Like Breath on Glass
Post #1239 • September 30, 2008, 12:32 PM • 5 Comments
Williamstown, MA - Like Breath on Glass, currently up at the Clark, accomplishes exactly what a smartly themed show ought to achieve - playing to the strengths of the masters in a way that elevates some minor artists in the stylistic vicinity. Whistler's soft painting inspired younger painters across civilized America to attempt similar foggy handling of oils. Meanwhile, Inness's Swedenborg-flavored spirituality and his knack for working a roughly woven canvas with glazes produced an equivalent effect. (Although critics at the time attributed the style to a dissolute character.) Both of them look striking in this exhibition, particularly where Whislter's Nocturnes hang side by side. Among the elevated are Eduard Steichen, who by himself comes off a bit spooky, but here can be seen to have generated an evocatively limpid, brush-free style. Twachtman produced some Whistlerian landscapes that foreshadow Fairfield Porter in their economy and gentle palette. Aside from Thomas Wilmer Dewing, whose maidens cavort in a New Hampshire landscape rendered as grass soup, everybody gets a bump, including painters worth knowing like Emil Carlsen.