A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about art

Searching for Van Gogh in Arles

Wandering through the town of Arles, it’s easy to understand why Van Gogh got so depressed here and killed himself. Oh sure, he was fueled by absinthe and he was probably bipolar, but even with that, I can totally see how this town would depress someone after spending two years here.
VG spent two years living and working here. He supposedly had no friends. Now maybe that was his fault, but the French are not the friendliest people in the world. I don’t find them rude, as some have said, but they seem to merely tolerate anyone non-French or from anywhere other than their home town. In Arles, they have to be polite. Their source of income is completely tourist-driven at this point. Back in Van Gogh’s day, they didn’t even have to be pleasant in order to make tourist dollars. There were no tourists. Gauguin came to visit VG in Arles and hated it. cafe__de_nuit_.jpg


Arles locals are visible and they are clique-ish. If you are there off season as I was, the locals hang out from early in the evening when they meet to have a pastis or an espresso. Everyone appears to know everyone in this tiny town, and no one makes an effort to speak to you. If you spend a few days there, you feel like an outsider. I empathize with poor Van Gogh who spent two years in this isolation.

Posted by teethetrav 07:52 Archived in France Tagged art france arles van-gogh Comments (0)

Springtime in Washington, D.C.

Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals

Spring is the perfect time to visit Washington D.C, the United States’ capital. The weather is lovely and the crowds are still sparse. Summer, when most people can take their vacation time, the city becomes hot, humid and horribly crowded.

DSC03099.jpg There is so much to do in the nation’s capital, but on my visit last week my mission was to see the Canaletto exhibit. I first saw this Venetian artist’s work years ago at a special exhibit in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I had gone to the Met to see something else, but decided to see the Canaletto exhibit as well. I was entranced. His scenes of the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge, the gondolas, and San Marco piazza stirred my heart. Many years later, I finally got to visit Venice. On my first vaporetto ride up the Grand Canal, all I could think of were those magnificent paintings. As we approached the Rialto Bridge, I got a lump in my throat. The magic of Venice that Canaletto captured all those years ago looks the same way today. DSC03100.jpg

The exhibit at the National Gallery is a large one and there are many of Canaletto’s paintings as well as many by his followers. The exhibit is called Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals and it, like all the exhibits in the gallery, is free. I love his work more now that I’ve been there a few times and can recognize the places he painted all those years ago.

The National Gallery has two wings. The East building houses contemporary art and was designed by I.M. Pei. The West contains European art from the thirteenth through the nineteenth century. The two buildings are divided by an ultra-cool Star Wars moving sidewalk. www.nga.gov for hours and directions.

Outside, you can stroll through the sculpture garden. The centerpiece is a magnificent fountain. There are whimsical sculptures like a giant aluminum tree and a house that looks like it’s three dimensional.
Before leaving, we strolled the mall; the long stretch that leads to the Washington Monument. It was a gorgeous day and people were outside enjoying the spring weather.

Posted by teethetrav 08:03 Archived in USA Tagged art caldor canaletto national_gallery washington_d_c Comments (0)

Salvador Dali in Barcelona

If you are lucky enough to visit Barcelona this spring or summer (2011), you should not miss the Salvador Dali show. In the center of the Barri Gotic sits the magnificent Barcelona Cathedral. The Dali show is in the plaza surrounding the Cathedral.

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Dali is the essential Catalan artist. His whimsy and surrealism captures Catalonian spirit. Perhaps he created it. This exhibit displays paintings, sketches, and sculptures by the artist as well as photographs of the artist. It’s a comprehensive show that is enlightening, fun, puzzling, and entertaining. Just like Dali himself. Mostly known for his wild mustache and his painting The Persistance of Memory, there is a great deal more to be learned here about this complex artist. He started life with the name of his dead older brother. If that’s not enough to make you loopy, his mother died when he was sixteen. He dabbled in films, set design, and was the first artist to experiment with holography. He married the great love of his life and when she died, it is said that he lost his mind and his will to live.

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If you don’t have time for a side trip to Figueres where the artist lived and the Dali museum is, you should not miss this show.


Posted by teethetrav 07:28 Archived in Spain Tagged art barcelona catalonia salvador_dali barri_gotic barcelona_cathedral Comments (0)

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