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Visit a museum or gallery exhibition or attend a theater, dance, or musical performance - Essay Example

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I toured the East Wing of the gallery, which is dedicated to modern art. I spent about two hours in the East Wing viewing and enjoying the many pieces that were on display in any…
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I attended a gallery exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC on February 25th. I toured the East Wing of the gallery, which is dedicated to modern art. I spent about two hours in the East Wing viewing and enjoying the many pieces that were on display in any way that I wanted. I was impressed and inspired by the mobiles of Alexander Calder on the main floor of the East Wing. But even more so, was his work that was displayed in the gallery next to the Matisse Cutouts exhibition.
My first impression of the mobiles was that they were interesting forms that caught my eye. There was something about the fact that they were elevated above my typical line of vision. Craning my neck, I enjoyed the slow natural rotation of each of the mobiles. Some of the shapes conveyed a sense of whimsy while others had a more threatening feel. After many minutes, I was ready to move on, until I notice how the light played on each of the mobiles and the resulting shadows that were cast upon the walls of the circular room.
The shadows created by the lighting installation gave an entirely different dimension to the mobile installation. As the mobiles rotates freely, the shadows cast upon the walls displayed a motion that seemed to be more active than the perceived motion of the mobile. The slightest rotation of the mobile would send a shadow racing across the wall. In addition to this, the shadows were constantly transforming in shape and sharpness. Due to the play of the lighting and the three dimensional construction of the mobiles, some shadows were crisp edged and dark while others, cast from the same mobile resembled amorphous grey smudges. The constant interplay of shadows of different value created movement and action that belied the slowly rotating mobiles mounted above my head.
The second exhibition I attended was the Matisse Cutouts in the next room. For the last fifteen years of his life, Matisse rediscovered his passion and creativity by constructing colorful paper cutouts and displaying them on the walls of his studio. Matisse has suffered several personal setbacks that had left him physically and mentally exhausted. He no longer felt inspired to create as a result. While resting, he began to work with the idea of cutting into color to create paper shapes that melded the ideas of painting, drawing and sculpture. The resulting work is interesting to behold, not just because the shapes are beautiful, but also because the scale of the paper cutouts is massive.
The most interesting of the cutouts in my opinion is The Flight of Icarus. In this piece, a white form is superimposed on a dark background. Red marks that look like handprints or fingerprints are found around the edge of the human form. It looks as though Icarus is being plucked from the dark sky by many sets of red-fingered hands. The shape and display was striking and the scale of the work was immense.
After visiting the two exhibitions, I had some time to sit and process it while eating lunch. I must say that I was most moved by the Calder exhibition. Watching the movement of the mobiles, and then seeing the play of the shadows upon the wall was a very powerful experience. For some reason it made me very introspective about my life and the choices that I am making about how I live. The shadows seemed to speak to me of motives and shadows of motives found in the hearts of people. Some motives are clear, while others are more amorphous. I like art that makes me think, so I really enjoyed the Calder exhibition.
The Matisse exhibition did not make a lasting impression on me. I enjoyed my time in the room with the art, and I marveled at how he could have created such striking forms with a pair of scissors and some paper, but my interest stayed behind when I left he gallery that held the cutouts. They were enjoyable but did not manage to draw me in the way the Calder mobiles did. Some of this reaction may be grounded in the fact that I am not really a fan of any work done by Matisse. It does not speak to me and I have a difficult time appreciating his artwork as well as his personal history. Visiting the exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art’s East Wing was time wonderfully well spent. The Calder artwork came home with me, but the Matisse is still there, waiting for someone other than I to appreciate it.
Bibliography
"Henri Matisse." National Gallery of Art. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. .
"National Gallery of Art - Calder Installation." National Gallery of Art. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. .
"Paper Cuts Outs (gouaches Découpés)." Paper Cuts Outs (gouaches Découpés) of Henri Matisse. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. . Read More
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