Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Virtual Road Trip ~National Gallery Sculpture Garden




80F at noon and no wind, well, of course the National Orange Show ended yesterday. So we anticipate the heat to start in earnest.

Hubby and I did the bananafanafofana on the back garden roses. Labor-intensive, but we did it together and talked the whole time bout this n that and before you know it, it was all done. My kind of gardening.

Elise looks okay so far this morning. A little bit shocky but not too droopy. With us thinning the branches a bit, there is more room for sunshine, so I hope she will be happier.
Continuing with our virtual road trips, today's location is Washington, D.C. and our nation's capitol.
Designed to offer year-round enjoyment to the public in one of the preeminent locations on the National Mall, the National Gallery Sculpture Garden includes seventeen works from the Gallery's growing collection as well as loans for special exhibitions.

Located in the 6.1-acre block adjacent to the West Building, the elegant yet informal Garden includes new plantings of native American species of canopy trees, flowering trees, shrubs, ground covers, and perennials. A fountain, which serves as an ice rink in winter, is at the center of the Garden, and walking and seating areas offer visitors a chance to rest and reflect on the works on view. The Pavilion Café offers year-round café service, along with indoor seating. The Sculpture Garden is enclosed by a decorative metal fence with marble piers and plinths, designed to reflect the historic character of the West Building. There are six public entryways to the Sculpture Garden, and it is accessible to visitors with disabilities. Many of the larger sculptures were brought to the garden in pieces and then assembled on site. Here are a few:

Personnage Gothique, Joan Miro

 Joan Miró created most of his sculpture—more than 150 examples 

after his seventieth birthday. These late works fall into two formal groups: those cast from forms modeled by the artist and those cast from found objects. One of Miró’s largest sculptures, Personnage
Gothique relates to both types, since the bird was cast from an object the artist created, while the head was cast from a cardboard box and the body from a donkey yoke.

Claes Oldenburg's  Typewriter Eraser, Scale X (model 1998, fabricated 1999)
In the mid-1960s Claes Oldenburg began to make drawings of monuments based on common objects, such as a clothespin or a pair of scissors, challenging the notion that public monuments must commemorate historical figures or events. The artist's selection of discredited or obsolete objects extends to those remembered from childhood. As a youngster he enjoyed playing in his father's office with a typewriter eraser. In the late 1960s and 1970s he used the eraser as a source for drawings, prints, sculpture, and even a never-realized monument for New York City. This sculpture presents a giant falling eraser that has just alighted, the bristles of the brush turned upward in a graceful, dynamic gesture.
Louise Bourgeois American, born 1911, France Spider, 1996, cast 1997 bronze with silver nitrate patina

Since 1984 Louise Bourgeois has been developing a body of work with the spider as protagonist. For the artist, whose work has explored themes of childhood memory and loss, the spider carries associations of a maternal figure. Indeed, Bourgeois' "Spider" series relates to her own mother who died when the artist was twenty-one. From drawings to large-scale installations, Bourgeois' spiders appear as looming and powerful protectresses, yet are nurturing, delicate, and vulnerable. 
Magdalena Abakanowicz Puellae (Girls), 1992
Over the last thirty years, Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has created a compelling and highly emotional body of work, largely drawn from her personal experience of World War II and its aftermath. She is best known for her "crowds" (as she calls them) of headless, rigidly posed figures whose anonymity and repetitious presentation have been regarded as the artist's personal response to totalitarianism.

Trained as a textile artist, Abakanowicz first used burlap in her indoor sculpture to achieve modulated, deeply incised surfaces for powerfully expressive ends. Each of the thirty bronzes in Puellae is a unique cast, made from a burlap mold that the artist individually worked during the casting process. Each puella's diminutive size is unusual, since Abakanowicz has traditionally depicted adults as life-size or larger. The work refers to an account the artist heard as a child in Poland during World War II about a group of children who froze to death as they were transported in cattle cars from Poland to Germany, as part of the "Arianization" process. Depending on the site, these figures can be arranged in any configuration.
Barry Flanagan Thinker on a Rock, 1997
Reacting against the formal, constructed metal sculpture that predominated when he was in art school, Barry Flanagan explored painting, dance, and installation pieces. He has produced an inventive and varied body of work filled with humor and poetic associations, often evoked by the particular organic materials he employed. While working with clay in the early 1980s, Flanagan perceived the image of a hare "unveiling" itself before him. The hare has appeared in an endless variety of guises in Flanagan's bronzes. In Thinker on a Rock the artist substitutes his signature hare for Rodin's Thinker (1880), making a witty and irreverent reference to one of the world's best-known sculptures.

Alexander Calder Cheval Rouge (Red Horse), 1974
  During the last two decades of his life Alexander Calder devoted his greatest efforts to large-scale mobiles and stabiles, many of which have become popular public landmarks in cities around the world. Unlike his earlier works, these huge objects required a collaborative effort. To fabricate Cheval Rouge the artist worked with skilled technicians and metalworkers at the Biémont Foundry in Tours, France.

Calder's outdoor stabiles such as Cheval Rouge exhibit a universally appealing grace and, though steadfastly abstract, evoke a friendly resonance with natural forms. Here the sleek, tapering legs and tensile up-thrust "neck" recall the muscularity and power of a thoroughbred. This stabile reflects Calder's assertion: "I want to make things that are fun to look at, that have no propaganda value whatsoever." 
George Rickey Cluster of Four Cubes, 1992
 George Rickey began to produce kinetic sculpture in the late 1940s. Intrigued by both the history of constructivist art and by the example of Calder's mobiles, he developed systems of motion that made his works respond to the slightest variations in the flow of air currents. Rickey's kinetic sculpture provides a dialogue between ordered geometric shapes and random motion.

The massive element of Cluster of Four Cubes is appended by ball bearings to slender arms that branch from a central post. Each cube is precisely weighted and balanced, engineered to turn effortlessly in the lightest breeze; they glide, nearly brushing one another in an intricate and graceful dance that belies their apparent bulk.

There are also beautiful plantings among the sculptures. Here are a few:
The deep maroon flowers of the chocolate cosmos add a hint of chocolate to the air. This plant is a marginal perennial that must be dug out and stored for the winter. The Crème Brûleè coreopsis exhibits an abundance of pale yellow flowers throughout the season. 
These large flowers "Bracken's Brown Beauty" southern magnolia add a beautiful scent to the Sculpture Garden. This tree makes a perfect windscreen, which also assists in blocking the traffic noise.
Many of the plantings, as well as the fountain, in the Sculpture Garden encourage wildlife. The Garden is home to a wide variety of birds, including ducks that return every year. 
Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
The fall color of the Cornus sericea shines behind a border of cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus'OttoLuyken'). The red twig dogwood will slowly lose its vibrant color and be pruned to the ground. This plant grows very quickly and needs annual aggressive pruning to keep it clean.

The oakleaf hydrangea leaves turn a deep red-bronze color in fall. The bark of these plants also exhibit exfoliating characteristics. All of the H. quercifolia plants are pruned after flowering. In the background, a transplanted cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus lebani) is seen with its graceful branches.

All in all, a beautiful place to relax and admire the art while among gorgeous plantings and water features!

What do you get if you cross a painter with a boxer?
 Mohammed Dali

Why was the art dealer in debt?
 He didn't have any Monet

What did the artist say to the dentist?
 Matisse hurt

Vincent van Gogh walks into a bar, and the bartender offers him a drink...
No thank -you, said Vincent, I've got one 'ere.

What do you call an American drawing?
A Yankee Doodle.

Did you hear about the two little boys who found themselves in a modern art gallery by mistake?
"Quick," said one, "Run ! Before they say we did it!"

The Mona Lisa was brought up in court on charges of murder,
but it turned out that she'd been framed...

Recently a guy in Paris nearly got away with stealing several paintings from the Louvre. However, after planning the crime, breaking in, evading security, getting out and escaping with the goods, he was captured only two blocks away when his Econoline van ran out of gas. When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied:
"I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh."

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1 comment:

Carole said...

Thanks! Hi, loved the tour!