Finally a smile! It's funny, but I never really noticed how serious the subjects of other paintings in the exhibition were until I saw this painting of a young woman at the opera. And why not? She's at the Paris Opéra House and dressed to the nines. Her formal pink evening gown is tastefully accessorized with a single strand of pearls, a corsage, and a flower in her hair. The look is completed with a fan and a pair of ever-present gloves, all of which further signal her youth and unmarried status by their lack of ostentation.
And we can even tell what she's directing her smile towards. If you look behind her to the left, you'll notice that you see her reflection. So we're actually looking at a mirror and seeing precisely what she sees: balconies filled with well-dressed people who, in turn, are also looking out at each other. And while this might make one feel self-conscious, this lady's relaxed posture and expression demonstrate that she's actively enjoying herself.
Cassatt first showed this work at the Fourth Impressionist Exhibition in 1879, the same year it was painted. Viewers at the time noticed the colors—gray, in particular— she used to paint the subject's pale skin. Although it was probably staged in a studio, Cassatt translated both the gas-lit interior and the mirrored reflections from the gilt trimmed balconies, creating an immediacy and almost palpable sense of anticipation. It's hard not to wonder. . . what happens next to this young ingenue?
Image Credit: Mary Cassatt. Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge, 1879. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Bequest of Charlotte Dorrance Wright, 1978.
10 hours 27 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Humanism + Dynamite = The Soviet Photomontages of Aleksandr Zhitomirsky
The first exhibition in the post-Soviet world devoted to leading political artist Aleksandr Zhitomirsky offers a captivating portrayal of a satirist and loyal citizen who inventively furthered his country’s official causes across a tumultuous half-century.
12 hours 19 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SOON—Icelandic artist/musician Ragnar Kjartansson’s intensely durational works often manifest a rare synthesis of pathos and humor.
A Lot of Sorrow is both a music video and extended concert film, in which The National performs its ballad “Sorrow” on repeat for six hours. See the song take on new layers of meaning as the hours pass and fatigue sets in.
Closing October 16—http://bit.ly/2du3GXh
3 days 8 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Congratulations to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on their grand opening this weekend. The building, designed by architect David Adjaye, is a truly historic addition to the National Mall in Washington D.C. #APeoplesJourney #MakingHistory