This week’s deck really calls for a proper companion book, which it unfortunately doesn’t come with. The Impressionist Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2015) is a fascinating deck, using adapted images of art from a number of impressionist artists. The Minors are divided into suits based on the art of four painters: Wands are Édouard Manet, Cups are Claude Monet, Swords are Vincent Van Gogh, and Pentacles are Edgar Degas. This is an interesting concept in itself, and one that works well, to my mind. The artwork for the Majors shows a mix of artists, possibly the same four as represent the suits, I don’t know enough about the Impressionist movement to recognise whether any other famous painters’ works have been adapted for them. Throughout, the art has been done to copy some classic images that most anyone in the world would recognise (such as Van Gogh’s starry night, or some of Degas’ ballerinas). Yet, the fact that it was done by a single artist, Arturo Picca, to follow the Impressionist style means that the deck doesn’t feel excessively disjointed, as some multi-artist decks can.
The card stock is traditional Lo Scarabeo, which I like: not too flimsy, not too thick, and very easy to shuffle. The backs are subtly non-reversible, as they show the back of a wooden picture frame, with a slight hook at the centre top to ‘hang’ the painting.
In terms of how it works as a tarot, many cards are somewhat non-traditional. Overall, I feel they are well thought out, and fairly easy to read, while also opening up alternate interpretations. For instance, in the Hanged Man we see a shadowy figure reflected upside down in a lovely water lily pool. This gives the idea of seeing things from a different perspective nicely, as well as fitting the elemental attribution of the card.
The Knight of Swords doesn’t show much movement. Yet, Vincent Van Gogh wielding a sickle in a somewhat empty field, with his signature swirling sky behind is an interesting choice. As someone who painted a lot of self-portraits, he was certainly willing to self-reflect. And he was also studious: working as a teacher and missionary at various times in his life. An artist’s eye view of the world could also be said to cut through much of the BS of everyday life, too. Interestingly, the King of Swords also looks like a self-portrait, but of an older version of himself…
The Ace of Swords is another clear Van Gogh, with a harvesting sickle floating above a waving sea of corn, with a swirling blue sky above. All of the Aces are nice and clear, a single object (or person, in the ballerina for the Ace of Pentacles). Yet they all feel appropriate to the given artist’s preferred milieu: a walking cane in an elegant room for the Wands, for instance.
Finally, we come to the Minors. These show interesting facets of each artist’s oeuvre. For instance, the Ace and Two of Pentacles both show female ballerinas, and the Four shows prize ribbons in a ballet room, hoarded by an old director (perhaps). Here in the Eight, though, we see a different facet of Degas’ work, showing two women hard at work with laundry. Perhaps one is helping train the other. In either case, Degas often painted “real people”, personally preferring the term realist to impressionist. These women at work are as real as it gets 🙂
Overall, this deck is colourful and pleasing, as well as interesting to read with. My only complaint is the lack of a decent companion book.