Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘art history’

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

Read more

Advertisements

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.

Read more

Shocking Paintings of Martyred Saints

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 Death & Darkness!  Take a look at all the creative interpretations of his topic at the bottom of the page.

Peter Paul Rubens - "St Sebastian

While images of St. Sebastian were often an excuse to paint the human figure, not all martyred Saints were this “elegant”. Peter Paul Rubens – “St Sebastian”, 1614, Staatliche Museen, Berlin (Photo)

November 1 was All Saints Day which got me thinking about this pantheon of holy men and women.  The Saints can be grouped based on their spiritual achievements, like the Scholars, Leaders, Mystics and the Martyrs.  For frightening, chilling stories, Halloween’s monsters have nothing on this last group!  While they are revered as holy people, the lives of these Saints contain some gruesome tales of torture and execution.  Since images have historically been used to educate viewers, may of the most disturbing images in art history depict the various grisly deaths of the martyr Saints.

Read more

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)

Read more

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.

Read more

%d bloggers like this: