Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Two exhibits, Two worlds

Admission stickers
There are two vastly different exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts right now. I would recommend going now, before the holidays when everyone has out of town relatives they need to entertain.

The first exhibit is Degas: A New Vision

This is the only American stop on the tour of this exhibit, so see it if you can. It is a true survey of his career, starting with student sketches and ending with photographs he took towards the end of his life.  You can see how his work changed over time, from when he was a student of Ingres, to when he started experimenting with the looser brushwork of the impressionists. There are paintings, sketches, prints, and bronzes (including the famed "Little Dancer").  There are even some works from his time in New Orleans. I had no idea he'd ever left Europe, let alone spent time in a cotton office in Louisiana.  Limited photography is allowed.

The second exhibit is Emperor's Treasures: Works from the National Palace Museum, Taipei

This exhibit covers works from the early 12th century to the early 20th century. There are porcelains, cloisonné, ink wash paintings and scrolls, Buddhist Sutras done with exquisite penmanship in gold ink on indigo-dyed paper, carved jade and one monstrously ugly, solid gold ewer. (It's in the last room, if you must see it.) My favorite item is a porcelain teacup decorated with chickens.

I've actually been to the museum in Taipei, but I was 12 years old and severely jet-lagged. I remember bejeweled fingernail protectors and some carved jade, but my main memory of the stopover was dropping the hotel keychain on my foot. (It was about 8 inches long and solid brass. It hurt.)

Unfortunately, no photographs are allowed of this exhibit. But if you are thinking ahead to Christmas,  they have a nice gift shop, with the cutest salt and pepper shakers.  I, myself, opted for a keychain with a glow-in-the-dark bok choy (A reproduction of one of the museum's most famous exhibits; sadly, not part of the Houston show.). What is life without a touch of whimsy?

The monkeys are salt and pepper, the bird is for soy sauce

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