It’s always interesting when things in life reoccur. They happen again but are always different because other things happen between the original occurrence and the reoccurrence.
As T. S. Eliot writes “to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”.
Four years ago, I went to Venice to see the Biennale. Actually, I went to Ravenna to see the mosaics, and who in their right mind being in Ravenna would not also go to Venice. Because, after all, Venice is Venice. While in Venice, I took the opportunity to see the Biennale and Pollock’s painting ‘Mural’. I wrote some time ago that it was a weird experience being in Venice to see Mural when it was from Iowa, and I had been in Iowa without knowing that the painting was there and I could have seen it there and then.
Mural is now on show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC where I live. Seeing it last weekend was definitely déjà vu. What was even more exciting was that my wife was as excited by seeing the painting as I. She wants to go back for a second look this weekend. She is not a major Pollock fan of the less interesting splash-dash paintings which are always pushed on the public. The abstract works that are precursors and post cursors to the splash paintings are really more exciting. Abstract is always abstract, but semi-abstract has the possibilities of multiple interpretations and a sense of discovery; they offer a narrative adventure.
Seeing Mural was déjà vu, but not the same experience.
Since Venice, I have seen Thomas Hart Benton’s painting series “America Today” series at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Benton was the teacher of Pollock and their roots are in the works of Tintoretto (whose works I saw in Venice). I have also written about Tintoretto and looked at every work available in Venice. And the National Gallery also has several Tintoretto’s.
Déjà vu for Pollock.
I previously wrote about the Nutshell Studies for Unexplained Death. I saw this in Baltimore at the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. This is now at the Renwick Gallery. I visited the exhibition on the first day. The gallery was packed. It is always staggering how many people share your interest in something that you would consider to be obscure and a niche interest.
When I wrote about the nutshell studies, I compared these with Vermeer. I also saw the Vermeer show at the Met. A Vermeer show opened last weekend at the National Gallery of Art. I still have to see it. The weekend that I saw ‘Mosaic”, there was a massive queue for the show.
Déjà vu on Pollock, déjà vu on Nutshell studies and déjà vu again on Vermeer.
I look forward to seeing both shows: the Nutshell studies (less crowded) and the Vermeer for the first time. And to revisiting Mural yet again, again and again. This time instead of me having to travel to get to them, they have all traveled to get to me. It’s like a return visit from a friend, or group of friends.