Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Often during winter the skies in Lorraine are grey. When grey skies begin they continue well into March. Grey skies can be lovely for awhile but then the grey…well... makes one feel grey. 

I have learned to appreciate this time of year with its coldness and slowness, but the grey still trips me up. I’m simply not wired for so much grey. 

My body expects light, tons of light and color, all the time. In California, color and light are everything. We wear orange in January and pink in February. Our winter skies are normally a clear, bright blue, and though we need every drop, we become terribly grumpy if it rains for more than 5 days. 

So when I entered the Expressionismus & Expressionismi exhibit at La Pinacotheque in Paris, my chin dropped.  I had numbed to how intense color and light could be. I embraced it instantly.

Not only are the paintings from these German expressionists filled with bright bold dancing colors, but the walls throughout the gallery rooms are also richly colored in yellow, blue, green and violet.  


The exhibition compares theoretical differences from two groups of German expressionist artists, Der Blue Reiter and Die Brücke. Both shared a passion for color, however it is explained that Die Brücke artists chose to see art as a discovery, driven by instinct and emotion, while Der Blaue Reiter’s spiritual approach with color and line had a more theoretical and intellectual basis.

The artists from both groups created a prolific amount of work which the Nazi regime labeled as “degenerate”. Thousands of pieces were either stolen or destroyed, so to see so many works by various artists from this period was quite an experience. 

I tried to practice the exhibition’s comparison theory but soon found it all a bit tedious. Overly analytical plaques and wall talk seem to be common in French exhibitions, but by the end of the yellow room,  I was just trying to look French by politely skimming through all the wordiness - except for the biography plaques, which are extremely interesting. However, once in the blue room, I stopped reading plaques and walls altogether.

This theoretical comparision is an interesting basis for an exhibit. These artists piddle-paddled amongst themselves far too often that surely theories blended. They had affairs and bickered together, and some just started group after group after group after group. Artists need one other, even when they don’t need each other, if that makes sense. 

One thing is certain the paintings are bold, colorful and beautiful to look at. Intellectually induced or not, these artists sensed how the body requires the spiritual, instinctive and emotional necessity of light and color.

And I do love me some light and color.

IMAGES (starting top left):
-Thionville in January.
-Auguste Macke: Couple sur un chemin dans la forêt, 1913.
-Members of Der Blaue Reiter left to right: Maria & Franz Marc, Bernhard Koehler, Vasily Kandinsky, Heinrich Campendonk, Thomas von Hartmann in Munich around 1911-1912
-Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Self-portrait with Cigar. 1919


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