Sunday, January 31, 2016

Taking Leave Of The National Gallery Of Canada

From the second floor one gets some good upper views of the glass tower at the National Gallery.

There's a staircase heading down (as well as elevators), but the staircase provides a good way to frame a shot.

This sculpture in the staircase is Standing Nude, by the French sculptor Aristide Maillol, dating back to 1919-21.

Another view on the main floor inside the glass tower, and turning to the right takes in the entrance to the Monet exhibit I mentioned when I started this series. I hope you've enjoyed this series.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Modern Art And Gallery Architecture

This is one of the gallery spaces in the more contemporary section of world artists. I should have photographed the information on this hanging sculpture.

This particular sculpture is called Rock Drill, by the British artist Jacob Epstein. Cast in 1916, it's bronze on a stone base. It reminds me of something out of Tolkien, or perhaps the steampunk genre. Have a look at what the information panel on it has to say. I can also see something of the Frankenstein monster to it.

This balcony view takes in a space on the lower level. I walked among that exhibit- the art is First Nations based- but didn't photograph it.

Stepping out of the collection gives a view of this ramp leading down to the glass tower and the main level. I'll be wrapping up this series tomorrow.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Come On, Even I Could Paint That

Winterlude kicks off today in Ottawa and Gatineau, and runs until February 15th, for those in the area. I will have plenty of photos from the festival through February.

This is a somewhat controversial painting called Voice Of Fire, by the American artist Barnett Newman. Have a look at the display panel in the second shot.

Voice Of Fire is controversial not because of some shocking aspect to the painting (seriously, this is three stripes on a bloody big canvas, that's it), but because in 1989 the Gallery bought it for nearly 1.8 million dollars. Mind you, a year or so ago there was an article in the newspaper about it being valued now at a much higher price. Still, no matter how many times I look at it, I don't see something that "tests our sensory experience." I just see one stripe of navy blue, one stripe of red, and another stripe of navy blue. I can look at it close up, from either side, and straight on, and that's still what I see.

I could paint this.

Some paint, a roller, a big canvas, bada bing bada boom, we're done. Million dollars please. Preferably in unmarked bills.

I know, I'm a cultural heathen just for saying that....

Thursday, January 28, 2016

With The Works Of The Masters

This is an oil painting by Paul Cezanne, entitled Road At Auvers-sur-Oise, painted circa 1873-74. Cezanne had moved to the small village at the time.

Vincent Van Gogh painted this, simply titled Iris, in 1890.

Here we have Rock Needle Seen Through The Porte d'Aval, Etretat, painted in 1886. It is one of the Gallery's oil paintings by the master, Claude Monet.

This last one might shock the Sisters Of Little Or No Mercy. It's by Henri Matisse, an oil painting titled Nude On A Yellow Sofa. It was done in 1926.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Art In The Footsteps Of History

This is Souvenir Of Loch Lomond, by the French artist Gustave Dore, painted in 1875.

A bit of a fuzzy shot, but I wanted a look at one of the galleries. This does the trick, and this space is dominated by that portrait at the far end.

This portrait is by John Watson Gordon,  and depicts George Ramsay, 9th Earl of Dalhousie, a British veteran of the Napoleonic wars who served as Governor In Chief of British North America from 1820-29.

And this one, Tomb Of General Brock, Queenston Heights, Ontario, is by the American painter Thomas Cole. The British hero of the War of 1812, killed at the battle here, is entombed beneath the Memorial. This painting, from 1830, depicts the first monument; the present structure at the site was constructed in the 1850s.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Dancer Inside The Gallery

This is my favourite sculpture in the Gallery. It is Dancer, by Antonio Canova, a marble sculpture done between 1818-22. It is the second version of a statue the artist first did for the Empress Josephine. The first now resides in the Hermitage.

Monday, January 25, 2016

From Mythology Into History

Two different takes to start things off on one subject: the myth of the abduction of Europa by Zeus, who tended to run around and cheat on his wife by transforming himself into all sorts of things. You know, you'd think Hera would take her anger out on that cheating lout of a husband instead of the women or any offspring of those dalliances, but no....

This first painting, The Rape Of Europa, is by the Italian painter Guido Reni, and dates back circa 1637-39.

The second, by Dutch artist Caesar Boetius van Everdingen, is an oil painting from circa 1650 titled The Abduction Of Europa.

This oil painting continues with the mythological side of things, entitled Ulysses Discovering Astynax Hidden In Hector's Tomb. It is by the French artist Sebastian Bourdon, dating to 1654-56, and deals with the fall of Troy to the Greek army under Odysseus (otherwise known as Ulysses to the Romans, who were too lazy to actually devise their own gods and heroes and just renamed the Greek ones).

This marble bust of an aging Cosimo de' Medici was done between 1715-20 by the Italian sculptor Giovanni Foggini.

Moving forward in time, we have this portrait by British artist George Romney, depicting the Mohawk warrior and chief Joseph Brant, known to his people as Thayendanegea. It was painted in 1776.

Today I finish up with Benjamin West's The Death Of General Wolfe. This is the primary version of the painting- there are at least four variants by West out there, including one in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. It depicts the dying commanding general James Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham at the end of the Battle of Quebec in 1759, the pivotal battle of the French & Indian War. It is impossible to pass by this canvas and not stop to take it in.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Faith As Artistic Inspiration

I am moving into world artists at the Gallery today, with decidedly a religious theme. This first painting is by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, also known as Guercino. An oil painting dating back to 1647, it is titled Christ & The Woman Of Samaria, using the story of  the encounter with the woman at the well as its subject matter.

This is Let The Children Come To Me, by the Flemish painter Anthony Van Dyck, painted circa 1618-20.

This dramatic painting is The Annunciation Of The Virgin's Death, circa 1635-1640, by the Dutch painter Paulus Bor, sometimes called Orlando. This is inspired by an encounter in the apocryphal books rather than the New Testament.

While this painting, circa 1560-1575, comes from the Italian painter Paolo Caliari, sometimes called Veronese (side note, what is it with all the painter aliases of this era? Were they all on the lam?). It is an oil painting titled The Repentent Magdalen. As you can expect, Mary Magdalene is the subject for this work that was painted in Venice.

I finish for today with a sculpture, a bust of Pope Urban VIII by the Italian master Gian Lorenzo Bernini, done circa 1632.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Chapel In The Gallery

This is one of the great delights of the National Gallery, and a work of art in and of itself. Rideau Street Convent Chapel once stood in a downtown convent here in the city. While the convent was demolished, the Chapel was saved and reconstructed here in the National Gallery. It is a beautiful space inside, and there was an additional element- forty or so speakers set up around the room, with the recording of a choir singing religious music. Standing by one would let you hear the individual singer over the rest of the choir, while the centre of the room offered the unanimous sound of the choir. The overall effect was very soothing, almost like immersing in the music itself. I had considered a video recording, but the Gallery's relaxation of rules about photography do not extend to video. Trust me, the acoustics in this room are exquisite.