Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Art History Revealed to be Interesting

Last time in my art history class, we discussed Monet...and how he liked to paint the same subject over and over to get the true essence of it. The main focuses of this discussion were his Gare Saint Lazare series and his Haystack series. He did 25 or such paintings of each subject, denying up to his death that he used photographs to paint from. However, after his death, his photographs were found. After returning from England (where he fled to avoid conscription), he also denied having been influenced by early realists John Constable and William Turner, despite the following striking similarity:

William Turner's The Slave Ship:
The Slave Ship

Claude Monet's Impression Sunrise:
Impression Sunrise

His photographed Gare Saint Lazare series consisted of gems like these:

Gare 3

Gare 2

Gare 1

A few snippets from my notes about the haystack discussion are:

The Haystack paintings. Oh so very many. Haystack in spring, haystack in winter...

"It's not about the haystack," says professor Scott.

...haystack in autumn, haystack at sunset...

And here are those very haystacks:

Winter Haystack

Summer Haystack

Spring Haystack

And on one final note...

I wrote this in my notes that same day:

The older dyke in this class has a dog with cancer and I have long since become accustomed to her endless droning on about it. She tells everyone around her each detail about the medication, the symptoms, the prognosis, and the financial impact, all amid her apparent obliviousness to the fact that no one cares, least of all her classmates and teacher.

A dog is not self-aware, and therefore does not dread its own death.

I said to her with the most compassion I could summon, "The only blessing is that he doesn't feel sorry for himself," after which she went on discussing how she would continue to give him chemotherapy until his little heart gave out.

Am I the only person that thinks it is overwhelmingly selfish to put a dog through that? The only reason we do it to humans is because they prefer it over the thought of their death. An extra two months is an extra two months. But a dog doesn't make that distinction.

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