In the period A.C. (After Covid), I needed, more than ever, to look at Art. And given that I didn’t see traveling in the foreseeable future, I started to think: Where have I always wanted to go? What Museum have I always wanted to visit? What first came to mind: The Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
Turns out The Hermitage has a fairly robust series of video tours, as well as a way to virtually visit the Museum.
What I expected was a touch of Old Russia, paintings exhibited in less than modern conditions with the holdings consisting of masterworks acquired by the Czars before the Revolution and masterpieces looted by the Soviet Red Army as part of their World War Two spoils of war. In this I was not wrong, but the Hermitage is so much larger and more beautiful than I imagined.
What I was not prepared for was the grandeur of the Hermitage with its impressive entryway and staircase for visiting dignitaries leading up to hallways (or galleries) filled with portraits of members of the Royal family (including a very imposing Catherine the Great who began the collection), as well as a hallway of generals who were critical in defeating Napoleon. There is a “Great Throne Room’ as well as a and a “Small Throne Room’, and I have to say that although I hold no monarchist sympathies, I found the rooms impressive and the experience of seeing it virtually no less humbling.
Apple has recently offered up a one-take five hour walk through the entire museum – with dancers prancing through some of the rooms. More of a commitment than I had in mind. But, thankfully, there are several good short videos that give tours of the Hermitage – in English. There are also short videos dedicated to specific collections such as the famous Faberge eggs (which are insane!) and the Gold Room with its collections of early gold pieces from the 1st Century BC Khurgans found among the grave of a Princess.
But I was there for the paintings. There are a few videos with highlights of the Museum’s collection. Virtually, one can see the Hermitage’s DaVincis and Raphaels and Rembrandt’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son,” all beautiful exemplars of the best of Renaissance and Baroque Art. As a further treat, one can compare Rembrandt’s Danae (with a gauzy Odalisque) to Titian’s voluptuary Danae (they each have aspects to recommend one over the other; but I’ll take the Titian).
For me, however, the highlight was the Hermitage’s French Impressionist collection. The Hermitage has the largest collection of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist work outside of France. There are amazing artworks by Pissaro, Manet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, Degas, Picasso, Matisse. Matisse’s iconic Dance is there (the twin is at MoMA in NY), as well as some exceptional earlier canvasses.
There is a great tour of the French Impressionist Collection by one of the museum’s curators. However, it in French. The art it focuses on can of course be watched on mute. Should you understand French, it is a real treat. I found it informative and instructive and really allows for a deeper appreciation of the works in the Hermitage’s collection. For example, one of the masterworks discussed is Edgar Degas’ Place de la Concorde. It is a painting of a gentleman and his two children in the famous square in Paris. To modern eyes, it would seem typical of the era. But, as the curator makes clear what is revolutionary about the painting is the use of negative space at the center of the painting. The figures are not posing as if in a portrait but seem captured in a moment (what we would today call a ‘snapshot’). Thus, advancing the cause of ‘Impressionism’ and changing the history of painting.
After my visit to the Hermitage, I started bouncing around the web other videos and websites that the Hermitage led me to. I searched for the Amber Room – which the Nazis stole during World War Two and which has never been recovered although a facsimile was made in Russia in 2003. I thought about visiting the Kremlin and going to visit Lenin’s Tomb. Regrettably, although webcams and Google street view afford one a view of Red Square (much bigger than I imagined), no cameras are allowed inside Lenin’s Tomb or any of the churches surrounding the Kremlin, much to my regret.
And then I came across The Pushkin Museum with which I was not familiar. This museum has nothing to do with Russia’s most famous and beloved poet, but as indicated by its full name, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art in Moscow, it is the largest collection of European Art in Moscow. And what a collection!
There is a room of Gauguins each more captivating than the next, including some works done in Arles when he was Van Gogh’s roommate. There is also a haunting Van Gogh of prisoners walking in a circle in a prison yard. A sublime Degas pastel, “Blue Dancers.” Renoir’s “Portrait of Jeanne Samary” is as captivating as its subject must have been.
There is a Monet’s own take on “Dejeuner sur L’herbe” where the picnickers remain clothed – but the light plays off their clothing. As well as a Monet of the Boulevard des Capucines in Paris that is a great exemplar of all that Impressionism sought to achieve – the eye sees a whole street scene even though it is really one precise smudge of paint next to another.
There is a room of Matisses, and early Blue Period Picassos including one called “Blind Beggar with Boy” whose less politically correct name is “OId Jew and a Boy.”
One of the more surprising canvases was a 1908 pictorial work by Kazimir Malevich (who would become famous for his Suprematist Abstractions), a rare gouache from his art student days that depicts children at play. Done in a flattened style it was as if Grandma Moses used the palette of the German Fauvists.
Just to be clear: I did not see all this in one sitting. With the site open in my browser I could return at my leisure to see one or two rooms at a time working my way through the collection of both The Hermitage and then the Pushkin. It was a very satisfying distraction.
One day, I hope to see all of this in person, but until then, these amazing collections are there to be seen and to touch the soul of all who gaze upon them.
Applications being accepted for public art funding – paNOW
Macleod Campbell explained they are also happy to support public art projects as they help to improve the overall quality of life for people in the city.
“It’s nice to have public art for viewing at this time as well as of course supporting the artist,” she said.
Eligible groups can include a range of organizations from local art groups to private businesses. In order to be eligible, the group has to be working with a professional artist and the piece must be displayed publicly.
There is not a hard deadline for people to apply for funding. Macleod Campbell said applications are subject to approval from the art working committee and city council.
Macleod Campbell explained the city is also working to make people aware of the art which is on display in public spaces around the city, as they have created a public art tour brochure. The document is currently available on the city website and they are looking to get physical copies out into the public.
“That’ll be something as well,” said Macleod Campbell.
On Twitter: @mjhskcdn
Edmonton teen shares love of art with neighbourhood – Global News
Paige Reid is brightening up her Edmonton neighbourhood, one driveway at a time.
The 15-year-old budding artist said chalk art was an easy way to spend less time cooped up in the house.
“It was a way to be outside and still do something I would have done inside anyway. I just wanted to have fun with a new kind of medium,” said Paige.
Before long, her work captured the attention of most of her neighbours in Riverbend.
“I’ve had a lot of kids run up to me and say, ‘Whoa, whoa whoa!’ They’ve been very amazed that I’ve done characters that they recognize.”
Paige soon began to venture out from beyond her own driveway.
“Paige offered to draw a cat on our porch,” said neighbour Shauna Scott. “Every single time someone comes to our door people stop and say, ‘Wow, who did this?’ It gives us a big kick when we open the door.”
The young artist said she doesn’t charge for her drawings, but if someone offers compensation—she’ll use it to buy more chalk.
“People say you can’t put a price on happiness so I don’t want to do that. It’s fun for me. I don’t need a reward for doing something I already want to do,” she said.
Paige’s mom, Cori Reid, said it’s no surprise her daughter spends her day bringing joy to others.
“She’s got a good heart. She’s very kind,” said Reid. “She thinks about other people all the time.”
This neighbourhood Picasso is also helping fill time during long summer days.
“[Because of COVID-19] there’s not a lot for kids to do right now, except for being stuck on the computer and be stuck with school on Zoom, dance class on Zoom. It’s nice to get out and feel productive,” said Reid.
While at the same time, bringing a neighbours a smile, one character at a time.
“I’m very happy I’ve achieved my goal of making other people happy.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Art will suffer if online displays are the norm – Asia Times
Almost 15 years ago, a group of artists, filmmakers, curators and critics came together at the Oberhausen Film Festival in western Germany to discuss the introduction of a new technological medium: YouTube.
How would watching film and video online differ from regular venues such as cinemas or the Oberhausen festival itself, which played an important role in European art-house cinema?
Would films be meaningful in the same way – watched alone, in poor resolution, on a computer – rather than on the big screen by a community that had come together to see them?
“They’re like photocopies,” said the curator, Stuart Comer. Comer, now chief curator for media and performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, argued that while watching videos on YouTube was not the same as watching 35mm film on the big screen, home viewing served a different function, and there was room for both.
It’s interesting to think back to that debate now. Many of the early qualms around online viewership have since been ironed out. The quality of streaming has gotten better. Museums and artists run dedicated channels, instead of the free-for-all of early YouTube days when historical films were often altered – edited, overlaid, given new soundtracks – and passed off as original.
We now know that audiences will watch a film from start to finish. This had been another fear, that without the social contract of buying a ticket and sitting in a cinema space, spectators would dip in and out, catching glimpses rather than following a story.
In 2020, with the Covid-19 lockdown, we are lucky to have YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo and other streaming and sharing platforms, but we should also be grateful that the platforms have been around long enough to generate material made for online consumption.
In most cases, we are now not watching “photocopies” of films transferred to the small screen, but works made for the small screen in the first instance.
It is unclear whether the traditional art world – the one of paintings, installations and sculpture – is now in a transition similar to that of the film industry a decade ago.
Museums are digitizing whole rooms of paintings; commercial galleries and art fairs are hastily constructing online selling platforms; and Google Arts & Culture, a digitization project reaching back to 2011, is being recommended by schools as a lockdown activity.
Will these be seen as photocopies, a temporary fix until the era of social distancing subsides? Or will art organizations, some of which have been buoyed by a stratospheric rise in online audience figures, continue these platforms once lockdowns end?
The answer won’t be driven by fidelity to the experience of seeing work “in the flesh,” but by economics. Museums and galleries will face significant budget shortfalls when they begin to open up, whether because of a curtailment in public funding, reductions in private donations or months of loss of revenue.
Exhibition commitments will come stacked upon one another as postponed shows are folded in among future programing, while works meant to be lent out to one place might be needed elsewhere or back home (or might just be too expensive to ship).
Online exhibitions will most likely persist for some time to fulfill these logistical needs – and they might well continue afterwards as an inexpensive strand of quantifiable audience engagement.
But we shouldn’t be lured into thinking that online engagement is a consequence-free decision. Like most instances of outsourcing to technology, online exhibitions mean job losses: the technicians, the restorers, the authenticators, the shippers, the insurers, the guides and the guards who enable the public showing of precious objects.
These roles support others: the technician might be an emerging artist, the guide a student, while conservators and guards might support families at home. Artworks might be digitizable for those who simply want at look at them, but not for the people who make their living in the trade. The art world hinges on the buying, selling, preserving and showing of material goods.
The economic impact goes beyond the art world. For years the trump card of the arts, when it was making its case for public support, has been its economic multiplier effect. For every £1 spent on the arts by Arts Council England, the government recoups £5 in taxes, the Arts Council found in 2015.
The “Bilbao effect,” pertaining to the economic transformation wrought on the northern Spanish city of Bilbao after Guggenheim Bilbao was established there, has dominated numerous city development strategies in the decades since – including, arguably, that of Abu Dhabi. And the argument continues to be made by international consultants, who show how visitors head to F&B outlets, gift shops and hotels after viewing museum exhibitions –benefits likewise not likely to be recouped digitally.
What the crowd in Oberhausen was concerned about all those years ago was YouTube’s effect on its community of filmmakers, curators and critics. As museums and galleries move to online exhibitions, they need to understand that they are risking much more than the loss of authenticity of experience.
This article was provided by Syndication Bureau, which holds copyright.
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