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Collections & Critiques

By Jack Wilner

The prints and paintings now on exhibit at Fogg Museum, when considered as a whole, can very easily turn a dull Cambridge afternoon into a few hours of interesting exploration. It is possible for one to travel from the highly sophisticated spirit of medieval Chinese art to the outspoken religious ardour found in the engravings of William Blake. With the Blake prints, some excellent pieces from Turner's "Liber Studiorum" can be seen, together with etchings and engravings by Goya and Delacroix. Blake's illustrations of passages from the Old Testament are reminiscent of the zealous poetry found in his "Prophetic Books." The engravings, especially one called "The Fire Of God Is Fallen From Heaven," contain tortuous, Signorelli-like figures which show the artist's fanatical insight when dealing with the Scriptures. Blake's line is firm and decisive, expressing his sincere and dynamic mysticism.

On the second floor of the museum there is a landscape by Derain which is highly representative of the dignified coherence and low tonality found in most of his other paintings. Derain is by no means a mere imitator: he is a good painter and his individuality succeeds in making itself felt. But it is interesting to see the imprint of Cczanne's body on the hills and now and then Van Gogh's head peeping out from behind the trees.

In the same room with the Derain painting are other fine examples of nineteenth and twentieth century art. We are fortunate in being able to see. Picasso's portrait of "Fernand Olivier," and find in the treatment of line and the philosophic calm an unmistakable declaration of indebtedness to some of the Chinese artists whose works are exhibited on the floor below. Subtle variations in the width and shape of lines, together with the apparently effortless rendition of form by means of this mode, serve to bring out clearly one phase of Picasso's electicism. Despite the fact that no single part of Picasso's career can be strictly called an "Oriental Period," most of his paintings and drawings embody the abstract delicacy of the East.

The various elements which have been brought together in Fogg Museum, may, at first glance, seem unrelated. They do, however, form an unified program for the purposes of vagabonding. They are joined to one another in the contrapuntal manner which characterizes a Dos Passos novel. Chronology, in the traditional sense of the word, is distorted; seemingly insignificant details are accentuated and blossom forth in their true colors to capture the imagination of the curious person. It is possible for one to find, in these many types of art now on exhibit, that diversity of kind and opposition of approach which, in the final analysis, truly represents actual life.

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