Beauty as Duty

Friday, November 18, 2011

When I need rejuvenation, the museum is my magic place. It's thrilling to buy a ticket and wonder how your vision will be changed once the visit's done. I love the straw-teak smell in the rooms holding the oldest artifacts, the layered years behind glass, the quiet power of color on a wall.

(Peter Coffin, Linde Wing)

Last week, I wandered the MFA with my talented friend, Amanda (kindred spirit & accomplished painter) and wanted to share. (See her post here) If you are in Boston, this fall's exhibits are especially worth a visit! Our aim was to see the current exhibit, "Beauty as Duty" which focuses on the inventive relationship between war-time fashion (and the rationing of it during WWII) and politics (think witty propaganda scarves!)...

"Switch off that light!"

"Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who lived in a world of her own, who lived with her wicked stepmother who kept all her clothing coupons for herself..."

"Trot out your whatnots and save shipping!"

War planes in lace!

Then we happened upon a live show in another gallery, of a Greek women's dance troupe performing ancient steps that Theseus supposedly danced after slaying the minotaur. (My "Denos" blood was appeased.)

(El Anatsui, Black River, 2009, Linde Wing)

Wandering on from there, we found ourselves in the stunning new Linde Contemporary Wing where we made gleeful fools of ourselves with unfettered gasps of "Oooo...LOOOKKKKKK"

(Linde Wing)

(A tiny little shirt as social commentary.)

(Amanda, I can't wait to see your take on toile!)

(Linde Wing)

(Giampalo Babetto, Linde Wing: "It is better to use a form that is somehow pure.")

(I'd like to eat this.)

Finally we searched for our favorite, The Art of the Americas Wing.

There, I visited the man who was the second president of the United States, who once lived down the street from where I live today, in the town that bears his son's name (Quincy). It is said that he thought history would forget him! But we haven't, John Adams! Thanks for your letters to Abigail. I think of you whenever I drive by Peace Field.
(John Adams by Gilbert Stuart)

A sketch of a coffee pot Paul Revere's son poured:

We ended the night in two dim and delicious current exhibits:
Aphrodite and the Gods of Love, and another on rare Jewelry...

(Betsey Cushing Whitney’s American Indian tiara, worn visiting Queen Elizabeth II)

Museum trips are terrible in a way! You are tugged by two forces the entire time: absorption and creation, in almost a frenzied cycle: your eyes are feasting, your brain cogs are turning, your heart is sparking, you need to get to your desk and CREATE, but wait, look over there! On the T home, we were BURSTING with new things to paint, trying to recall them in lists for each other, gratefully dazzled by the beauty we'd seen. Museum day success.

What resets your palette?


Amanda Laurel Atkins said...

Yay, I loved re-reading about our museum day! It brought back all the ideas and excitement!! I totally agree with what you wrote about museums pulling you in two directions - the urge to look more but the overwhelming desire to get out of there immediately and create! I'm so happy we went and so excited to see what you come up with from all your ideas!

Jennifer said...

Thank you for the wonderful post!!! Loved seeing all the gorgeous photos! I miss the MFA! Love to hearing about all of your inspiration and excitement!