Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kimbell Art Museum

Yesterday, we went with my mom to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. We were specifically there to see a special exhibit, but we also looked through the permanent exhibits.

(All photos are from the Kimbell site)

Alex's favorite piece of art was of Ganesh, an Indian god. Alex has a new friend and I spent some time with her mom a few weeks ago. She was in India during a festival for Ganesh, a festival that Alex & her friend also learned about in school this year. This Hindu festival takes place around August or September and lasts for 10 days. Statues of the god are made, sold, decorated & worshipped. Then, the statues are led in a procession through the streets and "immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual see-off." (from Wikipedia)

Cherubs vs Putti
In the Great Course lectures I've been watching, the lecture (Kloss) refers to putti. I wasn't sure what the difference between cherub & putti were and we came across both terms at the Kimbell. The image above (a close up of putti from Poussin's Venus & Adonis) called the cute winged babies 'putti'. Well, after doing research at home I came across this terrific blog post at Many Shades of Shabby. Basically, if the painting is religious & the babies are 'innocent', they are cherubs (like the cherubim angels of the Bible). If the painting is secular, usually mythological, and the babies are not innocent looking, they are putti.

The Sacrament of Ordination by Poussin
This painting is one of a series of 7 paintings by Poussin in the mid to late 1630's covering the 7 sacrements. Since I am not Catholic, I had to do a little reading to find out about the 7 sacraments. The Kimbell site actually gives a pretty good explanation:
1. Ordination - the taking of holy orders to become a priest, deacon or bishop - shown here as Christ giving the keys of heaven & earth to Peter.
2. Confirmation
3. The Eucharist (communion)
4. Extreme Unction (the last rites)
5. Marriage
6. Penance (confession) - this painting was destroyed in a fire
7. Baptism - which is in the National Gallery of Art in DC & we hope to see it in March.

The Torment of St Anthony by Michelangelo
This amazing painting was done by Michelangelo and is believed to be his earliest the age of only 12 or 13!!! This is the first Michelangelo to be in an American collection. And, St Anthony is one of the saints I've been reading about lately as I learn about art history. Basically, Saint Anthony became a religious hermit and was said to have been tormented by Satan. Artists have portrayed these temptations and torments with all kinds of scary, make-believe beasts.

Saint Sebastian Tended by Irene attributed to Georges de La Tour
I loved this painting of Irene tending to Saint Sebastian, another saint I've been reading about lately. Saint Sebastian was a Roman soldier under Diocletian. Diocletian ordered him executed by a firing squad of archers after Sebastian had been converting soldiers to Christianity. Irene took care of him and he miraculously lived. Though, after his recovery, he confronted Diocletian who ordered him executed...again. This time, Sebastian died. I love the gentleness of Irene in this painting.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Worker Reads History

I watched session 1 of a Yale Open Course today. It is a free course titled "France Since 1871" and it is taught by Professor John Merriman. Although the video itself is a little choppy, I am finding the professor quite enjoyable and am looking forward to learning about France. There are 24 lectures and the class reads six books and watches three films. I thought this would be a great way to prepare for our trip to France this summer.

The first lecture was mostly about what to expect in the course. At the conclusion, though, the professor read a poem by Brecht that he said highly influenced him to become a history teacher. The poem is "A Worker Reads History."

Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
And Babylon, so many times destroyed.
Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima's houses,
That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
Where did the masons go? Imperial Rome
Is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song.
Were all her dwellings palaces? And even in Atlantis of the legend
The night the seas rushed in,
The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.

Young Alexander conquered India.
He alone?
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Was there not even a cook in his army?
Phillip of Spain wept as his fleet
was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?
Frederick the Great triumphed in the Seven Years War.
Who triumphed with him?

Each page a victory
At whose expense the victory ball?
Every ten years a great man,
Who paid the piper?

So many particulars.
So many questions.