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Posts tagged ‘art’

Re-Opening the Renwick and the Morning After

The quiet child of the Smithsonian family of museums re-opened this November with a surprisingly bold statement.  The aptly named Wonder exhibit is well worth a visit for its truly impressive installation pieces.  While I’m happy to have the Renwick Gallery back, this re-birthday party feels overly flashy, just a bit narcissistic, and certainly out of character for a museum dedicated to decorative arts.  While an entertaining show, I am left wondering about the future of this museum and the potential for a reinvented purpose.

Renwick Gallery facade

The “new” Renwick Gallery at dusk

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12 Days of Colonial Christmas

The day after Halloween, the Christmas decorations went up in my neighborhood.  Then right after Boxing Day, there were already Valentine’s Day candies in stores.  As someone who really enjoys the holiday season, this early decoration overkill and immediate disappearance seems like both too much and too little.  That’s why I appreciate some historical perspective on the season.

colonials on the street

Just some locals in Williamsburg enjoying the holidays.

18th century Americans didn’t decorate until Christmas Day and then spent the next 12 days celebrating with parties, dancing, weddings, and lots of eating and drinking.  To take in the classic (and not so classic) wreaths, greens, and holiday trimmings essential for the holiday spirit, I spent a few days in Jamestown and Williamsburg, two living history museums in Virginia.

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Changing Paintings After They are “Finished”

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 Concepts in Art!  Take a look at all the creative interpretations of his topic at the bottom of the page.

Art museums are sometimes criticized for being stale and distant.  Mill about, look at the pieces, and under no circumstances do you touch the art!  Paintings haven’t always received this degree of reverence.  While today we analyze the artist’s intent and interpret the underlying meaning of the work, for centuries paintings we just decorations.  Owners could change something as easily as we repaint a bookcase or substitute a bathroom light fixture.  So today I want to think about the concept of “finished” art and what it means when paintings are changed by people other than the original artist.

"A Dominican, with the Attributes of Saint Peter Martyr" by Giovanni Bellini

(left) “A Dominican, with the Attributes of Saint Peter Martyr” by Giovanni Bellini and (right) a digitally created image based on scientific data illustrating what the original Bellini painting would have looked like. Later alterations transformed the naturalistic portrait into a devotional religious painting. National Gallery, UK (Images)

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The Insider’s Tour of Basel’s Town Hall

I’m usually a much better planner than this.  I arrived in Basel with a vague idea to explore the old city center because, as I’d already discovered, old Swiss city centers are amazing.  Basel’s old town is dominated by the bright red Rathaus, or town hall.  Already impressed by the Rathaus’ exterior decorations, I jumped at the chance to take a guided tour of what I thought was a museum inside or minimally a preserved historic interior.  Even though the tour was in German (which I don’t speak), I completely enjoyed this insider’s look at the art, history, and, surprisingly, the contemporary life of the city housed inside this Basel landmark.

Basel Town Hall, or Rathaus, and Marktplatz

My lunch time view of the magnificent Basel Town Hall, or Rathaus, and Marktplatz square.

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A Concert in the Beautiful Hungarian State Opera House

It’s nice to tour gorgeous, historic music venues, but it’s even more enjoyable to appreciate the interior while taking in a concert!  The Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest is a Neo-Renaissance masterpiece from the late 19th century (like many other architectural wonders in the city).  With nearly nightly performances and very reasonable ticket prices, the Opera is a great way to spend an evening.  Just make sure you leave plenty of time before and after the show to wander the elegant lobbies and corridors.

Hungarian State Opera House interior

Empty seats and dimmed house lights in the Hungarian State Opera House after the concert.

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