Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Impressionists

We went to see Billy Elliot last night at the Victoria Palace Threatre.  I bought the tickets online before we left Atlanta and by checking out a couple different sites, I managed to get us third row, center seats for the price of a binoculars-necessary seat at the Fox.  If you haven’t seen this show, do so.  It is awesome!  It will make you laugh, it will make you cry.  It is the most fun I’ve ever had at a show.  During intermission, Mike confessed that he doesn’t like musicals and hadn’t really been looking forward to the show... but he is loves it and is having a great time.  Whew!

The cast is great and the young man who plays Billy (there are actually three actors who play the role since each night’s performance is so physically taxing that they take the next two nights off), Ryan Collinson, is just twelve years old and the only “Billy” with no acting or singing training and very little classical dance training.  Perhaps this is what makes him so perfect for the role.  That and that he’s so damn cute.  We hate for it to end.
West Minster & Big Ben
West Minster Abbey

The National Gallery
Mr. Man and I head straight to the “18th to Early 20th Century Paintings” and spend some time among the impressionists: Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Degas, Cézanne, Renoir.  My favorites you ask?  You didn’t think I was going to let you get away without sharing, did you?  Unfortunately, the National Gallery doesn’t allow photography, but I’ll share links.

The National Gallery
A Nymph by a Stream, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1869-70.  Where is my Art History book? I know there must be some mystery in this painting of Lise Tréhot, who stares out at the audience seemingly unaware of her nakedness. She seems so young and innocent, like a cherub.  The Umbrellas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1880-81; I love this painting because Renoir goes through a style change while he is painting it which is obvious in the painting.  The central figure of the painting shows a return to a more classical style.

The Water Lily Pond, Claude Monet, 1899.  Of course, Monet’s water lilies are among his most famous, and are among my personal favorites.  This one focuses on the bridge instead of the water lilies themselves.  Mr. Man points out a painting that I passed over because I thought it ugly, Water Lilies, Setting Sun (1907).  When I turn to view it from across the room, seeing from afar, I see how beautiful it is with the pink and orange reflections in the water.

The Morning Walk, George Seurat, 1885; this is such a cool painting.  The brushstrokes are large and bold, and up close you see each distinct color, but stepping away the colors blend and meld and the painting changes before your eyes, becoming deeper and richer.

The Boulevard Montmartre at Night, Camille Pissarro, 1897.  I love the almost abstractness of this painting and the perspective and reflection of lights on the wet streets.  When I think of Paris art, this is the painting that comes to my mind.

Sunflowers, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888.  I once took an art class where we had to recreate a painting using tiny pieces of cut paper.  This is the painting that I chose (I will have to search to see if I still have this when I get home).  This painting reflects the life cycle of the sunflower: buds, through maturity and death.  Seeing it up close, with its thick brushstrokes and texture, is a highlight for me.  But my favorite Van Gogh here has to be A Wheatfield with Cypresses, 1889, painted while Van Gogh was in asylum.  It is so beautiful and expressive.  The sky in particular draws me in with its strange shapes and cool colors.  I could gaze at this painting all day and never tire of it. 

There is something very unique about an Edgar Degas painting; a blurred, slightly out-of-focus feel to his subjects. After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself, 1888-89, is a pastel work and immediately identifiable as Degas.  Degas manages to give sensuality to an everyday task, while at the same time projecting chasteness. Okay, I won’t bore you further.

Tired and hungry we head for Trafalger Square and then take a walk along the Thames, stopping to browse the stalls of books, maps and botanical prints. 

The London Eye & Big Ben
You know I love Graffiti!
 Tonight we dine on traditional Fish & Chips.

What to do tomorrow...
For more pictures click here.

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