The Rich and the Poor

Museum Visitors
July 28, 2015
Bonsoir, Lisa!
July 28, 2015

The Rich and the Poor

#76008     72″ X 50″    ac

  • Ingres: “The Turkish Bath,” 1863, Louvre, Paris
  • Newsphoto: Young victim of the African drought at a refugee camp in Somalia

In this astonishing juxtaposition of two emotionladen icons, Chen drives home the disparities of the world and calls for active compassion.Ingres’ “Turkish Bath” has been called a savant synthesis of nude studies, and carried out like an undulating arabesque fabric, a triumph of supple line and the summit of Ingres’ musical design. The women represent pie in the sky, all the luxury life can buy. They were born on the right end of the supply line. Pie in the sky? They are on another moon. They are a world apart from most fellow human beings.

The rich tapestry of colors in this piece simply cannot be caught in reproduction. The blinding gold and deep blue are obvious. The nuances are not. The head of the child on the left, for example, is a stunning matrix of underflows, interweavings, and juxtapositions.

For some viewers, this canvas will always be too strong. Yet it may well be looked back upon as one of Chen’s most momentous achievements.


– Lawrance Jeppson