‘Tis the season for festive cheer, emotionally charged music, and heartwarming classic films. And a touch of surrealism for contrast! As winter approaches, Christmas poems, inspired by the spirit of the holidays, are the focus this month, along with the symphonies of Berlioz and the surrealist masterpieces of Dali. We will also allow our hearts to be touched by the classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Join this month’s journey where literature, melody, art and film weave a rich tapestry of art appreciation.
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Instead of selecting a single poet for December, I’ve chosen a collection of Christmas poems. I think this book is one I’ll enjoy browsing each year!
Christmas is both a holiday and a holy day, and from the start it has been associated with poetry, from the song of the seraphim above the manger to the cherished carols around the punch bowl. This garland of Christmas poems contains not only the ones you would insist on finding here (“A Visit from St. Nicholas,” “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas” among them) but such equally enchanting though lesser-known Yuletide treasures as Emily Dickinson’s “The Savior must have been a docile Gentleman,” Anthony Hecht’s “Christmas Is Coming,” Rudyard Kipling’s “Christmas in India,” Langston Hughes’s “Shepherd’s Song at Christmas,” Robert Graves’s “The Christmas Robin,” and happy surprises like Phyllis McGinley’s “Office Party,” Dorothy Parker’s “The Maid-Servant at the Inn,” and Philip Larkin’s “New Year Poem.”
Painter, sculptor, writer, filmmaker, and all-round showman Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) was one of the 20th century’s greatest exhibitionists and eccentrics. One of the first artists to apply the insights of Freudian psychoanalysis to art, he is celebrated in particular for his surrealist practice, with such conceits as the soft watches or the lobster telephone, now hallmarks of the surrealist enterprise, and of modernism in general. Dalí frequently described his paintings as “hand-painted dream photographs.” Their tantalizing tension and interest resides in the precise rendering of bizarre elements and incongruous arrangements. As Dalí himself explained, he painted with “the most imperialist fury of precision,” but only “to systematize confusion and thus to help discredit completely the world of reality.”Revolutionizing the role of the artist, the mustache-twirling Dalí also had the intuition to parade a controversial persona in the public arena and, through printmaking, fashion, advertising, writing, and film, to create work that could be consumed and not just contemplated on a gallery wall. This book explores both the painting and the personality of Dalí, introducing his technical skill as well as his provocative compositions and challenging themes of death, decay, and eroticism.
When my kids were toddlers I bought a set of classical music cassettes and they listened to them every night while going to sleep for years. I believe that children’s brains are like little sponges and early exposure to good music, poetry, literature and art is important. When my eldest was about four we were in a store with classical music playing. Honestly I had not paid any attention to it but little Chris piped up, “Mommy, that’s Berlioz!”.
Hector Berlioz, a composer of the Romantic era, was born in France on December 11, 1803. Renowned for his innovative orchestration and bold compositions, Berlioz left an indelible mark on classical music.
His groundbreaking work, “Symphonie fantastique,” is a testament to his expressive prowess, utilizing a large orchestra to convey a vivid narrative. Berlioz’s music often reflects his keen sense of drama and emotion, with compositions like “Romeo and Juliet” showcasing his ability to convey complex narratives through symphonic form.
A passionate and imaginative composer, Berlioz’s contributions extended beyond music, as he was also a prolific writer and critic. His impact on the Romantic movement, marked by fervent emotion and expressive freedom, solidifies Hector Berlioz as a key figure in the evolution of classical music.
When asked my favorite Christmas movie, there is not a moment’s hesitation. It’s a Wonderful Life is my hands down favorite. For close to 30 years our family has watched this classic every year, usually the night we put up the Christmas tree. And yes, it makes me tear up every single time.
This timeless classic directed by Frank Capra and released in 1946, is a heartwarming tale that has become synonymous with the holiday season. Starring James Stewart as George Bailey, the film unfolds on Christmas Eve when Bailey, facing personal and financial despair, contemplates ending his life.
However, the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence, grants George a glimpse into a world where he never existed, revealing the profound impact he has had on his community. The film beautifully explores themes of love, sacrifice, and the interconnectedness of lives.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” is celebrated for its poignant storytelling, exceptional performances, and enduring message that even in the darkest moments, one individual can make a profound difference in the lives of others.
If you have any favorites to recommend for future Art Appreciation posts feel free to share in the comments!
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