Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 26, 2010: Washington - A Visit, The National Gallery

My sister is in town for a workshop, so we got to have a visit. Since she and her husband are staying in Bethesda, just further up the same subway line as me, we were able to meet up easily and head downtown to the National Gallery. We briefly toured the East Building, then went through the underground passageway to the West Building - they're joined by a moving walkway surrounded by a trippy artwork of LED lights by Leo Villareal.

In the West Building we visited a small exhibition of anatomical art. It had just opened, and I'd been looking forward to it, but it was a bit disappointing. It only used books from their library to show how anatomy was important to artists through the ages - what a shame to not show any corresponding artwork.

However, the other exhibition we saw, photographs by Allen Ginsburg (of Beat poem 'Howl' fame) was great. In it there were photographs he took in his youth in the 1950s and then rediscovered years later, reprinting and captioning them. As a record of the times they're great, but combined with his arresting descriptions they're even better. Best story was in a photo of his grandmother, who learned English late in life, and as an assignment for her language class wrote the patriotic essay 'God Blast America'.

On our way back to the subway we passed through the Sculpture Garden. It's all modern or contemporary sculpture, apart from the inclusion of one of Hector Guimard's Paris Metro Art Nouveau entrances. It's beautiful, but it isn't really clear why it's here.

Photos: the illuminated walkway at the National Gallery; Heather and Anthony in front of the Paris Metro gateway at the Sculpture Garden

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