Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Just Another Frenchman Who Painted Naked Ladies...

...is not exactly how I would describe world-famous impressionist, Camille Pissarro. First of all, the dude is not really French, in my opinion. I mean, just because a guy attends some hoity-toity schools in Paris and gallivants around the French countryside, hanging out with arty French people and oogling naked French ladies washing themselves in a French creek, that doesn't make him stinkin' French. Secondly, Pissarro is famous for painting stuff that is way more boring than naked ladies bathing...er, I mean jostling with each other.

Pissarro was actually born and raised in St. Thomas, to a Portuguese Jew and a lady from the Dominican Republic. My mother and I recently made a surprise visit to his birthplace, a house located at 14 Main Street in Charlotte Amalie. The building now houses a gallery appropriately named "The Camille Pissarro Gallery" which is run by an old lady who eyeballed the crap out of us as we browsed the prints and paintings there. Almost all of the work was created by local artists, not actually Pissarro himself. The only sign of him came in the form of some greeting cards sitting in a dusty rack by the entrance. To my astonishment, I found the artwork reproduced on those cards to be quite interesting. They were scenes from St. Thomas that he had drawn as a young man.


Two Women Chatting by the Sea, St. Thomas (1856)


A Creek In St. Thomas, Antilles (1856)

I was tempted to purchase the cards, but that would have costed money. There was one other small print, not by Pissarro, that really grabbed my attention, but I did not write the artist's name down, and I am now kicking myself for failing to do so. This is one of my bad habits-telling myself the lie that I will remember an artist's name, knowing full well that I absolutely never will, not writing it down and then unsuccessfully attempting to recall it later. I do remember that it was titled "Golden Shower" (awesome), and it was a drawing of the Golden Shower Tree and its admittedly phallic seed pod (also awesome and I'm not ordinarily into the whole phallic art thing). I cannot tell you of the gratuitous filth that I encountered while trying to google image search for this drawing. I'll just have to go back to the gallery and find the card again. I'm sure it'll be there. It looked as if nothing in that tiny room had been moved or touched in a looooooong time.
And now for a stunning photograph of me in the very spot Camille Pissarro's mom pushed Camille Pissarro out:


TADAA!

In closing, while I usually spend weeks, if not months, studying the various art and artists I happen upon in my daily life, I'm satisfied with the little knowledge I gained about Pissarro's life and work through the internet research inspired by our visit to his house. I've always thought he was a boring painter, and I still think he's a boring painter. Granted, he was the "Patriarch of Impressionism" and an important influence on Cézanne, Gauguin (who I've also been studying lately and actually do hold in high regard), Van Gogh, and Monet blahdy blah blah blah who cares. The man's paintings are dull. I do think it's pretty cool that he married his parents' maid though.

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