Friday, April 5, 2013

Sargent Watercolors at BMA; Fiorini at Drawing Center

John Singer Sargent, Corfu: Lights and Shadows, 1909. Translucent & opaque watercolor with graphite underdrawing, 15-7/8 x 20-7/8". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Hayden Collection—Charles Henry Hayden Fund
The Brooklyn Museum has a dazzling exhibition opening today—John Singer Sargent Watercolors—on view through July 28. Put it on your must-see list.

On view is the BMA's collection of 38 Sargent (1856—1925) watercolors, purchased as an entity from his 1909 debut exhibition in New York, combined with that of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, totalling 93 works (including nine oil paintings). The subject matter focuses on exotic foreign locales including Venice, the Alps, and the Carrara quarry in Italy; Syria, and Corfu. His deftness with color, rhythm, and light perfectly suit the medium of watercolor. Some of the humblest subjects take on a monumental quality—laundry drying on lines, a tramp, gourds. He captures the chaos and magic of the Grand Canal in Venice, and the steely gaze of a Bedouin. 

You can practically smell the aromas and feel the aridity in his works. Breathe deeply.


Ragazza che piange (Crying Girl)1960. Pencil & aluminum enamel on
paper. 19-5/8 x 27-1/2"
Courtesy the artist
Also opening this week is Giosetta Fiorini: L'Argento (b. 1932) at The Drawing Center. This less-known Italian artist whose work falls into the Pop vein favors painting on paper and canvas in silver. A round framing device serves as a de facto viewing lens; glam women in sunglasses are frequent subjects. Feathery sketches evoke Twombly, a trio of enamel paintings on the entry wall conjure Warhol.

A series of sketches in the rear gallery are among the most fascinating. They depict landscapes or houses in a distant, abstract way—with a giant arrow, or defined by negative space. The tone of the show feels light, but the consistency and unique vision of this artist linger. 

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