In the right place at the wrong time

A few months ago we arrived in Minneapolis on the day Prince died and it was a somber city for the few days we were there though I learned more about Prince than I ever had before.  We arrived in France the day after the British people voted to leave the European Union.  It seemed a somber atmosphere at the airport, not many smiling or laughing people but they may also have been jet lagged as we were.  We have not had much opportunity to speak with people and our French is not good enough for French TV.  We have arrived at our pied-à-terre for the week and most of the conversation has been with our fellow American friends staying here.

What I can say, and what the newspapers are saying, is that people have voted with their emotions instead of their brains.  Does this sound like something we should pay attention to?

If you are in my class right now a few of you have remarked about “old” buildings and of course I’m here in the land of old buildings.  We are staying in a 400 year old farm house lovingly restored and now shared with others.

We spent the afternoon in Avignon, famous for the song written in the 16th century about the bridge that goes to a dance (which was performed under the bridge).  I learned it as a child and never knew what it was all about.  Now I do.  Avignon is a Medieval walled city that became the papal home and center of power from 1307-1377 with 7 popes residing there before their return to Rome.  For a time there were two popes (one in Rome and the other in Avignon) known as the Great Schism.  More about this in the next post.

These trees are 400 years old as well and in the foreground is lavender that is in full bloom right now. Expect to see fields of it over the next few days.
These trees are 400 years old as well and in the foreground is lavender that is in full bloom right now. Expect to see fields of it over the next few days.
This is the view looking out from the house. Beautiful sunset and all seems peaceful in the world.
This is the view looking out from the house. Beautiful sunset and all seems peaceful in the world.
A 400 year old farmhouse restored lovingly and shared with others.
A 400 year old farmhouse restored lovingly and shared with others.
The outside fortified walls of Avignon, one of the few cities to still have the entire wall intact, built during the time of the popes' residencies.
The outside fortified walls of Avignon, one of the few cities to still have the entire wall intact, built during the time of the popes’ residencies.
In addition to protection from invaders the walls also helped protect the city from flooding from the Rhone river which runs alongside.
In addition to protection from invaders the walls also helped protect the city from flooding from the Rhone river which runs alongside.
This is the bridge associated with the song "Sous le Pont d'Avignon"
This is the bridge associated with the song “Sous le Pont d’Avignon”
Avignon has a population of around 100,000 and 12,000 of them live inside the walls. Unfortunately the "newer" city is fairly uninteresting.
Avignon has a population of around 100,000 and 12,000 of them live inside the walls. Unfortunately the “newer” city is fairly uninteresting.

Street scene

This alley leads to the Palais des Papes.
This alley leads to the Palais du Papes.

 

 

Art in Chicago

I am in Chicago to attend the College Art Association meeting at which I learned quite a bit that I will share with both of the online classes and to visit my daughter.  Two of my favorite museums anywhere in the world are the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art.  Two exhibits I will share with you are a small exhibit on restoration (more at http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=228036) an installation outside the Museum of Contemporary Art (more at http://www.mcachicago.org/exhibitions/now/2013/330) by Amanda Ross Ho and “The Way of the Shovel” (more at http://www.mcachicago.org/exhibitions/now/2013/324) a different way of looking at archaeology.

First, at the Art Institute, one of the most comprehensive collections of art in the world ranking up there with the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Louvre in Paris.  Currently, there is a small exhibition regarding a Renoir painting that was to undergo some cleaning.  When they removed the frame, they discovered a small line of bright red paint under the edge of the frame and after analysis determined that this red was Carmine Lake, an naturally derived pigment that is light sensitive and so had faded over time.  In our 1B class we have just been discussing the Mona Lisa and restoration, and in your textbook you should have read a little about restoration of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and the x-ray of the Arnolfini portrait.  Restoration can be controversial at times and must be done extremely carefully.  In fact, I should be talking more about conservation rather than restoration as nowadays we do not change anything but learn about an artist’s process and perhaps get inside their head a little.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago is an interesting museum, as it does not have a permanent collection.  Every show is temporary and the themes they choose take you outside of your normal conception of art.  This show “The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology” is not at all what you think about archaeology and broadens your thinking on this topic.  For those of you in Art 1A we have been learning these last four weeks about works of art that are traditional archaeological discoveries so you will be most interested to see how archaeology can be viewed in a contemporary context.  I particularly want to share Michael Rakowitz’s work entitled “The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist” which features works of looted art from Iraq- exactly the topic we have been discussing in class.  The works are paper mache out of Arabic (and I am assuming Iraqi) newspapers.  A short video narrated by the curator will take you through the highlights of this exhibit: http://vimeo.com/81746201