The Gemäldegalerie, the Kunstgewerbe Museum and Life Drawing.

Day 25, Thursday, September 19, 2019

As we walked to the metro this morning, the interior of this car caught my eye! These workers are laying paving bricks for a huge plaza.  We have not seen poured cement sidewalks or plazas here, they are all made with paving stones.  It seems very labour intensive. The Gemäldegalerie is our first stop today.  This museum is near the Berlin Zoo and has one of the world’s leading collections of European paintings from the 13th to the 18th century. The quality of the artwork here is amazing.  This is the first painting we see, part of an altar from 1437 telling the story of Jesus on the left, and Mary on the right. The white ‘baseboard’ in the photo comes almost mid-thigh on me, to give you an idea of the scale of the works. The corner of one painting from 1444 shows two pregnant women, notice the babies depicted on their stomachs. I had never seen this symbolism before. We both liked the Fountain of Youth by Lucas Cranach, 1546. This is not the style of his work that I am familiar with… this is!  I have always wondered at this artist’s creativity. Wow!! This painting by Rogier van Der Weyen from 1440 is my absolute favourite of everything we have seen so far this trip. I absolutely love it and wish that the photo was able to convey the impact it has in person. I would have bought a print but it was almost $100 and I worried about getting it home safely. This is a painting I could live with forever.

There are so many interesting portraits here that I have never seen before.  Can you tell that I am drawn to portraiture?These two tomb figures, 510, were very endearing.
I am fond of Frans Hals portraits and there was a whole room of them. This artist must like them too.  What a tough way to work though, on a little stool, holding such a large drawing board.  I assume the museum does not allow easels. I am excited to see this Vermeer from across the room, but then.. I notice The Girl with the Pearl Earring.  I had no idea the this painting was in this museum. What a lovely surprise. Anna Dorothea Therbusch, 1721-1782, is one of the few women artists who actually made a living as an artist. This is a self portrait. There are Caravaggio’s here…and Georges de la Tours…
and Botticellis,
including this Botticellis Venus.And there are Rembrandts, including these two famous self portraits. I finally get to see these two tondos in person, the one on the left by Raffael (34″ diameter) and the one on the right by Botticelli (54″ diameter).  I particularly like the Botticelli, his Madonnas are always so beautiful. This was fun!  I am so glad we visited the Gemäldegalerie, it was quite amazing.After a picnic lunch we check out the Kunstgwerbe Museum nearby.  I would love to have this beautiful geometry set from the 16th century. This museum has lots of porcelain, furniture and church treasures, but we walk by all these. It is just too much to absorb. A few items did catch our eye though. This is an elaborate portable kitchen from 1807, maybe used for camping? All the info is in German, so not sure. These glazed porcelain figurines were part of a group of 15 that were awarded a gold medal at the 1900 International Exhibition in Paris.  There was also an exhibit on Afro Hair, with some very different displays. And finally, an interesting walk through women fashions through the ages.

Across the street we stop to see the Berlin Library.  It is enormous!  Probably the biggest I have ever visited. It was tough to get in though. Without a library card I had to get a special pass, and no one is allowed to carry a purse or backpack or other bag.  So everyone puts their stuff in clear plastic bags!  I don’t see the point of that all. So different from home. Oh and do you notice the card catalogues in the bottom photo?  I was surprised to see them. Whew! and we aren’t finished yet. We catch a bus back across town to visit the oldest church in Berlin but the interior has been updated so much.  It wasn’t what we were expecting, but still interesting. For some reason there was a rooster crowing inside the church?  No idea what that was about.We split up, Bob heads to the Bode Museum and I catch the metro to go life drawing.  I pass this post with just a few posters wrapped around it on my way to drawing.

Here are my drawings from tonight.  The first page is two minute poses and the times of the other poses are written on the pages.  This was a pretty full day!

Venice Museums

Day 47, Saturday October 21, 2017

Today was a museum day. We visited the Correr Museum, the National Archaeological Museum and the Monumental Rooms Biblioteca Marciana.   These museums are in the building that is on three sides of San Marco Square. On the way there I stop for another picture of the Bridge of Sighs.The Correr Museum is in a sumptuous building that once was the residence of the sovereign when Venice was under Austrian rule. Its many rooms are ornately decorated.I love the cabinets of this time. Just imagine all the treasures that were tucked into these many drawers and compartments.This library room has floor to ceiling shelves of old and rare books. This one with vellum pages is open for display..One of the many rooms filled with sculptures.

Have you ever seen toes this big?This room was once a library, with an amazing ceiling, but today it holds an exhibition of very expensive jewelry and jewelled objects. I only discover tonight that there is in fact a library we could have visited that sounds wonderful only it wasn’t open today, and isn’t open tomorrow. Some of tourist information here is a bit difficult to find. I am quite disappointed that we won’t be able to visit this library of ancient books and manuscripts.I walked in support of an exhibit about a young woman named Ashra who walked   11,146,312 meters to reach Italy from Sub-Saharan Africa, like many before her and many after her. Visitors to the gallery walk and their steps are recorded to reach the same number of meters.

There are many rooms of medieval paintings. I particularly liked this one.This exhibit had the stories of each of the people photographed written in Farsi over their hands and faces.  Bob was trying to figure out how to get to the second story of books in this library room.I took this photo from the second floor window at the opposite end of San Marco Square. There are more people today than we have seen on the other days we were here…and lots of people were feeding the pigeons even though there are signs saying not to.These big cruise ships are part of the reason that Venice is so polluted. One ship creates as much pollution in a day as one million cars!The sun tried to peek out but couldn’t quite manage it.  Oh well, at least it wasn’t raining.We sat beside the Doge’s Palace to eat our lunch and watch the people walking by. It is one of the few places where there is a place to sit. I think that Venice has so many visitors that the city doesn’t want people to sit for a while unless you are in a restaurant.

There were so many more tourists in Venice today…and we had to laugh at this group of women who had tied their scarves together and were all holding on, just like little kids in daycare.We wanted to see Venice by night so we stayed out late. We took a vaporetto ride down the main canal to San Marco Square that took much longer than we expected. The boat went very slowly, perhaps because none of the boats on the canals have navigational lights!  They only have very small lights, usually a white one on the front and a red one on the side. It is almost impossible to see the boats and I have no idea how they manage to navigate in the dark!The gondolas often didn’t have any lights at all! It seemed rather dangerous to me.The Rialto Bridge at night is quite beautiful. Notice no lights on the boats.We finally arrived at San Marco Square, expecting all sorts of activity and there is almost no one there!  We were pretty disappointed. I took a picture of the Basilica and we took another very slow boat ride back to the bus and then home. It was a long day today, we were out and about for twelve hours!.

Guggenheim and Museo de Bella Artes in Bilbao

Friday October 2

We were going to take the metro into Bilbao but it was impossible to find a parking spot anywhere nearby so we ended up driving into the City.  Once again I am very thankful for our trusty iPad and its navigational abilities. We finally find a parking garage there and walk to the Guggenheim along the river. We pass this big mural under a bridge.image

Soon we see the museum, which is a very impressive building, covered in thin sheets of titanium.  I quite like this big spider sculpture.image Another view near the entrance.

imageThe Guggenheim Bilbao was not what we expected, and judging by the looks on the other visitors’ faces, not what they expected either.  I did like the Richard Serra installation called The Matter of Time.  Here is a picture of a picture and then a not very good photo of Bob walking through one of the sculptures to give an idea of its immense size. image image

An interactive art work.  Can you spot me?

image

There were only two other exhibits, one of an artist named Jean-Michel Besquiat and a couple of video installations that were very strange.  Besquiat’s work was a bit like street art, quite dark and hard to appreciate.  Look him up if you are interested.  There were no photos allowed.  I decided that the building itself is really a piece of artwork and needs to be appreciated that way.  It is not a functional building for displaying art, or even for navigating through.

imageWe have tea and some tapas in the café and we decide we have seen enough of the Guggenheim.image

One of Bilbao residents favourite pieces of art is Puppy by Jeff Koon.  It is a 13 m (43′) high sculpture of a Highland Terrier with a coat of flowers.  It made both of us smile.

image

And…I don’t think Inhave mentioned how much people in Spain love dogs.  There are dogs eveywhere, and often they are very large dogs.  These two ladies had seven dogs between them, some of them were off leash.image

We had our picnic lunch on the benches here and then go to the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, which was wonderful.  It was very well organized chronologically and the paintings were also labeled in English, which we really appreciated.  There are so many fantastic Spanish painters I have never even heard of.  We particularly liked the 13th to 15th Century paintings which were larger, more colourful and full of expression than paintings we have seen from this time in other museums.  I took a quick snap of this Mary Cassatt work,  which is one of my favourites.  I was so surprised to walk into a  room and find this painting.image

On our walk back to our car I took this photo to show the mix of very modern sculpture in the foreground, very old buildings, and then the extremely modern tower in the background. Everywhere in Spanish cities and towns we see this interesting mix of styles.  

image