“Usually, you go to a museum and you look at the objects and they’re all pretty and they’re all on exhibit and we just go, ‘ta-da!’” [visitor services specialist Connie] Eggers said. “But nobody sees what happens before that. Stuff like this goes on in every museum, but the visitors don’t get to see it.”
“Digital Benin currently identifies 131 institutions across 20 countries with Benin cultural heritage in their collections. Entries include provenance details provided by participating institutions, high-resolution images, and the title of the work in the English and Edo languages. Visitors to the website can also access a collection of oral histories narrated by Benin artists and elders that expand on the significance of the artworks to local art and culture.”
“I believe great art helps us see the world around us a little differently and can often provide a sense of purpose and fresh perspectives.”
– Paul G. Allen
Right now SAM has a Botticelli hanging in its galleries! The Madonna of the Magnificat by Sandro Botticelli is part of a series of paintings on loan from the Paul G Allen Family Collection that is rotating. Botticelli’s Madonna expands on our current exhibition Flesh and Blood: Italian Masterworks from the Capodimonte Museum.
The first painting in the series was Large Interior W11 (after Watteau) by Lucien Freud. This intimate, insightful group portrait exemplifies the 20th-century British painter’s distinctive style—one that invites us to “see the world around us a little differently.” The future featured work is White Rose with Larkspur No. 1 by Georgia O’Keeffe, which will be on view in 2020 in time for Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstract Variations to open at SAM on March 5.
Image: The Madonna of the Magnificat, ca. 1483–87, Sandro Botticelli, Italian, 1444/45–1510, tempera on wood panel, 24 3/4 in., Allen Family Collection.
a dump: Crosscut’s Brangien
Davis visits the Recology CleanScapes recycling facility and meets its two
“Just as WALL-E
surfs the garbage heaps for treasures to take home — a bobblehead dog toy, a
golden trophy, a hinged ring box — artists in residence roam the space with an
eye out for intriguing items — a toy gun, a set of new knives, the detritus
from an entire bachelorette party.”
“The cels in the
exhibit come from Heeter’s personal collection of more than 900 Simpsons
animations, which he started collecting in the early ’90s. ‘I had a full head
of hair when I started collecting and now it’s all gone,’ he says.”
“…the spaces in
media where national mythologies are articulated, debated and affirmed are
still largely segregated. The conversation about our collective imagination has
the same blind spots as our political discourse.”
“It’s about cross-generational conversations about African masculinity and how that is compromised by the West . . . it’s about dudes talking in shops and it’s about men trying to find a safe space to be vulnerable.”
The idea that a woman got there first, and with such style, is beyond thrilling. Yes, I know art is not a competition; every artist’s ‘there’ is a different place. Abstraction is a pre-existing condition, found in all cultures. But still: af Klint’s ‘there’ seems so radical, so unlike anything else going on at the time. Her paintings definitively explode the notion of modernist abstraction as a male project.”
One of Paul Allen’s favorite periods is obviously French Impressionism, and he has some exquisite examples. In Seeing Nature there are five paintings by Claude Monet. Monet had such a long life that he underwent a long evolution based on seeing and communicating his subjective experience to the viewer.
Monet was constantly trying to forget what he knew and what his mind told him—such as that if a stone building is brown it should be depicted as brown. He wanted to forget logic and just paint what he saw. In Waterloo Bridge, Overcast Weather, London was beset by terrible pollution and it created a very foggy atmosphere. For Monet, those atmospheric effects made for a series of beautiful paintings where you can subtly perceive the fact that there’s a bridge before you with smoke stacks beyond. The brushstrokes depicting sunlight coming through the arches of the bridge have more substance than the bridge itself. He was interested in the changing color effects of different times and days so he painted the Waterloo Bridge at different times of day.
Landscape on île Saint-Martin
Earlier in his career, Monet didn’t have the luxury of going far afield to paint. It took him years to be able to make a living. Landscape on île Saint-Martin and The Fisherman’s House, Overcast Weather are from the early 1880s when he was still years away from becoming successful. He painted where he was living with his family. During one summer, Monet was on a little island just north of Paris and painted it in all of its summertime glory with this beautiful field of poppies. There is a little fisherman’s cabin that used to be a watchtower right on the Normandy coast, an area of his childhood that he would return to many times over the years. These paintings reward looking close up, but they also reward standing back and taking in the whole—he’s thinking about both perspectives at the same time.
The Fisherman’s House, Overcast Weather
Claude Monet painted Venice fairly late in his career. It’s important to mention The Palazzo da Mula in conjunction with View in Venice–The Grand Canal by Edouard Manet. Manet was such an inspiration for Monet. Though he never called himself an Impressionist, Manet was absolutely fundamental to the movement. It’s interesting that both artists went to Venice—Manet painting in 1874 and Monet in 1908. By this time there is a historical body of work that artists have created about Venice. There are conventions about what Venetian paintings look like and both of these artists are interested in breaking those conventions.
The Palazzo da Mula
Manet’s painting is particularly radical. He is right on the water. It’s as though he’s painting in a boat. All of the grand views, the many beautiful buildings that intersect with the sky and water, are not his main subject. The dome, which was originally much bigger—there’s a pentiment that shows through a little bit now—he suppresses it. He doesn’t want that to be the main event. He’s instead much more interested in the mooring poles that are part of the navigational system of all the boat traffic in Venice.
View in Venice–The Grand Canal
When you see just the prow of the gondola come into the picture, it reminds you that photography has become part of the visual vocabulary by this time. A view can be cut off like a snapshot and a form can end abruptly. It’s not composed in that traditional way, it almost looks like a found view although he obviously worked at it. To me, this painting is an antidote to the kind of more melancholy mysterious aspect of Venice, which is so much a part of its literary reputation. This is more about a bustling city full of movement. It’s full of vigor and sparkling light in the middle of the day.
– Chiyo Ishikawa, Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture
Note: This text is taken from an audio recording of a staff tour of the exhibition led by SAM curators.
Images: Waterloo Bridge, Overcast Weather, 1904, Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926, oil on canvas, 25 9/16 x 39 1/8 in., Paul G. Allen Family Collection. Landscape on île Saint-Martin, 1881, Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926, oil on canvas, 28 13/16 x 23 5/8 in., Paul G. Allen Family Collection. The Fisherman’s House, Overcast Weather, 1882, Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926, oil on canvas, 22 3/4 x 28 3/4 in., Paul G. Allen Family Collection. The Palazzo da Mula, 1908, Claude Monet, French, 1840-1926, oil on canvas, 26 1/6 x 36 3/4 in., Paul G. Allen Family Collection. View in Venice–The Grand Canal, 1874, Edouard Manet, French, 1832-1883, oil on canvas, 22 9/16 x 18 3/4 in., Paul G. Allen Family Collection.