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Posts Tagged ‘mfa’

061017-Felippo-Lippi-Madonna-and-Child

I made it to “Botticelli and the Search for the Divine” at the Museum of Fine Arts. By the time I paid for the ticket, the parking garage, lunch, and gas, it was an expensive outing, but I was glad I went. The show closes July 9.

Curiously, I think I loved the tenderness of the mother-and-child by Felippo Lippi (above) the most. That isn’t to say there wasn’t a splendid Botticelli Venus, holding her long tresses in a way that made her look like Eve and the snake. And I was delighted to see the famous Minerva and centaur that I admired so much in Florence when I was 16.

I don’t think I ever knew the centaur story. I ask you, does it look more like the Goddess of War just defeated a warlike centaur or like a tragic couple accepting that they have no future together? The latter version is what I made up, and it still works for me.

But getting back to Botticelli’s teacher: I remembered the name from “Fra Felippo Lippi,” a long, biographical poem by Robert Browning that we were assigned in high school.

So when I got home, I went on Google to have a look. The poem includes a description of the artist’s early years as a street urchin, before being handed over to the friars to be trained as a monk. I wanted to share this section of the poem about how Lippi became a close observer of his world.

“But, mind you, when a boy starves in the streets
“Eight years together, as my fortune was,
“Watching folk’s faces to know who will fling
“The bit of half-stripped grape-bunch he desires,
“And who will curse or kick him for his pains, —
“Which gentleman processional and fine,
“Holding a candle to the Sacrament,
“Will wink and let him lift a plate and catch
“The droppings of the wax to sell again,
“Or holla for the Eight and have him whipped, —
“How say I? — nay, which dog bites, which lets drop
“His bone from the heap of offal in the street, —
“Why, soul and sense of him grow sharp alike,
“He learns the look of things, and none the less
“For admonition from the hunger-pinch.
“I had a store of such remarks, be sure,
“Which, after I found leisure, turned to use.
“I drew men’s faces on my copy-books,
“Scrawled them within the antiphonary’s marge,
“Joined legs and arms to the long music-notes,
“Found eyes and nose and chin for A’s and B’s,
“And made a string of pictures of the world
“Betwixt the ins and outs of verb and noun …”

More on Lippi at Wikipedia, here, and on Botticelli, here.

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I’m bummed that I couldn’t get my video of the giant red lotus to load. I can provide a still shot, but the flower outside the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston does more than look big — it opens and closes with a goofy clatter. Audrey II from the Broadway show Little Shop of Horrors has nothing on this hilarious monster.

A few blocks away, speaking of clatter, is the mechanical clock that graces Mass College of Art.

At Concord Art, where Mary Ann’s friend Holly Harrison curated a fascinating show on birds, Rivers and Revolutions students from Concord Carlisle High School had a small exhibit of their own — featuring a giant yellow warbler (in sneakers) and a nest complete with appropriately spotted eggs.

Next is Waterplace Park in Providence, where I was once again tempted by shadows. Note how interesting the streetlamp looks stretched out on the staircase. The state emblem with “hope” and an anchor reminds me to tell you that Suzanne sells an anchor charm at Luna & Stella and donates $5 of the sale of every anchor to the Rhode Island Foundation, now celebrating its 100th year.

My favorite photo here is the little boy on the banks of the Sudbury River, where he has just pulled in a nice bass, his fourth fish of the day. I took a bunch of photos of the boy and his dad, but this was the only one that made clear you are actually looking at a fish.

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A beautiful day is always a good excuse to walk the grounds of the deCordova Museum in Lincoln, Mass., enjoying the sculptures and lake view.

A little history from the museum website: “DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is located on the former estate of Julian de Cordova (1851-1945). The self-educated son of a Jamaican merchant, Julian de Cordova became a successful tea broker, wholesale merchant, investor, and president of the Union Glass Company in Somerville, Massachusetts. Although he married into the locally prominent Dana family of Boston, Julian achieved prosperity without the advantages of inheritance or social position. …

“Inspired by his trips to Spain and his own Spanish heritage, Julian remodeled his summer home in Lincoln, Massachusetts in 1910 to resemble a European castle. …

“For Julian, the visual arts served as a medium for self-improvement and enlightenment. In his later years, he opened the doors of his estate to share the wonders he had collected during seven decades of world travel. Julian envisioned a place where art would continue to educate and excite beyond his lifetime. To meet that end, he gave his property to the town of Lincoln in 1930 with the stipulation that his estate would become a public museum of art following his death.

“Julian’s will established a committee of incorporation, whose duties included formulating the policy, objectives, and supervision of the new museum with the guidance of professionals in the field, such as the Director of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston. Independent appraisers determined that Julian’s collections were not of substantial interest or value, so the collection was sold and the proceeds were used to create a museum of regional contemporary art.”

It’s nice to have an institution that focuses on New England artists, especially one that also offers a beautiful park for families to enjoy.

The yellow cables that seem to vibrate between the concrete blocks are a startling aspect of Stephanie Cardon’s sculpture Beacon. The collection of giant leaves, by Alan Sonfist, is called The Endangered Species of New England. The purple carpet is by Mother Nature and is called Violets.

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I went to the Museum of Fine Arts to see an exhibition on 100 years of American ceramics. It was a lovely show, but I would have liked to see an example of the late Anne Kraus’s mysterious tea cups there. If Warren McKenzie could give her a whole show at the Northern Clay Center when I was living in Minneapolis, I know it’s not just the gal on the street who thinks Kraus is major.

The MFA ceramics show was a very small show, tucked away in a corner. It hardly seemed enough to justify the admission fee and parking.

So I took a walk through a really big show there, one on the Japanese artist Hokusai (you know: “The Wave”). Unlike the ceramics show, this one was crowded and almost too extensive to take in, but I enjoyed what I saw — especially some colorful wall hangings.

I took photos both outside the museum and inside (a sign said it was OK — just not to use a flash). My Hokusai photos are mostly of large-scale reproductions. The originals were small and harder to shoot through glass.

The show is running until August 9, and if you go, I recommend that you pause for the wall of slides at the entrance, which is delightful and gives one a sensation of watching the art coming into being, like a waterfall swishing down a landscape.

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I blogged about the two previous murals in Dewey Square, here, and now there is a third one. The first two were by artists who had shows at the nearby Institute for Contemporary Arts (the ICA). The new one is by an artist associated with the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA).

According to Geoff Edgers at the Boston GlobeJill Medvedow, ICA director, was not pleased that the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy chose a different museum. “Really?” she said. “It’s walking distance to the ICA.”

WBUR radio’s “The Artery” covers more of the story: “Shinique Smith, the creator of the latest work, recalls seeing pictures on the Internet of that earlier mural by the Brazilian twins Os Gemeos. Standing in the grass below her piece, she told me she thought the wall was amazing, ‘and I wanted to do something like them.’ ” More here.

In case you’re wondering, Smith didn’t stand there painting it all herself like the Os Gemeos twins who did the first mural. Instead she gave a kind of map to skilled painters from a company that does this sort of thing, translating a smaller work into a giant one.

I took four photographs of the progress.

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This story at WBUR radio was fun.

Reporter Andrea Shea says, “It starts off kind-of guerilla with its hand-held camera shots of people in the Museum of Fine Arts’ Shapiro Family Courtyard. But soon the now-trending video captures the swift bloom of a holiday-spirited ‘flash mob.’ At least that’s what the MFA is calling it. It’s actually more of a ‘pop-up’ performance by 50 or so students from Berklee College of Music.

“Music stands appear, followed by a posse of string players and a choir. Their rendition of ‘O Holy Night’ peaks with soloist Mark Joseph. This surprise concert came together on last Saturday. The video was posted Wednesday.”

As of this posting had nearly 182,550 views.

Shea continues, “What’s being dubbed the ‘XMAS flash mob’ was 25-year-old Berklee grad Evan Chapman’s idea. He’s in charge of an organization called the Loft Sessions that showcases up-and-coming artists. …

” ‘It’s a little surreal to be honest,’ he said, ‘I mean, in the back of my head I think I was hoping it would do this well — but I never thought that it would.’ ” More.

A commenter on YouTube says of the video, “OK, so maybe this is a sort of poser version of a flash mob in that it was so incredibly well organized with microphones and folks bringing their instruments and music and such…but it ROCKS nonetheless! Why didn’t I go to Berklee when I had the chance?!?!”

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I love looking out the upper level of a parking garage at rooftops and chimneys. It makes me think of Dickens novels. And I’ve always been interested in art that shows a view from a window or someone looking out a window.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art must like windows, too, given that it mounted a whole show called Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century. I’m told that the exhibit’s focus was on how a window can frame a subject, but I’m more interested in what the person at the window is feeling.

There is a lovely painting at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts showing a young woman working at a sewing machine and gazing out a window through which a soft, dreamy light is falling. What is she thinking? “The Open Window,” painted by Elizabeth Okie Paxton in 1922, gives me the feeling that the woman is thinking about what other people are doing out in the world or what she might want to do someday.

I got a new insight into gazing-out-windows art from a review of the movie Hugo in the NY Times.

Manohla Dargis writes, “Mr. Scorsese caps this busy introductory section with Hugo looking wistfully at the world from a window high in the station. The image mirrors a stunning shot in his film Kundun, in which the young, isolated Dalai Lama looks out across the city, and it also evokes Mr. Scorsese’s well-known recollections about being an asthmatic child who watched life from windows — windows that of course put a frame around the world. This is a story shared by all children, who begin as observers and turn (if all goes well) into participants. But ‘Hugo’ is specifically about those observers of life who, perhaps out of loneliness and with desire, explore reality through its moving images, which is why it’s also about the creation of a cinematic imagination — Hugo’s, … Mr. Scorsese’s, ours.”

I had not thought about that before — that we all start out as observers.

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