Monday, August 16, 2010

Week at the Museums of Washington DC

White Poodle in a Punt
National Gallery of Art

When my husband was sent to Washington DC for professional training a few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance to go too. I know it can be horribly hot down there in July, but I also knew I would be inside almost the whole time looking at as much art as possible. 

I ended up visiting 6 museums in 4 days!!! I returned to our hotel each evening exhausted and filled to the brim with visions of paintings, prints, drawings, films, and photos. Luckily, looking at art is part of my job!

Here are some of the highlights from my wonderful week:

Day 1: Hirshhorn in the AM

Part of the Smithsonian Institute, this museum is most famous for its sculpture collection. When I am there, I always try to visit some of my favorite paintings by Giorgio Morandi (Italian whose still lifes teach us that there is always something to paint).

On my way to the paintings, I encountered two featured exhibits. The first was the short film, Block B. This piece glued me to my seat for the full 20 minutes. One critic appropriately labeled this work "a living painting." I highly recommend seeing this wonderful little movie if you get the chance.

The second floor was filled with the work of Yves Klein. I walked quickly through these galleries without finding anything I care to see again. Judge for yourself - click his name for a link to the show.

Day 1: National Gallery of Art in the PM

After lunch I browsed through the Chester Dale Collection. I have seen many of these paintings multiple times before because it is the core of the Gallery's modern painting collection, but it was interesting to see them exhibited together. I also made sure to visit the rest of the permanent collection, including the Stubbs painting at the head of the post.

The absolute highlight of my first day was the German Master Drawings exhibit. Drawings are such a treat to see since they are fragile and must be carefully guarded from the elements by their museum stewards. As an artist, I am always fascinated by the hints of process and planning that the masters often reveal in their drawings.

This show is 6 rooms of drawings - figures, landscapes, sketches, plans...wonderful stuff.  When I bought the catalog, the employee in the shop told me that they are going to have a similar exhibit of Italian drawings in the spring! I have already marked it on my calendar!

I saw all this great stuff and I was only on the first day of my trip! Wait until you read about what I saw on Day 2....

PS. The relative scarcity of drawings on display in museums is why I always visit the Armand Hammer Collection of the National Gallery. This is where the Gallery rotates a large collection of drawings including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Durer, Ingres and hundreds of others.... you never know what treasure you might see in there!

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