Monday, June 15, 2015

Birding the Museum

Ginger and I took in the Chicago art museum last week.  We didn't have a ton of time and certainly didn't see it all but enjoyed what we did see.  I think the images here represent about 500 years worth of "art."

A lot was fairly lifelike (or life size at least).  This is a King Vulture from a German project in the early 1700's that was trying to replicate the animal and bird kingdoms in "white gold."
They finished 30 or 40 before the "patron" (Augustus the Strong) died.  According to wiki he was king of Poland and imprisoned the artist (JF Bottger) who claimed to be an alchemist until the artist actually produced him gold.  The closest he managed was a new approach to porcelain ... hence white gold.
There were several examples of market still-"lifes" ...
this one by Strozzi in the 1600's highlighted by a roller, turtle-dove, and bustard
... this one by one of the Flemish painters on a canvas about 12 feet wide ...
and this one with some dead birds including Eurasian Goldfinch and Robin at the feet of the Holy Family which I probably should have gotten the name of the painting to figure out the back story/symbolism

Some of the birds hopefully fared better, here's the Robin and Goldfinch again in a 1500's German depiction of heaven

I'm not sure how well Paradise worked out for the birds though since a shrike made it there too.
There were some very Audubon-esque prints from the 1700's, these from an Irish artist named Dixon
 Nothing says Ireland like a Wood Duck or Purple Swamphen.

Also in the Irish exhibit was this somewhat macabre collage of a Song (?) Thrush which was a combo of watercolor and actual feathers.
Slightly less macabre than I feared was this 1850's bronze of Hebe the Greek goddess of youth with her father, Jupiter, represented by the eagle.
Given that it's a Greek mythology theme I was a little worried I'd look it up and find out that the eagle is about to eat her liver or some stupid thing, but apparently she just feeds it ambrosia from the cup which is a ticket to immortality.
Slightly less immortal were some modern photos.  Want to know what to do with your most backlit pics of a Vermillion Flycatcher?  Just blow them up to about 4 foot by 6 foot and call them art!

There was also a mostly cut-off Curve-billed Thrasher on the same perch (but rotated 90 degrees!) as well as this about 5 foot by 12 foot piece that I'll leave you with...

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