Tag Archives: art museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum feels more like you’re traipsing through Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s home than an art museum near Fenway. For precisely this reason, it’s a must-go on my list. This unusual museum was the home of Isabella Stewart Gardner. She was an avid art collector in the early 1900s, who set up the museum in her Fenway home and ordered it to be left exactly as it is – which is how you’ll view it today. There are no white gallery walls with succinct wall plaques to identify the beautiful Gothic and Renaissance pieces the house holds.No photos are allowed in the museum, so I’ll be sharing images from the Gardner Museum website.

The Courtyard

The Raphael Room

The Short Gallery

The Little Salon

The Dutch Room

The Spanish Cloisters

Where: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA

When: Open daily 11:00am–5:00pm, Thursday until 9:00pm

Highlights: There are a number of large-scale paintings by John Singer Sargent, including a portrait of Ms. Gardner herself that was deemed so “scandalous” it was hidden from public view during her lifetime by her husband. Don’t miss the beautiful ceiling painting in the Italian Room and the Michelangelo and Raphael sketches hidden behind paneling. The glass courtyard is a beauty to behold with constantly rotating foliage to admire. There are a number of non-art artifacts as well, including a hand-written letter by George Washington.

Of Note: In 1990 a number of works in the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum were stolen, and the robbery remains the largest theft of all time. The thieves stole a Vermeer, 3 Rembrandts, a Manet, 5 Degas, and several other items, amounting to $500 million in art. Several of the frames remain empty on the walls of the museum to this day.

Things to Know: The museum is quite dark inside to protect the artwork. We went on a Thursday night, and the added daylight from the windows would have been helpful in a few rooms. This is cell-phone free museum, you’ll want to keep it tucked away, or one of the many lurking docents will kindly ask you to. Public transportation recommended, as parking in this area of the city is notoriously difficult.

Admission: $15/adult. Free if your name is Isabella. $5/adult if you purchase your tickets through a local library.

 

The G Cafe inside the museum looks lovely, and gets great reviews. However, we were there at closing time, so we walked around West Fens and tested out a great sushi/hot pot place instead – Swish Shabu. It garnered two sushi-sized thumbs up from all of us!

Does art theft fascinate you as much as it does me?

The Art Institute of Chicago

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I have a habit of taking lots of pictures in art museums of all my favorite pieces. I’ve dragged my husband to more art museums than I’d like to admit. If I am ever in a new city I always try to make a stop into new, or favorite, museums.

I thought it would be a fun addition to the blog if I shared my reviews of art museums as I visit them throughout the year! I’ll start with the Chicago Institute of Art.

artinchicagoA personal favorite – the Chagall window

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Where: The Art Institute of Chicago

When: Open daily 10:30am–5:00pm, Thursday until 8:00pm

Highlights: “American Gothic”, by Grant Wood, (seen above, farmers) is one of the more popular pieces in this Chicago museum, as is the “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”, by Seurat (seen above with children sitting on the floor). The Art Institute of Chicago has a sizable Impressionism collection, and a wonderful Modern collection as well. It unfortunately was under construction during my last visit, but opens this month. The museum reconstructed the Chicago Stock Exchange Room (from the 1890s) in one of it’s wings. It was beautiful and, away from the popular pieces, it’s quite quiet! It’s located near the Chagall window, which, is one of my personal favorites.

Things to Know: Mornings can be quite busy with field trips (which can be quite annoying, as they tend to hop to and crowd out the most famous pieces in the museum). One of museum’s cafes is located in the courtyard, which is both quiet and beautiful!

Admission: $23.00 for an adult (Admission is free to Illinois residents on Thursdays from 5-8pm)

artinchicago2If you go, be sure to check out the outdoor installations in neighboring Millennium Park. Chicago can always be counted on for fantastic public art.

Have you been to the Art Institute of Chicago? What’s your favorite art museum?

LACMA Gets Dressed Up: Diane Von Furstenberg Exhibit

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Fashionista I am not, but even I am familiar with Diane Von Furstenberg’s iconic wrap dress.

My dear friend I was visiting had been to the Journey of a Dress exhibit at the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and thought I would enjoy it – she was right! The exhibit celebrates the 40th anniversary of Von Furstenberg’s brand.

The exhibit is made up of three halls – one central hallway features large-scale photographs that tell the story of the dress and its inclusion in pop culture throughout its lifetime. (Everyone from a 1970s Sharon Stone to modern-day First Lady Michelle Obama.

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The second is an art gallery where Diane Von Furstenberg served as a muse to many famous artists. Many of you will recognize the famous series done by Andy Warhol. Fewer of you will recognize the haunting series of portraits done by Chuck Close (one of my personal favorite artists).

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The third is the Wrap Room – a large room where many dresses are displayed, organized by theme. The dress truly transcends time, as many of the original patterns I could easily see women wear today. Only the size and shape of lapels and cuffs gave any indication of decade.

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The concept of the wrap dress is simple, yet revolutionary. Truly a sign of the times when it came to the changing culture of women in the workforce. The dress, which wraps around the torso and ties at the waist, featured no tricky zippers, easily transitions from day to night, and work to play. A piece of fabric that is symbolic of the modern woman.

“For the women of the land had gone to work. Heigh-ho! It was the 70’s, and en masse, they left their sculleries and their hearths for careers in finance, law and other fields that had been the province of men… They went straight from the office out to dinner, they went around the world, washing the dress at night in their hotel room’s bathroom sink.”  – Holly Brubach, Fashion Historian

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The entire hall itself is attractive and exciting – from the hot pink walls of the entry way, to the funky floors mimicking the patterns from the textiles.

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The Journey of a Dress exhibit will be at the LACMA until April 1, 2014 and should you be in the L.A. area I’d certainly recommend checking it out!

Entrance to this particular exhibit is free. Parking at the LACMA is $10. For parents, if you register your child with the LACMA, your child and you (one parent) can get into any exhibit for free.

Appreciating Alex Katz: An Art Exhibit for Summer

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Choosing to get a degree in art was a great decision.

I don’t think I ever dreaded going to class. No, I think I really, really liked going.

Beyond the fact that studying art greatly stretched my understanding of artistic expression, as well as my own technical skills, I love studying other peoples art.

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When I go to the art museum I get my face as close as I possible can to the canvas. Trying to dodge the museum monitors who will ask me to stay a safe distance away.

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I love getting up close and seeing the layers of paint, the strokes of graphite, the etching lines, the smudges.

One of by best friends (and the gal who currently holds the “Kat’s Longest Roomate” title… my husband won’t catch up for another few years!) and I recently went together to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). We went with a particular desire to see the Alex Katz exhibit.

I love modern art.

Actually, let me preface that. I love all art. Really, it’s true. Even the crazy ones.

I’d like to echo a typographic display I saw at the MFA: All art was modern in it’s time.

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What I love about what we know to be as “modern art” is that it shows me something that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

For all the perfectly beautiful and interesting early American portraits and Renaissance sculptures and Ansel Adams photography pieces on the walls, I like contemporary ones the best.

Alex Katz is summer art perfection.

The bold colors. The clean lines. His pieces radiated.

Mostly I just love that he doesn’t take it too seriously.

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And that he isn’t afraid to use color.

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Or afraid to leave it out. (This is my favorite).

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Unfortunately this lovely collection has already left Boston, but maybe it will be reappearing in a museum near you.

Do not miss it!

And bring along some aviators and a lemonade for true summery appreciation.

Or for afterwards. One way, or another the museum monitors will getcha!