As I wandered the West Building at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, a wispy web of white paint caught my eye. Andrew Wyeth's Wind from the Sea is essentially that, an image of the wind, captured in a painting of an open window. While in front of the work, I marveled at how he was able to capture the feeling of the movement of the curtain billowing from the wind. I pondered the process the artist must go through to translate an image in life to the two dimensional canvas. But, today, as I revisited the painting again, I began to ponder instead, why did I even notice it?
Venice is well known for its wealth of art and architecture that inhabit the floating city, but did you know that contemporary artists live there, as well? At least, temporarily. From June 1 through November 24, 2013, Venice will hold the 55th Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, or better known as the Venice Biennale to the English-speaking world. The exhibition of art began in 1895 and is held every other year (on odd years.) Today, it showcases artists selected from around the globe to represent their country and is regarded as a premier showcase of contemporary art.
Nothing beats being in front of a work of art. Sometimes these works travel to you, in exhibits and to museums nearby. Other times, you've got to travel to the work itself, which is definitely the case when it comes to the work of Richard Serra. His over-sized works made of steel are often site-specific and their installation alone is labor intensive. These aren't works that travel and that's ok. Because, after all, it's a good excuse to get out there in the world and see it for yourself. Serra can give you an excuse to travel to Spain, the Hudson River Valley, Qatar, or, in this case, my latest Serra sighting was in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art when I came face-to-face with Band (2006).
2013 just may be the year of David Bowie. Not only does he have a new album coming out, but he also has a retrospective this year at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. If you're a fan, you may want to book a trip to London this spring or summer to immerse yourself in all things Bowie. But don't hesitate, the exhibition David Bowie is, featuring over 300 objects from the David Bowie Archive, is only open until July 28, 2013.
Before planning a trip to the pyramids, lovers of ancient Egypt should instead consider a trip to Berlin. This spring, the city's beloved Egyptian, Nefertiti, is having a special celebration. Until April 13, 2013, the Neues Museum is honoring the 100 years since her discovery in Amarna with a special exhibit, In the Light of Amarna. 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery.
When you head into an art museum, you probably tend to stop in front of the wall-sized works on canvas or the towering sculptures in the front lobby. But what about those dimly lit rooms with small works on paper? Old Master Prints, the common way to refer to printmaking efforts made prior to the 19th century, are often a large part of a museum’s collection. Despite their prevalence, they’re also often the most overlooked items in the collection. Why? It's because the destructive effect of light on paper means that works are rarely on display, or when they are, kept in dimly lit spaces or tucked out of the way of harsh daylight. They are the unsung hero of a museum’s collection, in my opinion, and one of my favorite areas of study. There’s something about the intimacy of paper that allows you a step closer into the mind of the artist.
Gustav Klimt has quite the 150th birthday celebration going on this year. You've probably seen the Austrian-born artist before, in art history textbooks or in your favorite museum's gift shop where his work above, The Kiss, likes to cover tote bags and notecards. Klimt is best well known for his gold, geometric-laden portraits of the wives of Austrian bourgeoisie around the turn of the 20th century, as well as his, at the time, controversial eroticism of the female form. His works are gorgeous, sumptuous studies of womanhood, expressed through color and pattern or the simple curved line. If you haven't seen his work in person, there's no time like the present with two unique exhibitions going on across the globe.
Over many years and even more trips, we've managed to visit more than our fair share of art museums. There's lot of looking, standing on your feet for hours, and all of that while you're surrounded by lots of people doing annoying things. In all of these visits, we've also managed to learn a thing or two about what makes a museum visit enjoyable, and what can make you want to run back to your hotel room. So, I'm sharing these four tips to help you enjoy the arts, without wearing yourself out, on your next trip.
An artist that I keep bumping into, unwittingly, is Patrick Dougherty. Dougherty makes temporary sculptures comprised of twigs and sticks woven together to create towering, curvaceous forms. Most recently I encountered both his sculpture, and unknowingly at the time the artist himself, on a visit to Oahu. Early one morning, I was standing outside the Honolulu Museum of Art (waiting to visit Shangri La) when I came across a group of people assembling his latest sculpture, Footloose. Déjà vu. I still haven't placed it, but I'd been there before. I had seen this. Some memories float in quite clearly, for example, standing on the lawn of a university in the fall watching other assistants cut and place twigs under careful instruction. Other bits remain fuzzy, like where I was exactly and what year it might have been. The full memory hasn't returned to me, but having encountered Dougherty's work three times now, I can't shake the feeling that it wasn't just luck. Fate keeps bringing me back to his works in my travels. It just can't be by chance.
New York City's architecture can be overwhelming and with the hub and bub of the city passing you by, it can be hard to take in. After visiting New York recently, I realized that parks are the perfect homebase for doing an impromptu architectural tour. One of the finest is Madison Square Park, who not only gives you a front row seat to one of New York's most noted landmarks, the Flatiron Building (pictured above,) but a peek at architecture both old and new, and maybe even a milkshake.