Monday, March 14, 2011

Field Trip: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Sean and I went on a little field trip on Saturday to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which had a special Picasso exhibit on display until May. I've been itchy to return to the museum for years; the only time I had been was during an actual field trip when I was 17, so I was happy to go back post-renovations. They have an impressive collection, and I was most impressed by their collection of late 20th century and early 21st century art. I thought I'd share some of my favorite details from the collections we saw.

I will admit, I'm a bit of an art history dork, so trips to the museum with me probably aren't fun for the casual observer (i.e. Sean). I'm especially excited to be introduced to new-to-me artists. This painting is by Neil Jenney, a self-taught artist whose work in the early 70s was dubbed "bad painting," a title he embraced. He was known for painting these frames around his work, with the title spelled out HUGE.

I think Julian Schnabel is a bit of a blow-hard, but I was especially intrigued by "Understanding Self-Hate" when I realized it was painted on stretched velvet. It gave me painting such depth in person, and in some spots, it looked like the paint was floating over the fabric. It's actually a giant 3-panel painting, but this was my favorite spot.

I loved "Landscape with Wing" by Anselm Kiefer. It was massive, and enveloped viewers. It has straw stuck in the paint, and if you look long enough at it, you can see how it might be what the land looks like from a bird's eye view.The painter is German, and it says the use of straw and tar were supposed to reflect post-war Germany. This woman in the gallery with us was very adamant about how much she did NOT like this painting. I was cracking up.

I'm sorry to say I can't recall the artist, but I loved the huge folded paper art. I thought it was so lovely in its simplicity, and reminded me of the intricately folded notes little girls pass in class. It's a good idea for creating art at home, too, not that I hugely advocate knocking off art!

The museum also had a special exhibit on graphics and I was struck by this little print of horses. I want to get to the point where I only need a couple strokes to convey shape and movement.

The museum also has a breathtaking collection of Art Nouveau furniture, including this massive wardrobe. It's hard to believe people had such curvy, windy furniture of such massive scale in their homes, but it's inspiring. You can see me and Sean in the mirror.

I think Stuart Davis has the best artist's signature I've seen. (This is just a tiny corner of his painting.)

The 21st century art exhibit was fascinating to me. It's crazy to see art from 2008 in museums, but it was exciting! A lot of it seemed uniquely inspired by the digital age. I especially like this painting by Kehinde Wiley, who aims to subvert the classicism of Old World portraiture by inserting black males in the clothing indicative of their culture. In this case, the model wore Sean John and Timbalands. Loved it!

And last but certainly not least, we whirled through the Picasso exhibit (it was PACKED) and I was excited to see this painting, which was on the cover of one of my old Literature textbooks. It's called "Reading."

Just so you know, the museum is free, but you do have to pay for special exhibits. The Picasso exhibit costs $20 for adults, so we paid $40 total. 


EmilyO said...

Anselm's Kiefers paintings are amazing. I haven't even seen his work in person, but I really really want to. Its just incredible how he is so bold and abstract, but he can maintain just that smidgeon of natural life that holds it all together.

Oh also I wanted to tell you thanks for your recommendation for the art/creative business book. Currently I'm not allowed any new books, considering I have to cram everything I own into a couple suitcases, but once I'm moved I think I'll have Thijs get it for me! (He works in a bookstore so he can order books, even english ones)

Amber said...

We really loved Anselm Kiefer's painting, but it was funny to listen to this one woman say how much it disturbed her. I wanted to tell her that was the point, and direct her toward the gallery of pretty horse paintings!

Bret said...

One of the best things about going to art school was all the foundation and history classes. At first I disliked them, but grew to love them. Since moving to New York I've gone to many museums/exhibits/galleries and it's amazing to me that works I HATED in slides/class I now love after seeing them in person, or at the very least, appreciate. Looking at the texture or size often is more important than the actual composition.

We also had too many discussions about art/knocking it off/those trading spaces style canvases designed to be thrown over a matching couch. Granted, I'm all for buying art and supporting artists, but I see nothing wrong with "at home" versions. At least then you did it yourself. And if you steal from a preexisting work, so what? All artists steal. 98% of Dali came from "The Garden of Earthly Delights" after all.

Basically you need to visit and we can spend a solid 12 hours in the Met arguing.