Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 20/60: Back to Philadelphia MoA

Wednesday, 9/26: 

Today's plan was to drive over to Princeton University to see their art museum, but we both slept poorly because of our colds and we were both miserable when we awoke. We hung around the motel for the morning working with our photos. Then we went back to the Philadelphia Museum of Art so I could see some stuff I had missed.

One of my personal objectives has been to continue my study of Sol Lewitt. In North Adams we will see a major retrospective of his works. Philadelphia Museum has a unique work that I missed the first day we visited there: a garden planned by Lewitt. I had been out to look at it the first day, but a couple of guys riding power mowers were hot-dogging around the park and the noise put me off. I thought I would check it out when the museum closed, but by then my load was dragging and I had to give up that plan. Today we went there first and I studied it in detail.

As you might expect, if you know Lewitt, he made instructions for four large plots; one with flowers planted in horizontal beds, one with flowers in vertical rows, one with flower beds in diagonal rows, one with the opposite diagonal. It was commissioned in 1981 and finally realized this year. It was all dilapidated by the recent rain; far past its prime. It consisted of wild flowers of different heights; some were brown, some had fallen, but some plants were still colorful and pretty. Summer was the good time, but this process of the artist's order being broken down by the chaos of nature was part of Lewitt's message.

Lines in Four Directions in Flowers by Sol Lewitt
Commissioned by the Fairmont Park Association in 1981
Realized in 2012; Jan's photo

Rows of yellow flowers parallel to border
Jan's photo
Rows of blue flowers diagonal to border
Jan's photo

The museum's main building is a remarkably successful imitation of a Greek temple, with fluted columns, Corinthian capitals and sculpted pediments. As appropriate for a temple, it is situated in a high rise in the midst of a landscaped park.

One wing of the Museum; Jan's photo

Close-up of the pediment; Jan's photo
The Greeks painted their decorative sculptures.

Under the portico; Jan's photo
Prometheus Strangling the Vulture, 1943 by Jacques Lipchitz
Jan's photo

View toward the city with the City Hall in Center background
Jan's photo

For lunch we went to the museum's excellent cafeteria. The atmosphere was ordinary, but the food was just as good as they serve in the restaurant, and the selection was much healthier.

Getting back to the subject of Sol Lewitt, the museum has another unusual example of his work in the form of the ceiling of one gallery. Here's a little video I made on my iPod Touch.

We spent a few hours roaming around together so that Dan could help me find some galleries that I had missed. By the end of the afternoon, we were both exhausted.

We caught a taxi back to the motel. After a short rest, we managed to drag ourselves up the hill to the Belgian Café. Dan had the tilapia dish he had tried the first evening; I had a salmon burger.

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