Tag Archives: art history

Tapestries, Monet, and Escher, oh my! Part 2

This is Part 2 of 2 about my recent trip to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Art in Boston… and to my new favorite bakery.  Is it ridiculous to go to Boston just for some pastries? 

Growing up, there was a print by M. C. Escher at the top of the stairs.  I can remember running up them as fast as I could, only to stop and stare curiously at the other-wordly image of a fish underwater.  But where were the trees?  Are those reflections or the trees’ roots? Was the fish floating in space? Was it in a shallow puddle?  Was I upside down?20180423_131240.jpg

I’m still not entirely sure, and I’m quite happy with that…

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I was surprised to learn that these are lithographs.  My whole life up until now, I thought they were pencil drawings.  The skills and patience required for lithography makes Escher’s art even more impressive…

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I enjoy Escher’s playfulness, especially in this piece.  Instead of simply drawing the mirror’s reflection in this still life (which was probably really boring) the artist chose to create a more interesting reflection.  I wonder if this is a street he had been down many times, or if he just created it in his own imagination.  I could stare at Escher’s work for hours, get completely lost in it, and come back with a whole new way of looking at the world…

 

 

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His tessellations are astounding…

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Some of my photos didn’t come out well.  The room was dim and there were lots of people to wiggle around.  I also didn’t want to stay behind my camera the whole time!

Next, we went upstairs to see the Monet paintings…

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It’s hard to see in these photos, but there are so many bits of color within color.  I wonder how this inspiration will transform my weft bundles…

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Mum wanted to show me some of her favorite rooms, like the Egyptian rooms filled with sarcophagi and hieroglyphs and amulets and mummification tools.  I felt weird taking photos of these things, it felt somewhat disrespectful.  But I took some photos along the way!

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I love this statue of Juno in the Ancient World wing.  She’s probably about 15 feet tall…

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Ganesh!

The last room Mum wanted me to see was one she called the Buddha Room.  Again, no pictures, it felt too sacred and it was incredibly dark.  We sat in silence for a few moments, looking at the various Buddhas from different parts of Asia.

Then we had a little lunch in the courtyard before zooming off to the bakery in Beacon Hill.  It’s called Tatte Bakery, by the way, and you should go like, right now.

It was a super fun and busy day, and I’m already planning on going back to the MFA and exploring more of the Art of the Ancient World exhibits!

Until next time, keep creating!

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The Museum of Fine Arts from the courtyard

 

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Tapestries, Monet, and Escher, oh my! Part 1

This is part 1 of 2 on my recent adventure to Boston to see the art museums with my mom… and to indulge in the most delicious pastries I’ve ever had.  Seriously.

My mum has a favorite place to go in Boston.  She’s seen it grow and change and become increasingly popular for tourists and the city’s residents since she was just a young college student.  She has some great memories of this magical place, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and she brought me there a couple years ago to see one of her favorite rooms, which is filled with tapestries!

But on that trip, the room was closed for ceiling repairs!  I was able to enjoy some of the other tapestries in the stairwells and hallways, and so I left feeling like the trip was still a success.  And I knew I would come back to see just how magical these other mysterious tapestries are.

So a couple of weeks ago, we went back down to Boston, and I made sure I called the museum a few days before just to check that all of the tapestries were hanging!  The Gardner is bustling at opening time these days.  School trips, tourists, and residents are drawn to the serene oasis that is this beautiful Italian style villa just off the subway line.  Mum can remember walking through the central courtyard (these days it’s closed off) and seldom seeing another soul as she meandered through the many rooms filled with treasures.  Today we wiggle past the other visitors and make a bee line for the second floor.  Not only are we in Boston to see the tapestries, we’re also planning on heading over to the Museum of Fine Arts for the M. C. Escher exhibit and to a little bakery up in Beacon Hill, all before catching the 5:15 bus back to New Hampshire.

Going to the tapestry rooms on the second floor was a great idea, as the other early birds are still mingling in the courtyard and lower galleries.  The first tapestry room is large and lavish, and filled with various arrangements of seating (which fyi, you’re not allowed to put your bum on).  The tapestries here, which I remarkably forgot to photograph 😦 depict various garden scenes.  The colors have faded to mostly warm blues, greens, and pale yellows, which coordinated perfectly with the upholstered furniture.

The second room was even grander than the first, and the tapestries even more remarkable. Thankfully I photographed these tapestries!  The room reminded me of the old taverns you see in movies, with its dark wood and post-and-beam ceilings, and a fireplace the size of a Chevy van.  It has the feeling of grandeur, an excited expectancy of visitors and entertainment, and also a quiet comfort.  Mum remembers coming to this room for musical performances in the evenings, sitting in the warm ethereal glow of the medieval candelabras as the music enchanted a mesmerized audience.  The museum still puts on these performances, and I hope to experience one someday!

And I’m so glad I returned just to see these tapestries, for they are gigantic, full of exquisite details, and a true feast for the eyes!  My photography skills can’t do them justice, so hopefully you can see them for yourself someday.  I did get a few great detail shots and I also tried to capture the scale of these large pieces.  I didn’t take notes on names or workshops, but I do know they were made in Belgium… or is it Brussels?  Or is Brussels in Belgium?  Well, guess I need to go back!

Again, apologies for my terrible note taking!  I mostly regret it because now I have nothing to go off of but my own photos…

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with chairs for scale…

Obviously there will be more trips back in my future…

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So much detail and beautiful, long hachure lines…

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Detail of women’s dress from above.  I can’t even imagine weaving this.  First there is the pattern of the brocade fabric to produce, and second is trying to capture the sheen of the fabric with hachure! This would be quite the test of patience… and eye sight!

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I love this scene, especially the castle just barely visible in the upper right.  And just look at those elegant gowns and hairdos! It’s easy to forget these are tapestries…

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The large borders of irises and lily of the valley unify the weavings in this series…

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The hunting scene…

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My mom noted how uneven the eyes are in this weaving, and how difficult it must be to create symmetry like what we see in a face.  She encouraged me to photograph this to remind myself that even master weavers had difficulties with capturing symmetry…

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This gorgeous tapestry, woven at a very fine sett, hangs above the doorway, and is really hard to photograph! But even from this view you can get an idea of all of the tiny details…

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My mum, looking out over the courtyard…

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You have to look everywhere around here. Some of the neatest things are above your head! And pretty much everything, from the floor tiles to the windows to the paint colors were purchased by Isabella and brought over from Europe.

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Isabella’s collection even includes this lovely Botticelli…

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overlooking the courtyard…

That’s all for part 1. Stay tuned for part 2 where I’ll show you some of the Monets’, Eschers’, and random statues we viewed at the Museum of Fine Arts.  Until then, keep creating!

A Date with the Creative Muse

In The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron talks about “artist dates”.  These are special times that you set aside for yourself to go off in search of inspiration, to be with your creative muse.  When I lived in a city, I would make sure that at least once a month, I would spend some time in quiet contemplation in one of my city’s beautiful parks.  This reset time was precious to my creative energy and inspiration.  Normally artist dates are done alone, but today I went on one with my mom.  I guess we went on a double date with our creative muses?

As a belated birthday gift my mom took me to Boston for the day, and we spent most of it at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  My mom went to art school in Boston, and spent many of her own artist dates here, back when the now roped-off courtyard was open to the public.

 

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How dreamy it would be to stroll through here, like stepping back in time…

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The courtyard was definitely a highlight of the museum, and coupled with the small gallery rooms and furnishings, gave the feeling of a rare invitation into someone’s luxurious home.  I felt immersed in the artworks and in the time period they were collected in, a very different feeling from the cavernous white-walled rooms of other art museums I’ve visited.  The first and only other time my mom brought me here was when I was about 15.  Time sure has changed me.  For an art history nerd like myself with a passion for pre-Raphaelite and medieval art and architecture, this place was a gold mine.  As I walked through the rooms and hallways full of carefully arranged artworks, furnishings, books, and manuscripts, I could sense just how important this collection (and it’s availability to the public) was to Isabella Gardner. And of course there were…tapestries!

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One of several Flemish tapestries with the same workshop initials of B B.

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This tapestry was definitely my favorite on display.  I love how the weavers perfectly captured the folds, textures, and elegance of the ladies skirts, not to mention the gorgeous shimmers of gold throughout the weaving.

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The apparent chaos in this weaving was pretty funny to me, although for the audience at the time of it’s completion, I’m sure it had to do with morals and refraining from sin.  Is that a guy falling on a wasps nest?  What I love most is the stunning mille-fleur in the background.

Unfortunately, the main room I was here to see, the actual Tapestry Room, was closed for roof renovations!  I was pretty bummed about that, but I can’t wait to come back when it reopens…. in January.  It’s a long time to wait, but until then I’ll be dreaming about this place and weaving onward…

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