VA -- Norfolk -- Chrysler Museum of Art -- Ancient:
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CHRYSA_150531_007.JPG: Arts of Ancient and Early Imperial China:
Artisans of the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE) created pottery and bronzes in uniform styles that reflected the current ruler's ideals. Regional craftsmen of the Zhou Dynasty (1045-256 BCE) invented diverse local designs, often with secular themes and exaggerated styles.
In the Qin (221-206 BCE) and Han (206 BCE - 221 CE) Dynasties, people began collecting art for its decorative value and as a status symbol, rather than for ceremonial use. Artists developed expressive styles and narratives to tell stories about everyday life. As established beliefs like Daoism and Confucianism absorbed ideas from Buddhism, Chinese artists and architects incorporated the new religion's imagery.
The Tang (618-907 CE) and Song (960-1279 CE) Dynasties enjoyed unprecedented artistic growth. International activity through the silk routes and the growth of cities encouraged creativity. The Song Dynasty marked an especially important turning point. Book and scroll production increased literacy and emphasized education. This new training focused on Confucian thought, which stressed moral development, stable families, ethical government, and respect for tradition.
CHRYSA_150531_011.JPG: Asian Art
"Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it."
-- Confucius (551-479 BCE)
Spanning thousands of years, the works in this gallery reflect the cultural richness of a vast and diverse region. From figures used in burial rituals to porcelain vases created for aesthetic contemplation, this collection tells us about the religious beliefs, political power, daily life, and artistic traditions of China and Japan -- all while inspiring us with its enduring beauty.
Although diverse, the works on view tend to share certain themes: a respect for cultural traditions, overlapping philosophical beliefs, common linguistic systems, and an interest in nature. Imported ideas also influenced the arts. While the Chinese exported silk, ceramics, and other goods on land and sea routes, collectively known as the Silk Road, new materials and philosophies came back to China. Buddhism arrived from India around the first century CE, inspiring new religious art, while objects from the Mediterranean and the Middle East influenced architecture and ceramic decoration. In this gallery, you'll find stylized floral patterns derived from Persian art and blue enamel developed from imported cobalt.
As you take in this broad sweep of history, look carefully at the individual works. Every object -- from a simple wine jug to a monumental vase -- is itself a treasure worthy of close study.
CHRYSA_150531_045.JPG: The Human Form:
The Greeks' humanistic worldview is most apparent in their depictions of the human figure. Unlike ancient Egyptian artists, who held firm to a fixed vision of the body -- flat, rigid, frontal -- Greek artists experimented to create their own ideal human form, one that appeared astonishingly real, yet physically flawless and active in time and space.
They began with direct observation, inspired particularly by the beauty and strength of young athletes like those who competed in the Olympic Games. Then they applied a set of rules about bodily proportions, balanced features, and overall bodily poise -- ideals they believed made those figures perfect.
Roman artists developed a range of styles over the Empire's 1,000-year history, yet they preserved the classical Greek view of the human form. The Greeks' enduring ideals can be seen in the Roman sculptures displayed here, all likely copies of now-lost Greek works. Sleek, youthful, and carefully proportioned, their forms are fully rounded and convincingly lifelike, whether in vigorous motion or merely standing still.
CHRYSA_150531_055.JPG: Greek and Roman Art:
"Man is the measure of all things," proclaimed the Greek philosopher Protagoras (d 420 BCE) and in the decades that followed his life the ancient Greeks made good on that statement. They invented a series of human-centered principles -- from ideas about history, philosophy, and mathematics to the notion of citizenship within a democracy. As seen in the objects throughout this room, they also developed artistic ideals -- standards of proportion, symmetry, and balance -- based on direct observation of the human form.
The Greeks' humanistic outlook would influence the intellectual, political, and artistic life of the entire Mediterranean region. When the Romans conquered the Greeks, they exported Greek ideas to the edges of their vast empire, which stretched as far north as Britain. To control and connect with their remotest provinces, the practical-minded Romans forged their own system of laws and extensive trade networks. Yet, even as the Romans began to draw on the art and culture found throughout their Empire, they remained especially indebted to the Greeks and their humanistic worldview -- a view that continues to influence much of the world today.
CHRYSA_150531_067.JPG: Karen LaMonte
Reclining Drapery Impression, 2009
Karen LaMonte has said that her luminous glass dresses pay tribute to ancient Greek and Roman art. Indeed, the recumbent pose and swelling folds of her Reclining Drapery Impression echo classical Roman sculptures like the girl crowning the sarcophagus nearby. While evoking the serene beauty of classical forms, LaMonte's glass dress also challenges our expectations of what a traditional "figure" should be. It offers us not a female figure, but only her clothing, itself fashioned out of translucent glass -- a tantalizing stand-in for the vanished wearer beneath.
CHRYSA_150531_088.JPG: The Art of Africa:
The dynamic cultural landscape of Africa comes to life through the artworks seen in this room. When animated through movement, ritual installations, or the active participation of spectators and performers, these works express religious beliefs, establish social traditions, and communicate a stunning array of stories, songs, and dances. Here, they reveal a "living art" that reflects the diversity of the African continent.
Traditional African artists create objects that represent and enliven the supernatural, giving invisible ideas tangible form. The complex symbolism in many of these works comes from diverse cultures, many of which existed long before modern political boundaries were established. Most of the work here was produced fairly recently, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but draws on traditions that extend back for centuries. While some traditions are no longer practices, others endure, often responding to contemporary circumstances in both form and meaning. Look for works that blend long-established styles and forms with modern techniques and motifs.
CHRYSA_150531_101.JPG: Tomb and Ritual:
These figurines and human-shaped coffins were never meant to be seen by the living, thought they often look on lives of their own. Placed in tombs, they transformed into living receptacles for the deceased's ka, or vital spirit. Although the figures were intended to serve as the eternal home for a specific person, typically artists did not try to represent the deceased's unique characteristics. Instead they created figured with features and poses that expressed the concept of Ma'at -- the idea that all who seek paradise in the afterlife should embody the perfect order established at the instant of creation.
Since work needed to be done in the hereafter, Egyptians also provided the deceased with servants in the form of tiny figurines called shabtis, like those nearby, ready to carry out their masters' tasks. The physical body itself needed to be perfected if it were to serve the deceased in the afterlife. The video in the center of the room explains the complex mummification process Egyptians used to prepare and preserve the deceased.
Unlike the 26 letters in the English alphabet, which correspond to certain sounds, Egyptian hieroglyphs can represent sounds or they can symbolize specific things or entire ideas. We can decode the hieroglyphs on the panel to the left because they serve as a caption for for the scene carved beside it. In the stone tablet to the right, we can understand the text because of its specific terms. The fragment once crowned the lintel, or overdoor, of a chapel dedicated to Amenardis, whom the hieroglyphs describe at "the God's wife, Divine Adoratress, the Hand of the god." Such lofty titles were reserved for the chief priestess of the god Amun's temple at Karnak. The position was always filled by a daughter of the king. As "the God's wife," could not marry or have children. At her death, the position passed to a daughter of the reigning king.
CHRYSA_150531_137.JPG: The Legacy of Ancient Egypt:
From its innovative agricultural practices to the complex building systems that raised the pyramids, ancient Egypt left an enduring technical legacy on later antiquity. Yet, it was the mystery and allure of its art and architecture that most captivated the ancients and fascinates us still today.
Western engagement with Egypt revived in 1798, when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded the country. Along with his army he brought scientists and scholars who studied and decoded Egypt's ancient remains. They communicated their findings to a spellbound public in Europe and ultimately America, prompting generations of Western artists to visit Egypt and draw inspiration from the newly "discovered" East.
The painting and photographs on view here demonstrate the 19th-century fascination with the Egyptian past. While many painters stressed the romance of ancient ruins, photographers used the realism of their medium to present an archaeologically precise portrait. Yet, all these artists infused their works with a palpable sense of mystery. From the dramatic shadows that cut across the photographs' barren landscapes to the painting's glowing sunset, these images conjure a mystique that haunts our understanding of Egypt until today.
CHRYSA_150531_141.JPG: Egyptian Art:
Ancient Egyptians traced their origins to the moment the sun god Ra set the universe in motion. Stepping out of the watery chaos, he created order by establishing a series of natural cycles: the rising and setting of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon, and the annual flooding of the Nile River Valley, which replenished the soil and sustained Egypt's agricultural economy. From 3200 BCE, when the Egyptians united into a single kingdom, to 30 BCE, when the Romans conquered them, Egyptians devoted their creative and technological efforts to preserving this divine order, or Ma'at.
Egyptians used their art in customs and rituals designed to perpetuate the divine cycles of life, death, and rebirth. These included worshiping the gods, respecting a social hierarchy led by a divine king, and their tireless efforts to secure rebirth in the hereafter by preparing the deceased for burial. The artwork itself was meant to invoke divine order. From the great pyramids and temples to the modest bronze statuettes and mammoth stone sarcophagus found in this room, Egyptians created regular, balanced forms that convey the order established at the dawn of time.
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Wikipedia Description: Chrysler Museum of Art
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Chrysler Museum of Art is an art museum in the Ghent district of Norfolk, Virginia. The museum was originally founded in 1933 as the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences. In 1971, automotive heir, Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. (whose wife, Jean Outland Chrysler, was a native of Norfolk), donated most of his extensive collection to the museum. This single gift significantly expanded the museum's collection, making it one of the major art museums in the Southeastern United States. From 1958 to 1971, the Chrysler Museum of Art was a smaller museum consisting solely of Chrysler's personal collection and housed in the historic Center Methodist Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Today's museum sits on a small body of water known as The Hague in the Ghent district, near downtown Norfolk.
The New York Times described the Chrysler collection as "one any museum in the world would kill for." Comprising over 30,000 objects the collection spans over 5000 years of world history. American and European paintings and sculpture from the middle ages to the present day form the core of the collection.
The museum's most significant holdings include works by Tintoretto, Veronese, Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velazquez, Salvator Rosa, Gianlorenzo Bernini, John Singleton Copley, Thomas Cole, Eugene Delacroix, Edouard Manet, Paul Cezanne, Gustave Doré, Albert Bierstadt, Auguste Rodin, Mary Cassatt, Paul Gauguin, Georges Rouault, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Richard Diebenkorn, and Franz Kline.
The Chrysler Museum is home to the final sculpture of the Baroque master Gianlorenzo Bernini, a marble bust of Jesus created as a gift for the artist's benefactor, Queen Christina of Sweden.The Museum also houses one of the world's greatest collections of glass (including outstanding works by Louis COmfort Tiffany), distinguished holdings in the decorative arts, and a fine and growing collection of photography. The arts of the ancient world, Asia, Africa, and Pre-Columbian America are also well represented.
Programs and Exhibitions:
The Museum recognizes a responsibility to assist its visitors in getting the most out of their visit. A full range of guided tours, lectures, films, concerts, family days, travel programs, and publications are designed both to make the Museum a lively and engaging place to provide information on the works displayed and their historical context. The Chrysler is particularly proud of its school tour program. Each year over 100 volunteer docents welcome over 60,000 students from Hampton Roads for tours at the Museum itself and for living history experiences at the historic houses.
Each year the Chrylser presents an average of 15 special exhibitions. These bring to Norfolk outstanding artworks from around the world. Recent offerings have ranged from Myth, Magic, and Mystery: One Hundred Years of American Children's Book Illustration, to Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Painting: Works from the National Gallery of Art, the Art of Andy Warhol, Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, M.C. Escher, Ancient Gold Jewelry from the Dallas Museum of Art, Art of Glass, A Fair Wind: Maritime Paintings by WInslow Homer, and Rodin: Sculpture from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collection.
The Jean Outland Chrysler Library:
With a collection of 80,000 volumes, the Jean Outland Chrysler Library is one of the largest and most important art libraries in the South. The collection covers the entire history of world art, with special emphasis on material relevant to the Chrysler's Permanent Collection. The library subscribes to several hundred art-related journals, has an extensive collection of current and historical auction catalogues, and exchanges publications with 400 art museums world wide. There are also extensive vertical files on artists and art-related topics.
The library named in honor of Jean Outland Chrysler, wife of the late Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., who played a leading roled in its formation and expansion. The collection is based on the original holdings of the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences library. In 1977, the library of the London art dealer M. Knoedler & Co. was purchased, adding major historical reference volumes, periodicals, and rare annotated slaes catalogues. The Library also houses the Museum archives, a rich source of local history that includes Mark Twain's original typescript of a speech he delivered at the Jamestown Tricentennial Exposition of 1907. A collection of papers from the Moses Myers family provides unique insights into the life of an important Tidewater merchant during the nation's early history.
The A. Kempton d'Ossche Art Video Collection is a fast-growing Library resource. The collection covers a variety of artists and art topics.
In addition to its main building in downtown Norfolk, the Chrysler Museum of Art also administers two important Historic Houses.
The Moses Myers House in downtown Norfolk is not only an unusually elegant example of Federal period architecture, but almost unique in America as it retains 70% of its original contents. The house and its furnishings provide a wonderful opportunity for visitors to experience first-hand the life of a prosperous Jewish merchant and his family during the early years of the 19th century. Moses Myers moved to Norfolk in 1787 with his wife Eliza. Five years later he purchased a large lot, where he erected a home for his family. Today the house contains an important collection of American, English, and French furniture, along with glass, silver, and ceramics, and portraits by Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully and John Wesley Jarvis. All were commissioned or acquired by members of the Myers family.
The Norfolk History Museum at the Willoughby-Baylor House: The Norfolk History Museum at the newly-refurbished WIlloughby-Baylor House (ca. 1794) illuminates the wide range and richness of the history of the entire region by providing enganging thematic offerings and surveys, including the decorative arts of Norfolk, the story of Norfolk at various stages in its long history as an international port and maritime center, the area's impressive naval and military heritage, and the area's historic building and residences at different periods in history.
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