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Current time:0:00Total duration:4:18

Video transcript

we're at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and we're looking at a painting by Paul Gauguin the red cow from 1889 it's a really wild painting painting there's a woman in the left corner with a jug and she's nearing rights a fairy for and she's moving towards the left edge of the image and she's of the frame and she's cut off and the cow so she's moving off to the left and our attention goes to her first but then she's sort of moving offstage in a very distracting kind of way and then the cow is also presumably moving slightly to the right and there's a small dog that seems to be kind of chasing chasing the cat and there's a kind of fence and a hedge behind them locking them into the foreground right which has its own careful attention is it wonderful kind of contrast of color of course between the orange pink red cow and the brilliant green but then in the foreground all the colors of the cab can be seen in the flowers delicately painted for a bouquet I'm very unusual and again are in the bodice of the woman who's bending forward towards us holding a picture and purples thinking about complementary colors here and there's a lot of drawing in here I mean look at the delicacy of the light on her face and she bends down in the shadows reflective colors it's interesting that you say light because in some ways there's light in this painting and in some ways there isn't to me it's not atmospheric at all oh that's true this is not the light of the impression yeah there's there is light and you can sort of say okay there is sunlight in this landscape and there is sunlight hitting her face but there's no sense of atmosphere and so what happens is the light seems to be located almost the way that color is as a pooled area that is not necessarily a result of clouds and Sun but seems to almost generate from the author himself actually in a kind of pre-renaissance style right they're not thinking about the way that light actually looks yeah it didn't reflects those moves and yeah he's clearly trying to transcend I think those kinds of naturalistic effect to say something a little bit more but he's a serious and a little bit more spiritual and a little bit more meaningful I think the spiritual is absolutely intentional here but I think he's running into some problems because the subject itself is so aestheticized it's so laden with the tradition of the landscape and and so you know you've got this really beautiful kind of aesthetic quality if you look at the field just beyond the fence the middle ground you have this very light pool of light green and purple and it's almost a wash as if it was a kind of water color and of course there are - Mary - farmworkers very elegant cypress trees yeah which means that this might be when he's down in the South of France but you know the trees become very abstracted he's just vertical forms and then the clouds are also just these very simple shapes again really nothing atmospheric about the clouds and the sky and the flat blue color of the sky there's something very kind of transcendent about the landscape that conflicts for me with the kind of and maybe the city or sort of everydayness of the scene in the program with the women and the picture which sort of reminds me of Vermeer and the cow boots and then this landscape that is somehow kind of magical we see that division in Gauguin's work if you think about Jacob wrestling with an angel you have that very clear division by the bow of the tree where you have the spiritual displaced from physical the actual space in which we inhabit and we're a part of that you know the area that's on this side is clearly divided in these two areas you