Monthly Archives: May 2008

Art (as in “what is”)

A perennial question that continues to come up in various fora that I belong to. Also one to which I, like most “artists”, have given a great deal of thought. I thought I would do a series of posts on the subject, as much to organize my own thoughts on the matter as anything. My first is just a quote from Wikipedia

Art refers to a diverse range of human activities and artifacts, and may be used to cover all or any of the arts, including music, literature and other forms. It is most often used to refer specifically to the visual arts, including media such as painting, sculpture, and printmaking. However it can also be applied to forms of art that stimulate the other senses, such as music, an auditory art. Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy which considers art.

Traditionally the term art was used to refer to any skill or mastery, a concept which altered during the Romantic period, when art came to be seen as “a special faculty of the human mind to be classified with religion and science”.[1]


Generally art is a (product of) human activity, made with the intention of stimulating the human senses as well as the human mind; by transmitting emotions and/or ideas. Beyond this description, there is
no general agreed-upon definition of art. Art is also able to illustrate abstract thought and its expressions can elicit previously hidden emotions in its audience.

Kitty de Cheveigné

Kitty de Cheveigné was my husband’s aunt. Born in India to missionary parents, her father was English and her mother Canadian. She grew up mostly in Europe, living at Versailles for a while when her father was vicar there (who knew that there was an Anglican parish at Versailles?). She attended art school, (I am not sure where, RCA I think, or maybe the Slade) and worked as a nurse during the Second World War. She married a hero of the French resistance, Maurice de Cheveigné and lived in France for most of the remainder of her life. They had a small farm in the Pyrennees and she started painting again in her middle years. We have a few of her paintings from that time and I think they are very fine. She will probably never be famous, but perhaps by posting these here a few more will get to appreciate her great talent.
Canto Perdix - Spring

Canto Perdix – Spring

Canto Perdix - Winter

Canto Perdix – Winter

Olive Grove

Olive Grove

Mixed Bouquet

Mixed Bouquet

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums

Peonies

Peonies

 

 

Riverbrink Art Museum

I went to Riverbrink today, Jonathan was playing at their open house and I have been meaning to go there for years. They have a lovely location and an impressive collection, supplemented at the moment by loans from galleries in New York.

Samuel Edward Weir, Q.C. was born in 1898, and was a lawyer in London, Ontario. He began collecting art in his twenties; pieces by Homer Watson and Dame Laura Knight (I hadn’t known her work before, really nice) were among the first. In the 1940s he bought land along the Niagara River, in the village of Queenston and built a house there which he called Riverbrink. He retired there in 1970 and died in 1981, leaving his home and art collection in the care of The Weir Foundation. It officially opened as a gallery and museum on June 15, 1983.

Weir collected some 160 works that illustrate the immediate area around Niagara Falls, as well as works that show the history and development of Upper and Lower Canada in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The collection contains pieces by many of the important Canadian painters and sculptors who worked before and into the early years of the twentieth century, including Cornelius Kreighoff, Paul Kane, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, Tom Thomson and members of the Group of Seven.

Exhibits are changed annually, with almost 200 artworks on display each year. Of 1,000 or so pieces of fine art in the collection, almost seventy percent are Canadian. The other thirty percent is by American and European artists, including pieces by Jacob Epstein and Augustus John.

This is a pretty impressive collection, especially with the addition of the extra paintings currently on loan from a couple of galleries in New York. My favourites are probably, the Augustus John sketches of Canadian soldiers from WW1, the oil study for “The Jack Pine” by Tom Thomson and a charming and very typical Paul Peel that would probably have got him put in jail for kiddie porn if he painted it today. Also the Laura Knight charcoal and watercolour paintings are lovely.