Art History Reports: Chrysler Museum of Art

I spent a day at the Chrysler Museum of Art in 2016, and I still did not see everything.  It was a delirium of glass, Herb Ritts photography, and mostly American art.  Also, I am finally publishing this blog entry after dealing with life and writer’s block.

Regarding the Herb Ritts photography presentation, I couldn’t help but notice how Ritts gave his subjects such a Classical sheen.  The interview I embedded above this paragraph and other links briefly mentions a variation of that aspect of Ritt’s work.  Seeing his photography in person, it called to mind the statues created during the Greek and Roman eras of art.  The subjects found in the show are (or were) mainstream celebrities with real lives who did (probably) things one wouldn’t like, but Ritts gave them such a status that solidified them as immortal, imposing, and sophisticated icons.  Mick Jagger, Prince, Tina Turner, Richard Gere, Madonna, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, and others, all major pop culture figures firmly embedded in mainstream society, but Ritts solidifies that sense of permanence under his unique, glossy execution.  I can’t think of any other photographer then and now who can properly imitate Ritts’ style.

Allow to me to elaborate on a previous statement when I stated that Ritts gave a Classically divine veneer to his subjects.  While others looked stately, I thought the way Ritts captured Prince, in a rare color photo no less, as this sort of trickster god.  Especially since Prince is in this colorful, heavily forested area.

The glass exhibition at the Chrysler worked as a showcase of art from all around the world.  America, Italy, England, China, and the Czech Republic figure prominently, with art from the past to the contemporary displaying work from the solemn to the playful, from the delicate to the heavy.

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Another section was dedicated to Pre-Columbian art from Latin America.  It was a small, but wonderful display of art full of stylized faces and figures.  Seriously, check out of the shell covered with gorgeous designs.  So sublime.

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Another stand out came from a room dedicated to art from the American Civil War.  A statue from that room depicted a soldier with a child on his lap and a haunted gaze one can imagine full of horrific memories.  The Chrysler is full of American sculpture influenced by Neoclassical ideals, with depictions of Native Americans and woman acting as American symbols carved out of white marble.

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There were exhibitions dedicated to Ancient Egypt and Rome.  I believe I also saw some paintings by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

I admit, I didn’t see the entire museum (I and another person I was traveling with was exhausted).  The last notable works I looked at belonged to Auguste Rodin and sculpture made by more Contemporary era artists.

I do recommend the Chrysler Museum of Art.  For anyone who wants to look beyond the usual pantheon of known artists written about by art historians, this place is good to stimulate and expand your mind.

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