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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Enchanting Glassware at the MET

Whoever thinks that there is no artistic beauty in utilitarian objects never spent a Saturday roaming around Homegoods. Well, thanks to the high opinion of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's curators, the elegance and form of glassware has made its stamp on the art world. After all, if it wasn't so interesting, they could've left it in the archives, right?

Walking around the balcony in the American Wing, I found hundreds of unique and varying votives, bottles, decanters, tea cups, vases....phew....the list goes on and on. I loved the artistic choices that the artisans made for each bottle. I can almost imagine them brainstorming in their workshops, saying to themselves, 'how can we make this product unique, eye catching, and memorable?' 

Growing up, my grandmother's house was almost like a museum. She had glassware everywhere! I remember tracing the curves in the textured surfaces (not that I was supposed to touch it *wink*). It amazes me how craftsman can take something so molten hot and form it so distinctively, with geometric shapes, swirls, and contrasting colors. It can be considered nothing but art in my book. No Bauhaus simplicity for me!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Art of Love

I had a friend tell me once, 'You are an artist, so your more romantic!' Hmmm....I don't know about that. I guess that gets filed next to 'Artist = more emotional'. I liked the thought anyway. So here are some beautiful works of art that exhibit the many forms of love that we as humans are privileged to experience.

Mother and Child by Frederic Leighton

 This sweet image reminds me of all the little moments I've had with my own mom over the years. For me, she's always been a figure of beauty and wisdom. In Leighton's portrait; I love that he paints both mother and daughter in bright ivory.The little girls nightdress is like a small drop of water compared to the ocean that is the mothers lushly draped gown. Its a tender symbolism of there connection and relationship.

The Three Sisters by Johann Georg
On that note, Georg paints a perfect moment between siblings (you know, before they start battling over dolls or the last pudding in the fridge). Now that I think of it, my sisters and brother were my first friends. That sort of love is pretty special, especially because they've seen you at your worst!

Girls Strolling In An Orchard by Winslow Homer
Ah, friendship love. If one of those girls had raven black hair, it could be Anne Shirley and Diana Barry, two of my most favorite fictional gal pals. What would life be like without that crazy friend that you could spill your secret to?

A Jewish Wedding by Jozef Israels (1903)
I really loved this painting by Jozef Israels. The lighting and tonality of the work is a lot like a Rembrandt. The soft browns, creams, and ivories reflect the sweet intimacy of the moment, as a quiet hush surrounds the bride and groom. In a way, it depicts a culmination of all other loves, as parents, siblings, and friends are all there, making this sort of love all the more special.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

VFFT Week 19 - Young Husband: First Marketing by L.M. Spencer

This painting is probably the funniest discovery I've ever made during my haunts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Make no mistake, its a beautiful work of art. However, I can feel the humor and witty nature of the artist, Lilly Martin Spencer, within each brush stroke. I love taking in the very real situation that she chose to portray. My mom tells me stories of how my dad's hands used to be so smooth when they got married. Only after years of carrying groceries and laundry; laboring at all the tasks it takes to run a family, did his hands become a little more calloused. He no longer drops any groceries, however.

Young Husband: First Marketing, 1854 Oil on Canvas Lilly Martin Spencer (1822- 1902) Taken by the NYC Impressionista @ the MET

Martin is a expert observer of human nature. After all, there is always someone watching and ready to laugh at a novices attempts at something new. I love how she gives our beloved mocker an umbrella; not just as a prop, but as an indicator of how frustrating the experience is for the young husband. Not only is he dropping the groceries, he is getting rained on in the process!

All in all, its a vibrant and dynamic work that always makes me smile when I'm lucky enough to pass it by. I know the poor guy will get the hang of it eventually (*wink*).

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