Reviews

Roy Lichtenstein:
Egon Schiele:
Vincent van Gogh
Rodin
Damien Hirst
Salvador Dali
Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes

Roy Lichtenstein:
American Indian Encounters

Montclair Art Museum
Fall 2006

This show features a virtually unknown group of paintings and works on paper by leading Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, inspired by his appreciation of Native American art. Included are works on paper created during 1949-1951 when he was studying and teaching art, as well as works from 1952 made in Cleveland until his move to New York in 1957. These early works reflect Lichtenstein's interests in European modernism as well as Native American art.

Death of Jean McCrea

The later works include a 1979 sketchbook of Native American images and a major series of Surrealist-Pop paintings from 1979 based on Native American themes (Pow Wow, American Composition, Indian Composition). To Lichtenstein, Native American art provided a historical base for American art, reminiscent of African art's relationship to European modernism.

With my internship at the museum, I had the opportunity to go on an extensive tour of the show. I also heard the artist James Rosenquist speak about his friendship with the artist. In addition to this, I watched the very informative video outside of the gallery and read through the Lichtenstein education packet for teachers.

Although Roy Lichtenstein is not really one of my favorite artists, I enjoyed learning about the process in which he created his artwork. It was interesting to see how he designed the works and hired to people help him produce them. I also enjoyed learning about how modern artists are influenced by ritual objects or artworks from other cultures, such as Africa and Native America. This has always been an interesting theme for myself and is reflected within my own artwork and papers.

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Egon Schiele:
The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky Collecctions

Neue Galerie, New York City
Fall 2006

Egon Schiele's figurative works displayed an uncanny intimacy that brought a new openness to the art of their time. Schiele's death at the age of 28 has added a mythic quality to his artistic achievements. This exhibition presents more than 150 paintings and drawings by Schiele, and fills all the gallery spaces in the museum. The exhibition at the Neue Galerie spans the full range of Schiele's oeuvre, including portraits, self-portraits, allegorical compositions, and landscapes.

Freundschaft

The second-floor galleries contain several major paintings by the artist; historical materials related to his life; and his earliest works. The third-floor galleries present drawings created by the artist after 1909, when he made the decisive turn toward the development of his own style.

While at this gallery, I had the opportunity to go on a free half-hour tour of the entire museum. On the tour, many of Schiele's works were put into context, making their significance must more accessible. I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition, especially the very minimalist drawings. They almost seemed unfinished, but with further observation, it is realized that nothing else could have been added to complete them. Although these particular collections exhibited very few paintings by the artist, they were not needed to conclude this exhibition.

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Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Fall 2005

Winter GardenThis is the first major exhibition in the United States to focus on Vincent van Gogh's drawings. Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings—comprises 113 works selected from public and private collections worldwide, including an exceptional number of loans from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Generally overshadowed by the fame and familiarity of his paintings, Van Gogh's more than 1,100 drawings remain comparatively unknown, although they are among his most ingenious and striking creations. Van Gogh engaged drawing and painting in a rich dialogue, which enabled him to fully realize the creative potential of both means of expression. A group of paintings was also exhibited alongside the related drawings.

I did not enjoy this exhibition as much as I should have, probably because the galleries were crowded and hot. In spite of this, I really liked a particular group of drawings in the first gallery. While some of these drawings were a part of a study for The Potato Eaters, others were part of a series of gnarly-looking fruit trees. The exhibition was very, very large, so the reason I liked these so much could have been because I got a little bored and impatient by the end. Overall, the show was well worth the short walk from the Neue Gallerie.

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Rodin Museum in Philadelphia & at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Spring 2005

This past week I had the opportunity to see several works by Auguste Rodin in both the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. By visiting these two museums, I was exposed to some of the same sculptures in very different environments, allowing me to understand the great effect display and arrangement can have on a work. Seeing such a diverse collection of works in all of their stages of construction also gave me an insight on Rodin's creative thought process.

Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

The Rodin Museum is a small, quiet building a few blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The building is guarded by iron gates, which are opened to reveal a bronze cast of The Thinker. The massive Gates of Hell stand guarding the entrance at the top of a few steps looking over a long pool and fountain. The Burghers of Calais stands in the center of the main room, while The Hands of God are flanked by the life-sized Adam and Eve at one side of the gallery. Numerous smaller studies of mythological figures are found in cases in the smaller rooms of the museum and larger pieces are prominently displayed at their center.

I would have to say that my favorite part of this gallery was the simple, elegant way the works were arranged. Each sculpture had enough space surrounding it for the viewer to see all angles of the larger works. The sculptures were also organized in a way so that they did not interfere with the character or nature of its neighbor. The gallery also had a huge number of plaster and terracotta studies displayed along with the larger works they eventually became. It was interesting to see how Rodin began with an idea, and how that idea evolved into the much larger finished sculpture.

The Met had a very different way of exhibiting Rodin's work. Surprisingly, the Burghers of Calais is pressed up against a window next to the museum coffee shop, while Adam, Eve, and the Martyr are against the wall of a long room, crowded with along with other paintings and sculptures. The reason I like sculpture is for its three-dimensionality. It was frustrating for works like these to be pressed up against a wall and so easy to walk past and not notice.

After being to both of these museums, I not only saw what an impact a museum can have on a work, but I also had the opportunity to see hundreds of examples of Rodin's sculpture in all phases of development and in all mediums (plaster, bronze, terracotta, and marble). What I noticed the most about Rodin's work is that the surfaces are lumpy and unfinished, but there is still something undeniably realistic and alive about them. Instead of creating a form that is true to reality, they personal expressions of how the artist saw them in his own mind.

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Damien Hirst

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Spring 2005

Over Spring break, I was able to see the Damien Hirst exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (for free!). Hirst has been deemed to be among one of most influencial living artists and had received the Turner Prize in 1995.

Away from the Flock

The exhibit was extremely disturbing. I knew that he was famous for using dead animals in his work, but I did not expect them to smell so bad. From far away, one work in particular (I'm not sure of the name), looked like a big black carpet hanging on the wall. I read the caption and it said that it was made of dead flies, caked in resin. So, of course, I had to get closer to it to see if it really was made of flies. The second I was close enough to see individual flies, the smell of them hit me. It took an hour to get the smell out of my nose.

Hirst's ambitious and complex work has been credited with reinvigorating the British art scene and drawing a wide public into discussions about art. His materials are sometimes repellent, but his themes—the human condition, mortality, and beauty—are timeless. Hirst has characterized himself as romantic and kind of old-fashioned . . . in terms of ideas.

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Salvador Dali

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Spring 2005

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the only American venue to host a centennial retrospective exhibition for Salvador Dali. On view are over 200 of the artist's paintings, sculptures, and collages.Because I live so close to Philadelphia, I felt I had to get some reservations to see the show.

Philadelphia Musem of Art

The exhibit was hot and crowded because of how immensely popular he is. Altogether, we probably spent an entire hour waiting to see paintings because there were always a a person or two who thought it was ok to stand 5 inches away from every piece. There was not any way to beat the crowds because every time for every hour was completely sold out. We went early in the morning on a Thursday and it was still impossible to get around everyone. Besides the crowds, the show was good. It was a total of 8 or 9 rooms and included 3-D works such as Retrospective Bust of a Woman (1933), Lobster Telephone (1938), Mae West Lips Sofa (1938), and The Surrealist Shoe (1931). One of the most interesting parts of the show was a huge glass case that held Mae West Lips Sofa along with photographs of the room it was supposed to go in. When looking at the room at the right angle, you could see a representation of Mae West's face, with windows for eyes and the sofa as lips.

I have to admit that I learned a lot with this exhibition, even though the atmosphere was so uncomfortable. I was never a big fan of Dali, but, after seeing this show, I can better appreciate his ideas and his artwork.

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Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes
from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Frick Collection, New York
Spring 2005

In March, I saw Fitzwilliam's bronzes at the Frick Collection in New York. The 36 works date from the early of the 17th century to the early eighteenth century. The collection includes works by Italian Renaissance and Baroque sculptors such as Vincenzo Grandi and Alessandro Algardi, as well as works by Netherlandish, German, and French masters, which are rare among the Frick's predominantly Italian holdings.

The three small rooms the works were exhibited in were dark and quiet. The bronzes were all very small in size and each had their own glass case. With the exception of a few older people, my friend and I were the only people at the entire exhibit. This gave us the opportunity to take our time and really look at the very pretty, small statues.

It was interesting to see the works in such close quarters. Although late Renaissance and Baroque styles are a bit too busy for my taste, this was a nice, relaxing exhibit.

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