Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

More about Vivian Maier.

Friday, February 13th, 2015

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In July 2013 I wrote a blog about the amazing nanny come street photographer Vivian Maier.

Just today I received an email from Anthony at Artsy, an online art collectors website. He suggested that I might like to put up a link to their archive of Vivian Maier’s work.

It looks like a good site and if you had a spare US$3,000 you would be able to pick up a print of one of her photographs.

But is it Art?

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Over the last twelve months we have experienced the ‘Arts of Man’ covering a 5,000 year period.

It was therefore fitting that the last gallery I visited would be MACBA. Below is a part of their Mission Statement.

“As a public entity, the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) assumes responsibility for disseminating contemporary art, offering a diverse range of visions, and generating critical debates on art and culture, while aspiring to reach increasingly diverse audiences.”

The theme for one of the exhibits was ‘Content Becomes Something to be Avoided like the Plague’

This is art without rules, obviously without content, and in some cases without reason. But it is art and one day, probably in about 5,000 years, some of it will be held in high esteem.

Articket BCN.

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

In November last year we visited the Museu Picasso and were talked into buying two ‘Articket BCN

They are €30 each and give you entry into 6 museums around Barcelona, including Fundació Joan Miró, Museu Nacional de’Art de Catalonia (MNAC) and Fundació Antoni Tàpies.

The exhibitions are all housed in purpose built galleries or old buildings that have been creatively renovated to complement the art inside.

The curation of each gallery tells the artist’s stories from a particularly Catalonian perspective.

We have managed to get to 4 so far and have found the exhibitions excellent and the Articket great value for money.

It’s already paid for itself but we will push on and try and see all 6 museums before we leave.

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”*

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Our last road trip was a combination of catching up with friends and trying to get into the minds of some of my creative heroes.

Wherever you travel in Europe someone famous was born there, raised there or lived there.

Trying to get closer to what inspired their work became my focus. Some encounters were planned and others just happened.

We travelled out of Barcelona to Lyon, another of those beautifully preserved French provincial cities.

In the Place des Terreaux is the Bartholdi Fountain.

It was originally created in 1857 for Bordeaux by the then 23 year old, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the designer of the Statue of Liberty.

Due to budget constraints it was never built there, and that was Lyon’s gain.

Four rampaging horses, the great rivers of France, complete with steaming nostrils, strain against their reins, under the control of an almost placid Paris, depicted as a female figure.

Paul Bocuse, the legendary French chef, is featured along with other heroes of Lyon on the painted facade of a riverside apartment building.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere, built between 1872 and 1884, sits high on the hill overlooking the city. It was undergoing serious internal renovations but beneath the scaffolding were a series of delicate, beautifully crafted, mosaics.

We overnighted at Chateau d’Etoges, in the Champagne region. This grande 17th century residence was once owned by the valet of King Louis XVI. He lost his head during the revolution, as a result of being a little too cosy with the monarchy.

Autumn was well advanced in the Champagne region around Epernay. The vineyards were a patchwork of browns, yellows, reds and greens.

We then headed north into Germany and weather turned even colder.

We picked up Hayden in Mannheim and then drove towards Heidelberg to catch up with our German friends in Bammental.

After an unexpectedly early snowfall the weather brightened up again and the sunflowers were soaking up the last of the Autumn warmth.

From there we travelled further north to Nieder Weisel, the hometown of a brave group of Germans who escaped from the troubles in Europe and took the long voyage to Australia in the 1850s’

Thea’s great, great grandmother was one of them and there’s a plaque near the church that commemorates their feat.

Next was Paderborn, a university town in Germany, where Hayden is spending 4 months as part of his PhD.

We visited, Schloß Neuhaus, just outside the town and situated on the Pader River, the shortest river in Germany. We also scoured Paderborn cathedral in search of the famous ‘Three Hare Window’, but it remained elusive.

We left Hayden to his studies in Paderborn and drove to Nuremberg, home to Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) Germany’s most famous graphic artist, painter and art theoretician.

There is no original work on display but it’s interesting to visit the house where much of his great art legacy was created.

Nuremberg was also home to the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, covering 11 square kilometers. There is also the Documentation Centre with a permanent exhibition ‘Fascination and Terror’ which provides graphic information about the causes, context and consequences of the National Socialist regime.

Adolf is definitely no hero of mine.

Just on the outskirts of Nuremberg, in Stein, is the factory and family residence of the famous stationery company, Faber-Castell.

I grew up very envious of those kids lucky enough to have a box of their pencils.

Next was Ulm, with the world’s tallest church steeple, and the birthplace of Albert Einstein.

Albert only lived for a short period in Ulm and according to him, it had no impact on his life.

The original house was destroyed in 1945.

The snow was still on the ground in Saint Gallen, Switzerland, and the skies were grey.

The cathedral has recently been restored and has elegant Renaissance frescos on the ceiling and 16 elaborate confessionals.

By my reckoning that gives the church the ability to forgive 32 sinners in a single sitting.

Next was Arnex-sur-Orbe, Switzerland, an idyllic village, where one of my oldest friends has lived, with his family, for nearly 30 years.

From there we visited the ‘Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne’ This is a gallery, created in 1976 by the French artist Jean Dubuffet.

He describes what Art Brut is below.

“Art Brut works are produced by self-taught creators firmly entrenched outside the mainstream, harboring a rebellious spirit and impervious to collective norms and values.

These include psychiatric hospital patients, prisoners, eccentrics. loners and outcasts…”

This exhibition was an eye opener with some of the most original and creative, of off-the-wall art, I have seen in years.

Aix-en-Provence and the world of Paul Cezanne was the next stage of our cultural adventure.

There are numerous tours you can do to try and get a insight into the mind of the father of modern painting, or as Picasso described, “the father of us all”

We decided to do just three.

The walk around Aix, with emphasis on where Cezanne lived and studied, Cezanne’s studio on the Lauves Hill and The Painters’ Ground, with spectacular views of Sainte-Victoire Mountain.

We also spent a day just circling around the Aix region, where Sainte-Victoire Mountain is ever present.

Even if you aren’t a student of art, the rugged escarpments of white rock, contrasting with the red earth, is spectacular.

It’s no wonder that Cezanne immortalized the region with his art.

The next leg took us from the sublime to the sometimes absurd, with a three day tour around the Dalí Triangle.

Salvador Dalí’s life embodied the ideals of Surrealism and you can gain a small understanding of this very strange man by visiting three of his most significant buildings.

The Dalí House at Port Lligat was the home that Dalí and his wife, Gala, built over a forty year period. It is a maze of odd shaped rooms on many levels, the result of Dalí buying up the surrounding fisherman’s cottaged and ingeniously combining them together.

You are greeted at the entrance by a giant stuffed polar bear – that sets the tone for the entire house.

Stuffed animals and bizarre objects are a vital ingredient in much of Dalí’s architectural decoration, however he was sane enough to include a BBQ in the back garden, near the pool.

Next was the Theatre Museu Dalí, at Figures, the largest Surrealist object in the world.

The exhibition is housed in what was the former Municipal Theatre, however it was extensively ‘renovated’ to suit the Dalí aesthetic.

Apart from a wide variety of sculptures, paintings and drawings by Dalí, there are also works by other artists.

Like most great artists Dalí studied the Masters and there’s even a reference to Albrecht Dürer’s Rhinoceros in one of Dalí’s etchings.

There is no doubt that this museum was built by Dalí as a homage to himself, as his tomb is in the crypt.

Dalí always fancied himself as the modern Renaissance Man, not confined to one medium or form of self expression. He used film, sculpture, painting, architecture and technology to convey his message.

However it’s his jewelry, in the Dalí-Joies collection, that best demonstrated how his talents could be expressed in alternative ways.

He used many of his reoccurring themes and turned them into beautifully crafted bracelets, broaches and necklaces.

The final part of the triangle was the Casa-Museu Castell Gala Dalí.

This is the 11th century Castle Púbol that Dalí purchased and then renovated as a gift to his wife, Gala. She accepted it on one condition, that Dalí could’t set foot inside the the castle unless he was given a written invitation.

The interior is less extravagant than the other two buildings we visited but still contains many examples of Dalí’s weird sense of humor.

There was no BBQ in the garden but there are some of Dalí’s strange elephant sculptures.

We spent a few hours in Girona on our way back to Barcelona.

Although it has a rich history and has been under siege 25 times, I could’t find any of my heroes in Girona.

*Isaac Newton

Contrasts.

Friday, October 12th, 2012

We left grey, damp England and arrived in dark, stormy France.

Our first stop was the WWI cemetery at Armentières, where we visited the grave of Patrick O’Farrell, Thea’s third cousin, who died on February 24th, 1917.

Then to the Somme and the other historic battlefields of the Great War.

The weather suited the location of this somber place.

Names such as Villers-Bretonneux, Pozières and Le Hamel conjure up images that have been etched in our consciousness.

The Australian Memorial Park at Le Hamel, opened in 2008, commemorates General Monash’s brilliant victory on July 4th, 1918.

The site has panoramic displays that explain Monash’s strategy and the significance of particular areas of the battlefield.

There is even a panel dedicated to Manfred Von Richthofen, the Red Baron. He was shot down over this area on April 21st, 1918.

Who actually shot him down is a subject of some conjecture.

From the darkness of the Somme we journeyed to Chaufour Les Bonnières, which is only a few kilometers from Giverny, the home and garden of Claude Monet.

In total contrast, the day was bright and sunny. It even managed to warm up in the afternoon.

Monet, the founder of the French Impressionist movement, was an avid gardener and transformed the old farmyard into an Impressionist wonderland.

It’s Autumn, yet the variety and colour of the blooms were as fresh and vibrant as if it was a balmy day in early Spring.

It’s no wonder that he painted some of his most memorable pieces, en plein air, in this idyllic location.

As well as gardening, Monet’s other passion was for things Japanese, especially their woodcuts.

The house is full of these delicate impressions of Japanese 19th Century life. You can certainly understand how Monet’s love of Japan influenced his art and featured in many of the paintings from Giverny.

Even the famous bridge over the lily pond is a replica, taken from a Japanese photograph, that can be seen in the house.

The village of Giverny has been home to many artists but it’s Monet who draws the crowds.

Apart from his art it could be his influence on the weather that has something to do with it, as the next day it was back to dark and stormy skies for our return to Barcelona.

French posters.

Monday, October 8th, 2012

The French have a history of producing excellent posters.

Many are a strange combination of art, design, sales and humour.

I found this one, with a peculiar Australian perspective, in Chauffeur Les Bonnièreres.

What is art?

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

MONA is a relatively new private art gallery and museum in Hobart, Tasmania.

Created by David Walsh who made his fortune from gambling.

Wikipedia describes him as: “A university drop-out and autodidact with mathematical skills. Walsh made his fortune by developing a technical gambling system used to bet on horse racing and other sports globally”.

However he would prefer you to read this piece from the gallery website:

“The locals have started calling him ‘Dave’ (‘Hey, that’s Dave Walsh. Dave! Oi, Dave!’) but in fact his mother named him Glenn. Then she found God and changed it to David. It is estimated that at least one woman has been turned off dating David when she found out his real name was Glenn. As a result (of ambivalent relationships with women? of his changing name? of God?) he decided to build a museum”.

MONA is an eclectic collection of old and new art; hence the name is an acronym for the Museum of Old and New Art.

Neolithic flints and Egyptian mummies are mixed with confronting video installations and puzzling art in all mediums. There is even a poo-generating machine titled ‘Cloaca Professional’ by Wim Delvoye, (Born 1965, Wervik, Belgium; lives and works in Ghent, Belgium).

What is almost as intriguing as the art is the use of computer technology.

Every visitor receives an iPod on entry; this is your gallery guide. There are no descriptions on the art work, so if you are interested in a piece you read about it, or listen to it, on the iPod.

This description gives you the usual stuff, like who did it and when but it also has other sections, like interview with the artists and a section called Art Wank. This is what you would normally read on a traditional gallery wall. Some also had Gonzo, a section, usually written by David Walsh that gives less intellectual and more introspective thoughts and comments on what you are viewing.

You can also cast your opinion on what you see as you travel through the exhibition. Rumor has it that David Walsh will remove any exhibit that becomes too popular.

There are things there that you just look at. I guess that’s the museum side and then there are a lot of other pieces that make you stop, scratch your head and think.

There is even a public toilet that literally let’s you see what you are doing.

But is that art? Certainly Wim Delvoye, (Born 1965, Wervik, Belgium; lives and works in Ghent, Belgium) thinks it is.

MONA