Reflection On A Visit To The Museum Of Art

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For this assignment, I went to the Fred Jones Museum of Art at Norman, going to this museum was an adventure, mostly because a lot of things happened in the process; my friend and I got lost, our phones died and we did not know how to get back home, and we met some tourists from Germany and took a picture with them. I personally never had to do an assignment like this before and it was a good experience and really different from what I’m used to which I think it’s really good; first because I hadn’t been to a museum since I was little and we would go on trips from school; second, because it was really good experience and a really unique way to learn about art and have fun at the same time.

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After thirty minutes of just driving around looking for parking, we finally get to the museum, the first thing that caught my eye was this big statue or sculpture outside of the museum, from far it looked like an orangutan, but when I got closer it looked like a big man with big boobs. Turns out it was a Sphinx, which I learned in high school is a big sculpture with the body of a lion and the head of a woman. When I went into the museum, there were to big sculptures right next two each other, they did not have a name, or a tag like other sculptures at the museum, but they looked like canoes, just with big circles in the middle, I don’t know what they were but they were really cool and I think it was a very unique sculpture to welcome people into the museum. Then behind these sculptures, there was a head statue of Fred Jones Jr. a lady who works there explained to us that the Museum was named after Fred Jones Jr., he was a student at OU and he died in a plane crash and his parents donated funds for the construction of the museum in his memory. After that, we kept walking, and there was this little space which looked like a mini-movie theater, there was a TV and seats in form of a rectangle, we sat there and they showed us a video about the history of the museum, all the exhibits that they have, they talked about how many years the museum has been at the OU campus and all there is to know about the museum.

Even though almost the entire museum was closed due to some changes they were doing to the exhibits, we were able to see The Weitzenhoffer Collection, this is a collection of paintings by various French impressionists including Vincent van Cogh, Camille Pissaro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and others. This collection was also the largest donation of French Impressionist art ever made to a public university in the United States and the largest single donation ever made to OU. The Weitzenhoffer Collection is installed in galleries at the Fred Jones Museum of Art, it includes eighteen century English furniture, Chinese export porcelain, and also paints of different French artists.

The Chinese porcelain was “a development that changed the face of art throughout the world”. “Chinese export porcelain was valued by 18th-century traders mainly as ballast for the other more precious cargoes, such as tea and silk, on voyages home. Mass-produced wares; Private trade orders; Value in today’s market as a collectible.” The pieces of Chinese export porcelain at the Weitzenhoffer Collection were made about 2,000 years ago, according to a flyer they gave me at the museum. All the teacups, plates, and other Chinese porcelain art still conserve their bright blue colors and translucency. On the exhibit, there was also Eighteen century English furniture, there are different styles of 18th century furniture; the era represents the golden age of cabinet making. Furniture artisans were trained in the construction of sophisticated designs that are highly finished. 

One of the items and artists that caught my attention the most in the exhibition was a portrait of Alexander Reid by Vincent can Cogh. Animated by fiery touches of red, orange and green, this portrait has an enigmatic and expressive power. Reid worked in Paris with Van Gogh’s art dealer brother Theo and, for a short while, shared the brothers’ Montmartre apartment. Until 1928 this was believed to be a self-portrait of Van Gogh. Reid’s son saw the painting in a catalogue, contacted the artist’s family and told them it was actually a portrait of his father. Alexander Reid “was one of the most influential art dealers in Europe in the 20th century, exhibiting and selling artworks by some of the finest artists of his period, including the Impressionists, the Post-impressionists, the Glassgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists. he was friend of James Abbott McNeil Whistler and Vincent van Cough. He helped build up the French painting collection of Sir William Burrell and many of the works he dealt with now feature in major private, civic, and national art collections all over the world”.

The striking colour, emphatic brushwork, and contoured forms of his work powerfully influenced the current of Expressionism in modern art. Van Gogh’s art became astoundingly popular after his death, especially in the late 20th century, when his work sold for record-breaking sums at auctions around the world and was featured in blockbuster touring exhibitions. In part because of his extensive published letters, van Gogh has also been mythologized in the popular imagination as the quintessential tortured artist. Vincent van Gogh made over 900 paintings and 1,100 works on paper during the decade that he worked as an artist. Influenced by Jean-Francois Millet and the Barbizon School artists, van Gogh’s early work comprises dour portraits of Dutch peasants. 

To me, going to the museum was a really good experience because I learned things I did not know about art, I learned about artists I didn’t even know existed, and I saw many different things that are very similar to the stuff that we use nowadays and we don’t even realize they have a story. The Chinese porcelain for example, the teacups, the plates, all that stuff we see it in movies, a few people have it at home, and we see them and most of the time we don’t appreciate it’s beauty, its historical meaning; or the 18th century English furniture, we don’t know where our furniture comes from or the style, but in reality it also has a story. So what I’m trying to say is, the visit to the museum and this paper taught me things I did not know, I learned a lot and it was actually really fun, I know people that say museums are boring, and I don’t think they were made for people to go have to fun, but to learn about culture and art, but the Fred Jones Museum of Art was definitely the most interesting Museum I’ve ever visited and I am definitely going back after they open it completely. 

16 August 2021

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