Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Scotland Highlights: Vol. 1

I'm back and a bit jet-lagged after a nine hour flight yesterday. I've got lots to share after a wonderful trip to Scotland. I'm going to start by talking about my two favorite exhibitions from our "holidays". There's good news and bad news - the good news is that I saw a lot of exceptional works of art and discovered several artists I had not known previously - the bad news is that museum photography regulations mean I only have photos of a few of them and there are not many online. The two most memorable exhibitions I saw were Matthijs Maris; A Painter of Poems - at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow and Artist's Rooms at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.

Matthijs Maris, The Walk, 1889
charcoal and pastel on paper- image from Codart.Matthijs Maris, Lausanne, 1862 - image from Codart.Matthijs Maris, The Enchanted Castle (my photo)
Matthijs Maris - my photo of a charcoal work done as a study for a larger painting

The Matthjis Maris exhibition called A Painter of Poems at the Burrell Collection is an incredible show made up of numerous works on paper. My favorite works of his were done in later years of his life (Marris lived from 1839-1917). They were soft charcoal, pastel, and watercolor pieces - some so hazy it was as if looking through a thick smoke. They were subtle, dark and dreamlike - very beautiful works.

The other impressive show I saw on the trip was at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. The Aritst's Rooms showcased numerous works by some of my favorite artists including Vija Celmins, Agnes Martin, Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Alex Katz, Ellen Gallagher, and Francesca Woodman. There were numerous prints and three original drawings by Celmins, several late works by Martin, more works by Hirst than I've ever before seen in one place, the sewn together photographs by Warhol from the last years of his life, a beautifully displayed collection of Gallagher's work, small paintings by Katz, and a very touching display of Woodman's photos and personal notes.

Jannis Kounellis, Bells, 1993, Bronze bells, rope, wooden beams. Photo from the Tate Collection.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see the Bells by Jannis Kounellis is still installed upstairs at the museum four years after I first saw it there. I showcased the work on this blog in 2007, and it is still one of the most memorable and powerful works I have seen in years. Those bells were probably two feet tall and when you approach the work the scale of it is actually quite dominant for such visually (and literally) quiet work.

1 comment:

liza said...

These bells are amazing. Thank you, Nathan. I'd love to visit this museum in person.


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