I am here to see the de-deconstruction
of Monet’s water lilies, what
the curator calls Agapanthus,
the African lily grown 45 miles west
of Paris, but instead I watch
a bearded young artist, seated
in front of the magnificent if ignored
collected canvas, as his attention
is focused left to the exit door
and the young museum attendant
who is self-consciously and
embarrassedly aware that he is
being drawn in charcoal, shades
of black and white on gray paper.
I want to see the Monet but instead
I watch the intent artist drawing
the self-conscious attendant and
I glance deliberately to see
the likeness is rather remarkable,
right there in front of Monet’s
inspiring if ignored water lilies.
I would take a photograph
but cameras are not allowed.
On Tuesday, I posted “Navigating Monet’s Water Lilies,” about the three paintings that comprise The Agapanthus triptych currently on display at the St. Louis Art Museum. As I entered the large room containing the triptych, there was actually an artist seated in front of the Monet but focused on the drawing described here. Fortunately, I spent some time looking at Monet’s water lilies before I circled back to see what the artist was drawing.
Painting: Self-Portrait of the Artist with Beret by Claude Monet.
When all are fully focussed on what sits straight ahead, it is often worth checking if we have missed the human drama all around us..
I love that you witnessed the watching of an artist watching.
At the MET in NYC, student and professional artists are all over the museum sketching, and in one area with a lot of gorgeous old sculpture a lot of easels get set up. It's fun to see what ends up on paper.
I notice so many times in museums people spend more time reading wall text than looking, although now they tend to use their cell phones for info. There's no substitute for the looking; it's what trains the eye.
I like that your poem is about the guard being sketched. Many of these staff have MFAs and know quite a bit about the art on the walls. It would be interesting to know if the guard is an artist, too.
See?.... this is how your brain begins such wonderful stories within stories, within a much larger story. Good eye, Glynn. =)
I'm always disappointed when art museums don't allow cameras. Perhaps you'll have to learn to sketch, Glynn... wait a minute, you already do that with you words.
I'd be in trouble. Always curious, always watching, checking things out. BUT a Monet fan when the paintings are of nature... no people included. I'd have my head tossing all over the place! [If I ever am in St. L. again, I'll need to go take that visit!]
i love this poem.
And your words,
"i circled back", in your description
just leaps out at me.
There have been times i have circled back...
to see a baby's face, for instance.
i just wrote "i circled back" on a 3" by 5".
I've always enjoyed watching my son sketch works of art when we go to Rochester. You have described it well.
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