Here are a few images of the most opulent things I’ve seen in the past week. Just thought I’d share these divine Faberge eggs that I saw at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The eggs are exquisite works of art that capture the idealized beauty and fragility of the Russian monarchy. I love that these objects represent the intersection of history, art, and culture. Cheers to opulence and abundance!
It’s Women’s History Month, and I wanted to share some art created by a female artist of yesteryear: one that is especially meaningful when considered through the lens of current issues.
Artemisia Gentileschi is (I believe) the only female Renaissance artist with surviving pieces credited to her. She painted in a style similar to Caravaggio (my favorite Renaissance artist) and was brilliant and skilled in her own right: she was particularly gifted when it came to portraying the female body and in her use of light and colors. Unfortunately, most of what we were originally told about her was related to the fact that she was raped by fellow artist Agostino Tassi (who was convicted of rape after the case went to trial). It’s a shame that this gifted artist was, for many years, known as a victim that transferred her own trauma into art.
Gentileschi is so much more than what she experienced, and I’m glad that art historians are finally giving her story the balanced interpretation that it deserves. As someone that just learned about her in the past few years, I never thought I’d get to see her work in person (there really aren’t that many Renaissance art pieces by high profile artists outside of the major museums in large cities) without traveling outside of my city.
However, there was a surprise for me, waiting right at my local museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Art. As I browsed the Renaissance section, I stopped at a lovely painting that I hadn’t noticed before. I looked at the identification card and, lo and behold, there was a Gentileschi painting!
I’m so glad that I got to experience the creative genius of Gentileschi right in my own backyard. I really liked her use of light in the painting: it looks like someone had just opened a window and let it stream across Venus’s body. I also love that Cupid remains only partially in the light, emphasizing him as minor (secondary) to his mother Venus, the goddess of love. In this portrait, Venus (the embodiment of all sorts of love, prosperity and fertility) is the star, and Cupid (a symbol of erotic and passionate love/lust) is in a supporting role. I interpret this as the passion of lust is unable to outshine the vastness of real love, and I suspect that even the source of light depicted wouldn’t shine quite so brightly if Cupid was the only subject of this painting.
Another thing: I really enjoyed the depiction of Cupid fanning his mother, showing him in service to her. It makes me think of how lust and passion are at their best when they are in service to higher forms of love. (Just a personal takeaway).
I just wanted to share that moment with you, because I still love art and find inspiration in it. I hope this post inspires you, too! Have a great day, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!
I mentioned last year that I wanted to start decorating my house in a style that reflected my personal tastes. For reference, I love old-fashioned decor, especially anything pre-1940s. The occasional mid-century modern touches are charming (my home was built during the mid-century period, so some of these features show up in its architecture) but I have a soft spot for Victorian, Art Deco and Art Nouveau interiors. There’s something so indisputably glamorous about the fabrics, textures, colors, and furniture used during these periods.
On a recent trip to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (one of my favorite places to go for creative inspiration) I saw a recreation of the bedroom of Arabella Worsham Rockefeller (yes, those Rockefellers). No expense was spared in creating a decadent room for Mrs. Worsham Rockefeller to retire. The room was originally set up in the Rockefellers’ New York brownstone, but was gifted to VMFA in 2009. The experts at VMFA painstakingly replicated the room, using as many of the original artifacts as available. The end result is a stunningly luxurious, elegant, and warm bedroom: just what I want to recreate.
Here are some pictures from the Worsham Rockefeller bedroom:
I was captivated by all of the fine details of this room: the ornate ceiling, the embellished door, the tasteful sitting area (I’d venture to call this a proper boudoir area, but it retains a certain formality that I wouldn’t expect in a French-inspired boudoir), the harmonious color palette of burgundy, brown, and gold . . . Everything about this room is so carefully selected and perfectly appointed.
Hi friends! I know that I missed the Writers Wednesday post yesterday, but since it’s the first couple of days of NaNoWriMo, I don’t have much to say. I’m still figuring out exactly what I want to write, so an entire update post was sort of unnecessary. I figured this paragraph would be more than enough to explain what’s going on. Now, back to the topic at hand …
Recently, I went to Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) with a group of brand new friends. After enjoying tea in the museum’s garden, we checked out the Fine Art and Flowers exhibition. This was a 5-day long exhibition that featured fresh flower arrangements inspired by some of the museum’s current art installations.
I only wish I had more time to see all of the arrangements (it would take at least two visits to make sure that I saw all of the flowers). But what I saw, I enjoyed immensely. Here are some pictures from the exhibition:
I saw a few more arrangements but didn’t have the chance to photograph them. The flowers were such a bright, welcome addition to the museum. I didn’t bother getting the map of the locations of all of the arrangements: I preferred to discover them on my own. I loved how it was almost like a scavenger hunt to locate the arrangements! If this year is any indication, then I can comfortably say that the creativity of the floral artists will wow us for years to come. I can’t wait to see the floral arrangements next year!
One of the greatest joys of my life was visiting museums. Prior to 2019, I regularly worked in Washington, DC, which meant that I could easily go to a major museum during my lunch break or after work. I loved walking those corridors and taking in art from all around the world, as well as art that documented the history of America. Nothing was as soothing to me as spending time at the Smithsonian and checking out the latest exhibitions.
However, things changed drastically at the end of 2018. I was unable to walk more than a few feet without getting winded, I could only sleep for an hour or so at a time, and the unrelenting body aches that I experienced left me frustrated and frightened. As someone that was used to being far more active, I was terrified of these mysterious symptoms that took away my basic abilities to navigate the world like I’d previously done. As it turns out, I had fibromyalgia, and I immediately started a telework schedule that would allow me to rest as needed throughout the day. Unfortunately, my condition made traveling to DC absolute torture. So, I had to put my museum mini-trips on hold until my health improved.
I still haven’t gone back to visit the museums in DC, though I have spent some time at my local museum earlier this year (I was thrilled to finally be able to walk around a bit without experiencing excruciating pain). However, it’s National Arts and Humanities Month, and I just want to take a moment to share some of the amazing things happening at the Smithsonian in honor of this month-long celebration.
On October 23rd, the Smithsonian will be kicking off its own craft show. The show will occur virtually, and the theme is Celebrating American Artistry. The crafts featured in the show are created by carefully selected artisans that create work that reflects American aesthetics and sensibilities. What better way to celebrate art than to purchase some for yourself? Interested shoppers can securely purchase items through the Smithsonian platform, adding a layer of assurance for both shoppers and the craftspeople that are involved in the exchange. The event ends on October 31st.
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Asian art museum within the Smithsonian, is the host of the DC Turkish Film Festival. The films that are featured in this festival are all available online for free, so anyone can enjoy from the comfort of their homes. The films will be available through the Sackler Gallery through October 31st.
The companion to the Sackler Gallery is the Freer Gallery. At the Freer Gallery, the Hokusai: Mad About Painting exhibition is a fascinating dive into the art of Katsushika Hokusai, a Japanese artist that is arguably among the country’s most famous painters. The Freer Gallery has an impressive collection of Hokusai’s work, and anyone interested in learning more about this gifted artist would do well to check out this exhibition. But hurry: it will only be at the gallery until January 9, 2022.
The National Museum of African Art (located just one block from the Free and Sackler Galleries) is currently displaying Heroes: Principles of African Greatness, an exhibition that centers on how art is used to tell the stories of heroism and the traits of effective African leaders. This one is definitely worth checking out sooner rather than later, since the end date for this exhibition is still to be announced. Nothing is worse that postponing a visit and finding out that you mistimed your travel and lost the opportunity to do something that you wanted to do (trust me: it’s happened to me, and it was no fun!)
Finally, the Archive of American Art is hosting the exhibition, What is Feminist Art? This exhibition is a continuation of a discussion that was initiated back in 1976, and some of the same artists that participated in the 1970s also participated this time around. This exhibition promises to be an eye-opening discussion on feminism and how it has changed, or remained the same, over the past 45+ years. This exhibition closes on December 31st.
Would you check out any of these exhibitions? Or, do you have other plans to celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!
After many months of staying inside and avoiding gathering in public places, I finally ventured out and visited my beloved local museum, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). The museum reopened a while ago but it’s been well over a year since I’ve visited. It was a little eerie to return to the museum: it took me a moment to reacquaint myself with the layout. But once I started walking around a bit, it all came back to me.
For anyone that has not visited VMFA before, let me tell you, it is a gorgeous museum with incredible permanent and visiting exhibitions. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth checking out. And, if you’re visiting anytime before September 6, 2021, you can view a very special exhibition that highlights Southern artistry and creativity. The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse gives visitors a peak into the energy and dynamism of 20th century Southern Black American culture and artistry. According to VMFA’s website, the exhibition, “[…] chronicles the pervasive sonic and visual parallels that have served to shape the contemporary landscape, and looks deeply into the frameworks of landscape, religion, and the Black body—deep meditative repositories of thought and expression.” This fascinating exhibition combines both visual and audio art, to create a truly immerse creative experience.
Naturally, I took pictures while I was at the museum though, for this visit, I focused more on savoring the fact that I was finally visiting this beautiful space after a long year. Here’s a little bit of the Dirty South experience:
I hope you all enjoyed the photographs! And if you have a chance to visit the exhibition, I highly recommend that you check it out: it’s worth a visit, for sure!
Happy Hump Day, friends! While I haven’t been able to get to the Smithsonian Institute or National Gallery of Art for several months ( it’s been awhile since I’ve been in Washington DC, and then there was a shutdown), I have had a chance to check out local museums. Recently, I went to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to get a dose of African art. I viewed the Congo Masks: Masterpieces from Central Africa exhibition. This collection of masks from the Democratic Republic of the Congo offers Virginians a rare glimpse into the mystical and captivating world of African art, celebration, and ritual.
I am so glad that VMFA is displaying these treasures. I’ll do an in-depth analysis of the exhibition in a future post. In the meantime, here are a few photos from the exhibition. Enjoy!
I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care, and stay warm!
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!
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.
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!
Happy Thursday, friends! After a recent trip to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, I found myself with a few art photos that I wanted to share with you all, but I wanted to do something a little different. Instead of sharing the photos and simply telling you what I think about it, I decided that it would be more fun to compare the art with a similarly themed piece that I’ve also viewed in person. That way, I can describe the similarities, differences, and which piece I favor most.
(from left to right) Edmonia Lewis, The Death of Cleopatra; William Wetmore Story, Cleopatra
As you can see from the title, I’m comparing two marble Cleopatras today. The first work was part of my review of Edmonia Lewis’s work at the Archives of American Art (housed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum). Lewis’s The Death of Cleopatra was easily one of my favorite marble works of art at the museum.
Photos of Lewis’s version of Cleopatra
The second Cleopatra is by William Wetmore Story, and is located at VMFA. This Cleopatra – his earliest version of the tragic Egyptian queen – is located in the American galleries at the museum. The massive work sits imposingly in the gallery and, in true queenly fashion, all other art in the room are dwarfed by the stunning Cleopatra.
To keep this focused strictly on the works themselves, I avoided reading up on Wetmore Story. So there won’t be a comparison of the artists’ lives or legacies, but we will get into these pieces and discuss what they have in common and how they differ.
For starters, the subject is the same with both pieces. Both depict Queen Cleopatra, and (interestingly) both of the pieces portray her as having traditionally Greco-Roman facial features (kudos to the artists for remaining historically accurate when it came to her face). Both statues are massive: Lewis’s is a bit taller, but the posture is different, so they are actually very close in size. Amusingly, both also depict Cleopatra with one breast exposed. Perhaps they knew something about traditional Egyptian dress that I don’t?
While both of these Cleopatras are regal and elegant, the theme of the works couldn’t be more different. Wetmore Story’s Cleopatra is pensive and in deep contemplation: she is troubled by something and has probably just asked her servants to give her some privacy. Is she thinking about lost loves, or the impending downfall of her rule? Her mind may be racing over any number of things.
Lewis’s Cleopatra has just committed suicide and is dying on her throne as her last royal act. She has just closed her eyes and her left arm has fallen limply to her side. Even in death, her face is struggling to relax comfortably: this queen is pained to the grave.
As far as fine detailing on the pieces, I’m a fan of Wetmore Story’s version. To be fair, Lewis’s work had been exposed to considerable environmental elements and poor handling, so the sculpture isn’t as impeccably detailed as it (likely) once was.
My favorite Cleopatra is probably Lewis’s version, for this reason: she captured death and pain without making it grotesque or unnaturally pretty. This Cleopatra is finding it difficult to “rest in peace” but, ever the royal, she makes us feel pride, and not pity, for her. Wetmore Story’s Cleopatra is enchanting, for sure: I loved how well he captured her troubled mental state behind her stoic, regal expression. His Cleopatra is alive with emotion; however, Lewis’s Cleopatra moves us even in death.
That’s my not-so-quick comparison of two Cleopatras. I hope you all enjoyed and will make it a goal to see both of these beautiful works at some point in time. Enjoy your day, and I’ll chat with you all tomorrow!
I have a few more pictures from the exhibit, “What Remains to Be Seen”, featuring the works of Howardena Pindell. I wrote about the exhibit previously, but I returned to see it one more time before it left. Pindell’s work left a huge impression on me, if you couldn’t tell!
I hope you all enjoy these final glimpses of the exhibition. I will treasure the time that I spent learning about Pindell and marveling over her work. Stopping by VMFA one more time before the exhibition left was a wise decision: I’m glad that I did it!