July 23, 2010
In Search of Monet at Hopper
Last year, my five year old daughter and I visited a Seuralt exhibit at Musee Hermitage in Lausanne. We took the train on a rainy summer day from Geneva and then a bus to the museum. From the bus stop, we walked through a field to the museum and I took a snap shot of her as she held her umbrella in the rain. I still have the picture today and couldn't help noticing how similar it is to the Monet painting above.
I know that painting because it is at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It is a painting of four characters and my photograph only shows my daughter. The Monet characters carry a parasol instead of a Hello Kitty umbrella and are wearing large dresses of the time while my daughter wears skinny jeans. In the Monet painting, the field is dotted with red poppy flowers called coquelicots in French (trivially I know the word in arabic: shakaiq al norman). Both painting and photo have the same movement: young girls crossing a field in transverse with the same elegant stroll.
This summer, I decided to revisit the museum, looking tor recapture my daughter in that beautiful field, and used the Edward Hopper show as a valid pretext to lug all my children to Lausanne by train. How the world has become globalized: Monet the French painter's art at view in Boston while Hopper the American 's work in show in Lausanne.
The show's poster didn't convince my older kids to enter the museum with me. The poster reminded them of Rhodes Island where their youngest uncle got married, but they still preferred to play in the museum gardens of Lausanne, where their eldest uncle had married two years prior.
I therefore took my youngest in his stroller. No sooner had we entered that he nagged: "limatha al fan ya mama? Aina al hayawanat fil mathaf?" (Why art mama? Where are the animals of the museum, referring to natural history museum).
The show was a good one, especially that most of the paintings were on loan from The Whitney Museum, in NYC, which my sister had visited a few years ago with my encouragement. I stood longer in front of two paintings from an Ohio museum and one from a private collection. I always do that because what is the likelihood of me seeing those again? I enjoyed Hopper's Americana red barns and especially his lonely women in a room, with light entering from a window as they longingly gaze out.
I wasn't able to reproduce another photo like I did that rainy day last year. Perhaps, it wasn't right with the two boys in tow. Monet's masterpiece is one of pure femininity and only a little girl's innocence could capture that. It also wasn't raining this time. So the mood was different. However we all benefited from a lovely summer day and train trip to Lausanne.