In Amsterdam, I had the pleasure of visiting the Rjiksmuseam, which has a huge collection of dutch art, ranging from the middle ages up to the contemporary art of today. This first photo is of The Threatened Swan, which was painted by Jan Asselijn during the Golden Age. It initially caught my eye because it looks very similar to the art on the cover of an album by the music artist Sufjan Stevens. Here is a photo of his album:
While it is not the same at all, they still seem to be painted in a similar manner; the swans are the same color, with wings spread out. However, in the painting in the gallery, the swan is clearly angry and defending something, which comes through in the way that it's head comes out at the viewer. It seems to be daring the viewer to come closer. Further reading about the painting informed me that the swan is in fact protecting its nest from attackers. The emotion of the swan really comes through in the painting, and it commands the space around it.
This next photo was not taken in the museum, but in a vintage shop called Zipper that Michaela and I visited on Sunday. We were shopping around, trying on sweaters and sunglasses, when we looked up at the ceiling and saw a giant fresco painted there, Sistine -chapel style. However, the subject matters were anything but religious. Instead, the ceiling shows contemporary people, and their activities/manners seem a bit tongue-in-cheek. However, the contemporary subjects are mixed with classical elements, such as the column on the left. It was a great example of how past art movements are always relevant, serving as inspiration for contemporary art movements today!
Here we have another photo, this time on the right side of the column. Again, the classical elements are juxtaposed with the modern ones, with a classically styled statue of a woman pouring water out of a jar in front of an American flag. In the back, it looks like the man is looking at her butt. This is both humorous and making a bit of a joke out of the painting. There is also a plane flying overhead, which is another example of mixing modern industrialism with classicism. I loved this fresco. I wish that I could have captured the entire thing with one photo, but it was too big and too detailed. Believe me when I say that the rest of the ceiling was just as intricate and just as funny as these two snapshots reveal.
This last little gem comes in as a close second to my favorite find in Amsterdam (after the ceiling of the thrift store). Michaela, Anna and I were walking down the street along the canal on Saturday night when this caught my eye. It was inside the door of an art gallery that was closed for the evening. This is an example of a ready-made AND it involves the Mona Lisa, which reminded me of the one that you showed that first day in class. I think it was Marcel Duchamp? Here, the Mona Lisa has both devil horns and a mustache, and the entire painting is stamped with a bright pink "SALE", so I'm assuming the sign is put up to advertise a sale in the gallery. I believe that the emblem in the corner is the symbol for the gallery. I thought that this was a very creative and art-appropriate advertisement for a gallery to use! It also is great at catching attention, as the Mona Lisa is so famous and the defacing of her is usually pretty funny.
What is this, you ask? Is this art? Well, as we have learned in class, anything can be art. This is called The Spire, and can be found in the center of O'Connell Street, which is the main street in the city center of Dublin. The Spire is very tall and very ugly, and is known to be a pointless piece of architecture. When I inquired about it's purpose to my friend David at the tourist office, he confided in me that the spire was a part of some sort of competition that was held in Ireland, and that it was the winning design. He said that yes, it may be ugly, but it is also pretty impressive, due to its height and the look of the metal when you see it up close. I agreed that yes, it is definitely impressive, but it also kind of freaks me out. David said that it's best purpose was a landmark for people trying to meet up, which we found to be true over the course of the weekend. "Meet me at the spire" was uttered more than twice between us and others, and we were given directions involving the spire from dozens of locals (we asked for a lot of directions). I still think it's ugly, but hey, it's art!
My friend Carly and I had the pleasure of visiting Trinity College on Sunday morning before we left Dublin (and got stranded in Brussels, haha!!!) This artwork was on the square right outside the library, and it was magnificent. The sun reflected off of the copper exterior, and the crack in the middle revealing the inside reminds me of a city skyline. As a native of Chicago, I truly am a fan of any city skyline - it reminds me of home. It looks to me like the skyline on the top half is reflecting into the water on the bottom half. It also kind of reminds me of the end of the world, but I'm not sure why. It looks very industrial, and a little futuristic, but it's still nice to look at. This was probably my favorite thing that I saw on the entirety of the campus.
This chest was discovered during our tour of the Mannheim Castle in Dublin on Saturday. The tour had tons of furniture and paintings from the period that the Mannheim family inhabited it, although not all of it was originally theirs. The eclectic mix inside the castle was interesting to see, although I really was not impressed with the arrangement of the pieces. I wish that they had arranged it in a nicer fashion, but alas! I am not in charge here. Anyway, I love woodwork. I think that it is one of the best forms of art because you can see the details and touch the grooves with your finger and just imagine how long it took to carve out every individual piece! This chest took my breath away. It has the Jewish star in the middle, which was very cool to see, as much of the remaining art in the castle was art that had survived the Second World War.
While in London, I did not make it to any museums for the sole reason that we were so busy running about seeing the sights on the streets! I had the fortunate experience of having my friend Will, who is a native of London, show me around the city. We wanted to make it to the National Gallery, but it just did not end up happening, as I was only there for less than 48 hours.
I still managed to find art in London, though! I have become particularly fond of finding art in unexpected places over the course of this semester. Here, we were at a skate park under the bridge in Waterloo, and it was covered in graffiti. However, it was the refined sort of graffiti, the kind that looks like it was intentionally put there. Everything was harmonious, and nothing clashed. It was tons of different artists' creative perspective all combined onto one single canvas. I like graffiti a lot because of that - it takes the traditional canvas and throws it out the window. It also allowed the skaters that use the park to make the space their own.
There is a second hand book market that is always under the Waterloo bridge as well, and is one of Will's favorite spots. There were all sorts of books, collector's items, and art prints. I loved the artwork of Elton John on the cover of this book about his life. I had never seen it before, but it reminds me of Willy Wonka. I think it's the bright colors and the big glasses. I am a big fan of Elton John and was sad I didn't get to stalk him in Nice, so seeing this book was a nice little treat.
Here is the statue of Queen Victoria that is in front of Buckingham Palace in London. This statue is grand and commands the space around it, even though there isn't really much movement to the piece. The queen sits very regally, and the viewer has to look up at her. She is grandiose in size, and gazes out straight ahead, as if she is looking over the entirety of the lawns behind the palace and beyond. Her scepter gives her a sense of authority, and her flowing robes keep the statue from seeming static. The pool of water around her further separates her from the people at the bottom, which puts her up even higher on a pedestal. It is a very regal statue, and she looks powerful, which I really enjoyed. God save the Queen!
I spent the weekend in Luxembourg with my roommate, and while we didn't make it to any museums, I did stumble across this piece of street art while winding through the side streets near the center square. I'm not sure who the artist is, or if it was commissioned or not, but it is a pretty intricate and detailed mini-mural. The colors and expressions on the faces initially caught my eye, and once I stopped, I couldn't stop looking at it. Where do the beards end and the clouds start?? Why are they so Angry? Is it Zeus? I don't know, but I like it.
This graphic print was found in Differdange. It has since been removed, but it caught my eye the first time I walked by it. I thought it was interesting that they had this up in Luxembourg, paying homage to Amy Winehouse. The timing was appropriate, as it was up the same time that the documentary about her life was out in theaters. I really like Amy Winehouse, and I find the fascination with her after her death to be very intriguing, so I really liked this print. It is done in the pop-art style and reminds me a lot of Andy Warhol.
Musee Matisse featured some giant works that took up entire walls. Matisse's Piscine, in fact, took up an entire room! Much of Matisse's work was characterized by shape and color; with frequent use of "cut-outs". The bright colors and whimsical shapes were very much inspired by the Cote d'Azur.
If you look closely at the painting, it looks as though the brushstrokes are completely random and sloppy. It is only when one steps back and fully regards the entirety of the painting that the image of the woman becomes visible. (Musee Matisse)
During our first afternoon of freedom, we found a tapas restaurant by the beach. We were all craving something quick, fresh, and light, so this restaurant seemed perfect. As we sat on a long bench outside, the waitress brought us menus that featured surrealist graphic art. The entire restaurant and bar was characterized by this sort of quirky art, and even had a decal of Salvador Dali on the inner wall. He peeked out into the patio, and seemed to watch us while we had lunch, which was less creepy than it sounded. (El Merkado)
So much of the art that we saw in Nice was heavily influenced by the environment. It was neat to see each artists' interpretation of the light and the coast through the differences in their work. Everything shared the same muse but the end product was always unique to the artist.
Modern Art is nothing to make light of.
This piece was my favorite. The colors, layering, and subject matter really captured the essence of light & color on the beaches in Nice.
Seeing Chagall's work was a treat for me as I don't think I had ever seen any of his paintings in person until this trip. My grandma was an Art History major in college, and I was raised on books about Picasso and Chagall and Monet and the like. I recognized this painting right away. It was huge, bright, and beautiful. The inspiration from the landscape is, once again, evident, and Chagall's iconic circus-type people give the artist away even without looking at the signature.
While the artwork at the Stoke Travel campsite in Munich was no Michelangelo, it did speak to the culture of the Australians that were running the trip, which is what art is all about, right? The Aussies that volunteer for staff positions on Stoke Travel trips call themselves "Stokies", and are all about pursuing the unique thrill that only comes from travel. Their thirst for adventure, coupled with their affinity for partying, contributed to the type of art that decorated the Munich campsite. Above, you can see their logo, hand painted on the back of the sound stage. The logo is understated, with muted colors and simple graphics, and the colorful background of the stage provides the perfect balance between the subtle and the bright.
Here is the same logo, but on a large balloon, used to mark the entrance from the masses of tents to the social area of the campsite. The balloon took the graphic and utilized it as a landmark, while still holding its artistic integrity.
Stoke Travel had prints like these all over the campsite, where they had a humorous phrase or image (or both!) and usually snuck in their brand name somehow. Here, they have their logo screen-printed onto the cup that is sitting next to the woman in distress. They took something that is not usually seen as "art" (a sign for the bathroom) and made it art.
Bruges may be home to the only Michelangelo to ever leave Italy (very cool, don't get me wrong), but we stumbled across a random modern art exhibit in the middle of Markt Place, and I was drawn to it. I've seen a lot of Renaissance Art in my day, and I'm assuming you have too, so I wanted to focus on this piece that I've never seen before.
There were multiple different parts to this installation, all different window panes and hinges pieced together in abstract towers of varying heights. It was sitting outside of the St. Salvatores Cathedral, providing a harsh contrast to the traditional Flemish architecture that dominated the street. There were kids playing around them and people snapping photos. It was like an art playground. I was a big fan. I have no idea who made it, or why, and I can't find anything about it on the internet. Alas, it will remain a mystery for now!
Here I am with this stature of someone named Albert. I did not know who he was/what his significance was to Bruges when I took this photo, but I liked it, as you can see. He looks very regal and majestic on his horse, and judging from his helmet and erect posture, I can only assume that he was some sort of war hero. After some quick Internet research upon my return home, I found that this is, in fact, a statue of King Albert I, who ruled over Belgium during the war of 1914 - 1918.
El Cap de Barcelona. This massive mosaic is right in the center of Barcelona, and we stumbled upon it as we were exploring the city. It is MASSIVE and thus has good potential as a landmark for when you're lost. You can tell people to just meet you by the big face.
This is said to be a nod to Antoni Gaudi and was built by the pop artist Roy Lichtenstein for the Summer Olympics of 1992.
One cannot go to Barcelona and miss the art and architecture of Antoni Gaudi! Here we are in the Park Guell at Gaudi's fountain. This fountain is insanely beautiful. I knew that it was in Barcelona, but I had forgotten about it. We were riding through the park on bikes and rollerblades, stopping to see various pieces of art as we passed them by, when we burst through a path and found ourselves in front of this masterpiece. The fountain is huge, and the water is an unreal blue-green. The detail of the fountain is like nothing I have ever seen, with dragons and other mythical creatures spitting water at all angles. The winding steps up the back of the fountain are so uniquely Gaudi as well. This was my favorite piece of art that we saw in Barcelona.
Here we have a nice selfie of me with the Casa Batllo, another one of Gaudi's famous works in Barcelona. Gaudi's art and architecture helped to give birth to the Modernisme movement and give the Catalan people a national style, which was important as they were experiencing their own Renaissance in the mid-19th century. Gaudi's unique character can be seen in the facade of the Casa Battlo, which looks like a pile of skulls and bones with a dragon on top. This type of style was unprecedented and was thus very controversial for it's time, but the people of Barcelona have grown to consider it to be a huge source of pride for their people.