Category Archives: Art

Pergamum Exhibit at the Met


A bronze shield from Pontos, 185-160 BC

Though it closed at the beginning of July, I was able to see the Pergamum exhibit over the Independence Day weekend. I went on a Friday night, rightly assuming that the crowds which make the Met so hard to explore would be out of town. Most of those in the museum were the clueless tourists, most of whom got in the way, talked loudly, and flew through the exhibit probably because they had no idea what they were looking at. Fine by me.

An "old friend" from Athens

An “old friend” from Athens

The Met gathered antiquities from across the world to create the exhibition, Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World. I was surprised and pleased to see some “old friends” from the Antikytheria Shipwreck exhibit (and redux) that the National Archaeological Museum in Athens had held in 2013. I took a few pictures, but I already have photos of the pieces.

I took 184 photographs, some of which I later deleted (bad photos, duplicate photos, etc.). I just managed to get through the exhibit right before the museum closed at 9. I bought the exhibition catalog–hardback. I usually buy the paperback copy because it is cheaper (and sometimes I wait for a few months and hope that the catalog is put on clearance, which sometimes happens if any are left over), but I was told that too many people complained that the paperback copies fall apart. Now the Met only prints its catalogs in hardback.

Overall, it was a wonderful exhibit.

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Art or Not–You Decide

(2016-05-10 002)This is a piece of modern art that is in Madison Square Park. I took the photos on two different occasions.

It’s called Big Bling and was created by Martin Puryear. It took me a while to get the photographs about Puryear and his creation because every time I passed by, tourists were reading the sign and I didn’t have time to wait for them to finish.

When I first saw it made with wood and chicken wire (fencing wire?), I thought “squirrel condo,” probably because of all the squirrels in the park, and there were many running around it.

Perhaps Puryear is commenting on “bling” and what it means to society–or what really makes up “bling.”


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Irving’s Monument, and Rip Van Winkle

(2015-04-11 003)Way back at the beginning of the 20th century, a memorial/monument to Washington Irving was planned for Broadway, at the top of Sunnyside Lane. A local committee started raising funds in 1909-1910. Famous sculptor Daniel Chester French was hired to make a bust of Irving and some images of Rip Van Winkle and King Boabdil (from The Alhambra). The Headless Horseman is Irving’s most famous character, with Rip Van Winkle running second in popularity.

French worked on the monument for the next 15 years. Over those years, the costs of the monument, in French’s hands, kept going up and up. The local committee put on many fundraisers to try and keep up with the escalating price tag. In 1925, French designed this small statue of Rip Van Winkle for fundraising purposes; each sold for $500.

Unfortunately, the statue got no further than the model stage. French created a model to work from and started making preparations to build the statue. However, the money was not raised for the statue and the idea was scrapped. Still, the sculptor had to be paid. In order to recoup some of the money, the statue committee had copies made of the model and sold it locally.

The Charles T. Newberry Estate donated this statue to the Historical Society, where it peers out from a corner in the research room.

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Historical Society’s Valentines

(2016-02-13 001)Before the month is over, and wanting to have a posting on Leap Year Day, here is something at the Historical Society.

No, I have not changed my mind from my last post. I still think Valentine’s Day is for people with not a romantic bone in their bodies. However, in honor of the day, the Historical Society installed a display of Valentines from the past. Many of them look to be from the late 19th-early 20th century.

For those you who like Valentine’s Day, enjoy. For those of us who don’t, it’s still interesting to look at artifacts from a bygone era.

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Technologically-created Art on the Moon

Charles Duke family pic on MoonAwhile ago, I posted an entry on the plaque that was left on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. It really wasn’t art per se, but it did contain a message to whoever finds it in the future.

Today I found this photograph on the Free York site. It’s of Charles Duke and his family that Duke left on the Moon in 1972 while on the Apollo 16 mission. Another photograph posted on Science Alert (which is a repost from Business Insider) is a copy of the photograph. According to the article, Duke had written on the back, “This is the family of astronaut Charlie Duke from planet Earth who landed on the moon on April 20, 1972.”

That photograph is still there on the Moon.

CharlesDuke_webNow a word about the Library of Congress classification. Photography is classed in T, for technology. This frustrates art affectionados, since art is classified in N. What they fail to understand is that the art of photography would not exist without the technology of the camera, which definitely belongs in T. Also in T, sewing, painting (as in walls, trim, etc.), and cooking–yes cooking. We tend to take cooking for granted, but it is a technology.

As Duke discusses in the article, conditions on the Moon are not favorable to preserving the photograph, and it has probably faded, but his message on the back is probably still there, which will always indicate what had been on the obverse.

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Icon Redux: Saint Christopher

Byzantine & Christian Museum (2013-05-28 220In the post on my visit to the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens, I took a photograph of an icon with a dog’s head. At the time I merely commented on how bizarre this icon seemed to me. At the time, I did not think much about it.

In volume 2 of his book Orthodox Saints, George Poulos discusses St. Christopher Cynocephalus. The only St. Christopher I knew was the one who is depicted on medals carrying a child with the caption, “St. Christopher Protect Us.” Well, this is the same St. Christopher. Poulos explains that Christopher, whose original name was Reprobos, was ugly and repulsive. He was so ugly that his comrades called him Dogface. (Cynocephalus means “dog-head.”) His inner spiritual beauty was hidden by a hideous face. Actually painting a person with a dog’s head seems just a wee bit extreme.

Anyway, Christopher is known as the patron saint of travelers, but this is the Roman Catholic tradition. The Eastern Orthodox have no stories relating to Christopher as a traveler. However, the story of him carrying the child–who is actually the Christ Child–is known in the East. Christopher finds that he is actually carrying the weight of the world when he carries Jesus. Christopher lived during the reign of Emperor Decius, who had him executed on May 9, 255.

The explanation of why the saint is painted with a dog’s head still doesn’t warm me to the work. To me, a dog-headed icon is more kitsch than holy.

Poulos, George. Orthodox Saints: Spiritual Profiles for Modern Man, April 1 to June 30 (Brookline, Mass.: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1991), p. 101-102.

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Art or Not–You Decide

(2015-06-30 001)Haven’t done one of these in a while.

Fata Morgana, art by Teresita Fernandez, is on exhibit in Madison Square Park.

I found the installation interesting. What did detract from it were the girders and poles that were very industrial. From this framework was hung nearly 250 discs.

I happen to like walking under the discs. The sunlight distorts the cut metal shapes in the discs on the pavement.



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