Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Paul Gauguin ceramics

While at the Chicago Institute of Art, I came across a piece that was surprising to me: A ceramic vessel by Paul Gauguin. Yes, THAT Paul Gauguin: the post-impressionist with the colorful exotic paintings based in Polynesia. I had no idea he was so prolific!
The vessel is of course of a young Polynesian girl or 'Leda and the Swan' (from Greek mythology) as it is entitled, and was made in 1887/88. The girl hugging the swan makes up the body while the swan's neck makes a clever handle. Really magnificent!
The Institute is one of my favorite museums because they pair not just paintings of similar time periods, but they give you the whole perspective with furniture, ceramics and even lighting fixtures of the time period. This vessel was in the same room as a number of Gauguin's works. The building has a new wing by one of my favorite architects, Renzo Piano and I will talk more about that soon!
and again - pictures by my iphone (which I think I'm giving up on and returning despite the great camera quality!)

Millennium Park continued

Adjacent to the Pritzger Pavilion, by Frank Gehry,are 2 other interesting pieces of sculpture that really capture 2 different styles of monuments.The first is a very classical structure, the Millennium Monument in Wrigley Square. It is a slightly smaller version of a Greek (doric) styled monument, designed by Edward Bennett, (who also designed the famous Buckingham Fountain nearby) which stood nearby from 1917 till 1953. I love classical structures like these, but sadly it was the emptiest part of the whole park.The Cloud-gate, lovingly nicknamed the bean for obvious reasons, was immensly more popular. I could see why: totally interactive, people loved to look at their own reflections 'carnival style' and walk in, around and under it. The sculpture sits in the AT&T plaza section: built of polished steel, it weighs in at 110 TONS! The heavy work was the first installation by artist Anish Kapoor in the United States and cost upwards of $23 million -about 5 times more than the classical Millenium monument! It is meant to depict a drop of mercury right before impact with the ground. The sculpture was hand polished on site after delivery to hide the weld-lines. They did a good job because it is amazingly PERFECT (although it could do with a good washing with windex!). You can easily see why this is the most popular piece in the park! If you plan a trip to Chicago (and you must!) plan to visit the Millennium Park!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Frank Gehry and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion

This past weekend I visited one of my favorite cities, Chicago. I was so excited to finally see the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park designed by Frank Gehry. Completed in July 2004, the pavilion is an open stage which seats upwards of 11,000 people in a mixture of fixed seats and the lawn as well as accomodate a full orcherstra on stage.
The pavilion is the gem of Millenium park, which is built over a large parking lot and the Harris Theater. One thing I question is the very lage trellis structure over the lawn seating, seen below. Meant to hold the complicated sound system, I wonder why a vinyl or canvas covering could not be stretched over it in the wintertime for more year round use. It seems much more practical to me and would not break the covenant for no buildings in the park as it would be a temporary structure. Just my 2 cents!
detail of the structure which directs the sound into the audience.
I never have been a fan of Gehry, but I think his style is best suited to outdoor structures like these and it is truly magnificent. Never mind that it cost around $60 million, it was well worth it as it's probably one of the most visited attraction in Chicago these days!
the pavilion seen in the distance above the water wall.
all photos taken with my iphone -which turned out surprisingly well!