This was my second time touring the Harn Museum, and I found this time to be more beneficial because I made sure to pay more attention to certain aspects of the museum. The easiest aspect to observe was the design of the museum itself; it’s a pretty museum. The lobby is bright and welcoming, with very modern architecture. Then once you begin to look at each exhibit, the rooms all have their own character. As for the artwork, I enjoyed having guidelines as to what I should be looking for throughout the museum; I enjoyed looking for pieces of art that interested me and that I’d like to write about. Throughout my tour, I found art that displayed in a unique medium, art that spoke to my core values, and art that I personally felt represented the good life.
Medium of the Art
One piece of art that I found particularly interesting was a sculpture by Alexander Archipenko. He was born in the Ukraine in 1887. Archipenko is known in the art community as the first cubist sculpture; he was acquitted with and influenced by Pablo Picasso. He was interested in the form of the human body, and used geometric technics in order to represent such. In this piece, Reclining, Archipenko used smooth shapes in order to create an abstract version of the female body. We can see the resemblance to Picasso’s style. Due to the fact that this piece is a sculpture and created in a cubist manner, seeing it in person is the only way to truly appreciate the work. Through the medium of sculpture, Archipenko shows off his cubist technique. In order to fully appreciate the three-dimensional piece, viewers would have to go to the museum and see it for themselves. Though I do not typically admire sculpture, I found this piece interesting because it was abstract, and also because it has ties to Picasso. The piece communicated an appreciation for the human body to me, and I admired the fact that Archipenko decided to portray the female body.
Design of the Museum
Though the interior of the museum was beautiful and quite visually appealing, my favorite aspect of the design of the museum was the small outdoor garden and pond attached to one of the exhibits. The exhibit that you walk through to reach the garden is fairly oriental and has beautiful wood floors and high ceilings, so the room feels much more open than the rest of the museum. In addition to the openness, there are large windows letting in the sunlight, which I also enjoyed. But, once you get through the exhibit, which displayed mostly vases and marble, you can step outside into a small garden. While exploring an indoor museum, you may forget the beauty of the outside world and how the outdoors may have influenced the artist’s works. There’s a stone walkway looping around the pond in the garden, and there’s also a waterfall. It’s quite serine and I enjoyed the sunlight and plants. It was a nice change of scenery from the white walls of the museum.
Art and Core Values
The exhibit the spoke to me most and represented my core values was the Guerrilla Girls exhibit. Their artwork was very modern and spoke to the importance of both females and artists of color. Their work was poster-like and had supporting evidence for how male dominated the world of art still is today. For instance, “less than 4% of the artists in the Modern Art section are women, but 76% of the nudes are female”. This stood out to me a lot because in modern pop-culture women are overly sexualized, and it was striking to find out that women in the art-realm of the world are too. My favorite quote that was on display was “When racism & sexism are no longer fashionable, what will your art collection be worth?”. This is my favorite because, much like every aspect of life, art is dominated by white males. We hear far less about female artists throughout history because they’re overshadowed by white men. This exhibit spoke to me the most because I am a strong advocate for female rights and equality, so I love how Guerrilla Girls are bringing awareness through art.
Art and The Good Life
Frida Kahlo is an artist who used art as a medium for her good life. When she was young, she was in an accident that severely injured her spine, and she was bedbound for quite some time. While stuck in bed, she requested a mirror be hung above her so she could paint self-portraits. Soon after, her relationship with Diego Rivera was rekindled; he was well-known for his mural work and communist political views. He was also quite abusive towards Frida. Through all the hardship and abuse, Frida still found a way to have her good life- and it was through art. The theme of perseverance and happiness is shown in Frida’s work, and all throughout the exhibit it is clear that she used her art to show other’s what her good life was.