joy magnetism: With open galleries

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

With open galleries

Magnet #743 - Alexander Calder, National Gallery

We've established over and over that I love art, and art museums. That it's not even like I'm particularly well-versed in any genre or any artist, that I just love looking at the stuff in whatever museum I visit.

With as many as 15 grueling days ahead of us, we took a bit of a break and went to the new Tampa Museum of Art. A very cool building of pierced aluminum (900,000 holes!!!) nestled along the waterfront park, and designed by Stanley Saitowitz, an SF-based architect with several structures to his name.

So then we walk in - free, by the way, because of the Gasparilla Festival of Arts - and have lunch at the still getting its bearings in a big way Sono Cafe, and take a gander at some art.

The funny thing was that you walk into this giant open space, and you see this staircase that leads you up to the collections. Then, you turn around, and as you start to go up the stairs, you look up, and bam!, you see a giant multistory Calder mobile, much like the one in this magnet from DC's National Gallery. And while I'd seen the pictures of the Calder on their site, I was still awed by it as I looked up into the atrium of a zillion holes. Very cool.

The whole visit (save for Sono) was very cool. Very small. I think we may have missed a few collections, because we did only see one floor full of galleries that intentionally flow into each other to show the openness of art.

But that's the thing now...instead of having wings devoted to one particularly course of art, the rooms and exhibitions all just flow into each other. While on the one hand, this openness explores how art is interrelated, and pushes you to figure out how they are connected, it also doesn't visually define what you're looking at.

In other words, one minute, you're looking at a nude Matisse, you cross an entryway, and all of a sudden, you're looking at a Greek Black-Figure Amphora, circa 510 B.C., and then into a set of black and white Garry Winogrand Women are Beautiful photographs. And left to draw conclusions as to how they're brought together under one roof.

In the end, we did the Matisse side and the Winogrand side, and I'll give it to the TMA curator, that was a good job of tying the two exhibitions together. The sketches, drawings and paintings of various women by Matisse during the early 1900s was a great juxtaposition and comparison against the black and white photography of the women that Winogrand captured in the later 1900s.

It's kind of what the curator of the Accademia in Florence was going for, when he combo'd an exhibition of Mapplethorpe imagery of the human form and...Michelangelo sculptures. Mind you...that one blew my mind completely. Mostly because I couldn't believe it had been done.

Yeah, that's a whole nother magnet.

After being open a month, their little gallery was stocked full of the easily orderable Matisse magnets from Pomegranate (my faves, as you know), but low on the actual museum logo magnets themselves. Probably good because besides the Sono beef, my other issue with them is their logo. But, I can't wait to come back and see how that museum magnet collection grows. I'm hoping they do an atrium shot like this one here.
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