Sunday, August 30, 2009


The Monet Daubigny challenge had me examine the two poppy field paintings, and what I noticed were ladies with their little girls and parasols in Monet's field, and men and women hunched over and at work in the moonlight in Daubigny's. One is a poppy field on a sunny Sunday afternoon and the other a poppy field at harvest on a darkening Monday. In Monet's painting the field of poppies is off to the left, a hillside of weed seeds scattered for the people to enjoy upon passing. For Daubigny, the poppies are the subject, the point of the work and the reason for the painting. Both artists use a green hedge of trees to break the canvas across the middle, Monet's trees are individuals and Daubigny's are an unbroken chain, a flow of trees.
Monet's painting is interested in the individual experience, Daubigny's interprets the field, the land and the people as a single organism bathed in the single light of the half moon.
There is a determined class difference and within the paintings are characteristics of the classes themselves, I think. But as O'Keefe pointed out, I am hanging my own associations of these"classes" into the paintings, to give them context, which they do not need. Nor does this beautiful poem by Carl Sandberg:
She loves blood-red poppies for a garden to walk in.
In a loose white gown she walks
and a new child tugs at cords in her body.
Her head to the west at evening when the dew is creeping,
A shudder of gladness runs in her bones and torsal fiber:
She loves blood-red poppies for a garden to walk in.
Carl Sandberg could be writing about women in either painting, some things are universal.
Sandberg was married to Lilian Steichen, sister of Edward Steichen the photographer. Steichen's photograph is the image in this post. I chose it because it spoke to me about Monet's poppy field where I see a sunflower the size of a giant tree, towering over everything. In this Steichen photograph I see what remained of that sunflower in the winter.

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