On our agenda today is the National Gallery of Art.
It just looks artistic
Today’s Coldwater Creek shirt was chosen because it seemed, well, arty. (I think it’s the sleeves.)
While I like art museums, I tend to just wander around and look at the paintings without putting much thought into the process. However, there is actually an art (pun intended) to visiting an art museum—so I invited my friend, art lover and museum visitor extraordinaire Luci Swindoll, to share some tips about how to get the most out of a gallery visit.
Here’s what she had to say: “The National Gallery is a fabulous museum, housed in two gorgeous buildings—the West Wing (built in the 1940s) and the East Wing (built in the 1970s). I say this because the buildings themselves are such works of art. The earlier one was designed by John Russell Pope, and the newer by I.M. Pei.”
(Comment from Susan) I find that particularly interesting as I spend much of my time in another I.M. Pei building, the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. I can definitely see a family resemblance.
East Building photo 1981, M. Brack
(Luci) “What I’d do is ask somebody at the front desk about the most important (or valuable) piece in each school, and, I’d try to see those if your time is limited. If you can take more time, I’d stroll around in the different rooms, asking questions of the guards about what you like and about the history of this or that.”
(Another comment from Susan) Despite Vacation Rule #5, it never would have occurred to me to chat up a guard about a painting. I’m SO doing that.
(Luci) “Notice the dates of the artist and the paintings. Were they painted early in the artist’s life…or late? How do those differ from the other and what does that mean? What does that say to you?
Typically, the earlier in life, the more rigid the painting, less abandonment…more “coloring within the lines”. And later in life, there’s usually more expression of paint. Does that tell you anything about your own life…as a person?
Look for the “movement” in the painting. Does it look like there’s LIFE in the people or the animals? How so? Ask yourself all these different questions and make your own decisions apart from what you might read or others might suggest. Do the same with sculpture. Take notes…then put those in your journal when you get home (or, in your case…in your blog).”
All righty, then, I’m ready to explore! (Thanks, Luci! I’ll send you a virtual postcard.) FYI, the following art images are all from a friendly Web site called Museum Syndicate and represent a few of the artworks that caught my eye. Please forgive me if you don’t appreciate my opinions of the art; I’m just calling them like I see them.
The Miraculous Draught of Fishes by Jacopo Bassano
The first piece is “The Miraculous Draught of Fishes” by Jacopo Bassano. Painted in 1545, the colors of this piece are just glorious. (I’ve always loved oils best for their depth of color.) There is definitely movement in this one!
Relativity by Maurits Cornelis Escher
Here’s one I could stare at all day—or until I get a crick in my neck, whichever comes first. How on earth does someone come up with that? Did Escher have eyes like a fly or something? I wonder if that’s how God sees the world, as a series of interconnecting events with no up or down…
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Thomas Gainsborough
Georgiana! She seems like an old friend. I’ve been to Chatsworth (her house) and everything. What a brilliant and fascinating woman, and how sad that she was married to such a pompous jerk. You can see how smart she is, just look at her eyes. Gainsborough was brilliant with that diaphanous shawl, wasn’t he? It can’t have been easy to paint something that’s basically transparent.
This next one made the museum’s must-see list. It shows New York’s 5th Avenue, temporarily named “Avenue of the Allies” when the U.S. entered WWI.
Allies Day, May 1917 by Frederick Childe Hassam
I am not such a fan. Good color, lots of movement, nice light, but it looks a little too much like something a talented kid would do with crayons. (Maybe that’s from not actually seeing it in person?) Impressionists, as a whole, don’t impress me much; give me a Dutch Master any day. Perhaps that’s because the Impressionist’s soft, fuzzy world looks too much like my view anytime I remove my glasses.
The Cottage Dooryard by Adriaen van Ostade
This one I love. Doesn’t it look like the illustration to a fairy tale? Once upon a time…
Symphony in White No. 1: The White Girl by James Whistler
Another Gallery recommendation. Such subtlety in all those shades of white… but does anybody else think the head on the bear rug looks like a dog?
Whew. All this study of art made me hungry. I’ve heard good things about the Pavilion Café, and my Beef and Blue Panini does not disappoint. (Shaved seasoned roast beef with sautéed mushrooms, sautéed Spanish onions, and Stilton blue cheese spread served with a demi-glace jus on ciabatta bread.) And you can’t beat the view; it’s in the Gallery’s Sculpture Garden. I’ll just go enjoy that for now. Until later . . .
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