Just at the tipping point of the 19th into the 20th century, Paul Gauguin gave us an operator’s manual for humankind in a painting he brought back to Paris from Tahiti: “Where are we going? What are we? Where do we come from?”
He had trouble unloading his painting, for keeps — too many questions — until Boston’s own Museum of Fine Arts bought it in the 1930s, where it’s now a staple of modern art.
The manual, though reluctantly at first, was picked up by other artists who wanted to be thoroughly modern. And these artists ran with it in every direction, from modern to postmodern — onwards.
“Excerpts from My Studio,” the art of Donald Langosy, now on view at the Multicultural Arts Center in East Cambridge, Massachusetts, traces one of those trajectories, in all its twists and turns, in all its personal vicissitudes.
And it’s a dinner plate heaped, in this reviewer’s opinion, to spilling, and worth the catch. But please, fork up modest portions, chew each mouthful thoughtfully.
Donald Langosy’s first inkling of his destiny came when in Venice, traveling with his wife Elizabeth, he walked into the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Friari and saw Titian’s “Assumption of the Virgin,” 1516-18, hoisted up on the altar at the end of a long nave — its necessarily over- large figures appearing life-size to viewers who saw the ascension of The Virgin to a heavenly God and His angels as something like an operator’s manual for themselves — if they minded their Christian manners.