Friday 11th April 2014The Best Cities for Art Lovers 8: Seattle
When most people think of Seattle, they think of beautiful forests, the Space Needle, and the birthplace of the Starbucks coffee franchise. If they're a bit older, they might think of famous bands that rose out of the grunge music scene in the early 1990s (Nirvana, anyone?). But the Pacific Northwest has been home to great artists for hundreds, if not thousands of years, as the huge number of galleries in Seattle and the surrounding area show. If 'thousands of years' throws you off, then you're forgetting the fact that various Native tribes have inhabited the Pacific Northwest long before Europeans ever showed up. Fortunately, a number of artifacts that might otherwise have been lost have been preserved in an impressive showcase of Native artwork found in galleries throughout the region.
Seattle itself is home to several world-class art galleries, chief among which is the Seattle Art Museum, or 'SAM' as it is affectionately known. Interestingly, the museum's collection is rather light on the traditional European works that many of us are used to encountering in art galleries, despite having a large collection overall. This gap in their repertoire tends to be filled by temporary travelling exhibitions, which makes for an interesting experience no matter when you happen to visit, but the regular collection contains an impressive array of Native artwork.
One of the museum's Matisse paintings was subject of quite the controversy in the late 1990s, when it came to light that the piece had actually been looted by the Nazis during World War II and sold to the museum under false pretenses by a gallery, who they later successfully sued. This may partially explain their aversion to classical European works, but the result is a pleasantly different gallery experience.
One of the SAM's satellite galleries, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, now housed in the old SAM building, features a number of beautiful collections from all throughout Asia, ranging from Chinese pottery to Indian portraiture to Thai statuary, with a nice blend of works by contemporary Asian artists as well. Perhaps unique in North America, there is also an extensive collection of artwork by Australian aboriginal peoples.
If these galleries don't appeal, the natural beauty of Seattle and its vibrant artistic traditions have called a huge number of artists to the city, and a number of commercial galleries have sprung up in response to the demand. A huge number of them are concentrated in an area of the city known as Pioneer Square, cheek to jowl with a number of small artists studios which are also occasionally open to the public.
Posted on April 11th 2014 on 03:30pm
Friday 14th March 2014The Best Cities for Art Lovers 6: Cologne
When most people think of Germany and art, they think of the famous museums in Berlin and they think of the world-renowned Bauhaus art movement. There is a lesser-known artistic gem in Germany, tucked away in the western end of the country near where the borders of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands intersect. While it's a relatively large city, it still doesn't typically make the usual top lists for art lovers to visit, which is a true shame.
Partly due to its interesting cultural fusions due to the border proximities, Cologne is a burgeoning center of contemporary art, and there are more than 30 museums to visit, as well as hundreds of galleries, with new ones opening all the time. The Museum Ludwig is one of the most well-respected museums in Cologne, featuring a stunning collection that bridges a number of artistic sensibilities in the contemporary era, from pop art to surrealism and abstract art, as well as one of the largest collections of the works of Pablo Picasso in all of Europe.
If more traditional European artwork is your style, visit the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, which hosts an equally impressive range of works dating from back to the 13th century up to the current artistic era. Most notably featuring works by Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt, there is something to satisfy every traditional taste, from Bosch's "Adoration of the Child" to "Langlois Bridge at Arles" by Vincent Van Gogh. There are also a number of Monet paintings, although the museum was recently forced to admit that a sixth Monet was a forgery when it was examined prior to restoration in 2008.
For those who prefer a different way to experience art, Cologne is recognized by many as hosting the world's original annual art fair, Art Cologne, which began way back in 1967 as Kölner Kunstmarkt. Open to the public, the fair runs for 6 days, and attracts upwards of 60,000 visitors to view contributions from galleries from around the world. This year, the Art Cologne fair will be running for a shorter timespan, from Thursday, April 10 to Sunday, April 13, 2014 - so if you're planning a visit, see if you can get a last-minute flight in time to visit the fair! Booking last minute can be a great way to save money, as airlines and hotels are eager to fill up any empty seats and rooms. What better way to celebrate spring than by a whirlwind weekend trip to Germany's beautiful artistic side?
Posted on March 14th 2014 on 08:28pm