March 14, 2006

Life of Leisure

After a stressful few months at work, it was high time I had a little vacation. After all, I've been to Nice and the Isles of Greece, but I've never been to me. (OK, the first part isn't true, but you get the point.)

So I began my extended weekend with one my favorite "me time" activities - going to an art museum. Although it may not be as big and flashy as other museums in the country, the National Gallery of Art has one major thing going for's free! And they usually manage to score some good traveling exhibitions. I still revel in the memory of the Art Nouveau exhibit several years ago.

My main reason for going was to check out the new exhibit called "Cezanne in Provence." It focuses on Cezanne's work when he returned from Paris near the turn of the century. Filled with the urge towards Impressionism that he gained from his friend Seurat, Cezanne painted a lot of landscapes in bright blues, oranges and greens.

The exhibit on the whole was not bad, although nothing to write home about. A few paintings did strike me, like his well-detailed view of a grove of pine trees. But my favorite was a huge portrait of the artist's father. It features a few nice touches. The father sits in a chair, reading a newspaper. But rather than paint him reading his favorite conservative paper (think Washington Times), Cezanne instead changed the title to a liberal paper that his own friends read. Naughty! Also, behind the father was a small still life painting. Remarkably, it was a painting that Cezanne did - and the museum had that painting hanging right next to the portrait. A little connection like that was cool - quite a few people around me were tickled.

Speaking of which, the crowds! I was surprised to see so many on a non-holiday-time Monday. In fact, the Mall was swarming with people. I hung my head, and realized - tourist season has begun. Run for the hills!

In the lower level of the museum, they had an exhibition featuring some of John Audobon's bird paintings. They were extraordinary! Much more interesting than the Cezanne exhibit, actually. The colors and detail were quite striking - particularly for birds like the Flamingo or the Scarlet Ibis. My favorite name though, was of course the Great American Cock. Need I say more?

In the east wing, the museum had an exhibit on Dadaism. How to describe Dada...well let's start with this simple article from Wikipedia. To quote:

"Deliberate irrationality, the rejection of the prevailing standards in art, disillusionment, cynicism, nonsense, chance and randomness characterize Dada."

This all came about as a reaction to World War I.

I'd like to say that the exhibit was shocking, moving, or some other powerful emotion. But it felt like it was so unsurprising in this day and age. I think someone interested in that historical period would find more meaning. For me, I was wishing they had the Egyptian exhibit again.

I ended my afternoon with a jaunt over to Capitol Q to try their barbecue. Watch for a forthcoming review to be posted on ScottE's blog!

Tonight - it's episode 3 for The Amazing Race. Who will be eliminated? My money's on the old and the incompetent. (That would be Fran & Barry.)


ScottE. said...

When my mom was here in February, we stopped into the NGA, so that I could show her some art. We stumbled into the Audobon really is awesome!

Stef said...

Was it with you recently that I quoted "I've Never Been to Me" ??? I swear I was just singing that with someone in the last week or so.

Mandy, Mrs. L and I are taking tomorrow afternoon off to see the Cezanne exhibit. Thanks for the tip - we'll be sure to check out the Audubon show, as well!