Tag Archives: Saint Louis Art Museum

Ah, The Arts! Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade

If someone had told me there was going to be an art exhibit about hats and paintings of women wearing hats, I would’ve said, “Now I see why Trump wants to end arts funding.”

But it sounded good to The Wife, and so it was that Saturday morning the Family RRoy made our way to Forest Park to catch the opening weekend of “Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade” at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Mother Nature, cruel mistress that she is, decided it wasn’t enough punishment that I had to go to the art museum, she also turned Saturday into a beautiful Spring day…in February. And you know what that means — every stinking idiot in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area is going to converge on Forest Park for the day. It didn’t matter that we weren’t going to the zoo. No, all that mattered was there wasn’t going to be any parking anywhere and driving it in would be a nightmare.

So, I let The Wife drive. She was the one wanting to go after all.

Traffic wasn’t too bad until we got to Art Hill. We foolishly pulled into the nearest free lot thinking maybe there would be one spot open. Of course we got trapped as people waited for other people to leave and blocked the way around. Eventually we escaped and said, “screw it,” and went to the art museum’s parking lot. It’s only $5 for members, and $5 for parking beats the 5 years it takes off my life every time I have to sit in traffic in Forest Park.

Our usual strategy for art exhibitions is Laurie goes in first and Andrew and I bum around until she’s finished (roughly 1 hour, depending on the size of the exhibit) and then I go in while she waits with Andrew (roughly 15 minutes, depending on how crowded it is and how quickly I can get around people). We arrived at 12:20 and there was a French class Laurie wanted to attend at 1 p.m. I doubted her ability to get through the exhibit in 40 minutes, but she seemed to think she could, so she went to the exhibit hall and Andrew and I walked in circles around the outdoor statue garden for a half-hour. It was a nice day for it.

We got back to the exhibit hall close to 1 and L was just leaving the exhibit. “Did you see all you wanted to see?” I asked incredulously. “Yes,” she replied. “Did you enjoy it?” I queried. “Yes,” she replied.

Laurie went to the French class and Andrew and I had a leisurely visit in the restroom. Andrew likes to take his time in the restroom. I usually rush him out when we’re in public but since we had nowhere else to go I indulged him. Fifteen minutes later we went and found some big, comfy chairs and waited for French class to be over.

A half-hour later Laurie emerged from class. She suggested I go through the art show while she and Andrew went to the garage and got our picnic lunch and set it up out on the lawn. That seemed about right. In the time it would take them to do that I should easily walk through the Hats and Paintings of People Wearing Hats exhibit.

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“D, I & the PMT” features 60 paintings and a number of elaborate hats dating back to the Impressionist era of artist Edgar Degas. Apparently Degas was fascinated by high-fashion hats and the women who made them — my guess is he was more interested in the women who made them, but I could be wrong. I don’t know anything about Degas.

There were some pretty funky-looking hats, I will say. Hats with birds on them, hats with giant flowers and etc. The paintings were predominantly portraits of women in hats by Degas and other masters of the era like Manet, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec. There was also a small section of men’s hats — basic black bowlers and top hats — and some paintings of men in hats.

I have to say this was not one of my favorite art shows. Nothing really stood out to me. But it was OK and I made it through in record time and got to the picnic spot before they had eaten all the food.
“Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade” runs through May 7 at the Saint Louis Art Museum. http://www.slam.org/

On Art And Apes

The Saint Louis Art Museum held a grand opening celebration this weekend for its new wing so naturally where else would you find the Roy clan?

We opted to go Sunday morning under the theory that most of  the god-fearing people of St. Louis would be in church or eating lunch somewhere after lunch. Also, it was a cool, overcast day with showers a constant threat. So those seemed to be optimal conditions for spending the day at Forest Park.

But no. Apparently word got out that I was going to the zoo/museum and by the time we arrived the RRoy St. Louis Freebie Festival Imperative (Question 24 in the F.A.Q.) was in full effect. Everyone in St. Louis converged on the area to make the parking experience a living hell. We eventually made it to the Living World parking lot and were one of the last cars to pull in before it was declared full to capacity.

Made our way to the Art Museum and checked out the new exhibit area which was quite nice. Large space, very airy. The first room featured Byzantine art which The Wife enjoyed. The rest of the space was mostly modern art. More than once along the tour we were confronted with the question: This is Art?

As we all know, 10 percent of modern art is art, 90 percent is a scam perpetuated on snobby suckers by  the art establishment. Seriously, rocks piled up in a circle is art? I don’t usually read the informative panels that accompany art, but it’s always fun to read them in the modern art section because instead of the usual historical information you find on these panels, the modern art ones try to explain to you why it’s art.

There was one pretty cool room dedicated to Pop Art, with a Warhol and a couple of Lichtensteins. It also had a really impressive, life-like sculpture of a Playboy Bunny. Now that’s art.

After wandering around modern art for an hour it was time to go back to the old wing and admire the Monets and Van Goghs before leaving. We hit the hospitality tent afterward for free popcorn, drinks, pencils, dum dums and bubbles. Stay classy, Saint Louis Art Museum. There was an art festival going on in the parking lot (no wonder we couldn’t find a place to park) where The Son painted on a fan and we got more freebies. Because you can never have too many frisbees.

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From there we walked back down the hill to the zoo. Got our picnic lunch out of the car and chowed down before checking out the animals. The good thing about going to the zoo on a cool, overcast day is the animals are actually out and active. The bad news is — rain.

We avoided the rain for the most part but it finally caught up with us at the Jungle of the Apes. We found decent shelter there and normally that would be a bad place to wait as the apes are never out. In the many times we have visited the Jungle of the Apes since it opened, we have never seen an ape in the facility. Until today. Five chimps walked in a circle around the site, occasionally stopping to play on the ropes. Even the orangutans were out. And I had become convinced there were no apes at the St. Louis Zoo.

Many other albums were out and frolicking. Normally all you see the lions do is sleep — if you see them at all — and today they were playing with a ball in the pool. It was a surprisingly entertaining day at the zoo. Usually we just go there for the walk and an occasional animal sighting.

 

Ah, The Arts! Federico Barocci: Renaissance Master

An exhibition featuring the works of Federico Barocci — Renaissance Master — opened Oct. 21 at the Saint Louis Art Museum. We were busy opening weekend and, well, with the holidays and whatnot we never made it to the exhibit. It closes next weekend and we’ll be out of town next weekend and since The Wife loves this kind of thing we bundled up and made our way to Forest Park this afternoon.

As Art Museum members we are granted two tickets to all exhibits. However, there are three of us. Since The Son is more a Jackson Pollock than a Renaissance type, we decided to go in stages with one of us walking the halls with him while the other took in the art. I decided to go first as it would only take me about 10 minutes to walk the halls while it would take The Wife a good hour to soak it all in. She has to read everything, you know.

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The exhibition features more than 130 works by the 16th century Italian artist. As you might expect from an Italian Renaissance master, it mostly covers the life of Jesus Christ and mother Mary. There are paintings of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus having a picnic; the Nativity; the Last Supper; the Crucifixion. That sort of thing. There were also some portraits and one piece referring to the Trojan War.

The paintings are impressive — or as The Wife put it when she walked out of the hall — “Wow.” The exhibit also includes several sketches and close-up detail pieces that show the process behind the paintings. The colors in several of the paintings really pop out.

After I breezed through the hall I rejoined The Son and we took a walk through the entire museum while The Wife checked out the exhibit. It was quite interesting. Usually when we come to the art museum we only go to the new exhibit hall and then the room where they keep the Van Goghs and the Monets. Away from The Wife we were now free to examine the whole joint.

Did you know there are mummies at the art museum? And suits of armor and all kinds of swords and guns and even an ancient crossbow? They keep all the cool stuff on the bottom floor. That’s also where the keep all the odd furniture. It was pretty neat. Upstairs is the American art and the modern art, but the big hall was empty as they were preparing for a new show.

We had a good walk for about an hour. Walking through an art museum is much more interesting than walking around a track for an hour, which is usually how we spend our weekend afternoons. We had just finished the tour and taken a restroom break when The Wife emerged from the Barocci gallery with a big smile on her face.

All in all, a very cultured and fun way to spend a dreary Sunday in January.

Federico Barocci: Renaissance Master runs through Jan. 20 at the Saint Louis Art Museum. http://www.slam.org/

Consider the Lillies of the Art Museum

Thursday night I’m sitting on the couch working on my death mix-CD and The Wife comes in and she says,

“Grab your coat. We’re going out.”

“Where?”

“The art museum. Monet’s Water Lillies is in town for an exhibit in its full triptych glory.”

“But…but…The World Series!”

“Seriously? You’re going to pull the World Series on me? OK, here’s the deal: If you can name one of the teams that’s playing, you can stay here and watch Big Bang Theory.”

“Uh…hold on… give me a second…The New York Yankees and…The Dallas Cowboys!”

“Well, at least one of them is a baseball team. Get your coat.”

And so it was that The Wife, The Son and I made our way to the Saint Louis Art Museum for Monet’s Water Lillies, a special exhibit featuring eight works by the great impressionist painter, highlighted by his massive Agapanthus piece.

Inspired by the pond in his garden at Giverny, Monet began work on Agapanthus around 1915 and today the 42-foot triptych has found a home at three different museums: The Saint Louis Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and the Cleveland Museum of Art. This is the first time in more than 30 years that the three pieces have been displayed together like God and Monet intended.

We had two tickets and no sitter so we agreed that I would go in first — since it would probably take me .5 seconds to go through the exhibit — and The Wife and Son would hang out in the main hall. Then The Wife would go in and leisurely stroll through the hall and read all the placards while listening to the audio tour and The Son and I would try to climb on top of the man-on-horse statue out front.

It’s a nice exhibit, especially if you’re into the works of Claude Monet. In addition to Agapanthus, the show features a couple of pieces from Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris and a few other related works. It’s a whole lotta water lillies.

The centerpiece is, of course, the triptych and it is certainly an impressive work of art.

I made my way through the exhibit in short order — I even read some of the placards — only to find my family were not in the main hall where I left them. Knowing The Wife the way I do, I headed for the Van Gogh and found them.

The Son and I made for the gift shop and The Wife grabbed a set of headphones and entered the exhibit. In the back of the gift shop we found an area where they had some computers set up for children to “paint” on. Well, that kept My Son The Artist occupied for the rest of our visit. I didn’t even have to break out the granola bars.

The Wife eventually emerged from the exhibition hall — suitably impressed — and even had time to wander the gift shop while The Son was still drawing. All in all, a nice night at the art museum. I tape Big Bang, so I didn’t miss anything.

I also didn’t miss the World Series. I’ll leave it to you to figure out what meaning of the word “miss” I’m using there.

Monet’s Water Lillies runs through January 22, 2012www.slam.org