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The Scrovegni Chapel: My Moment with Giotto’s Masterpiece

To enter the Scrovegni Chapel, you have to spend 15 minutes in a “environmental equilibration” chamber and video introduction before passing through two air locks into the chapel.  Shockingly, visitors only get another 15 minutes to look around before being rushed out by security.  However, if you are a clever art pilgrim (like yours truly) and book multiple back-to-back tickets, the museum escort chases everyone else out but leaves you alone for a few glorious minutes within the chapel.

Standing at the altar looking down the rows of painted vignettes, the rich pastel colors glowing warmly from the morning sunlight, has got to be one of the most profoundly beautiful art experience I have ever had.  To say I loved the Scrovegni Chapel would be an understatement.

Giotto Scrovegni Chapel, Padua

Photo of Giotto’s masterpiece, the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (Photo: Art Bouillon)

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Trench Art: Creativity in an Unexpected Place

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are discussing War and Peace.  I think you’ll find some really interesting articles on this topic, so take a look at the bottom of the page for them all.

French World War I trench art

The diverse collection of French World War I trench art at the Musee de Somme 1916 includes painted, cut, shaped, and hammered pieces.

Artists across cultures, time, and place have depicted war, from the vases of ancient Greece to the romanticized paintings of Napoleon’s campaigns.  However a common thread is that these images of battle were created by those not involved in fighting, or were done years after the fact for patriotic or sentimental reasons.  What we don’t often see is art created by soldiers in the midst of battle and experiencing the brutality of conflict.  When they do create, often as a means of distraction, these pieces constitute a tiny genre called Trench Art.

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Slow Art Day 2015: Two Nanny Paintings

One of the most amazing things about museums is that every visit can bring you a new discovery.  I decided to spend Slow Art Day 2015 with the National Gallery of Art.  Even though the NGA and I are old friends, I still found some amazing pieces, examined overlooked details and learned about a new artist.  In the spirit of the Slow Art movement, let me show you just a piece of what I found when I decided to limit myself to looking at 5 paintings in the whole museum.

national gallery of art in Spring

The National Gallery of Art Rotunda decorated for Spring

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Exuberant Hungarian: The Art of Matthias Church, Budapest

Art Historians are very good about categorizing art.  Everything gets organized into bucket of a particular period or movement, but throughout Hungary, I just found the usual labels to be lacking.  While Magyar art and design of the late 19th century draws from several sources, the result is so much more than simple Historicism repeating old designs.  They created something unique and truly amazing.  It just really resonated with me and so I had to give this style its own name: Exuberant Hungarian.  I absolute fell for the Matthias Church in Budapest, with its wild but totally coherent decorative scheme.  Take a look and tell me if you’ve ever seen anything like this before, and whether or not you think the “Exuberant Hungarian” moniker fits.

Arts & Crafts lamb door

An incredible mix of color and pattern at the Matthias Church, Budapest.

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Real Gardens that Inspired Art

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are discussing Spring!  Take a look at all the great stories at the bottom of the page.

"The Unicorn in Captivity", Netherlandish, 1495-1505 (Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Unfortunately the unicorn in this lovely garden is pure fantasy.  “The Unicorn in Captivity”, Netherlandish, 1495-1505 (Photo: The Cloisters Collection)

While Washington D.C. has been stubbornly cold this March, I’m just starting to see the first bulbs pop up.  And nothing announces Spring like flowers!  Gardens and their exquisite flora have always been a popular subject in Art, but not all of the places in these paintings are made up locations.  Let’s take a look at a few of the “real” gardens behind some famous paintings.

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