Corcoran Gallery of Art
Originally I was going to use my trip to DC to write a post about how artists look at paintings. Between thinking of it and writing it however, Stapleton Kearns wrote his own 4-part treatise on the subject on his blog. Like most of his blog, the essays are very informative, so I suggest you read the series, "Looking Critically at Paintings". Not only will you learn something, you will end up laughing out loud.
What I can add to Stape's (he told me once that I could call him "Stape") instructions is specifically what I am looking at and for when I go to museums and that is mostly technical information. When standing in front of a painting, drawing or print (usually too close for the guards comfort), I am always asking, "How the heck did that he do that?"
This is why I made sure to visit the Corcoran Gallery of Art and their special exhibit Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration. Since I stalk prints by masters and collect all the explanations about techniques that I can get, this show was HEAVEN!!
Chuck Close, an American artist best known for his huge portraits, has produced (alone and in cooperation with print shops) lithographs, etchings, mezzotints, Japanese-style woodblocks, linoleum reliefs, and silkscreens. Many of the pieces in the exhibit have the blocks and plates next to the finished print. There are also a few prints that are shown in different phases of the process. In the exhibit, Close and his collaborators tell you exactly how they created the prints!
That didn't make any of it seem easy. In fact, it made the pieces even more impressive.
After I left the print show, I let the painter in me look at some of the Corcoran's American art collection. That is where I caught up with some of my favorite landscape painters and the Thayer painting above. I took a picture of this painting because I love the chunky paint that helps create the light in the background. And I am in general a sucker for New Hampshire's Mount Monadnock as a subject, having used it as a model myself on occasion.
The Corcoran provided more than enough to look at in one day, so I returned to the hotel exhausted but happy and ready to plan Day 3!