Art to Soothe the Soul

Despite our frustrations with confinement, we’re trying to remain optimistic.  In an effort to share some ideas about the art we are sorely missing, we asked our guides which works lift their spirits, in the hope of lifting yours. Here’s what they had to say. 

A View of a Forest near Moscow by Tatiana Mavrina, 1977-78

Irina Keller: “This is one of the very few paintings to which I react emotionally, and I think it’s because it reminds me of my childhood. Mavrina’s watercolor really captures how a forest near Moscow, where my grandparents would take us out to walk, looks in autumn. All these warm colors and the cozy feeling are about feeling home.”

The Lovers by René Magritte, 1928

Kate Gambey: “I feel the frustration of Magritte’s Lovers in this time of unprecedented social distancing.  It’s the conflicting desire to be close, yet separated by our conscious care for others. Plus, a little humor goes a long way.”

Red Terrace by Milan Milovanovic, 1920

Asja Nastasijevic: “Red Terrace by Milan Milovanovic makes me think of the summers I spent during my childhood and early adulthood on the Adriatic coast. It shows a vine-covered staircase of a typical Dalmatian stone villa under warm summer sunlight captured in the moment of siesta when everything is so quiet and peaceful. That time of the year always reminds me of the value of simplicity and just how life is beautiful. I like to think Milovanovic had these same thoughts while he was painting it in 1920 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, when he was severely ill with typhus.”

No. 10 by Mark Rothko, 1958

Emma Burt: “I must confess that my choice isn’t so steeped in my own personal story. I don’t have a “go-to” happy painting, but I am drawn to Mark Rothko’s work No. 10 for a few reasons, mostly related to the colors he chose. Whereas many of his works can be quite somber, this one is filled with light and hope. The white is open to possibility, the yellow brings warmth, and the blue hues crown like the sky. When we are all stuck indoors, who doesn’t want to think of the great outdoors!”

Reclining Nude by Amadeo Modigliani, 1917

Raquel Granda: “This painting reminds me of a carefree time in my 20s, when I met a guy in Denmark who later came to see me in NYC. A highlight of his visit was our trip to the Met, where he introduced me to this painting. I guess during confinement, I couldn’t help but think about some happy moments, nothing complicated or stressful, just a beautiful nude woman, her invitation to take a break from the current state of things.”

A Jutland Shepherd on the Moors by Frederik Vermehren, 1855

Inge Laino: “I have no personal connection to this painting. I am not Danish, I have never been to the Jutland moors, and I know no shepherd. But, look closely. This fellow is glancing up from…his knitting. And that is where it gets me. Contrary to popular belief, knitting was originally a male occupation. Fishermen, mostly, busied themselves to while away the long, lonely hours out at sea. They knew something about isolation, patience, and being separated from loved ones for extended periods of time. All lessons we are learning now. See below for the product of some of my own knitting for my son; we call this one Confinement Cap.”

Inge’s son sporting some original lockdown knitting, April 2020