Saturday, February 19, 2011

"The Air That Touched Things"

Claude Monet
"La Pie (The Magpie)"
Oil on canvas
35 x 51 inches
"Monet once revealed that he wanted to paint not things in themselves but the air that touched things - the enveloping air. The enveloping air offers continuity and infinite expansion. If Monet can paint the air, he can follow it like following a thought. Except that the air operates wordlessly and, when painted, is visibly present only in colors, touches, layers, palimpsests, shades, caresses, scratches."

- John Berger, "The Enveloping Air," Harper's Magazine, January 2011
I'm not sure which I like more, Monet's wonderfully quixotic desire to paint "the air that touched things" or Berger's evocative prose. In any case, Monet nailed the light in his magpie painting.

Image credit: ripped from


Prof. Ormsbee said...

This was my favorite Monet (or one very similar to it, but I'm old, so gimme a break) at last summer's early impressionism exhibit at the de Young. I'm not general a fan of Monet, but the series of winter scenes were arresting.

In some parallel universe, Bizarro Me is able to articulate why.

Gordon Sylvestor said...

I agree that Monet does take some getting used to but there is no arguing his impressionistic prowess. Easy on this eyes, even if Lee Majors needs a hearing aid. Beauty comes in many forms.

Hungry Hyaena said...


Really? That's the weirdest advert post ever....or I'm missing something!