Ten Iconic Artworks in Europe

Last week, I listed a few of the amazing artworks on display in the United States. This week, I thought I’d do the same for Europe. It was incredibly hard to pick just ten.

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Row 1:

Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring (Mauritshuis, The Hague)

Row 2:

Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People (The Louvre, Paris)

Pablo Picasso, Guernica (Museo Nacional Centrovde Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid)

Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa (The Louvre, Paris)

Row 3:

Michelangelo, David (Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze, Florence)

Francisco Goya, The Third of May (Prado Museum, Madrid)

Rembrandt, The Night Watch (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

Row 4:

Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper (Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milano)

Hieronymous Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights (Prado Museum, Madrid)

Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel ceiling (Sistine Chapel, Vatican City)

Ten Iconic Artworks in the USA

Of all the worlds great art treasures, many can be seen in the United States of America. Here are ten of the most iconic artworks to be found in the land of liberty.

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Row 1:

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night (Museum of Modern Art, New York City)

Row 2:

Katsushika Hokusai, Great Wave Off Kanagawa (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City)

Grant Wood, American Gothic (Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party (The Phillips Collection, Washington DC)

Row 3:

Georges-Pierre Seurat, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago)

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (Museum of Modern Art, New York City)

Rene Magritte, The Treachery of Images (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles)

Row 4:

Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory (Museum of Modern Art, New York City)

J.M.W. Turner, The Slave Ship (Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks (Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago)

Some of My Favorite Art Exhibitions

I love art exhibitions, and through the years, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some really great ones. Of them all, here are three of my favorites – in no particular order.

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ABOVE: Scott Hocking, The Reptile Room: Mercury Retrograde, installation

2012

SiTE:LAB @ 54 Jefferson (formerly the Grand Rapids Public Museum)

Grand Rapids, Michigan

In 2012, SiTE:LAB took over the former home of the Grand Rapids Public Museum and filled the space with the work of 18 artists. The building, which was vacated in 1994, still contained a number of its dioramas and exhibits, and they, along with the artist’s installations, provided the viewer with a truly unique experience. It was surreal and creepy, and, it was the top venue at Artprize 2012.

 

ABOVE: Ai Weiwei, Straight, installation

2013

Ai Weiwei: According to What? (Art Gallery of Ontario)

Toronto, Ontario

Having followed Weiwei’s exploits in the news, I was super excited to see this politically charged exhibition. Everything on display was deep, but I especially liked Straight (pictured above), which consisted of 150 tons of rebar recovered from schools that had collapsed in the Sichuan earthquake. They were all straightened, and on the wall behind them, were the names of the students who lost their lives in the quake. Heavy.

 

ABOVE: Gabriel Dawe, Plexus A1, installation

2016

Wonder (Renwick Gallery)

Washington D.C.

In 2015, after a two-year renovation, the Renwick Gallery opened its doors to Wonder, an immersive exhibition featuring the work of 9 artists. Each was given a room to create a site specific installation, and the entire building became one immersive artwork. As the title suggests, it was a wonderful space to spend an hour two, and, judging by the long lineups to get in, it was a big hit with the locals too.

Art Quotes: Part 3

I love quotes and I love searching them out on the internet – especially when I’m too lazy to write a short blog post. This is one of those weeks. So, here goes.

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ABOVE: Banksy, Naked Man, graffiti, Park Street, Bristol

“The function of the artist in a disturbed society is to give awareness of the universe, to ask the right questions, and to elevate the mind.” Marina Abramovic

“Speak softly, but carry a big can of paint.” Bansky

“I don’t feel any real animosity towards critics when they write negative things. I think some are more perceptive than others. Some are very knowledgeable about painting. But it isn’t something I have any influence over, so there isn’t any point in worrying about it.” Peter Doig

“The reason artists want to have works in museums is that we want our works to be seen by as many people as possible and we want our ideas to be understood in more complicated ways.” Theaster Gates

“Every time I have had a problem, I have confronted it with the ax of art.” Yayoi Kusama

“My job is not to produce answers. My job is to produce good questions.” Glenn Ligon

“Focusing isn’t just an optical activity, it is also a mental one.” Bridget Riley

“Nowadays, with digital printing, it’s so easy to make everything perfect, which is not always a good idea. Sometimes the mistakes are really what make a piece.” Cindy Sherman 

“Artists live in unknown spaces and give themselves over to following something unknown.” Kiki Smith

“The artist is like an abuser of everything, picture, history, and other people.” Kara Walker

Vision after the Sermon

On October 22, you’ll be able to see some incredible artworks at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Of them all, I’m most looking forward to Gauguin’s Vision after the Sermon.

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ABOVE: Paul Gauguin, Vision after the Sermon (Jacob wrestling with the Angel), 1888, oil on canvas, 28.7 x 36.2 inches

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) seems to be on a role as of late, and it looks like that’s going to continue with Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, Van Gogh and more (opening on October 22). After viewing some of the works on the AGO’s website, I’m most excited to see Vision after the Sermon by Paul Gauguin. Here is a little about the piece.

Painted in 1888 and purchased by the National Gallery of Scotland in 1925, Vision after the Sermon is one of Gauguin’s most famous works, in part, because it marks his transition from plein air landscapes to religious iconography.

In the painting, the women have just listened to a sermon based upon Genesis (32:22-32) which tells the story of Jacob, who, after crossing a river with his family, gets into an all-night wrestling match with an unknown angel. They are separated from their vision by a tree that cuts across the visual plane, and, to draw attention to the scene before them, the ground on which they stand is painted red. About the piece Gauguin wrote “for me, the landscape and the fight only exist in the imagination of the people praying after the sermon.”

In a few months, I’ll get to see it in person. I can’t wait.

Theaster Gates: How to Build a House Museum

Lawren Harris isn’t the only artist worth checking out at the Art Gallery of Ontario this summer. The Theaster Gates show on the 5th floor is worth a visit as well.

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Two weekends ago, I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) to see The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris. While there, I also saw Theaster Gates: How to Build a House Museum.

First, a little about the man:

Theaster Gates is an activist/urban planner/artist whose work seeks to revitalize poor neighborhoods. Living and working in Chicago, he has become famous – in part – for restoring vacant buildings and turning them into cultural institutions.

Now, a little about the show:

How to Build a House Museum is closely related to the work Gates does in Chicago. In it, he seeks to immortalize Frankie Knuckles – a legendary DJ often credited with the creation of House music – by building a museum in his honor. In addition to a mini chapel erected in his name, there is a dance hall with an iceberg shaped disco ball, and funky beats. It is a fun and energetic tribute, but, like most of Gates work, it’s full of cultural/political implications.

Packed with thought provoking imagery and statistics relating to the black experience in America, this is a powerful little show that serves as a nice compliment to the somewhat staid Lawren Harris exhibition downstairs. If you’re heading to the AGO, you should check it out. It’ll leave you with lots to think about.

Theaster Gates: How to Build a House Museum is at the Art Gallery of Ontario until October 30, 2016.

Lawren Harris at the Art Gallery of Ontario

I recently visited the Art Gallery of Ontario to see it’s latest exhibition, The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris. Here are some of my thoughts on the show.

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Of all the art shows to come to Toronto this year, none had me more excited than The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris. I finally got to see it a few days ago and as I had expected, it was impressive.

The exhibition, which is broken into three parts, begins with work inspired by life in one of Toronto’s poorest neighborhoods, the Ward. It was there that Harris cut his teeth as an artist, and as such, the paintings at the beginning of this section bear little resemblance to those at the end. They’re all good, but the later ones are better.

The middle section stands in stark contrast to the first and contains some of Harris’s most beloved work. The paintings here were inspired by Canada’s arctic, and owing to that, are sparse in nature and grand in scale. Although a bit cold (no pun intended), they are strikingly beautiful and provide a nice escape from the summer heat.

The final section represents yet another shift for Harris and the works on display are mostly abstract. While I can appreciate his artistic evolution, I liked these paintings the least.

If I’m being honest, this exhibition isn’t perfect. I would have liked a little more info on Harris because as great as the paintings were, I didn’t leave knowing much more about him than when I entered. That said, I suspect that for most folks, the artwork itself will be more than enough – there were a lot of people when I went, and they all seemed engaged.

The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris is at the Art Gallery of Ontario until September 18, 2016. I highly suggest you go.