Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plain: Monet in Oklahoma

May in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The temperatures were in the 80s, but the wind was so vigorous and dry that it felt much cooler. My mission was to observe the uncrating and hanging of the Mead’s precious Monet painting, Morning on the Seine, Giverny, which is part of an exciting exhibition called Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River at the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Claude Monet (French 1840-1926), Morning on the Seine, Giverny (Matinée sur la Seine), 1897, oil on canvas ,Bequest of Miss Susan Dwight Bliss ,AC 1966.48

Claude Monet (French 1840–1926), Morning on the Seine, Giverny (Matinée sur la Seine), 1897. Bequest of Miss Susan Dwight Bliss, AC 1966.48

I arrived in the morning with the courier from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. We were among the first to have our paintings placed on the wall. Usually a courier doesn’t get to see the finished product. But this time, I watched while staff at the Philbrook carefully unpacked the painting and installed it masterfully in no time.

The MFA Boston Monet was hung next to the Mead’s. I was quite impressed with the space separating the paintings, so impressed that I wrote down the measurements: 4 feet,  6 inches. This seemed genius to me. No doubt there would be crowds, and each painting is given almost 9 feet of linear wall space to allow for a moment of singular contemplation.

The Mead's Monet awaits installation at the Phillbrook alongside the MFA Boston Monet.

The Mead’s Monet (right) alongside the MFA Boston’s Morning on the Seine, Giverny, 1897. Gift of Mrs. W. Scott Fitz, 11.1261

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The two Mornings on the Seine from 1897, reunited in the exhibition Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River.

 

Some background about the exhibition might be enlightening. The exhibition at the Philbrook specifically focused on Monet’s Mornings on the Seine series. This group of 28 paintings had been exhibited only once before — by Monet in June of 1898. Although the original exhibition was critically acclaimed, the Mornings series was never shown together again. Thanks to the Philbrook and the MFA Houston, 16 of the original masterpieces from all over the world were brought together once again.

The Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma

The Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma

After our Monet was safe and secure on the wall, I was able to tour the Philbrook.  I had no idea that such a gem existed in Tulsa. Do not pass up a chance to visit this art museum. The spectacular gardens aside, they have strong European, American, and Native American collections. I fell in love with three paintings.

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Vittore Carpaccio (Venetian, 1465–1526), St. Stephen, ca. 1505–1514. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1961.9.13

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Vittore Carpaccio’s St. Stephen, from ca. 1514. I love the rocks glued to his head and shoulder (see detail).

Thomas Moran (American, 1837-1926), Grand Canyon, 1907

Thomas Moran (American, 1837–1926), Grand Canyon, 1907. Gift of Laura A. Clubb, 1947.8.26

Thomas Moran’s awesome Grand Canyon from 1907. He left no color off the canvas.

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Byam Shaw (British, 1872–1919), Beatrice, ca. 1905. Gift of Laura A. Clubb, 1947.8.6

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And Beatrice, ca. 1905, by Byam Shaw. No photo I could take would do this Pre-Raphaelite–inspired painting justice. For me, the actual mother of pearl, gold, gesso, and beads that decorate the surface are entrancing, but the architectural frame won me over from fifty feet away.

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Vittore Carpaccio (Venetian, ca. 1465–1526), St. Peter Martyr of Verona, ca. 1505–1514. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1961.9.11

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An honorable mention was the companion painting to St. Stephen: Carpaccio’s St. Peter Martyr of Verona (ca. 1505–1514). How could anyone not appreciate the skillful placement of daggers, the symbol of his martyrdom?

Written by Stephen Fisher, collections manager at the Mead Art Museum.

From the Collection: Works by Vadim Sidur

 

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This simple, yet elegant drawing by Russian artist Vadim Sidur joined the collection in 2001. Sidur specialized in monumental sculpture during the last Stalinist years. He was going to participate in the re-building of Moscow after World War II, but Stalin died in 1953, and in the mid-1950s Sidur abandoned the Socialist Realist vocabulary that would form the style of the postwar revisions. The officials regarded his non-canonical art as formalist and pacifist, and therefore prevented him from exhibiting in Russia. Despite this prohibition, Sidur never left his native country.

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Sidur began making drawings after suffering a heart attack in 1961. In the work above, titled Faces, he achieved a quality of sculptural volume on a flat surface. The monumentality and dynamism of ancient sculpture, which had fascinated Sidur since childhood, resonates. Perhaps because of his two encounters with death (the other, during WW II) his work typically addressed existential questions about life, death, and family. The three people represented here are graphically linked, symbolizing the need for human support within a hostile social and political environment.

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From the Collection: Untitled (Owl and Cherry Branch)

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This Japanese woodblock print by Hirose Bihō joined the collection in 2005. Very little is known about the artist Bihō (born 1873) except that he was a designer of kachō-e, or “animal and flower pictures.” In many of his known works, he experiments with bokashi, the gradient effect in the background and on the owl’s chest. This print is signed “Bihō” at lower left and bears the artist’s seal.

image source: Untitled (Owl and Cherry Branch)