Henri Matisse, Woman Before an Aquarium

Yesterday I read a very fine review by Richard Gilbert, called: Hampl’s ‘Blue Arabesque’. A memoir of leisure, looking, and artistic expression.

This is how Hampl starts:


It’s a marvelous description of how the narrator gets captured by a work of art, almost against her own will. For me, now working seriously with my own ekphrasis-project, Hampl’s experience is tremendously exiting. She is in this first glimpse experiencing art not in a cognitive analytical mode, but as a sensual meeting.

I think contemporary art-writing has very little room for these kinds of experiences, being much too occupied by formal philosophy, it almost seems to forget that art is first and foremost a sensuous experience. And maybe that’s why poets are the best art-writers?



: an ornament or style that employs flower, foliage, or fruit and sometimes animal and figural outlines to produce an intricate pattern of interlaced lines
: a posture (as in ballet) in which the body is bent forward from the hip on one leg with one arm extended forward and the other arm and leg backward
: an elaborate or intricate pattern

4 Comments Add yours

  1. flowerville says:

    bc of what you wrote about her i started to reading anne truitt and love it. thanks for writing about her.

    1. Sigrun says:

      I hope you will enjoy reading her as much as I have. Her 3 daybooks have kept me company all through the summer, it has been such a pleasure!

  2. On the subject of a person compelled by, arrested by, a work of art, see Mark Doty’s Still Life with Oysters and Lemon.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you, I WILL!

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