Saturday, August 21, 2004

Michel Hellman vs. Holland Cotter


M. Hellman, of Le Devoir, and Mr. Cotter of the New York Times, both decided to review "Seurat and the Making of 'La Grande Jatte'" at the Art Institute of Chicago. As Le Devoir is a Montreal newspaper, and the New York Times is a New York newspaper (duh!) I'm not certain as to what suddenly made Chicago the new black, but at least for this weekend it is.

To get some easy stuff out of the way quickly, M. Hellman writes 346 words, and Mr. Cotter writes 1,919 words. Hmmm, what can be made of that? Maybe only New York thinks that Chicago is the new black, and Montreal knowing better realizes that Chicago just might be the new orange.

M. Hellman writes a general background to La Grand Jatte, and given the space restrictions imposed upon him, I would guess that I should be thankful that his editors even let him write that. (For those of you not familiar with La Grande Jatte, you might want to click here, or here). He then goes on to be very impressed with the "new" technology aspect, and the thoroughness of the exhibit. There is a limit to what can be said in under 400 words. For comparison purposes, the Art Institute's website uses 219 words just to the describe and analyze La Grande Jatte.

Mr. Cotter, on the other hand is given lots and lots of room to stretch out (for comparison purposes, the museum's website uses 2,071 words to describe the exhibition. So much so, that he even makes jokes!

George Seurat was from outer space. One day in the mid-19th century, he was beamed, fully formed, down to Paris with a few cryptically perfect paintings and some of the most beautiful drawings you'll ever see. Later, age 31 in human years, he was beamed back up to wherever he had come from, leaving behind a few letters, a new kind of art and a big, spacey picture called "La Grand Jatte."
I don't know if you got a belly-laugh, but I did. He then continues on to give a pretty much enjoyable art history lesson on the painting. Nothing too strenuous for a summer weekend's reading, for those with short attention spans early on (the second paragraph) he says that the exhibit is "a wonderful one."

The one thing that struck me (as it is impossible for me to go see the show) is the similarity to it and the Pet Sounds box set that Capitol Records made back in 1997. Why is there a fascination with taking one really kick-ass thing and expanding it to monstrous proportions?

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