Our local art museum has completed its gallery renovations and I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon there, making note of the changes.
This museums main focus is modern then contemporary art (a broad category) as its largest benefactors had a taste for it. Because of this connection, the museum now boasts an expansive collection of monumental-sized paintings like the ones pictured below and the museum has designed new galleries in order to display them better, for example.
Some items are pretty, like the button sculpture, and their folk art collection is unique (see my photo gallery below).
Overall, most of the pieces are relatively new, by artistic standards, and haven’t passed the test of time.
Modern art was, at its conception, about breaking with the past. It represented the esoteric philosophies, ideals and politics of one artist or group (and that would take a long time to explain).
As the style progressed, throughout the past century, it became even more abstract and/or plain and... it doesn't shock people like it once did.
That's a major point. Many modern artists today have a harder time trying to figure out what will make buyers head's turn. We read about some , mostly younger artists, who resort to very strange art gimmickry and even obscenity. Too bad. They should really work on perfecting their artistic skills instead.
Oh by the way, the excellent 1953 painting (just above) is by a Russian artist, Stael, and it is entitled "flowers". I like it as a decorative element although I would not have guessed that these were flowers. After more study, I see this is a pot on a ledge maybe.
I don’t spend much time admiring modern art, but the history of why it happened and why art changed is most interesting, important and necessary.
In 2014, I visited a museum in Vienna where Ver Sacrum memorabilia and art was prominently displayed. It was a time to pause and reflect. Some day, when I have time, I'd like to post on the Russian Museum in Minnesota and their fascinating 20th century art collection.
Selections from the Milwaukee Museum.
Click to enlarge:
European STYLE Gallery
Having made it out of the sprawling jungle of modern, I did find, neatly tucked away, rooms dedicated to traditional European art. These are my favorite galleries as I am particularly fond of Christian art. There are additional galleries where visitors will find beautiful,19C landscapes and other noteworthy works.
The European: Mimicking the salon style in some areas, you will view artworks stacked high on the richly embellished walls, as opposed to the stark white walls of the modern wing. Unfortunately, these "salon" pieces had no identification labels. Perhaps this is a project still in the works or maybe visitors are expected to view these paintings as they might have appeared on the walls of a very large estate ...with no commentary? I found this troubling and hope that they add descriptions. For example, the photo (above) is from one Vienna museum that I visited and for each item, a listing of individual artworks was available somewhere in the room. In this case, there were very large, laminated description cards that remained in the rooms on central benches etc.
One young, artistic-looking visitor was overheard commenting in frustration to another young friend that “no one paints like this anymore”… meaning that no one is instructing in this style around here.
True enough. Local artists who are still actively painting in these traditional styles are often self-taught, to a greater extent, because the larger, established area art schools aren't particularly interested in its revival and don't offer many
(if any) in depth instruction of this kind.
A Catch of Fish
One piece featured in the European collection is Custati’s Baroque painting of fish (c.1710). It is a pleasure to behold with its vivid colors and textured brush work. In the past, I have worked in oils and artworks like this greatly inspire me.
And "this", of course, reminded me of the Sunday's gospel reading where Jesus instructs Simon (not yet Peter) and his fellow fishermen to “lower their nets for a catch”. Obediently, although not without question, this is what they did and their catch was so overwhelming, that it threatened to capsize their small fishing boat.
Art with a Future
The net of traditional religious art is lean at this museum, however, the ones that this museum does display, and other paintings (like Custati’s), represent a bountiful catch.
These works have passed the test of time and people, young and old,
are still attracted by/to them.
Let’s hope, that in the future, this museum might be abundantly filled with more inspiration of this kind.
Notes, Art, Photography CMJENTZ ©2013-2018
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“It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures.” (St. André Bessette)