Tuesday, March 03, 2009

National Gallery of Art I

Winter is going out like a lion this week, which I hear is highly unusual for the area. Tonight I hear we will be breaking some 100 year old record lows, and places deeper in Maryland or Virginia with more snow cover are still not opening schools tomorrow.

This is some pretty snow though.  It's so white and really complements the Colonial-houses-with-picket-fences-ness of the neighborhood.

I'm not kidding, on my way to the Metro I was thinking about how white picket fence this section of town really is.  I think it's a bit like St John's Wood (NW London), or a combination of the Museum District and the Heights (Houston) or The Woodlands (north of Houston).  Chris thinks it's like Austin.

Icicles outside my window, though this morning the sun was so bright there was considerable melting going on, with sheets of ice sliding off roofs and icicles crashing to the ground.

By the weekend we will have definite spring temperatures approaching 65F/17C!!!
The Park Service predicted today that the cherry blossoms will peak around the first week of April.


On Saturday I was to join a cultural group at the NGA to see the exhibition,
Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture around the Bay of Naples.

On my way there, I was crossing Pennsylvania Avenue and happened to look to my left and THERE was the Capitol dome. I looked down and laughed to myself thinking, "Wow, I'm in Washington."

I couldn't find the group, and neither could a few others, but the organizer promised to hold a sign next time so I hope to join them again for more cultural activities.

So back to the museum. It's FREEEEE (like the UK), and so are the special exhibitions (unlike the UK), and even coat check (it's £1 in London). And the restrooms are so nice (definitely unlike the UK). I don't know how they do it. So much for the years of threatened budget cuts to the arts...?

Speaking of toilets, Chris had high praise for the Metro, which he said made him feel like he was in a real transport hub going somewhere, rather than the NYC subway system which he said is like traveling "in a toilet".


Anyway, back to the museum (again).

This is the modern East Building of the NGA

The Pompeii exhibition, held in the East Building, was small and intimate. It showcased a comprehensive array of artifacts, objets d'art, frescoes, mosaics, including duplicates on the floor, and sculptures. I've been to Pompeii so it was like a taste of something familiar.

Large, light common areas showcase large modern sculptures

Afterwards, I decided to make a day of it and flitted through a few more of the modern galleries.

Remember similar ones at the MoMA in NYC?  Giaccometti, he is everywhere...

And so is Picasso, and Mondrian...

I am calling this the ABC sculpture.  One view from the side, one view straight on.

The walkway between the East and West buildings is enshrouded in a randomly programmed LED light display called Multiverse (2008) by Leo Villareal.
Sometimes they are all alight, sometimes they shoot, crawl, flash, wave.  It had me gaping, slack-jawed, to see what would happen next.

The walkway takes you through the HUGE Cascade Cafe, filled with a variety of food stations.  I was tempted to eat there.  But I passed through, then realized I'd left my coat in the East Building, so went back to get it and then exited out the side and crossed to the West Building's side entrance.

The East Building.  QUESTION:  Do these glass pyramids remind you of something somewhere?

The West Building

Stay tuned for the second NGA post.  (I thought I could do it all in one installment but you know brevity is not my forte when it comes to this blog!)


Selba said...

Yes... it reminds me to... uhmmm... can't remember the name.. it's in Paris!

The thing where Langdong fell down.... at the end of the movie of Da Vinci Code.

Selba said...

Not mistaken the louvre museum, ya?

The Moody Minstrel said...

I've got it! Those pyramids remind me of Tom Hanks!

(So who do they have secretly buried under the NGA pyramids?)

That gallery really is huge, isn't it?

So does the UK just not take lavatory maintenance seriously?

Is Austin a quaint, cultured sort of city?

So you've actually been to the real Pompeii, eh?

I'm asking a lot of silly questions, aren't I?

steve on the slow train said...

The Mondrian is exquisite. Beautiful photos as usual. And speaking of art, or words that begin with art, I've been intrigued by the name on your blog, artmeliana. The explanation may be deep in the archives, but the word has such a lovely sound to it.

Olivia said...

Selby and Minstrel - yes, it's in Paris, at the Louvre, and it was in The Da Vinci Code.

Both the pyramid at the Louvre and these at the NGA were designed by I. M. Pei.

In Paris, the glass lights the underground entrance connected to the metro (if I remember correctly) and in DC they light the underground moving walkway between the two buildings.


Minstrel (cont) - have you ever been to the loos at the Victoria & Albert museum? Always crowded, smelly, shabby, and in disrepair.

Well, considering the V&A was built 100 years before the NGA, I suppose visitor comfort was not a priority.

Yes, Austin is quaint and cultured, very clean, green, educated, small, and well laid out.

I have been to the real Pompeii, not long after I started blogging. Search my blog for Pompeii and you will find entries in early January 2006 from my epic Christmas visit to the Amalfi coast. Unfortunately this was pre-Flickr so most of the photos I linked to on Kodak are no longer available.

No question is too silly on this blog!


Steve - thank you. It's interested to be reminded of how one invented one's user name.

Art = my primary interest in 2005
meli = part of my middle name
ana = feminine ending

And I wanted to ask you about your last comment and what in particular I've recently said to make you abandon your midwestern preconceptions against Texas and Texans. All I mentioned was basketball!

nikkipolani said...

I like the multiple pyramids -- sort of like half-buried treasures poking through the ground. I love the shadows you caught cast by the bare trees across that snowy expanse.

Olivia said...

Nikki - I wondered if anyone would notice. Trust you to point it out :)

Odd to think that once upon a time I posted few pics on my blogs.

Pete said...

Hey Liv!

Good blog, that museum looks really awesome. I love the idea of that walkway, quite fantastic!

Look forward to part the second.


Jo said...

Liv, have you been to the Nasher in Dallas? If you love sculpture you'll die, seriously. Amazing collection!

Glo said...

It sounds wonderful to be part of such a vibrant area ~ and so enjoyable to see it through your eyes. The snow,and house with picket fence looks inviting :) I think they'd have a cup of tea on, don't you? Fascinating to see the art showcased in the museum via your blog :) Thanks for all the cultural experiences :)

steve on the slow train said...

Olivia--It was a weak attempt at humor, along with an underhanded compliment. A lot of us in the North tend to have prejudices against Texas, especially after 8 years of GWB. So here's this bright, creative, delightful young woman--someone who seems a lot like the woman I married (a native of Davenport, Iowa)--who's proud to be a Texan. The basketball just brought out your regional pride.

Flighty said...

You won't be surprised to learn that I didn't find this post quite as interesting as recent ones. Nevertheless it's interesting and informative, with good photos. xx

Tea N. Crumpet said...

That last picture-- I'm not sure what to make of it. Is that door a frame for another picture?

Please send your weather to Alaska. We are having ice and rain and I do not like it.

michelle G said...

awesome, I couldn't wait for this post