Dear Chiki,

Very happy that the reading circle is going to happen.
This is the most important thing you have to do, it will change your life.
I’ve just written to my friend Catherina. I think you should contact her, she’s somebody I really believe in. You’re both really intelligent and I think you could learn from each other. At the moment I think she’s studying acting.

If you plan to go to the Metropolitan Museum together, I’ll tell you what to start looking at. I always recommend people start with 17th century Dutch painting. If you start there, you’re interested to go backwards as well as forwards chronologically. Even if you start with the impressionists of the 19th century you would tend to go forward, and just end up with birthday cards.

17th century Dutch painting: it’s so shockingly original, remember in those days they didn’t have photography, and sometimes people therefore dismiss what they call realism in art, they find more emotion in Van Gogh. The 18th century artist Fragonard said he could paint with his arsehole. It’s all a question of skill, and with skill you have spontaneity, that means the artist can transmit immediately what he receives through his senses to the flat surface. Spontaneity is not a question of speed, I think it’s a question of vision, he sees the world in a certain way and he can express it from brain to hand. And this is where the spirit and the life comes from in 17th Century Dutch painting. It’s quite a different thing to photography, which by the way, is monocular.

The bookshop at the Met is probably the best art bookshop in the world and try to get yourself a small book on 17th Century Dutch painting if you can, the history is very interesting.

The Met has such an impressive collection of impressionists, Andreas’ favourite and possibly mine too is Cezanne who people call the father of modern art, but the one I really adore is Manet – although he’s not really an impressionist. But to me he’s the most original painter of the 19th century. He follows on from Goya and Goya follows on from Velasquez and Titian.

I’m getting really excited about preparing my art exhibition.
Self-educate – Get a Life.

Love Vivienne

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