Sargent’s Youthful Genius
I admit I was taken aback at first by there being only 4 paintings in the Amon Carter’s exhibition, Sargent’s Youthful Genius: Paintings from the Clark, however, the intimate setting makes one step back and spend more time studying each piece.
The exhibit showcases one of the most creative phases of his career, and centers on the artist’s Fumee d’Ambre Gris (Smoke of Ambregris) which is spectacular. Fumee is all about the color. The painting is focused on the subtle manipulation of varying shades of creams and white. I am always in awe of the way Sargent could paint so many colors in what would appear to be just a plain white wall.
Sargent may have been a realistic painter in a time when the impressionists were gathering steam, but the popularity of his work and the demand for his portraits, brought him international recognition by the age of 30.
But like the impressionists, his work does have that feel of "capturing the moment" brought about by the rising popularity of the camera. Street in Venice 1 is a prime example. It has a certain sexual tension - the way the woman is staring directly at the observer makes you wonder if she is in the middle of planning a tryst, or just casually saying hello.
Once again I love the way he uses the light and the manipulation of a limited color pallette.
Like the other part of the Clark exhibit at the Kimbell, it was a little disconcerting to see the paintings behind glass, a requirement by the lenders maybe just to be sure the paintings are protected from harm. Regardless this intimate exhibit is well worth a trip by itself.