Friday, September 21, 2012

Day 10/60: St. Louis Art Museum

Tuesday, 9/18

Before we left the hotel for our day's touring, Dan explained to the manager that he should be pro-active in maintaining the place like a good landlord, and he should start by giving our bed a new mattress and fixing the lamp.

The day was clear with a chilly breeze. The sky was blue. Forest Park, where the museum is located, never looked lovelier, with its vast expanses of green grass and clusters of dark green trees.

Placebo by Roxy Paine, 2004
On the grounds of the St. Louis Museum of Art
Jan's photo
St. Louis Art Museum is coming to the end of a major transition; their new wing will open some time in 2013. In the meantime, some galleries are closed, some hallways are blocked, their collection has been moved around, their cafe is rudimentary.

We have visited the museum a few times before because it has some of Dan's favorite paintings. One of their major treasures is a set of three paintings by George Caleb Bingham depicting stages in the electoral process.

Stump Speaking, 1855, by George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879)
Dan's photo

The County Election,1852 by George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879)
Dan's photo

The Verdict of the People, 1855, by George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879)
Dan's photo
In American art, he snagged another work by Thomas Hart Benton and a terrific piece by Winslow Homer.

Cradling Wheat, 1938, by Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975)
Dan's photo
The Country School, 1871, by Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
Dan's photo 
Here's a sample of work by Dan's favorite European artists at St. Louis.

Portrait of a Woman, 1696, by Nicolas de Largilliere (French, 1656-1746)
Dan's photo
Factories at Clichy, 1887, by Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
Dan's photo
Acrobats, 1939, by Max Beckman (German, 1884-1950)
Dan's photo
Le Havre: Le Grand Quai, 1906, by Maurice de Vlaminck (French, 1876-1958)
Dan's photo
Bathers, 1890-92, by Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906)
Dan's photo
Three Girls in a Wood, 1920, by Otto Müller (German, 1874-1930)
Dan's photo
I was happy to see that they gave an alcove off the Great Hall to one of my favorite works by Anselm Kiefer; the alcove was like a devotional chapel at the side of a cathedral, and properly so. The installation is a deconstructed bookcase crammed with folios of lead and broken panes of glass. The lead folios refer to the richness of Jewish culture, and the broken glass refers to a night in Nazi Germany when the windows of synagogues and storefronts of Jewish businesses were smashed across the land. Kiefer has a way of presenting destruction and ruin that helps you face what happened and at the same time to accept it.

Breaking of the Vessels, 1990, by Anselm Kiefer,  German, born 1945
Jan's photo
We had boxed lunches from their café at 12:30. At 3:30 we had seen everything multiples times, and we were out of energy.

After we got back to the motel, we walked to Starbucks. The afternoon was pleasant so we sat outside for our caffeine break. Nearby was the Chess Hall of Fame.

Dan L. Smith, World Traveler and Expert on U.S. art museums
Jan's photo at Dan's direction
I joined Dan for dinner at Little Saigon. He was eager for me to try it because the spicing is so mild. He was right. We had chicken and vegetables and it was an exceptionally good dish; the sauce was very light.

The hotel management did replace our mattress and repair our lamp, so Dan slept better and we had a better night.

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