Thursday, July 4, 2013

Blanton Museum of Art - Austin, Texas

Towards the end of May my husband and I decided to go to Austin and explore one of the museums. We looked at to see what were the top museums in Austin.

The top ones at the time were:

1.) LBJ Library - no, it's a library
2.) Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum - no, it is great, but we have been there several times
3.) Texas Military Forces Museum - no, not that into military paraphernalia
4.) Blanton Museum of Art - hmmmm, ok, let's go there

Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

The price of admission was $9 and here is a very important fact about parking straight from the website itself.
Parking is available at the Brazos Garage and Trinity Garage to members and general admission visitors for $3 if you present your ticket and pay at the Blanton's Visitor Services Desk. PLEASE BE SURE TO BRING YOUR TICKET WITH YOU TO THE MUSEUM AND GET IT VALIDATED TO RECEIVE THIS DISCOUNTED RATE.

Now, had we looked at the website longer than five seconds we would have known to bring our parking ticket in with us....oh well, but now YOU know so no excuses.

Once in, you get to climb the prettiest staircase (there is an elevator, so no worries). It is actually one of the first art pieces you will see. It is titled Stacked Waters by Teresita Fernandez. (By the way, I love that name, Teresita!)

Stacked Waters by Teresita Fernandez Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Gorgeous, right?

The second thing you will more than likely see is the large wooden airplane covered with butterflies on the wall. It is called Passage by Paul Villinski.

Passage by Paul Villinski Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Close-Up of Passage by Paul Villinski Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

The butterflies are made from aluminum cans!

They had this neat exhibit on how they restored a painting they acquired. When they first got it was just a picture of a nude lady and then they started the restoration process. They discovered underneath a layer of paint a putto and even Zeus!

If you are interested in reading more I took a picture of the information. Be sure to at the least look at the painting as it was when it arrived at the museum.

Information on the restoration of Danae Painting Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Then look at the painting all cleaned up! Amazing!

Danae Painting restored Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Walking through the museum we saw this painting.

Dallas Chaos II by Peter Dean Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

I was drawn to it immediately due to all the bold colors, just like moth to a flame. I didn't really think too much about it, beyond, ohhh colors. But a nearby lady was telling her friends about its meaning and then I read the description.

The painting depicts Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald at Dallas police headquarters in 1963.

The painted then became extremely interesting. I can't make my own meaning, I need someone to tell me. (Too left brained to deal with symbolism.)

The museum has an entire room for the next piece of work I would like to tell you about. I had no idea what it was or what to think of it. So to the description I go! It is called Missions by Cildon Meireles.

Missions by Cildon Meireles Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Behind the black veil there are 2,000 cattle bones at the top, 600,000 pennies at the bottom and right in middle is a column of 800 communion crackers.

Behind curtain Missions by Cildon Meireles Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

The description said the artist was showing how when the Spanish came to America to colonize, "civilize", and give religion to the Indians already here they built missions. (Much like they did in San Antonio, Texas. I just finished a blog about our trip to see the San Jose Mission.) The artist feels that the Spanish had alterative motives, meaning they wanted the land and more money and if they had to use religion to obtain these, then that is what they had to do. So the communion crackers are the link to the money on the ground and the agriculture or land at the top.

See it all makes sense when it is explained! I think I could have gone through the Tate Museum in London and the Pompidou Center in Paris without so much anger at the stupidity of modern art if it had just been explained to me!

Although there are plenty of pieces of modern art that even after being explained are still stupid. Case in point, Light Pink Octagon by Richard Tuttle.

Light Pink Octagon by Richard Tuttle Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

The description said, and I quote:
Light Pink Octagon is a hybrid object. Neither a painting nor a sculpture nor a drawing, it contains aspects of all three mediums. [It] can be hung at any height on the wall, from any side or angle, or placed unceremoniously on the floor. Permanently wrinkled from the dyeing process, it looks more like a castoff than a work of art, denying the exalted status to which most works or art aspire.

More like a castoff than a work of art.......

My eyes just rolled so far back in my head that I thought they were going to get stuck. If you can unceremoniously put it on the floor then it is not art, it is a castoff or a rag, if you will. Sorry, Richard, it is just a rag.

Now then, Frankie and I really liked the next one. It is called Oil Field Girls by Jerry Bywaters.

Oil Field Girls by Jerry Bywaters Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Hey, look! It looks like real people! Ha! That alone is a reason to like it. But beyond that, I think it grabbed our attention because we both grew up in west Texas during one of the oil booms thus being something that was very personal to us.

There were others that I just liked for whatever reason. I will share those with you now and if you hover our mouse over the photo it will give you the title and artist.

Parade by Mequitta Ahuja Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Conflicts by Claudia Reese Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Lady Lazarus by Alison Saar Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Lady Lazarus Parade Progress II and Conflicts Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

In the last photo you can just see a cowboy on a blue horse. I really really liked that piece. It is called Progress II by Luis Jimenez. Let me show you the full statue and yes, the eyes are glowing red on the bull and horse.

Progress II by Luis Jimenez Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Bull of Progress II by Luis Jimenez Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Cowboy of Progress II by Luis Jimenez Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

The museum has another piece by Luis Jimenez called Border Crossing.

Border Crossing by Luis Jimenez Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Close-Up of Border Crossing by Luis Jimenez Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Luis Jimenez grew up in El Paso, Texas where many people have immigrated into Texas. Way back when, it use to be easy to cross the river to find opportunities for work and a better life. This statue depicts a husband carrying his wife and baby across the Rio Grande.

This is not the first time I have seen work by Luis Jimenez. The first time I stumbled upon one of his works was in Corpus Christi, Texas for a school function. It was the Southwest Pieta and there I fell in love with his work. Sadly, he died while working on a piece for the Denver International Airport when a large heavy piece fell on him severing an artery.

As we continued around the museum we got into the sections that housed the older paintings. Looking at the pictures I took, I can't remember if the pictures just happened to be grouped this way or it was just the way I took pictures, but it seems I have a number of photos of portraits of men and then a group of paintings with Mary and baby Jesus.

It is interesting to see the differences between all the paintings. I am going to start with all the portraits of men and of the first two let's decide who has better hair (any hair on face or head will count).

Potrait of a Man by Bernardo Strozzi Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Check out that facial hair! Can that be considered a soul patch??

William III Prince of Orange by Nicolaes Maes Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

While lacking any facial hair, ole William here more than makes up for it with the amount on his head!

 I think I am going to have to go with the first one as the winner of the hair category. Not only does he have the facial hair going on, he also has a bit of long hair going on too!

Next category in the men's portraits is collars. Who wore it best?

Portrait of a Gentleman by Domenico Robusti Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Portrait of a Man in Armor by Gervasio Gatti Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

This one is a close one, but I am going to have to go with the second one. Much less clownish and he is in armor. Gotta love a man in armor!

Since we are giving out awards let me just go ahead and give the cutest thing ever award to this precious donkey from The Visitation by Camillo Procaccini.

Donkey of The Visitation by Camillo Procaccini Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

I just want to give him a hug and take him home he is so precious!

The Visitation shows (not that I took a picture of any part but the donkey) when Mary the mother of Jesus went to visit Elizabeth who was pregnant with John (the Baptist) and upon hearing Mary's greeting the baby John leaped in his mother's womb.

 That is my segway into the next section of either the pictures I took or in the museum, again I am not sure but am leaning towards my pictures. The next topic let's call, Mary and the baby Jesus. I am going to start with the one I liked the least and end with my absolute favorite.

Madonna and Child by Michelino da Besozzo Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

I am sorry, but Mary and Jesus looked drugged. I do however like the part in gold.

Madonna and Child with Angels by Giovanni de Marco Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

I like everything in this one except for the way that Jesus' face looks. I am not sure what it is, maybe he looks like a kid I use to teach and didn't really care for. Really, all other parts are beautiful except the way Jesus' face is portrayed. (And yes, I feel really guilty saying that, but I am talking about how the artist chose to illustrate Jesus and not a thing about my Lord and Saviour!!  Just want to clear that up right here and now.)

Madonna and Child with Christ as the Man of Sorrows by Simone di Filippo da Bologna Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

I really like this one, although it was not my absolute favorite. I love the colors, the shape, and the fact that above the baby Jesus is the adult Jesus with the scarred hands and side.

Now for my favorite!

Holy Family by Mattia Preti Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

The reason I loved this one so much is because Joseph is shown. It is rare to see him in paintings involving the birth of Jesus. True, he was not the father, but just as we see in society today, stepfathers (if that is what you would call him) play an important role in children's lives. I am sure that held true even back then.

Nearing the end, I have to share with you two of the most disturbing paintings I saw at Blanton Museum, maybe even the most disturbing I have ever seen.

The Coronation of the Virgin by Giovanni Battista della Cerva Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX


Saint Agatha by Lorenzo Lippi Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

The disturbing factor in the first one is the baby heads in the ring of clouds. It was a "oh my gosh, why are those there" type of moment upon seeing them.  No explanation given.

I don't think I need to point out what is disturbing in the second one, but I will explain it a little further. The lady is Agatha and she was an early Christian martyr who was tortured (as depicted) for her believes. This one disturbs me on many levels. The picture alone with no explanation is horrific but then reading the description it saddens me to learn what early Christians went through just for believing in Jesus.

Based on that I think the second one wins for most disturbing, although those baby heads really have no reasoning and make me waver on my choice.

I have one last photo to share. We saw so many different types of art at the Blanton Museum from the Renaissances (maybe earlier, I am not savvy about art, as I am sure you have figured out by now) all the way to Modern art. I want to see if you can tell me, is this art?

Is it or is not art Blanton Museum of Art Austin TX

Obviously, if it is it would be in the Modern art section. So was this Modern art or something else? I will let you decide.

My next blog topic is our recent trip to Orlando and Savannah. I hope to see you back here for that!

Until then!