‘Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1’ is what it is: ‘Whistler’s Mother’––and motherhood writ large

By Tom Siebert

“Whistler’s Mother” is a colloquialism for Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1, a painting in oils on canvas created by American-born artist James McNeil Whistler in 1871. The work was lukewarmly received, forcing the artist to pawn the painting. But it was eventually acquired by the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and later acclaimed worldwide as a masterpiece. However, the artist always insisted that the painting should be viewed not as an affectionate portrait but as a groundbreaking configuration of earth-tone colors. “To me it is interesting as a picture of my mother; but what can or ought the public do to care about the identity of the portrait?” he asked. My answer across the ages came after seeing the painting in person at The Art Institute of Chicago, the first time the American icon had been displayed in the U.S. since 1954. Whistler’s magnum opus is more about motherhood than Mother Earth.

17553785_1312210395483281_1420677437507018602_n

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements

About Tom Siebert

Tom Siebert received a journalism degree from the University of Illinois and worked as a staff writer for newspapers in California, Florida, and Illinois. He reported general news, interviewed entertainment figures, and covered elected office holders––including four presidents and a pope. More significantly, Tom profiled human suffering in the form of a homeless man dying of AIDS, a college cheerleader battling Hodgkin's disease, and a senior couple living the long goodbye of Alzheimer's. He also worked as a copyeditor and proofreader for Tyndale House, a Christian publisher based in the Chicago suburbs. Tom is presently self-employed as an editor of Christian books. In addition, he serves as community relations director for Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, Illinois. And Tom is on the leadership team for the Celebrate Recovery ministry at his church, Harvest New Beginnings, in Oswego, a suburb west of Chicago. He may be contacted at tmsiebert@gmail.com or (816) 344-7815.
This entry was posted in Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, Tom Siebert, Whistler's Mother and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s