gooollysandra

Thoughts on thoughts and images of beautiful things

Tag Archives: museum

Art viewing in the time of Covid

0

I went to the Art Institute of Chicago recently for the first time since the covid pandemic hit the U.S. last Spring, and I was surprised by how much I felt like I had to re-learn how to look at art and get the most out of a museum visit. I suppose we’ll have to re-learn how to do a lot of things post-pandemic. The Art Institute was quite crowded, which I was not expecting, and there was a three hour wait for the Monet exhibition. I didn’t wait for it, but I definitely want to see it before it goes down in June. It was incredible and rather surreal to see some of my favorite works of art at the museum, and I found myself spending more time than usual in front of them to soak them all in – scanning them from top to bottom so that I didn’t miss anything. I mostly went for the Henri Toulouse-Lautrec special exhibition, Toulouse-Lautrec and the Celebrity Culture of Paris. He’s one of my favorite artists and I always spend time with his works when I go to the Art Institute. They are typically on display in a room close to where the special exhibit is now. To have a full room dedicated to him and his large colorful posters and prints was spectacular. I love the playful imagery in his works that have a slight sense of mockery underneath their artistic virtue.

During my first museum visit since the pandemic started, I had this New York Times article about museums in the Berkshires on my mind. The Berkshires hold a special place in my heart. I love the beauty and the peacefulness of these majestic mountains, that take on a purple hue in just the right light. My mom grew up in the Berkshires and I lived there for one year before going to grad school. This area might be rural, but it is certainly rich and vibrant in art and culture. With numerous museums for its small scope and population, it’s a destination for visitors seeking solace in nature and intellectual awakening in its cultural institutions. The house that my mom grew up in in Williamstown, MA (the same house that I spent my time in while living there) was just steps away from the Clark Art Institute. We also took advantage of and appreciated MASS MoCA and the other museums in the area.

Williamstown, MA

What I really appreciated about this article was the commentary on contemporary art. Contemporary art is certainly contemporary, relatively speaking, but it’s not as contemporary as it claims to be. As this article points out, it can’t keep up with the current times that we have experienced over the past year. What then, one can argue, is the value of contemporary art? I agree with the author, Jason Farago, that we can learn just as much from the old masters as we can from contemporary art. Furthermore, art isn’t so much about what we can learn from it, but how it reminds us of our humanity.

“If I seek out art in a time of national catastrophe, it’s not because I need that catastrophe explained to me. And it’s not because I want to block that catastrophe out with a veil of pretty pictures. It’s simpler than that. It’s because I need to be reminded what to live for.”

Jason Farago

People matching art

0

08

A friend showed this to me recently and I am so fascinated by it. People matching artwork. I’m an art lover and I go to museums every chance I get, but I’ve never noticed visitors matching the art on the walls. I mean what are the chances? Some of these pairings are more spot on than others, but I’m so impressed by the photographer’s commitment and patience for such a project. Stefan Draschan is the photographer behind these spottings and he has other similar series on people touching artwork, people sleeping in museums, couples matching, etc. All are humorous, but I think the people matching artwork is just perfection. I can’t decide which pairing I like best, but the colors in this one are so striking. I was surprised to find out that Draschan only spends a couple hours in each museum where he captures these moments. But he does go frequently – every few days. He thinks there’s something subconscious that draws people to their matching works of art and that it’s not purely coincidental. We do seem to be attracted to things that mirror us in a way and that provide an opportunity for us to reflect on ourselves. I think a work of art can certainly be that looking glass. Draschan’s love for going to museums and observing people isn’t so much a love as it is necessary, “I really need art…It fills me”, a sentiment that I can certainly relate to.

 

 

Museums of everyday life

4

15vermont-superJumbo-v2

The Museum of Everyday Life in Glover, VT exhibits random objects that most would probably consider junk, especially in our disposable throw-away society. But I think the argument that these objects actually hold value and are worth keeping, maybe not in your own home, but somewhere for people to look at and remember, is worth considering. And that it was recently featured in the New York Times is certainly a testament to that. The museum, which is an unassuming barn, displays matches, which was the first exhibition, locks and keys, scissors, toothbrushes, etc. Some objects from special exhibitions then make it into the permanent collection. These objects may seem completely mundane, but they are important in their banality because they are things that we use everyday and are all around us. The museum is free and open to the public, although donations are always appreciated. It truly is a public space, as there is no one there attending to it and visitors can just come and go.

I lived in New England for one year and I absolutely loved it. Somehow a free little barn museum full of mundane, thrown-away objects is something I can totally picture in New England! 🙂

920450fe-7577-42b8-939b-e85f6ae7395b

It turns out this isn’t the only museum of everyday objects. They are around the world, including Hversdagssafn in Iceland. Their focus seems to be not only on mundane objects of everyday life, but also feelings, experiences, memories of everyday life, and “finding the poetry that comes forward when no one is looking.” As the women behind the museum, Björg and Vaida, put it:

Everyday life is a little bit like dark matter. It is what happens in between significant moments in life and holds everything together. It is meeting friends, having dinner, yelling at children, being yelled at, sulking, laughing and so on. And so on. It is walking from one place to the next. It is going to work. It is staying at home. It is worrying and washing dishes. It is both random and routine.

All of these little everyday things that we do mindlessly are actually what make up our lives and build our story day after day. So not only should everyday objects be appreciated, but also routine actions and activities because they are what make up our lives on a very primary level, and then comes everything else.

Constructing Space in European Prints

0

IMG_5126

I took a class on The Invention and Revival of Prints, 1500-1900, this past Spring at the University of Chicago, and as part of the class we put together a small exhibition revolving around the theme of space. Our interest lied in the ways in which space can be created, exaggerated, and used to tell a narrative. We selected ten prints that we thought exemplified this theme, including works by Dürer, Piranesi, and Tissot. For the exhibit, I wrote two didactic labels, as well as the introductory text.

IMG_5116

IMG_5117

It is now up at the Smart Museum on the University of Chicago campus.

An afternoon at the Barnes

0

home-g18nw-902x577

On a recent visit to Philadelphia, my first visit actually, I went to the Barnes Foundation to fulfill my art lover’s instinct. The Barnes is a very unique place where art is displayed in the most unusual way. It’s not like when you walk into the Art Institute of Chicago or the MET in New York City, where the art is hung at eye-level, typically with individual works lined up parallel to one another. At the Barnes, the art is displayed in a way that can be overwhelming, as there may be upwards of 100-200 works in a small room, virtually one on top of the other. Furthermore, there are paintings, drawings, metalworks, and pieces of furniture all mixed together, often from very different time periods and of very different subject matters. The collector and founder of the museum, Albert C. Barnes, was interested in displaying art according to line, texture, and color rather than according artist, time period, or subject matter. The result – the intriguing experience that is a trip to the Barnes.

Not only is the art displayed in an unusual way, there are no didactic labels informing the viewer of the artist, title, or background information. There are, however, booklets in each room that outline what each work is according to a diagram. Referring to the booklets as you browse through the galleries is like embarking upon a scavenger hunt or navigating through a maze. While the booklets are helpful in informing you what the works are, not having didactic labels next to each individual work forces you to evaluate the work based on its aesthetics alone, rather than its prestige and who it’s by. In this way, the works of art are on the same playing field, as opposed to arranged hierarchically based on the artist’s reputation.

A visit to the Barnes is essential if you’re ever in Philly, and I definitely plan on going back the next time I find myself there.