Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Flâneur: Pissarro, Grimshaw, Vuillard

The flâneur -- the person who strolls, gazes, looks through the city streets for the life, the sights, and the sounds that are worth noting in an increasingly complex world -- seems an interesting idea to look into.  I thought we could take a minute and think about the most revealing intersections, corners, windows, doors, outside spaces that I know, some I have been to and photographed

... like this enclosed garden that once belonged to Lawrence Durrell in a city somewhere in the South of France ... or this graffiti in (I think) Lyon:

But we can look farther out ... who looks at, and paints, outside scenes? Pissarro, for one, here a Paris Street/Montmartre scene, from 1877:

We can imagine walking in this rain, with the lights just coming on, people hurrying. I found a painting by John Atkinson Grimshaw, "Boar Lane, Leeds" from 1881:

Dusk, again, people heading out for drinks or home for dinner, and our flâneur just watching it all, detached, in no rush at all.  Last, a lovely Vuillard, "Place Vintimille," from 1908-10:

It has the lovely rounded feeling of a fine Japanese screen. Where have you been that you'd like to paint just as if you were our flâneur?

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