12 Symbols of Love Found in Art History [Infographic]

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


Throughout history, cultures around the world have used an array of different symbols to depict love and affection, many of which ended up appearing in their art. Some representations, like the Irish claddagh, the harp, and the apple derive from ancient mythology and cultural folklore.

Invaluable created an infographic that explores these decorated symbols of love that go beyond the traditional hearts, roses, and chocolates. You may be surprised at how many of these symbols are still used today, in industries and disciplines including the visual and performing arts, antiques — even greeting cards!

Symbols of love in art history

Sources: Forbes | SlideShare | Fact Retriever | Ancient Pages | ThoughtCo. | Keen

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symbols of love found in art history
symbols of love found in art history


It's All in The Details — The Opulent Designs of The Chairs of Versailles

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


In the year 1668, Louis XIV began his expansion of a small chateau into what we now know as the opulent Palace of Versailles.

Every surface and object in the palace was painstakingly designed and created by thousands of artists in the Royal Academy, led by the three head designers — Le Vau, Charles Le Brun, and Andre Le Notre — in order to create a palace fit for the Sun King and his court of almost 20,000.

Visitors can now explore the palace and see for themselves, the bed that the king once laid upon, the Hall of Mirrors where he used to hold elaborate parties, and be dazzled by every gilded door frame, carpet, and chair.

The chairs of Versailles

Recently, art director, photographer, and artist Malorie Shmyr visited Versailles and found herself completely enthralled by the objects that fill the palace — especially by the many chairs that can be found throughout the hundreds of rooms.

Being engulfed in the opulence of Versailles left me trying to imagine what it would be like to live in a space where not one square inch was forgotten about.
 
I studied the every day objects in each room, imagining using them for their function instead of just an object on display. 

I honed in on the elaborately detailed chairs because it was exciting to see a normally humble piece of furniture dressed to the nines!

When Malorie returned home from her trip, she contacted me wanting to find a place to share the photos that she took of Versailles’ version of this every day object. Check out the details that she captured in the images below.

See more of Malorie’s amazing work on her website or on Instagram @malorieshmyr.

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The chairs of Versailles
The chairs of Versailles



15 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit The Centre Pompidou in Paris

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


There are A LOT of museums in Paris, and it is impossible to see them all on your first, second, or even third visit to the city.

In fact, I didn't make it to the Centre Pompidou until my third time to the city — and was that ever a mistake! Not only is the exterior of the building a must-see, the museum is home to over 100,000 works created in the 20th and 21st centuries, and an INCREDIBLE view. 

A brief history of the museum

In 1969, the French president, Georges Pompidou, decided that there needed to be a new building to host the national modern art museum, a public reading library, and new music concerts.

The site for the new museum was chosen, and a worldwide architectural competition was announced attracting 681 competitors from 49 different countries!

Architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers won the competition for their “evolving spatial diagram” design allowing the whole of each 7,500 m2 floor to be used to display art and be organized however the curators see fit. According to the museum website, “[i]ts innovative, even revolutionary character has made the Centre Pompidou one of the most emblematic buildings of the 20th century.”

The museum opened on February 2, 1977, and since then has been one of the most visited monuments in France.  

What you are going to see 

Considered to be Europe’s leading collection of modern and contemporary art (from 1905 until the present day), there are some seriously big names housed in this museum — Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, and Yves Klein to name just a few.

You’ll see all forms of media: paintings, drawing, photography, new media, experimental film, architecture, design, industrial work, and more! (Check out the photos below for some seriously cool pieces.)

Getting there and getting in

Location: The museum is located in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, in the Beaubourg area. It is within walking distance to the river, Les Halles, rue Montorgueil, and the Marais. 
You can get there easily by metro, RER, bus, car, bicycle, foot, and however else you like to move!

Opening Hours: The museum is open every day (except Tuesdays when it is closed all day) from 11 am to 10 pm, but the exhibitions close at 9 pm.

Admission: A single ticket for admission to all galleries and the "View of Paris" is €14; a ticket just to see the "View of Paris" (no access to the galleries) is €5.
Admission is FREE to all areas of the museum on the first Sunday of every month. 

It's impossible to miss the building that houses the Centre Pompidou. Covered in colorful pipes on one side (in blue, red, green, and yellow), and the zig-zag of elevators on the other there is no mistaking it. 

This is the view (above) of the building from Rue Beaubourg, where you can enter the public reading library. The public entrance to the museum is located on the other side of the building. 

You don't have to actually buy a ticket to enter the main floor of the building, which gives you access to the cafe, fantastic museum shops, public washrooms (for those of you who just need a bathroom break), and some fun art installations, like the sculpture pictured above. 

There is always at least one visiting exhibition at the gallery, like the works of André Derain, who was a French artist, painter, sculptor and co-founder of the Fauvism movement with Henri Matisse. 

The work pictured above by Derain seemed to glow from inside the canvas (and no, it wasn't just because of the light shining on it). 

Called the Tete blanche et rose, this work by Henri Matisse looks deceptively like a Picasso. 

And then there is the Femmes deviant la mer, a gorgeous piece by Picasso.

The Centre Pompidou actually has an incredible collection of works by Picasso, even more impressive than the Picasso Museum located only a few blocks away! 

This piece by Frantisek Kupka, Plans par couleurs, was located in one of my favourite sub-rooms in the gallery that was filled with portraits of women from the most abstract to the most detailed. 

I am so in love with any black and white piece that looks like the artist moved his hand back and forth in one big flourish and then called it a day.

I'm not kidding.

This is seriously one of my favorites. 

There is just something about this work.

It is like a mix between Girl With A Pearl Earring and Grand Odalisque, which is probably why artist Martial Raysse called it Made In Japan - la grande odalisque.  

No contemporary art collection would be complete without a work by Andy Warhol. This black and white version of Elizabeth Taylor is so long that it covered an entire wall! 

The floor filled with sculptural art installations like the one above is an Instagram dream! 

See-through cubes against a black and white wall — yup.

I love modern art. 

So, from this side, this sculpture looks like an emotional, heartfelt embrace. On the other side, however, the woman is making out with another man. 

Yup. 

Modern art. 

I had to stop myself from taking too many photos on this floor, as ever piece had a huge impact, including this work of colorful subway-tile-style squares. 

The one thing that I did not expect to see at this world-renowned museum was the incredible view!

As a visitor, you travel from floor-to-floor through a series of exterior escalators and corridors that are surrounded by clear plastic tubes — kind of like hamster tubes but human-sized. 

The higher you go, the more incredible the view — the Notre Dame towers, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sacre Coeur all come into your line of sight, not to mention the beautiful Parisian buildings that surround the museum. 

If you are hoping to get some really amazing photos, wait until you get to the very top and you can check out the view unobstructed by the plastic tube.

No photo that I took does it justice, but the one above comes close! 

NOTE: I learned after the fact that you can buy a ticket just to access the view for 5 Euros if you like! 

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photos that will make you want to visit the Centre Pompidou museum in Paris
photos that will make you want to visit the Centre Pompidou museum in Paris



Your Guide To The Berlin Wall's East Side Gallery

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


The Berlin Wall cut through the center of Berlin from August of 1961 to November of 1989, separating the Soviet Union from Western powers. More than just a wall though, it was a complex military system that rose more than 12 feet high and had 302 towers, 12,000 guards and countless kilometers of barbed wire. 

The Location of the Berlin Wall  IEG-MAPS, Institute of European History, Mainz / © A. Kunz, 2004

The Location of the Berlin Wall
IEG-MAPS, Institute of European History, Mainz / © A. Kunz, 2004

Countless numbers of people attempted to cross the wall in the 28 years that it stood, trying to escape Soviet soldiers, many of which were shot before they could even scale it's sturdy, gray, concrete facade. 

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, 118 artists from 21 different countries came to create spontaneous works of art on a remaining, still-standing section of it. It officially opened as an open-air gallery in September of 1990. 

This section is now the longest surviving stretch of the wall and its 1.3 kilometers located on the banks of the Spree in Friedrichshain, are covered in approximately 106 paintings, making it the largest outdoor gallery in the world.

Becuase it is exposed to the elements, and vandals, there have been many efforts over the years to restore the artworks.

According to the tourist information website for the gallery, "In 1996, Kani Alavi founded East Side Gallery e. V., an artists’ initiative to preserve and restore the works. By 2000, a 300-metre stretch of the wall had already been restored and 33 pictures repainted, and in 2009 the whole East Side Gallery was restored. 87 artists took part and 100 paintings were restored."

Location

 

Admission

None! The Gallery is open-air and open to the public for FREE! 

Opening Hours

The gallery is always open, as it is just a part of the street. Visit whenever you like! 

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Berlin Wall's East Side Art Gallery
Berlin Wall's East Side Art Gallery



Reads For The Road: "Master Thieves—The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off The World's Greatest Art Heist" by Stephen Kurkjian

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


Investigative journalist Stephen Kurkjian has written the definitive, revealing history of the famed Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist that took place 25 years ago. Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist takes a look at the investigations, theories, blunders, and complex web of the Boston mafia that all contributed to the paintings being stolen and remaining hidden for all this time.

After twenty-five years, the biggest art theft in world history is still an open case… no one has been arrested and nothing has been recovered. In fact, there hasn’t even been a single confirmed sighting of the thirteen stolen pieces.
— page 217 of "Master Thieves"

On the night of the theft, two men disguised as police officers gained entry to the museum through the back entrance. They tied up the two security guards, and, wearing masks, ran through the museum smashing glass and cutting priceless works of art from their frames. They then disappeared into the night without a trace and despite the local police, the FBI, investigative journalists, and even members of the mob making inquiries; there has been no trace of these paintings.

The heist is second on the FBI’s list of the longest unsolved art thefts in the world.

Amongst the stolen works was a priceless Rembrandt that is thought to be the most valuable work of art currently missing from any museum in the world.

Well almost all investigative techniques have been exhausted in the search for the missing paintings; the last one that both the FBI and the museum are relying on is the public. The hope is that by getting the word out in the press and social media, there will be a tip that will lead to the recovery of the paintings.

Oh, and did I mention that there is a $5 million reward for any tip that leads to the recovery of the works and a promise that the tipster will never be prosecuted!?

Here’s hoping that the reward money and Kurkjian’s book will help generate even more interest that will lead to the recovery of this missing piece of art history. 




The Story Behind the Art World's Most Famous Kiss by Gustav Klimt

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


You don’t have to be an art expert to recognize this painting by Gustav Klimt. Next to the Mona LisaThe Kiss is one of the most replicated images in the art world.

What you may not know, however, is that when Klimt created this work it was considered by many to be pornographic and was extremely unpopular.

Klimt worked in Austria during the era of the Art Nouveau (1890s–1900) — the first international modernist movement of the twentieth century. He was the first leader of the Sezessionstil (the Austrian version of the movement) and led a faction of liberal artists who were dedicated to creating richly decorative art and architecture in order to offer an escape from the drab, ordinary world. 

This work, showing a kissing couple emerging from a field of flowers, is considered to be part of Klimt’s ‘golden style’, or works that have figures surrounded by a golden aura.

Though often described as dream-like, luxurious, and sensuous, it is what you see when you look beyond the surface that makes this work so interesting.

Often overlooked is the tension in this couple’s physical relationship. The women’s head is forced uncomfortably against her shoulder and her arms do not surround — what we perceive to be — her lover but are pinned against him. The couple also kneels dangerously close to the edge of a cliff.

Though you can not argue that the work is beautiful, viewers willing to look beyond this beauty may come away feeling a bit unsettled. 

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Ancient Art: The History of the North American Totem Pole

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


Imagine that you are one of the first explorers to North America’s West Coast.

It’s early morning, and after a paddle through the still ocean water, you have docked your canoe on a grey pebble beach. The sun has yet to pierce through the thick fog, and you can see your breath in the crisp air.

There is not a soul in sight. 

The forest in front of you is lush, thick and dark. Taking a deep calming breath, you step into the green, snapping twigs underfoot and moving damp leaves out of your path. 

Bushing away an especially heavy heavy branch your jaw drops as you find yourself suddenly in a clearing with a massive, wooden sculpture that seems to stretch up almost higher than the trees, standing in the middle of it.

You had heard rumors that these monumental structures existed, and now there it was, right in front of you — a totem pole. 

Carved mostly from Western Red Cedar trees, totem poles are created by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Because cedar decomposes quickly, few examples of these massive structures from before 1900 exist today. 

These free-standing poles were symbols of individual clans, family wealth, and prestige.

Scholars believe the Haida of the Queen Charlotte Islands were the first to create the totems, and then the practice spread throughout the West Coast.

The meaning behind the totem poles is as varied as the cultures that make them. Some represent familiar legends, clan images, notable lives of tribe members, mortuary statues, or mark an important celebration. 

Contrary to popular belief, they were NEVER objects of worship. 

It is widely believed that the least important carving is on the bottom of the pole (hence the saying “lowest man on the totem pole”), but, in reality, the most important figures can often be found on the bottom or even in the middle of the poles! 

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North American Totem Pole