Thursday, August 5, 2010

FANTASY TOUR: The Little Tour That Could

With our time at AIC coming to a quick close, it's fun to reflect on the tours that never were. David and I stuck pretty firmly to our Travel & Transformation Tour - alternating the order and pieces that we used and sharing research with one another, since after all it was such a solid tour theme. In addition to our Travel & Transformation tour, we also had to put together ABCs In Art Tours which included "Animals In Art", "Color, Line, and Shape", and "My Five Senses" for younger audiences which focus more on the experience of interacting with the artwork and aren't as strictly content based.

Either way, we've been keeping ourselves quite busy touring, exploring, and researching - so it doesn't quite surprise me that I didn't get the chance to put together my fantasy tour. BUT it is going to be up for grabs for future docents, so feel free to borrow it!!

And now for the tour: Fabulous Fibbers & Incredible Illusions

The idea for this tour came from my desire to design a tour in which I could utilize Adriean van der Spelt's/Frans van Mieris' Tromp-l'Oeil Still-Life with a Flower Garland and a Curtain - since I have a "thing" for Dutch Baroque still-life painting, being the first topic I researched as a freshman dabbling in the field of Art History. This painting is one of my absolute favorites in the collection, because of the attention to detail, particularly the surface qualities of the different textures, objects, and materials all expertly conveyed in oil paint!! I honestly feel as though I could reach my hand up and pull that curtain across to unveil what lays concealed.
Tromp-l'Oeil Still-Life with a Flower Garland and a Curtain
Adriean van der Spelt/Frans van Mieris (Dutch)
Oil on Canvas (or is it...)
There's a fantastic story that is being referenced here - the ancient Greek myth of the rivalry between two painters Zeuxis and Parrhasius. The two rival painters were in competition with one another to see who could paint the most lifelike picture. Zeuxis painted an image of grapes so lifelike, that birds landed upon the painting to peck at the painted grapes.  Parrhasius then showed his image - a painting of closed curtains, so real that Zeuxis tried to pull them away to reveal the painting hidden behind the curtain. Parrhasius won the contest, astonishing Zeuxis, and creating the legend of illusion that inspires this very tour.

We're going to fast forward in time with the rest of our works to see how artists use illusion, tromp-l'oeil, and other tricks of the trade to depict things that could never quite exist in reality.
Time Transfixed
Rene Magritte (Belgian)
Oil on Canvas
Magritte's realism and illusionism is super fun. I'm a big fan of having visitors say discuss what this painting means to them, based upon their own personal associations with the various objects and imagery. Plus his mirror that reflects/doesn't reflect is AWESOME!
Woman Descending the Staircase
Gerhard Richter
Oil on Canvas
The illusion here lies in the discussion of what we're looking at. Is it a photograph? Is it a painting? Is it both? Questions like these really spur fantastic discussion, which is what these tours are all about!
Table with Pink Tablecloth
Richard Artschwager (American)
Formica on Wood
I'm a gigantic fan of this work. Yeah, it's a cube. Yes, it's geometric and abstracted. BUT if you go ahead and take a closer look at it, you'll notice that the brown is actually the negative space beneath the table. It's fun to explore and discover the way in which the illusion transforms the way in which you think about the object.
Charles Ray (American)
Cyprus Carving
And then there's Hinoki. What is it? How was it made? How did it get here? Why carve a tree out of a tree? This work was one of the summer hits for the 2010 Museum Education Interns. We LOVE Hinoki. Yes, it's a challenge to talk about, and yes it's a bit of a struggle trying to get the students to stay about 3 feet away, but the discussion is always so rewarding.
Being Not Truthful Always Works Against Me (Edition 1/10)
Stephan Sagmeister (Austrian) & Ralph Ammer (German)
Interactive Projection
And here's where the tour concludes. I am a firm believer in ending with a bang. This work not only teaches a lesson about fibbing, but also is great fun because it is interactive. Loosely based on Charlotte's Web, the well-meaning message spun into the web is part of a computer program that reacts and changes to one's shadows in the exhibition space. 

Basically, this tour would have ruled if I had the time to write and research each of these objects. I hope that a future docent or intern might take inspiration from this little tour that never was...

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