I wanted to share a few of my favorite images from a recent trip to the Toledo Museum of Art. The first image is Wheat Fields with Reaper, Auvers, by Vincent van Gogh, 1890. I love the landscape, color and movement. The landscape reminds me of the area I live in, north-Central Ohio, except the warmth and sun that we tend to lack.
Athanor, by Anselm Kiefer, 1983-84. …only by going into the past can you go into the future. Anselm Kiefer has used his art to confront the wounds left to his homeland, Germany, by Hitler’s regime. With his art, Kiefer uses the alchemists’ symbolic “secret fire” to purify and transform the terrible legacy of Nazi Germany into hope for the future of humanity. He becomes the alchemist himself, literally using fire (a blowtorch) to scorch parts of the painting—and to scorch the symbols of evil and tragedy in order to change them into something new. This image, in my opinion, demonstrates how art can help to transform the human condition and push us/inspire us to more…to hope.
Portrait of a Freedom Fighter, Julian Schnabel, 1984. Rather than painting on canvas or panel, Julian Schnabel builds up an uneven landscape of broken crockery, held together with bondo (an adhesive commonly used in body work on cars). He then uses this sculptural surface as the foundation for painting this anonymous portrait. Stand across the room from Portrait of a Freedom Fighter. Notice how clear the face is from far away—how it is even possible to identify an emotional expression on this mottled surface. Portrait of a Freedom Fighter depicts the Cuban émigré poet Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990) against a barren landscape. The title refers to Arenas’s brave, anti-authoritarian stances, which led to his persecution and exile from his homeland. I remember learning about Schnabel when I was in art school, and it was great to see his images again. As Schnabel used to say, it’s important to see paintings in person, and this broken plate painting is well worth the trip to Toledo to see in person.
Landscape, Andre Derain, 1906. André Derain here transforms the traditional subject of the landscape view with thick black outlines, strong brushstrokes, and bold layers of color. The inspiration of nature remains important, but the work is just as much a world of the artist’s own creation as Derain takes liberties of creativity and self-expression. I really like this landscape by Derain. It seems that he takes up where van Gogh and Cezanne have left off in their paintings as he explores the landscape from an expressionist view. I desire and I am inspired to follow the path that Derain has made with his landscapes full of expression. I hope my journey to the Toledo Museum of Art has inspired you to explore a local museum or art gallery near you to refresh your mind and soul!