William Wordsworth to Whitfield Lovell

lovell_kin-xxxv-glory-in-the-flower

Whitfield Lovell, Kin XXXV (Glory in the Flower), 2011. Conté on paper, vintage clock radio, 30 x 22 3/4 x 5 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, The Dreier Fund for Acquisitions, 2013 © Whitfield Lovell and DC Moore Gallery, New York

The subtitle of this work by Whitfield Lovell, a recent acquisition for the museum, is “Glory in the Flower,” which references the below poem by William Wordsworth. Why do you think Lovell chose this particular phrase for this work? Why do you think he chose a clock as the accompanying object to this portrait?

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
–William Wordsworth, “Ode on Intimations of Immortality” from Recollections of Early Childhood, 1804

Whitfield Lovell: The Kin Series and Related Works is on view through Jan. 8, 2017.

“Autumn in my Heart Lingers Too Long”

lovell_kin-xlv-das-lied-von-der-erde

Whitfield Lovell, Kin XLV (Das Lied von der Erde), 2011. Conté on paper and string of pearls, 30 x 23 x 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, The Dreier Fund for Acquisitions, 2013 © Whitfield Lovell and DC Moore Gallery, New York

Whitfield Lovell often uses allusive titles for his works that draw references from music, film, and poetry. In this case, his subtitle echoes the name of Gustav Mahler’s 1909 composition Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth). Mahler’s piece comprises six songs for two voices and an orchestra. In this Kin, Lovell portrays the female figure with tears of pearls streaming down her face, evoking the feeling of sadness captured in Mahler’s second song, “Der Einsame im Herbst” (“The Solitary One in Autumn”).

Der Einsame im Herbst
Herbstnebel wallen bläulich überm See; Vom Reif bezogen stehen alle Gräser; Man meint, ein Künstler habe Staub von Jade Über die feinen Blüten ausgestreut.
Der süße Duft der Blumen ist verfl ogen; Ein kalter Wind beugt ihre Stengel nieder. Bald werden die verwelkten, gold’nen Blätter Der Lotosblüten auf dem Wasser zieh’n.
Mein Herz ist müde. Meine kleine Lampe Erlosch mit Knistern, es gemahnt mich an den Schlaf. Ich komm’ zu dir, traute Ruhestätte! Ja, gib mir Ruh’, ich hab’ Erquickung Not!
Ich weine viel in meinen Einsamkeiten. Der Herbst in meinem Herzen währt zu lange. Sonne der Liebe willst du nie mehr scheinen, Um meine bittern Tränen mild aufzutrocknen?
The Solitary One in Autumn
Autumn fog creeps bluishly over the lake. Every blade of grass stands frosted. As though an artist had jade-dust over the fine flowers strewn.
The sweet fragrance of flower has passed; A cold wind bows their stems low. Soon will the wilted, golden petals of lotus flowers upon the water float.
My heart is tired. My little lamp expires with a crackle, minding me to sleep. I come to you, trusted resting place. Yes, give me rest, I have need of refreshment!
I weep often in my loneliness. Autumn in my heart lingers too long. Sun of love, will you no longer shine to gently dry up my bitter tears?
–from Gustav Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth), 1909

Artist as Poet: The Purest Red

On July 21, 2016, Deputy Director for Curatorial and Academic Affairs Klaus Ottmann shares an overview of Karel Appel: A Gesture of Color. In anticipation, we’re sharing examples of Appel’s poetry paired with his artwork on the blog. 

Appel_Wounded Nude

Karel Appel, Wounded Nude, 1959. Oil on canvas, 72 x 95 5/8 in. Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

In my inner life exists a desire
for the purest red
my nervous system is red
my tissues are red
my entire being is red
the primal animal lies
on the beach
as a broken red sun
drenched with dark red blood

Karel Appel, “Ode to Red”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appel_Floating Like the Wind

Karel Appel, Floating like the Wind, 1975. Oil on canvas 78 3/4 x 102 3/4 in. Private Collection © Karel Appel Foundation, c/o ARS New York, 2016

Never heard the sound of her voice
floating over the desert
full of space nostalgia and loneliness
where yellow camels stare into infinity

Karel Appel, “Fata Morgana”