Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Episode 86: Thanksgiving: Norman Rockwell

Happy Thanksgiving! We hope that everyone enjoys their day of turkey, football, and family. Today we have a special holiday episode in honor of Thanksgiving, and what better artist to talk about than Norman Rockwell.

In the United States, Thanksgiving takes place on the 4th Thursday in November and has been a tradition since 1863, when during the civil war President Abraham Lincoln declared that a day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens" be held.

The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621.

Today, Thanksgiving is about being together with family and friends, eating turkey and pumpkin pie and watching football!

Freedom from Want, 1941-43

Ye Glutton, 1923
This Rockwell illustration was on the cover of Life Magazine, Nov 22, 1923. It is located at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA.

Thanksgiving: Girl Praying, 19443
This painting shows us a girl in worn torn Europe during World War II, giving thanks for a portion of an American soldiers field rations.

Thanksgiving Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes, 1945
This was painted during WWII. A mother and her son sit next to each other peeling potatoes, it looks like they are chatting while they work and are happy to be spending time together.
We hope you enjoyed this episode and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Next week Chloe and Zach will be introducing you to Dale Chihuly.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Episode 85: Spanish Baroque

Hola listeners! Today we bring you the last of our Baroque installments:

Si, you guessed it, el Barroco español!

This art period is characterized by its Caravaggio-esque lighting (mucho dark), and heavy religious symbolism often involving Catholic saints and martyrs.

José de Ribera, The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, c1639. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Feeling inspired yet? Take note of the upturned head, and the cross-like image of Bartholomew's body. Chock full of religious imagery!!

Ribera, Boy with Club Foot, 1642-43

Cute cute cute! The boy is the central focus of this image, so much so that he takes up almost the entire composition - the effects of humanism are in full swing ladies and gentlemen.

Francisco de Zurbarán,Saint Francis in Meditation, c1639, National Gallery

Take a moment to appreciate the clothing in this image, which alludes to the poverty that Saint Francis of Assisi put himself through in order to distance himself from worldly possessions and focus more on God and the salvation of others. He was a pretty rad dude.

Zubaran, Still Life with Lemons, Oranges, and Roses, 1635

Now, don't be fooled into thinking that this is merely your average, Joe-schmoe still-life. Oh no, this is again bursting with religious symbolism. The fruit is associated with Easter, the rose with the Virgin Mary, and the cup of water with baptism.

No Spanish Baroque discussion would be complete without a mention of that illustrious painting powerhouse, Velazquez!

Diego Velazquez, Las Meninas, 1656, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Isn't that dog adorable! The princess herself is pretty darn adorable as well, but I think most awesome of all is how much Velazquez felt the need to insert himself directly into his art, and this piece. Way to put yourself on a high pedastal man.

Velazquez, Water Carrier of Seville, 1619
This is quite an interesting piece. Notice the three stages of age - boy, older man, and really old man. There are also three different parallel water vessels. This can probably linked with the same riddle that the Sphinx asked of Oedipus - "What walks on 4 legs, then two, then three?" Hopefully this man didn't follow Oedipus' lead, but it makes for a good painting.

Finally some architecture, my favorite!

Cathedral of Saintiago de Compostela

Now there is some architecture! If French and Italian Baroque had a baby, it would look like this. Reknowned for its fanciful carving, this takes artistry to a whole new level. If only all of our buildings could look so beautiful!

Muchas gracias for listening and checking out our installment on the Spanish Baroque! Stay tuned next week for our Thanksgiving special on Norman Rockwell with Julia and Chloe.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Episode 84: 10 Architecturally Beautiful Museums

Hello blog listeners! Today we offer you our favorite architecturally beautiful museums. Obviously there are so many beautiful museums in the world that we did not choose to be part of this episode and we are not discounting them by any means, but for now here are 10 museums that we believe should be recognized for their architectural achievements, innovation and beauty.

NUMBER 1: Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum
Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum, Oscar Niemeyer assisted by Bruno Contarini


Located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and built in 1996 this museum reminds us of a UFO in shape and is surrounded by an enormous reflecting pool. It is fitting that this should be a contemporary art museum, it is very contemporary in style.

NUMBER 2: Milwaukee Museum of Art
Milwaukee Museum of Art, Eero Saarinen, David Kahler, and Santiago Calatrava

The War Memorial center designed by Eero Saarinen was completed in 1957 and was created to house a veterans memorial collection. It is shaped like a floating cross and Saarinen received a great amount of praise for his innovative design. The Quadrraci Pavillion was completed in 2011 and looks much like the sails of a ship.

NUMBER 3: Guggenheim Bilboa Spain
Guggenheim Bilboa, Spain. Frank Gehry

This Guggenheim Museum is located in Bilboa, Spain and is one of several belonging to the Soloman R. Guggenheim Foundation. The Guggenheim Bilboa was built to help the city regain its civil pride. After looking at the stucture for awhile it begins to take on shapes like a fish, a ship and a cruise liner.

NUMBER 4: Hanoi Museum

Hanoi Museum, Meinhard von Gerkan, Nikolaus Goetze, Klaus Lenz
Located in Vietnam, this stylistically modern museum has very simplistic elements which make it very aesthetically pleasing. The museum looks like an upside down pyramid which makes it very functional, as the largest galleries are on the top floor and can be lite very easily using natural light. Natural lighting is used throughout the structure and gives it a very authentic effect.

NUMBER 5: The Louvre Museum
Louvre Museum, Paris France
Interior of pyramid entrance

Unfortunatly know one really knows who designed the original Louvre palace, but it is a wonderus site to behold. In the heart of Paris, France the Louvre is perhaps the most iconic museum in the world and is home to countless art treasures. It was originally the seat of the French monarcy until 1682 when Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles. In 1789 it became the Louvre Museum.

NUMBER 6: Weisman Art Museum
Weisman Art Museum, Frank Gehry
Can you tell we like Frank Gehry? Located in Minneapolis, Minnesota this structure has every element of design that Gehry is known for. The building presents to faces, depending on which side it is viewed from.

NUMBER 7: The Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum, Frank Gehry designed the "Crystal"

The modern addition added to the original structure was added in 2012 and designed by, yet again, Frank Gehry! It is known as "The Crystal" for very good reasons.

NUMBER 8: Dali Museum

The Dali Museum, Yann Weymouth
This museum combines all things rational and fantastical just as Dali's artwork did. Located in St. Petersburg, Florida this structure consists of a simple rectangle with free-form geodesic known as "the enigma" made of 1062 triangular pieces of glass.

NUMBER 9: National Museum of the American Indian
National Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC.

Another exterior view
Located in the National Mall in Washington, DC this structure embodies an Native American spirit. The structure was built with curvilinear lines meant to mimic nature. The entrance faces East, as is part of Native American culture and the dome opens to the sky, also an aspect of traditional Native American homes.

NUMBER 10: The Guggenheim New York City
Guggenheim, Frank Lloyd Wright
The Guggenheim museum is located in New York City and is an example of Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural genius. Sadly Wright passed away before its completion in 1959.

We hope you enjoyed this podcast! Please share with us your favorite museums and join us next Wednesday for the final episode in our mini series on Baroque art! Julia and Lauren will be talking about Spanish Baroque.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Episode 83: Versailles

A Brief History of the Chateau de Versailles

Started as a hunting lodge by Louis XIII in 1624, it was expanded to one of the largest palaces in the world at the time by Louis XIV. Then the French court was moved from Paris to Versailles in 1682. Prominent French architects, Le Vau, Le Nôtre, and Le Brun all worked on the palace which was built in four building campaigns under Louis XIV:

1.       1664-1668 – Expanded to accommodate a party of 600 guests in 1664
2.       1669-1672 – Le Vau enclosed the original hunting lodge on the North, West and South
3.       1678-1684 –Jules Hardouin-Mansart designed the North and South wings, the 
          Orangery and the famous Hall of Mirrors. Le Brun helped design much of the interior. 
          He also worked on the gardens with Le Notre
4.       1699-1710 – The royal chapel designed by Hardouin-Mansart and finished by Robert           de Cotte.

Louis XV worked on expanding the Chateau as well but did not do nearly as much as Louis XIV. One of the most famous additions during his time was the Petite Trianon, later to be known as Marie Antoinette’s estate.

Petite Trianon

During the French Revolution in the late 1700’s the royal court was forced back to Les Tuileries palace in Paris. In the years following, much of the furnishings and artworks were sold or auctioned off (though the ‘important’ ones were not). The palace suffered during this time.

During the time of Napoleon the palaces was used once again (though not by Napoleon himself).

Around 1833, Louis-Philippe proposed that a grand museum be housed in the Palace of Versailles

Today the museum is still there and other French government business is still conducted there.  

Plan of the gardens of Versailles

Prominent Rooms:

King's Chambers
Queen's Bedroom

The Queen's Hamlet - built specifically for Marie Antoinette

Hall of Mirrors
17 mirror clad arches 357 mirrors in total. The ceiling is decorated with the triumphs of Louis XIV.


Fun Facts:
All the materials to build and decorate the palace were made in France.
2,300 Rooms
67,000 square meters! 

Next week Julia and Jo talk about Architecturally Beautiful Museums. See ya next week!