The Art of Displaying Art

Dear Liza,

While I was enjoying the art of the Nabis, I was also noticing how well the display space had been designed to complement the paintings and prints.

And it was no accident. The curators, Mary Weaver Chapin and Heather Lemonedes Brown, had done some art history sleuthing and found reproductions of historic wallpapers that looked very much like the rooms in the paintings.

Since so much of the mood of the display space is evoked by the wall coverings, using period wallpaper allowed us to see the paintings as they were intended to be seen: against vibrant colors and busy designs.



The music that was playing in the display area was fitting, as well, light and pleasant. The only way to have made it more cozy would have been to have a cushy sofa in front of each piece, but that may be a bit much to ask for.

As we headed out into the chilly wet afternoon, I felt as though I had spent an afternoon at a gracious, well decorated home.

Love,

Grandma Judy

More Nabis !

Dear Liza,

There were four members of the group of artists who called themselves the Nabis. Pierre Bonnard was my favorite, but the other fellows did good work, as well.

Edouard Vuillard did lusciously cozy scenes of family interiors, like his “The Striped Blouse”, showing a woman arranging flowers.

Maurice Denis did very softy colored scenes. So softly colored, in fact, that it is sometimes hard to make out the details. It is important to realize that these pictures are over a hundred years old, and many are just pencil on paper. Nothing lasts forever, after all.

Here is a painting by Denis that I really like, called “Washing the Baby”. The woman looks calmer than I ever felt while wrestling a slippery infant!

Felix Vallotton did paintings and prints of home interiors, but had a very different style from his fellow Nabis. Instead of showing private joys and comforts, his stark black and white prints often make us suspect that all was not right in the household.

This scene of an intimate conversation, for example, is entitled “Money”. Who was asking? Who was denying? Not all roses and champagne, for sure.

But Monsieur Vallotton wasn’t all dark suspicion. His series of prints showing family members playing music has style and fun, and shows what you can do with just black, white, and talent.

So, those are the Nabis, which means ”Prophets” in Hebrew. I really enjoyed the show and will probably go back soon, to have another look at everything.

Love,

Grandma Judy