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Minneapolis Institute of Arts - 5 Aug 2009

 As I said, this museum really amazed me - for two reasons: the size and the content. I walked in, checked my backpack and got a map of the museum. As I studied my location on the map, trying to find my orientation in the huge entry atrium, I realized the room I was standing in was only a small square on the map and the museum was actually much larger than I thought - about 6 times larger! I had an adventure ahead of me, an exploration of art, history and culture. 

The collections include everything from ancient to contemporary art - African, Oceanic, Native American, Asian, European, American - painting, sculpture, textiles, prints, drawings, photos - you name it they have it. And not just just any old art work - pieces by masters such as John Singer Sargent, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Alberto Giacometti, Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali and Frank Lloyd Wright. And not just one or two, but multiple pieces by each artist. I was impressed and amazed. I was in art heaven.

Bill, who I mentioned before - the man who went to the sculpture garden and mall with me - told me the reason Minneapolis has such a wealth of art is that, in the late 1800's and early 1900's, in order to be accepted in high society, it was obligatory for persons of wealth to support the arts. While the mill barons made their fortunes, the wives would go off to Europe and acquire works of art, many of which were donated to the city. 

Here are some of the things that caught my eye:

There was an exhibit called Unspoken Messages: The Art of Necklace.

"A well-chosen piece of jewelry says a great deal about the wearer. Usually intended as ornament, jewelry is made of materials considered appealing or precious, a judgment that may vary widely from on time period and culture to another. Artistry in both design and workmanship contributes to the intrinsic value of beautiful objects of wearable wealth. For thousands of years, fine jewelry has been a marker of prosperity and status, demonstrating that the owner has the social position and resources required to possess such items. Jewelry also serves to communicate spiritual beliefs - as a symbol for personal use or a gift of a deity. 

Necklaces are often the largest, richest and most complex forms of personal adornment. Worn prominently around the neck and over the heart, they allow the artist broad scope for creative expression. Beyond their visual appeal, necklaces convey messages about taste, spirituality, power and value. Fashions change, but a well-made necklace of the best materials is always an object of admiration. The works selected for this exhibition illustrate the beauty, artistry and significance of necklaces." - MIA

The incomparable May West adorned in diamond and platinum jewelry:

Moroccan Necklace, Ida ou Semlal, 20th Century
Silver, amber, glass, stone, fiber
"The nomadic Ida ou Semlal people of Morocco, part of the larger Berber cultural group, wore their wealth on their bodies. Jewelry is portable, an advantage when life is spent on the move, and various component can be used in place of cash as needed. The many coin-like silver beads adorning this necklace would have been valuable either on their own or melted down. The large round amber beads are also precious. Traded from as far away as the Baltic and believed to have medicinal properties in addition to material worth, amber was highly prized and often worn with other beads."

Lorgnette and Chain, Tiffany & Co., 19th Century
Platinum, diamonds and glass
"A masterpiece of restraint, this lorgnette and chain made by Tiffany & Co. conveys the owner's wealth and status through subtle details and delicate workmanship. The small stones gracefully distributed along the chain and on the stem of the glasses are diamond. the metal is platinum - even rarer and more valuable in the 19th century than it is now."

Photograph of Cosette Vogel, Edward Steichen, 20th Century
Gelatin silver print
"Cosette Vogel was the first editor of French Vogue and very much part of the fashion scene in the early 20th century. Steichen's portrait shows a woman confident in her appearance, who selected each element of her outfit to create a studied effect. The necklace, with its large pendant, ties the entire look together."

Ceramic Pillows, Chinese, circa 960-1368 AD
These were pretty amazing to me because I had never seen anything like them. In fact, I had never even heard of ceramic pillows. Did they not know about feathers?
"Of the many ceramic products of the Tz'u-chou kilns, pillows are among the most varied and intriguing. Created in a variety of shapes and decorative techniques, some ceramic pillows were made exclusively for use in the tomb while others were produced for the living. All Tz'u-chou-type wares use a white slip (a mixture of clay and water) to cover the course clay body providing it a smooth, white surface suitable for a variety of decorative techniques. Painted decor was achieved with the application of iron-rich brown and black slip against this white ground. Sgraffito, the incising and carving of the outer slip to reveal the ground of different color, was used alone or with various inlay techniques and a limited number of colored glazes to create polychrome effects. Made for popular consumption throughout the Sung, Chin and Yuan dynasties, most Tz'u-chou pillows make use of some type of black and white decoration."

The Wu Family Reception Hall, China, late Ming Dynasty, Early 17th Century
Wood, Ceramic, Tile, Plaster, Lacquer, Stone
"This three-bay reception hall was originally part of a traditional Suchou style courtyard house located in the east Tung-t'ing district near the present town of Tung-shan. Built in the early 17th century by the Wu Family, it served as the main ceremonial hall (ta chung tang) of a traditional upper-class home. It was a public space where elders carried out rituals, honoring their ancestors, received guests, entertained family and friends and celebrated family events like birthdays, anniversaries and weddings. As the most important room in a confucian household, it was set with grand examples of furniture, hung with calligraphic panels declaring Confucian values and decorated with fine art objects to express the social status and wealth of the family as ell as its cultural refinement and artistic taste. The first original hall to enter an American collection, the room serves as an exhibition gallery for classical furniture featuring alternating installations for receptions and ancestor worship."

Cheat's Handkerchief, Chinese
"Written in remarkably tiny script on both sides, this silk kerchief contains nearly 10,000 characters comprising verse from classical Chinese literature. It was hidden in the sleeve and used as a crib=sheet by an unscrupulous scholar while taking his all-important government exams."

Yamantaka Mandala, Tibetan, Monks of the Gyuto Tantric University, 1991
Colored silicate and adhesive on wood
" A mandala, or circle, is a representation of the Buddhist universe. These cosmograms represent in symbolic color, line and geometric forms, all realms of existence and are used in Tantric meditation and initiation rites. The creation of a Mandala, considered a consecrated area, is believed to benefit all beings."

Snuff Bottles, Chinese, 

Tatra T87 Sedan, Manufactured 1948, Czechoslovakia
Designed in 1936 by Hans Ledwinka, Austrian 1878 - 1967

The Poet with the Birds, Marc Chagall, 1911
Oil on Canvas

Head of a Woman, Joan Miro, 1938
Oil on Canvas

The Promenades of Euclid, Rene Magritte, 1955
Oil on Canvas

Hunan Soldier, Zhang Huan, 2007
Ash on Linen
This piece was captivating, not solely for the content, but rather the content combined with the medium, ashes on Linen. Huan's use of varying shades of ash make this portrait feel almost photographic while giving it a thick, deep texture.
"Once famous for his acts of physical endurance under extreme conditions, Zhang Huan has recently returned to making more conventional art objects. His portrait of a young recruit in Mao's Red Army exemplifies this return to tradition art forms and genres. Resonant in both Asian and Western cultures of cremation, the ash in the painting infuses his portrait with a haunting sense of devotional and spiritual power."

Frank, Chuck Close, 1969
Acrylic on Canvas
"The model for this painting was not Frank himself but rather an 8 x 10 inch photograph of him. In the 1960's, Chuck Close photographed his subjects and then meticulously copied the photographic images, in paint, onto large canvases. With this painstaking technique, he preserved the objectivity of photography. Close also simulated the way the camera, like the human eye, focuses on one area at a time, leaving other areas blurred. By these means, he directed our attention to some intriguing aspects of visual perception. 
A work of such grand scale - typical of American painting after 1950 - in unsettling, particularly when it features a colossal human head. 'The large scale,' Close explained, 'forces the viewer to read the surface of the painting differently... to look at it piece by piece." The details, then, can be perceived either as facial pores and hairs or as an abstract pattern of black, gray and white."

Veiled Lady, Raffaelo Monti, 1860

Beside the Sea, Edgar Degas, 1869
Pastel on tan paper
"In 1869, Degas made a series of pastel drawings near Houlgate, a small seaside resort town in Normandy. Though extremely spare in conception, many of the drawings included detail sufficient to determine the precise locations where Degas worked. In the regard, Beside the Sea is particularly challenging for it is apparently devoid of specifically identifiable landmarks. Instead of trees, rocks and other usual vocabulary of landscape, Degas offers a scattering of barely indicated beach walkers to suggest scale and perspective."

Model of the Francis W. Little House, Frank Lloyd Wright, 1912 - 1914
Maple, Maple Veneer, Plexiglas, Nylon Screen
"This model illustrates in three dimensions both the complexity of Wrights' design and it's complete engagement with the site. (Wright always favored a building into a hill rather than on top of it.) The Main approach to the Francis W. Little house was on the inland side. The hallway on view in the gallery was situated on the Lake Minnetonka side. An adjoining hallway with small square windows connected in to the master bedroom on the far right end of the house. At the opposite end was the large living and music pavilion (now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York)

I hope you have enjoyed this brief glimpse of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts as much as I enjoyed being there!

Note: All quotes in this posting are from MIA info cards.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 23rd, 2009 01:51 am (UTC)
An amazing post for your amazing adventure. The detail is remarkable. It's as if you're a college study and you must take notes to study for the final. Did you have a notebook? Impressive and fascinating. I am so envious of your ability to spend the time and money to visit so many wondrous places at a leisurely pace. Roll on....
Feb. 8th, 2011 08:09 am (UTC)
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Apr. 8th, 2011 04:34 am (UTC)
NATO takes over command of military operations in Libya
[b]NATO is taking over command of military operations in Libya from coalition forces, world media reported Sunday.[/b]

The UN Security Council imposed the no-fly zone over Libya on March 17, along with ordering "all necessary measures" to protect civilians from Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on rebel-held towns.

The 28 NATO ambassadors met on Sunday to decide on further military plans in Libya.

The United States transfers command for a no-fly zone over Libya to NATO, while coalition forces will continue to protect civilian population from attacks by Gaddafi forces.

The military operation in Libya, codenamed Odyssey Dawn, has been conducted so far jointly by 13 states, including the United States, Britain and France.

NATO members decided on Thursday to assume responsibility for the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya, but could not agree on taking full command of all military operations in the country.

Meanwhile, leaders of the 27 European Union states on Thursday issued a statement saying the EU stood ready to assist in building a new Libya "in cooperation with the United Nations, the Arab League, the African Union and others."

MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti)

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