Friday, October 18, 2013

Surreptitiously Taking Photos Of Art: (A Sweetest Day Photo Essay)

I took today off from work to celebrate Sweetest Day with Sweetie, who is my sweetest. (The actual day is tomorrow, but it's easier to go have a relaxing time while Mr F and Mr Bunches are in school than if they are with babysitters.)

We went to the Chazen Museum of Art on campus, which you may remember from the time I took the boys there and snapped a few photos of stuff despite knowing that it's illegal (?) to do so.  This time, I had more time, and fewer bored 7-year-olds, and so I got LOTS more pictures.


These were pictures near the bathroom on the first level, just before the main gallery. They made me think of math homework.

The main exhibit, which I took only a few pictures of because the security guards were watching us like hawks -- honestly, they were, by the third floor Sweetie, when the guard for that floor walked by us for the zillionth time, said "Do you think we're being watched?"

I did.

Probably they were aware that I was sneaking pictures and were trying to catch me in the act. Being an art museum security guard is probably pretty dull, because of the low number of art heists being pulled off these days.

Heist is a good, solid, old-fashioned word that should be used more. Another one? Swindle.  I don't know why I thought of that just now but it's true: nobody ever says swindle anymore.

Anyway, the main exhibit, as it turns out, was a traveling show by Romare Bearden, who is a famous artist, I'm told, and the exhibit was a double set of heavy charcoal/or ink line drawings -- they looked more like sketches than anything, but I liked them a lot -- that told the story of the Iliad, followed by paper-and-paint collages of The Odyssey.

The collages were great: they contrasted the Odyssey with the Civil War and US aggression to Indians through the shapes and color choices, while also being clearly the Odyssey, or at least so far as I know since I gave up reading that boring poem, only to then like the collages.  Turns out what it was missing was bright colors! (Turns out my reading habits are the same as a parakeet's!)

I could only get that one quick snap of a battle, because the security guard was on us like... I'm coming up a blank.  He was on us like something that is really on another thing, if that other thing is doing something that would get that thing kicked out of an art museum.


... was neat.  Hey, I never took any kind of art classes that would teach me how to properly critique art, so you get what I can give, here.

You can tell from the close-up what the texture was like:

I believe that is cake frosting. I could be wrong.

One of the first dates I ever took Sweetie to was the Art Institute in Chicago (the same place Ferris went on his day off).  I enjoy art museums almost disproportionately.  We spent about 1 1/2 hours here today before heading off to lunch. I could've spent even more time, and when I mentioned that to Sweetie she said we didn't have to leave, but I didn't mind: I go to this museum 1-2 times a year. 

(It helps that it's free. Although I did donate $2. In the olden days, when we first started dating, I never gave anything to the "suggested donation" boxes but now I give a bit.)

Many of the pictures actually have me in them: they are self-portraits, unintentionally.

That is a close-up of a glass sculpture in other glass, and the glass display case is a two-way mirror: you can see in but on the other side it reflects, which I thought was genius.

I am standing beside the glass, looking in, and it's reflecting me back. It took me a second to realize that this was the artist's intended effect:

It was great. I wish I could own art like that.

Sweetie drew my attention to this one: you can't tell from a still photo, but those thought balloons are actually video monitors, which show a loop of the artist putting in the display, and then the word balloons say things, and sometimes the artist's hand is shown drawing. Like in this shot where you can see the blank room before the painting was hung in it and before a photograph of people looking at the painting was taken.  On the right-hand side, a hand is making red dots over the screen:

I found it very thought-provoking.  And also, it's Art Made Of People Standing In Front Of Art.

BONUS ART: what I realized as I looked at it was that Sweetie and I were standing, me on the right, her on the left, and therefore were re-enacting the picture were were looking at . We were People Standing In Front Of Art Made Of People Standing In Front Of Art.

On the bridge between annexes, there were sculptures.  This is a view looking towards Lake Mendota; off in the distance to the right is a red castle that Mr Bunches likes to go visit when we go bum around the campus.

One of my favorite things to do is go the college and environs and hang out.  I like this precisely because I am not in college.  While college had its moments, when I was in college and law school I had to work and go to school and I made so little money that my budget for everything besides rent and tuition was twenty dollars a week, and I lived in a series of apartments that ranged from terrible to dreadful.

Now that I am not in college, I can take a day off from my job and go hang out and enjoy it without having to worry about term papers, and then go back to my comfortable house which is stocked with luxuries like snack chips made from lentils. That's really a thing! Sweetie got them this week. They're pretty good. 


is a pottery vase.  It's hard to tell, but upon close inspection (as close as you can, anyway, through glass), the vase is not three dimensional: those points are simply drawn/painted/somethinged onto the surface and glazed on.  But in real life the effect is even more real-life. In that picture, if you look at the top of the vase, you'll get the clearest idea of how realistic the illusion that those things are actual spikes really is.

While I've been posting this, the song Sensitive Artist by King Missile just came on my iTunes, so coincidentally symbolic-seeming music break!

You should listen to it while you read the post!

Speaking of sensitive artists, here is an artsy, black-and-white photo of a gallery:

The first shot I took of the gallery had Sweetie in it. I am forbidden to post photos of Sweetie -- who recently had a one-shot modeling deal -- on the Internet.

More art:

This is me, in front of an elevator door that used to be on the Chicago Board of Trade elevator.  That was in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, too! It's like we were re-creating that day!

Enoug with Regular People Standing In Front Of Art! Let's have some'

 Famous People Standing In Front Of Art:

Napoleon and Horse Standing In Front Of Art:

A Statue Of A Guy* Standing In Front Of Art. 

*I forgot to read the card about who it was.

Abraham Lincoln Standing In Front Of Art!

Kind of looks like he's looking down her dress, doesn't it? Pervo.

Artsy black-and-white photo palette cleanser time.  In this context, palette has its formal  meaning.

 Time to show how smart I am. This is a painting of Apollo pursuing Daphne with Cupid. The old God I think is Poseidon? It's by Paolo di Matteis, from around 1700,

And if you look it up, you'll learn that Apollo chasing Daphne was a popular subject for paintings in the 1600-1700s.  The legend in brief: Apollo teases Cupid for playing with a bow and arrow, bragging that Apollo is a great warrior and telling Cupid to stick to torches.  So Cupid curses him: he shoots Apollo with a golden arrow and Daphne with a lead one, so that Daphne will hate Apollo and Apollo will love her.  Apollo begs for her to marry him, but she hates him (because of the lead arrow, remember) and she tried to flee, even though her father Peneus, wants her to marry Apollo and give him heirs.  Why Apollo didn't just force her is anyone's guess, although Wikipedia says that he couldn't catch her without Cupid's help.  

Cupid does help Apollo, though, probably because he knows something terrible will happen, I guess? And Apollo tries to kiss Daphne who begs her father for help, and her father turns her into a laurel tree, which is why laurel trees' leaves don't rot now: they are magicked, and Apollo was heartbroken.

Also according to Wikipedia, the famous painting The Kiss is based on that legend, but I don't know if that's true.

Anyway, what I thought about the painting was how childlike Apollo's face was: having read about 1/3 of the Odyssey, I know the gods were petulant and childlike, but I wondered today if the painter did that deliberately -- make Apollo seem childlike -- and if so, whether he did it because of Christianity (making pagan gods seem less like adults in paintings) or because of his own view of Apollo's actions and life, that he seemed childlike. 

Or maybe he just wanted the Gods to seem more unreal: grown bodies but strangely childlike faces do that pretty effectively, imparting a bit of timelessness, or agelessness -- but in a way that suggests that they are not just unaffected by time, but experience it differently than we do.  Maybe time flows in spirals for the Gods? Or Mobius strips: Imagine if your own personal timeline was not a line, but instead a Mobius loop, endlessly retracing itself without seeming to.

Heady stuff. Let's close for today on a picture of a bunch of dead animals:

That is Still Life with Game, Fowl, and Vegetables, by Adriaen van Utretcht.  I'd say he nailed it with the title.



Pat Dilloway said...

I think I'd appreciate the art more if they let you take pictures. I suppose they want you to buy a bunch of expensive postcards and guidebooks and posters and mugs and whatnot featuring the art in the gift shop.

Looks like your diet is working. Or maybe it's just the hoodie.

Pat Dilloway said...

BTW, a couple expressions you could use are "those security guards were sticking to me like white on rice!" Or brown on rice if you don't want to be racist. Or the dirty way would be to say they're sticking to you like stink on shit.

Briane P said...

The diet IS working. Thanks!

I knew the white on rice, but wanted to come up with a better one.

I agree about the motivations for not letting you take pictures. But it probably has something to do with protecting the artists' intellectual property, in which case you should be allowed to take pictures for personal use, just like recording TV shows.

Andrew Leon said...

Cool pictures. It's late or I would have more to say about it.