Post-Grad Updates

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since I last posted, but I am happy to say that my hiatus from Canvas And Crumpets has come to an end. This year was a busy one academically and artistically (those two things go hand in hand for me…) I taught an art history course to freshman, wrote a senior thesis on Dutch Cobra art, played Roxie in the Tufts production of “Chicago,” and took both my math and science requirements in my senior spring. I ended up falling in love with my math course, an exploration of the math behind M. C. Escher’s symmetrical tessellations.

All my hard work paid off! I am happy to say that I won both the Art History Prize for my graduating class and the Madeline Caviness Prize for my senior honors thesis. Additionally, I won highest honors for my thesis and graduated summa cum laude. I celebrated these achievements with copious amounts of pizza from my favorite pizza place in Davis Square, Oath. (Try yours with ricotta…mmmmmm)

So what’s next for me? Next Friday I leave for a three week Euro Trip. First I’m visiting my family in Northern England. They live in a suburb between Manchester and Liverpool. During my stay, I hope to visit as many museums in both cities as possible, and also take a ride to the beach in Wales. Next, I’m flying to Amsterdam to see my abroad friends and travel around my favorite city with my best friend, Lara. It’s the 100th anniversary of De Stijl in the Netherlands, so I’m sure our trip will include some Mondrian! On my list for art spaces to see in Amsterdam are the Stedelijk (of course), the Rijksmuseum, the Witteveen Visual Art Center, and Foam. Lastly, Lara and I are traveling to Berlin for the first time! We hope to see as much art and history as physically possible. Luckily for us, the art fair Documenta is open in Kassel during our stay in Germany. Documenta only arrives every five years to this small German town. We plan to take a day trip or overnight trip to Kassel to experience this politically-charged exhibition.

When I get back from Europe, I plan to spend a good five weeks relaxing in New York City. I’ll likely hit up a July 4th Barbecue and see a bunch of Broadway Shows. You can expect lots of posts about my Euro Trip and the exhibitions I visited, as well as reviews of exhibitions here in NYC.

And after that? I’ll be starting GRE prep and German classes in August. During my gap year between undergrad and my art history masters, I need to learn as much German as humanly possible! Translating art history texts is an important part of the art history masters curriculum. So I’ll be in New York City for the next year, learning German and hitting up all my favorite museums, galleries, and brunch spots. Hit me up if you’d like to join me!

xoxo,

Chloe ❤

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Amsterdam Research Trip

Hallo!

This morning I woke up and was not in Amsterdam and let me tell you- I was disappointed. But at the same time, I was so so SO happy that my thesis research brought me to my favorite city for a wonderful week of museums, mayonnaise, and dancing. (For those who have not visited the Netherlands, the mayonnaise and music scene are out of this world).

Today I’d like to do something a little bit different. Instead of giving you an art historical analysis of an exhibit or a work of art (or even a DIY!), I am going to tell you about my wonderful week. After all, Canvas and Crumpets is about beautiful living, and my week in Amsterdam was the perfect combination of academic research and basking in the beauty of life. I’ll touch on my research, pointing to specific works and explaining how they contributed to my research process. However, I’ll be posing lots of open-ended questions about these works and leaving you to put some of the pieces together. Keep your eye out for a post later this week that answers a lot of these questions. For now, enjoy!

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Day 0: I am referring to the day I landed as Day Zero because I went 34 hours without sleeping and spent a decent amount of it in bed. Additionally, the airline lost my luggage so I don’t know if this day deserves a positive number. However, my friends Sofi and Thijl took me to a Jewish Dutch Deli for breakfast after I landed. This was by far the standout of Day Zero. No, there are no pictures. I was too busy devouring my sandwich(es).

I also went to the zoo in between naps with my good friend Sofi. Here we are:

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Just kidding, here we are:

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I believe this day ended with me asleep by 20.00.

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Day 1: I woke up bright and early to go to the Stedelijk Museum. When I was abroad, I was absolutely OBSESSED with the Stedelijk. This museum is where my thesis topic was born. It started as a research paper for one of my abroad classes, A Social History of the Netherlands. In April and May I spent about four hours a day, five days per week in the Stedelijk research library reading old documents. When I left Amsterdam, I decided to turn this research paper into my senior thesis.

The topic of the original research paper- and my senior thesis- is the art movement Cobra. Cobra stands for Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam- the three cities from which the major members of this group originated. I am specifically focusing on the Dutch members of this group, and exploring how the socio-political atmosphere in the Netherlands following World War II led to the groups’ creation.

My research necessitated me returning to the Stedelijk, this time to perform visual analyses on several different works, rather than to visit the Stedelijk library. The museum feels like home to me, and I was beyond excited to go back.

I first took a look at some Mondrian paintings. The following is a work entitled Composition No. IV, with Red, Blue, and Yellow (1929). On the right is a detail of the viewer’s bottom left corner.

And here is another Mondrian work, entitled Lozenge Composition with Two Lines (1931).

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Mondrian was the founder of an important Dutch art movement called De Stijl. You can read a bit about the movement here. What characterizes De Stijl is an emphasis on geometry and primary colors. At the time of its founding in 1917, the movement was radical. It represented the next step in the breakdown of traditional art-making. Mondrian and De Stijl are important for my research because I am investigating the reasons that Cobra came about in the 1940s. De Stijl was the primary Dutch art style before Cobra, so it’s important for me to understand its theories and methodologies. Only then can I ascertain why the Cobra artists rejected De Stijl in favor of something new and different.

Take a look at these two works. What words would you use to describe them? How are line, color, shape, space, texture, and light utilized? These are called formal aspects, and they’re useful for comparing works.

Next, I went to the Cobra room, where I promptly almost fainted of happiness. The following is an incredible three-dimensional work entitled Cat, by Constant Nieuwenhuys (1948). Constant was one of the Dutch founders of Cobra, and one of the central artists in my research.

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Here I am looking more composed than I feel with Cat.

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I’ll be publishing a post soon where I go into detail about the progression of Dutch modernism through key works, so take a moment to think about how Cat compares to Composition No. IV or Lozenge Composition. How are the formal aspects utilized in different ways? And how does each work make you feel? Really focus on that sensation, as both Mondrian and Constant painted to evoke a sensation in the viewer. Furthermore, Constant actively despised Mondrian’s works. Why do you think this is?

Here is another Cobra work from this room entitled Questioning Children, by Karel Appel (1949).

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Here’s a detail of the three-dimensional work made from paint on wood.

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Appel and Constant worked closely together. What do Cat and Questioning Children share that Mondrian’s paintings lack?

Day 1 was made even more strange by my run-in with the famous Dutch talkshow host Humberto Tan. I was on my way to buy clothes (luggage was still not returned at this point) when he stopped me on the street and asked to take a photo of me for his street blog. I figured he was a photographer. Several screaming girls asking for selfies later and I realized he was a famous figure on Dutch TV. Go figure. Here we are smiling. You can still see the jet lag/confusion in my delirious eyes:

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Day 2: Day 2 was, essentially, the reason I came to the Netherlands. I called the Stedelijk museum several months ago to inquire about the works that would be on view at the museum in January. I was directed to the head of the offsite depot, where the entire Stedelijk collection is stored when it’s not on view. Museums only display a small fraction of all the works they own, so offsite depots are massive! The head of the Stedelijk depot informed me that, because I was doing research, I could request any works from the collection to study during my visit. I chose 7 paintings and 1 print, all by Dutch Cobra artists.

I arrived last Wednesday at noon feeling extremely excited. I had been looking at tiny thumbnails of these works on my computer screen, and I was about to see them in person! The building itself was very imposing, with barbed wire and an electronic gate. My taxi driver actually asked me if I was visiting someone in prison.

Anyways, I walked into the viewing room and was completely stunned for several seconds. The colors of these paintings were more vivid than I’d imagined. They leapt out at me like they were alive, swimming within the confines of their wooden frames. Here’s a snapshot of a portion of the paintings I selected:

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And here I am feeling rather posh between two of my favorite works:

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Now, two of the works that I selected were oil paintings by Karel Appel, painted before Cobra. Sitting Girl and Sailor Girl were both created in 1946. Take a look and answer this question: What styles or artists do these works remind you of?

Sitting Girl reminds me of Modigliani’s manneristic portraits of women with elongated necks. Compare Sitting Girl to Jeanne Hébuterne (1919). Sailor Girl reminds me of Picasso’s simplified, deconstructed figures. Do you see a similar utilization of line and color in Picasso’s Girl Before a Mirror (1932)?

I was interested in looking at these two works because I am demonstrating in my thesis that the future members of Dutch Cobra did try out the styles of different contemporary artists. What they found- which is well documented in their published periodicals- was that these styles were not sufficient vehicles of self-expression. They rejected cubism. They rejected all kinds of genres. In order to show that Cobra was a result of the socio-political climate of the Netherlands following WWII, I must first explain that contemporary modes of expression were inadequate for artists struggling with the social and political conditions in Holland.

The following work is perhaps the most haunting of all. Constant Nieuwenhuys painted Concentration Camp (War) in 1950.

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How do you feel looking at this painting? I imagine rather sad, especially given the fact that the title is Concentration Camp (War). Yet the sadness comes from within the painting. It does not feel as if the title were slapped on like a price tag. How does Constant achieve this mood? How does he manipulate line, color, shape, space, light, and texture to evoke sadness? I was particularly struck by the use of line and shape to create otherworldly beings with whom I feel an empathetic and spiritual connection.

I also was shaken by another of Constant’s eerie paintings, The War (1950).

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Are you starting to see similarities in the subject matter of Dutch Cobra art? Remember that 75% of the Dutch Jewish population were killed in the Holocaust. Hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish Dutchmen died when German blockades caused famine in the last winter of the war. This was a population that had known suffering and death. It’s not surprising that the Dutch Cobra artists felt compelled to express their pain by depicting these dark subjects.

But what about the style of these works? Are you starting to see trends regarding the formal aspects of Dutch Cobra art? In The War, the outstretched arm of the central figure captivates my gaze. It is very much alive, reaching into the air against a backdrop of fire and decay, though it sits atop a mound of dead creatures. This dichotomy is gruesome yet compelling and utterly devastating.

Here are the last three works I studied. The top left is Constant’s Dead Cows (1951). The top right is Constant’s Scorched Earth (1951). (For all my history buffs out there, think about the term ‘scorched earth’ and how it was applied as a military tactic in the Second World War.) The gouache print at the bottom is Cornielle’s Composition (1948).

The Dutch Cobra paintings really are beautiful, aren’t they? Yet they also manage to be uncanny, sad, gruesome, and desperate, sometimes all at the same time. I think that’s why I like them so much. I am fascinated by their historical context, but also by the tension within each work. It is as if the artist himself couldn’t decide if he was hopeful about the future or resigned to the death of humanity.

After my four hour visit to the Depot I met up with my Dutch language teacher, Lisa. She took me for coffee and then to her work borrel. A borrel is a Dutch party for a specific group of people. You could have a tennis borrel for the members of the tennis team, or an art history borrel for art history students. I met all of the creative people she works with at this fun party! Here we are smiling:

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Day 3: I woke up on Thursday at the Hilton Apollolaan, where I spent two of my seven nights in Amsterdam. The rest of the time I stayed with Sofi. Here I am wearing a coat I impulsively bought the day before from Daily Paper, ready to start the day:

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I headed south to Amstelveen, the city right below Amsterdam, to visit the Cobra Museum.  This museum is entirely devoted to the works of the Cobra artists, including the Dutch, Danish, and Belgian contingents of the group. My intention in visiting the Cobra Museum was to perform visual analyses on the works of Danish artists. After the Dutch artists rejected De Stijl, cubism, and a number of other genres, they encountered the Danish Expressionists. This interaction led to the creation of Cobra and the development of the works like Concentration Camp (war) and Dead Cows.

Carl-Henning Pedersen painted Salomon’s Kingdom in 1939. Take a look:

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Do you see a relationship between this painting and the works by the Dutch Cobra artists? Does Pedersen handle formal aspects in the same way? How does his subject matter compare? I am particularly drawn to a quality of creaminess on the painting’s surface that is missing from the rougher Cobra works… but I see a lot of similarities in color and shape. What do you think?

The following is a painting by Egill Jacobsen entitled Sea (1947).

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And here is an untitled work by Asger Jorn painted in 1949.

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Just by looking at Sea and Untitled, it is clear that the Danish artists (and the Dutch artists, for that matter), were not clones painting identical pictures. The point in comparing works is not to conclude that the whole movement painted the same subjects with same color palette, but to draw connections between works that point to a larger ideology and methodology. Sea and Untitled could not be more different in their utilization of color, but what about shape? There are haunting eyes, formed from small bubbles of color, in both works. When I look at both paintings, I have the uncomfortable sensation of being watched. See what other connections you can come up with!

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Days 4, 5, 6: I only had three days of research which left three days for visiting old friends and enjoying the city. However, as I left the hotel to go to my friend’s apartment, I started chatting with the concierge. And wouldn’t you know it, he agreed to take me on a tour of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous honeymoon suite. Instead of going about and enjoying Amsterdam, the couple spent their honeymoon in bed, protesting the war. They called this the “bed-in for peace.” You can read more about this story here. I took lots of pictures of the suite. Take a look!

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And of course I had to get a picture of myself in the suite. I wanted to lie down on the bed and pose but didn’t think that’d go over too well with housekeeping, so I went for this pose instead:

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My last three days were an absolute whirlwind. I went to my favorite Dutch restaurant, Moeder’s, for traditional Dutch fare with my friend Tiemen. I went back to my old dorm with my old suitemate Ellie who has since moved to her own place in Amsterdam. I cooked dinner with Ellie and our other friend Thijmen, and many meals with my host, Sofi. I reconnected with some friends I lost touch with and we went out dancing to my favorite club, De School. On my last night, Sofi took me to her favorite bar and I got to meet all her friends! Here’s a little collage of my time spent with wonderful friends last week:

I also managed to spend all my emergency money on clothing. If you’re in Amsterdam and in need of some clothes to wear because your suitcase was also left in Dublin, check out The Girl Can’t Help It, a 1950s-style boutique. Also stop in to T.I.T.S. for whimsical, feminist designs and Nobody Has to Know for ageless, genderless, and sizeless clothing.

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That’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed reading about my research trip to Amsterdam. I have been mostly writing exhibition reviews as of late, and it made me quite happy to share my everyday adventures with you all as well. Perhaps I’ll make a habit of it! Like I always say, inject art and happiness into your life at every possible moment.

Until next time!

xoxo, Chloe ❤

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Marbleized Paper DIY

Happy New Year everyone!

Today I’m going to show you a very simple DIY that yields beautiful results. Marbleizing paper (and other surfaces) can be done in a variety of different ways. The following method is child-friendly, “I’m not artistic”-friendly, and wallet-friendly.

You will need the following items:

  1. Newspaper
  2. Shaving cream
  3. Food coloring (or other inks if you have them, though I find food coloring smudges the least)
  4. Toothpicks
  5. White printer paper
  6. Thicker white paper
  7. Lots and lots of paper towels

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Step 1: Cover your working surface in two-three layers of newspaper. Ink can go through thin paper easily so you want to protect your table.

Step 2: Cover a piece of white printer paper in shaving cream.

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Step 3: Drop food coloring all over the shaving cream in any manner you like. You can splatter it, or drop big drops in a few places.

Step 4: Add a second layer of food coloring to the page.

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Step 5: Use a toothpick to spread the color and cream all over the page. Try to make cool patterns on the surface of the shaving cream.

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Step 6: Take a second sheet of paper now. I recommend using printer paper for your first few prints. I’m using printer paper in the following image. Press this second sheet of paper down on top of the page layered with color and shaving cream. Don’t flatten the sheets against each other- just let the second sheet balance on top of the shaving cream. This allows you to use the bottom sheet as a template for several prints.

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Step 7: Remove the top sheet carefully. You will see that there is excess shaving cream on it.

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Step 8: Use paper towel to pat and wipe off this excess shaving cream. Food coloring instantly dyes the surface of the paper, so don’t worry about smudging your final print by rubbing it with paper towel. I can’t say the same for other dyes. When I used alcohol ink it smudged quite a bit, so just be aware of the type of ink you’re working with. Then again- smudging can look quite cool! Here’s what this final print ended up looking like:

Step 9: When you’re comfortable with your technique, try pressing down thicker paper onto your shaving cream base. The result will be a more professional-looking print that is less likely to curl up at the ends. To prevent curling ends with printer paper designs, let the work dry with books weighing down each corner.

Here are are a few other prints I made during this crafting session:

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For the following two works, I used pink and black alcohol ink. This type of ink spreads much more quickly so you can cover a larger percentage of the paper with ink, but it also risks smudging. I had success with these two prints!

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Marbleized paper can be used for a variety of purposes. I gave my mum a set of marbleized paper envelopes and papers to be used as stationary several Christmases ago. I also use marbleized paper to decorate my binders. I slide the sheets into the plastic slips on the front and the back of each binder. You can also frame prints and use them as wall decoration. The possibilities are endless.

I hope you enjoyed this DIY! Let me know if you discover a type of ink that works exceptionally well for marbleizing- I’m always trying to perfect my technique.

Until next time,

xoxo, Chloe ❤

 

 

Hindeloopen Painting (Hindeloopen- Friesland)

Greetingz

I hope all is well! My Monday is going wonderfully, considering the fact that it’s a Monday in the third week of April, and it’s a rainy 48 degrees outside. I’m so happy because tomorrow is King’s Night, and Wednesday is King’s Day! During those 24 hours I will be celebrating the King’s birthday, and the entire country is invited. That means 24 hours of people dressed in Orange- the color of the House of Orange-Nassau- partying and reveling in the streets.

What better way to celebrate the King’s birthday than by writing about one of the most special places in the Netherlands?! Today I’m going to tell you about Hindeloopen, a tiny town of less than 900 inhabitants in the north of the Netherlands. The town is one of eleven towns in the province of Friesland, and is famous for its unique style of painting. A few weeks ago I visited Hindeloopen and stayed in a charming bed-and-breakfast. During the day, my friend and I surveyed all the cheese we could stomach, explored the harbor, and popped into the only two museums in the entire town. One was a fascinating museum about ice-skating in Friesland. The other? The Museum of Hindeloopen. I paid special attention to the exhibit on Hindeloopen painting. Take a look at the photos I took!

A beautiful painted plate:

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Tray decorated with an image of the Dutch navy:

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Another beautiful plate!

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I believe this is a fire screen:

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As you can see, this genre is highly stylized. Each work looks like it is part of a collection. The colors used on decorative objects are mostly red, green, and blue. This style was popularized several hundred years ago, when wealthy Dutch maritime traders decorated their homes with elaborately carved furniture decorated with this style of painting. An exhibition in Paris in the 19th century spread the painting of Hindeloopen to the center of the art world, where it became sought-after to a niche market. Today, tourists come from all across the world to purchase their own piece of Hindeloopen art. I bought my family some presents, and a lovely green box for my shelf.

The artwork of Hindeloopen might seem old-fashioned. After all, its history is documented in the town’s museum. But the style is still very much alive in the daily lives of Hindelooopen’s inhabitants.

Here’s a sign that hung outside one family home. Gerke, Penny, Elaine and Duncan have no idea just how famous they are:

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Here is an interior of a shop that sells hand-painted items in the traditional style. Note the variety of objects that are painted. In Hindeloopen, if it’s wooden and is more than a centimeter wide, it is probably painted. Consider that a rule of thumb:

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Hangers! Stools! Candelabras! Desks! Trays! Chairs! Plates! Frames! Wall-hangings with seemingly no function!

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Barrels! Cabinets! Bowls! Trunks! Boxes! Pots! Bells! Tiny shelving units! More oddly-shaped objects with seemingly no function!

And here I am, standing in a pair of clogs that are painted in Hindeloopen fashion. Please pardon my half-closed eyes. During my trip I managed to contract the Plague (really just a 101 degree fever) and was not particularly camera-ready.

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I hope you enjoyed this post! I found it nice to write about something different for a change. It’s a good reminder that art can be found in all different places- not just museums and galleries. It’s also a reminder that art is often functional. In fact, for most of history, art WAS functional. Religious art, pottery, and the art of Hindeloopen are some wonderful examples of art that is not meant to be hung on a wall. Keep your eyes out for art in functional places. You might be surprised how beautiful a cabinet can be…

Until next time!

 

xoxo, Chloe ❤

 

Escher in Het Palais (The Escher Museum- The Hague)

Helllooooo friends!

Hope all is well and that you’re finding joy in every day things! Today I ordered a tosti (which is essentially a grilled sandwich) with ham, cheese, and… pineapple. The Dutch are very intense about their sandwiches. I feel like I am starting to become part of the family over at “Coffee And Art,” my favorite cafe. I see the owners almost every day while I eat various sandwiches and type away at my laptop. That is what I mean about living a beautiful life, even when you don’t have a ton of time. Choosing spaces that bring you happiness- like a coffee shop surrounded by affordable woodblock prints- to do copious amounts of Dutch homework.

A couple weeks ago I made it to the Hague to interview Debbie Young and Katarina Sidorova. You can read that interview here. But I also made time to check out the Escher Museum, located in the famous ‘winter palace’ of Queen Emma of the Netherlands. I always find it fascinating to see how museums that are dedicated to a single artist curate their exhibitions. How do you keep one artist’s work- by nature stagnant, as he or she cannot create any new works- fresh?

The way that Escher in Het Palais is set up succeeds at this challenge in a unique way. The first two floors break down Escher’s work into various categories- areas in which he showed great interest, like Tessellation, Infinity, and the Natural World. On the third floor, there is an exhibition of contemporary optical illusions that have built off of Escher’s designs. In this post I would like to focus on the first two floors. Pay attention to how the various categories serve to separate Escher’s interests, but also act as general themes that run through all of his designs. You can find pieces of every category in every work. Escher in Het Palais is a masterpiece of traditional curation, as well as a celebration of Escher’s psychedelic prints.

Here is a picture of the outside of the museum:

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The first category I encountered was entitled “Escher and the Natural World.”

Escher’s early forays into art show his time exploring the European countryside. He drew detailed depictions of mountains and cottages that were actually syntheses of what he saw, rather than perfect copies. He captured the essence of places by piecing together various motifs in a single work. In the following drawing and woodcut, one can see how Escher shifted the perspective of his drawing and added details to create a more unified picture in his final woodcut.

This is the pencil drawing entitled Morano, Calabria (1930).

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And here is a woodcut of the same scene: Morano, Calabria (1930).

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Note how the same  town has been shifted to the right in the woodcut. The sweeping arc of the mountain is much more visually pleasing when it directs the eye left to right and upwards. Additionally, the horizontal string of clouds adds depth to the woodcut by indicating the space between different mountains.

Synthesizing a scene is controversial. Some find it to be “untrue” to the authenticity of a work. I believe that there is a difference between drawing what you see and drawing what you feel. Oftentimes, being in a beautiful place is a result of feeling the presence of everything around you. Even if a mountain behind you is not in your plane of vision, juxtaposing it with the scene before you allows you to provide the viewer with your sense of place, rather than a photographic copy of it.

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Escher’s interest in nature remained even as he moved away from landscapes. In fact, much of his work explored abstract themes, unnatural worlds, and mathematical subjects, but nature remained a prevailing theme.

This is Day and Night (1938), a woodcut in black and blue, printed from two blocks.

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This is a wonderful example of Escher’s interest in nature permeating his exploration into optical illusion and mathematical design. Watch how birds and squares meld into each other in a mind-bending illusion. Symmetry plays a large role in the aesthetic quality of this work- it is pleasing to see how the disintegration from square into bird occurs on both sides of the paper. Furthermore, the white winding street and the black winding street create two poles that are both similar and different. Day and Night is structured on the notion of opposites, and the pattern of repeating opposition is what gives Day and Night its pleasing quality.

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Next, I came upon a selection of prints grouped by the title, “Escher and Perspective.”

Escher was fascinated by the way different vantage points could influence the appearance of a building. He explored how looking at spaces from different heights affected the mood of a scene.

This is a woodcut entitled, Grote Markt, Delft (1939).

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The high vantage point makes the people below look tiny and unidentifiable. Thus, one’s focus is drawn to the buildings of the market. These modestly sized buildings- note they are only several stories high- look larger because they are looked at from high above. The shadows formed from this vantage point are also stark and looming, which adds to the dramatic view.

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This engraving, entitled Inside Saint Peter’s (1935), is also depicted from a high vantage point, but as if one’s face is tilted almost entirely to the floor.

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The decorated floor is a central focus of this engraving. Because so much of the paper is taken up by floor, one gets the sense that he is leaning over a railing, peering down from above. There is something almost nauseating about this view (or maybe I just suffer from vertigo). The words written on the wall of the church are also a major highlight of this vantage point. They are a fragment of a longer phrase: et tibi dabo claves regni caelorum. This translates to: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

This is significant for several reasons. First, it makes sense that a church would bear these letters, as prayer is believed to lead to salvation in the Christian faith. Furthermore, the fact that these words are written at a point high up in the church directly parallels the notion that Heaven is above us. The normal visitor to the church would view these words from below, staring up at them as he looked up towards Heaven. Escher has turned this narrative around. Now, the viewer looks down on these words, and down onto the floor of the church. It is not an anti-religious statement, but a statement about art, religion, and architecture, and the way we attach meanings to symbols.

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Many of Escher’s works explore the concept of infinity. Is it possible in our world?  How can infinity be depicted on a two-dimensional surface, a medium that is inherently finite? “Escher and Infinity” demonstrates how Escher used optical illusions to experiment with infinity.

This is Circle Limit IV (Heaven and Hell) (1960), a black and ochre woodcut printed from two blocks.

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Note how the bats and angels in this lithograph become progressively smaller as they reach the outer boundaries of the circle. This would suggest a finite end at the boundaries of this shape. However, Escher has used shading and perspective to give this circle the three-dimensionality of a sphere. Thus, it appears that we are only seeing a portion of the shape. It follows, then, that the bat/angel motif would repeat well beyond the surface area of the sphere shown here. Perhaps infinitely, into the unknown. In this way Escher utilizes the idea of space- space we cannot see- to suggest infinity.

Here is my favorite lithograph, entitled Ascending and Descending (1960).

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Notice how the figures on the stairs are always ascending, but are never table to reach the top of the staircase. In fact, there IS no top to this staircase. How is it, then, that we do not see the figures descending? It is an optical illusion that forces the eye to move, infinitely, around and around this staircase, hoping to make sense of an impossible thing.

Note also, how Escher utilizes an extreme vantage point to add drama to this scene. Like Grote Markt, Delft, the tower in Ascending and Descending appears taller and more mighty because it is drawn from above. The angle is neither bird’s eye nor straight-on. It is a mix of the two that tricks the eye into seeing a larger image than reality would suggest.

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” Escher and Tessellation” illustrates some of Escher’s most fascinating works. They have been replicated by mathematicians across the world since their creation in the mid-2oth century.

Tessellation is a division of planes according to the rules of symmetry. There are seventeen different ways that shapes can tessellate. Escher discovered these important mathematical variations on his own, through strategic experimentation. As you can see, Escher’s experiments into tessellation also illustrate his continued interest in the natural world, and the concept of infinity.

This is one of my favorite tessellations.

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It is fascinating how Escher used the negative space of one creature to form the positive space of another.

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The last of the categories I will discuss today is Escher and Impossible Worlds.

In addition to his landscapes, his tessellations, and his forays into infinity, Escher explored the concept of new worlds that abide by different laws of physics. Ascending and Descending can also be seen as a member of this category, although I wanted to view it in relation to infinity, because of the effect is has on the frustrated viewer. The optical illusion formed by this otherwise ordinary building is a wonderful example of a new world that does not abide by our rules.

Here is another, a lithograph entitled Cube with Ribbons (1957).

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It takes a moment to see what is so peculiar about this work. Is it not just a group of circles situated within a prism? But then- which circle is inside which? Viewing Cube with Ribbons is an experience of oscillating between two perceptions of this lithograph that cannot exist simultaneously… in this world.

I could say many things about Escher’s explorations of new worlds with different scientific and mathematical laws. Perhaps their creation is a manifestation of the inability, post-World War II, to make sense of the horrors of the Holocaust and the Atomic Bomb. After all, many post-war art movements centered around abstraction as a means of coping with the genocides of the last ten years. It is possible that Escher, a European, was responding to this sentiment in his own way. But- I will not overanalyze too deeply. I will just leave that thought with you. After all, it is important to consider context when looking at any works of art. The art of the 1950s and 1960s was inextricably linked to the pain caused by the mass killings of the 1940s.

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I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it! Escher has always had a special place in my heart. My father bought me a book about Escher and a print for my wall when I was quite young. I recently had it reframed and it now hangs across from my bed, reminding me of the possibility of infinite, alternative worlds.

Here is a selfie I took at Het Palais and sent to everyone I know:

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And now, because I just cannot resist, here are a few more photographs of works I found really interesting. Take a look, and see if you can spot motifs from nature, extreme vantage points, tessellation, or infinity. Pardon the glare on some of the works- think of it as adding character!

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Hope you enjoyed this ~trippy~ post. Until next time!

 

xoxo, Chloe ❤

Street Art 1 (Amsterdam)

Hi everyone!

I’m so happy to be writing again. I know it’s only been just over a week, but that feels like forever in abroad-time. I managed to semi-sprain my ankle ten days ago from dancing too much. I know, ridiculous. But after being miserable/icing my foot and not leaving my dorm for a few days, it got better! Now I can discover more beautiful things in this beautiful city 🙂

Here is my first installation of street art in Amsterdam. I love seeing such a variety of styles and subjects all over the city. Notice how the background material plays a role in the final image. In some, divisions in the wall/door and building texture are incorporated into the meaning of the work. In others, the building material is less important. Pay attention to how the works interact with one another. Often, street art is painted next to existing works. That means that there isn’t a clear boundary between the space of one work and the space of another. How do adjacent works impact each other visually? Do they enhance the viewer’s experience of a single work, or take away from it? What styles do you see employed? How would a frame change the way each work is perceived? How might weather impact the way a person consumes these works? Take all these questions into consideration when you view the following works. Enjoy!

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And here’s a photo of me in front of a really interesting door-framing work:

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Until next time,

 

xoxo, Chloe ❤

Jewelry Board DIY

Hi everyone! Before I leave tonight (tonight! TONIGHT!) for Amsterdam, I thought I would post a quick DIY about a craft I made a while ago. I made it before I even created CanvasAndCrumpets, which is why I never thought to write about it before. But it’s an item that has stayed with me through three years of university, and never fails to impress all who walk into my room. ( “Oh my God did you make that?” is probably my favorite sentence in the english language ).

That item, ladies and gentlemen, is a jewelry board.

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The best thing about having a jewelry board is that you can see everything you own. I actually have two of these, and they house all my gems and baubles that come up with me to Tufts each year. They also take up very little space, as opposed to so many of the unwieldy boxes that used to crowd my bureau. Here’s a DIY to show you how to streamline your collection into a beautiful display:

Materials

-Sand paper

-Exacto knife

-Ruler

-Plain wooden frame(s)

-Cork board that is bigger than the frame(s)

-White paint

-Gloss clear acrylic coating

-Wood glue

-Tons of newspapers (this is a messy project)

-Heavy books

-Thumbtacks (not the round head kind, but the kind that extend outwards)

-A pile of jewelry

Instructions

Step 1: Lay out a ton of newspapers and put some Billy Joel on Spotify.

Step 1: Sand the frame until it is soft and smooth.

Step 2: Paint the frame and a piece of cork board with two coats of acrylic paint. Let dry for an hour between coats.

Step 3: When dry, coat the frame with a clear glossy acrylic coating. Let dry overnight.

Step 4: Flip your frame onto its back. Measure the length and width not of the frame itself, but the picture that is meant to go inside. You can also measure the cheesy stock photo that probably comes inside your frame.

Step 5: Trace a rectangle onto a piece of cork board with the measurements you have just found.  Cut this rectangle out using an exacto knife. Try not to cut off your fingers. 😀

Step 6: Smear wood glue all over the inside of the frame. Fit the cork board on top. It should fit as if you are putting a picture inside the frame.

Step 7: Place some heavy book on top to keep the frame and cork together while the glue dries. Let dry at least overnight.

Step 8: Turn your frame over. It should be completely connected the cork. Start putting in thumbtacks where you would like to hang jewlery. The nice thing about this is you can hang the tacks wherever you want- super high to accommodate a long necklace, or really close together if you have a  ton of short earrings.

Now, I was content to simply lean my frames against the wall, on top of my bureau. Freshman year I put a few small, pretty boxes in front to keep it weighted properly. Other suggestions include: buying an iron frame holder that can support the weight of your jewelry, or attaching a hook to the top of the wooden frame so that it can be hung on a wall. Perhaps when I graduate and am allowed to drill nails in my walls, I will do the same. On the other hand, next year I may make a whole new jewelry hanging contraption! Stay tuned…

 

xoxo, Chloe ❤