Friday, April 11, 2014

My Favorite Artworks at Musée National Eugène Delacroix, Paris

Musée National Eugène Delacroix (Musée Delacroix) in Paris is a modest museum which though contains works from nearly every phase of Delacroix’s career, covering many of his themes, along with some of his memorabilia.

According to the museum, "Magdalene in the Desert, exhibited at the 1845 Salon and one of the museum’s major paintings, is a most unusual religious composition, as compared to Education of the Virgin, painted in Nohant in 1842. The museum also boasts the artist’s only three attempts at fresco, which were done in Valmont (1834)."

These paintings, sketches and other works were intimate and quite personal, comparing to his more monumental works often encountered in more exalted institutions, such as Musée du Louvre. Incidentally, one of my two favorite artworks in Musée Delacroix was a preparation work for his gigantic La Mort de Sardanapale (Death of Sardanapalus), collected by Louvre. 

IMG_9000 - Study for La Mort de Sardanapale, Eugène Delacroix, Musée Delacroix, Paris, 2008

Though concentrating on a small slice of the huge final composition, this study conveyed the same strange mix of terror and abandon.  With its exceptionally delicate coloration, its figures looking like exotic birds in strange poses, this study was eerily beautiful and even evoked the calm world of Albrecht Dürer's meticulous watercolor still life.  Being a romanticist, Delacroix's work though was naturally more sweeping in execution; being a study, it also carried impressionistic traits.

My second favorite work there was another study for another historical moment - Study for Mirabeau Confronts the Marquis de Dreux-Brézé, during the French Revolution, over the procedure therefore substance of the congress of three estates.

IMG_9004 - Study for Mirabeau Confronts the Marquis de Dreux-Brézé, Eugène Delacroix, Musée Delacroix, Paris, 2008

This study was both energetic and economic.  The eloquence of the painting lay in the restrained bod languages of the grandees, whose multiplying dark frocks and gray wigs foreshadowed the mob scenes soon to come, and the gilded panels and roof of the interior clashed violently with the somber and unsmiling figures of the confronting parties.  Despite being a sketch, it was a masterpiece, similar to many very revealing and satisfying study sketches by Pieter Paul Rubens. 

The final composition of this work is in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen.  One day I'd love to see it there, and to see whether it would be one of my two favorites there or not.


My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 74: To be continued
<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 72: My Favorite Artworks at Maison de Victor Hugo, Paris 

List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited  

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

George W. Bush, the Artist and the Apocalypse

Former US president George W. Bush (2001-2009) is immersing himself in the art world and has created some rather surprisingly interesting portraits of world leaders, most of them he encountered during his presidency, arguably the worst one ever in the US history.



http://www.bushcenter.org/sites/default/files/styles/hp_slider/public/aol-wideshot-homeslidercrop.jpg?itok=vS-8mmG9
Image source: George W. Bush Center

During his horrible and incompetent presidency, George W. Bush (GWB) was often criticized as an imbecile ninny occupying a high office due to his fabulous family connection - his father Georg Bush was the president of the US from 1989 to 1993.  To me, that argument was incorrect and way too benevolent.  GWB did many horrible things not due to his stupidity, but his fundamental believe in those horrible things.

To me, this painting of mine below, The Triumph of Saint George, created during the time he was drumming up the invasion of Iraq in 2003, reflects what he was; the painting also jump-started my ongoing Apocalypse Series., to commemorate the miseries of humankind.

 Oil painting, The Triumph of Saint George, by Matthew Felix Sun
Triumph of Saint George, Oil on Canvas, 48" x 30", 2003

GWB was surely not stupid, and to his credit that he started to learn to appreciate art in his retirement.  Too bad, nobody had convinced him before his political ascendency that his spending more time in his own studio and many museums, rather than in Oval Office, would have benefit the humanity more, much, much more.

It was just as tragic and regrettable as the Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien's refusal to admit the artistically frustrated young Adolf Hitler.

C'est la vie.


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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Favorite Artworks at Maison de Victor Hugo, Paris

After visiting Balzac's former residence, a trip to Maison de Victor Hugo, Paris was in order and there, in the crazily decorated old flat in a fashionable building with a lovely courtyard in Le Marais district, I was amused by some quite idiosyncratic decorations and odd collections. 

Amongst such clutters, several sculptures, paintings and prints stood out and my two favorites there were a bust of Hugo and a painting depicting the battle between classists and romanticists during the performance of his play, Hernani.

The Victor Hugo, buste héroïque was once again by the great French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917).  This bronze sculpture presented the triangle-shaped bust of a lean and brawny Hugo, without clothes and stripped of his arms, precariously perched on a small marble stand.  Head bent down, he was lost in his own thoughts, not dissimilar to Le Penseur, the most celebrated work by Rodin.

IMG_8803 _ Victor Hugo, buste héroïque, Auguste Rodin, 1902 (2), 1908, Bronze, Maison de Victor Hugo, Paris, 2008
Victor Hugo, buste héroïque, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), 83 x 56 x 65 cm, 1902 (2), 1908, Bronze (fonte Alexis Rudier)

The painting, Performance of 'Hernani' by Victor Hugo in 1830, aka, The Battle of Hernani, by Paul Albert Besnard was quite virtuosic in depicting an animated crowd scene; if its artistic value was not the most accomplished, it did command viewers' attention and was hard to forget, and that made it a wonderful work. 

Hernani was Hugo's romantic play, during its premiere, in anticipating attacked from the classists, Hugo enlisted the support of fellow romanticists to combat the opposition and indeed the play had caused fights amongst the audience.  It was one of the watershed moment of the course of artistic development.  The painting captured the maniac atmosphere of that significant moment wonderfully. 

IMG_8800 _ Performance of 'Hernani' by Victor Hugo in 1830, Paul Albert Besnard, Maison de Victor Hugo, Paris, 2008
Performance of 'Hernani' by Victor Hugo in 1830, Paul Albert Besnard


My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 73: My Favorite Artworks at Musée National Eugène Delacroix, Paris

<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 71: My Favorite Artworks in La maison de Balzac, Paris

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Favorite Artworks in La maison de Balzac, Paris

Honoré de Balzac was the first French author I encountered via his immortal Le Père Goriot, when I was still in elementary school, therefore I had a great affection for this great novelist and societal historian.

In 2008, when I returned to Paris, I made my way to his former residence, La maison de Balzac, in the western edge of the city, near Musée Marmottan Monet and Jardins du Ranelag in its vicinity. Balzac rented the top floor of that rather modest house, from 1840-1847 under his housekeeper's name (Mr. de Breugnol), evading his creditors from the city.

I loved Balzac's keen and cutting observation of the colorful characters populated the brutal society in Paris and provinces, and was delighted to see a roomful print blocks of main characters from his enormous, though unfortunately unfinished, La Comédie humaine.  Amongst those characters, my favorite had always been Eugène de Rastignac, a charming and innocent lad from province to a roguish and cynic though not without redeeming qualities, featured in several of his novels in this series.

Print blocks of characters from La Comédie humaine by Honoré Balzac, Le maison de Balzac, Paris, 2008
Print blocks of characters from La Comédie humaine by Honoré Balzac

In the block below, Rastignac, after having buried the self-sacrificing Père Goriot, swore to fight with the corrupted city and its high society, before he jumped into the battle headlong, by joining his mistress, the younger daughter of Père Goriot, Delphine, Baroness de Nucingen.  It was the moment of truth and resolution, a moment of leaping from innocence to corruption.  The image was an utterly bleak and most biting assessment of the glittering Paris and its dazzling society.

IMG_8879 _ Eugène Rastignac dans le cimetière du Père-Lachaise dans Le Père Goriot, a main character from La Comédie humaine by Honoré Balzac, Le maison de Balzac, Paris, 2008
Eugène de Rastignac dans le cimetière du Père-Lachaise dans Le Père Goriot

My second favorite artwork there was a definitive study of a head sculpture of the novelist by Auguste Rodin, made around 1897 - Étude définitive pour la tête de Balzac.  Behind exuberant air of the novelist, Rodin captured his sharp gaze and presented him as simultaneously sagely and clownish, embodying the broad spectrum of his oeuvre and his epoch. 

Sculpture of Honoré Balzac, Le maison de Balzac, Paris, 2008
Étude définitive pour la tête de Balzac, vers 1897, Auguste Rondin


My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 72: My Favorite Artworks at Maison de Victor Hugo, Paris

<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 70: My Favorite Sculptures in Jardins du Ranelag, Paris

List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited


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Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Favorite Sculptures in Jardins du Ranelag, Paris

On my way to Musée Marmottan Monet in the 16th arrondissement of western Paris, I encountered a lovely park, Jardins du Ranelagh, nearby, which obviously provided much pleasure to the residents nearby, and also boasted many amazing sculptures.

Of those, I found these two below most interesting.  The first one was a bronze, Hommage à Jean de La Fontaine (1983) by Charles Corréia (1945-1988).  The sculpture featured one of the most famous fables by Jean de La Fontaine, Le Corbeau et le Renard (The Fox and the Crow), depicting the cunning fox cheating the cheese out of the crow's mouth by flattery, observed by the poet.

IMG_8862 _ Hommage à Jean de La Fontaine (1983) by Charles Corréia (1945-1988), Jardins du Ranelag, Paris

IMG_8863 _ Hommage à Jean de La Fontaine (1983) by Charles Corréia (1945-1988), Jardins du Ranelag, Paris

IMG_8864 _ Hommage à Jean de La Fontaine (1983) by Charles Corréia (1945-1988), Jardins du Ranelag, Paris

The second of my favorite sculpture there was a marble, Pêcheur ramenant la tête d’Orphée dans ses filets (Fisherman bringing the head of Orpheus in his nets), the sad ending of the immortal Orpheus myth. The sculpture was dynamic, lively, powerful, elegant and melancholic.  Unforgettable.

IMG 8901 _ Pêcheur ramenant la tête d’Orphée dans ses filets (1883), Louis-Eugène Longepied (1849-1883), Marbre, Jardins du Ranelag, Paris

IMG 8902 _ Pêcheur ramenant la tête d’Orphée dans ses filets(1883), Louis-Eugène Longepied (1849-1883), Marbre, Jardins du Ranelag, Paris

IMG 8903 _ Pêcheur ramenant la tête d’Orphée dans ses filets (1883), Louis-Eugène Longepied (1849-1883), Marbre, Jardins du Ranelag, Paris IMG 8904 _ Pêcheur ramenant la tête d’Orphée dans ses filets (1883), Louis-Eugène Longepied (1849-1883), Marbre, Jardins du Ranelag, Paris


My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 71: My Favorite Artworks in La maison de Balzac, Paris

<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 69: My Favorite Sculptures in Cimetière de Montmartre, Paris

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Rainy Days in San Francisco Bay Area

Recently, San Francisco Bay Area had several stormy days which though could not really alleviate  the severe drought in California, it did bring some wonderful sights, therefore, however inconvenienced, I was very grateful to those rainy days:

DSCN8071 _ After the Rain DSCN8069 _ After the Rain

DSCN8066 _ After the Rain

DSCN8068 _ After the Rain

DSCN8067 _ After the Rain

DSCN8062 _ After the Rain

DSCN8065 _ After the Rain DSCN8064 _ After the Rain

DSCN8063 _ After the Rain

DSCN8061 _ After the Rain

DSCN8059 _ After the Rain

DSCN8060 _ After the Rain


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