The tragically unrequited love, the driving need to be accepted as a serious artist, the longing for success that never quite came (he sold only one painting during his lifetime)—most people are just as familiar with the story of Vincent van Gogh‘s life as they are with his art. Full of thick strokes and rich colors, van Gogh’s paintings express his passion and pathos. His many self-portraits show him to be sad or dispirited. Aware of his struggles, we are drawn into his paintings. The reality he captures is one we want to experience.
Posts tagged ‘Wynton Marsalis’
When Wynton Marsalis, the Music Director at Jazz at Lincoln Center, asked me to compose a long-form piece that could take any direction as long as it had a theme, it didn’t take me long to come up with a truly inspiring concept: music based on art. In Portrait in Seven Shades, each movement is dedicated to a different painter, and while it was hard to narrow my selection down to only seven artists, there were a few choices that were obvious to me—one of them being Picasso.
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.
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