Sunday, August 16, 2009

"152 insights into my SOUL!" What movie??

If eyes are the window to the soul (though frankly, I don't always accept that statement, cuz I've definitely seen some eyes that just tell me, "this soul is hazel and didn't get enough sleep last night"), then I think a person's bookshelf is a window into their passions.

Now, I am actually a horrible example of this myself; my scanty bookshelf will only tell you I like history (The Other Eminent Men of Wilford Woodruff), love (Jane Eyre), and Christianity, particularly Mormonism (The Screwtape Letters, Franny & Zooey, and The Book of Mormon... a better window into my passions would be my overdue book account at the Harold B. Lee Library).

Nevertheless! I present this idea to you because it's occurred to me that, as I have, ahem... borrowed my roommates' books all summer to read during my commute, I am sort of spying on them. Or rather, I'm really getting a feel for their passions and interests. One is interested in health science and human endeavors, and chooses to unwind with great Russian 19th century fiction writers. The other roommate has a wide range of interests stemming mostly from her business and leadership training, but also canvasing historical fiction and loads of religious essays. I've recently been absorbed by her Leading Quietly, which is "An Unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing" from the masterminds at the Harvard Business School Press. Fairly entertaining despite its stodgy, uptight publishing origins, the following passage from said book gave me some great food for thought this week (I know it's a long quote, but hold out 'til the end, you'll see why):

"[Great leaders] didn't end up leading countries, vast organizations, political movements, and social crusades by accident. Hence, it is no surprise that ego, passions, and drives that were somewhat less than angelic often motivated them. To some, this perspective seems pessimistic, cynical, and disheartening, but this view actually reflects an astonishing convergence of classical wisdom and contemporary science. The Old Testament and ancient Greek tragedy portray men and women as fractured, complicated creatures, pulled in different directions by a multitude of hopes and fears, wants and needs. Compare this picture to the one emerging from the new discipline of cognitive neuroscience. It describes the human mind as a set of semi-independent modules, each of which handles different tasks. Some help us walk upright, others sense danger, others remember, plan, and love. The modules often operate simultaneously and clash with each other. As a result, the human mind is 'a noisy parliament of competing factions.' Our inner lives resemble the disjointed images of modern paintings rather than the harmony of classical sculpture."

!!!!!!!!! It's like they knew I was coming! Hee hee.

"Which modern painting would best represent the fractured mental modules he's talking about?" I wondered.

Franz Kline?

Lehigh V Span. 1959-1960. SF MoMA.

No. Too black and white and understandable-at-a-glance, although very attractive in the galleries (his canvases are HUGE-- as in, dining room window huge-- and almost seem to be spelling something out to you in a language you recognize but can't read).

No... de Kooning?
Woman/Verso: Untitled. 1948. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (woot!).

Naaaah. Too interested in toying with female stereotypes, although I'm sure there are some people who feel that his is a pretty accurate portrayal of the overall look and value of the interiors of women.

And then... it hit me. One of my favorite artists, whom I met (and by met I mean saw a work by and fell in love with) at the Pompidou, summer '07 when I was studying abroad: Nicolas de Stael.


Fugue. 1951.
Here's a side view of the same little painting, which sits over in the Phillips Collection in DC (thanks, unknown Flickr benefactor!):
Get a sense of things fighting to be in harmony in this work? Of "semi-independent modules," like it said in Leading Quietly?

L'Orchestra. 1953. Centre Pompidou.

This is the Nicolas de Stael piece that originally won him my heart, the one hanging in Paris. Believe me when I tell you, this baby is HUGE. I do love the modern artists who chose to make their creations human-sized. I felt as if I really was having a conversation with this work of art when I stood in front of and a little beneath it. I don't have much gossip for you about Nicolas de Stael the artist, besides the curious habit I've noticed he has of naming his works after musical terms: the Orchestra, Fugue, Composition, etc. His big blocks of colors, often including grey, are personally attractive to me. The paint blocks are never just slopped on like a Pollock, but very thought out and built up from the surface of the canvas. Almost like he was constructing a city, block by block, with the swipes of his trowel. When I took some friends to tour the Phillips about a month ago, I admired the Fugue before I even noticed who it was by, and then we all marveled together at the audacity of the museum for leaving its works so unguarded; you see, the paint patches are so built up that in some areas you could actually reach out and break off a piece of the paint if you so desired. (NOO! Resist!) I guess I'll have to do a little bit more searching to find out what was on his bookshelf. I'll be back with the details later. Needless to say, his compositions are much like Franz Kline's for me; familiar, sexy, and energetic, but not in a frenzied sort of way. More like the energy and power you feel when you stand by a river. Hence, me likey.

Ps. TWO MORE WEEKS OF LIFEGUARDING! Then I get my life back, er I mean I get to start school again, and apply to jobs again, and hopefully remember my college-level vocabulary again... oooh it's getting close! And no, I will NOT recant my assertion that summer is better than fall. It is. I only look forward to the close of the pool, not the close of the season.

5 comments:

Raunee said...

The movie is, "You've got Mail." Good luck with the start of a new school year!

MOM said...

Said by Kathleen Kelly to Joe Fox. Love that show, especially cuz it's seasons are so charming there in New York...oh...and the music! I love "You've Got Mail"'s easy-going soundtrack!

It was nice to get an art lesson again sweetie. I like geometry more then frills, so I liked the modern art stuff you presented today. And it was fun to hear of your insights into roomies souls. Say hi to them for me!

I love you sis. MOM

Ld said...

Good job bringing in the books on shelf idea back at the end. Thank you for that idea and using it for the quirky and fun art tour/discoveries.

The side view of the Fuge really helped me appreciate it's substance for some reason.

Maybe what makes your posts so engaging is the 152 layers of meaning/references in your posts.

But maybe there is a need for 152 more /'s in them.

This one made me also think that these personal tours of modern and other art are so delightful that they would be engaging to people on a broad scale, like in a book... too bad the internet is so limited in its reach. "Hey, that's a joke." (P.S., What movie??)

Jayci said...

i really like those paintings! well... the last two. :) by de Stael. And I don't know what movie!!! :o\

Jayci said...

OH. you've got mail. :) i love that movie... how did i not realize?!