Archive for the ‘decorative arts’ Tag

Frames rule   1 comment

Slap a piece of wood around a painting, and you’ve created a border  — a signal that the viewer is leaving one kind of space and moving into another.  Carve and gild that border and you’re declaring that what is inside is special, very special.

And sometimes the frame itself can grow so exuberant, so loudly and proudly does it proclaim the specialness of what it contains that viewers have to work really hard to tear their attention away from the  border…to the special object it is framing.

Altar in a baroque church in Lecce -- is there any other kind?

Altar in a baroque church in Lecce — is there any other kind?

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Crossing over   1 comment

The whole notion of thresholds and borders between the sacred and profane got me to thinking about facades of churches and how they signal this border/threshold and perhaps none more loudly than baroque facades designed with Counter-Reformation zeal in the Italian town of Lecce.

Lecce’s Chiesa di Santa Croce

Talk about a border teeming with life forms…

detail from the facade

At first glance, not as terrifying as some thresholds, but as you step closer and let your eyes sweep upward they are pretty awesome —  as in daunting, impressive and not a little fearsome.  There is no question that you are leaving the familiar world behind.

Borders   1 comment

One reader commented…

“And the “borderland” is often the richest, most productive and releaving place to be. In ecology, scientists study and celebrate the “edge” — the edge between sea and land, between fresh and salt water, between one climatic zone and another. There they find not only an incubator for distinctive forms of life occupying that borderland niche, but a particularly revealing place from which to look at and understanding the places on either side of the border.”

Think of the borders we create between the sacred and the profane–

main entrance to the Duomo in Orvieto, Italy

Posted October 19, 2012 by leeadairlawrence in architecture, Art, Religion

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TIBETAN WORKS IN NEWARK   Leave a comment

Vajrapani - Bodhisattva

A worthwhile collection of Tibetan art in Newark — that in itself to most will seem like the ultimate oxymoron.  As one friend wrote to me, “I thought Newark was a cultural wasteland.”  Wrong.  At least not within the wall of the Newark Museum where a very dynamic curator has reinstalled the Tibetan galleries, striking a balance between treating works as religious icon, cultural artifact, and art (I try to convey a sense of that in my review for Wall Street Journal).   To get a sense of the museum’s TIbetan collection, check out its web site as well as its pages on the  Himalayan Art web site.

Chinese cloisonné: just decorative or also art?   2 comments

Ming dynasty (1450-1550) touhu (or arrow) vase

Here’s the ultimate decorative arts medium — cloisonné — and new evidence that Ming Chinese scholar-artists might have prized it the way they did their craggy scholar’s rocks and understated ink paintings. The Economist has a great review of a show of cloisonné at the Bard Graduate Center; I also reviewed it in the Wall Street Journal.

Qing dynasty basin from the Brooklyn Museum

The rare white cloisonné basin to the left was used for Buddhist rituals — if you could look inside it, you would see that the wires trace the outline of Buddhist symbols.  The vase on the right with its fiery lotus flowers reminiscent of Tibetan paintings is a small copy of an ancient form.  The story is that ancient warriors would take a break and play a game of toss-the-arrow, using an empty wine jug.  I like to picture Ming scholars and rulers tossing ink brushes into the touhu rather than just displaying them on their desks as objets d’art.

Posted February 13, 2011 by leeadairlawrence in Asian art, craft art, museum shows

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