Thursday, November 7, 2013

Staff Picks: Works of Art

Lindsey: So here's a thing. I have a degree in Art History.  This only really means that I graduated college because I'm better at remembering pictures instead of numbers.  I kid. Kind of.  Not really. But still, I majored in Art History because I love art.  I love buildings.  I love looking at beautiful things and am constantly amazed that people created those things.  I've been known to cry while walking through a museum.  I'm intrigued by the stories of artists.  A lot of them were totally crazy, but they created beautiful things that continue to effect people in personal and moving ways. I struggle to choose a favorite artist, even more so when choosing one favorite piece of art.  It's impossible.  So here's one of many:

Claude Monet Londres, le Parlement. Trouée de soleil dans le brouillard

Looking at this on the computer does it absolutely zero justice.  I hadn't really paid any attention to this painting until I walked by it in a museum and couldn't stop looking at it.  I love how the light shines.  The sun in the fog feels like a literal light shining, but it's just paint on canvas and I love it. 

Cara: I'm certainly no art historian, but I do know what speaks to me and what I like, almost immediately.  I've mentioned this artist on the blog before, but StoryPeople by Brian Andreas absolutely captures my heart. There's no one work of art that tops my list, as I tend to say "that's one of my favorites!" every time I see a story of the day come across my Facebook newsfeed.  The quirky artwork, partnered with the words that are just so true to human nature and life, make me smile or, as my good friend Xa likes to say, "feel all the feels." 
Open large picture
Real ReasonStoryPeople by Brian Andreas

Melissa: While I didn't major in Art History, I considered it, after taking two humanities classes taught by the incomparable Mrs. Kiem. My favorite movements in art were the Renaissance and Impressionism, and since Lindsey has chosen an Impressionist painting I thought I'd choose a sculpture. 

Pietà (Michelangelo) St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

Although I've had the fortune of seeing some of the great works of art around the world, I haven't yet traveled to Italy to see this magnificent work of art. I think my favorite thing about this sculpture is the disproportion of the bodies. If you'll notice, Mary looks like she could be a linebacker, while Christ, a full grown man, is easily cradled in the arms of his mother. To me, it symbolizes the love for a mother for her child, who will always be her child even when they are grown. I also love how Christ's skin folds where she is cradling him under her arms, such precise detail in a work of art created from stone. I also love Mary's face, serene and youthful. I'm going to cheat a little and include a link to this video of Don McLean who wrote this song after not being able to reconcile the fame he received after writing the song American Pie, which he dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh.  Because I love The Starry Night. 

Paige: So... I'm sort of art-dumb. Anything too modern or too interpretative goes way over my head. I do love me some photography though and Ansel Adams has always been one of my favorite photographers. I particularly enjoy his photo of the Grand Tetons and the Snake River because to me there is nothing more beautiful than mountains and rivers. I am a huge nature lover and I think Ansel Adams and I would have made great friends.

Jill: I have a really hard time picking out a favorite anything (except a favorite food, of course, which will always and forever be Oreos). There are just too many things that I love out in this world! I needed to pick something to share will y'all today, though, so I went over and over in my mind the many museums I have been lucky to visit. It could just be because of its proximity to me (I live just south of DC in Virginia), but the first exhibit that popped into my mind was the First Ladies Dresses in the National Museum of American History. Whenever I find myself downtown, my day is not complete until I run over to the museum and stop by the exhibit to soak it all in again. My dream job is to be a costume designer, so these gorgeous dresses from all periods of United States history fascinate me. Perhaps the designers of these gowns did not know they were creating pieces of art at the time, but that is what they are.

Helen Taft's inaugural gown, the first to be donated to the Smithsonian's collection.
Image source

Lis: I've always liked "Premier Chagrin" by Daniel Ridgway Knight. Two women who seem to be good friends talking about something important. It always seemed like a good friendship to me.

Elise: During my art history classes in college, I surprised myself by falling madly in love with modern art. The really snooty part of me wants to say it's because there's all sorts of historically significant manifestoes behind the art, but the honest part of me just thinks it's visually interesting. I love Kandinsky, especially his later work, but today I wanted to share an image from Andy Goldsworthy. I love his work because it imposes strict order on nature--everything he uses to create his art comes from nature--and that order juxtaposed against disorder speaks to my soul. (It's kind of like when I only have the energy to clean my bathroom and the rest of my house is a mess. Except not.) For more amazing art by Goldsworthy, check out the documentary Rivers and Tides.

Rowan Leaves Laid Around Hole
Meg: I had a hard time deciding what to choose, because most of my favorite art isn't my favorite because I want it in my house, but because it just made me think about it FOREVER. (I almost used a Goya work from my Music Civ class, but I don't think it's my favorite - it's just so upsetting that whenever people talk about art I always think of it first.) I ended up torn between two and went with the one that translates best as an image (but you should check out my runner up on the Tate Modern website and let me know if you can see how cool it is if you aren't in the room in person.) I settled on John Singer Sargent's "Gassed," which I saw in the Imperial War Museum in London while I was studying World War I. It's so heartbreaking and real, and I think it's so symbolic of the tragedy that was World War I - so many young men fighting for their countries without any real idea of what they were trying to accomplish, enlisting blindly without realizing that war is much less glorious than they had imagined it would be. In person, the painting almost looks like it was painted with the mud and clay of the trenches, and it's the complete opposite of so many war paintings that came before it.


What's your favorite work of art? 

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