Tag Archives: National Gallery of Art

Vacation (Half-) Day: Renaissance Edition

opnamedatum: 2008-02-28E fotomet sk-c-1368 in lijst sk-l-6050vitFebruary 16 was officially Presidents’ Day, which shut down all the places I would normally do my research.  Instead of rifling through archives I spent half the day in my room writing and the other half schlepping through the National Gallery.  Not that I really mind having my brain spend most of its waking hours in the nineteenth century, this was a great mental vacation.  The National Gallery is, of course, stuffed with great things to see, but my day took a very Renaissance color.  There was a small exhibition on books published in Florence (like the little Vitruvius to the left) that was really great and an extensive exhibition of Piero di Cosimo that I didn’t find totally engaging.  Some of his figures seemed a little clunky in the drawing and dim in the coloring–but all is forgiven with the portrait of Giuliano da Sangallo, of that family that drives all students taking Renaissance architecture exams crazy (Giuliano?  Antonio?  Francesco?  The Younger?  The Older?).  Just look at that portrait on the left (paired with his father).  It’s supposedly the first-ever architect’s portrait featuring the tools of the trade.  And that color. Oh the color! Wow.  On any day, but especially after six weeks of daguerreotype portraits, what a treat.

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Field Trip

wyeth

We’re at the midpoint of summer camp, a.k.a. the digital humanities institute at GMU.  Each day has included some new tool (or three, or five) that have great potential for research and/or teaching, so much so that I went home yesterday with my head sort of throbbing with ideas.  It’s pretty amazing how quickly we’ve been introduced to (and have mostly picked up) a number of great tools.  Thinglink, Animoto, StoryMap, the Map Warper at NYPL, Google Maps and Omeka seem to offer the greatest possibilities so far.  I’m eager to see how it all comes together, and what comes with it, in our next and final week.

One drawback to a super-intensive institute like this one is the priority for content delivery, and lack of reflection.  That’s just the nature of the program, unfortunately, unless the organizers were going to spread it out to a month or somehow figure out how to cut down on content.  I tried to self-impose some time for reflection today, and negotiated the Fairfax bus & DC metro to make my way in to museum-land for a Saturday field trip.  It’s been a great day, mostly revisiting old friends that were a regular part of my landscape when I lived here some years ago during my first sabbatical.  But there was also one great discovery made at a really wonderful exhibit of Andrew Wyeth paintings (especially watercolors) at the National Gallery.  Wyeth was a known entity–in fact, he was hard to get away from during the time I lived in northern Delaware. But I’ve never seen his work in quite the light that was accomplished in this fine exhibition.

In a week that has been all about learning new tools, and discovering new processes, and investigating new means of thinking and doing, it’s really refreshing both to just use my eyes to look at beautiful and compelling things, and to learn/discover/investigate the old-fashioned analog way.

above: Wind from the Sea (1947, National Gallery)

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