US art: MoMA

Venue: Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Lens: Sigma 35 mm f/1.4

Music: LCD Soundsystem – American dream (https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLijPiy4xM0hfe9g3pQC04xokV2DleIdoy&v=ML1MUKOJIIo)

The last episode in the US art series, at least for now, takes us to one of the best established museums for modern art in the world, the MoMA in Manhattan’s Midtown. Along with some of the iconic art pieces from their permanent collection I’ll also show you some of my favorite works of Robert Rauschenberg who was the main focus of the temporary exhibition at the time I visited.

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As in the previous posts of the series, we again start with a shot from the main staircase, this time of a painting depicting people on the staircase. This must the art analog of a recursive relation in mathematics.
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I started from the top floor, slowly making my way down. The top floor is also showing some temporary works, this installation for example.
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Another one of the works on the top floor, a collage of what appear to be children drawings glued together.
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Moving on to the permanent collection of MoMA and this Tahitian woman by Paul Gauguin.
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Probably the most famous and well-photographed work in MoMA, the magical Starry Night of Vincent van Gogh.
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Beauford Delaney’s Composition 16 certainly can’t compare to the Starry Night’s fame, but I quite like this symphony of bright color.
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If van Gogh’s work ranks as the most famous one in MoMA, then surely the Persistence of Memory of Dali, as small as it is, must be a close second.
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Moving one floor down and two decades later, this is yet another American flag by Jasper Johns (this time it’s only one as opposed to the three flags of Johns from my post about Whitney). Johns was a long-time lover of Robert Rauschenberg, who will be on focus next.
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The temporary exhibition was mostly devoted to Rauschenberg, and just like this old lady I was really amazed by his works. I hope to convince you in Rauschenberg’s skill by the end of this post.
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Rauschenberg was one of the founders of the American pop art movement, and was a painter, a sculptor, a photographer and a performance artist combined in one.
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He often combined three-dimensional objects in his paintings…
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..and sometimes used more sophisticated equipment to create new experiences like this bubbly mud bath.
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Rauschenberg is also well-known for his street sign compositions.
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Another of Rauschenberg’s street sign jumbles and the last photo from my “US art” series. Hopefully soon I’ll get back to you with more contemporary art, this time from the east side of the Atlantic.
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US art: Whitney

Venue: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4 & Samsung S7 camera

Music: The National – Sleep well beast (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwraJAssyuE)

The Whitney Museum of American Art only exhibits very contemporary local artists, resulting in a weird mix of different media and perceptions. So for me Whitney is the most unconventional episode in the US art series (some parts of the Venice biennale beat it, but I’m yet to post about it), but I’m of course always open to visit new American galleries. Enjoy, and don’t be scared by some of the pieces, it’s just art!

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We start with the main staircase in Whitney with some plastic bodies hanging from the ceiling… some of them were headless.
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The most famous piece in Whitney at that time were the red cubes of Lary Bell, which were out on the terrace of the museum overlooking the Hudson river and the Empire state Building to the east.
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A shot of the red cubes with my smartphone from above, so you can properly grasp the installation. Each of the red cubes is made of an inner and an outer glass shell with varying transparency.
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One of the rooms inside, the woman to the left is actually not part of the art piece but was standing on a queue to see one of the other art works.
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Another piece from the main Whitney exhibit at the time, not sure what the idea of the artist is.
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The people lining up here are not just waiting to see the nice view to the river, but rather to experience something weird. Standing on this platform is very confusing because of the hidden mirrors on the ceiling and down the edge and the side view to upside-down hanging objects giving you the idea that gravity is reversed and you’re falling down.
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Another unconventional art piece making use of a smart phone camera.
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A terrifying virtual reality platform. Putting on these glasses you see a bloody scene where a guy is being heavily beaten by another guy with a bat… I didn’t manage to watch it till the end.
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Moving upstairs one can again catch a glimpse of the red cubes.
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The view from the top floor of Whitney towards Manhattan, I guess some people just visit the museum to enjoy the atmosphere outside on warm days like that one.
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Last shot of the red cubes and the passers by before moving to the last part of the museum exhibit.
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The American flag, within a larger version of itself, within another larger version of itself. Stuff to think about…
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A female statue.
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We finish with another weird piece of art, or rather a sad computer game where your character doesn’t have too many options and starves to death no matter what you choose to do.

 

US art: MFA Boston

Venue: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Lens: Sigma 35 mm f/1.4

Music: Boston – More than a feeling (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSR6ZzjDZ94)

This episode in the US art series takes us out of NYC and further north to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). The MFA can probably best be described as Boston’s version of the Met, and despite the worldwide fame of the latter I’d definitely rate the quality of both museums equally. So I hope you enjoy this short and, as always, highly subjective peek into the MFA. I have to admit by now I have forgotten a lot about the art pieces you’ll see, so please correct my ignorance if you spot mistakes in my comments under the photos.

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A look up from the main hall of the MFA.
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Going into the main exhibit and some well-photographed classic art.
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Just like the Met, the MFA also exhibits a mix of modern and contemporary art and photography together with world’s art from different ages and various places around the world. If I remember correctly this particular piece is tribal art from South America, but I might be very wrong here.
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And I am quite certain this is a very contemporary art!
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Back to tribal art, this time from Africa I believe.
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And this room definitely looks Indian/Southeast Asian.
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A plate with Arabic ornaments I think…and again I might be very wrong here I’m afraid.
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This object (a cigarette holder it seems?) had a really interesting story and was exhibited in a room full of similar very interesting objects coming with their amazing stories. Unfortunately I forgot the particular story, but I believe it had something to do with anti-Semitism and World War II.
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Another of the objects in the same room, a very old Chinese vase. During Mao’s rule it was painted over with the red sign, if I remember correctly the sign actually saved it from being destroyed as something belonging to the old emperor dynasties.
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An angry looking Chinese statue casting an appropriately scary shadow behind it.
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Moving on to the more contemporary part of the exhibit, this is a close up of the installation on the top photo. The weird effect of the rows of glass objects continuing to infinity must be the result of some smart positioning of mirrors, but I couldn’t really figure out the trick.
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Max Beckmann and his three skulls playing cards and drinking, that I enjoyed very much…
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..and the unmistakable style of Frida Kahlo.
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This is Ilya Bolotowsky, a Piet Mondrian wannabe judging from that painting.
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And we finish with another weird mirror trick, making this “hole” on the floor extend to infinity. An artist’s impression of a black hole, I suppose?

 

US art: Bushwick graffiti

Venue: Bushwick, Brooklyn, NYC

Lens: Sigma 35 mm f/1.4 & Samsung S7 camera

Music: Meyhem Lauren – Got the fever (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gg5cJu1Zcws)

As promised I am continuing the “US art” series in the new 2018, this time with a perhaps slightly surprising graffiti post from the Bushwick area of Brooklyn. As hopefully you’ll soon be convinced, the Bushwick street art tour is actually much like a modern art gallery tour, only open-air. The Bushwick collective initiative actually attracts many of the world’s leading street artists, and it’s therefore not surprising that the neighborhood became one of the top tourist destinations in NYC in recent years. I visited the place on a rainy Sunday afternoon and only managed to see and capture a small fraction of all the street art, so I’d urge people to go explore the area for themselves. Enjoy and let me know which piece you like the most!

 

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We start with the work of a relatively local artist, Mr. Hydde, who is Canadian and prefers the surrealism and Dada styles.
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This piece is much more politically charged, as you’ll realize if you visit the advertised dedicated site 100daysmural.com.
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One of my favorites: the New England cottontail rabbit in the original style of Louis Masai. He created a series of beautiful murals raising people’s awareness about local endangered species.
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Another mural that I liked, but unfortunately the artist didn’t leave any signature on the wall, unlike Sonni on the top photo.
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My friend posing on the designated spot in the hand of Dali, as depicted by Sipros (Wellington Naberezny) from Brazil.
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Beau Stanton’s octopus sinking a ship. If I remember correctly this is an unauthorized work not part of the official Bushwick collective initiative that invites artists and gives them particular designated wall parts for their art.
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This is definitely an authorized piece of art, created by the Dutch urban artist Michel Velt.
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And this is the unmistakable style of the Italian Raul33, who creates shapes using text. If you look at the mural from up close you only see the words, but if you stand further away you start seeing the actual forms.
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Another unknown to me artist with a message that is particularly hard to disentangle.
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A typical street in Bushwick with some colorful murals and umbrellas.
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A very original pirate boy mural, joint work by Joe Iurato and Logan Hicks.
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And another joint work, by popular street artists Case Ma’claim and Pixel Pancho.
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This “Addicted to likes…” mural by Giz_nyc is carrying a pretty clear message.
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And here is my favorite piece of art I found in Bushwick, “Recordeal” created by the French Oji
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A large mural created by PJ Linden for the famous House of Yes, a popular live performance art nightclub in Bushwick.
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And here’s probably Bushwick’s most famous piece of art, the “Radiant Madonna” by New Zealander Owen Dippie.
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Some strange and/or funny faces and a colorful tourist on one of the side streets, shortly before the end of our walk.
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Our last stop in Bushwick was an authentic looking Mexican taqueria (forgot the name) place where we had some food and drinks before heading back to Manhattan.

US art: the Met

Venue: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Luciano Pavarotti – Nessun dorma (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMsqjXv9aJk)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or simply the Met, can best be described as the American Louvre (from the European perspective at least). It is the largest art museum in the United States and hosts a huge collection of art pieces from all periods and locations of human life, meaning that it’s virtually impossible to visit it just once for a couple of hours and truly understand and appreciate fully everything. This was my second time at the Met and I originally planned to be very picky about the parts of the museum I see. As it turned out I also didn’t have too much time for the permanent parts of the museum as I was unexpectedly drawn to the temporary photo exhibition of Irving Penn’s works where I spent half of the time. So here comes a random and very limited collection of photos I took at the Met with my usual comments. No riddles this time (you can still try all the Guggenheim’s puzzles though, nobody got the right answers yet)!

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Irving Penn was one of the most famous fashion and portrait photographers of his time. My personal observation is that his photos do interest people a lot and make them stop and stare as you see here and on the top photo where he captured Picasso in an iconic image.
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Some people just looked closely at Penn’s photos…
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..while others even made sketches. In any case very few passers by seemed indifferent to the collection so I urge everyone to check out Penn’s work even just online. I promise you it’s way better than anything you’ll probably ever see from me!
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After the photo gallery I passed by some more abstract modern art that was more similar to the pieces I showed you from Guggenheim than the rest of the Met’s collections. Here we have the American painter Marsden Hartley…
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..and here a sculpture that I liked but forgot the creator of. So I guess I do leave you with a small riddle here.
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After the thin head above I had to counterbalance with a more massive sculpture that was towering over the museum visitors around.
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And this is how Jean Dubuffet saw the apartment houses in Paris in the middle of the 20th century.
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A more abstract black and white piece of art that didn’t seem very interesting to the girl rushing in front of my camera.
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The Met also hosts a very interesting (and my personal favorite) section of tribal art from across the globe with very exotic statues made of wood, stone or various metals going under the name “Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas”. Here we have a wooden statue from somewhere in Oceania or Papua New Guinea I believe.
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And here are the scary looking God-like creatures also typical for the same parts of the world.
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Another wooden statue from some of the indigenous people in Papua New Guinea that served for decorating their ceremonial houses in the beginning of the 20th century.
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Back in time and moving to the American continent with the golden statues of the cultures from Central and South America.
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And naturally we finish with the continent where we all eventually come from, with a somewhat abstract wooden statue of a man…
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..and the iron statues of a man and a woman elsewhere in Africa.

 

US art: Guggenheim

Venue: Guggenheim Art Museum, New York City

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Maurice Ravel – Boléro (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r30D3SW4OVw)

On my recent US trip I visited plenty of art museums and exhibitions, mostly in New York City, and decided to assemble a series of posts with art pieces and occasionally the people and places surrounding them. Most of the art you’ll see is quite modern and abstract so it’s open for various interpretations and might not appeal to everyone. Yet this first post in the series is probably the least controversial as it features extremely famous and well established works mostly from the first part of 20th century exhibited in the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan’s Upper East side. Paradoxically with the title of the series I chose, Guggenheim’s art pieces are predominantly European and there’s very little connection to the American continent except for the venue (with one notable exception, let’s see if you spot it). To make things more fun for the reader, I decided to give three small riddles in the photo comments below in order to challenge the artistically inclined people among you. Enjoy and good luck with the answers!

First
Even if the Guggenheim museum is packed with amazing art pieces, it’s probably most recognizable for the iconic spiral shaped building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The various paintings and sculptures you’ll see are exhibited along the spiralling pathway that curves upwards.
Vasily Kandinsky - Black lines
We start the art tour with the famous “black lines” of Vassily Kandinsky who is one of the best represented artists in the Guggenheim museum…
Pablo Picasso
..along with the hardly-mistakable Pablo Picasso, here with his “woman with yellow hair”.
Marc Chagall
Another hardly mistakable artist, Marc Chagall, with his highly non-standard view of Paris on the left and drinking soldier on the right.
Naum Gabo
Maybe very slightly less famous than the previous three artists, but at least equally abstract – Naum Gabo.
Robert Delaunay
Another abstract artist’s view of Paris – Robert Delaunay and his impression of the Eiffel tower.
Piet Mondrian
A wider shot of the museum visitors and in particular two of the famous “compositions” of Piet Mondrian. And here comes my first and easiest riddle for today – what is the relation between the music I chose and almost all the art pieces and artists here?
Nude - Amedeo Modigliani
Another famous artist, Amedeo Modigliani, chose to depict less abstract subjects in comparison to his good friend Picasso. I find a strange resemblance between the two women on the photo, don’t you think?
Oskar Fischinger
This is Oskar Fischinger with his untitled work. He’s one of the odd ones out that doesn’t fit in riddle 1 that I stated above.
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And here comes the second riddle which has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones fan on focus: who is the author of the painting behind?
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A piece of pure wisdom that I found in the museum shop.
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Another abstract composition related to the last riddle: who created the painting and what is the number associated with it?
Jackson Pollock
Getting to the very top of the spiral pathway in Guggenheim and the final piece of abstract art, one finally reaches the unfathomable style of Jackson Pollock and the end of this art journey.

 

An eclectic art tour in Italy: love, mummies, and cinema

Venue: Museo della Permanente (Milano), Museo Egizio and Museo del Cinema (Torino)

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Domenico Modugno – Nel blu dipinto di blu (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4IjJav7xbg)

As mentioned in my previous post (https://kirilson.com/2017/08/10/weekend-in-lombardia/), the main reason to visit Milano this spring was a contemporary art exhibition curated with the main theme “Love”. In addition to that we also visited Torino for a day and saw the museum for ancient Egyptian art and the Cinema museum there. The combination of these three subjects seems almost impossible, and yet I decided to show you some photos with the art pieces put together from all the three museums (and even some extra bits). Hope you still enjoy them, and please let me know if you figure out the (possibly nonexistent) connection  between the various art forms.

 

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To add to the confusing collection, we start with this solo piece of modern art in “Corso Como 10”, a small free art gallery and shop in the centre of Milano. Adding to the creepy look of the seemingly shattered glass in the middle you can see my shadow on the wall on the right. 
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Already at the main art event, the “Love” exhibition in Museo della Permanente. 
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An interesting combination of two old Roman statues that were originally unrelated. They were placed by the artist in contemporary times in a suggestive way. He also put a subtle layer of lipstick on the lips of the woman. Unlike this example, the statue of the kissing people on top of this post was truly originally made to show a kiss.
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Fitting to the love theme, this installation with mirrors had an infinity of hearts being reflected endlessly
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More heart shapes, and more messages of love left by the visitors.
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One of the most famous contemporary artists, the Japanese Yayoi Kusama, and her signature style of creating art using dots.
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Another famous piece of art fittingly placed at the entrance and the exit of the exhibition.
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A brutal transition between love and death – an old Egyptian mummy from the very beginning of the funeral art in ancient Egypt.
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A more refined version of an ancient Egyptian coffin that was made thousands of years after the mummy on the previous picture. 
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And some more burial art from Egypt of ever increasing sophistication.
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A copy of the sphinx, doubled by its own reflection, to show us that Egyptian art went much further than the graveyard.
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Another “smooth” transition and we find ourselves in the Cinema museum! The exhibition there starts with various examples of the era preceding the cinema where people came up with many ingenious ways of creating moving pictures by strange optical illusions.
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The museum is situated in the most iconic building in Torino – the “Mole Anotonelliana” (the tower of Antonelli) which was originally constructed as a synagogue but was eventually never used on purpose. It has a large dome and a tower on top, which one can nowadays reach by a lift that is suspended on the hanging wires that you see.
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The main part of the museum exhibition has a large amount of photos, props, posters, and sections of movie theaters with live picture and sound from various iconic movies.
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Another photo showing various bits of the exhibition, all situated in the large hall under the dome of the tower of Antonelli.
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An original costume of the Alien movies as most people would immediately recognize. 
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Close to the exit from the Cinema museum, on a side street in Torino, one finds yet another modern art piece reminding me of the screaming man of Edvard Munch. If by now you’re also screaming from the eclectic nature of this post, you can relax as it’s over.

 

Konst in and under Stockholm

Venue: Stockholm metro and Fotografiska museum, Sweden

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Depeche Mode – Enjoy the silence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGSKrC7dGcY)

The next place I visited this fall was Sweden and one the main sights I was eager to see in Stockholm was the famous metro system, which is one of the cheapest and biggest modern art (or “konst” in Swedesh) museums in the world. In particular the blue “tunnelbana” line, built quite recently, hosts some jaw-dropping sights that I tried to capture. My photos are unfortunately limited to only several stations as the station-hopping turned out to be quite time-consuming and there were plenty of other things to do in Stockholm. On the plus side I had time to visit the Fotografiska museaum so I’ll also show you a few photos of other much more famous and crafty photos exhibited there. The metro and the photo museum sum up my Swedish art exploration, but there are plenty of other photos from Sweden that I promise to show you soon.

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First stop on the metro: Radhuset station, under the Stockholm city hall.
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And this is what you’ll see if you try to exit the Radhuset station and take the elevators upwards. But exiting would be a mistake as there are plenty of other stations to visit first!
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The next noteworthy station on the way was Solna centrum, depicting rural life in Sweden with forests and wild animals and whatnot..
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..and the elevators at Solna centrum are also quite amazing, probably one feels like descending to Hell when taking them down.
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The next stop of Vastra skogen was less scary and the little Guinny and his friend Moewe could be taken out for a stroll.
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A shot from the moving train overlooking the Duvbo station (or was it Sundbybergs, hard to tell now) with the world map.
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The last stop of the mini metro tour was Tensta, which was probably the most amazing one of all, with cave-like paintings like the one here, penguins (see the photo on the top), and peace-messages all over the place.
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Some octopus-like creatures and more peace messages on the far wall written in dozens of different world languages.
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Part of a huge wall-painting with “amore” (love in Italian) and “esperanza” (hope in Spanish) together with the “солидарность” (solidarity in Russian) sign.
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Going above the ground and into the Fotografiska museum, where the main exposition showed the photos of Anton Corbijn. He is probably the top music photographer of our days, having worked with most of the big names in the music scene. Here is an iconic photo of David Bowie.
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And here a collection of the Rolling Stones.
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Apart from the amazing photos you see, Corbijn also made some movies and directed many music videos, including the one of Depeche Mode in the link above.
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The photo museum also has a beautiful cafe with a great view towards the somewhat misty islands of Stockholm.
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But even the cafe is full of photos and has a very artsy feel.
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The other expositions featured some more black and white photos of people in Italy..
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..and some jeans commercials! Yes, this is a part of an advertisement campaign showing that even people in North Korea wear jeans. And a good place to end the post, bringing you from Sweden to North Korea.

More kunst

Venue: Kunsthalle, Fischmarkt, and Deichtorhallen, Hamburg

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Johannes Brahms – Hungarian Dance No. 5 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3X9LvC9WkkQ)

As promised in my previous post from Hamburg, I decided to give you a pure art experience from the exhibitions I visited there. Obviously the photos here won’t represent anything original from me, they are more of a random collection of pieces I enjoyed seeing in the three main kunst (= art) exhibitions I visited in Hamburg: the main Kunsthalle with quite famous classic and modern art, the small art festival in the Fischmarkt which offered various art pieces for sale, and the contemporary art exhibition in the Deichtorhallen. I won’t spend much time explaining the paintings, in hope to make you search for them online or visit the actual exhibitions offline. Hope you enjoy the virtual tour and the new type of photo-topic here, and as usual feel free to comment on your favorite piece of art below.

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Starting from the start: the lobby of the Kunsthalle, where four sculptures of monkeys behave like people and appreciate art – this one is clearly impressed by the artwork on the ceiling.
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First came the “Old Masters” collection before moving to the 19th century and modern art.
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“Prometheus”
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“Madonna” by Edvard Munch, famous for the screaming guy.
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A German classic: “The Wanderer before the Sea of Fog” by Friedrich.
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Salvador Dali with his unmistakable style.
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Moving from the priceless art in the museum to pieces with actual price tags in the Fischmarkt: close to the entrance there was a stand with a wide variety of ostrich paintings that I found quite cute.
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Naturally there were many colorful and joyful paintings for sale.
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Simple drawings can also be very nice.
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Some larger scale heart-art with real rope attached to the painting.
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A gothic-looking visitor checking out some paintings at the Fischmarkt.
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And now back to museum-worthy and weird art: the contemporary exhibition in the Deichtorhallen, where also the photo at the very top of this post is made.
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A collage of black and white photos of clothes…cool, right?
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A minimalist take on a Japanese pole-dancer.
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Abstract sculptures curated to go along with the abstract paintings behind.
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A sentence on the blackboard and a candle – contemporary art has no boundaries.
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Another interesting curator choice of a metal “sculture” put on the side of a black and red rectangle.
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What better message to end this post with, I think there is plenty of hope for art in all its forms.

Sofia photomarathon III: Escape

Venue: central Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Pink Floyd – Hey You (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEDjF2tLbhk)

This is the third out of three posts about my participation in the Sofia photomarathon (scroll down to see them in chronological order). The last theme in the contest was also pretty conceptual: “Escape”. So it can be pretty much anything – a city escape to the nearby mountain, or people running away, some friends were suggesting escaping somewhere up high on a tall building..I liked instead the “escape from reality” idea making use of one of the places we went to for the previous topic in search of “silence”. I thought someone reading books in this isolated place at the library would be the true “escape” photo, but it required submitting a different type of photo for the second topic and we were happy enough with the stopped clock for this purpose.

So we headed back to the library with this idea and then wanted to try some street photos afterwards, just to try the “running away” idea and see what chance brings. And here’s what happened:

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Back to the desk at the library, with my model for day.
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But we wanted a darker photo where you mostly see the reader’s contour and the white curtains are  leading you away.
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And this is the one that we both liked the most.
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But we had to try a few more shots, changing the focus..
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..or the posture.
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Back on the street we saw someone else competing in the photomarathon, and she (the lady on the right, she even had a tripod) used her kids as models to run around.
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So I also tried a few shots, just for fun and not to use them in the competition of course. But still the lady with the camera got pissed and came to complain, so we went on.
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Another randomly spotted thing on the way – a backyard with two old and rusty cars “Moskvich” – the Russian cars that were the only option in Bulgaria during the socialist times, many years ago. An escape in different times..
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And the promised tries for a street escape, but we just couldn’t get it right I think.
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Another try, but we decided that’s not it, and the shots in the library are much better.
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So we headed back to deliver the photos to the contest organizers, but not before taking a few shots on the way – a plane passing by is also a very obvious escape metaphor, even if this one was actually landing.
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And here are some weird windows and graffiti in one of the hipstery streets in town – if you think about it pretty much everything is a form of escape from some angle.
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Even this pipe was trying to escape from the sewers.

But at the end of the day we went for the reader escaping reality photo, which was probably my best shot for the day if I compare the three photos in the different topics. But surely others would think differently, so I again remind you that you can rate all the photos at http://photosynthesis.bg/maraton-glasuvane.html by entering your email and clicking on a photo rating it from 2 to 6 (2 is bad, 6 is excellent).