Monday, November 29, 2010

Last Day In The Big Apple

Our fabulous week in New York sadly had to come to an end sometime and it sure was hard to say goodbye! On our last morning we went across the street from our hotel to Jr's cafe and had some delightful pastries and fresh orange juice, such a fun breakfast. Then we went to the Discovery musuem to see the special exhibition on King Tut. On our way there we way posters for all the shows we had seen in the past week. The three in the top pic were awesome and we loved all of them, A Little Night Music on the other hand ... didn't get the best review from us

The King Tut exhibit was so fascinating! It brought back all the things I learned in my Egyptian art and architecture class at BYU which was awesome, I absolutely loved that class, well the facts not the teacher haha. We started off by watching the 3D movie about ancient Egypt which was awesome and we were the only ones in the theater, total unplanned private screening!

For our last meal in the big city we went to Carmines which is big, family style Italian which was oh so so SO good! The atmosphere is fun and bustling and very fast paced. We ordered a big house salad that had little pieces of meat and cheese and the best Italian dressing for an appetizer and for a main course we got ewey gooey cheesy manicotti and baked scallops everything was of course lip-smackin good! I was good and stuffed by the time we were done but still wanted to try more! But we had gotten fresh baked cookies from Jr's bakery to eat on the plane so we of course had to save room for those!

After our sensational lunch we mad the horribly long drive to the airport to fly back home to Utah. I honestly had the hardest time leaving I wanted to find a cute little apartment somewhere get a fun little job and just live in the big city, that is my dream, just for a little while though like a year or so. One day for sure. It was such an awesome vacation! I love my parents for taking me on such wonderful adventures!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Museum Mile : The Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, what a wondrous place, filled with so many treasures! It actually has too many treasures I have yet to see probably most of what this place has to offer, but we did our best to see as much as we could in our allotted time. And yes this post is going to be filled with a lot of art history stuff as well, I just think looking at a work of art is so much more interesting when you know what it is all about and not just some random people or whatever. For example there is a Van Gogh painting featured in this post of a mom and dad with their little baby, how much more interesting and sweet does that picture become when you know it is a picture he painted specifically for his brother Theo, and it is of Van Gogh's nephew taking his first steps. BAM!! I know you all love art history now and realize how awesome it is, its as simple as that. So learn away my friends, learn away. (PS I am sure this post is filled with spelling and grammatical errors just like all my other posts, rest assured that I did graduate from college with a bachelors degree. I am just usually too tired to go back and spell check all of my ramblings, so just pass over them like they aren't even there. Thank You and I hope you enjoy this post.)

The Greek statue corridor is just so beautifully curated, its like being in Disneyland for us Art History nerds, it's just so magical.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, Umberto Boccioni, 1913
I was excited to see this one, seeing the little icon of this on the map of the musuem is what made me drag my very nice parents to the modern art wing, they were very sweet to endure all the crazy modern things I wanted to see even though they aren't the biggest fans of modernism. This sculpture is a futurist work, The Futurist movement was striving to portray speed and forceful dynamism in their art. Boccini's goal for this work was to depict a "synthetic continuity" of motion instead of an "analytical discontinuity", He was more interested in depicting the essence of movement rather then an accurate portrayal of a walking human form.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space
depicts a human-like figure seemingly flying or gliding through air. A clinging drapery whips back around his legs, giving the sculpture an aerodynamic and fluid form. Instead of a traditional pedistal, the figure is only bound to the ground by two blocks at his feet.

Though Boccioni apparently reviled traditional sculpture, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space does resemble more realist works. The flowing, windswept drapery looks back to the classical Winged Victory of Samothrace which Filippo Marinetti, founder of Futurism, declared was inferior in beauty to a roaring car.

This was just magnificent, it is entitled The History of Navigation Mural, by french artist Jean Dupas. It was made for the ocean liner Normandie. It is made of glass, paint, gold, silver and palladium leaf. Its super neat in person, it was hard to try and capture all of it in a photo.

Bird in Space, Constantine Brancusi, 1923
EEEEE!!! ok I think this is in the top three of my favorites in the modern sculpture category, I just find it stunning and so beautiful. It's another one of those crazy futurists work where they were just so obsessed with capturing movement and the essence motion. In the "Bird in Space" works, Brancusi concentrated not on the physical attributes of the bird but on its movement. The bird's wings and feathers are eliminated, the swell of the body is elongated, and the head and beak are reduced to a slanted oval plane.

The Lovers, Marc Chagall, 1913-1914
I just thought this picture was cute because the two lovers are the artist and his fiance, Bella Rosenfeld. He painted this in Paris yet the town from outside the window is an imaginary scene from his window in Vitebsk, a little town on the boarder of Russia. So I like to imagine that this is what he would day dream about when he was in Paris, being back home with his sweetheart, but I am just a romatic like that, I know nothing of the real story of when this work of art was created, but that is what I will continue to think because it is sweet.

Three Men Walking, Alberto Giacometti, 1949
His characteristic figures are extremely thin and attenuated, stretched vertically until they are mere wisps of the human form. Almost without volume or mass (although anchored with swollen, oversize feet), these skeletal forms appear weightless and remote. Giacometti's work can be seen to balance the concerns of the modern and the historical as well as the specific and the universal. While many have viewed his sculptures as emblematic of the horrors of World War II or representative of the alienation of modern urban life, his figures also contain specific allusions to ancient Egyptian burial figures and to early Greek korai. At the same time, the fragile figures are universalized, their tentative movements expressive of an essential human condition. In this work, the figures take wide steps, each in a different direction. The empty space around them acts as an obstacle to communication. They stride along, each untouched by another, alienated by the void that surrounds them.

Van Gogh, Oleanders, 1888
For van Gogh, oleanders were joyous, life-affirming flowers that bloom riotously and were continually renewing themselves. In this painting of august 1888 the flowers fill a Majolica jar that appears in other still lives made by the artist in Arles. They are symbolically juxtaposed next To Emile Zola's "La joie de vivre." This novel also appears in another of Van Gogh's still lifes painted in 1885 where it appears next to an open bible. Despite all of his mental and health problems I have such a deep and sincere admiration for Van Gogh, he was a very sweet, thoughtful, and religious person. Many of his great actions big or small are overshadowed by some of his manic actions so I feel he often is viewed differently then how he should be.

Paul Signac, Light house at Griox, 1925
Signac, an avid yachtsman, is best known for his glorious views of French ports and luminous seascapes. This work depicts the harbor of Port- Tudy on the Ile-de-Groix, a small island off the coast of southern Brittany opposite Lorient. Painted in 1925, it shows the mosaic-like strokes of color that were the hallmark of Signac's late style.

Paul Signac, Notre Dame-de-la-Garde, 1905
Another one of Signac's fabulous works. Signac went even farther the Seurat in his methodical studies of the division of light into its components of pure color, and he arranged rectangular brushstrokes like tesserae in a mosaic.

Van Gogh, Roses, 1890.
This beautiful piece was painted in May of 1890, right before Van Gogh's departure from the asylum in Saint Remy. The colors of this painting have faded over time, leaving just a faint suggestion at how vibrant these colors must have been at one time, it has a gorgeous composition though.

Van Gogh, Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889
This was the view outside of Van Gogh's window of the asylum in Saint Remy, he often wrote to Theo, his brother, describing the scene and described it as his Best summer canvas. He repeated the composition three times.

Edgar Degas, Dancer, ca. 1880
I have no background information on this masterpiece I adore it simply because it is stunning, breath taking and elegant.

Auguste Renoir, Bouquet of Chrysanthemums, 1881
Renoir felt that he had greater freedom to experiment in still lifes than in figure paintings. "When I paint flowers, I feel free to try out tones and values and worry less about destroying the canvas, I would not do this with a figure painting since there I would care about destroying the work." Well I would like to tell Renoir that I don't think he could destroy a canvas even if he tried, this so called experiment is outstanding, I love love love the colors and the exploding composition. All of Renoir's canvases have such a gentle softness to them, they all seem to glow a little bit around the edges.

Auguste Renoir, In the Meadow, 1888-92
Between 1888-1892 Renoir painted a number of works in which the same pair of girls are posed together by a piano, reading, talking in the countryside, or, as here, picking flowers. Another painting of these same girls will appear on this post later on. Renoir is another one of my favorite artists, the girls in his paintings remind me of my and my sisters.

Jean-Leon Gerome, Before the Audience, ca 1881
I found Gerome's works to be absolutely astounding, he paints with such painstaking detail that his paintings look like photographs. I am also a ginormous fan of Orientalism, and just eastern art in general, eeeee! I just find it so fascinating, paintings like this get me all giddy and such.

Pierre-Auguste Cot, Springtime, 1873
I will admit that I have never seen this piece before, and the artist sounded vaguely familiar to me but definitely wasn't someone that I had studied in depth but this painting made me stop in my tracks, it is soo beautiful it made me want to cry a little bit.

After we had exhausted the European paintings wing, which was my dad's choice and which, as you could tell, was amzazazaing, we headed over to my mom's choice, Babylonian art, the birth place of it all. I do love Babylonian art, it is so majestic and unique. My favorite is the gate statues pictured below. They are so huge and intimidating, yet so detailed and beautifully carved. My favorite little fact about them in that they have 5 legs each, so that they would look look from either head on or from the side. how smart is that!

This is their language, how crazy is that! they had one tool that had a triangular tip and they would write by changing the angle of the triangle. neat, neat, neat!

Here are two bonus paintings becuase I know you just haven't had enough yet.
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga 1784-179.
The cats in this painting made me laugh out loud, also that fact that the boy has a bird on a leash, oh how I wish I could have a magpie on a leash that seriously would make me so happy. This painting was commissioned by the Count and Countess of Altamira, it is of their son. The lucky magpie that he is playing with, holds the painter's calling card in it's beak, why not get a little advertising in a commissioned work eh? The cage full of finches i think it very elegant that is why I took a close up of it but after a little bit of studying I discovered that in Christian art birds frequently symbolized the soul, and in Baroque art caged birds are a symbol of innocence (symbols are my FAVORITE! so fascinating!) Goya may have intended this portrait as an illustration of the frail boundaries that separate the child's world from the forces of evil or as a commentary on the fleeting nature of innocence and youth.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Two Girls at the Piano, 1892
Here they are, those same two girls that we saw earlier. We had a poster of this, or another Renoir very similar to this, hanging up in our house while I was growing up so when I see this it is so familiar its almost like a memory out of my own past. Like I said earlier, the girls in Renoir's paintings remind me of me and my sisters, I think these two look like my sister Jenny and I and this is something that we have done from time to time, spent time at the piano playing and singing so it very well could be a memory from my own past.

I had to sneak one more in of the amazing floral arrangements that were in the lobby. The lobby was gorgeous as well and often probably gets taken for granted, anything with pillars amazes me they are so classic and grand I want pillars somewhere in my future home, and don't worry I will make them look classy not flashy and out of place.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Museum Mile : The Frick

The Frick is one of the preeminent small art museums in the United States, with a very high-quality collection of old master paintings and fine furniture housed in 16 galleries within the formerly occupied residential mansion. It is housed in the former Henry Clay Frick House, which was designed by Thomas Hastings and constructed in 1913-1914. Henry Clay Frick was an American industrialist and was the founder of the Frick Coke Company (the kind of coke used in steel manufacturing, not the delicious soda.) The paintings in many galleries are still arranged according to Frick's design, although additional works have been bought by the Frick Collection over the years in a manner deemed to correspond with the aesthetic of the collection.

Boucher Room

Fragonard Room

The Fragonard room is definitely one of the highlights of the entire musuem, all of his works are so gorgeous! was a French painter and printmaker whose late Rococo manner was distinguished by remarkable facility, exuberance, and hedonism (Hedonism is a school which argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. This is often used as a justification for evaluating actions in terms of how much pleasure and how little pain (i.e. suffering) they produce. In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize this net pleasure (pleasure minus pain) this is very evident
in his paintings).

These four paintings are a main contribution to the Fragonard room in the Frick, combined they make up the Progress of Love Series. The Progress of Love is a series or collection of four paintings designed for the walls of one of the two salons in the pavilion of Louveciennes, being remodeled for Mme Du Barry, the king's mistress, in the early 1770s. Rather than a sequence, the four seem to be an ensemble that depicts four facets of love. The collection is not original in concept, and it grew out of the tradition of Watteau's fêtes galantes earlier in the century and from the pastoral paintings of François Boucher. Boucher's pastorals were representations of the pantomime theatre, and they were primarily static and bucolic. Fragonard's episodes are full of action in the same way Watteau's fêtes galantes are, but with an added element of poses drawn from classical ballet.

The Pursuit (1773)
In this picture the woman is again in motion, and to a contemporary viewer she would have been unmistakably performing in a ballet. She is leaping in a classic ballet position, and she wears soft, low-heeled ballet slippers like those worn by professional dancers of the time. The grouping of the three women is also a direct allusion to a contemporary choreographer's typical composition of figures on stage. In a similar way, the sculpture in the upper right of Cupids with a dolphin fountain would be recognizable as a visual allusion to Boucher, who often included such sculptures in his paintings, though with a much lighter and playful touch. Here, as in the first painting, the sculpture suggests darkness and turbulence, or at least mystery. Love may be a game with a conventional ending, but in the middle of the game convention dictates suspense.

Storming the Citadel or The Surprise or The Meeting (1773)
This picture depicts the two lovers bathed in an almost unnatural radiance of stage lighting, and the woman's gestures derive directly from the stage. The thrust of her hand against the greenery is mirrored in countless prints of the period depicting dancers or actresses directing the audience's attention to the wings: this was a pantomimic gesture gaining popularity in the French theatre at the time.
Besides the dramatic tension between the two lovers, however, there is a tension between them and the sculpture that towers above them--a statue of Venus withholding Cupid's quiver of arrows from him. Watteau had used a different version of this sculpture in at least two of his paintings, and Fragonard would have known those paintings as well as Dryden knew Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. In Watteau's paintings, however, Venus is playful and smiling. Here she is rough and menacing, almost knocking Cupid off of the cloud. The trees in the background, too, seem to shy away from her and match the angles formed by her body and Cupid's. You might be reminded of Pope's line in "Windsor Forest" about Nature there: "Not Chaos-like together crush'd and bruis'd, / But as the World, harmoniously confus'd."

The Declaration of Love (1773)
The calmest work of the four, this picture has a statue of Venus as friendship dominating the scene at the right. The lovers in the center act almost as a human sculpture, the woman on the central pedestal and the man leaning into her shoulder in a stylized posture of devotion. If these postures seem overly artificial to you, it might do to remember that adolescents today often mimic the walk, the talk, the gestures, the hairstyles, and the clothing of movie and television stars, and that if the young men and especially the women of Fragonard's day mimicked the gestures of the Belles of the theatre in Paris it should not be surprising. This painting, at any rate, would not have seemed unduly artificial to a contemporary viewer any more than an Olan Mills portrait, complete with artificial countryside background seems inappropriate for the wall of your parents' home. You might also notice here that the trees create the shape of a heart behind the couple.

The Lover Crowned (1773)
Along with the sorts of details you see in the companion paintings, here you will find scattered attributes of the sister arts, particularly the lute and tambourine and the sheet music, but also the statuary, the architecture, the landscape garden design, and the implied allusion to the dance and the opera and, therefore, to literature. Note also the presence of the artist himself in the figure in the foreground, who by his posture initiates the diagonal movement of the viewer's eye first to the woman's head and then on up to the statue of the sleeping Cupid. It is not the actions of the god of love now that animate the scene but the actions of the painter. Notice that in all of these paintings the gardens depicted are as lush and overgrown as the landscape on the island of Cytheria in Watteau's painting. But also notice in this picture that two of the plants are orange trees growing in large boxes, natural and artificial at once. In order to produce oranges without damage from the cold weather, orange trees were planted this way to be moved inside hothouses called orangeries. The figures in these paintings are hothouse plants of a different sort, as protected by their social class from the wildness of life as Pope's shepherds are by his poetic composition.
I would also like you to consider in more detail the relationship between the human figures and the sculptures depicted in the paintings. Normally we think of sculpture as static and eternal. When we come upon it in life, we know that it has appeared the way it has for a long time. In these paintings it is used as commentary on the action, and it serves as a response to or illustration of the lovers. The painter has created both at once, however, so the illusion of the sculpture's permanence versus the lovers' temporality is an illusion. Because they are created artificially in the painting, they are as permanent/eternal as the staturary. And perhaps the scenes they depict are just as eternal.

The Rehearsal, Hiliare-Germain-Edgar Degas, 1878-1879
This painting is probably the canvas entitled École de danse (School of Dance) that Degas entered in the fourth exhibition of the Impressionists in 1879. The Rehearsal is one of many compositions devoted to the dance that the artist produced in the 1870s, apparently fascinated with the mechanization of the human body that the rigorous discipline of the ballet imposed. In the same exhibition of 1879 Degas showed two other pictures of dancers practicing with a violinist. In all of them the unidentified musician appears divorced from the events surrounding him, his age and stolid form providing a touching contrast to the doll-like ballerinas.

Degas is often identified as an impressionist, an understandable but insufficient description. Impressionism originated in the 1860s and 1870s and grew, in part, from the realism of such painters as Courbet and Corot. The Impressionists painted the realities of the world around them using bright, "dazzling" colors, concentrating primarily on the effects of light, and hoping to infuse their scenes with immediacy.

Technically, Degas differs from the Impressionists in that he "never adopted the Impressionist color fleck", and he continually belittled their practice of painting en plein air. "He was often as anti-impressionist as the critics who reviewed the shows", according to art historian Carol Armstrong; as Degas himself explained, "no art was ever less spontaneous than mine. What I do is the result of reflection and of the study of the great masters; of inspiration, spontaneity, temperament, I know nothing." Nonetheless, he is described more accurately as an Impressionist than as a member of any other movement. His scenes of Parisian life, his off-center compositions, his experiments with color and form, and his friendship with several key Impressionist artists—most notably Mary Cassatt and Edouard Manet—all relate him intimately to the Impressionist movement.

The four season by Boucher were some of my favorite pieces to see they were so beautiful! As frivolous as the Rococo Period was I think the art from that time period is gorgeous! I got prints of all four of them from the Museum Store and plan on getting them framed and displaying them in my future home. The wall space of my future home is basically all filled, I have collected far too many things over the years!

Jean Daullé's engravings after The Four Seasons identify the owner of the paintings as Madame de Pompadour. The four canvases probably were designed as overdoors for one of the Marquise s many residences, but it is not known which one. Boucher's shield-shaped compositions, of which three are dated 1755, were later extended by another hand onto rectangular canvases; the present curvilinear templates expose only the original body of each. In these representations of the age-old subject of the Four Seasons,Boucher broke with the tradition of depicting the labors performed at various times of the year, characteristically choosing to illustrate pleasant pastimes instead. The amorous subjects of Spring and Autumn, described as pastorales in the sale catalogueof the collection of the Marquis de Marigny (Madame de Pompadour s younger brother and heir), recall the fêtes galantes invented engraved in his youth, but the backgrounds of all of the Seasons, especially the frosted one of Winter, reveal Boucher s particular skills as a landscapist. The bathers of Summer depend from a far older pictorial tradition that would subsequently be continued by Renoir, Cézanne, and Picasso.

These two by Whistler surprised me, they are so feminine and light. Most of his that I am familiar with are dark with such an emphasis on black. The titles of these pieces are also great, above, which is my favorite one I love the delicate blossoms in the upper right hand corner as well as on her dress, is entitled, Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink:
Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland. Below is a picture of,
Harmony in Pink and Grey:
Portrait of Lady Meux

Mother and Children (La Promenade) , 1875-1876, Pierre-Auguste Renoir
I love all of Renoir's things, he is definitely one of my favorite impressionists. The subjects of this painting have never been identified which I thought was curious, the dresses of the little girls are just fabulous!

Officer and Laughing Girl, 1657, Johannes Vermeer.
After writing my senior thesis on dutch nautilus cups of the 17th century and examining numerous Dutch paintings for evidence to support my idea I have a new found love and intense interest in dutch paintings, and Vermeer was one of the best, so naturally I was excited to see some works by him. In what may be one of the first works of his mature style, Vermeer transforms the theme of a girl entertaining her suitor, already popular in Dutch art, into a dazzling study of light-filled space. The dark foil of the officer’s silhouette dramatizes both the illusion of depth and the brilliant play of light over the woman and the furnishings of the chamber. The map of Holland on the far wall, oriented with west at the top, was first published in 1621. Both the map and the chairs appear in other paintings by Vermeer. Going back to that awesome thesis I wrote, spending four dedicated months on one project definitely leaves an impression on you, I feel the map in the back could definitely be an allusion to the Dutch Trade and how powerful it was, ah so fascinating! The more I look into it the more my thesis proves to be correct, so cool, so cool.

Whew! wasn't that an awesome tour of the Frick!? It truly is an amazing place, I want to go back again and again and again! After the taxi dropped us off at our hotel we noticed we were on the Forever 21 sign! Can you find us? I will give you a hint, we are on the left and my dad is the easiest to find in his white baseball hat ....

Tonight for dinner we went to Joe Allen, another restaurant on our favorite street full of delightful places to eat. I think I have made up my mind, I think this was my favorite place we ate, it was DELICIOUS! and such a fun atmosphere! I got this chicken sandwich that was to die for! and for dessert I got a berry peach tart which was splendid and an excellent contrast to the death by chocolate dessert both of my parents got.

Tonight's show was Billy Elliot. I had never heard of this play so I didn't really know what to expect. Boy oh Boy what a show! The kids that play Billy are OUTSTANDING! There are 5 boys that rotate performances because it is such an exhausting and demanding role, but man can they dance! If you hadn't noticed I loved this show, I thought it was awesome! All of the music was composed by Elton John which was interesting, they all had a fun energetic beat. And there were also great comic relief moments, like the dancing dresses ....

The walk home to the heart of times square never ceased to amaze me, it is such a unique and fun place! I felt like it was a constant party and we were always invited!