Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Meeting Mona at the Louvre




So, I've got a friend named Mona. She elegant, aloof, and adored by millions. She lives in the most atmospheric city in Europe - Paris. Her residence? If you haven't figured it out yet, its the Musee du Louvre, the finest museum in France (it was a palace, after all). 



Okay, so I'm talking about the acclaimed Leonardo Da Vinci painting, which I was fortunate to get 20 feet close to, on a Tuesday, surrounded by tons of international tourists and little school children on trips. 


 A real friend of mine, named Shlomo (who is 95 years old) told me about how, growing up as a petit ecolier (small school boy) in Paris, he went on a trip with his teacher and saw this dear painting very up close and personal. As a little boy, he asked, "why is she smiling?" His teacher told him, "she has a secret smile that only a woman can have. Her secret is hers to tell when she is ready." According to my charming friend, that secret was that she was pregnant and hadn't told her husband yet! I'm not so sure as to the accuracy of this account, but it was entertaining none the less.












While at the Louvre, I was able to see so much more than just the Mona Lisa. As a European center of art and history, the Louvre houses works from around the world that I've only seen in textbooks and slides as a student. If you explore the rest of the NYC Impressionista, you'll notice how much time I spend at the MET here in NYC. I feel like going to the Louvre is a trip to its more romantic sister museum. Both are grand buildings full of art and elaborate structures, but the age of the Louvre surpasses that of the MET, and as they say, the devil is in the details my friend. Every room has an elaborately designed floor patter varying from herring bone wood to checkered tile. It's absolutely gorgeous. All in all, the Louvre is definitely worth the time for anyone interested in seeing something beautiful, interesting, and... let me say it... Instagram worthy. Even if your not really into art, don't leave Paris without taking a peak at it!



Visitors Note: DO NOT show up the day-of without a ticket, because you will have to wait on a line straight out of purgatory itself. Tickets are easily purchased online at the Louvre website here. Translate the page into your native language before navigating to the purchase page so you can understand the prompts. We flew through the lines with our tickets pre-purchased, which made the experience all the more enjoyable.

 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Contemporary Art at the MARTa Herford Museum - Germany



As a New Yorker, I have had the opportunity to view museums with a wide variety of artists and influences. However, every exhibit I see is (naturally) filtered through an American point of view. Recently I have had the extraordinary experience of seeing whats going on in the European sector of the contemporary art movement first hand. Whether you are an art lover or just interested in seeing something new, the MARTa Herford Museum (in Herford, Germany) always has exhibits of current artists gracing its lovely halls. You may not 'get' or appreciate everything you see, but the effort and aesthetics put in to the visitors experience (the building itself is a "Deconstructivist" masterpiece) makes this a museum worth visiting. And they have free cocktails every Tuesday. 

 

 Tuesday evenings at the museum are always free at the MARTa, which is good for any traveler, shoestring budget or not! I was able to view two new exhibits: Mix it Pop Music and Video Art and Suspended Territories. You can read more about the exhibits background here.




'Mix it' was a compilation of sound isolating rooms and head phone attachments with music in connection to different art pieces. The above images are from artist Doug Aitken's "Song 1".





 The second exhibit, suspended Territories, compiles all types of media. From photography, videos, to mass sculptures, each artist adds to a discussion of identity. While either of these exhibits may or may not be your cup of tea, because there are so many artists exhibited, you very well may find something that you like hidden within it. Its also a great opportunity to get into a discussion with museum educators stationed in
 the museum to enrich the experience with the art. Also, the rooms were massive! There was so much "breathing" room between the pieces, which was great because the viewer is able to differentiate between each conversation presented.






The lobby alone is a lot of fun for an visitor. The chairs are a combined interactive sculpture. After viewing so many interesting works, you might be inspired to leave your mark on the world. The museum leaves a set of oil pastels and art paper in its lobby so that you can at least leave your mark at the museum. For a short time. My friend left the mouse.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Seeing A Curious Hand at the Schwarzman Library

For anyone who was unable to visit A Curios Hand at the Schwarzman Library this February, fret not! Here is a recap of what was shown, all without the discomfort of leaving your easy chair (or other beloved furniture piece). 

Walking into the Schwarzman building is like entering the Metropolitan Museum. The historical inspired domes ceilings, crenelated moldings, and vaulting pillars transported me far far away from the dirty, slushed up street outside.



 There are so many exhibits and reference rooms in this library/museum/archive/themepark (not really, the security guards WILL throw you out if you try sliding down the marble staircase). The print exhibit was on the third floor and spanned two rectangular rooms. The most striking thing is that.... the walls were RED. RED RED. I had to laugh. Between the ambiance and the title of the exhibit, you would have thought it was about a grisly murder mystery and not fine art! I liked it anyway, so kudos to the curator.


 As the sign discusses above; the exhibit was organized by presenting comparative works. Since Honore helped stimulate his artistic style by interpreting master pieces, like that of Rembrandt, the library coupled his prints with the originals for viewers to compare side by side (which was really cool). Of course, there were so many original works, reflecting the avid curiosity of the artist and an unceasing desire to depict the world, wild and domesticated!






One interesting find in the exhibit was Honore's original printers license! Visitors not only were able to see the completed works, but also works in progress, sketchbooks, and the stories behind the work. I will definitely be going back for another free exhibit at the Schwarzman. 




Friday, January 20, 2017

VFFT Week 21 - A Shipwreck in Stormy Seas by Joseph Vernet

A Shipwreck in Stormy Seas, 1773, Oil on Canvas, at the MET



This is an incredible landscape.... seascape.... skyscape? Well I suppose that's the genius of Vernet. He developed an incredible collaboration of natural locations to paint a story as vivid and compelling as the Tempest. Whether its the exhibition of wind in the hair of the old man on the shore, or the delicate strike of lightning in the far off sky (look at the upper right), the sensations of wind and energy coming off this canvas transport you straight out of the dead quiet halls of the MET to the shores of Avignon at the turn of the 18th century. Definitely worth seeing if your ever in New York City!

Friday, September 23, 2016

VFFT Week 20 - Two Men Contemplating the Moon by Caspar David Friedrich

Caspar David Friedrich (German 1774–1840) 1825–30, Oil on canvas 13 3/4 x 17 1/4 in. (34.9 x 43.8 cm)
I loved this painting the minute I saw it. There are so many nuances of German Romanticism within this piece, it explodes with poetic undertones and hidden symbolism. According to historians, the painting depicts the artist himself (older man on the right) and his young friend, August Heinrich. Heinrich learned a lot from Friedrich. This piece in particular seems to document a moment of contemplation. German thinkers of the time were known to consider the moon as a beautiful symbol of calming the mind.

Looking at the painting, you can see how nature reflects the relationship between master and pupil. Just like Heinrich leans upon Friedrich's shoulder, so does the tree lean upon the rock beside it. One is much older than the other, and has a lot of support to give (notice the tree is not fully grounded, so it needs the support!) Its a beautiful painting, and a sad one in retrospect. Caspar Friedrich would sadly outlive his young friend, who died at the age of 28. He painted another work similar to this one soon after Heinrich passed away. Its artwork full of meaning and memory.

If you want to see it in person, it is currently being exhibited in gallery 807 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

My Museum Hack Tour Experience (MET VIP Tour)

* Disclosure: I was formally invited by Museum Hack to go on there MET VIP Tour experience. However, all opinions and images are solely my own. * 

"You want a highly-academic, highbrow tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we stand before the great masters, contemplating their skilled use of line and form, while simultaneously placing them in the pantheon of other art historical geniuses, right?
You picked the wrong tour." - Museum Hack Website

Friday night; I had the opportunity to be part of a Museum Hack VIP Tour experience. Museum Hack is one of the many new externally founded tour initiatives that have sprung up in NYC, to the delight and discomfort of museum goers city-wide (depending on who you ask).

It was nice and chilly outside the MET last night, perfect weather for exploring its marble halls! Two hours earlier I had received a text message from Museum Hack reminding me that my tour was scheduled for 6 pm and that I should show up 15 minutes in advance to check in with the tour guides and give us time to get acquainted. It also told me that if I was running late to text the tour leader, whose number was given as well.

So I arrived at 5:46 pm, taking only seconds to get through security at the front (great news - you can bring water into the museum now!). My previous Museum Hack emails let me know that I would meet the tour guides in front of the Egyptian statue in the Main Hall, and did not need to get an admissions ticket on my own. This was well appreciated.


So, after 'signing in' with the tour leader, I was given a silver sticker with my name written on it, and my MET admissions sticker. I was then ushered over to the tour guide that would be taking care of me that night, an energetic young woman named Anna. She welcomed me and gave me a small device with headphones that would help me explore the hidden secrets of the Main Hall. This would be the highlight of my evening.



When all the tour-takers arrived, we regrouped at the base of the statue and met our second tour guide, Michelle, who was another charismatic hip chic. Both were very excited about taking our group on the tour. We were a total of seven with two tour guides to keep us interested, which is a pretty nice ratio.



There was no previously announced itinerary for the night, so we followed the guides into the Roman and Greek section of the museum, I didn't know what to expect. Now, I knew that the tour would be unorthodox (which I had high hopes for), but both guides had informed us of their lack of art history chops, so I wondered how they would approach talking about the artwork.

Anna shared with me a little about the companies history; how the founder had taken his date to the MET three years ago and had fallen in love with the museum instead. It spurred him to make this company that would create exciting tours for people to experience in the museum. When we arrived to the first piece, Michelle, our veteran tour guide, took the lead. I liked how she tried to incorporate a few facts into her dialogue, albeit being interpretive. She also related how a 4,000 year old art piece related to a recent attempt to break the internet which I thought was cool.



The guides then took turns guiding us to their favorite pieces and telling us a little background or story about them. When we came into the main sculpture garden, time was taken to talk about the lack of penises on ancient Roman statues and how a 15th century pope was partially to blame. Our guides handling of this was very tongue in cheek and humorous.

Before leaving I spied an amazing statue of a Dementor.... I mean ancient Greek bronze statue. It had been the second 'wizarding world' reference of the night (see the first one on my Instagram here!), and I couldn't help but wish I could have swung my arm around it and taken a selfie. Something you could NEVER EVER NEVER do at the MET unfortunately.  : (



I appreciated how the guides made sure that we did not get to close to the art as some of it can seem to invite a touch. Michelle and Anna were diligent trying to keep things interesting and the tour moving. We stopped a few times to do group circle activities, like answer questions about ourselves. Maybe it is my New Yorker sensibilities but I could have done without.

I have to admit walking the MET takes a toll so I took my leave as we exited the African art section. All in all, Museum Hackers is definitely a new perspective on museum tours. For those who are hard core art enthusiasts this tour may not live up to the intensity that some may desire. However, if you desire an unorthodox perspective to a museum tour that involves art, humorous anecdotes and a Kevin Hart style of delivery, Museum Hack can offer you three hour tours ranging from 59-89 dollars.  These are lively tour guides with plenty of person to person interaction. .

If you would like to know more about Museum Hack's tours and mission, feel free to visit their website here.



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