, fingers spread across it as he leans back and acknowledges the viewer with his sad blue-eyed stare. A skinny ghost of a dog peeks his head out of the darkness in the right-hand corner, staring up at his master as another faithful admirer, but perhaps one that actually gets to come along.

This painting currently belongs to the Getty Museum in LA whose website reads, “David painted The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis during his exile in Brussels. The use of saturated reds and blues contrasted with flesh-tones and combined with a clarity of line and form typifies the Neoclassical style, which is characteristic of David’s late history paintings.”

"The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis" by Jacques-Louis David  French, 1818  Oil on canvas 34 1/2 x 40 1/2 in.

“The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis” by Jacques-Louis David
French, 1818
Oil on canvas
34 1/2 x 40 1/2 in.

 

For corrections and additions to my telling of this French novel, please email me. I did a good amount of research but unfortunately I can’t speak French and may have got a few things wrong.