Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Free association

Before going to dinner and a show this weekend, JD and I went to the art museum. There were more than a few interesting works of art there that I either haven't seen before, or don't remember seeing. One painting in particular, by Corot, titled "The Curious Little Girl," stopped me cold. It's not a big painting, and it hangs in an inconspicuous location-- on a short wall by the opening between two rooms. In fact, JD missed it in his browsing as he was walking in front of me. He always ends up in front of me in a museum. There are many compelling things to me about this painting, some of them entirely peculiar to me, I am sure. However, it also immideately made me think of one of the bloggers in our little circle here. I took a picture with my cell phone, and tried to edit it to true colors today, but I don't believe I fully succeeded. Nevertheless, I present it here for your own free-association pleasure.


So who does it make you think of? Or, alternatively, what are some of the (little-known) works of art that stopped you in your tracks?
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Lori said...

I am not sure I have the imagination required for this exercise... but after looking at the painting for a bit I would venture to say it makes me think of either Niobe or Sara.

And I will have to do a little research to come up with the name of the painting that keeps popping into my head. I can see it but can't for the life of me think of the name.

niobe said...

This is a very interesting painting. My interpretation is that it's kind of self-referential, making a statement about the limitations of art, emphasizing the division between the real and the painted world.

You can see that the girl is about to step up and look over the wall that's blocking her view, so that what she's going to do will mirror what the person looking at the painting is doing right now. But we, the viewers, can't climb up to look over the wall. Our vision is blocked, because that world is imaginary, unpainted.

On the other hand, right now, the girl is looking out of the canvas, directly at the viewer. However, we realize that, just as we can't see over the wall, the girl can't see out of the picture. Her view is blocked in that direction in the same way that the view of what's on the other side of the wall is blocked from us.

So, on both sides, there are failures of vision, emphasizing the unreality of the painting, the gap between representation and reality,

Anyway, that's my take on it.

Aite said...

In the current weather, it's hard to imagine a girl having to wear on outfit like that. I like conservative clothes, but just looking at this painting right now brings me to the verge of heat exhaustion.

Niobe, your interpretation is very deep. It makes a lot of sense.

Makes me think of Sara and Niobe. But Niobe is clearly a city dweller, but the girl in the picture seems to be somewhere in the countryside.

S. said...

I like Niobe's take.

I thought she was looking to see if anyone will stop her from climbing clear over the wall. There's an energy behind that foot on the rock, with the other one poised to push.

Sara said...

Oh, I know this painting. I love this painting. I'm flattered that anyone would be reminded of me, but clearly, it's Niobe, the curious one. It so fits her I have nothing to add to her interpretation.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit my favorites, because a friend of Josh's called my taste "so bourgeois" a few years ago, and my feelings were permanently hurt. But anyway, here goes: Francesco Hayez, Portrait in a Group of Friends. For me, it captures a sardonic moment of intellectual camaraderie, in a coffeehouse or pub.

And then there's Elise Købke's Little Girl with a Cup. I think I first fell for this one for the incredibly vain reason that the little girl looks like me as a child, but I just love the detailing - her fingernails, the way her collar sits, as well as the look on her face.

Julia said...

If anyone is still checking back here... Thanks, all, for participating. This was very interesting to read. Some of the things you talked about I got when I was first looking at the painting, and some not completely. Niobe, I really like your interpretation, but I didn't quite get there myself. I was wondering somewhere in the limitations of the view universe, but couldn't bring it home-- thanks for the push.

Sara, I don't think I have ever seen either of those two before. They are both very interesting. And Josh's friend? He knows one too many big words for his own good, if you know what I mean. ;)

I wanted to give everyone plenty of time to leave their impressions before I got back to my original one.

Although I thought of Sara later on too, my original association was with Niobe. Perhaps it was because the girl seems so much more complex than the title of the picture indicates. She is not laughing unabashedly as she is embarking on her curious pursuit. She is reflective, and thoughtful, and determined. But I thought of Niobe before I could formulate any of that, so maybe it was just that, as Sara said, "it so fits her..."