Marja-Leena Rathje
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seven wonders

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On our visit to the Hermitage in 2002

Sarah Milroy has written an interesting travel article with a focus on art, in Saturday's Globe and Mail, called Seven wonders of the world: Art. Milroy raves about the best great art museums she's visited (actually more than seven!):

Musée Rodin in Paris, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Venice Biennale and the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice, Museo del Prado in Madrid, Chianti Foundation in Marfa, Texas (surprise), the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City, Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel) in Padua, The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the biggest surprises - the Vancouver Art Gallery and Haida Gwaii Village here in BC.

As always, one reads these kind of articles through the filters of one's own experiences. So it is most interesting for me, one who hasn't been to many great museums in the world, to note that we've been to just a few of these. We were in Venice once for a day but very disappointingly could not get into the museums because of flooding. We've been awed by the Sistine Chapel and marvelled over the vast riches in the Hermitage Museum. But what is amazing is that Milroy includes the Vancouver Art Gallery in this list, and of course I do plan to see the upcoming Haida exhibition that she writes about. One day we will also visit the Haida Gwaii, up the coast from here, though it's a difficult and expensive trip because you have to use guides and travel by seaplane or boat to get to that village. And maybe one day we'll visit the other "seven wonders"!

Marja-Leena | 07/05/2006 | 15 comments
themes: Being an Artist


Interesting that the Prado made the list, but not the Louvre or Tate. I only saw the first two, but the Prado definitely kicked the Louvre's ass.

Of course, these are seven wonders of the *Western* art world. Throw in Asia and it would become even harder to stick to "seven."

Dave, it's great you've been to the Prado! Of the few that we've been to, I'd say the Uffici in Florence and the Vatican Museums in Rome were tops, plus Lenbachaus in Munich for the Kandinsky collection. Oh, and the Louisiana in Denmark!

Really, I'm sure most of the big European museums are great, as well as in the US. As Milroy said, it depends on your state of mind and the company you are with as well.

Then, as you say, Asia is another whole world of wonders!

This has certainly set me thinking! I immediately agree with Venice and its Biennale (we visited in 1997), and with the Rodin museum. I have always wanted to go to the Hermitage, and also have the film Russian Ark on my wish list - have you seen it?
I must think more and make a list of my own.

I always get jealous when my husband's cousin and wife report back on their jaunts to various museums and the Venice Bienniale - a benefit of living in the middle of Europe!

We watched the Russian Ark film on DVD a few years ago. I was tired, and fell asleep halfway through - not a good recommendation - must watch it again!

My favorite museum lately has been Google Image. Afoot I could never ever see what I have seen in the computer screen. I'm never tired or hungry either Of course on the computer everything is fuzzy. My particular catagory of interest of contemporary stone sculpture seems to come across pretty well, or does it only seem that way to me because I am interested in it?
I have noticed that it seems the museums of the world do not seem interested in putting up great web sites. Do others agree? Are they trying to keep us coming though their doors in the flesh, with money in hand?

Bill, you are absolutely right! The internet is a fabulous resource. Back in art school, I saw thousands of slides of wonderful art works in art history and of course, art books. Yet, the first time I saw some of these masterpieces in the Uffici, for example, my heart almost stopped from the excitement and joy of seeing the real thing. Our Italian trip remains the most memorable in my life, for all the art we saw!

But, unless we have a lot of time, money and energy, it's tough to see it all, isn't it? So, museums would do us a great service by providing more online exhibitions - some do, many don't.

"But, unless we have a lot of time, money and energy, it's tough to see it all, isn't it?"

It's tough even to see a little bit!~~
My expectations of seeing famous art in the flesh are very low to nil, and that correlates well to my low level of desire to hoof it to museums. I've done extensive (as least with regard to the amount of time I've spent at it) art appreciation on the Internet and my appetites are satisfied for the moment. I guess that describes me as rather dull and incurious! You can have your MUSEUMS! (smiley face icon)

Wow. I'd better get to a museum soon, I'm getting a bit rough!

Hi Marja-Leena, didn't know whether to extend this comment string or comment on your new post, but, I'd like to share with you a site just put up by a very thoughtful and accomplished artist working in stone. It is interesting to note that he does not try to document his work exhaustively, but rather he gives fragmentary glimpse combined with a paragraph of his thoughts and motivations. I think he is saying, "See the work in person!"

You might especially enjoy his photographs of stonework around the world. As he says in his "Thoughts" section, he is very world, cultural and social-minded. Interesting man. He does some very large works, often with the help of large machines and factories, but however large the work, he always finishes the pieces with his own two hands.

Whoops. Just realized at the Goldberg site there are many images of the works if one just continues to click the arrow by the title of the work.

Bill - wow, I love this guy's work and what he says about it and himself!! I haven't yet looked through his entire portfolio, but I look forward to doing so when I have some quiet time. Thanks for introducing his beautiful site to me - you knew that I would like it! I may just do a post....

Glad you like it! I have a slow modem. It is a rainy day here and I feel I have just scratched the surface. The guy is incredible. What a career. I think his son has done the web-site though I am not sure. It is the perhaps the best sculpture site I have been to with such great visual documentation from pencil drawing to boulder outcrop to finished artwork. He is only fifty or so. What a career. I don't know of anyone like him when it comes to creating public space with stone.

Looking forward to your post!

Patience, Bill! I'd like to study this fabulous site with some depth but I've got an incredibly busy few days ahead. Maybe one evening. You know, you've said a lot - may I should quote you :-) Isn't it wonderful to get excited by an artist's work and website!?

In this case it's humbling, awsome, and expansive. He makes the possibility of what stonework can do and can be. He seems to always be looking outward. Rake lines of a Japanese sand garden turn up in a large urn. Circuit chips make an appearance as well as handprints as seen in ancient rock art paintings and chippings. His evocation of coral is brillant. Stonework does not usually bear such explicit textural connotation and signiture of organic intelligence. Overiding all is a sharp situational and social awareness of stagecraft and elocution. Clarity is achieved. Simplicity is molded from sensibility. Do I sound like a PR shill or what?

Bill, this is great! I may quote you then? Now if you really are a PR shill in disguise, you have the job for yours truly! :-))