Monday, November 26, 2012


When Geri and I were in the Twin Cities in early October to see her dad, we visited the Walker Art Center.  It was a major disappointment.  It was smallish and primarily limited to contemporary (that is to say experimental) art.  (See my post of October 15.)

We returned to the Twin Cities over Thanksgiving weekend.  This time, on the advice of a friend, we visited the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  This museum was magnificent.  It included a diverse collection of uniformly interesting art housed in a facility that is architecturally appealing.  Moreover, general admission is free--all the time.  The current special exhibit (which does include a charge for admission) is China's Terracotta Warriors, and features a number of original warrior and horse statues, as well as other artifacts, from Xian, China.  They, and the exhibit generally, were stunning.  Unfortunately, photography was forbidden, so I have nothing to post from that exhibit.  However, I did take a number of photos elsewhere in the museum, and am sharing some of those here.  More specifically, I took over 160 shots, of which I have retained about 90.  However, I am trying hard to limit those posted to my blog (to avoid viewer fatigue).

In terms of architecture, the museum seemed to reflect a diversity of styles.  Parts were very traditional, with Greco-Roman interior concrete columns, while other sections were more modern, including an interesting rotunda, leading me to believe the museum had been added to more than once over the years.  Here are a few shots that show some of the architectural detail.

I liked the clean lines and simplicity of this stairwell.

I also like to include shots of the general museum scene.  Here is one of those.

Although I took--and have kept--a large number of photos of the wall art, I found that I enjoyed more taking photos of statues and other three-dimensional art.  I did, though, find interesting the following stained glass window with Jewish symbolism.

One technical comment on this shot.  The window was situated above eye level, which meant that the photo as originally taken had the sides of the window appearing to lean in, since the top of the window was further from the camera and therefore appeared smaller.  I used software to "rectify" this perspective artifact so that the sides appear vertical, as they would if I had been at the same level as the window.

Always looking for a different angle, here is a shot I took of a statue made entirely of corrugated cardboard.  Although the piece as a whole was interesting, I found myself trying to capture the corrugation, as in the following shot.  This is not the shot that most people would have taken.

I took a number of shots of the following statue, which was actually a very dynamic piece with the nude figure thrusting out his arm.  Here is a shot that shows that pose.

Even though the sword the warrior originally held in his right hand is missing, the statue has great power.  However, in the end the shot I liked the best was one that I turned into a black & white that featured the subject's head looking away from the camera.

I took this shot, focused on the figure's hair, with the aperture wide open to eliminate background distractions and to get a faster shutter speed.  Even so, this wound up with an exposure of 1/6th second--really slow--so I was fortunate to get a fairly sharp image.  I was really taken by the expression on the figure's face.

The main entrance foyer to the museum includes an impressive Chihuly.  The piece is actually a uniform yellow with what appears to be red interior lighting.  I had a hard time capturing this piece, impressive as it was.  I think part of the problem was the fact that all the glass was the same yellow hue.  I wound up taking a close-up that I then turned into a false-color green, which served to emphasize the contrast between the glass that the lighting.

This false-color green is not playing cricket, but I liked the effect anyway.

The museum includes a large number of pieces of oriental art, including the following figure of an individual driving a carriage covered by an umbrella.

Here I wanted to emphasize the subject and allow the umbrella to fall out of focus.  This was taken at f/4 with an exposure of 1/8th second.  The focus on the subject's face is excellent, a testament to my lens's technology.

And here is a buddha-like figure with what appears to be an apple intaglio engraved in his forehead.  This figure was made out of multiple pieces of painted wood.

I especially liked that I was able to position the statue with the Minneapolis skyline as a backdrop.  What struck me most about this figure was not the apple intaglio but the way the figure's hands were positioned, so I focused on one of the hands with the face as a backdrop.

The museum includes a large section devoted to Prairie School art and architecture.  What caught my eye were some metal grilles that were positioned directly in front of a window looking out on the Minneapolis skyline.  I wanted to capture the design of the grille work but at the same time show the skyline as a backdrop.  Here are a couple of those shots.

I actually like these shots quite a lot.  These were taken with the lens wide open at f/4 and obviously focused on the grille work rather than the skyline.  In retrospect, it might have worked better had I used a narrower aperture to give a bit more definition to the skyline.  In the first shot the skyline is pretty abstract, although in the second, wider perspective it is pretty recognizable.

Finally, here is a shot I took out of one of the museum's windows overlooking its parklike grounds.

In general, I thought this shot worked very well.  I tried cropping the skyline out but decided that it added to the narrative.  I do wish that there had been more than just a dusting of snow and that there had been a few people in the shot.  Overall, though, I like the way that the tree canopy separates the snow-convered ground from the skyline.  I also like the contrast between the dark of the tree trunks and the white of the lawn.

Taken with my Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens.

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