What art did our staff writers enjoy this winter holiday?

Our staff writers saw some good artwork this winter break. Check out their thoughts!

This holiday, I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art’s show, Painting te ModernGarden: From Monet to Matisse. The show covered a wide range of painting from Monet to Munch to Matisse, and everything from Singer Sargent to Van Gogh in between. Despite the broad umbrella of artists and styles showcased, the dominating force was the reunification of Monet’s Agapanthus Triptych, brought together exclusively for the show. The museum placed the Agapanthus Triptych in the center of the gallery, forcing the viewers to stop and rest to contemplate the majesty and magnitude of the paintings. Honestly, although the exhibit continued for five rooms and countless other paintings, Monet’s work was truly the reason to see the show: it is staggering, dynamic, and hugely emotive. The show was a success: not just personally, but within the community. It sold out tickets for the last week, despite the Museum staying open to pacify the demand. There is something eerily powerful about a community gathering, with such intensity, to see a work of art, but the exhibit, and Monet in particular, did not disappoint.

--Laura Meuller, first year

This Christmas break I visited the Norwegian National Gallery in Oslo. While there were many influential pieces there, perhaps the most famous is Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. I went with a friend, an econ major, who walked through the gallery determined to find Munch’s masterpiece. Although I did manage to make her slow down long enough to look at some work by Delacroix and Manet, her purpose was clear: find "The Scream”. Maybe she was only drawn to this piece because it is famous, but there is a reason for that. It speaks to the hectic modern era, the age of anxiety. Although the image seems foreign to our everyday life, it is one that millions of people have been drawn to. Perhaps this is because we all can see in the swirl of colors and in the almost alien form raw human emotion. In this image we find something true. If a scream could take a form, Munch captured it. For, this image embodies the pain of a suffering soul

--Riley Wilbur, second Year

Whilst I didn't travel anywhere exotic this holiday, I did go to the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester which is home to an internationally renowned collection of British watercolours, historic textiles, as well as some great modern art exhibitions. The highlight for me was Mary Kelly's Multi-Story House (2007) in the Portraits exhibition. It is about the size of a garden shed, but beautifully illuminated from within. Cut into the wall panels are extracts from conversations with women of different generations and cultures about feminism - why it is important to them, what made them become a feminist, and how it has impacted their lives. It was such a powerful statement of the continuing need for feminism in the modern world, and these anecdotes brought such a human interest to a non-figurative work. The work was a brilliant exploration of the lives of these women and what they have faced in the world - stories which have the power to touch us all.

--Izzy Turner, third year

The work done by the visual artist and illustrator Sterling Bartlett is a direct reinterpretation of the painting(s) Dance by Henri Matisse, famous modernist artist. Bartlett's work can be found online, mostly on his own Instagram account which he uses almost daily to publish his freshly made art. Instead of naive, nude figures, Bartlett inserts depictions of police men fully dressed in their uniforms, holding their hands, engaged collectively in the rhythmic movement of dance. Matisse was inspired by primitivism, but Bartlett is inspired by contemporary society. Policemen as careless, primitive 21st Century figures, or policemen as typical figures that replaced the ordinary man? Maybe even something third! His visual vocabulary is full of puns and polyvalent meanings shaped to fit into the amusing and eye-catching colouring. Sterling Bartlett, now exhibiting his work in Los Angeles, mostly scrutinizes the time we live in, as seen by his (surely to be very well received) work, Dance.

--Anja Ivic, postgrad

This holiday, I went to the Winterpalace of Prince Eugen in Vienna, to see Olafur Eliasson’s exhibition “Baroque, Baroque”.  Using Illusionism to take the viewer on step closer to reality? The Danish artist successfully managed to do just that. Almost childishly playing with lighting effects, Eliasson sets the opulent palace in a play of colours of yellow, red, blue and green, which fires the viewer’s imagination of Vienna in the 18th century.  Anyone who saw Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006) will know what I am talking about. Costly colours and overwhelming opulence seem to be the key connotations we nowadays have with the Baroque and Rococo era. Wandering through the beautiful rooms of the Winterpalace, Eliasson successfully added the key details missing to fully transport the viewer into a world of luxuriousness and abundance. Yet, Eliasson is more than an illusionist bringing the viewer’s imagination of the 18th century to completion. That clever mix of lighting effects is supposed to help “dissolve” the surface of baroque architecture, as Eliasson put it. The colours evoke additional responses in the viewer due to the brain’s seeming inability to fully process the colours. Suddenly, we see details in light and shadow that we would not have seen otherwise. The eye focuses on details that get completely ignored in other aspects. Eliasson sharpens our senses, figuratively and literally. 

--Lena Polak

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