Curator at Large Klaus Ottmann demonstrates the participatory qualities of a Franz Erhard Walther sculpture, Roter Gesang (Red Song), at an Arts Committee meeting this week. Walther (born in Fulda, Germany in 1939) produces minimalist sculptures, often in brilliant primary colors, out of ordinary heavy canvas, that seem like soft versions of minimalist compositions. This will look brilliant near our Rothko Room. It also harmonizes with another new acquisition, Wolfgang Laib’s wax room, in which the visitor enters to appreciate the beautiful aroma, the rich surface, and the embracing small space. Our acquisitions meeting was a heady affair with the approval of many new works from photographs by Eugène Atget, to a painting by Al Held, a painting by Walter Dahn, and works by Helen Torr, to mention only a few.
Van Gogh stated in a letter to his brother Theo that when working from nature “one catches the true and the essential.” He painted The Large Plane Trees outdoors during his stay at a mental institution in Saint-Remy. He observed a row of plane trees (closely related to the American sycamore) during a trip into the nearby village, and quickly painted them to capture the changing autumnal colors. The repetition, The Road Menders, was completed later, in the studio.
Van Gogh emphasized different elements in the two works. Their titles indicate some of the differences. Why do you think each painting has the name it has? As you observe the two works, what similarities do you notice? What differences? What might the variations in style tell you about van Gogh’s process of working from nature versus working in the studio?
Happy first snow of the year to all of our DC, Maryland, and Virginia neighbors! It may have been short-lived, but it reinforced the holiday cheer that’s been building.