William Trost Richards, Moonlight on Mount Lafayette, New Hampshire, 1873. Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on gray-green wove paper. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Yes, that is a watercolor. No, I’m not lying.
Childe Hassam (American, 1859-1935); Spring, Navesink Highlands; 1908. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826-1900), Niagara, 1857. Oil on canvas.
Birge Harrison (1854-1929), Winter Sunset, ca. 1890. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), Aurora Borealis, 1865. Oil on canvas.Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of Eleanor Blodgett.
John Henry Twachtman, “Round Hill Road,” ca. 1890-1900. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
One of my favorite works in the Contemporary Jewish Museum/SFMOMA exhibit, “Beyond Belief: 100 Years of the Spiritual in Modern Art” was Kiki Smith’s Lilith. It sticks out, literally and figuratively, because of its unconventional display. Lilith is part wall piece, part free standing sculpture…the only catch is she stands on a wall defying gravity. There is a sense of power, strength and sturdiness to the piece because of Lilith’s angular, crouched pose.
When I circled back around to take one last look at Lilith before leaving, I noticed a new feature of the sculpture. Since she is perched on a wall at eye-level, the viewer can walk around to see her entire body. This second look made me realize Lilith was looking back. Her face is inlaid with very life-like looking glass eyes. They’re a little unnerving, a little off-putting. Lilith still commands my attention, just now in a mix of admiration and repulsion all in one. All that with just her eyes…now that’s power.
Solomon Stein (1882-1937) and Harm Goldstein (1867-1945), Armoured Horse, c. 1912-1937. Originally located on a carousel on Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. Paint on wood with glass eyes, leather bridle, and horsehair tail. American Folk Art Museum, gift of the City of New York, Department of Parks and Recreation .
John Singer Sargent: The Birthday Party, 1887
This image was treasured by the Besnard family it portrays. The son, their only child, died tragically young, and this image served as a valuable memory. The father in this image is painted intentionally blurry to convey the relationship between mother and child.
John Singer Sargent: Ruth Sears Bacon, 1887
What I love about this image in particular is how fabulously realistic it is: after sitting for too long, Ruth is slouched over in her seat, her smile is almost a grimace of boredom. Sargent has the amazing ability to show children with a level of empathy and respect that is uncommon in his contemporaries.
John Singer Sargent— Dorothy, 1900
A powerful image, Dorothy overcomes the oversized hat and ruffles meant to make her look small to gaze out at the viewer with intelligence and maturity.