06 January 2009

A Look at the Louvre... via Atlanta

For my first New Thing of the year, I decided to look back (way back) instead of forward... but not for some grand reason. The first weekend of each month, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art offers free admission for Fulton County residents and Bank of America credit card holders. A free look at precious masterpieces? Sure!

Of the many new exhibits, I was mainly interested in Louvre Atlanta: The Louvre and the Masterpiece, as well as Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Forster 1 in the Medieval and Renaissance Treasures exhibit. (Check out the link if you'd like to flip through the pages and see translations.) In the Louvre exhibit, my favorite pieces were...

Barye's Lion Crushing a Serpent: This bronze sculpture is the first thing you see in the Louvre exhibit (if you start at lobby level), and I can see why. It is both beautiful and terrifying with its exquisite, life-sized detail, and it was created using one bronze pour into a single mold, which is uncommon for such large works.

Vermeer’s L’Astronome: This painting, as with most great art, is something you absolutely need to see in person to fully appreciate. Vermeer’s masterful use of light gets a bit lost in photography. In person, it’s breathtaking.

I also loved Hutinot’s Time Revealing Truth and Love of the Arts (a marble relief), but I can’t find any images of it online. Très bizarre. :)

Of the museum’s permanent collections, my two favorite pieces are Chauncey Ives’s Undine Rising from the Waters (replica) and Anselm Kiefer’s Dragon. Undine, a marble sculpture, is actually translucent in places, as you can see in the photo. The replica alone is one of the most fluid sculptures I’ve ever seen, so I would dearly love to see the real deal. Dragon is an extremely detailed, extremely huge (~15 feet) painting of a dark sea and sky. The waves are full of texture, and the stars... There appear to be thousands! But, for me, this painting suggests so much more than what is apparent, and I think that’s a hallmark of great art: To suggest, rather than merely to be. To stir emotions and senses, rather than merely the sense of sight. To remind us of things we mustn’t forget. To show us what we might become.

Yep, I’d say this particular One New Thing experience was a great way to start the year. I hope to keep doing at least one new thing each week and sharing it via blog. Stay tuned...

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