Saturday, August 6, 2016


My husband's aunt fancies herself an artist. The walls of her home are covered with her creations. She told me that they are all for sale but people don't want to pay what they are worth.  When there was a gallery in town for a short period, she displayed a number of her paintings but sold none of them.

One day, when I was visiting her, I looked at one painting which seemed very familiar.  I said, "This looks like a Bruegel."  She tittered, "Is that the way it's pronounced?"   I nodded and asked why she had copied Bruegel's work.   She told me that she oftentimes looked at art books and then copied favorites.   As I looked around at the many paintings, it became a guessing-game to name the artists she tried to imitate.  I asked, "Did you copy any of The Younger?"  She said, "I don't know what you mean."  I said, "The Bruegels are father and son, the Elder and the Younger."  She said, "You seem to know a lot about artists;  do you paint?"  I said, "I don't know enough about art and I have no talent; but there must be appreciators."

She asked how I became interested in art and I told her about The Gleaners, a picture by Jean Francois Millet which hung in our school and I became fascinated and investigated the artist.  She
asked, "How old were you?"  I said, "It was in the second grade because Mrs. Chapman got a book for me to see and she told me what gleaners were."  I told her that I always had a soft spot for Millet after that.  She said she was stunned that a second-grader would be that interested.

Looking at her "work",  I asked, "You can't sell these, can you?"  She responded, "They have my name on them;  I'm not trying to be a forger; I just like to imitate those styles."

The fact that I was able to recognize that she was imitating Bruegel showed that she did indeed possess artistic talent.

She asked which artists I liked.  I told her that Jean Baptiste Camille Corot was my favorite.  She did not know his work and did not have any of his work in her books.  I told her she could borrow my books.

When she came to our house to look at my books, she was sitting on the couch in the family room. At that time, we had a portrait by Jamie Wyeth of Rudolf Nureyev on the opposite wall, above the love seat.  His aunt exclaimed, "I can't believe you would have that disgusting nude up there."  I answered, "He's not nude, he's wearing a flesh-colored leotard and I think it's beautiful."  She said, "I can't believe that you think that is art."  I said, "You could imitate that."  I doubt she got my sarcasm because he just shook her head in disgust.

I asked her if she had a problem with nudes as there were so many in the history of art.  She didn't respond but I could tell she was shocked when I said, "I do have a nude by Jamie's father on my bedroom wall."  She declined to see THAT one!

She gasped, "His father?"  I said, "He's the son of Andrew Wyeth."  She didn't know the Wyeths either.  I dragged out the ten books I have showing the works of N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth.

I said, "Andrew's sister Henriette is also an artist, but I don't have any of her work and Henriette's husband Peter Hurd is quite famous."  She had not heard of him either.  I said, "He's the one who painted Lyndon Johnson's White House portrait and LBJ said it was the ugliest thing he'd ever seen."

She said that she didn't care for "modern" art.

No comments: