Saturday, October 31, 2009

Art Exhibit: The Louvre and The Masterpiece

Yesterday I viewed an exhibit at the Minneapolis Art Institute called The Louvre and The Masterpiece. It was a very interesting and educational exhibit of masterpieces from the Louvre Museum in Paris.

It was not a large show, four small galleries, but there were many pieces in each gallery and the quality of the work was outstanding. The exhibit looks at what makes a masterpiece a masterpiece. The Exhibit started with the origins of the term "masterpiece" as being part of the arts and craft guilds in the 1700's. A particular work was submitted to the guild and judged to be of such quality that the artist-craftsperson was considered a Master in their field. It begins with the concept of craftsmanship; an artwork is so technically accomplished that it is apparent to all who view it, especially other artists-craftspeople.

The exhibit also talks about Taste or Style of the times in which an artwork is created. Some masterpieces have not always been considered masterpieces. Or some were considered masterpieces, fell out of favor, and then were re-discovered at a later date.

The exhibit also talks about fakes: artworks that were thought to be the work of a famous artist from long ago, only to be discovered later to be copies or scams. There were several pieces in the exhibit that were fakes. I thought that was fun to see the fakes and learn why the Louvre curators were fooled, or how they discovered a piece was authentic.

Works that stood out for me were:
- Antoine-Louis Barye's gigantic Lion and Serpent bronze sculpture. Very large dramatic lion with a snake under its paw. The lion is well observed and is full of energy and power.
- a Roman statue of Eros which had lost its wings and arms but they have been restored.
- Johannes Vermeer's The Astronomer. Beautiful painting, exquisite!
- Lorenzo Lotte's (?) Christ Carrying the Cross.
- Leonardo DaVinci's Drapery Study. Unbelievably crisp sense of light.

I highly recommend the exhibit if you want to see some great art, but I also recommend seeing the exhibit to understand a little more about what museums are about and how we come to cherish (as a society or as a world) some works more than others. Well worth the entrance fee of $14.

The Louvre and The Masterpiece will be on display at the Minneapolis Art Institute until January 10, 2010.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Art Question: How Are You In So Many Art Shows?

Lisa E. asked me "How do you get into so many art shows?"

There are a few ways to go about getting art shows.

1. Join an organized art group that shows regularly. I am a member of the Minnesota Watercolor Society. This group has two exhibits of member's work each year. One is a juried show, the other is an inclusive show. I assume that I am a good enough artist to get into most juried watercolor shows, so I can count on an average of two shows a year through this group.

2. Join or create a group of artists around a theme and propose shows. This is where my Project Art for Nature membership comes in. Project Art for Nature is a group of twenty artists and illustrators working around the theme of protecting the natural environment. The twenty artists are split into small groups, called pods. The larger group has an annual exhibit at either the Bell Museum or another location. The pods also pursue exhibits in smaller venues. Through my connections, I was able to set up a show for eleven PAN artists at University of Minnesota - Morris this month. Another pod member, Teri Power, lined up a small show in Hammond, WI for January. So, right there, I have three exhibits in the next year through this group. I organized one, other people organized the other two.

3. There are galleries for which you can pay a small fee in order to show. An example of this is my solo exhibit at Homewood Studios in October of 2010. For a very reasonable fee, I will have my work on display for two weeks. It is important in these instances to find a gallery that you are comfortable with and you respect the quality of the work being shown. Also, is the gallery a place where work sells so you can at least make up your fee? I am very comfortable with George, the owner of Homewood Studios, and the art exhibits I have seen there. I have also seen that several pieces in each show sell. There are a few galleries like this in the Twin Cities. Some cost more than others and you have to make sure you are getting what you pay for.

4. How do you get into shows at your traditional gallery with white walls and higher prices for your work? Ssshhhh, that is a secret... Honestly, my best opportunities have come from other people. These gallery owners are seeing new work all the time, either through their own research or people coming in to inquire about a show. Unless your work hits their eye in the perfect manner, they most likely will not take you on without knowing you. That is where a reference is important. I was invited to show at The Grand Hand Gallery because a respected person who was well acquainted with my work had recommended me.

But the two most important aspects for having regular art shows are to:
- Get out there so people can know and see you and your work. You cannot have an art career alone. It takes many people to make your career possible.
- Make work consistently. If you are showing a lot, you need to be creating a lot. You cannot keep showing the same ten pieces over and over again.