Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What I did this summer: Picasso, Magritte and how to walk like an Egyptian at LACMA

If I'm allowed back into the Los Angeles County Museum of Art after swinging my bag and knocking over a "Quiet, please" sign and my father's comment "He's a little guy!" just as a rather short security guard walked by us and the statue of a diminutive monk, I'm going to spend more time with Picasso and Magritte. LACMA is just a 2 1/2 mile walk from my house, or a 25 cent DASH ride from West Hollywood.

I found my favorite wing where I nearly passed by Pablo Picasso's "Woman with Blue Veil" (1923), but the woman's eyes caught mine, and suddenly I realized I was about to cry. This small image does the painting no justice.

It is amazing that with what looks like a few strokes of a brush, Picasso captured the woman's expression that to me seemed like despair or pain. (I hope I'm not just projecting. Therapist, party of one.)

As I moved through the room, I discovered one of Picasso's earlier works, "Portrait of Sebastian Juñer Vidal" (1903), and this time it was the man's eyes that stopped me.


And René Magritte's "The Liberator"


Inspiration! I don't paint but I love photography, and I can't wait to invest in a great SLR digital camera and play more with the medium. I'm excited for our trip Wednesday to the Getty Center to see the photography exhibit there, In Focus: Making a Scene, using darkroom trickery to tell a story.

I returned to the 3rd floor of the Ahmanson Building for the tour "Heroes, Gods, Myths and Legends." A docent who occasionally mixed her pronouns and confused mother and daughter of Greek mythological characters led us through the art of ancient Egypt, where I learned what it means to walk like an Egyptian, to Assyria, Greece, Rome and the Christian Crusades. Pointing out how each culture incorporated, rather than eradicated the myths and art of previous cultures, we examined the hieroglyphs and images on an Egyptian sarcophagus.

As The Bangles song played on repeat in my head, the docent pointed out that the images of the Egyptian shows the face in profile, but the eye faces us as if facing forward. The feet are also in profile, but the body faces forward. (Go ahead. Dance.) She explained that the more you see, the more you get an idea of who the person was. I learned a great deal about the Greek culture, how the Romans revered the myths and repaired many of the statues they discovered, while renaming the gods. I have to admit, one fact that stood out was the Greek-named Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, grain and fertility, was called Ceres in Rome, and that is where our word for cereal comes from.

More culture to come as we visit the Getty.

Colossal Head, circa 1560-1585 - Baccio Bandinelli (Attributed to) Italy, Florence

1 comment:

Abraham said...

Haha, sounds like quite the adventure. Recently at LACMA and was trying to remember the Sebastian portrait and google brought me here :) Cheers.