Michael Jackson and Bubbles

Classical Modern: Understanding Michael Jackson and Bubbles by Jeff Koons

Michael Jackson and Bubbles

Michael Jackson and Bubbles, by Jeff Koons, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/collection/artwork/187

Parthenon figureReclining Dionysus sculpture on the East Pediment of the Parthenon, Athens. Greece.

(A picture I took when I visited Athens in 2011)

The Asian Art Museum (in San Francisco) recently had a joint exhibition with SFMOMA.  The latter is under renovation, and so SFMOMA is “on the go”.  As I work in the Civic Center area, I was able to visit this exhibition a few times at lunch with a number of colleagues there.

The title of this Exhibition was called GORGEOUS! This was on the AAM website:

 “What’s “gorgeous” to you? There’s often a fine line between attraction and repulsion, but this summer at the Asian Art Museum, we’re drawing no lines at all.

Gorgeous presents 72 uniquely stunning artworks drawn from the collections of the Asian Art Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Spanning over 2,200 years and dozens of cultures, these artworks are organized in an attempt to shift the focus from historical and cultural contexts, emphasizing instead the unique ways each work announces itself or solicits a viewer’s attention.”

Among the exhibits were “Michael Jackson and Bubbles” by Jeff Koons, and the “infamous” “Fountain” by Marcel Duchamp.  As I am also a member of SFMOMA, I have seen most of the exhibits at SFMOMA.  But to see them in this context, standing side by side with another ancient art object, was not too often.  I enjoyed this exhibition very much, and all my colleagues that I brought over concluded that they are indeed “Gorgeous”.  The show ended last week.  I like the show and the docent’s guided tour which was very helpful stimulating us to think and to see these art objects in different lights.

Among these exhibits, the sculpture “Michael Jackson and Bubbles” was one of the most favorite among the visitors .  Many of my friends took pictures with the sculpture.  At that time, I just glanced at it and took pictures for them, but never thought of anything more than the gold and white, the pop star and his chimpanzee. I did not bother to find out more about this piece, and just regarded it as one of those expensive arts because of the famous pop star and creative artist.  Well, I was quite ignorant.

Today, this sculpture was brought to my attention again because a fellow blogger Artdone wrote a post about Jeff Koons and an exhibition at the Whitney Museum. Out of curiosity, I looked up a few things from the internet and suddenly became “enlightened” by an academic article written in 2002 by Susan Cameron.  I was so inspired by her writing that I suddenly realized that I saw “it” before.  It was in Athens!  Modern art in Athens?  I must be crazy.  Please hold on.  Before we talk about this interesting article, let me find out a bit of the history and information about this sculpture.

SFMOMA has an interactive site  and a YouTube video.  Check them out.

 

 

 

Other background information from Wikipedia site is also helpful: “Michael Jackson and Bubbles is a porcelain sculpture (42 x 70.5 x 32.5 in) by the American artist Jeff Koons. It was created in 1988 within the framework of his Banality series.”

“Three of the Michael Jackson and Bubbles sculptures were made. One was sold at Sotheby’s on 15 May 2001, when it was auctioned off to the record price of 5.6 million dollars.[1] The artist’s proof is owned by the Broad Art Foundation of businessman and art collector Eli Broad and is displayed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The two other versions are in Athens and in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.[4]

I saw two of them : in SF MOMA and LACMA.  Where is it in Athens? So I searched around but I couldn’t find it online.  My conclusion is that it is not in any museum or public display.  But I visited Athens before…an instinct told me to look up my pictures.  Here it is !  I am so happy.  It was the Reclining Dionysus sculpture on the East Pediment of the Parthenon, Athens. Greece, a picture I took when I visited Athens in 2011.  How does this photo relate to this sculpture?

Let us now come back to the article written by Susan Cameron, May 2002, SURJ, Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal.  She noticed that curators only wrote useful information about the sculpture, but it does not mention the obvious iconography link to “Dionysus”.  She thought that Koons crossed the traditions of ancient Greek cult statues at the Parthenon, with pop culture.

Well, Who is Dionysus?

“He was the god of fertility and wine, later considered a patron of the arts. He invented wine and spread the art of tending grapes. He has a dual nature. On the one hand bringing joy and divine ecstasy. On the other brutal, unthinking, rage. Thus, reflecting both sides of wines nature.  Dionysus can drive a man mad. No normal fetters can hold him or his followers.”

Was that what Jeff Koons had in  mind when he created this sculpture?  Well, the viewer completes the art (Marcel Duchamp). What do you think?

08A01_cropped

How David Hockney, sees the world, with the use of technology

Originally posted on My Notebook:

David Hockney: A Bigger Exibition

San Franciscans are indeed blessed with many opportunities of appreciating interesting art shows.  Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco  (de Young Museum) ‘s “David Hockney, a Bigger Exhibition” is closing today, January 21, 2014. I finally had the chance to see it yesterday.  David Hockney is one of the best known living artists, renowned for his mastery of drawing, oil painting, printmaking, art design, photo collage, and the use of camera and video-making, with the help of technology.

I had seen a PBS interview of David Hockney back in October, 2013 when the show just began. I would like to share with you this video from PBS to get an overview of this exhibition and then two articles of art review…

View original 1,712 more words

winter

Year End With Christina

This is my friend Rebecca’s recording of her own reading of this poem: winter, My Secret by Christina Rossetti. It is so beautiful that I don’t want to lose it. Thank you, Rebecca. Very well done!

Winter, My Secret, by Christina Rosserri

image

Picasso’s Three Paintings of Women in MOMA

imageThis was my fourth visit to MOMA, on October 7, 2013.  I went with my family to Eastern Europe for two weeks and then ended in New York City where we stayed for a few days.  We shopped, ate (a lot) and visited the museums.  We only managed to visit two museums this time:  MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Both are my favorite museums.

There were two new “discoveries” (to me) when we visited MOMA this time. When we arrived, the line to buy tickets was so long that we nearly wanted to quit. luckily, my sister from Canada is a volunteer in a museum.  I went forward to ask the lady at the entrance.  She said, ” Go ahead to the Information Desk”. There we went.  She showed her identity card, and in a second she got two free tickets!  Not only were we admitted free, we did not have to wait in line for one hour!  What a pleasant surprise!  I have to thank my sister for bringing her card and myself for having the courage to ask. Volunteering is a civic engagement and should be considered by everyone.  I am not aware of this kind of benefits till that day.  How encouraging!

My second “discovery”:  I found out that there is a MOMA app on my iPhone, which includes many functions.  It does not only function as an audio-guide like the other audio-guide that you rent from the museums.  It also has a new feature called MOMA Snaps.  You can snap a picture of the beautiful artwork and create a postcard with the name of MOMA.

This is the first time I took pictures of paintings in a museum.  I told myself:  MOMA asked me to do that, via the app!  What a change of approach!  I never dared raise my camera in a museum although lots of tourists did that.  I did not do very well in manipulating the app.  Please disregard the irregularities.

These are three paintings of Picasso that I really like.  I took the photos and use the app to create a post-card like image.

♦♦♦♦♦

Pablo Picasso, The Three women at the Spring, 1921.

The first painting is called The Three women at the Spring, 1921.You may like to check the MOMA website for more detailed information about this painting.

 http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=79762

 Audio Program excerpt

“February 13 – May 19, 2003“Curator, Kirk Varnedoe: When you look at Picasso’s Three Women at the Spring this represents the embodiment of what one calls the return to order—the idea that after World War I, French society wanted to reestablish its roots with the grand tradition and a kind of solid, reassuring, sculptural vision of the human figure rooted in classicism. It was an art of reassurance, of regrounding after the experimentation of the teens. And yet when you look at this picture, it’s not really a conservative picture—the tubular nature of the arms, the large abstract rhythms of the figures are very much a legacy of his more radical work.

Remember again that this is painted exactly in the same summer that he paints The Three Musicians. Unlike Matisse, Picasso is happy working in two extremes virtually simultaneously, painting a picture of strong Cubist abstraction on the one hand,and seemingly full bodied sculptural realism on the other.”

Pablo Picasso, The Three women at the Spring, 1921.

image

♦♦♦♦♦

Pablo Picasso.  Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon, Paris, June-July, 1907.

The second  painting is called  Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon.  It is a significant piece painted by Picasso during his African Influenced Period, which marked the beginning of Cubism, a very important art movement.  The MOMA mobile website and the wiki site  have some introductory descriptions which are very helpful to have some basic idea about this painting.

http://www.moma.org/m#object_79766

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Demoiselles_d%27Avignon

“Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon, and originally titled The Brothel of Avignon)[2] is a large oil painting created in 1907 by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). The work portrays five nude femaleprostitutes from a brothel on Carrer d’Avinyó (Avinyó Street) in Barcelona. Each figure is depicted in a disconcerting confrontational manner and none are conventionally feminine. The women appear as slightly menacing and rendered with angular and disjointed body shapes. Two are shown with African mask-likefaces and three more with faces in the Iberian style of Picasso’s native Spain, giving them a savage aura. In this adaptation of Primitivism and abandonment ofperspective in favor of a flat, two-dimensional picture plane, Picasso makes a radical departure from traditional European painting. The work is widely considered to be seminal in the early development of both cubism and modern artDemoiselles was revolutionary and controversial, and led to wide anger and disagreement, even amongst his closest associates and friends.”

 I also found the  information on wiki very helpful to understand the influence of El Grecco ( The Opening of the Fifth Seal, (Apocalyptic Vision of Saint John) (1608–1614). ) has been suggested as a source of inspiration for Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon.) and Cezanne (Paul Cézanne‘s Les Grandes Baigneuses 1906, Philadelphia Museum of Art) is generally believed to be a likely inspiration for Les Demoiselles).

 Pablo Picasso.  Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon, Paris, June-July, 1907.

image

♦♦♦♦♦

Pablo Picasso, Girl Before a Mirror, 1932.

The third painting is called “Girl Before a Mirror”, 1932. The model was Picasso’s young mistress Marie-Therese Walker.

http://www.moma.org/m#object_78311

Curator Emeritus, John Elderfield said in the Audio Program, 2008, “Of all the women that Picasso painted, I think the images of Marie-Therese Walter are the most extraordinary.”   I do agree with him.  Whether you like this painting or not, it is very special!

In fact, I found this article very interesting:

http://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2012/12/13/picassos-girl-before-a-mirror-the-science-behind-art-history

” In Picasso: Girl before a Mirror,a new volume in the MoMA One on One series, curator Anne Umland uses an X-ray of the Cubist painting to uncover a new layer for interpretation.              

  X-ray of Girl before a Mirror, Taken in 2011

The painting, one of the most extraordinary works by Pablo Picasso in the Museum’s collection, is an unusual and captivating take on the traditional artistic theme of a woman looking into a mirror. The X-ray reveals that Picasso had originally portrayed the girl’s body in a far more naturalistic way, with curved hips and with her back toward the viewer. Why then did he opt to transform her into the decidedly geometric figure we see in the final product? The following comment, made by the artist himself, may shed some light on his methodology: “There is no abstract art. You must always start with something.” His changes sever any lingering connection with observed reality and bring her into Picasso’s shape-shifting world, her body now made of triangles and circles, allowing simultaneous back and side views.

This quite literal “behind-the-scenes” glance into Picasso’s process is but one of the many ways that the book, like others in the One on One series, offers a unique and comprehensive understanding of one of the most beloved works in MoMA’s collection.”                                                           

Pablo Picasso, Girl Before a Mirror, 1932.

image

♦♦♦♦♦ 

Which of these three paintings I like most?  To me, the subject matter is very important when I appreciate art.  As Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon is about prostitutes, and about cubism, which is not my most favorite period in Picasso’s paintings.

I am more interested in the Three women at the Spring.  If you recall some time ago on this blog, I discussed about another painting of Picasso:

Pablo Picasso
Mother and Child, 1921, The Art Institute of Chicago

http://speakingabosuttravel.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/the-yellow-river-mother-cco,-in-lanzhou-china-and-picassos-mother-and-child-painting-in-the-art-institute-of-chicago/

As to the Girl painting,  The love affair between this young girl and the famous artist, is intriguing, like reading a novel.  However what is most interesting to me about this painting is the analysis:  Did the artist see through this girl?  And what did he see?

HoffmannFDR_8

The Tales of Hoffmann – San Francisco Opera – Jacques Offenbach – from “Barcarolle” to “Can Can”

The Summer Opera season has just started in  SF Opera.   Tonight we watched The Tales of Hoffmann.  The music, the singing, the costume, the set, were all beautiful.  This is the trailer from SF Opera.

The Tales of Hoffmann Trailer from San Francisco Opera

Jacques Offenbach, the Composer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Offenbach

Les contes d’Hoffmann (in English: The Tales of Hoffmann) is an opera by Jacques Offenbach. It was first performed in Paris, at the Opéra-Comique, on February 10, 1881.

The libretto was written by Jules Barbier, based on three short stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann. E.T.A. Hoffmann himself is a character in the opera just as he often is in his stories. The stories upon which the opera is based are Der Sandmann,Rath Krespel, and Das verlorene Spiegelbild.

The opera contains a prologue, three acts and an epilogue. Offenbach did not live to see his opera performed, since he died on October 5, 1880, just over four months before its premiere. Before his death, Offenbach had completed the piano score and orchestrated the prologue and the first act. Since he did not entirely finish the writing, many different versions of this opera emerged, some bearing little resemblance to the original work. The version performed at the opera’s premiere was that by Ernest Guiraud, who completed Offenbach’s scoring and wrote the recitatives.

 Barcarolle —  the most famous aria

The most famous aria from the opera is the “Barcarolle” (Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour), which is performed in Act 2. Curiously, the aria was not written by Offenbach with Les Contes d’Hoffmann in mind. He wrote it as a ghost-song in the opera Les fées du Rhin (which premiered in Vienna on February 8, 1864 as Die Rheinnixen). Offenbach died with Les contes d’Hoffmann unfinished.

Ernest Guiraud completed the scoring and wrote the recitatives for the premiere. He also incorporated this excerpt from one of Offenbach’s earlier, long-forgotten operas into the new opera.

The Barcarolle has been incorporated into many movies including Life Is Beautiful and Titanic.

The most famous aria Barcarolle  ….sound familiar?   Yes, we all played it when we were children!  It is beautiful and has different ways of presentation.   I found this one played with mandolins, guitar, double bass and piano.  Enjoy!

Barcarolle, J.Offenbach, ATTIKA “Musica Poetica” official version

 “Barcarolle” was originally composed for soprano.  Let us hear these beautiful voices:

Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca sing “Barcarolle”

Finally, please don’t forget, that Offenbach has another very popular piece widely used in movies all over the world: Can Can.  This video uses the images from the artist Toulouse-Lautrec  who is famous for his Moulin Rouge paintings.  Enjoy!

French CanCan – Jacques Offenbach (Orphée aux Enfers)

I would like to end this post with a very interesting quote from Thomas May who wrote in the program book for SF Opera.  He said that Hoffman has become Offenbach’s signature work but it has actually made a big shift of his style from light-hearted comedy. He quoted David Littlejohn’s comments: “as if the world’s most popular comedian had a try at playing Hamlet just before he died, and pulled it off successfully.”

6193397911_8790d8cb9a_b

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 words – “Who is coming for dinner tonight?” and “Who is cooking for dinner tonight?”

6193397911_8790d8cb9a_b

Photo Credit Courtesy of Michelle Weber

In response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 words, this is a story about a man and a woman.  The title of the story is:

“Who is coming for dinner tonight?” and

“Who is cooking for dinner tonight?”

Liz and Ed met at the Best Culinary Academy.  Before Liz enrolled in the Academy, she was an A+ high school senior.  Instead of going into a regular college like the University of California system, she wanted to be a chef.  She has been a big fan of the Food Network, and never missed an Iron Chef show.  Her favorite Chef is Bobby Flay.

“Wow, if I become a chef and work in Bobby Flay’s kitchen,….not only will I be able to learn more from this celebrity chef, I may one day become….”  , Liz thought.

Ed, on the other hand,  received a degree in culinary arts and was a member of the fifth graduating class of the French Culinary Institute.  Bobby was on the first graduating class.   Ed  and Bobby were alums but they did not know each other.  Ed later became a stock broker while Bobby went back to the kitchen after having been tired of the stockbroker work.  Three years later, Ed did the same thing as Bobby.  He was tired to be a stockbroker and thought he would be a better chef than a stockbroker.  By that time, Bobby had already become famous and was an iron chef on the Food Network show.  Ed was not as fortunate.  He went on and became a teacher at the California Culinary Academy.  Here, he met Liz.

Love at first sight?  Not at all.  Ed did not like women who aspired to become a chef.   He told himself:  “Never marry a woman chef.  She cannot even cook for her husband.  And I am not going to cook for my wife!”   Well, see what happened.

The Food Network has a new show named “You think you can cook?”.   Although Ed is already a culinary teacher, he did not have experience working in a kitchen on television.  He went to consult with his boss Ron, a senior executive of the Academy.  Ron said, ” Get a good sous-chef to help you.”  Ed did have a sous-chef, but he had to take care of  family business, and did not have time to participate in the TV show”.  After much consideration Ed approached Liz who was one of her best students.

“Are you interested in assisting me in the next cooking show?  It’s Bobby Flay’s show, and we will be able to meet with him.”

“What?  Bobby Flay?  Of course.  I would love to be your show-partner”.

So Ed and Liz worked together and experimented with a number of recipes with different ingredients.  The day of the show came.  They went to the studio.  Here they met Bobby Flay.  Nobody knew that this was a special show.  Bobby Flay was  on a secret mission: to challenge the contestants in different kinds of cooking – BBQ’s, Pies, Pizza, desserts and more.  Ed and Liz and other contestants thought that they were going to the studio to shoot their profile for the show.  What they did not know was that Bobby dropped by for a surprise visit and challenged them to an unexpected “cook-off”.

In the episode where Ed and Liz were the contestants, Bobby dropped by Ed’s house without announcement.  He asked Ed and Liz to prepare a dinner with a special ingredient:  mango!  Ed remembered one of Bobby’s popular recipes

“Grilled Jerk Chicken with Mango Cilantro Salsa”.

“Hey, Liz.  I have an idea.  Since we live in San Francisco, let us design a recipe that reflects the diversity of the population here.

The special ingredient “mango” is now a starring of a new recipe:  it is called “eat mango like a lady or gentleman”, and “fried rice with chicken and mango”  which has an Asian flavor but a Western approach.  How did these two special dishes fare?  Well, Bobby liked them.  Ed and Liz won!  Since then, they made lots of shows together.

Coming soon!

 “Who is coming for dinner tonight?” and a companion show ” Who is cooking tonight?”

What happened then?  Ed and Liz fell in love.   They then got married and were happily ever after.  What is their favorite dish that they eat at home? ” Fried Rice with Mango and Chicken”.  This is not bad, ladies and gentlemen!  Try a bite.  Yum, Yum!  But then who is cooking at home?  Who knows, and who cares?

If you are interested in Ed and Liz’s favorite dish, here’s the recipe : Fried Rice with Mango and Chicken

By the way, their newest show has become the most popular one on Food Network.  Check it out: “Ladies and Gentlemen: Do you know how to eat mango like a lady or a gentleman?”

~ The End~

Disclaimer:

The names of the fictional characters in this story are all fictions, with no true information or references to any persons.

Credit

The Chefs picture:  Photo credit courtesy of Michelle Weber

Source of information about Bobby Flay’s background and shows: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Flay

The fictional food show’s title “you think you can cook” is inspired by Rachael Ray’s show “so  you think you can cook”.

http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/show/segments/view/so-you-think-you-can-cook/

The fictional “secret mission” of Bobby Flay’s show is inspired by his show “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” http://www.foodnetwork.com/throwdown-with-bobby-flay/index.html

Copyright

The story, the fictional titles of the TV food shows “Who is coming for dinner tonight” and “Who is cooking tonight”, and “Ladies and Gentlemen: do you know how to eat mango like a lady or a gentleman?”, the  photos of the two dishes and recipes, “Fried rice with chicken and mango” and ‘ladies and gentlemen…” are properties of the author of this story~©DenRecipe

girl_with_a_pearl_earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring – Last week in de Young Museum, San Francisco

 We finally got to see this famous painting at de Young Museum today.  I have delayed this visit due to many reasons:  too busy at work and at home; had a vacation in april; waiting for our cousins to come so that we can all go together…

Like the Terracotta Warriors exhibition at Asian Art Museum, which will end tomorrow, May 27, this exhibition is ending this week next Sunday, June 2.  I told myself:  I cannot miss these two exhibitions.  I need to give some priorities to satisfy my interests in art.   Also,  the SFMOMA will  be closed for two years after June 2.  I can’t afford NOT to see this Girl with a Pearl Earring.  Since this is the closing week, there were many visitors.  The line to buy tickets was very long.  As a member, I already reserved the tickets, but still had to wait in a shorter line.

girl_with_a_pearl_earring

This is from the museum website  “The exhibition features 35 paintings representing the range of subject matter and technique characteristic of 17th-century painting in the Dutch Republic. Among the works traveling to the United States is the Mauritshius’ celebrated masterpiece Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer and the enchanting The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius. The painting Vase of Flowers by the gifted Rachel Ruysch, one of the few female painters of the Dutch Golden Age, is being restored especially for the American tour.”

I had actually seen most of the other paintings before but my primary interest today is to discuss the “Girl with a Pearl Earring”.  There are so many written reviews on this painting since the release of the Movie in 2003.  I still remember after the movie was released, I went to NYC for a short trip and visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has most of Vermeer’s paintings.  In one of the galleries where Vermeer’s paintings were housed, a big group of Japanese tourists took turns to take picture with a very small Vermeer’s painting.

According to a  New York Time post,  “The No. 1 question from visitors to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, according to Emilie Gordenker, is “Where is ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’?” “…this beloved Vermeer painting, the Dutch Mona Lisa, as it has been called, doesn’t reside at the national Rijksmuseum at all but some 30 miles down the road in the lesser-known Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, in The Hague.”  Although this “Dutch Mona Lisa” painting has been very popular for several paintings, it has rose to fame of a “superstar status” after the movie was released.

The novel and the movie are definitely sensational.  What is really behind this beautiful painting?  Who is this young lady?  There is no answer so far.  There is very limited information about Vermeer, and even less about the models.

According to the Guardian, “Exactly why the painting is the source of such fascination is difficult to explain, since very little is known about the painter and even less about his subject. Experts say the mystery is part of its allure. “Sometimes the questions are more intriguing because they can’t be answered,” Melissa Buron, assistant curator of the exhibition at the de Young museum told The Wall Street Journal. “Who was she? What was she thinking? What was her relationship with Vermeer? The mystery is part of its popularity.”

Let us leave the mystery behind for a while, and see if there are pieces of more interesting information about the painting itself.  I found this website essentialvermeer.com very helpful.  I selected a few topics of my interest here.  The following are all extracted from:

 www.essentialvermeer.com

Man in a Turban
Jan van Eyck
1433
25,5 x 19 cm
National Gallery, London

The Turkish Turban in European painting:

“The appearance of the young girl’s turban within the context of Vermeer’s seemingly quintessential Dutch oeuvre should not come as a complete surprise. Other objects of “Turkish” origin may be associated with the painter. Some of the carpets which appear as table coverings in his interiors (contemporary painters rarely represented these precious imports lying on the ground) are of Turkish origin. They must have been appreciated for their evocative floral motifs and the large mass of warm red color which enlivened the otherwise geometrical and cold interiors.

However, we must not believe that anything called “Turkish” in contemporary accounts really came from that country. The term was loosely used to describe exotic imported objects which were much in vogue. In the inventory (29 February, 1676) taken shortly after the artist’s death we find listed among other things: “a Turkish mantle of the aforesaid Sr. Vermeer,” “a pair of Turkish trousers” and “a black Turkish mantle” all in the “great hallway” of his house. Some scholars have suggested that the two tronies in “Turkish dress” found in the kitchen could possibly have been by Vermeer’s hand.”

Who posed for the painting?

“A careful consideration of the Girl with Pearl Earring gives rise to the question of how far the painting is to be taken as a portrait. P. T. A. Swillens, who compiled the first exhaustive study of the artist’s life and work in 1950, believed that one of the most important characteristics of a 17th-century portrait was its likeness and although we can no longer judge of this anymore, the face would not be called a beauty in an aesthetic sense. Swillens writes that Vermeer made no attempt to idealize her.

Contemporary scholars are not in agreement on the subject. According to Arthur Wheelock the painting is an “idealized study” which reveals Vermeer’s “classical tendencies.”

Not a single sitter in Vermeer’s extant paintings has ever been identified, including the young girl in the Girl with a Pearl Earring. Many critics believe that she may have been Vermeer’s first daughter, Maria who would have been about 12 or 13 years old in 1665-1667, the dating scholars have assigned to the painting. However, this painting was certainly not a portrait in the 17th-century sense of the term, but rather a tronie. In any case, she resembles the model in Vermeer’s Art of Painting(see above).”

Inspired by an Italian painting?

Beatrice Cenci
attributed to Guido Reni
1599
64,5 x 49 cm
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Roma

“Nonetheless, Vermeer scholars have proposed a wide variety of Dutch and foreign models including, traditionally, theBeatrice Cenci by the Italian painter Guido Reni.* While such a connection may appear far fetched, Vermeer certainly knew the Beatrice Cenci story which had captured Europe’s collective imagination. He could have easily seen one of the many copies of Reni’s original or engravings which circulated throughout Europe.

Beatrice, the daughter of the rich and powerful Francesco Cenci, suffered from her father’s mistreatment. Violent and dissolute, he imprisoned Beatrice and her stepmother in the Castle of Petrella Salto, near Rieti. With the blessing of her stepmother and two brothers, all of whom shared her exasperation at his continued abuse, Beatrice murdered her father in 1598. She was apprehended and, after a trial that riveted the attention of the citizens of Rome, condemned to death at the order of Pope Clement VIII, who may have been motivated by the hope of confiscating the assets of the family. In the presence of an enormous crowd, Beatrice was decapitated in the Ponte Sant’Angelo in September of 1599, instantly becoming a symbol of innocence oppressed.

It has been hypothesized that the great Italian painter Caravaggio was present at the decapitation and was inspired to paint his Judith Cutting off the Head ofHolofernes. The precise and realistic rendering of Caravaggio’s scene, anatomically and physiologically correct to the minutest details, presupposes the artist’s observation of a real decapitation.

The influential Vermeer writer Lawrence Gowing had proposed the influence of Jan Scorel’s female portraits. The Scorel and Reni influences have been largely set aside in favor of somewhat less exotic connections with the Dutch painter Michiel Sweerts.

* While the Beatrice Cenci is traditionally attributed to Reni, its poor quality in comparison to other works of the master has led many critics to reject it as an autograph work. Instead, it could be by a painter in the immediate circle of Reni, possibly Elisabetta Sirani, who is known for rendering the master’s models in abbreviated and reduced form.”

How big is this painting?

As this painting is so small, and there were too many visitors crowding round the painting, I only stayed in front of the painting for a while.  What did I see and what did I think about?  I think the lighting and shadows painted here have particularly highlighted the Girl’s eyes looking at the artist, and now at the viewers.  Her eyes and her lips which are sexually implied, are very different from other women’s look and behavior in Vermeer’s other paintings.

~Images  from Google~

The mystery will continue, and the painting “The Girl with a Pearl Earring” will continue to be a superstar.  Good luck to your guess and imagination!

 “Everything you can imagine is real.”
― Pablo Picasso

No Caption

Happy Anniversary to my “Initiation” into the Blogging World – my 100th post on “My Notebook”, and my 259th post on my 6 Blogs

Originally posted on My Notebook:


No Caption

Happy Anniversary!

Today, there are reasons to celebrate.  It is the first anniversary of my first blog which is

from “curiosita to…”

As I was new to blogging, I went around to experiment on different themes.  Writing is not really my best attribute, but I love to learn new things, and love challenges.  As traveling and arts are my cup of tea, I want to devote different blogs to a different theme.  So far, I have actually developed many blogs on different platforms.  WordPress is my regular platform.  To date, I have these 6 “active” blogs, while the others are either private or not searchable for either work or private purpose.  As I am a private person, but not totally conservative like many people, I do not use blogging to socialize or widen my social network.  I think I just like to express and share what I like, share my…

View original 834 more words

IMG_3421

China’s First Emperor’s Warriors are going home! Last week to visit them at Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, Part IV – the Waterbirds

As I mentioned in my last post, I am taking a few of my colleagues at lunchtime to see the Terracotta Warriors as it is the last week of the exhibition at the Asian Art Museum.  After the visit today, one of them told me that her favorites are the waterbirds.  If you have read Part II or the second post about this exhibition, you may notice I also said that I found the waterbirds most interesting.  To satisfy my curiosity, I searched and looked around, and found some interesting remarks from scholars and curators.  The following information is extracted from the Asian Art Museum Docent Website

Waterbirds

In 2001 a pit containing fifteen terracotta musicians and forty-six life-size bronze waterbirds was found about three kilometers northeast of the First Emperor’s tomb. The birds, which retain some of their original pinkish paint, were discovered on the banks of an artificial waterway. Some archaeologists believe the pit represents a royal park or sacred water garden. Water was the Qin dynasty‘s chosen symbol because it extinguishes fire, the element associated with the preceding Eastern Zhou dynasty (770–256 BCE).

I also searched for information at  iTunes U.  Press 5 and 6, and you will hear an audio recording about the waterbirds.

Scholars or curators are all amazed at these waterbirds,  not only of their life-size scale,  but also of the different charming poses.  None of them is identical.   Some have leisurely poses as if they are gliding gracefully on the pond,  while some are stretching their long neck looking for food.  There are 6 cranes flanked by 20 swans and 20 geese with 15 warriors surrounding them. 

Apart from the sacred water garden theory, there is another interpretation:  the whole set of waterbirds signifies heaven and earth, which is part of the design of the underground palace.  What is buried on the ground is not really underground,  but represents a replica of the celestial world.  What about the 15 warriors surrounding the birds?  Some scholars think that they may be musicians, and some think they are archers.   It looks like that the music theory does not quite hold because no musical instrument was found.   The archers’ theory is more receptive by many scholars, because bow and arrows were found nearby.  Also, in the ancient days, capturing  birds may represent the arrival of spring, which means the rejuvenation of life.

No matter which theory holds, I think these waterbirds have characters and are attractive to many viewers.  Do you want to see them again?  Only a few more days are left!

Coming Soon

Apart from the waterbirds, I am actually very interested in studying the warriors.  None is identical.  Please stay tuned for the next few posts!

IMG_3436

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern (3) – Terracotta Warriors and Patterns – Exhibition at Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (Part III)

This is my third post  in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Pattern.  This is also Part III of my post – the Terracotta Warriors.

If you have not seen my video, I highly recommend you to take a look.   I am re-posting the video here since many of you have missed it.

The patterns on these artifacts are very impressive. They demonstrate the advanced technology already used in China 2,700 years ago.  I found some interesting  information from the Asian Art Museum docent website and would like to share with you here. IMG_3406

“石甲 Suit of armor Qin dynasty (221–206 BCE) Limestone Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology Catalog #91 in China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy H. 77 cm (30 5/16 in), W. 50 cm (19 11/16 in) This suit of armor, one of probably thousands still being found, consists of more than six hundred stone pieces laced with copper wire. Stone armor was too heavy to wear into battle, and was made instead for burial. Combat armor was made of leather or metal. This limestone armor and the helmet are constructed from fragments found in 1998 and 1999, in a pit thought to be the armory and located not far from the First Emperor’s tomb mound. The pit is estimated to cover 13,000 square meters. Excavation is ongoing, with more than 130 stone armor suits discovered to date. Only one-eightieth of the pit has been excavated.

鳳鳥紋瓦當 Roof tile end with phoenix motif Warring States period (475–221 BCE) Low-fired ceramicIMG_3434 Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology Catalog #61 in China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy Diam. 15 cm (5 7/8 in) Many roof tiles that include a phoenix reflect religious beliefs. Qin people believed that their primary ancestor was the “heavenly bird,” a reference to the phoenix. The bird represents a deity, corresponding to yang energy and the cardinal direction of the South. Phoenix roof tiles probably emerged in the early Qin period. According to ancient documents, a duke who died in 621 BCE built a Phoenix Tower for his daughter, who played the flute there for decades in dedication to “heavenly birds.” In return, it is said that the phoenix accompanied her as she ascended to heaven.

卷渦雲紋瓦當IMG_3435Roof tile end with swirling clouds Warring States period (475–221 BCE) Low-fired ceramic Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum Catalog #70 in China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy Diam. 15.3 cm (6 in), D. 2.4 cm (15/16 in)   IMG_3429

青銅鳳鳥紋扁盉 Ritual wine kettle with phoenix-shaped spout (he) Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BCE) bronze Excavated at

Bianj iazhuang in Longxian, Shaanxi, 1986 Longxian Museum, Shaanxi Catalog #7 in China’s Texacotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy H. 14 cm (5 1/2 in), W. 15 cm (5 7/8 in) Spouted kettles were used to serve drinks, mostly grain wine. A bird with a crest and hooked beak serves as the lid and also appears on the spout and each flat side. This sacred bird is referred to as the phoenix, and was regarded by Qin people as their primeval ancestor. Several kettles, including this one, were discovered in an old Qin capital near the northwestern border of Shaanxi.”

All the above description are quoted from the  the Asian Art Museum docent website.

Do you like the patterns on these artifacts?  I do.

Remember they were made 2,700 plus years ago!

IMG_3388

China’s First Emperor’s Warriors are going home! Last two weeks to visit them at Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, Part II

In my last post on the same subject, I did not include the artifacts being exhibited.  On this post, I have included some of the artifacts excavated from the tomb.  To make it more interesting for you, I have created a movie from the pictures of the Warriors and the artifacts.  The music I used is Birds Singing in Spring by the Shanghai Folk Orchestra.  Scroll down to see the birds among the artifacts!  I hope you will enjoy it.

Here’s a gallery of the artifacts only, since I have already posted the Warriors on my last post.

Reminder: If you click any picture, you will see the gallery open up with the photos in large size.

Of these artifacts, I found the four water-birds most interesting.  It is the first time I saw water-birds excavated from tombs.  The First Emperor wanted to keep these birds in a pond surrounding his underground palace.  This shows how he would enjoy life if he were alive!

Reminder: If you click any of these four pictures, you will see the gallery open up with the photos in large size.

I also like these two tiles which have very special patterns.  The tile on the left is a rectangular paving tile with a sun design framed by a S-shaped cloud.  The First Emperor might have imagined himself ascended to heaven by walking on symbolic floors like this everyday.

The paving tile on the right is a hollow brick fragment with a dragon design.  It is believed that the First Emperor ‘s palaces were meant to mirror the celestial realm.  Therefore the dragon and phoenix designs are often found in these paving tiles.

(References: from the labels of the artifacts in the exhibition.)

Reminder: If you click any of these two pictures, you will see the gallery open up with the photos in large size.

IMG_3413

China’s First Emperor’s Warriors are going home! Last two weeks to visit them at Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, Part I

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I mentioned several times on my blogs about Asian Art Museum (AAM) in San Francisco.  I have been a Chartered member for many years, but due to workload, I did not visit the AAM as often as I like to.  The current Terracotta Warriors Exhibition has started in February but I did not have the chance to visit till today.  As I had visited Xian some years ago, and seen the life-size Warriors, I thought it was no big deal to see them again at AAM.  I was wrong.  Although I did see a big group of Warriors in Xian, we were not allowed to go near to them.  We could only see them from a higher level and take pictures from there.  I still remember seeing some pictures of President Clinton and his family being allowed to go down to take photos with the Warriors.  I admired him for that opportunity which I would never have!

Yet today, we all had the chance to take our own pictures with the Warriors which were  just a foot away.  I did not choose to do so, but I took a bunch of pictures of the Warriors.  The museum allows visitors to take pictures as long as there is no flash.  The result is so good that I cannot help posting them immediately tonight.  I would say that the curator did a fantastic job in the lighting arrangement.  I am posting them on a slide-show and a gallery.  Please see for yourself.  The iPhone pictures are not bad even in a dark environment.  I think the effect is better if you see them via the gallery.  Please click on any photo below, and the gallery will open up.  Then you can see them in full size.  If you want to download them to your computer to see them, please go ahead and do so.  The effect to see them in full screen on your computer is the best.

I also met my friend Margaret who is a docent at AAM.  I think she is one of the finest docents at AAM.  I have learned a lot from her in Asian Art as well as her travel experience.  Her guided tour was excellent.  The only problem was the big crowd. I chose the wrong day (it is Mother’s Day).  I think I would take some of my colleagues during the weekdays.  Some of them did not have the chance to see the Warriors in Xian.

Although I  intend to write something about the Terracotta Warriors and the other objects excavated from the tomb, I won’t have time tonight.  Here’s the information on the Asian Art Museum website:

About the Exhibition

“The First Emperor, Qin Shihuang (259-210 BCE) conquered much in this life, but his driving purpose was even greater: He sought to conquer death. In order to achieve immortality, he built himself a tomb—a vast underground city guarded by a life-size terracotta army including warriors, infantrymen, horses, chariots and all their attendant armor and weaponry.

First unearthed in 1974, the underground burial complex of the First Emperor is a revelation for the ages, an astonishing discovery on par with Egypt’s mummies and elaborate tombs. Contemporary observers continue to be enthralled by his legacy, and it is through this ongoing interest that the First Emperor did indeed achieve immortality. This exhibition includes ten figures—a representative sample of the actual army, which is estimated to include more than 7,000 life-sized figures and over 10,000 weapons.”

I hope this post will stimulate the interests of some of you to visit the Exhibition before it ends on May 27, 2013.

IMG_3049

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern – Dali Catholic Church, a Beautiful Combination of Western and Eastern Architecture – My Yunnan Trip # 11

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Pattern

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

During my recent Yunnan trip, one of the most impressive architectural structures was the Catholic Church in Dali, Yunnan.  I found it especially interesting because in China, you will find Buddhist temples almost everywhere. But it was the first time that I saw a Catholic Church on Chinese soil, with such a beautiful architectural representation of the East and West patterns.  Below, I posted a few pictures of the Catholic Church. If you click on any picture, it will open into a carousel and see each picture in big screen.  I want you to take a very close look at these pictures.  Did you see the traditional Chinese auspicious animals?  They are all ornate patterns.  The wooden structure belongs to the Bai minority style, which is unique.

The following description is extracted from the  Yunnan Provincial Tourism Administration website:

“Dali Catholic Church is located in Xinmin Road of Dali Ancient Town. Including 9 chapels, it was originally built in 1927 by a French bishop Ye Meizhang, and covers 470 square meters, about 36 meters long and 13 meters wide. The complex is a typical post and lintel construction in the style of double eaves with hip and gable walls; its lower and upper eaves both employ corbel arches and flying eaves, and every arch has four buttresses engraved with Chinese traditional auspicious animals and birds such as Dragon and Phoenix etc.

In the east of the church, an altar has been built for Virgin Mary; while in the west, it’s a gate tower modeled after Bai minority traditional residence whose top is a vestry roofed with eaves at four corners. The gate tower also employs multi-layer corbel arches and flying eaves, all of which are of superb workmanship. As a whole, the church complex adopts wooden structures of Bai minority style and thus is deemed as a combination of Chinese and Western architectures. In 1983, it was fortunately listed among the key protected relic items by Dali Prefecture Government.”

Other references you may like to look into:  Dali Catholic Church – On the Road,  another Blog on WordPress.  It posted quite a few pictures including a picture of the church inside.

I didn’t see a lot of discussion about the architecture of this building, but would appreciate if some of you would give me and other readers some of your impressions about the architecture of this building.  If you are an architect or architecture student, you are more than welcome to join our conversation here!

13_Cinderella5

Weekly Travel Theme – Dance – Cinderella, San Francisco Ballet – Wonderful Opening Night!

13_Cinderella5

This is in response to the Weekly Travel Theme – Dance

I like this theme very much because I do have lots to share.  I have many dance pictures or videos which I took from my travels.    I may have already posted some of them, but  I may re-post them for some of my new readers.  What I want to share today is the new Cinderella ballet performed in San Francisco last Friday.

This year’s run of Cinderella is all sold out.  We are lucky to have secured our seats for Cinderella as  San Francisco Ballet subscribers.  We saw the Cinderella on Opening Night, May 3.   I think it is a  must-see dance event of the season: the U.S. premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s magical new production of Cinderella!

I found the costumes particularly beautiful. To give you an overview of the design of Cinderella’s costumes, here’s a video posted on http://www.sfballet.org

” Inspired by the Brothers Grimm and Perrault fairy tales, this wildly imaginative co-production with Dutch National Ballet features something for everyone: dramatic music by Prokofiev, spectacular sets and costumes by Julian Crouch (renowned for his designs for Metropolitan Opera and the Broadway musical The Addams Family), and ingenious puppetry by Obie Award winner Basil Twist.” http://www.sfballet.org

The performers of Cinderella are on rotation.  On the Opening Night, the Principal dancers who played Cinderella was Maria Kochetkova, and the Prince was played by Joan Boada.

Here are two short videos about them.  http://www.sfballet.org

I found everything beautiful and fantastic, from the choreography to the performance of all the dancers, and  from the set to the costumes.  The critics in general gave it a very good rating although they often offered a few things that they would like to improve.  To me, it was a perfect performance….except that I could not get another ticket to see it again this Season.

For the readers who would like to read the review from art critics,  here’s  an excerpt from  San Francisco Chronicle :

SF Ballet review: ‘Cinderella’ charming

S.F. Ballet weaves an imaginative odyssey with Dutch troupe
Allan Ulrich
Published 4:51 pm, Sunday, May 5, 2013

“The project, San Francisco’s first “Cinderella” in more than three decades, is a co-production with the Dutch National Ballet. Given the verve and wit on display in this American premiere, you’d think it had been custom-made for the local team of all-stars, most of whom seemed to be dancing somewhere in this performance.

All “Cinderella”s should look and dance as well as this one. But they would require a choreographer like Wheeldon, who sees the comic possibilities in even the most dire of situations and possesses both a feeling for the fantastic and a penchant for self-mockery. Friday’s performance may have stalled early in details of the back story in Craig Lucas‘ libretto (the choreography doesn’t really suit Prokofiev’s score, at this point), but once we are introduced to the mature Cinderella, her father, stepmother and hideously funny stepsisters, this ballet floats on a cloud of invention through a stunning Act 1 closer and beyond, to a breathtaking ballroom act.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/performance/article/SF-Ballet-review-Cinderella-charming-4490182.php#ixzz2SmkGspRS

I am sorry if you don’t  have the chance to see Cinderella this season.  I am waiting for the second round too!

image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture #2 – My Yunnan Trip #9: What is the Totem Pole in Yunnan?

friendlytm:

Arts and Cultures are inseparable!

Originally posted on My Notebook:

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture. This is my second posting on this Challenge which is very interesting to me.

I always thought that totem poles only existed in places where natives Indians lived.  I saw quite a few in Alaska and Canada.  After my visit to Yunnan, I realized that I was so ignorant.  I saw totem poles in Lijiang, and then some for decorative purpose in Kunming.  So, Chinese people do have totem poles!  When I came back, I researched a little and educated myself.  If you are interested, here’s some information I got.

What is a totem?

“A totem is a being, object, or symbol representing an animal or plant that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a familyclan, group, lineage, or tribe, reminding them of their ancestry (or mythic past).

View original 521 more words

IMG_2553

Beautiful Art Design in the Lufeng World Dinosaur Valley – My Yunnan Trip # 6

What a beautiful wet day!  These pictures were taken at the Dinosaur Valley which I posted in my other blog: My Notebook. The patterns on these huge columns are dinosaurs. The human beings are so small!

Do the difficult things while they are easy

and do the great things while they are small.

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

Lao Tzu

IMG_3171

“Dynamic Yunnan” – a beautiful ethnic minorities dance show in Kunming – My Yunnan Trip #1

I just came back from a 9 days’ trip to Yunnan.  The first post I would like to share with my readers is this beautiful ethnic minorities dance show in Kunming.  It is  Dynamic Yunnan, a grand, original ethnic dance show produced by the famous Yang Liping, who is a dancer, a choreographer, and producer, of the Bai ethnic minority.  My friends who went with me to this Yunnan trip, all knew about Yang Liping, while I was ignorant of her fame as a performance artist.   I am glad that I had the opportunity to see her show this time.   It is spectacular, educational, and very enjoyable.  If you go to visit Yunnan, I highly recommend you see this show.  We bought tickets of very good seats at $42@) equivalent to the orchestra seats in our concert hall.  There were quite a few non-Chinese tourists among the audience.

In order to respect the performers, I did not take any video at the time of the show, but I took a few pictures before the show began, both inside and outside the performance hall. I am posting them here just to let you taste the flavor of the show.

In all the articles that talked about this show,   there is reference to this fact that Yang Liping spent more than a year looking for original ethnic minorities dancers in different parts of Yunnan.  It is said that 100% of the dancers are of ethnic minorities in Yunnan, who left their own villages to join the troupe. The folk songs and dances are original, and the costumes are real, showing the actual way of life of the minorities. This performance is particularly impressive to me, because it shows the universe, the pursuit of culture and the origins of life.    My friends, like most of the audience, love the “Moon dance” and the “Peacock dance”.  In addition, I like the Tibetan pilgrimage dance.

I hope you will have the chance to see this show if you visit Kunming in future.  If you cannot see too much of the minority cultures in Yunnan,  you will be able to appreciate the genuine minority cultures through this show.

I tried to find a good video from you-tube and had to give up the idea to post any of them, because all those videos were unable to illustrate the beauty of this show.  You need to see it in person, unfortunately (or fortunately)!

On the other hand, I found these two clips showing the talented Yang Liping’s two most famous dances:  Moon-solo dance,  and Spirit of  Peacock.  Enjoy!

Moon – Solo Dance by Yang LiPing

Spirit of Peacock – Yang LiPing

IMG_0820

A Word A Week Challenge: Music

IMG_0820This is in response to A Word A Week Challenge: Music

When I saw this Challenge, I became excited. Music is a very important part of my life. I did not study music in particular, or play any musical instruments, though I did learn to play piano when I was a child. My interest in music has recently been enhanced by my newly developed hobby–video making.  It is all because of my new iPhone 5 which I got around November last year. I brought it as my camera and video camera when I went on a trip to South America.  I took many pictures and video clips with my iPhone.  When I came back, I started to learn about creating videos from a number of video clips.  For some of my readers who  follow my other travel blog My Notebook, you may have seen these videos before.  For South America, I created a total of 17 videos which show the different sites that I visited.  One of the reasons I really like working on these videos is the audio that I chose for each video.  I like particularly to mix the original sound and noises with the music that I added.

I am so glad to see this challenge today, because I want to show a few of these videos that I created, in one post, so that you all can appreciate them.  As I have got some new readers on this Blog, I’d like to share with them.  I only chose a few. If you are interested viewing and listening to all of them please check out My Notebook.

After seeing and listening to my videos, please let me know which one you like best and least, both the music and the pictures.  I have used Tango, Samba, and classical music like Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, Sleeping beauty and Swanlake, Strauss ‘s Die Fiedermaus, Bach’s Air on the G String, and the popular song Corcovado?  I hope you like them.

Sea Gulls on board Cau Cau – Bariloche, Argentina, December, 2012

Caminito and La Boca – the inspiration of the Argentine tango music “Caminito”, December, 2012

Sambadrome – Venue of the Rio Carnival – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – December, 2012 

El Calafate – Excursion at Lake Argentino, December, 2012

Christ the Redeemer, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Brazil – December, 2012 

Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, December, 2012

Magellanic Penguins on Isla Magdalena, Chile, December 2012

Finally, the following video was shot in Alaska before my video days.  I only took a short clip. After learning how to add music etc, I re-did this video with Beethoven’s  5th Symphony, mixing with the loud comments of my brother and the sound of the waterfall!

Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls, Alaska, September, 2012

1253087858515_s

The Yellow River Civilization and the Yellow River Piano Concerto

1253087858515_s
This is a follow-up post on my last one in relation to the Yellow River Mother Sculpture in Lanzhou, as some of my readers are interested in knowing more about the significance of Yellow River in the Chinese history.
I found the following information quite helpful in understanding the Yellow River Civilization:

The Yellow River Civilization

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/river/yellow/civilization.htm

“From the earliest times in the history of humankind, water, in the form of lakes, seas, and especially rivers, has played an essential role in the development of civilization. This is a truth universal to cultures throughout the world. And the great amount of archeological information available about ancient Chinese civilization tells us that their ways of life were greatly influenced by the Yellow and Yangtze River civilizations. The Yellow River, in particular, was essential to the development of Chinese civilization.

In Chinese history, and in the history of human civilization, the Yellow River is not simply a set of characters on a page and the name of a river. In fact, it stands for a kind of culture and civilization. Undoubtedly, the Yellow River civilization has played a very great role in the development of civilization across the globe.

For thousands of years, the river has been known as the mother river of the Chinese nation, both in the writings of the poets and scribes, and in the hearts of the Chinese people. Almost all the Chinese see themselves as the children of Yellow River. It is said that Egypt is the gift vouchsafed by the Nile. If there were no Nile, then it is hard to see how there could be an Egyptian civilization. The Yellow River has the same relationship with China. If China had no Yellow River, the Chinese wouldn’t have a place to focus their spiritual energies on.

Yellow River drainage basin is the birthplace of Chinese nation and meanwhile it is the cradle of Chinese civilization. In this vast cradle, Yellow River civilization, which is the principal part of the whole Chinese civilization and plays a crucial role in the history of civilization development, grew with vitality. It had stood the test of almost all kinds of upheavals and difficulties, and finally created the continuous Chinese civilization.”

I would like to end this post by introducing to my readers the Yellow River Piano Concert. Here’s a video I found on you-tube showing the performance of the world-famous Yellow River Piano Concerto. It is arranged by a collaboration between musicians including Yin Chengzong and Chu Wanghua, and based on the Yellow River Cantata by composer Xian XinghaiWikipedia

Yellow River Piano Concerto, first movement, performed by Lang Lang.

1. Song of the Yellow River Boatmen
2. Ode to the Yellow River

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJBU9TyRA80

Enjoy!

184368_1469835

The Yellow River Mother Sculpture in Lanzhou, China, and Picasso’s Mother and Child Painting in the Art Institute of Chicago

Next week, I should be making a business trip to Chicago.  I thought that I can visit one of my favorite museums,  the Art Institute of Chicago again.  Unfortunately, due to some urgent business at work, I cancelled my trip.  The Art Institute of Chicago has many of my favorite art works, including:

Gustave CaillebotteParis Street; Rainy Day,1876-1877

Georges-Pierre SeuratSunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte 1884–1886

Pablo PicassoThe Old Guitarist, 1903

Today, I would like to refer to another painting which is very interesting to me.  It is Picasso’s Mother and Child.

184368_1469835

http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/exhibitions/modernwing/artwork/109275

Pablo Picasso
Spanish, worked in France, 1881–1973

Mother and Child, 1921

The Art Institute of Chicago

Here’s an interesting analysis of this painting by Mike Freeman’s Analysis of Picasso’s Mother and Child Painting

“Upon investigating the unusual life of Pablo Picasso in an attempt to familiarize myself with his painting titled Mother and Child (1921), I feel that this painting represents the false depiction of a happy family despite true distant feelings. A paragraph I read during some research suggested that one of Picasso’s Mother and Child paintings had undergone x-ray analysis. Apparently, a shadow of Picasso’s arm can be seen in the painting, hence the reason the child is reaching upwards into the air. Originally, Picasso had painted himself into the painting to depict a perfect family life, however upon ever mounting arguments held between himself and his wife Olga, the presumed mother in the painting, Picasso chose to remove himself completely from the artwork. This theory, if true, and based on a seemingly credible source, supports my theory about Picasso’s separation from not only his wife, but his own son. Throughout the biographies I encountered about Pablo, accounts of his life share the same idea that Picasso was extremely secluded from his children, most talked about in particular his son Paulo, who is believed to be the child in the painting. Paulo was born shortly before this painting was created. Removing himself from the painting, symbolizes Picasso’s desire to remove himself from his current life situation, showing his displeasure for his wife and son. Despite his true feelings towards his family, he still paints a typical “happy family” portrait. The only difference with the final product was the exclusion of himself. Often, it is suggested that Picasso, like most artists, paint not only on what they observe, but also their deepest desires and inner feelings. This painting, at first glance from the untrained eye of an average museum traveler, depicts a seemingly love filled, nurturing portrait of a mother and her son, seemingly part of a happy family. Little do those people know the awful, heart wrenching truth laced deep within the paint that was expertly splashed in malice and sorrow to create a masterpiece.”

I am not surprised at this analysis.  After all Picasso had had so many women in his life.  He removed himself from the painting.  What does it symbolize?

This painting was painted in 1921, in his Neo-Classicism period (1920-30). It shows heavily built sculpture-like women. The famous one in this period is at MOMA: “Three Women at the Spring” 1921.

To understand Picasso’s style in this period, I found this excerpt very helpful as it talks about the “the three women at the spring”:

http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=79762

“Curator, Kirk Varnedoe: When you look at Picasso’s Three Women at the Spring this represents the embodiment of what one calls the return to order—the idea that after World War I, French society wanted to reestablish its roots with the grand tradition and a kind of solid, reassuring, sculptural vision of the human figure rooted in classicism. It was an art of reassurance, of rebounding after the experimentation of the teens. And yet when you look at this picture, it’s not really a conservative picture—the tubular nature of the arms, the large abstract rhythms of the figures are very much a legacy of his more radical work.

Remember again that this is painted exactly in the same summer that he paints The Three Musicians. Unlike Matisse, Picasso is happy working in two extremes virtually simultaneously, painting a picture of strong Cubist abstraction on the one hand,and seemingly full-bodied sculptural realism on the other.”

I saw this painting for the first time in the Art Institute of Chicago around 2003. I was impressed by the different styles of Picasso at the same period of time.  Few Years later, I took a trip to the Silk Road in China with family and friends.  At the end of the trip, we went to Lanzhou and visited the Bund of the Yellow River to see this beautiful sculpture named the Yellow River Mother. This is the picture from a tourist website:

http://www.greatwalldiscovery.com/lanzhou/discovery.html

1253087858515_s

http://scenery.cultural-china.com/en/148Scenery2849.html

“This sculpture is the best of its kind in China. The whole sculpture contains that of a mother and a baby. The mother with long hair, slim figure, lying on the undulated water looks happy and kind. On her breast she holds a small kid who bears naive smile. The sculpture connotes that the Yellow River has nourished generations of Chinese.”

The Mother symbolizes the Yellow River which is the cradle of the Chinese civilization. What is special about this Mother sculpture are her facial features.  Does she look like most Chinese Han people?  No, because the people in Lanzhou are the Hui minorities who have some western facial features . Let us find out where is Lanzhou and what is its significance in formulating the cultures of this part of the world.

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/gansu/lanzhou/

“Lanzhou is the capital city of Gansu Province in northwest China. The Yellow River runs through the city, ensuring rich crops of many juicy and fragrant fruits. The city is the transportation and telecommunication center of the region. Covering an area of 1631.6 square kilometers (629.96 square miles), Lanzhou used to be a key point on the ancient Silk Road. Today, It is a hub of the Silk Road Tourism Ring,”

Here’s another informative article describing the people of Lanzhou, their religion, traditions and customs::

http://lanzhou.weebly.com/

“Lanzhou has certainly changed since the first foreign visitors started coming here 100 years ago. But the city retains its distinct character due to its location along a narrow valley astride the Yellow River, and the visible Muslim culture. The river is never far away, and the hills to the north and south offer spectacular views from hilltop tea gardens. Looking down on the city you’ll be sure to spot some mosques. The Hui Muslim population is small but very visible. There are qīngzhēn (清真) restaurants on every street (not all noodles, by the way), and if you are nearby a mosque at prayer time, you’ll hear the call to prayer.”

We now know that the sculpture reflects the Hui minority ethnic group. When I saw this Yellow River Mother sculpture, I immediately thought about the Picasso’s painting of Mother and Child.  Do you think there are some similarities between the two?  As artists’ inspire each other, it is possible that the sculptor who made this sculpture 65 years later may have been inspired by Picasso. The sculpture is the work of a famous female Gansu sculptor He E.  Actually He and Picasso have very different styles.  It just fascinated me when I saw the big Mother sculpture in Lanzhou because it was speaking to me.  It spoke of the love of the mother for the child. I hope you do feel the same way.

Which one do you like more?  I like the Yellow River Mother more because of her smile and its beautiful face.  In Picasso’s painting, the mother seems to have some hidden sorrow on her facial expression and not as beautiful.  Indeed none of the women drawn by Picasso is like a regular beauty. Both pieces do have a similar theme:  the love of the mother for her child.

What do you think? I’d love to her from you!

images

Celebrating Gustav Klimt: The Kiss, for my sister Alice

Today, I received a gift in the mail from my dear sister Alice in Canada.  It is a beautiful gift with the image of Gustav Klimt‘s The Kiss.  She noticed from one of my posts on another blog that the most stunning painting I saw is The Kiss by Klimt at the  the Belvedere Palace and Museum.  I can’t thank her enough, and so I think it may be good to post this beautiful painting in order to say “Thank You” to my sister.

Some years ago, during a trip to Vienna, my friend and I had a wonderful time at the Belvedere Palace and Museum  One of the most unforgetable memories is seeing this beautiful painting.  Here’s the image from the Belevedere’s website.

Belvedere at a glance – Masterpieces of Gustav Klimt

klimt_kuss_400

The Belvedere Palace and Museum is now celebrating 150 years Gustav Klimt with a Jubilee Exhibition from July 13, 2012 to January 6, 2013.  If you have not been there, go now and see this painting yourself.  The Belvedere has the largest collection of Klimt’s paintings worldwide.  If you happen to be in Vienna or nearby, don’t lose this opportunity.  None of the images on paper or on-line, can be compared to the live painting.  I still remember the feeling standing in front of this wonderful art piece, only a feet or two away.  Unlike Mona Lisa which is small and so sheltered from the public, “The Kiss” is close to you, as if you are part of the painting.

If you are interested to know more about this painting, here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia – the Kiss (Klimt).

“The Kiss (In German: Der Kuss) was painted by the Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt between 1907 and 1908, the highpoint of his “Golden Period”, when he painted a number of works in a similar gilded style. A perfect square, the canvas depicts a couple embracing, their bodies entwined in elaborate robes decorated in a style influenced by both linear constructs of the contemporary Art Nouveau style and the organic forms of the earlier Arts and Crafts movement. The work is composed of conventional oil paint with applied layers of gold leaf, an aspect that gives it its strikingly modern, yet evocative appearance. The painting is now in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere museum in the Belvedere palaceVienna, and is widely considered a masterpiece of the early modern period. It is a symbol of Vienna Jugendstil—Viennese Art Nouveau—and is considered Klimt’s most popular work.”

I just dug out a big book that I bought a while ago about Klimt by Maria Constantino, 1990, PRC Publishing Ltd., reprinted in 2002. Here’s what she said about this painting: ” Perched on a flowery precipice, the two lovers are shown surrounded by an aura of gold,…The flat background gives a sense of an indeterminate location and removes the figures from any reference point in space or time.”

Constantino said that the ornamental symbolism of the garments has led to the interpretation as a symbol of the union between the man and the woman. The man has an angular form, whereas the woman is soft.  The woman’s head is at an extreme angle, giving the impression that she is passive, and the man dominates and initiates the action of the kiss.

The interpretation of this painting has never stopped, and the world is still talking about this.  Is this representing a union of the two sexes, or a depiction of tension between them?

Whatever the interpretation is, The Kiss remains the most popular painting of Klimt. No doubt Klimt has created a masterpiece combining the aesthetics of Vienna Secession and Symbolism, and demonstrated his contribution to the development of Art Nouveau, The fascination for The Kiss is comparable to that which surrounds the Mona Lisa. I am interested to know, what is your interpretation?

Before you start making your conclusion, I would like to share with you this video which I just found.  I think it is very helpful for me to understand more about the background of this painting.  Its reference to the Hagia Sophia‘s gold leaf mosaic paintings, is particularly interesting to me since I visited Hagia Sophia just a year ago. I did post pictures of  the Hagia Sophia in my other blog: Exploring Turkey and Greece.

Please see this video, and let me know your interpretation of The Kiss.

Klimt 2012. A kiss changes the world

photostream

Art Nouveau in Prague – In the new tiled galleries

This is a re-post of my first few posts on this Blog in a slide show presentation, and gallery with carousel view.  Prague was one of my favorite places to travel to.  Can’t  help falling in love with art nouveau in Prague! Some of my friends are going there soon.  To go, or not to go…with them? That is the question!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


 

20120911-034806.jpg

Art Jeopardy — I was #1

I am writing this post for all my friends who have recently participated in the discussion or presentation of Art Nouveau and/ or Art Deco. I just came back from a cruise. There was a game called Art Jeopardy. I participated, and won! There were questions on artists, art history, art movements, museums etc. I did not get every answer right, but I did get this correct: there was a question on art movement. The answer was Art Deco, and I was right! Of course I also made big “bets” and therefore I happened to be the winner! Then I attended the art auction…and of course I bought something….had to break my bank! That’s the cost …being a winner!!

Well, I did have fun on the cruise. This was one of the highlights. Thanks to all of you who gave me this learning opportunities about Art Nouveau and Art Deco. As I mentioned somewhere in other blogs, I did not learn about art formally in school, but I am a lifetime learner. Art was my first love, and it would forever be one of my love affairs!

Thank you all! See you later!

20120911-033801.jpg
These are two pictures showing an art introduction program on the cruise. I did not take picture of the Art Jeopardy because I was a participant.

20120911-034806.jpg

20120829-025055.jpg

San Francisco Palace Hotel – is this door Art Nouveau?

20120829-025055.jpg

I just posted on my other blog ” My Notebook” about the historic tour at the San Francisco Palace Hotel.

http://speakingabouttravel2.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/san-francisco-palace-hotel-historic-tour-and-lunch-my-favorite-program-for-out-of-town-guests/

I am recently very interested in looking at doors and windows ( see my post on Belvedere Palace window and Freer Gallery window) http://speakingabouttravel2.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/the-window-at-belvedere-palace-in-vienna-and-the-window-at-the-freer-gallery-of-art-in-washington-d-c/

I wonder if this door Art Nouveau? The hotel was rebuilt in 1909 after the 1906 earthquake. I think the design and the period ….looks like that it is Art Nouveau? I know many experts of Art Nouveau are following my blog ( what an honor!). I would like to ask you for your comments. Thanks.

20120829-030540.jpg

This is the window at the French Parlor in the Palace Hotel. The window opens out to see the full view of the beautiful Garden Court Restaurant downstairs. It is a replica made here in Emeryville. I wonder if the original window with this design in the 1909 period…would it be Art Nouveau?…..I am just guessing. Would love to hear from my fellow bloggers! Thanks.

P.S. I am using the WordPress app on my iPad. It is very convenient for short posts particularly. I highly recommend this app to my fellow bloggers!

Art Deco Skyscraper Hotel, San Francisco,

What is Art Deco? Is it the same as Art Nouveau?

Today, I took my brother and sister-in-law who came from Australia, to visit San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).  After the museum visit, when we were on our way from SF MOMA to the Westfield Shopping Center, we saw this beautiful design of a building across the street from Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  I took some pictures of the different levels of the hotel, as my camera (iPad) has limited capacity to include the tall building in one picture.

The other picture was taken from SFMOMA , where we saw the top levels of the building, but other buildings had covered the other parts of this beautiful design.

I looked up the name of this building, and found that it is the San Francisco Skyscraper Hotel.  It is an Art Deco design. Then I realize that it is quite similar to a building’s design in Prague, which I had posted on this blog .    Since they are so similar, is Art Deco the same as Art Nouveau?

A building in Prague, Czech Republic at the intersection of Wenceslas Square and Na Prikope Street

What exactly is Art Deco?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Deco

According to Wikipedia:

“Art Deco ” or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s and into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and jewelry, as well as the visual arts such as painting, graphic arts and film. The term “art deco” was coined in 1966, after an exhibition in Paris, ‘Les Années 25′ sub-titled Art Deco, celebrating the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts) that was the culmination of style moderne in Paris. At its best, art deco represented elegance, glamour, functionality and modernity. Art deco’s linear symmetry was a distinct departure from the flowing asymmetrical organic curves of its predecessor style art nouveau; it embraced influences from many different styles of the early twentieth century, including neoclassicalconstructivismcubism,modernism and futurism and drew inspiration from ancient Egyptian and Aztec forms. Although many design movements have political or philosophical beginnings or intentions, art deco was purely decorative.”

.Is Art Nouveau the same as Art Decor?  I looked it up.  This is the best answer :

They are two different art styles, with Art Deco evolving partially from Art Nouveau. Here is a good website comparing the two:
For Art Nouveau, think of the posters of Mucha, Women in flowing robes and floral ornaments. For Art Deco, think Bauhaus, it’s less ornate than Art Nouveau and more simplistic.”The Art Nouveau style appeared in the early 1880s and was gone by the eve of the First World War.””Art Deco was a popular design movement from 1920 until 1939, affecting the decorative arts such as architecture, interior design, and industrial design, as well as the visual arts such as fashion, painting, the graphic arts, and film. This movement was, in a sense, an amalgam of many different styles and movements of the early 20th century, including Constructivism, Cubism, Modernism, Bauhaus, Art Nouveau, and Futurism.”

Source(s):

Please also see my previous posts on Art Nouveau in Prague.  I like both Art Nouveau and Art Deco.  What about you?