8. The "art" of travel
The Opera was built as a temple of the arts—Every detail of the building’s design pays homage to Paris as a center of culture and sophistication. The design for the Opera combines religion and power in such a way as to name the arts the new religion. The building itself is the same height as Notre Dame and the décor is nostalgic of Versailles (the center of power) while the names of the composers on the exterior of the building are symbolic of ‘saints’ to the arts. The gold Apollo a the top of the building not only represents the arts in a historical definition, but Apollo represents sun and light and as the sun sets in Paris, the statue of Apollo is illuminated in the sky above the temple of arts.
Once inside the Opera, the staircase is designed in a way to allow the subconscious mind to float along the stairs. I felt as if I needed to be wearing a gown with a long trail and elbow length gloves and possibly a mask or a fan in my hand. Or rather I wanted to be wearing all that, but the starircase and the architecture surrounding it automatically makes one feel glamorous and royal. The entrance is so glamorous it is impossible to not be swept away. Garnier’s design is very much in synch with Napoleon and Haussemann’s urban planning, which was taking place during the same time period. The glamorous, 'floating' staircase reminds me of the plans to make the streets of Paris curved in order to give people relief from the straight lines of everyday life. Both the streets of Paris and the staircase of Opera are attuned with French living—wandering and floating through time all while appearing effortlessly glamorous.
Everything about the Opera’s design and the artwork within it left me in awe until I went into the auditorium to check out the iconic chandelier. The chandelier, weighing in at 6 tons, was perfectly fitting to the rest of the Opera’s glamour and bewitchment, but my jaw closed when I was taken aback by Marc Chagall’s painting on the ceiling behind the chandelier. The painting was commissioned in 1963 and like so much of the architecture and design left over from the 60s and 70s, it has nothing to do with anything else around it. The painting looks like it belongs on the side of an elementary school building, not the backdrop to the centerpiece of the French Opera. I am sure there are ‘good’ reasons for the choice of artwork, perhaps to allure younger generations to the Opera. However, it seems to me the aim should be to young adults, not les enfants in the schoolyard. What is so disheartening about Chagall’s painting is its stark contrast to the Parisian atmosphere created in such detail by Garnier. The painting takes away dramatically from the Opera’s enchantment, which as whole embodies all the magic that is Paris. But with one painting, Chagall brought my mind back to the dreary days of chalk boards and fluorescent light bulbs.
About a week ago, my family flew across the Atlantic to visit me in London. While the idea of joining the mass of tourists in the midst of the great city seemed exhausting, I was excited to be able to spend a few days leading my family around London to see the popular tourist spots. One of the favorites of the trip was the British museum – I felt I should take them there as it was their first time in London, and it’s also only about a 1 minute walk from our NYU academic center (which of course my mom just had to see…typical.)
First we entered into the room where on display you can see the Rosetta stone, and then made our way back to where ruins of the Parthenon are on display. That is where I took the picture that is shown above. Something about the scene of this adorable, little boy attempting to sketch such a magnificent historical piece of work was moving in a way. In Botton’s Art of Travel, he comments on the way people inherently connect and experience art saying, “Because we find places to be beautiful as immediately and as apparently spontaneously as we find now to be cold or sugar sweet, it is hard to imagine that there is anything we might do to alter or expand our attractions.” (Botton) Not only are the ruins from the Parthenon such unique pieces of history, but thinking about the skill and intricacy which it took to create these great, stone sculptures is unbelievable. For me, the scene with the little boy sketching was moving because I just envisioned how thousands of years ago these ruins were apart of this renowned landmark, and then fast forward to today, and how remarkable it is that they have withstood the test of time.
One other part of the Botton reading specifically struck me, which was where he said, “And in so far as we travel in search of beauty, works of art may in small ways start to influence where we would like to travel to” (Botton) As a have walked around various museums, I realize now that I always leave with this heightened sense of wanting to travel the world. I think seeing and experiencing all that art has to offer inspires me to travel because I want to go back, and be able to explore the richness of history. There is so much to see, and do, and I want to be able to take it all in.
I recently woke up one Saturday morning and decided it was about time I visited a museum. So, I went to the Pompidou center, which is the museum of modern art of Paris. I was never one to casually go to museums alone, but I ended up spending four hours there without even realizing it because there was so much to see. The most interesting part of the museum was where pieces of modern furniture were presented as modern art. When explained from the perspective of the artists, a simple chair suddenly becomes art. The museum has pieces ranging from abstract and Dadaism all the way to very contemporary artists. Though not French, there is a Yayoi Kusama exhibit at Pompidou, which is really amazing.
The museum changes its permanent collection every two years, devoted especially to purchasing and showing art by contemporary French artists. Pompidou represents the Parisians ideal of preserving the old while allowing the new and modern to flourish and grow. This can be seen simply by looking at the building itself, which looks like a huge offshore drilling unit in the middle of Paris among typical Haussmann architecture. Similarly, on the grounds of Versailles, there are huge modern iron circular statues, which were commissioned as temporary installations. These also show how the French appreciate the old as much as the new.
There are just as many people at Pompidou on any given day as there are at the Louvre, which houses classical pieces of art such as the Mona Lisa, which is very underwhelming in real life I must say. The Louvre is arguably the most famous museum in the world, and even so, it was free the one Sunday I went (I don’t know if it was a special occasion or if it’s always free on Sunday). But, again, this is a prime example of Parisian’s devotion to the arts. Even if they charged just one euro per person, the museum would have made thousands of euros that day, but it was free for everyone. Being in Paris has really made me appreciate art much more than I ever had before. Its everywhere and can actually be very interesting. Parisians seem much more in touch with art and have a casual fundamental understanding of it.
The other weekend I went to the Museo Xul Solar which is within walking distance from my house here in Buenos Aires, and was free admittance. First of all I'll let you know a little about Solar. He was primarily known for being an Argentine painter living from 1887-1963 but in reality he was so much more. He was an intellectual genius who was also the creator of a universal language, a game similar to chess and literary works. His paintings are abstract and made of brightly colored figures that are composed of shapes and faces. He had traveled throughout Europe as well during his life but always loved Buenos Aires and continued to return home to chat with other Argentine thinkers like Borges. Although he was happy and painted with bright colors his world view was depressing and he felt the world was hopeless and a lost cause in terms of world peace. He was also an avid astrologer who would depict the stars in his paintings. The painting above shows his hopeless attitude to the rest of the world as he depicts religious and social symbols divided by walls.
Although Solar was born in Tigre, a small town on the Buenos Aires river delta, he spent most of his time in his house in the city of Buenos Aires which has now been retrofitted and redesigned as a museum. Solar also studied as an architect and the museum is designed in a way to mirror the painting style of Solar. It is concrete with cascading light flooding in from the skylights. There are staircases winding around the building in an almost MC Escher way. The museum is full of little floors that complement the small format of his paintings. The museum is surprising as there are corners, staircases, and openings in the wall that make it feel like a maze.
They played peaceful meditative music in the museum and it's small scale was nice and there were very few people in there when I was so I was able to really walk around and meditate, not even just the art. His art is very worldly though, even depicting flags of the world, and it doesn't seem to have a huge Buenos Aires subject matter, similar to Borges, not surprising since they were such close friends. Hence it is difficult to say how Buenos Aires has affected and shaped his world view and paintings.
I also went out the other Saturday night for the la noche de museos here in Buenos Aires. All the museums and other attractions in Buenos Aires were open until 3 in the morning. However instead of going to a museum we decided to go to the city Zoo and do a free night tour. We were shocked to find the longest line I have ever seen. Families, kids, teenagers, and adults were all lined up to take advantage of the free zoo opportunity. It was fascinating seeing how a public event like this got such an enthusiastic response from the people. It made me wonder if this kind of a thing would be well received in New York. I have gone to free gallery openings in New York like the gallery nights in Chelsea but the crowd is often more what you would expect (wealthy manhattanites, art school kids, and maybe a few trying to get a free drink) and less mixed like here in Buenos Aires.
However, art is also limiting in the sense that it is, above all, an interpretation. Supposedly there was no fog in London before Whistler; yet, what does one think of when they think of London? I'd bet will&kate, rain, and fog. How one man's choosing an element in his portrayal of a place (no matter how accurate it may be) lead to a modern day stereotype is baffling. Upon looking at art and thus how one person sees the world, we find ourselves able to see those bits the artists wish to highlight, and not necessarily the rest. Once we have seen those paintings, those prints, etc. the things we end up looking for/the things we are able to see are those elements they chose to highlight. Furthermore, because one has seen the way an artist saw an environment, the elements they saw and they will jump out forever, hard to ignore- despite the fact that you may be attempting to look at something else. Art taints the soul (or at least the perception), allowing us to see "more," see deeper into a place- but in a limiting way, only into the elements the artist has chosen for you. Would we be better off visiting places without having seen pictures or pieces of art depicting them? Would life be better without art? What is life without art? Is life without art untainted? Is it life? Lots of questions, so little time.
After having read de botton's chapter relevant to paintings, I started to think about other mediums- buildings, monuments, dance, music, etc. and when trying to address the question of what type of art was around me? And (oh, the cliché of clichés) I found that art was everywhere. In the street art next to the centre pompidou, in the music I hear walking down the street, in the museums, in the galleries, in the monuments- even the galleries themselves are works of art (The Musée D'Orsay is in a gorgeous old train station, the centre pompidou is this weird modern building with stairways on the outer edge in tubes (like those you walk through in an aquarium so you can be surrounded by fish on all sides)leading up each side of the building, and the Louvre is in a PALACE! A freaking palace- with some glass pyramids I.M.Pei designed at the entryway. We enter through art to get to art which is displayed in rooms that are, in themselves, works of art? Trippy.
All of this observation of art left me overwhelmed and with some unanswered questions about our perceptions. How do we decide what art is, why is it important to us, and how are we sure we got the real message it was supposed to send (and is there even an intended message in works of art?...but that's another issue).
I figured I'd do some investigating. Walking around Paris, I see everyone taking photos. Photos of monuments, and even photos of things that we specifically given the title "art" to- in museums. Photos of everything...and I wondered why? Especially in national galleries where we're supposed to be looking at the art, what was the obsession with photos? I wondered how how amusing/odd the way in whichpeople in our modern age seem to look at "art"- by photographing it. We take our own perception (sometimes/often of someone else's perception) in that moment, snapshot it....and boom, we have our own art. Is that why we feel the need to photograph the Mona Lisa, Sacré Coeur, the Sistine Chapel? Is it because we think we are all artists? Does it help us form our own perception of the work, physically putting it through our own lens? Because of this, I decided to take up a new hobby/maybe even start a Tumblr or a Blogspot blog (you know, the trendy thing to do)- documenting perception of sorts, entitled:
Pictures by people taking pictures of people taking pictures of art.
Here are some samples from it.
I’m not really an ‘art’ person. I feel that trips to museums are always so physically and mentally exhausting. Madrid is particularly famous for having the Prado museum. Honestly, I’ve visited this museum once. It is an incredible museum, but because it is so large, it’s a tad overwhelming.
The Prado museum houses over thousands of masterpieces relating to Spanish life. It is located near other amazing museums on its self-titled street Paseo del Prado. This road is parallel to a very differently landscaped park, which adds to the artsy feeling you get if you decide to go to the Prado. There’s an antique church located on the same hill of the museum as well as the only Ritz hotel in town.
Entering the Prado is not so different as entering other famous museums. Security is tight, the lines are long, but besides that you can spend the entire day there.
The Prado museum is divided in chronological order. There are masterpieces dated back to the 12th century. Roaming around the museum you will find several paintings by Velazquez and Goya. Continue a little further and you will be amazed (or horrified) by the amount of masterpieces this seemingly small building can hold. There is a breath of color in every painting, until you find the depressing black and white Spanish Civil War sketches.
Walking around in the Prado is like walking through the history of Spain. Paintings, sketches, and sculptures dedicated to the ever-changing country are wonderful to see.
The Prado museum is definitely a sight to see if visiting Madrid. Definitely worth the visit, this coming from an un-‘artsy’ person.
During Orientation week, we visited the Artist Alliance gallery, a small museum in the Teshie fishing community. The gallery hugged the coast and was showcasing Ga coffins. Brightly-painted wooden and metal and silk coffins in the shapes of eagles, crabs, cigarette boxes, bottles of Club beer.
When I was in London over Fall Break, the friends I was staying with lived two blocks away from the British Museum. The museum is open daily and free students, so I spent one long morning walking through its high-ceilinged hallways. One of the museum’s exhibits was called “Living and Dying.” The description on the website reads, “People throughout the world deal with the tough realities of life in many different ways. The displays in Room 24 explore different approaches to our shared challenges as human beings, focussing on how diverse cultures seek to maintain health and well-being.”
One of the walls of the Living and Dying exhibit was lined with brightly-painted Ga coffins. Eagles and cameras and cigarette boxes.
The exhibit was significant to me for two reasons. At one end, this is art that explores an aspect of the culture I’ve been living in for two months – families commission coffins representing the life achievements or dreams of a deceased relative, or characterizing their personality such as an eagle, a car, a plane, a bible, a fish, or a camera. Sometimes the deceased will have prepared a design brief during his or her lifetime. At the other, the presence of this Ghanaian art in a British museum asks, what does it mean to be postcolonial when you find yourself in the museum owned by your colonizers? At the Artists Alliance, the curators who spoke to us mentioned (in passing) what is difficult) about putting prices on artifacts in museums: how you must sometimes sell the art of your art and your culture and your people to rich collectors from former colonial powers in order to sustain your museum.
The British Museum, and the Ghanaian art within it, brought this perspective to mind. When I saw the ornately carved and intricately designed coffins on display under British glass, I asked, “How did you get here?” *
* From the exhibit: This coffin was made in the workshop of Paa Joe, who was trained by Kane Quaye. It was bought from the workshop by the British Museum in 2000.
On my visit to the Jewish Museum, I left feeling a little dizzy. I knew that the Czech lands had been part of Hitler’s empire and had partaken in some disgusting things. But every time I walked the streets of Prague, I promptly forgot that a city so beautiful could have a past so gruesome.
The museum held photos of the train tracks that led from Prague to Terezin, one’s that were designed for the particular purpose of transporting Jews and are not used today. Placards under the photos described how the Jews had been forced to actually build those tracks themselves, ignorant about what they would be used for in the future.
The artwork that disturbed me the most were drawings and paintings made by children. When kept in the camp for months, these children were becoming hard to handle, as well as becoming psychologically warped. So former teachers also detained at the camps, decided to make what they hoped were not the last days of these young Jews, a little ore colorful. So the immersed them in art projects.
As always, the ages of the children were upsetting. They ranged from around three to their mid-teens. Some of the drawings depicted happier days and freedom, with families celebrated holidays together or children playing on the streets of Praha. Others made me tear up. They were bleak paintings done in dismal shades of grey and brown showing the Terezin camp, broken souls, and incomplete families. The older children drew most of these depressing pieces, but some of the younger ones were represented in this group.
Since they were usually short on supplies, a lot of these pieces of art were done on scraps of paper, newspapers and pieces of wood.
It’s hard for me to imagine what it must have been like to live in a concentration camp, knowing that there was a slim chance that you would actually leave it. I really admired the women who were giving these children a chance to forget their worries. The woman who had started the program was eventually shifted to Auschwitz.
The visit to this museum didn’t really change my perspective of the country. It did however poke into my brain and take out from my lets-forget-the-bad-stuff closet in there the gruesome history of this place and remind me that this too was a country that had partaken in one of mankind’s worst crimes.
Yet, most of the art I’ve seen since coming to Ghana has come from its contemporary art scene. The present artistic focus features current artists much more prominently than its traditional pieces. Sometimes, I find this focus unnerving since it feels like an attempt to progress without acknowledging the past. For instance, Artist Alliance Gallery—one of the first galleries in Accra—dedicates the majority of its space to contemporary artists while crowding its collection of traditional artwork into a single, small room. Other times, I find it fascinating since the contemporary pieces I’ve seen usually rework aspects of Ghanaian customs in a new light. They are also often culturally or politically charged.
Recently, we went to the opening night of an exhibition that featured the artworks of one of our CRAs, Kelvin Haizel. His studio is basically in the dorm I’m living in, and it’s interesting to see his works as they move between the contexts of creation to display. The mixed media piece shown in the picture above, 110252 (II), is one I remember seeing the first time I walked into his studio.
To break it down, three aspects of this piece strike me the most: the fabric, the eyes, and the blue outline of the head.
Fabric: Unlike New Yorkers, Ghanaians aren’t afraid of bold patterns or color. The majority of the piece’s color comes from these printed fabrics. They are easy to buy anywhere and can be taken to a seamstress to make pretty much any kind of clothing you wish. The high contrast in color and pattern creates a sense of high energy and reflects the liveliness of Ghanaian traditions, particularly in music and dance. Furthermore, the association with clothing hints at fashion’s role in establishing or reiterating a person’s background in daily life. Not to mention that Ghanaians are quite fashionable. It's wonderful, except I always feel rather underdressed.
Eyes: Aluminum cans and plastic plates, two mass-produced yet environmentally unfriendly items. Despite its rate of development, Ghana still does not have a strong infrastructure for cleaning up trash or an efficient waste policy. Many people burn their trash or leave litter in the streets. Soda is very popular; I’ve drank more soda in the past two months than I have in the past two years. The use of these products as eyes indicate that the main focus right now is increasing development without thought for consequences. The plastic plates easily grab attention and seem larger than necessary, almost as if the eyes are taking over the face of a man fixated on something. Despite a rich background, more attention is given to a goal that offers temporary satisfaction with long-term effects on individual, social, and environmental health. In a way, Ghana's lack of a tourism industry or focus on local development and emphasis on its participation in global affairs attest to this preference.
Blue outline: The outline recalls the shape of African masks, tying the fabric and eyes together while simultaneously emphasizing them. It implies that tradition defines the direction of contemporary events; the past shapes the present and therefore the future.
(Photo is my own)
My experience with structured Ghanaian art presentation may be limited but art can be found in so many more places than that. The fabric patterns alone are works of art as well as the design of the outfit. On our weekend trip to Kumasi we went to the village where Kente cloth (the traditional cloth of the Akan people) is made. It is a beautiful woven cloth with different colorful patterns. This same village is where the dye for the Adinkra symbols is made. Adinkra symbols are from the ancient Akan and each have their own meaning ranging from hope to leadership to always with god. These symbols can be found pretty much everywhere in Ghana, from bumper stickers to tattoos to plastic chairs. and demonstrate the continuation of tradition in Ghanaian society. Everywhere you look there is an ancient symbol that means so much. Everywhere you look is art.
Last night I managed to get to an art exhibition opening that one of our RA’s art work was being displayed in. When I think of art exhibitions in America I imagine white rooms where each piece has its own light and its own focus. The room is completely bare except for the art. However, this exhibition was unlike my expectation and yet I really should not have been surprised. It was displayed exactly how art is in Ghana everywhere else- it was simply around. Everywhere you went in this small building there was a piece of art work that was part of the show. Next to the bathroom, on the wall next to the cashier, round the corner on the balcony, it was everywhere. Sometimes hidden almost that you felt these artists were not getting the attention they deserved. But as I looked around at the other people there, no one seemed to be bothered by it. It was simply art being displayed in a building, no need to put it in an empty room with the focus solely on it, the art itself drew enough attention to it. It created its own focus, without fancy lighting and whitewashed walls. It was refreshing to see art take on such a power of its own and reminded me of how it can be found almost anywhere if you just pay attention.
(own photo from the Ashanti village where Kente and Adinkra cloth is made)
Image taken by me at the Shanghai Contemporary.
This sort of art exportation creates an environment in which art and creativity occurs in the informal sphere. There is a growing group of contemporary artists, but it is not an easily accepted or understood career path. The art then, becomes the fabric and the beads, the dance and the music. It’s not art that can be contained in a museum, but it’s just as much a creative expression. Take the fabric, for instance. It comes in an incredible number of prints with vivid shades of blue or pink, among other colors. The patterns are just as beautiful as paintings, with the same attention to color and composition. But to Ghanaians, it is just fabric, something that everyone wears. This relates to one of the main distinctions between African and Western art, that African art always has a purpose while Western art is generally more decorative. Though you can apply this difference to older, traditional art like masks or sculptures, it also applies to modern crafts like batik or beadmaking. The art here is wearable, not something that sits on a shelf.
This practical component of art also means that the art intertwines with commercialism. Ghanaians make their livings selling or sewing fabric, thinking of themselves as businesspeople, not artists. They also cater to tourists or non-Africans, often making jewelry that gets exported and sold in the US or other parts of the world. This art becomes another commercial product like shea butter or palm oil. To the Western shopper, though, it is a piece of African art, something exotic and different. This shopper views the jewelry from an outsider’s perspective, not necessarily considering the commercial motives behind the craft or questioning whether the jewelry maker even regards her work as art.
Strangely enough, we had all already visited Artist Alliance as a part of our orientation week. As I have noticed more and more living in Ghana, variety of options is not the usual. There is one history museum, one mall, and one art gallery. While there is nothing wrong with this, it just allows you to get more familiar with particular places. I was happy to have a second visit however, because this time the owner Ablade Glover showed us around the gallery. A charismatic and approachable older man, he led us through the first two floors to a circle of chairs to begin our discussion. In one of our first classes we spent a good portion of time debating whether or not African art can be evaluated with the same criteria as Western art. We came to the conclusion that it is best to judge non-western art with a different set of parameters because oftentimes a western approach to composition, form and style might impose meaning onto objects that are simply representational or naturalistic. Sitting in the middle of a vast gallery overlooking the ocean, intellectually analyzing the art around us, it was hard not to feel completely westernized. Even in New York art galleries frequently intimidate me, as I often feel unqualified to actually “appreciate” the art I am standing in front of. This usually being the case it was only amplified at Artist Alliance, as now I was being asked to examine and discuss something through a different lens. But how was I supposed to know to OK “parameters” to apply, or the right vocabulary to use when discussing these foreign objects? Luckily Mr. Glover didn’t hold it against us, and helped illuminate what he considers the differences to be.
He reiterated points made in our class about African art developing around the practical, therefore making the art itself active. This “art of the practical” eventually turned into modern art, with the help of outside influences. He described contemporary African art as having the same motivations as traditional African art, only using materials and conventions introduced to Africa during colonization. He defines contemporary art as “Alien tools we have picked to express the same things as traditional art.” It is this idea that he based his gallery off of. He hopes to promote contemporary art and artists who would otherwise not have any exposure. As I previously explained, this is the only gallery of its kind in Accra, allowing it to be an invaluable space for artists and art lovers alike. Mr. Glover hopes that his gallery can show the rest of the world that African artists use all mediums, including what are typically thought of as western techniques like painting. I was very impressed by the depth and variety of pieces found in his gallery, and while my opinion might not matter to many people, I definitely thing these African artists can compete with the European masters found in MoMa or Pompidou. I’m glad that I was exposed to contemporary African art in an academic environment so as to fully understand the struggle to be taken seriously.
Mr. Glover himself is an artist, untrained yet nonetheless talented. The picture is one of my favorite pieces of his.
The first time I saw his brilliant works, I stood in awe, gasping at the way in which Gaudí redefined architecture. He infused such spirit, innovation, and meaning into something as simple as a building, a true artistic pioneer.
Casa Mila was the first of Gaudí’s masterpieces that I visited. Approaching the building, it is remarkable to note how it stands out amid an otherwise standard urban architectural setting. Its curves, lines, and fluidity evokes Dalí’s clocks and leads my mind to notions of warped realities and the manipulation of that which we may view as concrete, fixed. Even the rooftop exterior is wondrous, as are the stairwells and corners where two walls come together. I was struck by these details, the ways in which viewers and visitors today can see the extraordinary attention which Gaudí paid to each and every element of his craft, ensuring that even the smallest nuances of the structure were accounted for and approached in his distinct manner.
Parque Güell was another marvel. It felt as if I were walking through a fantasy land, discovering the new and unexpected with each new pathway. Even with the masses of tourists that visit Gaudi’s works all year round, I still felt that magic; it is inescapable and unmatched elsewhere in the world.
And there are no words that capture the grandeur and impact of the Sagrada Familia (pictured here). The fact that such a structure is still being built in 2011 is a feat in it of itself. Its towers and archways are reminiscent of centuries ago, yet its style is wholly unique. 130 years after construction began, this monument is still a work-in-progress, though one which I, like so many others, enjoy visiting immensely. Sitting in the shadow of the towers during pre-crowd early mornings is not to be missed. It is a phenomenal cathedral by any and all measures.
I wrote this, immediately after my first visit:
Para mí, lo bonito de la Sagrada Familia es la creatividad de la arquitectura que viene de la combinación de fe y naturaleza. Al contrario de su grandiosidad y altura marvillosa, todavía tiene detalles magníficos. Gaudí desafió los estándares actuales que el estilo gótico ya no es utilizado; inventó su propia obra inconfundible. A causa de su fascinación con combinaciones impares, pero brillantes, usó torres de piedra que se parecen a castillos de arena, sobrepasadas por tazones de uvas moradas con columnas de árboles adornados con flores y hojas. Después de estudiar y ver la Sagrada Familia, puedo decir sinceramente que Gaudí creó una obra maestra absolutamente alucinante.
This still rings true in my mind today. The way in which he is able to combine modernity with the classical, tradition or religion with striking originality, geometry with nature amazes me. Gaudí’s style is unmistakably individual. For me, Barcelona is so culturally and artistically rich because of his prolific and genius contributions to its cityscape, as well as his lasting influence into the present day.
The Centre Georges Pompidou in the 4th arrondisement of Paris is exactly like that. The modern art center houses a variety of exhibitions and holds a handful of different events. The art is vast and varied, and includes much more than just French artists’ works. Last week I visited this museum as part of a course I am taking here, Intro to the Parisian Contemporary Art Scene. I got there a little early and sat in front of the museum in the Place Georges Pompidou, a big square with a slight hill that invites guests to sprawl out for hours. The area is used famously by a lot of street performers. Adjacent to the museum there is also the Stravinsky Fountain. The instillation features sixteen water spraying, movable sculptures.
When I first entered the museum it felt more like a science museum than an art museum. The interior is extremely industrial and cold feeling. To proceed to the main galleries you have to take numerous escalators that decorate the outside of the museum. This is one of the only times during my visit when I felt like I was really in Paris. The ascending escalators give better and better views of the city as you continue to climb up to the main exhibitions.
Once inside the main galleries, the art is divided into little rooms that visitors wind through. It’s easy to feel as though you are missing something because every single corner is filled with art. The collection has no common theme, except for that it is all contemporary. The artists are international and the genres are expansive.
If it weren’t for the expansive city views from all the floor to ceiling windows, I really could have been anywhere in the world.