Longing for museums, and how artist David Hockney is spending his pandemic days. Join him.
Empty museums and lonely, would-be museum goers. In many places, including our own Upper Valley, museums have been shuttered for almost a year due to COVID-19. Picture what this has meant for the scheduled blockbuster and other exhibitions that normally draw scads of viewers. Recently, French museums have petitioned their government to allow them to reopen even if on a restricted basis. The art is there, they argue, and of course the guards are there; all that is missing are viewers. Some exhibitions—most notably one featuring the works of Matisse at Paris’s Centre Pompidou—have come and gone, virtually unseen, invisible. The Matisse amassed a mere 17,000 visitors before it shut down last year. Normally millions of tourists and Parisians would have crowded the museum.
Fear not, though and do what art lovers in Paris are doing in these museum-less times. Go to art galleries, which for some reason (perhaps because they are businesses) are permitted to remain open. La Galerie Lelong in Paris is featuring the very recent works of internationally renowned artist David Hockney. You can get a glimpse of these amazing new paintings (no international travel required) by clicking here; it will be the best minute and 37 seconds you’ll spend today. (Another interactive 4-minute tour can be found here.)
Hockney, now 83 and known for his prodigious study and painting of America’s Southern California, became enamored of Normandy in France and purchased property there. He moved in recently and when COVID-19 shut down the world, he decided to ride out the lockdown in his new old farmhouse. He picked up his paintbrush (he had been creating works via iPad in recent years and continues to do so) and started interpreting scenes around his home, most notably his own garden. The result is the exhibition “Ma Normandie/My Normandy.” Gallery Director Jean Fremont notes that the artist is happy with his new muse, and that perhaps Hockney had become justifiably tired “of painting the same permanently blue [California] sky.”
Closer to home, the Upper Valley awaits the reopening of the Hood Museum of Art. Junction Magazine just published a piece by Hazel-Dawn Dumpert about “Every One (#MMIWQT Bead Project),” the single work visible through the Hood’s vitrine. Self-reflective sidewalk visits only.
Just a little further down the road, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) (good art inside, great views outside) in Boston has announced that it will reopen on March 20, the first day of spring. Timed tickets are a must.
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Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.