Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 56/60: Forth Worth Museums

For the final art day of our journey we pulled a triple-header: 3 art museums in one day, bringing us to a total of 39. We were able to do that because the 3 museums are located near each other in a sort of cultural park.

Dan is a big fan of the Kimbell Musem, which has one of the biggest collections of European masters in this country; this was our third visit. This time there were a number of frustrations involved. The Kimbell is in one of the greatest buildings in this country, by Louis I. Kahn; his name is not so well-known, but he is considered a model for architectural trends. His thing was simplicity, concrete, and reflecting pools. I recall the serenity created by the pools around the building, and the light patterns they created in the arched porches. Serenity no more. The lovely building has been surrounded by construction, its pools are dry, the Isamu Noguchi sculpture garden is dry and forlorn, all the delicate trees that softened the ferocious Texas heat are gone. Everything is construction debris and promises.

Their big attraction was that they had their permanent collection arranged in the order it was acquired. That means a magnificent standing Boddisattva might be shown next to a work by Mondrian. Is that helpful? No, it is not. Museum directors like to think that making comparisons across periods of history and art forms is going to stimulate our appreciation. Rubbish. Much more revealing to keep things together that were created under similar influences, and are even reacting to each other. Anyway, we buzzed about for an hour and a half, cherry-picking our favorite works.

The Cardsharps by Caravaggio, c. 1595
Dan's photo
The Cheat with the Ace of Clubs by Georges de la Tour, c. 1634
Dan's photo
A panel painting by Michelangelo, which is a rare thing. This is the first known painting by Michelangelo, believed to be painted when he was 12 or 13! It was a copy of a painting by a German artist of the 1400s.
The Torment of St. Anthony by Michelangelo, 1487 or 1488
Jan's photo
We had lunch at the Kimbell. It was a soup and salad buffet. It worked.

Fortunately The Modern Art Museum is right across the street from the Kimbell, marked by a towering sculpture by Richard Serra.

Vortex by Richard Serra, 2002
Dan's photo
The Modern has a great building by Tadao Ando, who was much influenced by Louis I. Kahn. Again we have simplicity, concrete, and reflecting pools, with the addition of some glass walls: it has a cleansing effect on the mind.

Interior reflecting pool at The Modern
Dan's Photo
The frustration was that the whole second floor was closed for installation of some exhibit. We had a cold drink in their soothingly shady restaurant, took a few exterior shots, raced around the first floor, bagging a few photos. They had important works by Anselm Kiefer and Gerhardt Richter. A very cool Martin Puryear.

Book with Wings by Anselm Kiefer, 1992-1994
Dan's photo

Ladder for Booker T. Washington by Martin Puryear, 1996
Dan's photo
Twenty-five Colored Marilyns (detail) by Andy Warhol, 1962
Dan's photo
Then it was time for the Amon Carter. Even though it is only a block or two away, it is uphill through a park and the temperature was in the high 80s. Not wanting to arrive steaming and sweating, we took the car up to their parking lot. Also, we didn't have any time to waste with this aggressive schedule.

Entrance of Amon Carter Museum
Architect: Philip Johnson
Dan's photo
The building for the Amon Carter was designed by one of the deans of American architecture, Philip Johnson. Johnson not only designed many great buildings in his long career, he championed the cause of modern architecture as an art form, and his constant innovations were frequently at the head of trends. He first designed the Amon Carter in 1961 in what was then the International Style, which he pretty much invented, with streamlined Greek type features. This building has beautifully tapered columns forming a front portico. When the building was expanded around 2002, he designed that as well—which is quite unusual. He was in his 90s at the time, and died at the age of 98. The addition flows smoothly from the old building, functions very well, and has class.

The Amon Carter has American art, with a specialty in Remington and Russell. It is one of Dan's favorite museums. They have some real classics, such as Eakins' "Swimming." These are all Dan's photos.

Indian Women Moving (detail) by Charles M. Russell, 1898
The Smoke Signal by Frederic Remington, 1905
Thunderstorm on Narragansett Bay by Martin Johnson Heade,  1868
Swimming by Thomas Eakins, 1885
Crossing the Pasture by Winslow Homer, 1872
White Birch by Georgia O'Keeffe, 1925
The special exhibit was the American art from the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., quite a treasure trove. No photos.

It was 85 degrees at 5:15 when we were driving back to Dallas. Thunderheads were gathering in the east; very pretty.

We talked about finding some place more interesting to eat, but we were pretty tired and we have a long day's driving tomorrow, so we ate here at the hotel again. This time we split the turf n surf. Dan had the filet mignon; I had the prawns. The veggies were fresh. It was all okay. We haven't had a special meal in a few days now.

Our Hilton Garden Inn here in Fort Worth definitely takes the prize for speedy elevators and abundant hot water. And Dan got a week-end deal where we paid only $89 per night and got one of the three nights free. It takes some persistence and negotiation to get these hotel deals, but Dan has got what it takes.

1 comment:

  1. Doug and I (Jean) went to the fall open-studios exhibit at Hunter's Point in San Francisco today. We know one of the artists and went to support her and see her work. We went to the wrong building first though, and were 'forced' to wander around and see what-all was there. Doug and I both enjoy found-art and there were some very interesting artists doing that. I was fed and fresh at the time, so I chatted with artists and wondered at the minds that create some of those marvelous pieces.

    We got to the right building later on and went straight to the far end of the second floor where I friend has her studio. She had a range of projects: strips of colored paper woven with cuttings from a Beethoven score, sculptures of various sorts, paintings, whatever. I like her color sense and some of her shapes spoke to me, too. When left her, we took in several other studios on the way back to the car. My mind's eye is still full of colors and shapes, tapestries, paintings, photographs. I can't imagine how you and Dan can get through three museums in one day; I was exhausted and famished after our little excursion.

    Honey did very well most of the time. Toward the end she was getting pretty tired, too, and was acting more shyly than usual. On the drive home, we found a crepery that had outdoor seating, so the three of us had dinner there. Honey had her usual dinner - I carry an extra meal for her in the car all the time. Doug and I had savory crepes and he had a smoothie while I had a shake. Bliss.