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.
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