I will be participating in the Salon ha Cubia exhibit opening October 28, 2017, at 8 pm in Nayot in Jerusalem, as part of the city-wide Manofim project. Closing January 25, 2018. Hope to see you there. Invitation

Pleased to be participating in the exhibition HOME(less) at HUC-JIR Museum NY. Running through the end of June 2018. For details see post

Thursday, June 9, 2011

He Was Nature: Courbet

Courbet, "Le Chateu d'Ornans," 1864, oil on canvas, 65 X 81 cm, private collection
Back to Paris.     

Jackson Pollock famously said "I am Nature," but the artist whose work really embodies that statement is Courbet.  Courbet threw off classicism and romanticism. Rejecting the easy and pretty art of his time, he devoted himself to a lifetime of working directly from nature.  

The Mona Bismarck Foundation has hosted, “Gustave Courbet and the Love of Nature” which focused on Courbet’s engagement with nature, but also with Courbet the man. 

There were the expected landscape paintings – beautiful depictions of carefully observed nature. His goal was not to duplicate nature, rather to funnel through it his own creativity:

“To know in order to create---this was my purpose. To be able to interpret the customs, ideas, and point of view of my time according to my own frame of reference: in a word, to make art lifelike, this is my objective. (1855, Courbet, from “painters on Painting,” edited by E. Protter, Dover, 1997).
Courbet, "Paysage Rocheux," 1872, oil on canvas, 27 X 32 cm, private collection

As the exhibit turns to Courbet himself, we see memorabilia, personal effects (including his pipes), news reports of the day surrounding some of his more outrageous stunts, and works by peers in homage to him.

Louis Moullin (1817-1875) "Gustave Courbet a` Trouville," 1865, black ink and wash, white gouache, 18 X 25 cm

The bad boy of his day, Courbet managed to butt heads with the establishment of the art world, the political world and certainly the church.  New to me was his “protest” art for, lack of a better description. 

Courbet, "La Saga de la Conference - La Bataille en la Defenestration," 1868, traces of oil on wood panel painted black,  60 X 77 cm 

This is one of a group of three drawings which depict his documentation of the arrival of priests at an inn from their religious conference. The first image depicts their arrival, this, the second, their drunken brawl and the third the aftermath of their debauchery. 
He was a man who could not bend the truths as he saw them. In 1870, he wrote to the Minister of the Beaux Arts rejecting the proffered recognition of being named the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, saying,
“ …I am fifty years old and I have always lived as a free man.  Let me be free for the rest of my days, for when I die, let it be said of me: ‘He never belonged to any school, to any church, to any institution, to any academy –least of all to any regime, lest it be the regime of liberty.’ (E. Protter).”
Rare today to find an art celeb reject recognition.

The exhibit just closed, but those in the neighborhood might want to stop into this small museum gem, which shows changing special exhibits. Housed in a villa of a former American ex-pat socialite overlooking the Seine, it is a respite from  the crush of the crowds in other larger museums. The catalog of the exhibit is likely to still be available which was published in French as well as in English.

Courbet, "Les Roches Noires  a` Trouville," 1866, oil on canvas 32 x 55 cm, private collection

Photos of images above by Heddy Abramowitz

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Beautiful reproductions. Wish I could have seen it.
    I want to a lot of smaller, Midwestern museums during vacation last year (Cleveland, Detroit, Ann Arbor). I kept stopping by these unexpected, arresting landscapes, and every time it was Courbet. And i realized I must really love him without knowing that I did...