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Label: vacation

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
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Tuesday 10th December 2013The Best Cities for Art Lovers

As winter closes in around us in the Northern Hemisphere, those of us lucky enough to be able to get some time off work tend to look on it as a chance to get away to somewhere tropical and warm - but for those of us who love art, vacations are chance to see some of the world's greatest masterpieces. Here's a list of vacation city suggestions that host some of the world's most expansive and extensive art galleries. They're not listed in any particular order, because everyone has different tastes, but no matter what you like you're sure to find someplace that will suit your fancy.

Paris tends to be one of the first cities that art lovers go to on vacation, and with good reason. Not only is the city itself incredibly beautiful and romantic, even in the depths of winter, but Paris boasts a truly impressive range of world famous galleries. A gallery that almost everyone in the world has heard of, the Louvre boasts one of the most extensive art collections in the world, with somewhere in the neighbourhood of 35,000 pieces on display. For the more controversialist among you, the Centre Pompidou has polarised the Parisian art community since it was built, showcasing an impressive array of modern art. These are just two of the most famous, but there are far more galleries and museums than anyone would be able to see in a single trip, so plan out your visit carefully.

If modern art is more your style, you may want to consider a trip to either New York City or Chicago, both of which have world-famous modern art galleries. Chicago boasts the Museum for Contemporary Art, which does more or less what it says on the tin, as well as the Art Institute of Chicago, which features works from some of the greatest modern artists, including Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. New York is no slouch when it comes to modern art either, boasting its own truly staggering array of galleries, many of which are centred along a stretch of 5th Avenue that has become known for this fact. The Guggenheim Museum is located here, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art is nearby, along with the world-famous Museum of Modern Art which has recently re-opened its doors after an extended hiatus.

Back on the other side of the pond, one of the more typically overlooked cities for art lovers is Vienna, where you can find the Kunsthistorisches Museum, known to us in English simply as the Museum of Fine Arts. MuseumsQuartier Wien (Museum Quarter) also boasts a huge collection, and the modern MUMOK caters to all branches of modern contemporary art. Vienna is also an incredibly beautiful city to visit, with a huge number of architectural styles on display, making the city a work of art in and of itself.
 
Watch for our upcoming post on cities that have a burgeoning art scene if something a little more avante-garde is more your taste!

Posted on December 10th 2013 on 10:04pm
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