art · life curation

My Art Highlights for 2018

After a fantastic year of enjoying art, I thought it would be good for me to post some of my highlights from the last 12 months.

There really are too many highlights to cram into one post but I’m going to do my best!

I started this year off with viewing the terracotta army statues from China. As you all know, I visited China a few years ago and fell in love, so seeing the statues was like getting a taste of authentic China. I loved it and had a great time viewing the exhibition.

Next, nothing could top seeing Kenyan art while in Kenya! I wrote a post about Tom Mboya as well as some other Kenyan artists that I enjoyed. Getting to see art overseas is always a treat, since there is no guarantee that I will see these artists’ works stateside.

Paintings by Tom Mboya

I viewed Portuguese contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and was reminded of my goal to visit Portugal within the next 2 years. Just so you all know, I’ll be resuming my Portuguese language lessons in the upcoming year. I mean it: I’m going to speak Portuguese so that I can enjoy my trip and get around a little better than the average tourist.

At the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Archives of American Art, I viewed the exquisite and timeless work of Edmonia Lewis. I’m still impressed by her masterful handling of marble and her amazing ability when it comes to depicting her subjects with dignity and full of emotion. I was so impressed with her work that I recently did a comparison of her work with a similarly themed piece, because I simply can’t get tired of discussing Lewis’s work!

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The Death of Cleopatra by Edmonia Lewis

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Amy Sherald’s work at the National Portrait Gallery. Her portrait of Michelle Obama is a beautiful and unique interpretation of the former First Lady’s beauty, quiet resilience and charm. Seeing the painting in person impressed me far more than I expected, especially since Sherald’s signature technique forgoes capturing the rich tones of the subjects’ natural complexion and paints skin tone in greyscale, forcing art appreciators to focus on the expressions, posing, and attire depicted. I’m going to view some more of her work and maybe I’ll do an analysis of her style.

I also took a trip to Philadelphia and enjoyed the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There was so much art that I had to make a Part 1 and Part 2 to capture all of what I saw with my visit. I was delighted to see a Jean Leon Gerome painting that I’d never seen before.

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Night Flight by Howardena Pindell

I ended my year with the Howardena Pindell exhibition, that I loved so much that I had to visit it multiple times. Pindell is a living treasure, and I am thrilled that I got to see such a comprehensive retrospective of her work.

Those are my art highlights for 2018. I’m looking forward to bringing you all more art and more adventures in 2019!

 

 

 

art

Review: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Part 2

Happy Friday, friends! There’s not a whole lot to say, especially if you’ve seen Part 1 of this review (you can view Part 1 here). I’ll stick to sharing photos that you all haven’t already seen and providing a little commentary.

I saw a few Pablo Picasso works that I’d never seen before. I’m so accustomed to seeing his Cubist works that I forget that he didn’t always work with abstract figures. Earlier in his career, he worked with Impressionist techniques, as you can see in the paintings below.

Head of a Woman, Pablo Picassso (1901)

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Old Woman (Woman with Gloves), Pablo Picasso (1901)

This is the style we know and love from Picasso:

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Three Musicians, Pablo Picasso (1921)

I always have loved Pierre-Auguste Renoir, another Impressionist. His photos are both timeless and beautiful. This is a tender portrait of his beloved wife and favorite model, Aline Charigot Renoir.

Portrait of Madame Renoir, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1885)

This sweet-faced little girl was the daughter of an art dealer friend of Renoir’s.

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Portrait of Mademoiselle Legrand, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1875)

Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers are a great example of post-Impressionist work: it features thick paint, more vivid color selection and slightly distorted forms. The work is paradoxical: it’s a still life but the technique used by Van Gogh gives it a feeling of movement and dynamism. This work inspired Faith Ringgold’s The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles, which is also at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (I missed it on this trip, but I’ll be sure to catch it next time!) Ringgold even inserts Van Gogh into her work! You can view Ringgold’s work here.

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Sunflowers, Vincent Van Gogh (1888 or 1889)

Lastly, I was drawn in by the beautifully serene expression on the subject’s face. She looks like she was briefly interrupted while concentrating on her embroidery. She’s still thinking about her design and this is just moments before her attention is completed diverted away from her handicraft. I love how Mary Cassatt has caught this fleeting moment.

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Mary Ellison Embroidering, Mary Cassatt (1877)

I can’t wait to return to the museum to see some more artwork and to take lots of photos for you all! Talk to you all tomorrow.

 

art

Feeding My Gerome Addiction

Part of my Philadelphia trip included a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I love to believe that the muses communicate directly with me when I’m in any museum, so I am inclined to go wherever I’m “led”, so to speak. I stepped over to the European art wing, and I got the feeling that I would quickly find something incredible. My intuition didn’t disappoint: less than a few steps into the first room I entered, I was face to face with a painting by one of my favorite artists, Jean-Leon Gerome.

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Portal of the Green Mosque (Sentinel at the Sultan’s Tomb), Jean-Leon Gerome, 1870

I’ve written about Gerome before, and back then, I struggled with expressing exactly what it is about his paintings that I love. I *think* I have the language to express myself now LOL! I love the realism in Gerome’s work. His paintings featured lots of African, Middle Eastern and Asian subjects and, unlike many European artists, he chose to depict his subjects humanely, touchingly, and accurately. For that, I’ll always be a fan.

This painting, Portal of the Green Mosque (Sentinel at the Sultan’s Tomb), was completed by Gerome in 1870. By this time, Gerome was a very experienced painter (more than 20 years experience, to be exact) and had quite a few commissions, honors, and his own atelier to his credit. He had established a name for himself and was a master at Orientalist paintings. While many may conclude that Gerome’s work objectified his subjects to the point of being lecherous, I’m inclined to take a different perspective.  The combination of “exotic”, non-White subjects and a Neoclassical or Romantic depiction of these subjects results in capturing the subjects’ humanity in ways that had never been done before.

The sentinel depicted is solemn, a little melancholy, but not to be pitied: he seems at peace with his position and dutifully stands in defense of the sultan’s remains. You can sense that this is a hot and hazy day, if the languorous hound in the foreground is any indicator. However, I sense that the dog in the background, that is standing closer to the entrance, is much like the sentinel himself: alert, solemn, ready to defend.

I enjoyed this painting, as I enjoy every other Gerome work that I’ve seen. I know that the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC has several Gerome paintings on view. I intend to make a special trip to view and photograph some of them. Look out for that post soon! In the meantime, enjoy, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

 

art

Spotlight on Monet

Happy Monday, beloveds! Can you believe it’s almost been a whole month since I went to Philadelphia? That trip, which was mainly for the purpose of attending my first Freeman’s auction, was a lot of fun, and a great “break” in the monotony of my day-to-day life.

While at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I made sure to tour the European art wing, because I’d be experiencing a bit of a deficit. The museum nearest to me, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, has an incredible European art collection featuring impressionist works by Claude Monet and Edgar Degas. However, the Monet and Degas works are on an international tour and won’t be returning to VMFA until 2020.

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The Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pond, Giverny (Monet, 1899)

So, as you can imagine, I was excited when I saw some Monet works in Philadelphia. I got to enjoy different versions of his Water Lilies series. I love both versions that I saw: the painting that has deeper tones feels more dynamic and calls to mind a scene from a lake during the autumn season. On the other hand, the painting with the lighter colors evokes warmer weather and the freshness of spring and summer.

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Water Lilies, Japanese Footbridge (Monet, 1918-2916)

What I love most about Monet is the thing he is known for: impressionism is one of my favorite art movements. The gentle intermingling of colors (the result of applying wet paint to wet paint), the way that light is captured, and the softness of nature all speak to me in indescribable ways. Monet’s depictions of his environment make me want to experience Giverny (the commune where Monet spent more than 40 years) in person.

Ah, how I enjoyed these! I’m excited to check out more of Monet’s work at the National Gallery of Art this summer. The museum currently has 16 of his works on view, and I plan to check out each of them!

art · travel

Review: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Part 1

No trip to Philadelphia would be complete without a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This two story incredible museum has many treasures, but is probably best know for the exterior stairs that were featured in the infamous scene of the movie “Rocky”, where Sylvester Stallone does his boxing training by running up and down the steps.

If you want to run up the steps, help yourself, but once you get to the top of the staircase, be sure to go into the museum and buy a ticket, then take a leisurely stroll through the corridors as you soak up the rich art history around you.

I’m breaking my photos into two or three separate posts, because it takes a bit of time to write up the artist information under each picture. I’m also a little disappointed that I only got to view the bottom level of the museum: on this trip, time was not on my side. But that’s okay, because I plan to return. And when I do, I’ll have more time. In this post, I’ll share the most humorous pieces from the “Biting Wit and Brazen Folly: British Satirical Prints, 1780s–1830s” exhibit“Biting Wit and Brazen Folly: British Satirical Prints, 1780s–1830s” exhibit, on display until August 22.

I’m delighted to also mention that my ticket was complimentary because I am a member of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts at the Partner Level (you can also get reciprocal privileges at several major metropolitan museums, as well as the North American Reciprocal Membership and Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums, at the Supporters level).

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The museum exterior

Statue outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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The famous Diana statue inside the museum

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The Gout by James Gillray

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A Peep at Christies or Tally-ho & His Nimeny-pimeney taking the Morning Lounge by James Gillray

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The description next to A Peep at Christies was almost as interesting as the cartoon itself!

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The Blue Devils by George Cruikshank

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An explanation of what the “blue devils” are

Look out for more photos from my day at Philadelphia Museum of Art in the upcoming days. Enjoy!