Our Sound and Vision series matches songs from around the world with our encyclopedic collection. Think of it as our recommended playlist as you stroll the galleries.
Today marks the official end of summer. Equinoxes and solstices are festive occasions in cultures around the world and have inspired artists throughout history. As we close the chapter on Summer 2016, we look across the collection for celebrations of the season and harbingers of autumn.
Though not currently on view, we would be remiss not to share this seasonal favorite, one of the most famous works in our collection. Hokusai's Under the Wave off Kanagawa, also known as The Great Wave, is taken from Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. In the series, Hokusai provided various vantage points of Japan's highest peak at a time when a large number of local inhabitants subscribed to a belief known as Fujikô, in which climbing the mountain was an integral part of their spiritual practice. Hokusai began the series when he was 70 years old and it established the popularity of landscaping prints in Japan, which continues to this day.
American artist Arthur Wesley Dow began to seriously engage with the aesthetics of Japanese art at the end of the 19th century. In works such as Boats at Rest, Dow depicted locales around his native Ipswich, Massachusetts, using elevated perspective and flattened pictorial space characteristic of ukiyo-e prints. His palette of bold colors, however, is more akin to the work of French Nabi artists such as Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard.
Although associated with various art movements—Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Conceptual art—Joan Synder always defied categorization. Summer exemplifies the artist's best work. Containing both abstract and narrative elements, Snyder sets brushwork, drips, and stains against a structural grid, allowing the colors of summer and the textures of the paint to reverberate like an orchestral score.
Listen to " Shisheido" from Austrian composer Fennesz's 2001 album Endless Summer.
The clashing figures in this Man Ray painting are a far cry from the serenity of your typical pastoral nude. Early in his career, Man Ray joined a group of friends on a camping trip outside Ridgefield, New Jersey and observed some female companions bathing in the stream. Having just seen some of Cézanne’s work at a recent exhibition in New York, he decided to try his hand at a similar nude-in-nature motif. Based solely on his memories of the camping trip, he painted a series of “imaginary landscapes.” While directly inspired by Cézanne both in form and subject, Man Ray’s female figures evoke a different palette of emotion. Whether the two women are helping or harming the third remains unclear, but the barren trees and autumnal ochre of the piece share little of the communal atmosphere of Cézanne’s bathers.
This painting by the Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida might just be the perfect ode to summer, evoking cherished memories for anyone who's spent vacation days at the beach. While the younger sister seems immersed in play, the older girl smiles as she shields her eyes against the glaring sun. And though the painting suggests the peak of summer with the sun high overhead, eventually it too will recede to the horizon, drawing the season to a close.
Listen to "Me, On the Beach" by Nagisa Ni Te.
Katsushika Hokusai. Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as the Great Wave, from the series "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjurokkei)", c. 1830/33. Clarence Buckingham Collection.
Arthur Wesley Dow. Boats at Rest, c. 1895. Through prior acquisition of the Charles H. and Mary F.S. Worcester Collection.