Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Musei il Galileo e La Specola, e la mostra Bisonte in grafica d'arte

Over the past week for my sketchbook and printmaking classes I got to go to the Galileo and Specola (natural history) museums, as well as two exhibitions from the Il Bisonte, a renowned school for printmaking here in Florence. Two professors from my school here in Italy (including Lucy Jochambowitz, my printmaking professor) were a part of the show, so it was really interesting to see their work on display. There was a print from each one of thirty students currently attending the Bisonte  that are competing for a scholarship, as well as a print from 30 previous students. There was a wide variety of techniques used for portraits, landscapes, and abstract works and it made me want to experiment with ones that I don't have a lot of experience in. 

The Galileo and Specola museums are two of the coolest places I have ever been to in my life. The Galileo is a museum of contraptions dating back from the Renaissance, that were tools for measuring time, astronomy, velocity, temperature, and a lot of other things that I wasn't sure about. There is one thing I was sure of though, this museum was definitely built by artists for artists. Every detail was carefully thought out to create unity through the entire museum, and every instrument was dynamic and appealing for the eye. Some that really stuck out for me:

 "The Writing Hand", a kinetic motion device shaped like a hand that was programmed to write out the sentence ""Huic Domui Deus / Nec metas rerum / Nec tempora ponat" ["May God not impose ends or deadlines on this house]". 

The Clinometer, which was part of the Medici collection was used for leveling as well as measuring height and distance. I was really interested in this object because of its aesthetic qualities: 

Nocturnals/Sundials/Other Curiosities:

The only two remaining telescopes originally belonging to Galileo are on display here, as well as his fingers (his actual fingers!!!) I didn't get a good image of the fingers so I will save you from having to see that. (If you really want to though, just google it, you'll find it). We have been assigned a drawing with no requirements on inspiration from the museum. Here's the beginning phase of mine (I have decided to just do one post of the rest of it when the semester is over).

The Specola was possibly better than going to the actual zoo, even though the animals were all dead :/ There's no better way for an artist to draw from observation than something that can no longer move. It was odd though, I found the animals to be surprisingly expressive, but maybe this was just due to poor taxidermy skills.  Regardless this museum featured every animal you could possibly think of, including ones that are now extinct. My camera died half way through so I plan on going back to shoot the birds, reptiles, and human wax models. 
For the plant life from the sea they used the drawings and prints of Ernst Haeckel, a biologist who identified and named thousands of species, in addition to samples from life. I had used his work as reference material for my Design 1 course during my freshman year at RIC, so this was particularly interesting to me. 

This evening I went to the Lo Schermo dell'arte Film Festival to see the artist's documentary Inside Out, a collaborative project started by an artist known as JR. His digital portraits reflecting social cultural and political controversy spread to a worldwide awareness project. The film was so interesting! Tomorrow my printmaking professor will take me to Prato to see a film tribute to another modern artist, Sol Lewitt. I love this city, there is always something exciting to do! This experience has made me realize how much I enjoy the city life and want to stay living in a more urban area while I'm young. Friday morning I am heading out for a weekend in Sicily with my friends, which I am super excited about!!! I will post when I get back home, of course. Ciao!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Adventures of the Artist and the Scientist: The Duality of the Brain's Hemispheres (aka my trip to Germany)

I got the chance to go to Tubingen and Stuttgart, Germany, to visit a friend and fellow RIC student, Irina for the second half of my fall break. We are about as similar as Italy is to Germany, but it made for a really fun and  exciting trip! Irina is studying biochemistry, and I am studying art, which require use of different hemispheres of the brain entirely, so I expected to not have much in common with her but I was surprised. There really is a strong connection of science and art, especially in the way we see the world; through careful observation of our surroundings. This was specifically evident while at the Wilhelma Zoo, but I will get to that in a bit.

Before I say much I have to admit that I didn't feel much "culture shock" when I arrived in Florence. Maybe this was because I have studied the city for a while and sort of knew what to expect, or perhaps I was just filled with too much excitement to notice or care. Landing in Stuttgart was sort of a different story. Florence is filled with buildings and architecture from antiquity, and technologically speaking it is far behind from the rest of the world.. Things are much simple here. The buildings are extremely old and the entire city has been designed in unity, so everything is fluent and aesthetically pleasing. Stuttgart was my first taste of what it will be like to venture back into reality when I have to come back to the States (Do I really have to?) It was almost alarming to see the modern architecture and subway system. It felt like New York in comparison to Providence. I didn't know what to expect but I was certainly surprised!

Tubingen on the other hand was more along the lines of what I thought Germany would be like. What a charming little town! I got a lovely tour courtesy of Irina of the surroundings, of the castle and center of town. I loved the architecture of the apartment buildings here, they had so much character and were so warmly colored. I was particularly excited to see the churches, and the foliage, considering it's still in the 70s on average in Florence and there's no indication of fall whatsoever.

We also got to see St. George's Church and the Rathaus (City Hall) Very cool structures, again much different from our Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio!

The food here was delicious!! It's very heavy though, I don't know if I could eat it all the time if I lived there. Since it is so different from Italy's I figured I would post it!

Marrow Dumpling Soup 
Jagerschnitzel with noodles 

My absolute favorite part of Germany was the Wilhelma Zoo and botanical gardens. This zoo was much bigger than any one I've seen at home and had a much more diverse range of animals, including gorillas!

Funny that my first time seeing California Redwood Trees is in Germany

I only got to stay for a short amount of time but I really enjoyed Germany. As happy as I am that I got to go there and experience a culture outside of Italy I feel like Florence is my home! 

Thanks to Irina for hosting and showing me around!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fall Break!

 Wow, what a week! I spent the first half of the break in Florence intending to just relax but that didn't really happen, but it was well spent! I started things off at the Museo del San Marco, which is home to the fresco paintings of Fra Angelico, that I learned about in Art History at RIC. Admittedly when I learned about these at home from photos in textbooks I was not interested in them at all, but seeing them in person completely changed my perspective. The way he handled transitions in light was particularly intriguing, they were so soft. This museum was very small but seeing these paintings made it well worth it. 

Fra Angelico, Annunciation

I spent the next two days at the Uffizi, the most well known art museum in Italy. It is home to the work of Giotto, Botticelli, Caravaggio, and Rembrandt, to name a few of the major artists. There was so much to see that I ended up going there twice over the week and spent a total of 10 hours there, and it was so overwhelming I can't even write about all of it! I had been waiting so long to visit the museum because I wanted to really be able to spent a lot of time there and enjoy it without having anywhere to be.. But in result the painting that was most important to me to see, by Artemisia Gentileschi, was moved to Chicago the day before I got there!!! That was pretty disappointing, however I managed to rekindle my love for it the next day when I went back. Maybe I'll just have to take a trip to Chicago when I get home! I managed to get some good notes/drawings while I was there. I was particularly interested in the drawings by Anton Domenico Gabbiani, the still life paintings of Rachel Ruysch, and the works of  Pontormo and contemporary painter Andrea Martinelli. 

Botticelli, Madonna of the Pomegranate 
Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Slaying Holofernes. My favorite artist!

I also got to take day trips to Chianti, San Gimignano, and back to Venice. Both towns were set on the tops of hills overlooking gorgeous valleys of  grape and olive fields, and are known for producing fine wines, which I was fortunate enough to sample :) I also got to have a sandwich with white boar meat which is native to the area, and was super fresh and delicious. Certainly like nothing back home!  My favorite of the towns was San Gimignano, which is a medieval city built in the 12th century. I had no idea what to expect of this town, but it was an adorable little place! Even the ride there was stunning.

I went for another day in Venice, (because one just isn't enough!) but this time I went with my friend Heidi. Instead of staying on the main island we went off the beaten path to the smaller islands of Murano and Burano. They were so cute! Especially Burano, which is known for its brightly colored houses. 

I spent the second half of the break visiting Irina, another student from RIC who is studying in Tubingen, Germany; I will have a second entry for this because I have a ton of pictures, and its so different from Italy that I feel it deserves its own post! :) Ciao!