painting

Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden by Todd Henson

Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, side facing the National Mall

My brother and I recently visited the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden along the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Hirshhorn is the Smithsonian museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art and culture. Outside, between the museum and the National Mall, is their sculpture garden containing a wide range of sculptures, two of which I photographed. Inside is the museum, which contains several floors of artwork.

The main exhibit when we visited was a collection of Infinity Mirrors by Yayoi Kusama. This was popular enough it required (free) timed passes in advance, and they had already run out for the day. So we missed the Infinity Mirrors exhibit this time around, though I would still like to see it.

I think I still have a lot of room to grow and learn as an artist, and the Hirshhorn is a perfect reminder of that. There were many pieces of art I just didn’t get. I’m not nearly as drawn to much of the modern art out there as I am to the more traditional pieces you can find in the National Gallery of Art. But I do try to expose myself to all forms of art, both to learn from them and to try to appreciate them.

Voltri XV steel sculpture by David Smith in the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

Sphere No. 6 bronze sculpture by Arnaldo Pomodoro in the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

Untitled (Big Man) sculpture by Ron Meuck in the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum

I’ve included a small sampling of some of the pieces I found interesting. I really enjoyed the sculpture garden. I like the Japanese feel to David Smith’s Voltri XV steel sculpture. And I was fascinated by the detail in Arnaldo Pomodoro’s bronze sculpture, Sphere No. 6.

In the museum one of the very first pieces we viewed was Ron Mueck’s untitled sculpture of a Big Man, and it is a Big Man. There’s really nothing in the photograph to give scale to the sculpture. I should have zoomed out to show the sculpture in the context of the museum room it was in, but didn’t think of it. I was amazed at the detail of the piece. It very much looked alive.

One room we entered was completely dark, and on the far wall was a painting by Hamish Fulton titled Moonrise Kent England, 30 September 1985. As you can see the painting is of a full moon (a white circle) in a dark sky (a black wall).

Moonrise Kent England, 30 September 1985, painting by Hamish Fulton in the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum

One of my favorite exhibits this trip was in the inner hallway, which is a circular hallway facing the inner courtyard. The piece was titled World Time Clock by Bettina Pousttchi, and was a series of twenty-four photographs of clocks from twenty-four different time zones around the world. Each clock face has a different look, but all the photographs were created at the same local time, 1:55 PM.

World Time Clock by Bettina Pousttchi in the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum

World Time Clock by Bettina Pousttchi in the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum

I would certainly recommend the Hirshhorn to anyone who hasn’t visited, especially if you enjoy modern art. The exhibits change over time, so there should almost always be something new to see. I look forward to returning in the future. Let me know if you’ve ever visited the Hirshhorn and what your experiences were.



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National Gallery of Art - West Building by Todd Henson

A statue of Mercury atop a fountain at the center of the West Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Today I’m going to depart a bit from nature and outdoor photography. Earlier this year my brother and I visited the West Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The museum contains such a large number of works of art, I could spend the entire day in that one museum and feel I still hadn’t seen everything. And with so many other museums close by there’s that itch to keep moving, to see more. I don’t get out to museums often enough.

Viewing artwork and a visitor through an entryway. The painting on the left is Saint Benedict Orders Saint Maurus to the Rescue of Saint Placidus by Fra Filippo Lippi. On the right is The Healing of Palladia by Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian by Fra Angelico. In the center is The Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi.

Through the archway is a painting by Leonardo de Vinci called Ginevra de' Benci. I love the layout of the museum, how archways become frames into works of art.

I think seeing all this artwork can help inspire creativity. You see how other people have interpreted their world, or expressed their emotions. I’m mostly a photographer, but I love seeing paintings from such a diverse group of painters, so many different styles and subjects. I don’t necessarily enjoy all the paintings, but there’s alway something there to learn from. Seeing how different artists handled light and perspective. A docent showed us one painting where the artist was able to beautifully capture perspective. As you walked along the painting it was almost as if the perspective changed. Fantastic.

A visitor viewing Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevra de' Benci. On the left is Madonna and Child by Sandro Botticelli. On the right is The Adoration of the Child by Filippino Lippi. Again, I love the layout of the museum. I consider that artwork, as well.

The museum is also full of statues and other objects, something I don’t think you can really appreciate except in person. You might be able to view a painting online since a painting is mostly a two dimentional form of art, though there can be some limited three dimensionality with the volume of paint the artist applies to different areas. But with statues you can’t beat seeing them in person. I love photos of statues, and I love making photos of statues. But you really do have to see them to fully appreciate them, the play of light and shadow, the form and texture.

Another example of framing the artwork using the museum archways. Here a visitor studies Saint John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz) by Francisco Antonio Gijon. I like how the visitor has his leg out, just as Saint John, and how they both seem to lean in the same direction.

This is another photo of Saint John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz) by Francisco Antonio Gijon, but this time without the viewer. Here you can see the entire statue, but I prefer the image with the viewer.

Looking through the photos I made at the museum I realize I’m also drawn to how the museum chooses to display the artwork. There is an art to display. And of course, it’s always fun trying to capture people while they view the artwork. And finally, there is the architecture of the museum, itself. The craftsman that built it were themselves artists.

I love the enormous variety of objects in the museum. Here is the Ciborium for the Sacrament by Desiderio da Settignano.

Winged Victory by Antonio Canova is a magnificent piece beautifully lit such that shadows of the statue float on the wall just behind it. Amazing.

Take some time and visit a museum once in a while. It’s well worth it.

A Morning Stroll By The National Gallery - The West Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. This view is from across Madison Drive.

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