Gladys studying art...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Inspired by the Norton Simon Museum

To be honest, before my trip to the Norton Simon museum, I could swear it had been over a decade since I visited a museum. I was surprised by my emotional reaction while I walked through the halls. My eyes welled up a little bit as as glanced at every art piece not simply because of all the history I was witnessing, but because every art piece had it's own story behind it and I truly found my appreciation for museums after this trip.

Right when we walked in, I had to take a zen break because the huge Buddhist sculpture in the center of  the entrance area inspired me to meditate even though it was for a few seconds. Some of the guards at the museum couldn't help but laugh at my silliness.

Right away I came across many sculptures and I was drawn to a collection of small sized sculptures of dancers. I'm a dancer as well so I was just fascinated by the detail in the sculptures. One of my favorites was "Arabesque Over the Right Leg, Left Arm in Line" by Edgar Degas. This piece was made in 1885.

After seeing a few more sculptures, it was pretty clear that I had found a new addiction in posing like statues and capturing it in an image. Soon enough I came across another statue that called for my attention and I couldn't resist posing like it! This piece was called, "Standing Bather with Raised Arms", which was scuplted by Aristide Maillol. One thing I'll say about the artist is that most of his pieces were of volumptious, naked women. If we look back at the picture of me and the Buddhist sculpture, at the top right of the picture we can actually see another piece by Maillol called "Three Nymphes". It took Maillol from 1930 to 1937 to create it. I didn't realize that piece was in my picture until after I started writing this blog and I thought it was cool how I mistakely captured it also.

Here's a better view of "Three Nymphes".

I was very inspired the more I walked around the museum and really took my time with each piece I came across. I wanted to take in the paintings and drawings for what they are and try to understand why each artist created certain pieces. It seem as if I was having an out-of-body experience because I imagined being those artists create their art and saw my self as someone in the future trying to receive the message from each piece.

When I came across Diego Rivera's, "The Flower Vendor (Girl with Lilies)", I was sort of in shock because I had learned about Rivera in high school. The story about him and his wife Frida was one that touched me and I knew I would never forget it. I kind of had to do a double check and ask myself, " Am I really standing infront of this painting?" Although his piece's were based on the Mexican life, I loved how unrealistically Rivera painted.
Rivera did this painting in 1941 with oil. It was painted on masonite, which is a type of wood. As you can see the painting is showing a girl holding a massive amount of lilies. Like I was saying earlier, Rivera was probably trying to tell the story of this girl who is doing what she does for a living. What I love is how the lilies are so big that she can basically hide behind them. Lilies aren't that big in real life, but the way Rivera portrays them in this painting is beautifully done. I could almost sense that those lilies are that girl's life. I also get from the image that the girl is hard working and her life isn't a simple one. As beautiful as the lilies are, they're overwhelming her.

The masonite is probably the reason why the texture of the image is sort of 3rd dimensional. Rivera also made good use of the space in the painting.

Another piece that stood out to me in the museum was Jacob Meyer de Haan's, "Still Life with Ham", which was painted in 1889. I was not expecting to come across a picture of ham especially and that is basically why it caught my eye. I'm a big lover of ham so I could definitely relate to the artist. Either Meyer de Haan loved ham or hated it because he took the time to create such a detailed painting of it.  Like Rivera's painting, Meyer de Haan used oil for this piece, but unlike Rivera's piece it was done on canvas. That might have something to do with the difference in size with the two pieces. Masonite could be used for bigger pieces, where as canvas has limitations. The two pieces were 52 years apart but both are simple portrayals of life. Rivera's piece was unrealistic because the proportions were of scale. Meyer de Haan's piece was proportional since it was a still life painting (which I find impressive since I think it's harder to paint still life than creating a painting from scratch). Both pieces use very realistic colors and have so much detail that I made sure I looked at every part of the images.

As my trip to the museum came to a close, I walked into another nice surprise. It was a giant mural called, "Basel Mural I", which took Sam Francis two years to complete (from 1956 to 1958). I mentioned to my art trip buddies that it was almost like a cleaned up version of Jackson Pollock's pieces.

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