Friday, October 7, 2016
The Earth's Breathing
Another pastel: an 11x14 on uart paper of a view in Ogunquit from the Marginal Way.
My quick survey on the Internet finds many people writing that Levitan was some kind of Russian impressionist just because he used some bright oil paint and knew what was going on in Europe. But even a cursory look at the images of his paintings reveals that he had a different outlook on nature than Monet or Sisley. He spiritualizes nature. Light and dark have deep emotional resonances. Vistas reveal yearning. There's nothing shallow about him. Just look at how he painted trees. And yet he still was a great colorist and a great composer of images. The Russian book on Isaac Levitan that I mentioned in my last posting contains a summary in English. The author, Vladimir Aleksandrovich Petrov, quotes an unnamed critic who sums up succinctly Levitan's relationship to nature. He wrote: "...in his late years [he] 'tried to monumentalize the earth's breathing.'"