Monday, November 10, 2014


On our most recent trip to the Twin Cities, we paid another visit to the museum at the Minneapolis Institutes of Art, and again I was extremely impressed, both with the facility and with its collection.  In this post I am going to focus on some of the artwork that we saw.

The museum has a substantial collection of Asian art, and that is where we began our visit.

For the above piece, which was a life-sized terra cotta Chinese figure, I wanted to focus on the figure's hand, which was in an unusual and striking pose.  So I opened up the lens's aperture to f/4, forcing the remainder of the figure to go out of focus and allowing the hand to "pop" somewhat.

The above sculpture was behind glass, so I placed my camera lens directly against the glass to reduce glare.  Loved the ears.

I wasn't as successful in avoiding glare with this photo of a horse.  The reflection of my left hand can be seen above the figure's hind quarters.  Still, I thought this beautiful and dynamic piece worked well as a black & white.

The museum also included a large collection of Pacific region art, although it vintage was generally much more recent.

I particularly liked the above piece, which I though worked best by only showing a portion of the figure's face.

The image above represented only one side of a two-handled wooden bowl.

I thought the above pottery piece was very representative of Pacific/Australian art.  The same could be said for the following, which reminded me somehow of a sleepy Dr. Seuss figure.

Even though these pieces were not particularly old (generally less than 100 years), they are much more primitive that Western art from much older periods.  My question then is whether such primitivism was stylistic and intentional or whether the artists simply didn't have the skills that European and mainland Asian artists had.  Compare the above, for example, with the following.

Not only is this sculpture of John the Baptist (I think) more anatomically correct, but there is a great deal more emotional expression.

Speaking of antiquity, below is a beautifully transcribed page from the Qur'an from around 900 CE.

OK, on to some more modern art, beginning with a stylized weathervane of a horse jumping through a hoop.

And below is a portion of a large pottery vase.  Here for some reason I chose to create an abstract by featuring the near side of the top of the vase, allowing the far side to fall out of focus.

I liked the following piece, again as an abstract, which is difficult to interpret in the absence of its explanatory placard, which describes it as stoneware covered in pigments and a glaze.

Then there was this large "cloak" that was comprised of many hundreds of dog tags, creating a powerful image.

Perhaps even more powerful was the following photograph of Jewish concentration camp prisoners, which was shown as the sole exhibit in one of the museum's alcoves.

I liked the large semicircular stained glass piece shown below that apparently originated in a Jewish setting.

This window was situated well above eye level, and I spent some time in post processing rectifying its perspective to avoid converging lines.

The above was a portion of a painting by Joan Miro entitled,  "Head of a Woman."  I didn't get it, but I did like the painting for some reason.

Finally, a couple of 19th century American paintings.

I very much liked the treatment of the subject's eyes in the above painting.  I'm not sure I can say the same for the eyes of the child shown in the photo below.  But then this was described as a posthumous painting of a young boy who had died.

During our visit I took nearly 200 photos, keeping about 60.  I consider the selection for this post to be an interesting, and in some ways arbitrary, subset.  We spent nearly three hours at the museum on our visit and probably saw less than half of the collection.  Hopefully, we will get back for another look in the near future.  Perhaps the most amazing thing is that this museum is free to the public.


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