Archive | Museums

Springfield Museums again

Last week I found myself heading to my conservator in Holyoke to pick up a piece, and decided to also pay a quick visit to the Springfield Museums, as I really enjoy them. This time I made it to the Springfield History museum, which turned out to be quite a treat. Widow Seated with Her Dogs, 1640attributed to Frans Luycx, Flemish, 1604-1668 For some reason this dour picture captured my attention. Beautifully painted the elderly lady is enshrouded with luxurious black satins, with two adorable dogs beside her, one of which reaches up to sniff her hand. This is a great portrait painting, which manages to be both intimidating and somehow sympathetic. At first formidable in appearance upon a closer look, the lady is seemingly almost approachable. The dogs betray her humanity. Detail of the Portrait of a Widow While not pretty, and pretty scary still, I think I detect the hint of a smile on her lips. Maybe she is not so mean really. The real treat this trip though, because the last times […]

Continue Reading

Natural History Museum: New York. Is it the worst run museum in the City?

Hall of Northwest Coast Indians In my newly kindled interest in Northwest Coast American Indian Art, I went to see the great collection at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It truly has a great collection, of not only Indian material, but an incredible pre-Columbian Collection, both from meso-America and South America. But, aside from some updated displays in the South American section, the other areas are conspicuously neglected. I have been going to this museum for 30 years now, and these areas have never been redone, light bulbs are out, the lighting is terrible and sepulchral, it is nearly impossible to see the great objects of art. And harder still to photograph, but thanks to the miracles of the newest iphone, I was able to take passable images. I was inspired to re-visit the Northwest Coast Indian collections by my bracelet. While I found nothing quite like what I have, they have a lot of great, if unappreciated objects. One frustrating thing is that they have amazing totem poles and carved […]

Continue Reading

Worcester Art Museum

Courtyard of the Worcester Art Museum I just went to Boston to go to the museums and had dinner with a friend. While I love the museums in Boston, for the research I was doing, it was not particularly productive. But it is always good to see great art, which there is plenty of between the Museum of Fine Arts, the Gardner Museum, and Harvard’s Sackler Art Galleries. As I was about to leave Boston I thought, why don’t I visit Worcester, where I have never been, to visit its renowned museum. A quick map search showed me how to get there, and after a quick visit to Harvard, off I went to Worcester. I was rewarded by seeing some great things, the Worcester Art Museum is well worth a visit. It is not small, but not large, sort of a good size, and has some very distinguished things. American Paintings are not my thing, but they do have a very choice collection of them. This post is my picking just a few things that […]

Continue Reading

Springfield, Who Knew?

Plaster cast of a section of the Pergamon Altar, in Berlin. Guess where I was this week? The picture above is a clue, but can only mislead. I won’t make you guess, I went to the Springfield Museums, something I had thought of doing for awhile, but just had never done. I was heading that direction to pick some pieces up from a restorer, so Springfield being sort of on the way, I went. In part this decision was spurred on by the brief research I did on the Museums, plural I emphasize, and one of them has a collection of Japanese Samurai arms and armor. If you have been following my blog, you will realize this was a flame to me the moth. Also described was a room of Ancient Treasures and a hall of plaster casts. I held out little hope for their antiquities aspect, the website was not promising, but there was certainly enough for me to justify the outing.So there I go, nearly get lost on the way there; the directions […]

Continue Reading

The Art of the Samurai Exhibition at the Metropolitan

Dear Reader, I have been wanting to post about this exhibition from the time I first saw it shortly after it opened in late October. (It runs until January 10th, 2010) One thing that kept me from doing so was being out of the habit of posting and my frustration with the fact that I could not take my own photos. However, even using the not great pictures on the Metropolitan Museums website is probably better than not letting people know about this amazing exhibition. It is a must see, and it brings together objects in one place that otherwise you would have had to travel all over Japan and beyond to see. The Met bills it as the first comprehensive exhibition of the arts of the samurai. What is remarkable is that it features a large number, nearly half the objects or so, of objects designated by the Japanese Government as “National Treasures”, or “Important Cultural Properties”; objects of such significance to the Japanese that they cannot be exported or sold abroad, and are […]

Continue Reading

Montreal, again and Napoleon

Montreal’s own mini St. Peters, the Cathedral of Mary, Queen of the World. I just made a brief trip to Montreal last week, the first time in awhile. The excuse for going was to pick up a display cabinet allowing me to put jewelry in the window, made by a company near Montreal. The cost of shipping was high enough to nearly pay for a trip up to pick the piece up, and I love Montreal, so it was a great reason to go. One of the acts, on a slack wire, pretty fantastic, in Ovo. I went to the Cirque du Soleil’s new show, Ovo, under a big tent on the waterfront. I always enjoy Cirque, the incredible feats of their acrobats gives me renewed respect for us as a species, truly amazing what training can do, no other animal has the range of abilities that we do. Not only was the show great, but the crowd was as well, beautiful, well dressed, interesting looking and lacking in the feverish transparent ambition that typifies […]

Continue Reading

Rubin Museum of Art

A favorite stop of mine when I go to Chelsea is this relatively new museum, located in the old Barney’s building at the corner of 17th Street and Seventh Avenue. It is an imaginative reuse for a familiar place, I lived across the the street at 16th and Seventh, so I knew the Barney’s store well. The spiral staircase of the women’s section now serves like a downtown Guggenheim, for conveying one between the floors of exhibition space. It is beautifully done, the exhibitions and collections well displayed and lit. However, the organization of the collections and the labeling I find strange. For in fact this is not so much an art museum, as an educational institution whose mission is to bring Himalayan art and Buddhist religion to the west. As such the labels are less concerned with the work of art as what it depicts, and some of it is silly. For example, the floor with my favorite pieces in the museum is in sections labeled; Where is it made?; Why is it made?; […]

Continue Reading

Mount Holyoke College Art Museum

Thomas Charles Farrer (British, 1839-1892) Mount Holyoke, oil on canvas, 1865. My youngest brother is now living in Holyoke Mass, about an hour and a half from my home in Hudson, so I am exploring the very fine small college museums there. That area, Northampton, Easthampton, Holyoke, Springfield, has a number of colleges and a few good small museums. I am looking forward to getting to know more about them and the area. I am starting with the Mt. Holyoke College Art Museum, which has a small but very satisfying collection. Above is a view of Mt. Holyoke painted by a British painter, and it captures the beauty of the landscape in that area. I happen to like this painting a lot, even though there are others of the same scene that are larger, as it reminds me of the luminist painters from the Hudson River School; it is remniscent of Kensett. And of course it is beautifully painted and polished in its execution.   Statuette of a Youth, Greek, early Classical, ca 470 B.C. […]

Continue Reading

Montreal MFA, and decorative arts

view of the decorative arts galleries at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts One thing I really enjoyed about the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, was its emphasise on objects, from ancient, to African to 20th Century design. While not a huge museum or collections, they really make an effort to be inclusive of all expressions of design and art. For anyone planning a trip to Montreal, the Museum of Fine Arts is a must see for lots of reasons, this being just another one. Here is another view of the decorative arts galleries. Another view of the galleries, showing my personal favorite, not necessarily the prettiest of the bunch, but close to my heart; the original Macintosh computer at the top, ca. 1984. Having become a Mac convert in the past four years now, I love my mac, and enjoyed seeing the original one. I remember them when they came out, computers in general were sort of exotic and Macintosh computers stood out for their simplicity of design and utility, and of course, the […]

Continue Reading

The Artemis again

After that spectacular sale at Sotheby’s this last summer, the bronze statue of Artemis de-accessioned by the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, NY, has reappeared; at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, on loan anonymously. I was quite happy to see her again, on my own home turf, rather than having to travel to see her. Still no real clue as to who bought her and now owns her, but at least she is available to the public. There is a difference seeing something at a museum rather than at an auction house; here she was in the company of many other great things, and still she stands out as something noteworthy and special. I look forward to getting to know her better by repeated viewings, which is how I see things best.

Continue Reading

Strangest thing I saw at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Old Enemy, New Victim, by Tony Matalli, 2006 Latex resin, hair. This has to be a mistake, I find it hard to believe that this museum feels the need, like so many today, to buy bad contemporary art. This sculpture is so weird, extremely well made, very naturalistic in a Madam Tussauds sort of way. I mean at least there is skill and craft involved, but to what end? What a stupid obvious allegory, the skinny chimp strangling the fat one; compelling visually, but just too trite. But perhaps my strong reaction is in part because this is exactly how I feel when going to Walmart; it is all I can do to keep myself from wringing the necks of the obese people there! (Just kidding, like I’m so skinny myself.) One good thing is the installation, rather than being safely quarantined with other terrible contemporary art, it is in a gallery full of beautiful paintings, and is a strange but very interesting, juxtaposition.

Continue Reading

African Art and the Cirque du Soleil

Ceremonial mask from the Lower Zaire Region in the Congo, Vili-Yombe tribe, 19th-20th Century. Wood, pigments and animal skin. Collection of Cirque du Soleil. Unexpectedly, on exploring the wonderful Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, I came across a superb small exhibit of African art culled from the collection of the museum, with additions from other collections in Montreal, many of them from the Cirque de Soleil collection. While not an obvious connection, when you look at the sculptures, you can see how they had influenced the imagery that Cirque employs. I love the Cirque de Soleil, I first saw one of their shows in NYC, years ago, and have vivid memories of it, and made a point of going to Saltimbanco while I was in Montreal. It is wonderful entertainment, with music, movement, incredible acrobatics with terrifying high wire acts and juggling, percussion artists. And beautiful visuals, including two male acrobats who use each other as props to do these amazing positions, erotic and beautiful at the same time. So to see the art […]

Continue Reading