Vincent van Gogh, Portrait of Marcelle Roulin, 1888. Oil on canvas, 13 3/4 x 9 3/4 in. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Every time I enter Van Gogh: Repetitions, I have to stop and explore the portraits of Marcelle Roulin on view. Maybe it’s because I have a baby at home. Maybe it’s because I’m in awe of how Marcelle Roulin tolerates the gold bracelet on her wrist and the ring on her tiny finger (I know my daughter wouldn’t). I might just want to squeeze those chubby cheeks. In any case, I’m fascinated by van Gogh’s portraits of a baby who is so new to life.
Van Gogh had a enduring affection for children. When he met Marcelle’s mother, Augustine Roulin, she was pregnant. She gave birth to Marcelle on July 31, 1888. Soon after van Gogh wrote a letter to his brother Theo saying, a baby “has the infinite in its eyes;” in the same letter he shared his intention to paint Marcelle. The artist created 3 individual portraits of Marcelle and two paintings of the baby in her mother’s arms.
The artist wasn’t the only one smitten with baby Marcelle. The following May, Marcelle’s father, Joseph Roulin wrote a letter to van Gogh saying, “Beautiful Marcelle is still doing well, she has two teeth, she is an extraordinary little one, very well-behaved, she has everything in her favour, only when I arrived she didn’t want to see me. It was only when I left that she really looked at me and pulled my beard a little.”
Marjorie Phillips, Giants vs. Mets, 1964, Oil on canvas 36 1/4 x 42 in.; 92.075 x 106.68 cm.. Gift of the artist, 1984. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC.
I was drawn into Marjorie Phillips’sGiants vs Mets (1964) not only for its outstanding perspective and subject matter (her baseball paintings are among my very favorites at The Phillips Collection) but also for the unique moment in the game that she chose to capture. Since there is no scoreboard featured we cannot distinctly determine the exact point in time or the score of the game, but we see runners at second and third, which presents a scoring opportunity for the team at-bat. The right-handed hitter (determined by the positioning of his follow-through) has just made contact with the ball, as we see several players looking skyward. However, the runners at second and third are not actively sprinting towards their destinations, and the player in left field is actively locating the ball in the air.
Doing some further research, this particular game may have been the May 31, 1964 game between the San Francisco Giants at the New York Mets. They played a double-header, San Francisco taking the first game 5-3 and also the second, marathon-length 7 hour and 23 minute game by a score of 8-6. That second game lasted 23 innings and New York tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring 3 runs to force the extra innings. Joe Christopher was at bat for the Mets and he hits right-handed, driving in a home run to left-field/center-field to bring home Roy McMillan from third base and Frank Thomas from second base.
See what Duncan and Marjorie likely saw on their visit to Shea Stadium for Mets vs Giants:
Vesna Pavlovic works on a light table in the archives viewing negatives (left) and shares a glimpse of her process (right). Photos: Sarah Osborne Bender (left), Vesna Pavlovic (right)
Photo: Sarah Osborne Bender
Upcoming 2014 Intersections artist Vesna Pavlovic, whose work will be on view in late May, spent last week in the museum’s library and archive, exploring not only the collection but also the space. Head librarian Karen Schneider guided her through the materials. Using installation photograph negatives from 1960s exhibitions by Alberto Giacometti and Mark Tobey, she observed the results of combining images. She also experimented with the transparency and light of our skylight from the courtyard above.