Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Luncheon of the Boating Party - 3

Tonight we discussed the Book Babes book pick, Luncheon of the Boating Party. Although this wasn't my selection, I'd been a strong proponent, having read the book before and sincerely enjoyed it.  My recollection was that the BPYC book club had also been unanimous in a positive review, but memory is selective.  In fact, there were mixed reviews.  Same thing tonight.

Many people just felt there wasn't enough substance to grab them and pull them into the plot.  Not enough mystery or depth.

Personally, I don't think the author of this book professes it is great literature, but it is a great backstory to an interesting period in history.  Reading it whet my appetite for Impressionism, food, libation.

Luncheon of the Boating Party was a very difficult painting to orchestrate.  Eight weeks, with the quality of the light limited not just by the season, but by the length of the sitting.  The light just right, the gazes perfectly choreographed.  It took great effort to concoct such a perfect moment in time.  The essence of conviviality.

Context is everything.  Just coming out of the Prussian war and its horrible deprivations, this painting depicts a beguiling portrait of a life of ease and plenty.  Not something many were experiencing at the time.  Is it shallow to seek those moments?  Maybe, if it is at the exclusion of all else, but I ask you, what's wrong with the company of good friends, great food and wonderful wine?

Caillebotte - 1875
The Impressionists have found great favour today but were outcast in the formal world of art when they made their debut.

Tonight we also talked about the work of Gustave Caillebotte.  Nicki saw his paintings in Paris and says they were absolutely astounding in person.  Seeing something in one dimension is so limiting, but in person, far more of an impact.  Scale plays a part.  Usually we see something on a computer screen or in a book, when displayed full size it is much bigger with a far more imposing presence.  Size matters, but it is also the layers of colour and the dimension.

Maybe one day I will experience the work in 3D, I hope so, as nothing quite beats seeing the real thing.  Especially in Paris.  So I am posting a copy of one of Gustave Caillebotte's stunners, in the hope I may one day be close enough to touch the original.


Nicki BH said...

I too hope hope one day make it to Paris and the Musee d'Orsay!

The Clever Pup said...

I was really disappointed in the book. I couldn't finish it despite me requesting it for my birthday. The writing is just to cutesy which was a shame because Vreeland must have endlessly researched it. Caillebotte is endlessly amazing. Magnifique!