Category: Art History and Movements

Top 10 Romantic Art Museums

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Top 10 Romantic Art Museums

Take her away this summer and make your trip special with a visit to one of these romantic art museums. Sure, a great beach or club is fun, but don’t forget to satisfy her mind and heart with an outing that lets you stroll and talk about what you see. So here are the top 10 romantic art museums to visit with that special woman in your life, along with a few tips on the best spots to find a little privacy amid the crowds.

You don’t have to love art or know anything about art to appreciate what these romantic art museums offer. We sometimes forget that a romantic moment can occur during daylight hours and must remind ourselves that we can connect in ways other than over drinks or expensive dinners. These museums also offer the chance to find out who she is without much discussion. For once you can simply enjoy your surroundings and the moments you create together.

1. Musee Rodin, Paris, France

Nestled among the hustle and bustle of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, one finds the sculpture gardens and Rodin Museum. Walk the paths and marvel at his work. Enjoy a glass of wine and walk the halls of this understated museum before heading back into the city of light, but before you do hike the length of the gardens beyond the fountain for some of the most secluded alcoves of any garden in Paris. The trek to these far corners will be worth every stolen moment.

2. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois

Don’t get blinded by the size and volume of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. This romantic art museum and its intriguing exhibitions are on a quiet street close to shopping and dining. This museum is on the small side and privacy is at a minimum, but rest assured it can be found amid the special exhibit galleries in the late afternoon when the tourists and locals alike have moved on.

3. Musee du Louvre, Paris, France

You’ll never get through the entire place in one day. And you won’t get to see a small fraction of the collection if you stand in the security line with the crowds so you might as well impress her with this little-known fact: There is a back passageway into the main entrance below ground. Just beyond the glass pyramid designed by architect I.M. Pei, and along the edge of the Tuileries gardens is a staircase that drops down from the sidewalk and into the shopping arcade. From here you can pass through a small security checkpoint and make your way beneath the pyramid and into the museum. While the crowds might seem large at times, there are plenty of galleries away from the Mona Lisa to steal a kiss or two. Best of all is the fact that you are in Paris, a place where stealing intimate moments seems to be encouraged.

4. Uffizi Museum, Florence, Italy

The halls are wide, the stairs are long, and the artwork amid the Medici family furnishings is undeniably beautiful. The lack of adequate central air has caused many to faint, which author Stendhal has attributed to the magnificent sight of the artwork. Today, you can use the warmer temperatures and the poorly lit passageways at the furthest ends of the gallery’s upper floors where few tourists venture to your advantage as you take a few moments to wipe the perspiration from her brow and remind her why you brought her here.

5. Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana

A renovated gem of glass and steel featuring Puck’s Restaurant by Wolfgang Puck with an immaculate garden for quiet walks. Enjoy the eclectic mix of modern, impressionistic and newly commissioned pieces before an early dinner with cocktails. Then find your way through the lily gardens adjacent to the main building as the sun sets over the 19th-century canal below to a secluded spot among the sycamore trees. If you still have any energy you can treat her to a classic movie under the stars on the back terrace of the main building where the museum erects a massive outdoor screen in the summer and allows you to picnic as you watch.

6. Haus Der Kunst, Munich, Germany

This small but eclectic museum sits on the outskirts of the English Garden and a few blocks away from the best shopping in Germany. After taking in the museum’s collection, you’ll need a break and a breath of fresh air. Head around the back of this romantic art museum and find the small pond with ducks and geese floating around a small island with a Tea House in the middle. Surrounding the pond are several benches rarely used and these will provide the respite you both want.

7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The collections and the sculpture gallery at this romantic art museum are the finest in the world. And let’s not forget that The Metropolitain Museum of Art is in Central Park, so a romantic walk is a must after you’ve had some quiet time in the Egyptian rooms on the lower levels. Most visitors stay within the upper floors, and an early Saturday morning visit will provide more privacy than you could ever imagine.

8. Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France

Across the Louvre and along the Seine, this converted rail station is a work of art itself with incredible rooftop views of Paris. The Louvre might have the best of the old world, but the Musee d‘Orsay has a phenomenal collection of oil paintings from the last 200 years. The main floors are congested with security lines, ticket offices and gift shops, so take her upstairs to the cafe and spend a few moments on the outdoor terrace admiring the view. Then slip back inside to admire the smaller galleries amid steel staircases, catwalks and dim dramatic lighting to make a few personal memories of your own at this romantic art museum.

9. Picasso Museum, Paris, France

Nestled in a small neighborhood near the Bastille, the old rambling house converted into a museum boasts a fine courtyard cafe where you can enjoy lunch with wine at a modest price. The lower basement galleries are the quietest, while the upstairs galleries, which house more of Picasso’s better known works, are the loudest. Begin at the top and work your way down for privacy and quiet among the sculptures along the stone staircase.

10. Guggenheim Museum, Venice, Italy

Located on the Grand Canal, the Guggenheim Museum can be reached by foot or by gondola. Peruse the personal collection of Peggy Guggenheim who lived in the house and decorated it with the works of up-and-coming artists. Late afternoon is the best time to visit because the end of the day brings with it the extraordinary light shimmering on the Grand Canal. Here you will find the Nasher sculpture garden and Grand Terrace exhibit areas, which provide a stunning backdrop for the artwork as well as a few stolen moments of privacy for couples to discover one another, helping to make this one of our top 10 romantic art museums.

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What Is Contemporary Art?

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What Is Contemporary Art?

Contemporary just means “art that has been and continues to be created during our lifetimes”. In other words, contemporary to us.

Now, of course, if you are 96-years old and reading this (By the way, congratulations, if this describes you. Way to keep up with the times!), you can expect a certain amount of overlapping between “Contemporary” and “Modern” art in your lifetime. A good rule of thumb is:

• Modern Art: Art from the Impressionists (say, around 1880) up until the 1960’s or 70’s.

• Contemporary Art: Art from the 1960’s or 70’s up until this very minute.

Here at About Art History, 1970 is the cut-off point for two reasons. First, because it was around 1970 that the terms “Postmodern” and “Postmodernism” popped up – meaning, we must assume, that the Art World had had its fill of Modern Art starting right then.

Secondly, 1970 seems to be the last bastion of easily classified artistic movements. If you look at the outline of Modern Art, and compare it to the outline of Contemporary Art, you’ll quickly notice that there are far more entries on the former page. This, in spite of the fact that Contemporary Art enjoys far more working artists making far more art. (It may be that Contemporary artists are mostly working in “movements” that cannot be classified, due to there being around ten artists in any given “movement”, none of which have shot off an email saying that there’s a new “movement” and “could you please tell others?”)

On a more serious note, while it may be hard to classify emergent movements, Contemporary art – collectively – is much more socially conscious than any previous era has been. A whole lot of art from the last 30 years has been connected with one issue or another: feminism, multiculturalism, globalization, bio-engineering and AIDS awareness all come readily to mind as subject matter.

So, there you have it. Contemporary art runs from (roughly) 1970 until now. We won’t have to worry about shifting an arbitrary point on the art timeline for another decade, at least. Go, be of good cheer, and fear not the term “Contemporary Art”.

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Abstract Art: An Universal Language

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Abstract Art: An Universal Language

Those who have followed the course of abstract art over the past 70 or 80 years will have been struck by its persistence. When the Cercle et Carré exhibition was held in April 1930, the Parisian press informed us that such painting was “the mere ghost of an experiment which we thought had died long ago,” and that “all this has nothing new to offer.” In 1955 the same outbursts of weariness and boredom, if not anger, can be heard at any exhibition of abstract art: “about time the joke was buried… same old bag of tricks… poor old public.”

Maybe. But things become entirely different if we are patient enough to take a closer look. Then we see that abstract art has never stopped adding to its range and means of expression, never faltered in its search for greater depth. If the ABC of this language was firmly established in the ‘heroic’ phase by Kandinsky, Mondrian, Delaunay and Malevitch, this does not mean that everything has been said in the same language.

The critics’ ignorance and the public’s sophisticated grumbling were unable to prevent it from branching out into the remotest corners of the western world, where it has won over intelligent collectors and gained a hold, even a considerable hold, in civic museums and galleries. Kandinsky and Mondrian, both of whom lived to a good age, thanks to their long working life were able to show their successors what a range of values can be drawn out of such simple elements; Kandinsky stressing inventiveness and Mondrian the importance of increasing depth.

The other movements or schools which sprang up in such great numbers all over the world in the past hundred years all enjoyed a much shorter span of life. At the moment of writing (1955), abstract painting has flourished for forty years and shows no signs of slackening vitality.

Those critics who began by encouraging it but who now pull a long face at some geometrical composition by Vasarely or some colour-composition by Riopelle, remind me of Zola when, throwing over his former Impressionist friends in 1896, he voiced his disillusionment in a notorious article in the Figaro which does not stand to his credit: “Not a single artist in this group,” wrote the author of L’Œuvre, “has succeeded in translating into paint, with the slightest power of finality, the new formula which is to be observed in snippets on their various canvases… They are all forerunners. The genius is yet to be born… They are all unequal to the task they have set themselves, they can’t talk, they stutter.” At the Jeu de Paume Museum (for example) we can now go and see exactly what stuttering meant. No oracle is needed to predict that fifty years hence some other Jeu de Paume will be showing an astonished public those masterpieces of abstract art that are being painted at the present time and which we are treating with contempt.

Written by: Ilyas Hizli

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Did Leonardo da Vinci copy his famous ‘Vitruvian Man’?

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Did Leonardo da Vinci copy his famous ‘Vitruvian Man’?

Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of a male figure perfectly inscribed in a circle and square, known as the “Vitruvian Man,” illustrates what he believed to be a divine connection between the human form and the universe. Beloved for its beauty and symbolic power, it is one of the most famous images in the world. However, new research suggests that the work, which dates to 1490, may be a copy of an earlier drawing by Leonardo’s friend.

Another illustration of a divinely proportioned man — the subject is Christ-like, but the setting is strikingly similar to Leonardo’s — has been discovered in a forgotten manuscript in Ferrara, Italy. Both drawings are depictions of a passage written 1,500 years earlier by Vitruvius, an ancient Roman architect, in which he describes a man’s body fitting perfectly inside a circle (the divine symbol) and inside a square (the earthly symbol). It was a geometric interpretation of the ancient belief that man is a “microcosm”: a miniature embodiment of the whole universe. Leonardo and other scholars revived this vainglorious notion during the Italian Renaissance.

After decades of study, Claudio Sgarbi, an Italian architectural historian who discovered the lesser known illustration of the Vitruvian man in 1986, now believes it to be the work of Giacomo Andrea de Ferrara, a Renaissance architect, expert on Vitruvius, and close friend of Leonardo’s. What’s more, Sgarbi believes Giacomo Andrea probably drew his Vitruvian man first, though the two men are likely to have discussed their mutual efforts. Sgarbi will lay out his arguments in a volume of academic papers to be published this winter, Smithsonian Magazine reports.

The key arguments are as follows: In Leonardo’s writings, he mentions “Giacomo Andrea’s Vitruvius” — seemingly a direct reference to the illustrated Ferrara manuscript. Secondly, Leonardo had dinner with Giacomo Andrea in July 1490, the year in which both men are thought to have drawn their Vitruvian men. Experts believe Leonardo would have probed Giacomo Andrea’s knowledge of Vitruvius when they met. And though both drawings interpret Vitruvius’ words similarly, Leonardo’s is perfectly executed, while Giacomo Andrea’s is full of false starts and revisions, none of which would have been necessary if he had simply copied Leonardo’s depiction.

Other scholars find the arguments convincing. “I find Sgarbi’s argument exciting and very seductive, to say the least,” said Indra McEwen, an architectural historian at Concordia University who has written extensively about the works of Vitruvius. “But [I] would opt for the view that Giacomo Andrea and Leonardo worked in tandem, rather than Leonardo basing his drawing on Andrea’s.”

Rather than competitors, the two Renaissance men were colleagues working together to bring a beautiful, ancient idea back to life. “Whose was the ‘original’ drawing is a non-question as far as I’m concerned. Much as it is a preoccupation of our own time, I don’t think it would have been an issue in Leonardo’s day,” McEwen told Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience.

Patrice Le Floch-Prigent, an anatomist at the University of Versailles in France who has analyzed the anatomical correctness of Leonardo’s famous work, noted that, for both drawings, “the source is Vitruvius.”

Furthermore, regardless of their chronology, Leonardo’s work is an improvement on Giacomo Andrea’s, McEwen said: “Leonardo is by far the superior draftsman, with a far superior understanding of anatomy.”

Leonardo’s is also more faithful to the text, she explained. “Nowhere does Vitruvius say that the man is positioned inside the circle and the square at the same time. A man lying flat on his back, can be circumscribed by a circle if his hands and feet are outstretched,” writes Vitruvius. “Similarly, his height is equal to his arm span, ‘just as in areas that have been squared with a set square.'” Giacomo Andrea’s figure has only one set of arms and legs, which are simultaneously circumscribed by a circle and outlined by a square, while “Leonardo deals with [the two propositions] by having the position of his man’s arms and legs change. That, I would have to admit, makes his drawing a closer approximation to the textual description than Giacomo Andrea’s,” McEwen wrote.

One thing is certain. The better Vitruvian man gained international fame, while the simpler, but possibly more original, one was left to languish in a library for five centuries. That may have to do with the very different fates met by Leonardo and Giacomo Andrea. When the French invaded Milan in 1499, the former fled to safety and went on to achieve eternal renown. The latter stayed in Milan and was hanged, drawn and quartered by the French, and largely forgotten by history — until now.

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Ruth Palmer: Influenced by Kandinsky and Manet

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Ruth Palmer: Influenced by Kandinsky and Manet

Spontaneity. With no pretense, or explanation, Ruth Palmer paints contemporary abstracts by feeling her way through the process and connecting to the soul of the subject, without concern for distinctions between representation and abstraction.

Born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, Palmer now resides in Calgary, Canada. While her primary influence is spiritual, based in Christianity; her art is also influenced by the richness of Manet’s impressionist works and what she deems the “colorful play and balance” of Kandinsky’s. Like Kandinsky, for whom spiritual influences counted heavily, there’s a certain intentional separation with Palmer’s art that allows viewers to participate in creating the artwork. The disunion is repaired when the painted form connects to the viewer’s soul.

Ruth’s works are extremely popular in print, particularly in the design market and hospitality industry. Her paintings and digital renderings can be enjoyed in many hotels and corporate offices worldwide. Recently Ruth was asked to create a collection for installation on one of Pullmantur’s new cruise ships and one of her best-selling pieces “Luscious Red” can be found in the new release of “The Spirituality Of Sex” by Wood Lake Publishing – a Canadian Christian Publisher.

Original paintings are currently in private collections throughout Canada, the United States, Australia, England and Scandinavia.

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Abstract Art: Veering away from traditional concepts

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Abstract Art: Veering away from traditional concepts

Modern Art – art created from the 19th century. mid-20th cent. by artists who veered away from traditional concepts and techniques of painting, sculpture and other fine arts that has been practiced since the Renaissance (see Renaissance art and architecture). Almost all phases of modern art was initially received by the public ridicule, but as the shock wore off, the various movements settled into history, influencing and inspiring new generations of artists.

Related Links: Wassily Kandinsky Art Site
All About Abstract Art

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Art Deco: A style of design popular during the 1920s

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Art Deco: A style of design popular during the 1920s

Art Deco, a term that designates a style of design popular during the 1920s and ’30s. Invented in the 1960s, the name derives from the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, where the style reached its apogee. Art Deco is characterized by long thin shapes, curved surfaces and geometric patterns. Practitioners of the style attempted to describe the sleekness expressive they thought the age of the machine.

The style influenced all aspects of art and architecture, and decorative arts, graphic arts and industrial. Work performed in the range of Art Deco skyscrapers and ocean liners to toasters and jewelry. Since the 1970s the style has been a resurgence in popularity. Noted U.S. monuments to the style of New York are the Rockefeller Center and Chrysler Building, parts of Miami Beach, Fla., and Fair Park in Dallas, Texas.

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The Big Three Names of the High Renaissance

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Raphael Angel

They were: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio). These are the very first artists that come to mind when ever the term “Renaissance” is uttered. Towering geniuses of staggering talent, these three.

But, before we go any further, keep three things in mind. First, while the Big Three deserve every bit of lasting fame they enjoy, they were not the only artistic geniuses of the Renaissance. There were many dozens, if not hundreds, of “Renaissance” artists.

Secondly, during this period, the “Renaissance” was happening all over Europe. Venice, in particular, was busy with its own artistic geniuses.

Finally, the “Renaissance”, was a long, drawn-out process. It happened over centuries, not twenty-five to forty years. If little else from this series of articles sticks, please remember this point.

That said (and it had to be said), let’s return to the Big Three. We’re going to play around a bit with that infamous essay question, the one which begins: “Compare and contrast…”

Related Links:

• The Big Three Names of the High Renaissance
• Leonardo Da Vinci
• Michelangelo Buonarratti
• Raphael
• The Majesty of Sistine Chapel
• The High Renaissance in Italy
• Why is it Called High Renaissance?

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Renaissance Painters: Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)

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Renaissance Painters: Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)

• Trained in Florence.

• Is best known as a painter, but did absolutely everything else as well.

• Studied human anatomy, via dissection (completely illegal, unless one was a physician), and used the knowledge of such to glorify man.

• Believed only in that which he could observe.

• Had a Duke (of Milan) as his first patron.

• Painted beautiful women, most of whom seemed to be enjoying delicious secrets.

• Disliked Michelangelo, but was somewhat of a mentor (albeit unseen) to Raphael.

• Worked in Rome from 1513 to 1516.

• Was commissioned by Pope Leo X.

• As a dinner guest, would monopolize all conversation, enjoy the soup, linger long enough that all would beg him to stay and leave to a loud chorus of “Come back soon!”, whilst misappropriating a wine glass and forgetting his hat.

Related Links:

• The Big Three Names of the High Renaissance
• Leonardo Da Vinci
• Michelangelo Buonarratti
• Raphael
• The Majesty of Sistine Chapel
• The High Renaissance in Italy
• Why is it Called High Renaissance?

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Renaissance Painters: Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)

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David, Detail of the Head by Michelangelo Buonarroti

• Trained in Florence.

• Is best known as a painter and sculptor, but worked in architecture and wrote poetry as well.

• Studied human anatomy, via dissection (completely illegal, unless one was a physician), and used the knowledge of such to glorify God.

• Believed deeply and devoutly in God.

• Had a Medici (Lorenzo) as his first patron.

• Painted women who looked a lot like men with breasts slapped on.

• Intensely disliked Leonardo, but was somewhat of a reluctant mentor to Raphael.

• Worked in Rome 1496-1501, 1505, 1508-1516 and from 1534 until his death in 1564.

• Was commissioned by Popes Julius II, Leo X, Clement VII, Paul III Farnese, Clement VIII and Pius III.

• As a dinner guest, would participate in conversation just enough to avoid outright rudeness, slurp the soup (probably complaining about its lack of salt to others, after the fact) and leave early, after eating two desserts and squirrelling a third into his napkin-lined pocket.

Related Links:

• The Big Three Names of the High Renaissance
• Leonardo Da Vinci
• Michelangelo Buonarratti
• Raphael
• The Majesty of Sistine Chapel
• The High Renaissance in Italy
• Why is it Called High Renaissance?

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