Working and doing the same things over and over can be such a chore. Sometimes the work that we do mold us in ways that we don’t expect and at times surprise us because of the changes they seem to inculcate. When these things happen and you feel stranger and stranger as the days go on, the perfect solution is almost, always a vacation.
Not all escapes are healthy though. It really depends if the place you are going to totally renews your interest in certain elements of your daily life. A perfect vacation or more specifically, a journey, should be able to help you re-engage with wonder and help you re-engage the world in a renewed manner. What is the perfect way to do this but an immersion in the arts?
Exposure to what is beautiful, to geometric and mind labored shapes, to beautiful music that becomes grander and grander in scale as the orchestra plays it, can dramatically sharpen our senses and our sensual intelligence and sensitivity. If you want to go and get lost in art, here are some key cities you will find which will help you reacquire a vision for your life.
The various architectural considerations that go into Paris’ structures make the city a sort of canvas where it is a working exhibit in itself. Due to the cultural inclinations of the French, it is not strange to find out that Paris is a haven for museums of every manner from ones that curate classical works to those who deal with curating space for experimental art.
Paris’ galleries are home to the most prized and loved art works in the world. However, when visiting Parisfor exposure, the best place to begin is the Louvre itself. The Louvre was once residence of royalty but now all that it houses are art across the century. This particular museum boasts of 35,000 pieces with several masterpieces like the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci as well as the limbless beauty, the Venus de Milo. Cross the Seine and wander its left bank to get into the Musée d’Orsay. This particular gallery was once a rail station. From moving trains, it now holds space for the masterpieces from the 1800s to the early part of the 1900s.
People who like the works of the Impressionists will get feverish at the sight of the works by Cezanne, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh and Monet. Check out the architecture of the Centre Pompidou and see if your understanding of the art is strong enough to defend the facade which has divided Parisians ever since it was erected.
Aside from these larger spaces, there are also museums dedicated to the preservation of the works of masters. Two of such spaces are Musee Marmottan Monet which keeps Monet’s work in its spaces and the Musee Picasso.
This brash and brazen metropolis that likes things up front and loud will certainly have more than just a few sparks when it comes to art. For a real feast of the senses, go to the fifth avenue where Museum Mile is. This is a row of art spaces which border Central Park.
For an amazing time, try going to the Guggenheim Museum first. This five decades old establishment holds sizeable collections of Kandinsky and Picasso as well as several Impressionist painters. Since Frank Lloyd Wright designed the museum, the facade itself and the entire structure is one whole artistic marvel and something worth taking a picture of.
A few strides and you will get into the Met or formally known as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is New York’s shout out to the cultural world and can be considered as a rival to the Louvre in Paris. The said museum houses a seemingly inexhaustible amount of collections that it will take some days to fully enjoy the galleries.
Besides the Met, there is also the Museum of Modern Art, lovingly nicknamed as the MoMA. The MoMA curates space for important pieces from Europe like the Water Lilies painting by Monet and a few sculptural masterpieces, chief of which belong to Auguste Rodin. The said institution has been expanding and there is development of another 82 stories for the said institution.
For more exposure to art, try visiting the Frick Collection, the New Museum of Contemporary Art and Whitney Museum of American Art.
London continues its role of being a crossroads as this bustling metropolis is known to hold several worlds together from romantic and modernist, royalist and anarchist and the poised and kitschy. Out of the seedbed of these opposing molds, about 200 art establishments have sprouted to cater to individual’s taste for art.
For the first timers, there is nothing quite like getting your basic instruction in English and European art except through the triumvirate of the National Gallery, Tate Museum, and the British Museum. The last one holds the more classical works from the Greeks and Romans. The National Gallery on the other hand, boasts of visual hallmarks in its pieces by Van Gogh and the Italian master, da Vinci.
Head out to the Tate Museums. Try out the Tate Britain first and get the a taste of the British masters like Constable and Turner. It’s brother the Tate Modern holds works from present-day art geniuses in London. The Tates are sure to deliver those art cravings but for more envelop pushing and maverick styling that are sure to blow the toupees of the most conservative art critics, scope out the Saatchi Gallery. The art may be low brow for the higher classes of British society but it goes to show just who are the intended audience of the works there.
On the other hand for a more sober curatorial experience, go to the Apsley House. Once a mansion of the Duke of Wellington, the halls are bedecked with Velazquezes, souvenirs from military campaigns, and an array of silverware. Another art address opened up in the Museum of Everything that opens the borders in terms of art. What critics are loathe to call art, the Museum of Everything is sure to have it in display.
The winds are great in Chicago when art is concerned. The city’s buzzing art scene draws superlatives from various critics. With all the good words out there for the scene at Chicago, art lovers have no reason to keep stalling from visiting the city’s different museums.
One such landmark is the Windy City. The Windy City holds an exhibit consisting of marquee names of the art. Check out the different artwort from Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso. The halls of the Windy City are likewise proud bearers of the works of several important Impressionist paintings.
Aside from this, the museum boasts of a new Modern Wing which has been designed by world renowned Renzo Piano who has won several prizes in architecture including the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the Kyoto Prize. This wing opened to the public in May 2009. After this new construction, the Windy City officially became the second biggest museum in the United States.
Visit another Chicago art landmark in the Museum of Contemporary Art where a representative work of the art produced in recent time are exhibited. Check the museums exhibits of photography, painting, sculpture and as well as performance arts like dance and music as well as film. Chicago also has several museums that cater to special categories.
There is one that memorializes the Vietnam War in the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum and the ones that extol the virtues of the US’ next door neighbor in the National Museum of Mexican Art. For anything Asian check out the Oriental Institute Museum.
The city is quite generous in showing its art to the city. All along the Loop you will be able to find some Miro, specifically his work entitled Chicago, some Chagall through his Four Seasons, and the Flamingo from Calder.
For an experience of high art in Europe, there is quite nothing like a trip to Florence. Florence was once the seat of power in Italy which explains the ornate designs and architecture that can be found in the area. Aside from this, the town was also the seedbed for the Renaissance that swept throughout Europe.
Travelers can get overwhelmed by the sights of all the wonders which include frescoes and sculpture out in the streets. Checking the insides of popular buildings like churches, the prevalence of art as exemplified by sculptures and works adorning the altars as well as the murals and the paintings are enough of an artistic barrage to astound even those who are not inclined towards the art.
The various museums and landmarks solidify the Florentine allure. Visit the Galleria dell’ Accademia where the sculpture David, which the master Michaelangelo created, can be seen.
There is also the Galleria degli Uffizi, one of the leading museums in terms of innovation in terms of curatorial practicies. It provided a modern exhibition of works by such masters as Boticelli, Rembrandt, Michaelangelo and Raphael. Just a few clicks away rests the Palazzo Strozzi which has been earmarked as Galleria degli Uffizi’s rival because of its differing aesthetics.
The Palazzo unveiled the Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina last November 2007. Its exhibits are less conservative than the Uffizi’s in the sense that the museum opens its doors to international works like those modern Chinese painters and offers space for conceptual art in their courtyard which can also house video installations.
The fall of the Berlin Wall did not just reunite families and relatives separated by two different superpowers, it helped the German culture re-coalesce and open a broader vista for them culturally. After two decades, Germany is a leading exponent of progress in the European Union and now one of the leading cultural hubs in the continent.
Berlin has become a progressive arts city with its exquisite architecture lining up as the facades of buildings, exhibits that push the envelope in European art, and cutting edge art spaces. You can see this renaissance in their particular investments in the field particularly the new Museumsinsel or Museum Island in English. Museumsinsel is a conglomeration of five museums built on an old German settlement.
People flock to the island, now recognize as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the museums there, Alte Nationalgalerie is widely known for its stock of Impressionist works from the German and French painters. Aside from these, this national gallery also boasts of work from German masters like Caspar David Friedrich, Adolph Van Menzel, Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Museumsinsel is also the location of the Altes Museum. This old museum houses classical antiques from the Roman and Greek civilizations. Journey to the Pergamonmuseumm which contains a specimen of a Greek temple.
The Dahlemer museum on the other hand focuses primarily on Oriental and African cultures. Its gallery is replete with treasures from India, Africa, the South Seas, and Asia. Aside from these the Dahlemer also has Native American artifacts and some from the tribes who were the ancient progenitors of the Europeans.
The Gemalgerie also has paintings by masters from Europe like Rembrandt and Boticelli. The Neueu Nationalgalerie on the other hand displays the masters of the last modern century in its walls like Munch, Ersnt, Klee and Max Beckmann.
A hoard of treasures can be found in Vienna. Vienna is one of the It places to showcase art. This was possible due largely to Habsburg dynasty who ruled the city from 1282 onwards to 1918. Habsburg family members loved to invest their wealth in one form or another may it be real estate or artistic works. The Habsburg collection can be found in the Kunsthistoriches Museum where the curators lovingly preserve antiques from the Egyptians and the Greeks. Works by masters like Velasquez Titian and Raphael share space with works of other notable painters like Breughel.
Try visiting the Museums Quartier Wien, a place hosting several art spaces like the Leopold Museum. The Leopold Museum has a wide array of Viennese masterpieces from Austrian masters like Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Modern art can be found in the MUMOK or formally the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien.
Check out other addresses like Kunsthalle Wien, where works from modern masters like Kandinsky, Pollock and Picasso. Anything medieval or something dreamy that survived the Baroque period can be found in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere.
If Rome got sacked by Vandals anew the world will mourn for all the art that will disappear. There is much at stake in the galleries of Rome as art pieces spanning some two thousand years are being kept there. On the other end of the scale, there are also more modern pieces that likewise fetch some value. One can consider the entirety of the city as one large curatorial space as the villas, gardens, piazzas, basilicas and the architectural pieces hold some art piced one way or another.
However if one wants to find the place where the most concentrated collection of works can be found, one only needs to go to the Musei Vaticani. The Musei Vaticani is the in house museum complex of the Vatican. The museum shares lot space with the Sistine Chapel. The Musei is an array of the palaces and apartments where one religious leader or another has lived. Religious paintings and images are also kept here. Among the most prized works are those created by Gauguin, Chagall and Picasso whose paintings are beautiful meditations of spirituality and the religious life. However the best tribute to Catholicism can be found in the Sistine Chapel itself.
The Sistine Chapel itself is important space for Michaelangelo’s frescoes at the ceiling. Other Roman churches worth visiting are the St. Peter’s Basilica which hosts several detailings by Michaelangelo, Raphael, Maderno and Bramante. People who want a little more art to their Roman holiday can go to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, the Galleria Borghese, and the Museo Nazionale di Villa Giulia as well as the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica.
San Miguel de Allende
If you yourself want to make art instead of viewing the artworks, go to San Miguel de Allende. This little town still brandishing its colonial architecture is the best place to go to in order to practice one’s craft. San Miguel de Allende’s artistry is high enough to be compared to Florence.
The sunlight that filters into the town seems to cast it in another perspective which has revitalized its standing from a mere provincial settlement into lodgings for a long running art residency. People from the United States like to stay in the town as it holds free classes on making art from pottery, painting, jewelry and sculpture. Of course, not just these crafts have monopoly of the spotlight in the city but other art forms as well.
If you plan to study here, head on over to the Instituto Allende which holds ground in a space where sculpture and painting are common. Try checking the various galleries in the city as well as there are plenty in every corner and side street.
The United States seat of power does not just employ the political but also holds amounts of cultural power in reserve through the various institutions of art in this town. The museums and galleries in Washington D.C. aren’t just small fry art spaces.
We are talking about the Smithsonian, Corcoran Gallery of Art, National Gallery of Art and the Philipps Collection. These museums are beautiful counterpoints to the Lincold Memorial and the White House itself. The halls of these museums is home to the only Leonardo de Vinci piece that can be found in the American Continent.
It is the painting of Ginevra de’Benci, one that appears quite similar to the Mona Lisa. That particular painting can be found in the National Gallery while the Corcoran has a Louis XVI piece. The Smithsonian has a treasure trove in its Sculpture Garden where works from Miro, Lichtenstein, Calder and by many others are found.
Aside from these places, there is also the National Museum of American History where artifacts from United States history can be found like the Star-Spangled Banner, the hat which President Lincoln is always seen in, and the ruby slippers from the movie, the Wizard of Oz. The museums here are subsidized by the government and are therefore free for citizens.
if not, come back tomorrow on journeyetc.com and see what's new :)