At the Saint Louis Art Museum’s exhibit of Monet’s Agapanthus triptych, in a little room where some silent footage of the painter ran in a loop, accompanied by a recording of Debussy’s “Claire de lune,” a grandmother spoke loudly to her granddaughters, who might have been three and five:
“Smoking cigarettes is very bad for you. If he hadn’t smoked cigarettes, he would have lived a lot longer. You don’t want to smoke cigarettes.”The footage was of Monet at work, a long-ashed cigarette hanging from his lips. He died of lung cancer at the age of eighty-six.
The Agapanthus triptych was a disappointment, though Elaine and I were happy that we shared in the disappointment. (“I’m so glad we have the same taste in art,” said she.) We saw so many far more vibrant and engaging paintings yesterday — by Kline, Motherwell, Pissarro, van Gogh, and Monet himself, among others. The triptych felt more like painting-by-the-yard, or background music. The dark-grey walls and dim lighting didn’t help matters. Nor did the array of merch that waited just beyond the triptych, everything from CDs of French pop music to Monet refrigerator magnets.
All “overheard” posts (via Pinboard)