Tell us a little bit about yourself—your background, major program of study, reasons for taking this trip, and anything else interesting you want to share (maybe something people might not know about you).
Hi there, my name is Graham Smith and I am a 24 year old marketing professional living in South Surrey and working out of Vancouver for Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management . I attended my first Kwantlen Polytechnic University course in September 2010 and my field school trip to Paris in June 2017 marks the completion of my undergraduate degree. I know, a 7 year degree? What has this guy been doing? Fortunately I have graduated with 4 years of professional experience under my belt, a full year of international travels, and a great plan for the future. KPU has helped me emerge as an excited and industrious young man.
I chose embark on this Impressionist Art field school adventure in Paris due to my recent intrigue and scholarly work in the fine art world. During my four semesters of study under Dr. Dorothy Barenscott, I have found a passion in working with artists and their creations. My role in the art world is that of a dealer, promoter, and patron of the arts. As I transition back to my life in Vancouver I will pursue opportunities to vitalize the art world with the multitude of fresh, industrious artists of Vancouver and the world.
What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about Paris (or Kassel) so far?
The Parisians are the ultimate curators of visual commodity. From their body language, to dress, to behavior, they dictate the way our eyes move and what we accept as visual ideals. Come on, we all know the Parisians have style. Prior to arriving in Paris we spoke about the voyeuristic nature of the city and how people are always looking, judging, and observing. We see that gazes of the Parisian public truly are for sale, commanded by what is different, interesting, and absurd. To become a part of this visual vernacular of the city, one must practice in uniqueness of dress and attitude. Parisians live a certain way, and the two weeks we have here will give us a closer understanding of the decadence of life in Paris. The lives of Parisians are decadent because they are filled with culture and style. From the way they dress and carry themselves, to the afternoon picnics in the park, to the cafe loungings, we see that Parisians have established a certain liberty, equality, and fraternity that they cherish in all aspects of daily life.
Give us some insight into your assigned artwork from the Orsay Musuem. After seeing the work in person in Paris (and any other related art from the same artist or art movement associated with the assigned work), what struck you most about it and/or how did the artwork’s form, content, and context shift for you when seeing it.
Unfortunately the piece of artwork I had most recently been working with, Le Balcon (1868-69) by Edouard Manet had been moved to Turin, Italy for a last minute special exhibition. Although I would like to have seen it, its quick move has showed me the agile nature of the art world, one that allows for a flurry of opportunistic moments.
In place of Le Balcon, Musee d’Orsay gave me another set of opportunistic moments captured by Claude Monet. As I walked through Monet’s collection on the fifth floor I was greeted with sun and clouds moving overhead. The glass skylights of the room amplified the sky, and as these clouds drifted by, the sun shone into the room and changed the light in the room, therefore affecting the way we viewed Monet’s paintings. With Monet having such an intimate relationship with the intricacies of sunlight, I thought that in this moment, a special connection was happening. In Monet’s masterpiece Le Bassin aux nympheas, harmony rose, we see his dialogue with the natural sunlight and the shade and shadows it causes. Formally the painting is typical of the Impressionist style, we see a painterly quality to this piece, unrefined in line, but but complex and poignant in colour deployment. Especially through the shaded area towards the bottom of the canvas, the colour becomes muttled by the lack of sunlight. Content wise, the painting captures a beautiful moment in Monet’s backyard in Giverny. Showcasing the natural wonder world was Monet’s specialty, he takes a simple place found in nature, and with his brushes he provides a deeper understanding of nature and its intricacies. More powerful than a photo, more powerful than actually being in the garden, viewing the natural world through Monet’s lenses gives us the attitude and essence of the wild and free. Through Monet’s thousands of brushstrokes here we find that he has a special ability to enlighten nature’s features through colour, and an exciting, eye-capturing yet confusing technique. In the fog he finds clarity, in the sun he finds shine, and in the man-made subjects he captures labour through a labour of his own.
The sun and the clouds were dancing with each other at 14:11 on 06/06/2017, giving us moments of brightness and gloom while viewing Monet’s works. At this time I had my most vivid passage of artistic thought and I furthered my deep understanding for the abilities and messages of the Impressionist Era painters.
Today’s activity was located at the Louvre. What were your impressions? What will you take away of the experiences of this day? What are the most memorable moments for you?
There was definitely a buzz in the air, the Louvre was packed with excitement, and crowds were bustling due to the other main Parisian museum, the Orsay, being closed for the day. I heard a girl in the crowd of the Mona Lisa mention “I feel like I’m at a festival,” this idea really speaks to the atmosphere found at hotspot paintings within the museum. It is almost like bees buzzing around a flower, however, these bees are armed with a digital device that provides the opportunity to capture a snapshot of priceless art pieces. This is where we find the true excitement in the crowd, they are able to create an image and memory of their own (through photography) and therefore take ownership a moment of the painting’s life. Having this proof of attendance or proximity to the artworks can elevate ones role in society. Enjoying fine art is a sought after pastime for great masses around the world, and the Louvre in Paris provides the perfect warehouse of art for these consumer masses.