DARREN: Anyone know the artistic movement Matisse championed and referred to as the Wild Beasts?
JENNIFER: Oh, Fauvism!
Fauvism is the artistic style of les Fauves (“the wild beasts”), a group of early twentieth century modern artists whose works emphasised seemingly wild brush strokes and strong colours. Henri Matisse was one of the leaders of the movement.
LORELAI: So, that painting there, wow. The colors are so great, I can’t stop staring at it. It’s just beautiful.
DARREN: It is. It’s by a student of Matisse. I think he caught the master’s colors wonderfully.
Henri Matisse (1869-1954), French artist known for his intense use of colour and fluid, original draughtsmanship. He is commonly regarded as one of the leading figures of modern art.
From 1907 to 1911 he taught art at the Academie Matisse in Paris. Most of his pupils were American or Scandinavian. I have been unable to identify the painting shown as the work of any of his students, or to discover its provenance. If anyone knows what it is, please leave a comment!
DARREN: Modern painting is my passion. I’ve got a Hockney, a Kline – what I don’t have is a Diebenkorn so please don’t ask, “Where’s the Diebenkorn?” … I only recently got into sculpture. My latest acquisition, it’s a Zoltan Kemeny. Very provocative. Don’t you just love its audacity?
David Hockney (born 1937), English painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer, and photographer. As an important contributor to the pop art movement of the 1960s, he is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. Some of his paintings sell for tens of millions, and his 1972 Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) [pictured] sold at Christie’s for more than $90 million in 2018, briefly setting a world record for most expensive artwork by a living artist sold at auction.
Franz Kline (1910-1962), painter seen as one of the most important artists of the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s and 1950s. He was a member of the informal art group, the New York School, and his work has been revered since the 1950s. An untitled work from 1957 sold at Christie’s for more than $40 million in 2012, the record price for one of his works. The previous record holder was his 1958 Crow Dancer, selling for $6.4 million in 2005. Some early works of his sold for around $20 thousand in the 1990s (Darren may have picked up a bargain?).
Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993), painter and printmaker. His early work is associated with abstract expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In the late 1960s he began his extensive series of geometric, lyrical abstract paintings. Known as the Ocean Park paintings, these were instrumental to his worldwide acclaim. Diebenkorn’s 1984 Ocean Park #126 became the most expensive picture by the artist auctioned when it went for $23.9 million at Christie’s New York in 2018.
Zoltan Kemeny (1907-1965), sculptor, painter, designer, and fashion editor born in Transylvania in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (present-day Romania). He is known for his relief sculptures and collages assembled from sand, stone, wood, twine, buttons, and beads.
PARIS: How are we going to get a professional photographer?
LOUISE: Helmut Newton is my godfather.
PARIS: Okay, sign him up – and tell him to leave the whips and chains at home.
Helmut Newton, born Helmut Neustädter (1920-2004), German-Australian fashion photographer whose black and white photographs were a mainstay of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and other magazines. His photos were erotic and stylised, often with fetishistic or sado-masochistic overtones – hence Paris’ instructions not to include whips and chains. Clearly Newton is not really appropriate as a school photographer!
It is interesting to speculate how Helmut Newton became Louise’s godfather. Presumably one or both of her parents have a connection with the fashion world. At this stage of his life, Helmut Newton lived in Monaco, but spent his winters in Los Angeles.
SOOKIE: I’m an artist. You don’t dictate to an artist, you don’t tell him what to do. I mean, no ever walked up to Degas and said, “Hey, pal, easy with the dancers, enough already. Draw a nice fruit bowl once in awhile, will ya?”.
Edgar Degas, born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas (1834-1917), French Impressionist artist famous for his pastel drawings and oil paintings. He is especially known for his connection with dance – more than half his works depict dancers. One of his most famous works is The Dance Class, 1873-1876 [pictured].
RICHARD: And I am shocked by your naïveté … Did you really have pictures of Norman Rockwell family Christmases dancing in your head? Lorelai had her chance for a family, she walked away from it. That was her choice.
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), painter and illustrator, most famous for the cover illustrations of idealised or sentimental American life he created for The Saturday Evening Post for five decades. His Christmas illustrations [pictured] are well known as iconic images of the Yuletide season, and still popular.
Richard also references the poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, and previously mentioned as a classic work which has shaped the American view of Christmas. In the poem it says,
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
Richard mocks Emily’s hopes for Lorelai and Christopher to be together as idealistic and sugary-sweet as Christmas paintings and rhymes. He has never wavered from his position that Lorelai had one chance to have a husband and family, when she was sixteen, with Christopher, and that walking away from it was irresponsible. The idea that not marrying Christopher might have been the responsible thing to do, not to mention that stepping back from Christopher and Sherry now is the more moral choice, is something he cannot fathom.
RORY: I’ll tell you what, Sookie. How about Lane and I come up with a few more suggestions for you? Still melodic, but not quite as Girl, Interrupted.
Girl, Interrupted, a 1999 psychological drama film directed by James Mangold, and based on the 1993 memoir of the same name by Susanna Kaysen. The memoir’s title comes from the Vermeer painting, Girl, Interrupted at Her Music. The film is set in New England in the 1960s, and follows a young woman, played by Winona Ryder, who spends 18 months in a psychiatric facility after a suicide attempt.
The film received only lukewarm reviews, with most of the praise for the performance of Angelina Jolie, who plays a sociopath. Jolie won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The author, Susanna Kaysen, didn’t like the film, accusing James Mangold of adding too many invented, melodramatic scenes. Mangold rewrote the story as a parallel toThe Wizard of Oz.
It seems possible that Rory could have read the book, either before or after the film came out. Not only does she enjoy female memoir and autobiography, but Susanna Kaysen was admitted to the same private psychiatric hospital where Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton were treated, as well as John Nash.
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations for the transition from the 19th century to the 20th in art, and a major influence on both Matisse and Picasso.
Richard may have taken up oil painting because it was the favoured hobby of Winston Churchill, who we know Richard admires. Churchill began in watercolours, but soon switched to oils, becoming known as a talented amateur painter.
CHRISTOPHER: Now it’s totally your call and I don’t want to step on any plans you’ve already made, but I know Rory has a break in school coming up, and I was wondering if you’d be cool with her coming to visit for a couple of days.
Christopher finally shows some interest in his daughter, inviting her to spend a couple of days of her Christmas break with him in Boston. The fact that he mentions Sherrie had fixed up the spare room for her suggests that it might be his girlfriend encouraging him to make contact with Rory.
Although Lorelai said she’d always left the door to Rory open for Christopher, she doesn’t sound thrilled with this plan. She never seems to have considered it might mean leaving the door to Rory open for another woman as well.
Note the picture on the wall of the ominous all-seeing eye and the word OBEY on it – does Christopher feel as if he is under Sherrie’s surveillance, that he is doing her bidding? Is the phone call something she instructed him to do? It’s a hint that Christopher may be finding his first committed domestic relationship rather confining.
(I’m not sure, but I think the artwork might be by Shepard Fairey, a graphic artist and founder of OBEY Clothing who emerged from the skateboarding scene in the mid-1980s. He would later become well known for his picture of Barack Obama together with the word HOPE).
RORY: We’re competing against the Michelangelo of snow.
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known by his first name (1475-1564), Italian Renaissance sculptor and painter of unparalleled influence on Western art, often described as the greatest artist of his age, and sometimes as the greatest of all time. His best-known sculptures are the Pietà, and David, and he is famous for painting the Sistine Chapel in Rome.