Critque Of Visit To Birmingham Museum Of Arts – Assignment Example
Museum Visit In addition to viewing the exhibits, I spent an unlimited amount of time in the outdoor sculpture garden. The museum is located in the heart of Birmingham’s cultural district. It was built in 1959 and the current building was designed by Birmingham architects, Warren, Knight, & Davis. The museum undertook a major renovation by Edward Larrabee Barnes of New York which was completed in 1993. Currently the edifice is 180,000 square feet which includes an impressive outdoor sculpture garden. The audience was general; families, individuals, and a summer camp group. It was hard to tell the reaction of others because all conversations were held to a whisper. The staff at the museum consists of a director and curators that specialize in their areas of expertise. In addition to the professional staff the museum hires college students trained to answer questions.
The work I was most drawn to was Robert Duncanson’s A Dream of Italy. The painting was created in 1865 in Montreal after the artist visited Italy. The artist was the descendent of former slaves, and he had migrated to Cincinnati for a time where there was a vibrant art culture and only moved to Montreal to escape the racial strife brought on by the Civil War. The painting’s genre is a landscape work. The painting is Oil on canvas. It is symmetrical in that the mountain and tree protruding from the left of the landscape balance out the Italian villa picture on the right. The painting is well orchestrated in its depiction of an idealized Italian landscape. In great part Duncanson implements muted green and browns to illustrate the landscape in the foreground, while an ethereal blue depicts the distant scenery. The artist utilizes sharp line distinctions in creating a dynamic contrast between the fore-grounded scenery and the distant mountain background. In this respect, the artist is successful in creating a harmonious effect.
The painting seems directly influenced by similar historical landscape works, and has been noted as having similar qualities to Albert Bierstadt’s Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California, which was created the same year. I was attracted to the work both by its vision of an idealized Italy, which I believe is its greatest artistic strength, and its overriding aesthetic mastery of landscape. From a contemporary perspective some individuals may criticize the painting as being somewhat mundane, as such landscapes have become cliché in the contemporary environment that has been inundated by graphic depictions. In this sense its aesthetic value as an entirely unique work of art is diminished, however its artistic mastery remains uncontested. Its ultimate cultural significance may be more closely aligned with Duncanson’s personal background as a descendent of slaves who created the work in exile during the Civil War, than as a unique artistic object.