Art favorites: The Grand Canal, Venice

The colors, the blue sky and multi-colored water. The outlines of the poles in the water. Very Monet-ish. Very calming. The Venice of a bygone era that is fast slipping away.

This painting is one of six versions of the Grand Canal with the Salute church in the background. The lighting, the colors, the color saturation, and sometimes even the perspective vary from version to version.

The Grand Canal, Venice
Claude-Oscar Monet
French, 1740-1926
1908
Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

For the other versions, see Le Grand Canal in Wikipedia.

Art favorites: Magnolia (Luminous Wind)

I was drawn to this work in a special exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The screen was filled with magnolia blossoms. Birds graced the branches of the tree and butterflies alit on the blossoms. The beauty was stunning.

The screens evoked feelings of…anticipation of what is to come and painful longing of what was. The anticipation of what is to come because the blossoms are on the verge of opening. Any day now the blossoms would burst forth and this tree would be covered with open magnolia flowers. The painful longing of what was because flowers are so ephemeral. They open, grace us with their beauty, and then are gone.

Magnolia (Luminous Wind)
Nakano Daisuke
Japanese
2018
Indianapolis Museum of Art

Art favorites: Desert Scene

I stumbled across Hartley a couple years ago. So it was with great delight that I unexpectedly encountered him again in a museum on western art. Hartley spent just a very short time in the American West before leaving and never returning.

Desert Scene
Marsden Hartley
American (1877-1943)
1921
Eiteljorg Museum

Movie review: Columbus (2017)

Columbus is a soft-spoken movie full of serendipitous meetings against the backdrop of Columbus, Indiana.

This small-size midwestern town is known for its architecture. Columbus is the home of Cummins, a large engine manufacturer with an oversized footprint on the town. Cummins executive J. Irwin Miller along with the Cummins Foundation was behind the boom in modernist architecture in Columbus that went on for decades. The movie highlights many of the architectural treasures in Columbus as the storyline unfolds—the Irwin house, First Christian Church, the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library, the Irwin Conference Centre, Mill Race Park, the Miller House, the Republic Newspaper Building, Clifty Creek Elementary School, and Columbus City Hall.

The storyline? A world-renown architect is in town for a talk. He and his assistant are at the famous Miller House when he falls ill and is hospitalized. (The Miller House makes appearance throughout the movie. As an aside: the house is well worth a tour.)

The architect’s son, Jin, flies from Korea to be present for…his father’s recovery? His death? As the movie progresses we learn about the strained relationship (or lack of one) with his father, expectations in Korean society about family, and Jin’s own feelings about the situation.

Meanwhile, Cassey, a resident of Columbus and architecture aficionado, encounters Jin. The two of them start a friendship that quickly delves into deep topics. Initially she takes Jin to various architectural sites. Discussions move from superficial talk about the buildings to her feelings behind them to her life.

The discussions with Jin force Cassey to confront her life: she has stayed in Columbus (and told herself she was fine with that) as friends and classmates went off to college. Why, if she has an interest in architecture and was clearly bright, did she not go to college to study architecture? Previously another scholar of architecture offered to take Cassey under her wing. But Cassey demurred.

The discussions with Cassey force Jin to admit to his feelings surrounding Korean societal expectations and his relationship with his father. He is in limbo in Columbus. He is staying in the room his father had at the Irwin House. The movie shows shots of him in the house and views of the gardens. (You can also tour the Irwin House, and the gardens are open to the public during certain hours.)

In the end, there are no clean resolutions. Cassey does move on with her life, clearly scared to leave the town and mother she loves. Jin is stuck, moving from the rooms of the Irwin House to a house he can rent by the month. He is waiting for his father to die or to live. Like real life, the movie doesn’t show us how things end.

Art favorites: Obsession

Obsession grew on me.

The painting is an optical illusion that even when you know it is an illusion, you swear it isn’t. When I initially approached the painting, I felt a bit queasy. Then I realized it was almost three-dimensional.

Wait, was it a three-dimensional painting? No, it wasn’t. I looked at the painting from the side to confirm. No, it isn’t three-dimensional. Then I looked at the painting straight on. Parts of the painting jumped out at me, as if it was not on a single plane. I looked again at the painting from the side. Then straight on. Then from the side.

I was hooked by this piece of art. And bothered by its real flatness and unreal dimensional quality.

Obsession
Julian Stanczak (American, born Polish, 1928-2017)
American (1928-2017)
1965
Indianapolis Museum of Art