Category Archives: Museums

Captivating Prints from the V&A

The image above is a detail from “Fruits from the Garden and Field (Rainbow)”, by David Burns and Austin Young.  It was commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum to celebrate the museum’s current exhibition, “FOOD: Bigger than the Plate”. The V&A’s shop is offering gorgeous, limited edition prints of some of the work.

From the exhibition notes:

“For over 175 years preceding the museum’s inception, the grounds of the V&A were filled with fruit trees as part of a historic nursery that supplied gardens across the country. Artists David Burns and Austin Young (Fallen Fruit) have foraged depictions of British fruit from the V&A collection, bringing this rich heritage back to the site once more. The artists invite us to experience the city as a fruitful place, presenting fruit as a catalyst to re-imagine the city as generous and productive and to explore the meaning of community through creating and sharing new and abundant resources.”

Here’s a compressed version of the full print. Enbiggen it as large as you can to get a hint of the amazing detail of the original work.

As I write this, the V&A site says that only six prints from the limited edition of 100 are still available.

It’s big, and it’s not cheap. The actual print is 60 by 20 inches. The price is £350 ($427), and shipping is another £30 ($37).* It comes unframed, and given its size, getting it framed will probably cost about as much as a small car.

Nevertheless, Wow!

Stunning, isn’t it?


The V&A is also selling other prints from the same artists, in limited editions of 250. These prints are 33 by 24 inches and cost £175 ($214).


Here’s a scene from the exhibition. I don’t think the curators planned for the wallpaper to dominate the room, but with that background, who can focus on anything else?

The show runs through Sunday, 20 October 2019.


*I did a little research when I was checking the rate of exchange. The British pound trades for about $1.22 right now, and it’s been declining for the last decade.

If you’d bought the print for £350 five years ago, when the pound was at $1.68, it would have cost you $588. The rate of exchange was even worse for Americans before the 2008 economic disaster, when the pound hovered around $2.00. That £350 price would have been the equivalent of $700. Viewed that way, you could claim that you’d actually be saving $273 compared to the 2008 price, and if you repeated that statement enough times, it might actually sound believable.

Or you could wait until a few weeks after Brexit when you’ll probably be able to get the print in exchange for a couple of chocolate bars and a pair of stockings.

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Costumes from The Favourite on Display at Kensington Palace

Image Found on the Web.

There’s a small exhibition of costumes from The Favourite on display at Kensington Palace, the current home of Wills and Kate and Harry and Meghan.

Image Found on the Web.

Image Found on the Web.

Here’s a short “Making of…” video:

The exhibition is open daily until 8 February 2019.


*Harry and Meghan will be getting their own place soon. I supposed they doubled up to save money on heating bills and stuff.

Café Hofburg and Hinterholz Bar-Restaurant — The Last of Vienna

I suppose you can tell from the increased frequency of my postings that I’m trying to wrap things up before midnight on 31 December. It’s my final New Year’s Resolution of 2018. A whole new list of highly-unlikely-to-be-completed projects and self-improvements goes into effect on 1 January 2019.

So I’m ending these Vienna notes with this entry about two v different restaurants.


Café Hofburg

Café Hofburg is in the inner courtyard of the former Imperial Palace of the Habsburg dynasty. Today the Hofburg is the residence of the President of Austria. I was there to visit three of the Hofburg’s museums: The Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the Silver Collection.

But first came lunch.

Wiener Schokolade

Wiener Schokolade

Hot chocolate, of course. It was Vienna, and it was late Fall. This drink came with whipped cream and a shot of rum.

Wiener Schnitzel

Another Austrian tradition. For the first time this trip, I had Wiener Schnitzel, with potato salad.

The meal was all right, but, once again, it was the location rather than the food that was the star here. After lunch, I headed for the Silver Collection and the other museums.

Imperial Table Settings

More Imperial Table Settings

For more on the Hofburg museums, including a lot of pictures, check out the posting from my first visit to the Hofburg in 2014.


Hinterholz Bar-Restaurant

Hinterholz

Hinterholz

You might think, on entering Hinterholz Bar-Restaurant, that you were in a classic dive. The first room you see is dimly lit and a bit shabby. As Raymond Chandler once wrote about another location, “a great deal of expense had been spared” on the decor. The sound system played mostly American rock from the 60s – 80s. Occasionally you might catch a whiff of marijuana from the Hemp Box Cafe next door.

But there’s a lot more to Hinterholz than that first room. You can explore the Hinterholz in 360° here.

I really liked this place. It had no pretensions and no attitude. The food was both good and hardy, and the portions were huge, even by American standards.

Traditioneller Zwiebelrostraten

Traditioneller Zwiebelrostraten

This was my braised beef with onions and roasted potatoes. It was priced moderately for a single portion, but the dish would have easily served two.

I liked it so much that I returned a couple of days later.


And that’s it for both my 2018 Fall trip and for my postings for the year.

Best wishes to all, for a much better 2019!

The Restaurant at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, with Beef Goulash and a Side of Bruegel

Since my last posting in November, I’ve been in Vienna, except for one quick sidetrip to Budapest. I’m back in DC now, and I’ll be posting some travel pictures over the next few weeks. Not too many, though, because my last visits to both cities were fairly recent—I spent a couple of weeks in Vienna back in 2014, and some time in Budapest just last year. You can find those earlier posts in the archives. Rather than rehash my notes on museums and galleries, I’ll probably write more about restaurants and street scenes.

One of the reasons I returned to Vienna so soon was that the Kunsthistorisches Museum was commemorating the 450th anniversary of the death Pieter Bruegel the Elder by hosting a massive Bruegel exhibition. Over the past few years, I’ve developed something of an obsession with Bruegel—with all the Bruegels, really, and there are about half a dozen notable artists in that one extended family.

But for the reasons I posted above, I’m not going to post new images from the exhibition.  I’ve already posted a selection of Breugel paintings, which you can see at these links from my last visit to Kunsthistorisches Museum and from my trip to Brussels last Spring. Instead, I’m going to focus on something almost as important.


The Café-Restaurant at the Kunsthistorisches Museum

Image found on the Web.

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
—Attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt.

“Small minds discuss people; average minds discuss events; great minds discuss restaurants.”
—Attributed to Fran Lebowitz.

With some notable exceptions, “museum food” doesn’t have a great reputation. My meal at the Kunsthistorisches was not one of those exceptions. The drink and the beef goulash were forgettable at best, but I wasn’t there for the food.

I was there for the room.

The magnificent Café at the Kunsthistorisches Museum is one of the Great Rooms, the kind of place that reminds you that you’re in one of the old imperial cities of Europe.

Image found on the Web.

Image found on the Web.

Pictures don’t begin to convey the breathtakingly beauty of this room.


Oh, yeah. One other thing…

I almost forgot to mention: The Bruegel exhibition?  Oh, It was glorious!

Return to ARTECHOUSE (with Much Better Video)

I had a delightful visit from my Left Coast brother and sister-in-law this week, which included another trip to ARTECHOUSE, to see touch experience the current “New Nature” installation.

I’ve never been able to come close to capturing the HD quality of ARTECHOUSE’s visual displays with my IPad, but I’ve found some online samples from the shows.

In “New Nature”, a side room contains “The Menagerie”, a collection of large monitors displaying fluid abstract designs. The “creatures” on screen respond to the hand movements of the person watching the monitor.

Like this:


Here’s an overview of the current installation. The main room, at the start of the video, is 24 feet high*, and the installation covers 270°.

Love this place! ARTECHOUSE has become one of my favourite hangouts in Washington.


*To put that in perspective, imagine four six-foot-tall people, standing on each other’s heads. Or imagine six four-foot-tall people, standing on each other’s heads, if that works better for you. The point is, it’s big.

Burning Man at the Renwick (2)

My earlier post about Burning Man at the Renwick took a look at the first floor of the museum and focused on artifacts. That part of the exhibition has now closed. The second floor, which will be open until 21 January 2019, is about environments.

These, uh, “things” are identified as “steel polyhedral sculptures” that “generate tension between hard geometric surfaces and soft interior illumination, promoting a sense of contemplation and awe of the inherent beauty of universal forms.”

(I made a note of the name and the description, because that’s the kind of stuff that comes up a lot in casual conversations.)

What fascinated me was the use of light and the everchanging colours. One of the “steel polyhedral sculptures” was large enough to hold several people inside.


The Grand Salon

The largest room in the Renwick is called the Grand Salon, and until the building’s most recent renovation, that was a perfectly descriptive name—it was heavy on the damask, and the walls were full of (mainly) 19th- and early 20th-century paintings by American artists.

That’s all gone now. For the Burning Man exhibition, the space was given over to David Best, the designer of many of the Burning Man “temples”.

The structure in the above picture hangs from the room’s ceiling. The photograph below, from the Renwick’s website, is a look at the full room.

At Burning Man in Nevada, these temples are among the things burned at the end of the festival.  That won’t happen to this one. The Renwick says it will be “on view indefinitely.”

David Best Temple, 2018, Rernwick Gallery, photo by Ron Blunt

David Best Temple, 2018, Renwick Gallery, photo by Ron Blunt


The Mushroom Room

Oh, this was fun!

The giant “mushrooms” changed colour and seemed to breathe and grow when someone activated them by standing of the red-circled control panel on the floor.


The “Before I Die” Room


Last stop before the exit.

The Renwick set up a room, painted black and stocked with of coloured chalk, at the end of the Burning Man exhibition. Visitors were invited to write or draw a message about what they hope to see or do before they die.

Love, travel, drugs, self-fulfillment, and the future of Donald Trump were frequently mentioned.


The Burning Man exhibition has been wildly popular. Great show!

Burning Man at the Renwick (1)

The Renwick Gallery, the branch of the Smithsonian Institution dedicated to American crafts and decorative arts, is currently presenting a knockout of an exhibition called “No Spectators: The Art Of Burning Man”.

Finally made my first visit a few weeks ago.

Entrance

“Abandon All Inhibitions, Ye Who Enter Here.”

Admission to the Renwick is free. Tickets for this year’s Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, ranged from $190 to $1,200.


Burning Man Haute Couture


Last year, a group called Catharsis on the Mall asked for approval to install a 45-foot-tall sculpture of a nude woman on the National Mall, near the Washington Monument. For some reason, the National Park Service rejected the application.

What we did get was this artifact at the Renwick. She’s not 45-feet-tall, but she gradually changes colour.


The Dragonmobile


The Inevitability of VR


No contemporary art installation is complete without a sampling of Virtual Reality. The monitor at the top of the picture shows a flat-screen version of what the user is experiencing in VR.

We’ve been hearing that the big VR breakthrough is just around the corner since—Let’s see now, Neal Stephenson published Snow Crash in 1992, and 2018 minus 1992 equals 26—more than a quarter-century ago. Gotta say, Oculus Rift is looking really tempting these days.