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Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Philadelphia Museum of Art | The Art of Still Life: From Audubon to Warhol

Yesterday I had off from work and decided to go into the city. I'll be posting three separate blog entries about my day to make it not so overwhelming. I'll be posting a restaurant review either later tonight or tomorrow. Anyway, on Thursday one of my library coworkers mentioned that the Philadelphia Museum had a new exhibit about still lives. On Instagram, I saw that the Franklin Institute and Academy of Natural Sciences were both participating to get the word out about their still life contest, but it didn't register with me that it was a new exhibit. My co-worker said the exhibit featured artists from Audubon to Warhol and it received rave reviews.

It has been two-and-a-half years since I've been to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I decided to check it out. I arrived at 9:45 and had to wait the 15 minutes until it opened. That's okay, I walked around and took some pictures. When the museum opened at 10 AM, I purchased a ticket for $25 - not bad considering how big that museum is.

I LOVE Alexander Calder's Ghost mobile. Every time I have to get a picture of it because for some odd reason it just makes me smile. I love the whiteness spinning, floating above my head and I love how the Archer just stares at the Ghost mobile. Where it is placed and how it greets visitors just fascinate me. Hey, I even wrote a poem about it in 2012 and I will be putting it in As Far As The Eyes Can See.

Alexander's Ghost
Jessica Marie

I wrote this free verse poem back in 2012 and posted it to my Blogger account. It received wonderful responses such as "Neat poem and good pictures. :)" that I wanted to include it on for the community to enjoy. Enjoy a poem about my favorite mobile by Alexander Calder, as found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

translucent spectre

floats freely on the ceiling

everyone in awe.

Free-floating, suspended in air;

The statue, back arched, stares.

White tiles coupled with gray wire,

"ooh"s and "ahh"s never tire.

Below the spectre, awaits

hustling-bustling, lines straight

or curving in and out.

The droning and humming, the shouts--

another day in the city, away

from the heat and humidity, stay;

this ghost was created for you,

for Alexander lived here too.

The god father of mobiles,

illuminations of grays and teals,

reds, whites, blues and yellow--

such a colourful fellow.

This ghost will wait for you,

with magnificent stories too;

grab the pale white tiles;

let your imagination stay awhile.

I will be writing another one as well. I just love that sculpture. I took several pictures and had one visitor take a picture of me just looking at it. Here is a history of the mobile:  An Analysis of Ghost by Alexander CalderGenerations of Calders' Works Hang/Displayed in Philadelphia.

Ghost with the Archer and Christmas trees.

Me attempting a selfie with Ghost.

One visitor saw my struggle and took a picture.

The Still Life exhibit didn't start tours until 11 AM. I walked around the museum and went into different rooms on the first floor. I went into this one collection called the Wrath of Gods. It was artwork mostly about the wrath of the Greek Gods, but it also included some Christian paintings of Jesus being crucified. Some Renaissance painters really depicted Jesus's death in graphic ways, but I never realized that artists of this time period also compared Prometheus's death in this manner as well. Prometheus is the Greek God of forethought and creativity. He is a Titan - his story is basically he created a sculpture, wanted the sculpture to come to life, so he snuck into Olympus and took some powers to make his creations come alive. Zeus didn't like that and he punished Prometheus. He killed Prometheus and had an Eagle eat his remains. Prometheus came back to life and each time the Eagle would kill him until Zeus decided to give Prometheus mercy and broke the curse. (Prometheus) Some artists depicted Prometheus's death similar to Jesus's death.

I did a no-no. I took a picture in this exhibit and that's why it's taken from behind.

I then walked around the other exhibits. I love paintings and sculptures. The one security guard was telling me about the Ballerina sculpture and how this ballet class came to the museum to see this sculpture. The teacher had the little girls line up one by one to pose with this statue. I used to take ballet when I was six years old. I even performed in a show. I had to try it myself. I took two pictures on a timer. I didn't have my tripod, so I set up my purse and camera bag on the bench, then placed my camera on top. Not bad photos - creativity is interesting in times like these. :)

Finally! 11 AM! Time for the Still Life exhibit. Sadly, I couldn't take photographs of that exhibit because it is on loan. It's amazing all of the things I learned - still life portraits could be the selfies of their time period. One artist loved painting his family, but he had a signature style. After he finished painting his family, friends, or other people, he painted himself into the picture of himself painting that picture. I took the audio tour and it was described as analogous to how people take selfies today. I will admit I did laugh out loud, but I think people around me were engrossed in their audio tours and didn't hear me. I never laughed so hard in my life.

Food still lives were also important. Peale had awesome still lives of food from vegetables, fruits, meat and fish. One of his fish portraits, no lie, looked like the image I took last week of my dinner:

I said to one woman in between the audio tour, "Wow! This looks like the photograph I took last week of me preparing a fish dinner! I'm amazed! This is amazing because although our mediums have changed over the years, we still love expressing the same things!" She laughed and remembered me saying earlier that I thought his pictures of food were amazing, "you must be a foodie. It's good that you appreciate this though!"

I have to say my favorite still lives involved flowers, nature, and music. I did like the few still lives of live fish swimming around, though. Those are my favorite subjects. I also really loved Audubon's still lives - I still love birds and nature. I loved seeing all of his drawings and his taxidermied animals. Even Warhol's work was amazing and Georgia O'Keefe. I would recommend seeing this exhibit, it's amazing and you can really learn a lot. It runs until January 10, 2016.

The rest of the time I explored the other collections from photography, the Middle Eastern collection, the armor and weaponry of the Crusades, the Japanese collections, the Japanese tea house, and the European collections.

College class tour going on.

Preschool/Elementary school tour. Yes, a lot of educational tours yesterday.

I had a fun time and I even took a photograph of me sitting on the museum stairs in front of the trees. Maybe this should be a holiday picture for cards I want to send out?



  1. I came to see the movie choice but was entertained by your wonderful poem and museum day. Your poem is great and goes well with the actual mobile. I actually love the picture , is it Laos with the snakes or Hercules? This looks like a beautiful museum. Degas loved ballerinas. The little cupid looks like it is from Meissen/Dresden??

    1. Hi Birgit,

      Yeah, I skipped this month - a lot of things going on. Also, on the list - the only other movie I've seen (and didn't review yet) was Winnie the Pooh. I do love Pooh Bear, but haven't seen that movie in 15 years or so.

      Thank you! That poem is one of my favorites and I'll be working on one later - an updated one. :) It was Laos with the snakes. The little cupid figure's name is actually Figure of Spring. It was sculpted in Vienna by Michael Powolny.

      The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one my favorites. Baltimore's is second. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is HUGE. In the spring and summer I love going outside to their gardens. The gardens have beautiful sculptures and a veranda. Yesterday was too windy and chilly; I didn't go outside much.