As I described in part one, (click here to read my introduction) the Brooklyn Museum is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country. It has been modernizing in the past few decades to bring both the building and galleries into the new century. As the museums web site states: "In recent years, the Museum has focused on redesigning its galleries and reinstalling its major collections to make them more accessible to the public. Flowing spaces, vivid wall colors, dramatic graphic elements, and multimedia components feature in many of these reconfigured galleries."
The Museum opened its dramatically redesigned front entrance and new public plaza on April 17, 2004
The sheer-glass entrance pavilion, named the Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Pavilion and Lobby, provides a dramatic architectural connection between the interior of the building and the exterior surroundings, while bringing natural light into the formerly dark interior. It doubles the lobby space and as you can see in the photo above, it allows space for cultural programs. The first Saturday of each month the Brooklyn Museum stays open late with free family events, which include gallery tours, lectures, arts and crafts, live music, and a dance party. In this way the museum has done much to incorporate itself into the neighborhood by being a welcoming place to visit and not a stuffy institution.
I am a frequent visitor of the Brooklyn Museum and always try to see their special exhibits. Last weekend we went to see Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera which is located in the Robert E. Blum Gallery, 1st Floor of the museum. The last day of the exhibit is April 10, 2011, so we did not want to miss it! The exhibit has been organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in collaboration with guest curator Ron Schick. Well known in the United States, Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine for more than four decades, and Look Magazine later in his career.
The exhibit stated that from the 1930's, Norman Rockwell used photography as a medium in the production of his art work. He would stage his models to express his ideas, photograph them, then use the photogaphs to copy the people and scenes and bring his illustration ideas to life. As a long time Rockwell admirer this came as a surprise to me, as I always thought his artwork came from his imagination and that he did not use models.
Photography was not allowed in this exhibit, so the following photos are from the museum's web site.
The Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera exhibit presented the study photographs alongside his paintings, and drawings, to offer a fascinating look at the artist’s working process. For Rockwell's 1950 painting "Shuffleton’s Barbershop" seen on the right above, he said the photographs he took of the actual shop helped him see details, such as the way the light enters the room, that he would have other wised missed if he had done only a rough sketch.
For his 1948 painting entitled The Dugout (above right), Rockwell traveled to Boston with Saturday Evening Post art editor Ken Stuart to photograph fans during a doubleheader between the Boston Braves and the visiting Chicago Cubs at Braves Field. He did additional photos of staged poses as you can see on the left. This is one of his rare watercolor paintings, as most of his painting were done in oils.
For the 1967 cover of Look Magazine entitled "New Kids in the Neighborhood," Rockwell used his favorite subject, children, to illustrate an article on the changing racial profile of America’s suburbs. The exhibit explained that when Rockwell left The Post for Look magazine in 1964, he was able to take on issues of social consciousness, such as war, racism, poverty and injustice, and some of his most well know paintings are from that era.
Norman Rockwell (American, 1894–1978). The Tattoo Artist, 1944.
Oil on canvas, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the artist
It was a fascinating exhibit and a thrill for me to see many more full sized original artworks by Norman Rockwell that up to now I have only been able to appreciate in book form. I have greater appreciation of the amount of time he took into setting up a scene before he painted it, and how much of a perfectionist he was in trying to capture every detail.
Another special exhibit we saw was Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains on exhibit February 18 to May 15, 2011, Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, Cantor Gallery, 5th Floor
Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains on the web explains: "...the tipi as the center of Plains culture and social, religious, and creative traditions from the early nineteenth century to the present. The exhibition examines the tipi as an architectural form, an expression of Plains artistic and cultural identity, and an interior space for domestic and ritual use. Tipi features more than 160 objects from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection of Plains material, as well as selected works from other museums; objects by contemporary Plains artists; and three full-size tipis, two with furnished interiors."
A short video about the tipi and its installation.
An informational placard about tipi designs at the exhibit (double click to enlarge)
There were many wonderful artifacts on exhibit. Native American women made most of the family's possessions, and designed and beaded the clothing. Native American men owned and displayed their medicine bundles and warrior regalia in the tipi, earning the rights to add feathers in war bonnets based on their warrior skills and strengths. I was fascinated by the bear claw necklace made by a Northern Plains Crow artist, circa 1850 as it contains a silver George Washington peace medal dated 1789. (double click on the photo collage above for a closer view).
Last, before leaving the museum, we walked though reOrder: An Architectural Environment by Situ Studio on exhibit March 4, 2011 to January 15, 2012 in the Great Hall, 1st Floor.
Situ Studios explains the soft sculptures were a way to show how the museum has evolved continuously in its 120 year history, constantly reshaping itself and adapting to a unfolding city.
If you are interested to learn more about any of these exhibits the Brooklyn Museum gift shop has books for sale specific to the their topic, among other interesting books, posters, note cards, etc., including my favorite....
(double click on photo to enlarge)
What better gift to get a Brooklyn-ite, past or present, or one who wishes to be ?
There is still more to show about this fascinating museum and my next post will be about the Brooklyn Museum's collection of ancient Egyptian art, one of the largest and finest in the United States, and world renowned.