Monday, December 23, 2013

Visual Food for Thought week 4 - The Neapolitan and Baroque Crèche at the MET!
credit for photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sigh.... every year, my family and I pull down our little apartment friendly Christmas tree, with all the ornaments, old and new, that we have gathered over the past fifteen or so odd years. Beneath our little tree is a nativity scene that we've had for the past few christmas's, a lot like the one we used to have when I was younger. I'm sure many of you have a similar set up in your own homes. It's safe to say that none of us has a set a grand and fantastic as the annual Christmas tree and crèche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, here in NYC. 

The picture above can even begin to describe the atmosphere and beauty surrounding this historically rich composition. A lady by the name of Loretta Hines Howard started collecting baroque period crèche (nativity) figures in 1925, slowly building the most elaborate and regal set up for any nativity under a Christmas tree, at least here in the US. Set before medieval Spanish gates, angels in silk robes are posed delicately on the fringes of the tree, as the stage is filled with shepherds and sheep, as well as the traveling wise men, and many others. But, of course, at the center of the crèche is the infant Jesus Christ. 

If you are in the city this holiday season, the crèche will be exhibited until January 8th, and I highly recommend seeing it! Whether or not your interested in baroque art, this nativity will dazzle your eyes. 

So, Merry Christmas to everyone who's reading this post! I hope its given you some visual food for thought as you celebrate the holidays. What do you think of it? Please leave a comment, or a tweet or reply on twitter or facebook!

Even if you cant come in person to see the MET's nativity, here's a link to all the detailed pieces that are involved. They're pretty incredible!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rendez-vous with the "Girl with a Pearl Earring"

The way the line was forming, you'd think people were waiting to meet a rock star...and we were!

Picture 5:10pm, and pitch black outside, with icy cold winds blowing through the streets of East side Manhattan. There I am, standing outside on a line of huddling people... in a skirt. Yeah, not the best choice on my part. In my own defense, I did not realize how many people would be on line for free admission. The Frick is currently offering free entry for extended hours starting at six on Fridays. Click here for more info. This is because of the generosity of Agnes Gund, who has provided funding for this opportunity. Also, every Sunday you can pay what you wish(which for me means a nickle) from 11:00-1pm.

There I was, freezing my butt off in a knee length skirt, for entry into the illustrious Frick museum/collection on 70th street and 5th Ave. There had better be a darn good reason for it!

Currently, the Frick is exhibiting one of the most renown pieces to come out of the Dutch Golden Age, the Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer! The show, called Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis , is here in New York City on temporary loan. The beauty and richness of ALL these Dutch pieces will leave you spellbound as you walk through the ornate, velvety walled rooms of the Frick.

While I was waiting on line to see this hip chick and all her companion pieces (which most certainly hold there own in this exhibit!) I was amused by the variety of individuals that had come to see these paintings (all waiting in the cold for free entry mind you). There were women of all ages, some wearing fur coats, others rocking bicycle helmets. Foreigners with accents all the colors of the rainbow were on line as well! One thing was certain, we were all united by a tenacious appetite for the beloved dutch masters!

As you walked into the softly lit (and warm) building, you moved through an indoor Garden Court to come to what is called the "Oval room". The first thing you see as you enter is this Girl with a Pearl Earring, front and center. Surrounded by ropes, you can only get about four feet away from the painting, which is 17 ½ x 15 3/8 in. in size. Nonetheless, the depth of color and unique character of his brush strokes makes her a vibrantly encompassed subject. She seems to pop out of the frame, with an inner illumination in contrast to the velvet-black darkness of the background.

I also saw so many breath taking Rembrandts, Turners,...and so many more! Here is a piece, entitled Simeon’s Song of Praise (1631) by Rembrandt van Rijn. This oil on Panel piece holds the beauty of a quintessentially dutch painting. The darkness framing the scene makes it both intimate and striking. The joy emanating from the piece is apparent, even before you read the title.

Whether the subject is of biblical proportions, or a simple as Carel Fabritius's The Goldfinch (1654), the attention to detail will never leave you regretting you waited for an hour in the freezing cold! There is a reason that Art Historians call them "masters".

I hope this post has whetted your appetites! Whether your in NYC or not, take some time to see something beautiful!

What do you think about these Dutch artists? Or do you prefer something more modern? Please leave your thougths by clicking on this posts title and scrolling down to the comments section that shows up!!
Photo credit: The Frick Collection at
Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis - See more at:
Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis - See more at:
Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis - See more at:
Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis - See more at:
Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis - See more at:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Visual Food For Thought- Week 3 A Banksy NYC original

Banksy, a UK bred and based artist, was recently in the papers for his temporary residency in NYC this year. While I haven't had the privilege of seeing his work in person, I need not look far to find a virtual copy. Web places like Pinterest are FULL of Banksy pics taken by people all over the world to share with...the world!

This work above feels like an overall symbol of his work here in NYC. He was trying to get his fingers on the pulse and heartbeat of the city and make an interesting comment or two on it. He uses a mixture of stencil and free hand graffiti to create a realistic figure in a two dimensional situation. The "doctor" here is standing on a ledge checking the heartbeat of a I love NY poster. All in all, this isn't the normal graffiti you see on city streets.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Plethora of Prints- Part 2 recap of the Prints Fair at the Armory

Going through the Prints Fair at the Armory, a person can seems almost lambasted by the dense variety of colors, styles, and sizes of the work that was presented. While I saw so much, I want to highlight two more works which really caught my eye!

Starting off with an oldie but goodie, I saw a print by Henri Matisse that shows the power of lines. This minimal portrait, entitled Patitcha souriante (1947, 13 X 10 inches), captures the essence of the woman's features. Her oval face, the long delicate bridge of her nose, her full lips; all with the stroke of a brush over aquatint. This meant that Matisse could reprint the same quick portrait as many times as he wished, with the same painterly quality to her features. This certainly shows that sometimes less is more!

This piece, also a portrait of similar composition, is full of light and color! The deep reds of the candy that make up her outfit dance festively in contrast the the light pallor of her skin. All in all it seems somewhat surreal to me. This five color lithograph, entitled Earrings, is by Will Cotton, and is around 40 X 30 inches in person. Its also far more richer in color than my picture shows!

By the end of my time at the fair, I felt as if I had gone through a ten course meal, tasting many different flavors and textures as I went along. While there is so much art out in the world, it can also be said that many diamonds can be found if you just take the time to sift through it all. I certainly had a fun time doing so! 

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