I hear the thwang of Cupid’s arrow near and offer up my favorite painting of love as a target for today’s discussion– Thomas Hart Benton’s Romance, on display at the Blanton Museum in Austin, Texas.
I’m immediately drawn to the intense turquoise blue of the sky, embraced by the tree branch and her vibrant poppy red dress. The statuesque couple contrasts with the dream-like landscape surrounding them. They walk, hand in hand, eyes closed. The the moonlight casts its spell; wafting clouds swirl to the ground.
I’m again caught up in the depth of the jewel-like colors intensifying this dreamy, atmospheric feeling (almost Surrealist with echos of El Greco). His shoes are off, hers are on. Is this a new romance? Are they courting, walking though a neighbor’s backyard, blind to each other’s faults (love is blind)? Each experience intensified yet dreamlike in the thrall of eros. Their feet don’t seem to be firmly planted on the ground.
Or is this an old love, deep and unscarred by time and circumstance. What they have is beyond sight, a heartfelt soulfulness. At peace with each other. Such that they know each other’s thoughts. The hard work of running their farm, a silent testament behind them. Do they walk side by side, even in their dreams?
The mystery here is the mystery of love. What drives it. What sustains it. How we get it; how we keep it. It’s a million immutable questions that must be answered one at a time. With our eyes closed.
The Prado in Madrid is Spain’s version of the Louvre. Lo siento, Espana, no one can top the Louvre. But that’s no reason to miss this national treasure.
I wish I had done a leeetle more research on Ms. Prado Museo though, because it is, well. . . labyrinthine. I foolishly started at the beginning, where your teacher always tells you to start. Right? Don’t. Unless you like antiquities and Flemish art. You know all those shiny still life’s of fruit and flies. Lots of men in puffed sleeves and feathered hats.
You must know exactly what you want to see so you won’t get “museum eye.” You know, that glassy far off stare when you know you should be enjoying this if you were cultured, but you’d really like a Sangria instead?
So here are my top pics. Forgo the first wing of the museum and vamonos to the new part (the expansion) for the good stuff. Of course if you like Goya, you should go straight to his galleries because he was the court painter of Spain for forever and you really can’t beat his lace. But lots of royalty here (now where did I put that tiara?)
I will put in my plug for the El Greco galleries. They are tremendous. Not everyone likes him, but I Heart him big time. Lots of saints in silks.
They are rearranging much of their collection (which is what all top-notch stylistas do) so just ask someone if you get lost.
Hermitage section IX has the fun twentieth century art. My great Prado memories were here, close to the inside cafe where my friends spent most of thier time. . .drinking Sangria.
BTW don’t you just covet her eyebrows?