Friday Art: A Pair From Konstantin Korovin

Korovin was a Russian impressionist painter of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who mostly worked in theater decor. He wrote that the impressionist work he saw in Paris for the first time contained “everything he was punished for” back in Moscow university. I must admit, I never really think of Russia when I think of the impressionist movement. Korovin’s stuff, however, is all quite lively and beautiful. He eventually moved to Paris shortly after the Russian Revolution, not to escape Stalin but I’m sure it worked out that way. He’d paint Parisian nighttime scenes a lot, they’d be his support when a bunch of his works were stolen before an intended exhibit. And he’d continue to work largely in scenery design for the theater.

A Night In Paris above, is typical of his work. A lively scene of happy colorful nightlife on shiny reflective streets (makes ’em look wet, but it’s not raining). This one evokes similar types of street scenes by Pissarro and (with the suggestion of rain) Caillebotte, but what makes it different is the 20th century modern feel to it. Look at how the two women in the center have a flapper look to ’em, and (especially) look at the cars. Look at all that electric light coming out of the cafés, through the shades and windows. It’s all bright ‘n’ fun ‘n’ alive, to say the least.

He’s great with color. The purple glow of Moonlit Night makes the wintery feel of this come alive. I’ve seen purplish glows come from moonlight reflecting off snow in my life, being a New Englander and all, but not as intense as this. This is ultraviolet light/1970s basement day-glo poster level purple. And that tiny lit window seems sooo inviting… juxtaposed against all that night purple snow, it gives the impression of how warm it must be inside that cabin, with a nice fire going.

So you have a choice on this Friday winter night as I post this – vibrant street life or a nice warm fire inside?

I’ll reminisce back to when Friday night meant this:

… because I’m just the ugly American, I guess. But that old cathode ray TV was nice and warm like Korovin’s fire. And if I messed with the “tint” dial, I could make The Hulk purple….

Naaah. The painting is prettier. Certainly prettier than Larry Hagman. Catherine Bach on the other hand….

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