August 23, 2017

Breathing in Art

Being in New York for the first time has truly been such a blissful experience I am eternally grateful for. From the start, I knew I was most excited to peruse through the exhibits in various museums. I was right. Even though I'll be returning to Vancouver by the month's end, I will always treasure exploring the Guggenheim, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art will always hold a place in my heart. Despite my aching feet and a tired body after each trip, I must say, it was all worth it and it's something I hope to go back to in the future. The trip isn't even halfway finished, but I'm already beginning to miss certain parts. So I thought I would share some of the museums highlights that I will miss with all of you, as well as my opinions on the magnificent sights.

Juan de Pareja
The Met

Experiencing the museum through a tour was such an amazing decision. I was able to get a deeper inkling into the story of the man in the portrait above and it was one that is sincerely worth hearing. In the 1650s during the time this was painted, the only people that had portraits of themselves painted were the rich nobility. When you first look at this painting, that is the sense that you get. The man in it has a very dignified and powerful air; in truth, he was actually a slave of the painter. The release of this painting shook society because it was the first time a person of colour's image was put to life in a painting especially in such a regal manner. A quote in its description that resonated with me greatly is that it, "gained such universal applause that in the opinion of all the painters of the different nations everything else seemed like painting but this alone like truth." Velázquez saw Juan de Pareja as a person of equal importance and freed him from slavery. The man in this groundbreaking portrait later went on to become a painter himself.

Fragmentary Colossal Marble Head of a Youth
The Met 

Upon entering the Greece and Rome section of the building, I completely fell in love. I always enjoyed reading stories of myths about these ancient civilizations and it was as if the people in what I've read came to life in marble all around me. At the center of the first room I was greeted with this fragment of a face. Regardless of the fact that it was broken, I thought the fact that it was incomplete made it even more interesting and added extra character. The sculpture beautifully depicts the gentle and strong features of humans. I could only imagine what the rest of the face looked like and where the other part/parts ended up.

Portrait of a Young Man
The Met

Bronzino captured the life of a young man during the Renaissance period masterfully in the this oil on wood painting. Viewers can look into his life as if they were reading a book. From the opulence recognizable in his attire to the book in his hand indicating that he is educated. Social classes and hierarchies were very evident during this time. Many would think that since he appears to be a well brought up a man that privilege would breed eternal happiness. There's an effortlessly posh way the man in the portrait is standing that embodied his princely character. The artist however, sought to look further into the person and criticize the society as a whole. If you look at the painting, there are two gargoyles noticeable in the table and chair. Although, less apparent there is also one that can be seen in the folds of the man's trousers. They are meant to symbolize the masks constantly worn by people in high society.

Charles Maurin
The Dawn of Labour (L'aurore du travail)

Upon entering this room, this work of art instantly drew me in. There's such rawness and deep emotion in it that instantly enraptured me. It is such a vision of humanity in the face of struggle. The expression and body language of each person is a story in and of itself, not to mention when you take in the whole image. The picture honestly does not to do it justice. Being able to see this grand work of art up close was truly an honour. Charles Maurin put together a piece that speaks to the human soul. His art in my opinion looks like a mix between the style of the Renaissance and modern day graphic novel illustrators. It speaks of revolution, turmoil, and liberty. When it was first painted commentators struggled to grasp its full meaning, which can be said today as well. What is true however, is the deep feeling that was poured in with every brush stroke of the artist.

Henri Rousseau
Artillerymen (Les artilleurs)

Whether or not it's their matching navy uniforms gilded in gold or their little mustaches that filled my heart with such joy upon the sight of this painting. Henry Rousseau created such an interesting piece. Unlike other paintings of a historical nature that come to mind, his conveys a light almost humorous feeling to this particular viewer. You can see that despite the uniformity in the people, the way the artist depicted them in their stances made the image more real. It showed that they were not all the same person despite having the same face. However, as I regarded the painted people, the three sitting cross legged stood out because it is common that when people envision militias/soldiers from the past they don't see them in that position. They imagine them to be so different from people now, so separated by the time period. There is that disconnection, but the way Rousseau gave those he painted individual character and connection to the actions of real people in a such a simple way is what I find truly magnificent.

Henri Rousseau
The Football Players (Les joueurs de football)

These pieces of art honestly made my day and I'm glad I am able to share this experience with all of you through this post. I hope you enjoyed and got a feel of these spectacular works of art. Maybe they challenge you to think, or made you feel particular emotions like they did me. Either way, we'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Stay gold,


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