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MoMA

PORTRAIT IN SEVEN SHADES: MONET

February 4, 2010  |  Artists, Portrait in Seven Shades
Portrait in Seven Shades: Monet

Portrait in Seven Shades tells a story about seven painters—not through words, as in a museum description, but through music. Many parallels can be drawn between art and music. Like painters, musicians talk of colors, layers and composition. Several stylistic descriptors—impressionistic, abstract, pop—are common to both fields. And of course there is the blues.

When Wynton Marsalis, artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, asked me to compose a long-form piece,  it didn’t take me long to come up with a concept that would truly inspire me to write an hour’s worth of music: it would be a piece with seven movements, each dedicated to a different painter. It was hard narrowing it down to only seven painters, as there are so many artists that I truly admire, but the list ultimately included Monet, Dali, Matisse, Picasso, van Gogh, Chagall, and Pollock. I wanted the listener to hear music that evokes images with which they are already familiar, and to see these paintings in a new, fresh way.

For the Monet movement, I used the triptych Water Lilies as a main inspiration. I feel that Monet embellished reality by diffusing it, using colors and textures to create fantasy. We feel nature, water, air – things that are very basic.  When you stand up close to this sprawling canvas you lose sight of reality; instead you see the strokes, gesture, and textures.

I hope that you’ll return to INSIDE/OUT to experience the six other movements, as I’ll be writing about each one over the next seven days.

Comments

Sounds really amazing and in this atmosphere it is great…I believe these series will continue, so many people can see and enjoy.

You can see the jazz influence in works by Matisse and Pollock, even if the artists themselves weren’t actually inspired by the music. Looking forward to hearing the jazz interpretations of the artists listed.

I throughly enjoyed reading about and listening to the music that showers these wonderful art works with emotion.

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