Saturday, July 18, 2009

An Exhibition And A Play

Yesterday was a very long day, but it was also a very beautiful one.

Joshua and I rose very early and took the dog to the park for his run.

When we returned home, we cleaned up and went over to my older brother’s house, where we planned to do his yard work. We took the dog with us, as my mother had errands to run yesterday morning.

We arrived at 7:45 a.m., and ate breakfast with my niece and nephew. They were very happy to see us.

All morning, we mowed the grass and trimmed the edges and watered and trimmed shrubbery.

My mother joined us for lunch, and we stayed until it was naptime for my niece and nephew.

We returned home—leaving the dog at my brother’s house, where he would have plenty of company, since my mother and Josh and I had plans for the afternoon and evening—and cleaned up once again.

We departed in the middle of the afternoon, heading downtown.

Our first stop was The Minneapolis Institute Of Arts.

There are seventeen temporary exhibitions currently on display at the Institute, but the exhibition we wanted to view was “Sin And Salvation: William Holman Hunt And The Pre-Raphaelite Vision”.

My mother and Josh and I all detest Pre-Raphaelite painting, but a couple of Hunt’s most significant works were on display at the exhibition. We had decided that this was as good a time as any to see these works, especially since the works are seldom displayed at their home institutions and are even more infrequently loaned.

Even though The Minneapolis Institute Of Arts has free admission, “Hunt And The Pre-Raphaelite Vision” was a ticketed exhibition, and we had to pay $8.00 a ticket for the privilege of attending. At least the cost was less than one-third what Josh and I had to pay last month to attend “Titian, Tintoretto And Veronese” at the Boston Museum Of Fine Arts.

It was a good-sized exhibition—there were paintings by other members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, too—and the presentation was well-organized and scholarly, but the artworks themselves were loathsome. The exhibition only reinforced for us how bad Pre-Raphaelite painting truly is. Even the dreariest example of French Academic Painting from the same period is far superior to anything the Pre-Raphaelites wrought.

Hunt’s most famous paintings, “The Lady Of Shalott” and the second of three versions of “The Light Of The World”, were included in the exhibition. Both paintings are kitsch.

After the exhibition, we met my father and my middle brother at Minneapolis’s finest seafood restaurant, where we had an early dinner. We had not visited the restaurant in a year, and we had an excellent, excellent meal. Josh especially likes the restaurant. The restaurant bowled him over during his only previous visit—and it bowled him over a second time last night.

After dinner, we went to The Guthrie Theater to see J. B. Priestley’s “When We Are Married”, a three-act drawing room comedy from 1938.

The production was superb—it was as good as anything I have ever seen at The Guthrie—but the play was awful. I cannot believe that such a mechanical piece of rot was thought worthy of revival.

What accounts for the modest renewed interest in the work of J. B. Priestley? His plays were completely forgotten for decades, with justification, until revivals of “An Inspector Calls” suddenly began popping up all over the place in the 1990’s.

I have seen more than one production of “An Inspector Calls”, a very, very bad play, and “When We Are Married” is just as impossibly inept as “An Inspector Calls”.

Priestley’s plays do not warrant their current exposure.

The production itself, however, was extraordinary. The very large cast was top-notch, down to the smallest role, and the physical production was impeccable. One would never encounter a production of such quality anywhere else in the United States. The Guthrie stands alone.

I am told that The Guthrie production of “When We Are Married” cost mountains and mountains of money.

The money should have been spent on something worthwhile.

No comments:

Post a Comment