Monday, December 07, 2015


Quite an artistic day we had in Philadelphia, starting with one of the city's famous murals (actually one of a pair, the other, in similar colors, faces it) made possible by the widespread rowhouse construction. But the highlight was the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a third of which we explored. Wonderful to rediscover PMA's splended medieval European collection, including this "Holy Kinship" (attributed to Matthäus Gutrecht the Younger) from around 1500. The Virgin Mary's (and so Jesus') extended family?! Mary's mother Anne married three times, dontcha know, with progeny (and of course husbands) each time. Overflowing with babies on their mothers' laps this is a Christianity unrecognizable to the religious imagination today, whether of the image is male Protestant Trinity or celibate Catholic saints. Ave Mariae!
And then the Monets, each a work pulsing with life. In the first I saw, a landscape on the isle of Saint Martin, you become aware that the wind you see playing in some tall grasses in the distance is also scudding clouds over your head, beyond your field of view. In others, colors morph as you watch from blue to a rose-tinted brown, or from pink and yellow to sun-spangled green, and green sea currents roil powerfully. (Photos, including the museum's, don't begin to do justice.) And in 1873's "The Sheltered Path," you find yourself hurrying to catch up with the man ahead of you, who's just turned - or is just about to turn - back, but in any case wants you ion that path with him. How can you not follow?

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