It had been 30 years since we had been in London. One site on my “must-see” list was the Tate Modern, that monumental museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art and occupying a former power plant on the south bank of the Thames, directly across the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul’s Cathedral. Even if you don’t like contemporary art, the museum is stunning. The major exhibition at the time was the works of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, which I would see two days later. On this day, I simply wanted to experience the museum itself.
I wandered. And in the corner of a large room I came upon a painting by the British painter Meredith Frampton (1894-1984) entitled “Marguerite Kelsey.” Kelsey (1908-1994) was a professional model, and this painting of her from 1928 simply stunned me. I stood in front of it for a good 15 minutes, and then resumed my wandering. I went back to it before I left, and I would return twice more during that trip to see it. Two years later, I had a similar experience with “Interior 1981” by the German painter Anselm Kiefer, during an exhibition of his work at the Royal Academy of Art. As it turned out, that painting was part of Kiefer’s leading Germany to confront its Nazi past.
Art can move us to a stunned silence. It can also move us to write poetry, as the paintings of the Fauvism movement, roughly 1904 to 1908, moved poet Barbara Crooker to write Les Fauves, her newest collection. (The term for poetry inspired by other forms of art is ekphrastic poetry, and Crooker won a ekphrastic poetry award in 2006.)
To continue reading, please see my post todat at Tweetspeak Poetry.
Painting: Odalisque avec Anemones, oil on canvas (1937) by Henri Matisse; Philadelphia Museum of Art.