Sometimes the creative process is far more interesting to me than the end result. That’s why art history has always fascinated me. Even if I don’t particularly “like” a work of art, studying the back story of it, what the artist was thinking, what his or her influences were and how he or she painting the work give the work so much more meaning. And as someone who has never really found her inner artistic ability (try as I might, my drawings still look like a six-year-old drew them…) I love seeing artists’ sketches or preparatory studies.
Yesterday, my mom and I visited the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (bonus: free admission on Thursdays!). It’s really an impressive museum and it was my first time visiting. We only made it around the second floor of one building because we spent so much time awestruck by the amazing impressionist collection. I discovered so many artists I wasn’t familiar with (more on them in a later post) and smiled seeing works by favorites (van Gogh, Vuillard, Monet …).
This particular work by Frederic Bazille especially struck me, again, more for its backstory than its actual appearance. You see, it’s not finished. Bazille had only loosely sketched the kneeling person on the left and the tall pine tree, as well as several bushes. He died in the Franco-Prussian War, leaving many works unfinished. How sad, right? And also eery, because when I looked at that outlined body in the painting, it kind of took on a ghostly quality. But how interesting to see all the layers of the process coming together.
This bottom work by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – the notable French artist who painted vivid and energetic cabaret scenes – is less work in progress as it is a simple caricature. In its simplicity, it’s still so interesting to me. Any caricaturists out there I can hire for my future dinner parties?