Asian Art Museum new exhibition Tomb Treasures #2 : Dancer Figurine and Comment by Yuan Yuan Tan, #TombPleasures

Dancer Figurine

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This is my second post on the Asian Art Museum new exhibition.  This exhibition includes a creative approach which I personally appreciate very much.  It is the “Tomb Pleasures” self-guided tour with contemporary experts.

http://www.asianart.org/regular/tomb-pleasures

Ten contemporary experts commented on ten highlights of the exhibits.  I particularly like the comment on the Dancer Figurine by Yuan Yuan Tan, Principal Dancer of San Francisco Ballet.  She is my favorite ballerina in San Francisco Ballet.  I am very impressed not only by her performance in SF Ballet but also her comments on this exhibit.   Below is the picture I took in the gallery.  It includes the comments from Yuan Yuan Tan on the Dancer Figurine.  She said: “Certainly as long as any other form of human expression, dance is in our very nature to express ourselves and our desire to be understood.  It is a window into another’s soul.  Through the movements and expressions of dancers, we catch a glimpse of their inner monologue:  the joys, agonies, triumphs, and failures that are part of the universal human experience.”

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The female dancer figurine shows a very dynamic posture of the “flying swallow” dance.  It is very bold in its design 2200 years ago!  My reader Adelaide commented on my previous post that she found the dancer figurine very modern.  It is really eye-opening for us.   Apart from this figurine there is an ensemble of dancers in the gallery.  I took a few of these photos and created a short video on Magisto.  I am posting these photos and the video here which is also posted on YouTube.  Enjoy!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pure — My Notebook

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Pure The SFMOMA has just reopened after three years of renovation. As a member of SFMOMA for many years, I am very excited of its new look and expansion. Due to work, I was only able to visit the museum twice on Thursday nights. Both visits were […]

via Weekly Photo Challenge: Pure — My Notebook

Looking East at Asian Art Museum–How Monet, van Gogh and other Western Artists were influenced by Japanese Art and Culture

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If you live in San Francisco or travel here for a visit, this is an art exhibition that you will enjoy very much.  Asian art is not as commonly appreciated by most Americans, but the Impressionists are more popular.  You may be interested  to know that in the late 19th Century, a generation of artists and collectors embraced Japanese art, and created the trend called Japonism.  Impressionists and post-impressionists including van Gogh,  Cassatt, Degas, and Monet were much influenced by the Japanese art and culture.

In this exhibition, there are many paintings that you can pair the art work of the Western artists with the Japanese artists.  I usually don’t take pictures in the museum, but this time I was encouraged by the museum’s request:  SNAP and SHARE.  So, I did my part.  I took many pictures without flash and shared with you all.  Very often, artists inspire one another, but it is interesting to learn how they were inspired by other cultures without even having visited those countries.  We have social media nowadays and technology.  But what kind of communication did they have at that time?   Art has become the subject, as well as the media in communication.  Art has existed since the beginning of civilization.  It  never stops to inspire, to cultivate, and to appreciate.

I know very little about Japanese Art though I visited Japan many years ago through a work-study program in the university.  Ten years ago, I attempted to study Asian Art at the Asian Art Museum, but failed to complete the course due to work.  This exhibition has re-ignited my interest in this area.  I looked up some information via the internet and bought some books.  There are some interesting articles I found.  Take a look if you are interested.

Monet’s collection of Japanese prints: what are the historical and cultural factors, and how these two cultures met.  If you like, let us study a little and hold a discussion group, just to have fun.  Meanwhile, these photos I took told us lots of information.  The exhibition is still on till February 7. Don’t miss this opportunity.  See you there!

I also found this You Tube video from Asian Art Museum very educational.

Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas , a Masterpiece of Beauty and Puzzle–My Spain Trip #6

My dream to see this painting had finally come true!   This is one of my few “most desired to see” paintings.  My trip to Spain last year was one of my most satisfying one.  I did have the opportunity to visit three of the most famous museums in the world, and see three very important works of art while traveling.   Lucky me!

A visit to Prado Museum in Madrid was one of the most exciting programs in the itinerary.  We joined a guided tour.  Though the docent was excellent, I drifted away from the group when we came to this gallery where Las Meninas was placed. I was able to see this beautiful painting only a few feet away whereas my fellow travel mates were listening to the docent at the back.  My attention was completely absorbed into this amazing piece of art, imagining that I was among this group of individuals drawn by Diego  Velazquez who created a puzzle out of this picture.  No wonder this has become one of the most important paintings in the Western World!

Diego Velázquez’s masterpiece Las meninas (ca. 1656),

Museo Nacional del Prado

890px-Las_Meninas,_by_Diego_Velázquez,_from_Prado_in_Google_Earth (556x640)

Blake Gopnik , Washington Post staff writer, called Las Meninas an encyclopedia of artistic greatness, in his article: The Velazquez painting ‘Las Meninas’: An encyclopedia of artistic greatness. Gopnik said: “Las Meninas never stops giving: Every time you think you’re done, the picture insists that everything you’ve thought was wrong, and that you’ll have to start over from scratch. And instead of putting you off, it makes you enjoy that relentless perplexity.”

“The painting shows a large room in the Royal Alcazar of Madrid during the reign of King Philip IV of Spain, and presents several figures, most identifiable from the Spanish court, captured, according to some commentators, in a particular moment as if in a snapshot.[2] Some look out of the canvas towards the viewer, while others interact among themselves. The young Infanta Margaret Theresa is surrounded by her entourage of maids of honour, chaperone, bodyguard, two dwarfs and a dog. Just behind them, Velázquez portrays himself working at a large canvas. Velázquez looks outwards, beyond the pictorial space to where a viewer of the painting would stand.[3] In the background there is a mirror that reflects the upper bodies of the king and queen. They appear to be placed outside the picture space in a position similar to that of the viewer, although some scholars have speculated that their image is a reflection from the painting Velázquez is shown working on.”   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Meninas

 “Measuring “ten and a half feet by nine feet wide” (96), the painting’s near life-sized figures, along with its “spatial construction,” creates a sense of overwhelming realism, emphasizing complexities, such as literary-like symbolism, that confuse the viewer.”  (Natalia Rivera: Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas ).

There are many intellectual discussion and interpretations of this painting. I am interested in the theory of Michel Foucault.

Michel Foucault devoted the opening chapter of The Order of Things (1966) to an analysis of Las Meninas. “We have pictures not simply of what things looked like, but how things were made visible, how things were given to be seen, how things were shown to knowledge and power.” Jonathan Rajchman, Foucault’s Art of Seeing.

After reading a few interpretations of this painting, I can’t help asking the same question like everybody else: What is this painting about?  Is it about power?  Whose power?  The Monarch’s power, or the people’s?

There is another very natural question: Who stands in front of the painting?  Most will say “the King and the queen?  No, I would say:  It is me, you and me! “The viewers complete the art’ ~ Marcel Duchamp.

Finally, I cannot end this post without referring to Picasso’s Las Meninas which is a series of 58 paintings that Pablo Picasso painted in 1957 by performing a comprehensive analysis, reinterpreting and recreating several times Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez. The suite is fully preserved at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona and is the only complete series of the artist that remains together. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Meninas_%28Picasso%29

We did see Picasso’s Las Meninas (all the 58 paintings of this suite).  Which one do I like best?

Although I am a big fan of Picasso, my answer is :  No doubt Velazquez’s Las Meninas is the greatest work of art in western cultures.. Picasso is my favorite artist but his Las Meninas is not my favorite painting.  My goal is to post Picasso’s most famous painting Guernica at the Museo Reina Sofía, Queen Sofía Museum next time.  Stay tuned, my friends.

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Pablo Picasso, The Maids of Honor (Las Meninas, after Velázquez) (Les Ménines, vue d’ensemble, d’après Velázquez), La Californie, August 17, 1957, Museu Picasso de Barcelona

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?

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

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…

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

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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.