japonisme: a tale of peacocks-part 2

27 September 2006

a tale of peacocks-part 2

ascinating, sarcastic, brilliant, argumentative, genius, james mcneill whistler brought to the art world new perspectives, new inspiration, and new headaches.

i get sad reading the reviews he got, excerpts of which are included in his collected papers, the gentle art of making enemies. "another crop of mr. whistler's little jokes." "so far removed from any accepted canons of art as to be beyond the understanding of an ordinary mortal." and on and on and on......

but the arrogant if insecure artist wrote letters to the editor combating these reviews just as endlessly.
he didn't limit his fights to those with critics. he was a man who knew what was right, and anyone else be damned. when hired to do a simple assist at room decoration he instead repainted the entire room, including over leather walls, making of it exactly what it should be. unfortunately, the owner of the house disagreed, and refused to pay whistler the total agreed amount. petulantly, and yet with glory, this grand peacock mural, inspired by utamaro's print, was created for the room, parodying he and the owner: the proud and the pauper. (more on this to come)

and in doing so created one of art nouveau's most prevalent symbols.



Blogger David Apatoff said...

Lotusgreen, this entire room painted by Whistler is on display in Washington DC in the Freer Museum. The two squabbling peacocks are very clearly Whistler and his wealthy patron (who is depicted as clutching a bag of gold coins.) The whole room was designed to store porcelain. It is painted turquoise and gold, except for a large painting at one end called "The princess of the land of porcelain." You would love the Freer-- it's worth a trip to DC.

03 October, 2006 13:09  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

yes, david--i have never seen it and i'd love to. but if you click the fighting peacocks in this post, you are magically transported there! (plus another link in the sidebar)

the freer seems amazing. i'd love to visit some day.

03 October, 2006 13:19  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

I see it now. Cool! The room is surprisingly large and gets very little traffic. Standing in it, you often have time to study the art in solitude.

The Freer has other Whistlers but it is largely made up of Asian art (and it is right next door to the Sackler museum which is made up of even better Asian art!) From your blog, it would seem like your cup of tea.

03 October, 2006 15:57  

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