The first of ten essays in the book is the Prologue, written by ex-Montrealer Adam Gopnik. I am a huge fan of Gopnik, who often writes in the New Yorker and occasionally speaks in Montreal.
Here are a few snippets from his insightful essay, titled "Canada and World Impressionism".
"As modern art becomes for us less a train racing forward than a many-sided landscape to be explored at leisure, and for pleasure, progress becomes a less certain term."
"Impressionism is a misnamed French movement from the 1860s to the 1880s. Actualisme might have been closer to its true spirit, which was not to record a quick impression of a scene or place but to give permanent form to the ambivalent pleasures of modern life, and in a style shorn of rhetoric and the painstaking pomposity of official art. It was an art about light and life, and how each illuminates the other."
"Light and life, light as it falls and life as it is. Though truth to local colour is no longer the whole of art, it always will be the heart of painting. Any art that chooses light and life as its object and subject, whatever flag it flies, will shine. The best kind is light on life in a winter house on a snowy city evening, drawing us home, even as we stand outside to look a moment longer."
|Maurice Cullen, Winter Night, Craig Street, Montreal, 1899|