MAO Road Trip - Wadsworth Antheneum Museum In Hartford, CT
MAO Weekend Sunday road trip to Hartford, CT. Destination The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
So Dr. Quiz, our friend Dutch aka.. The Duchess, Whitey our Jeep 4x4, and I went for the 90 min trek to see a museum in the hinterlands! Like there could ever be decent art west of
11th ave 12th Ave, Manhattan! Mostly I really wanted to see the Kota Ezawa show, but hey.. we had nothing else better to do.. and Dr. Quiz knew if he didn't go with us, Dutch and I would get into trouble. Plus even after 11 years of our LTR, Dr. Quiz still doesn't trust me with Whitey.. Can you say controlling? He sites some crazy excuse of I not having a drivers license anymore (long tragic story.. to be told most appropriately over beers at another time) License?? Who needs a license..?? like we don't have a marriage license either!! But I digress..
Anyway..Much to our surprise the Wadsworth is awesome! Our first stop was to see the 2 installed project works of Kota Ezawa in their Matrix Galleries. They were very cool. I loved "The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 2005" 16mm film projection. It's kind of a South Park/Julien Opie meets 1960 photo-journalism. The work is very original, but yet in several ways comments on our human ability to retain mental images of historic events, in a similar way that only the amazing work of Vik Muniz manages to do. Mr. Ezawa simplifies these video images down to their most very basic shapes and colors, but yet your mind immediately knows the referenced images.
It's the same for his slide projection project, "The History of Photography Remix, 2005" (Ezawa, After Struth, Pic #3) These works make the viewer realize how much
useless art imagery "Visual History" you have stored in the back of your mind. These pictures are all completely familiar photographic icons, and yet you are also seeing these images in a completely new way. I loved the work.. and could have watched it for another hour.
They also had a wonderful Auguste Rodin exhibition which had just opened. Featuring about 80 of his most notable Bronze works... There are many works from his first big commission, "The Gates of Hell" (The Thinker, The Three Shades, The Falling Man, & The Kiss), Plus Bronzes from The Burghers of Calais, as well as several Balzac works. They also have several early Busts, and my favorite Rodin work.. The Cathedral (picture #4), along with a few other great hand sculptures. Actually it was the most comprehensive Rodin show I've ever seen outside of France. I think this show may even have pulled together more works than whats at the Rodin Museum in Philly.
Lastly, the Wadsworth is also the home of a surprisingly strong 18th and early 19th century portrait collection, but I was most impressed with their Hudson River School Collection. A total WOW ! Certainly more works (over 65) that you can see in the big museums of Manhattan (But the NY Historical Society has an impressive collection , and their "Nature and the American Vision" Hudson River show runs through Feb 19th). Actually seeing these amazing works, made we aware of how lacking some of the NYC museums are when it comes to The Hudson School Artists. Here's how they describe their collection:
The core of the Museum's renowned Hudson River School collection (the finest of its kind) was formed by two major patrons of American artists who lived in Hartford—Daniel Wadsworth (1771-1848), a picaresque traveler, amateur artist and architect, and founder of the Wadsworth Atheneum; and Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt (1826-1905), widow of arms manufacturer Samuel Colt and the creator of a major private picture gallery during the Civil War Era. Wadsworth became one of the most important patrons of Thomas Cole, from whom he commissioned and acquired seven paintings; he later discovered and launched the career of the young Hartford artist Frederic Church. Wadsworth's private art collection formed the core of the Museum's American painting holdings. Later in the century, Elizabeth Colt worked with Frederic Church to form one of the finest private picture galleries in the country including works by Church, Albert Bierstadt, Sanford Gifford, and John Kensett. The collection of over 65 Hudson River landscapes includes thirteen Coles, eleven Churches, and five Bierstadts.
They also, have a small but nice collection of impressionist works (Photo #5).
Overall pretty impressive for an art hinterland museum!!! The Wadsworth Who, Hartford Where? It was a great time, even though I wasn't
allowed to doing the driving! But the best part.. The Wadsworth only charged $10 to get in!! Worth every penny! WooooHooo!