Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Think about me kindly when I'm gone

Thanks to the perepatetic Sir G,
a number of good photos
of the paintings
from the tomb of Nabamun
can now be found on the internet.

Nebamun apparently lived about 1500 B.C.
which would have made him a contemporary
of Queen Hatshepsut
whose memorial statuary
is so prominent in the Met

But, compared to Hatshepsut,
Nebamun was small fry --
just a scribe/accountant
who pocketed enough to afford
to build his own tomb,
even if it was a small one.

Here is a photo
that shows the modest size
of the paintings.

So how big was the tomb?
Perhaps the size of
a walk-in closet?

(BTW, the above photo was taken
by a wonderful blogger, who specializes in Egyptology)

So, one might suppose
that Nebamun could not have hired
the Jasper John or Lucian Freud
of his day.

(Though the London Times speculates
that he hired a big-shot who was moonlighting
from his work on the Pharoah's temple.

Because.... who but a great artist
could make great art?)

And, ever since it first appeared
in the British Museum in 1829,
art lovers have unanamously recognized
these lively paintings
to be great art.

So, how wonderful
that the museum
just spent 10 years
and lotsa money
giving them a
thorough restoration.

As the London Times reports:

"In the Natural History Museum they have spent thousands of pounds on an animatronic T Rex that tries to do the same thing for their dinosaurs. It amounts to little more than a fairground entertainment. The British Museum, instead, has invested in a highly sophisticated restoration that, lasting almost a decade, is probably the biggest project of its type yet undertaken. It must be commended for this decision. These wall paintings, spaciously displayed among cabinets of artefacts from the same period, bring Ancient Egypt to life far more fascinatingly than any animatronic mummy ever could. "

Is this paradise,
or what?

According to some scholars,
the tombs in this period
were left open
for people to visit
and admire the deceased
who would be eternally surrounded
by scenes from his happy life.

and this is the sort
of eternal company
that would keep me happy, indeed.

Swinging musicians
and beautiful young, naked dancers.

Back in the late 19th C.
wealthy Americans
also had the happy idea
of building magnificent tombs
so that posterity would admire them.


they just leave
the fruits of their labor
to the Art Museum
to demonstrate
artworld sophistication.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Robert Johnson at the DuSable Museum

As Philip Kennicott opines here ,
perhaps the hey-day of ethnic museums is passing.

Victim of the great American melting pot.

Chicago has quite a few of them,
the best one being
the National Museum of Mexican Art
which regularly has good exhibits
of both historical and contemporary
Mexican art.

Coming in second,
would have to be the
Ukrainian Institue of Modern Art
which doggedly sticks to an East European Modernism
even as Post-Modernism
has pushed it into history.

Despite, or perhaps because of
their tragic 20th C. history,
East Europeans still seem to desire an art
that inspires and delights them.

Third, would be the

Spertus Museum

which occasionally
has had a good show,
although funding cuts have taken their toll,
and the excellent permanent collection
has been demoted to a
"grandma's attic" kind of display.

Beyond that,
the other institutions
would best be called
"community centers"
offering auditoriums,
meeting halls,
and occasional exhibits.

Which is where the
DuSable Museum of African American History
fits in.

It's got a permanent display
of African art,
but the pieces are so weak,
and the lighting is so poor,
it's really no better
than its animatron Harold Washington
that blinks its eyes and dips its head
in a theme-park reconstruction
of the late mayor's
office at city hall.

I suppose the Mexican museum
is the most vibrant
because that community is so filled
with recent immigrants
and still keeps its
native language and customs.

But there's a good reason
to keep these ethnic museums going
even after assimilation has taken place.

Namely, that they can offer
a positive alternative
to the norms of the contemporary art world,
and exhibit many good artists
who focus more on life issues
than on contemporary art theory.

A case in point,
being the statue of Dusable
show above.

The sculptor was Robert Johnson,
about whom absolutely nothing else
is available on the internet.

He made this piece back in the 70's.

The museum's bizarre restrictions on photography
required me to shoot the piece
from about 40 feet away.

(thank goodness for my wide angle lens
and motion correction feature)

some day,
the Dusable Museum
will show more of that sculptor's work,
and other African American artists as well.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Ludka's Museum

As you can see
Ludka was a seriously beautiful Czech girl

(Can you tell
that she was professional dancer?)

... and she still is beautiful
even in this ghostly image
reflected by one of the paintings
in her collection.

This might serve
as portrait of her as well

These are the tools of her trade.
She's been a top tier
piano teacher
in the Chicago area
for several decades now.

During which time
she has managed to acquire
this wonderful house
and stuff it full of eye candy.

Zugmas Brazis

Our tour should probably begin
with her favorite sculpture

and here's another one
perched in a tree
in the back yard

she's also a gardener
(as well as a world traveler )

She says the garden
has been somewhat neglected this year

But I prefer
the "jungle look"

at the top,
is the veranda
on which
we have often been entertained

Walking around the side of the house
is this little fellow
who fell off the wall

Now we're on the front porch.

This little fragment
was found abandoned in the kiln room
at the Palette and Chisel Academy.

The head is also an abandoned piece,
while the small figures
were made by a romantic Frenchman
who passed through Chicago
a few years ago

And this strange figure

was made by yours truly

Mark Chatterly

The stained glass windows
were designed and fabricated
by the lady herself.

(who also makes jewelry )

Now we're on the inside,
and we'll be walking counter-clockwise
through the building

Jade (from trip to China)


Though I can identify this one:


(from trip to Lhasa)

some very nice historical pieces

(from trip to Guatemala, near Tikal)

Lecoque, plates are Czech, sculpture by Jan Zlebek

Alois Lecoque and Groeger

Jan Zlebek, painting by Vladimir Ovtcharov (Bulgaria)

As I recall,
these were painted
for Ludka's father
by a fellow prisoner.
(Czech officers spent
a lot of time in prisons,
first Nazi, then Communist)

Indonesia (left), Namibia (right)

another piece by yours truly

Mathurin Moreau (France)

John Freda (Evanston, Il)

This is my favorite corner

Lubos Vojkuvka (Czech)

Petr Zlamal (Czech, from Ludka's home town)

Kostka (top), Russell Maier (bottom), sculpture by Erte

and I love all her glass

Light is by Ludka, inspired by a tall Chicago building in the clouds

Jiri Solc (Czech)




This is in the bedroom.

There were several paintings
there also,
but I couldn't photograph them
through the reflective glass.

Milos Koutecky (Czech)

This is a portrait of her son
done at least 30 years ago.

She's sorry that it was done
from a photograph,
but it looks pretty good to me.

And once again,
the lady herself
as a young woman.

As you can see,
she is an out-of-control
making, collecting, displaying
whatever resonates with her.

Might we say
that her entire house,
is a work of art
just like a Cornell box ?

Only, it's much more
bright and beautiful.