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Posts tagged ‘memorials’

Till Death Do We Part: Love, Art, and Funerary Monuments

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  Something must be in the air this month because we’re discussing LOVE in art.  Check out all the stories below!

Maria Theresa's tomb

The Tomb of Maria Theresa & Francis I, Kaisergruft, Vienna. Despite his infidelity, Empress Maria Theresia of Austro-Hungary was deeply devoted to her husband Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. She designed their dual tomb with portrait busts that would forever gaze at each other. (Photo: Gregg, flickr)

Romantic pursuit, courtship, and love in general whether between Gods and Goddesses, royals, or peasants, is a common theme in art history.  Universally appealing and understood, it crosses cultures and time periods.  While it’s interesting to infer attitudes from the images used, we have to extrapolate from these ideal pictures to see what “love” was like for everyday people.  Studying mortuary monuments are one little glimpse into these romantic relationships.  Some memorials are so personal and meaningful, we can’t help but feel the love these couples shared.

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D-Day 70 Years Later – The Omaha Beach Memorial

My first impression of Omaha Beach in Normandy was of summer fun.  Alongside the massive stretch of sand, there was a boardwalk dotted with summer beach rentals, ice cream stands and the occasional creperie.  The laughter of a visiting group of British school children added to the ambiance of carefree days.  But anyone who has studied the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944 knows that Omaha was the bloodiest of battlefields of D-Day with some units in the first wave suffering up to a 92% casualty rate.  How do we memorialize the 4,000 who died in a few hours?  Today a bold, modern memorial stands out along the relaxing beach and marks the critical military objective that the American soldiers sacrificed so dearly to achieve.

Omaha Beach Memorial

Omaha Beach Memorial

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Man and Myth: Interpreting Statues of Lincoln

Mount Rushmore

Nothing says importance like being carved into a mountainside – Mount Rushmore National Memorial, near Keystone, South Dakota (Photo: Wikicommons)

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are focusing on Sculpture.  We’ve got picks from all over the world and different time periods.  Be sure to check out all the posts below!

Statues always remind me of monuments and I am fascinated by how cultures remember their heroes.  Living in Washington DC, I am surrounded by monuments to great American men.  A lot of artistic thought goes into these sculptures because subtle, and not so subtle, visual choices shape how we view and remember these famous people.  I think no other figure is wrapped in as much symbolic meaning and myth as Abraham Lincoln.  Whether in books, art, or movies, we continue to struggle with who this president was and how we remember him.  Two statues in DC epitomize this debate for me.

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Memory & Justice: Ai Weiwei’s “Straight”

Whether you follow contemporary art or international politics, you’ve probably heard of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.  Renowned for his “Birds Nest” stadium at the Beijing Olympics, it was his social activism and criticism of the Chinese government that earned him 81 days of detention, house arrest and the loss of his passport.  An intelligent artist and social commentator, his exhibit, Ai Weiwei: According to What? is currently touring the US.  I had the opportunity to see it at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC last year.  I’ve been blown away by the beauty of a painting before, but it wasn’t until Ai Weiwei’s piece “Straight” that I encountered a work of art so emotionally powerful that I am still thinking about it a year after seeing the show.

Ai Weiwei, "Straight", 2008–12. Collection of the artist. Installation view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, 2012. (Photo: Cathy Carver)

Ai Weiwei, “Straight”, 2008–12. Collection of the artist. Installation view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, 2012. (Photo: Cathy Carver, Hirshhorn Museum)

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Somme American Cemetery and Memorial

It’s actually pretty hard to find the World War I battlefields in Northern France.  Infamous for the bloody stalemate that lasted there for years, the land has now returned to tranquil fields.  While contemplating this change driving through the Somme Valley, I happened across the American Cemetery.  The front gate and chapel door were unclosed, but there was not a single person to be seen.  I thought it fitting on Veterans Day (also known as Remembrance Day in the UK and Canada, and Armistice Day in France) which commemorates the November 11, 1918 end of World War I, that we visit this quiet cemetery in the French countryside and think about these forgotten battles that took the lives of these soldiers.

Memorial Monument - Somme American Cemetery

The Somme American Cemetery and Monument seems to pop up out of nowhere, interrupting miles of French farmland.

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