Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Howard Hodgkin and Margaret Wise Brown

A couple of weeks ago I had the good fortune of seeing an exhibition of paintings by Howard Hodgkin at the Yale Center for British Art. He covers his canvases and frames with layers of intense color. Walking through rooms filled with his paintings is an invitation to feel sensation, not necessarily to experience it directly. I kept thinking of Venice--a city I have never visited, but one I feel I know intimately because I read The Thief Lord with my book club and watched parts of the movie with them. Someone told me that Venice is a sad city because it is a place of departures. These paintings felt like that--not sad necessarily, but fugitive. I found that in fact, there were several of Hodgkin's paintings that included Venice in their title. The green he uses in his paintings reminded me of another artist on display in New Haven. The Connecticut Children's Museum's "linguistic room" is a recreation of the "great green room" from Goodnight Moon. When I visited it was late in the day and the sun was streaming the through the tall windows covered with blue mylar that had been pricked with holes. The effect was a shattering of small star lights against the green walls. Stunning! Everything was there: the bed, the bunny, the dollhouse, the mittens and drying rack, the clock and the three bears, Every word in the book had been magnetized individually so you could rewrite Goodnight Moon from memory on the wall. The rocking chair made every sitter the "quiet old lady whispering hush" which as a librarian is second nature.