Tag Archives: art

Art

Visiting the Louvre was one of my top things we did in Paris. The whole visit was amazing. Not only was the Louvre filled with some of the best paintings and sculptures ever made, but the building itself has a rich history and is absolutely gorgeous. The Louvre also was a palace, which is good for my project comparing châteaux to urban palaces!

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My first photograph is of the Italian painting hallway which ranged from the 13th to 17th centuries. The paintings stretch all the way down the hallway, which is less than half as long as the entire length of the museum, just to put it in perspective.  It was interesting to walk the length of the hallway examining the paintings through the centuries. Of course while we were in the Louvre, we had to visit the Mona Lisa, which is in my second photograph.

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Although the room had many paintings on the walls, it was obvious that Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece and the painting opposing it, Veronese’s The Wedding Feast at Cana, were the main attractions. Everyone wanted to get as close as possible to the Mona Lisa, which is no larger than the signs on either side of it warning people of pick-pockets, to take photographs of the most photographed painting in the world. This picture in my blog post is not a close up of the Mona Lisa, but one of the room containing it. I found the number of people who flocked to the painting amazing. Through the hubbub, I could hear small bits of conversations in many languages. People from all over the world were there to gaze upon Leonardo’s painting. Although some people were obviously just there because the painting is famous, others did seem to view it critically. So what is truly amazing to me is how people from many different nations and cultures have an appreciation for the same art. The visual arts, much like music, are a universal language that everyone can enjoy regardless of who you are. In my first photo, the museum visitors stretch off into the distance just as far as the paintings. The visual arts are very important to all of us. They preserve cultures by encasing them inside canvases and chiseled stone, whether it’s French sailing ships, Italian feasts, or Roman gods, but art itself also becomes part of the cultures. So before this post becomes too long and goes into territory that has been explored many times before by great minds, I wanted to summarize why these two photographs are so interesting to me. Being at the Louvre, I saw people from all over the world interested in the same things, in a way that I’ve never seen before, and I thought these photos captured that.

Some of my fellow travelers have thoughtfully incorporated meaningful quotes into their posts. So here is the first quote that popped up on a Google search for “Art quotes”

“A line is a dot that went for a walk” – Paul Klee

There you have it.

 

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Art game too strong

While most other PA students’ lower year includes plenty of chemical equations and properties, mine was filled with artists ranging from Cimabue and Artemisia Gentileschi to Velazquez and Goya and Marcel Duchamp and Mark Rothko. Taking Art-400: Histories of Art with Mr. Fox for all three terms this year has acquainted me with these artists amongst many others. During class, Mr. Fox would often say things like, “This piece is well worth a trip to (insert cool but obscure travel destination here),” or “When you are in Madrid make sure to see these pieces at the Prado.” A large number of the pieces we studied or other pieces by artists we studied reside in France so this trip has been an art history dream. While art history class exposed me to a myriad of beautiful images, a projector and slide show can only do so much. Here are some “art moments” I had that proved to me that the real thing offers more than just looking at a photo:

  • Standing in a room full of Duccio and Giotto at the Louvre felt like being Alice in Wonderland: the canvases that these artists painted on are so large, they are placed in a room of magnificent architecture and ceiling work, and the gold paint that they (especially Giotto) painted with still manages to sparkle after about 700 years. I kept circling the gallery looking upward and admiring.
  • While walking through Versailles our tour guide, Josh, told us about how Louis XIV cultivated both French and Italian artists to show that the French were just as talented as the post-Renaissance Italians. Louis XIV ordered for Bernini to make a bust of him but he claimed to be not impressed by Bernini’s work, thus furthering his nationalistic agenda. After viewing this bust on display in Versailles, I have to disagree largely with Louis. I became a huge Bernini fan after studying Apollo and Daphne during winter term with Mr. Fox and I was able to identify the bust as Bernini’s even before Josh told us. Mr. Fox taught us that Bernini tried to capture moments in time and he really does so in the bust: Louis’ hair appears to be blowing in the wind and his cheek is turned to the side in a mighty position.
  • After walking through rooms and rooms of impressionist paintings at the Musée d’Orsay, I pushed through a crowd of people to look at Manet’s Le Dejeuner sur l’Herbe. A picture online does nothing to show the stunning deep green tones. I also had no idea how large the painting was and so I walked across the painting several times. I truly felt like the eyes of the nude women were moving as well, watching me watching her. Talk about that in terms of “the gaze” and spectatorship and consumption of nudes in art!
  • Despite it’s lack of bold colors or a high level of mimesis, the Bayeux Tapestry, in its near 1000-year-old glory, does not fail to impress. Viewing this piece in person allowed me to see the whole cloth at once rather than in fragments and a headset narration system completely immersed me in the story of William and Harold.

Monet

When we went to Giverny to see Claude Monet’s house and garden it only really hit me how cool it was when we saw the famous bridge over the water lilies. I kept hearing people around me talk about how walking over the bridge was ‘like being in one of his paintings.’ It brought me back to all of the paintings I saw at the Musée d’Orsay. I still couldn’t make sense of the fact that it was the same place. He managed to create so many different feelings and almost different worlds in all of the different paintings of the same place. It really is hard to wrap your head around the idea that he felt he needed to, as the guide told us, obsessively paint the water lilies over and over. He saw something different each time and I think that shows how he had an entirely different mind set than most.

Walking around his house, you could see all of the different paintings he had hanging up, representing all of these different perceptions of different artists. From people to colors to angles and expressions, it was like walking around with a special set of lenses. It reminded me why I value art so much, not that I forgot, but it just reinforced the feeling, I suppose. It made it all that much harder to accept the fact that some people just might not value art as much as it is actually worth. It reminds me of the quote from the movie Dead Poet’s Society in which Robin Williams’ character tells his class: “The human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” I think about that quote a lot.

Beauty and sadness in Normandy

We just finished up our second day in Normandy, and tomorrow we depart for the Loire Valley. Our experiences here could not have been more different from our experiences in Paris, though I think we all continue to be dazzled by France’s beauty.

ImageI think a number of people in our group were particularly taken with our stop at the home of impressionist painter Claude Monet in Giverny. It’s clear that many of the students knew more about Monet than I did, but for me it was a surprise to learn that he was as equally skilled at gardening as he was at painting. The gardens he kept were stunningly beautiful, and to walk through them is as close as one can come to physically entering into one of his paintings. His gardens are rich and lush, and they dazzle the eye with their masterful manipulation of light and color. To take a walk through Monet’s gardens is to better understand his genius as an artist.

ImageAs much as I enjoyed our visit to Giverny, I was even more moved by today’s visit to the cemetery at Omaha Beach. More than 9,000 American soldiers from WWII are buried here, many of whom lost their lives during the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944 or in the fighting that followed over the course of the next several weeks. Since my own father fought in the European Theater, this visit was especially meaningful for me. He didn’t join the war until after D-Day, but just being there really brought home the sacrifice that all the young men–boys really–of that generation made during that war. Looking out over the choppy sea, you can almost feel the ghostly presence of the nearly 200,000 soldiers who stormed the beaches on that grey, stormy day, straight into the teeth of German machine gun fire. And the field of white crosses, while beautiful, evokes an incredible sense of sadness and respect not only for those who died but for those who survived what had to be a nightmarish day of horror.

AfteImager Omaha Beach, we visited the small town of Arromanches where we went to the Musee Du Debarquement. Here I learned far more than I ever knew about the incredible engineering feats undertaken to ensure the success of the D-Day invasion–most notably the creation of an artificial port that allowed supplies and reinforcements to be brought ashore immediately following the capture of the beach. This was a task that had to be completed in a matter of days while under heavy fire, and the fact that the Allies were able to pull it off is an amazing testament to the ingenuity and cooperation of the generals, admirals, engineers and political leaders of America, Britain and Canada. It was so heartwarming to see how much the people of this region of France appreciate the efforts and sacrifices of all involved, even to this day. In fact, I would hazard to say the people here know far more about the details of the D-Day invasion than the average Amercian.

ImageOur final stop in Normandy was the picturesque town of Bayeux, where we viewed the Tapestry of Bayeux–another incredibly important historical artifact that I’d never heard of. This was a last minute addition to our itinerary–thanks to Dr. Wheeler–and what a fantastic addition it was. This tapestry is over 200 feet long and was created in 1070 to commemorate William the Conqueror’s successful invasion of England in 1066. What makes the tapestry special, besides its size and its age, is that it consists of more than 50 scenes that depict the full story of this conquest. Unlike most pieces of medieval and even ancient art that depict a specific event, this tapestry conveys a whole narrative. At the time it was created, it was a perfect way to share that narrative with a population that was largely illiterate. That the tapestry has survived more than 900 years is practically a miracle. Getting a chance to view it up close was a special treat for all of us.