Monday, June 2, 2014

WEISMAN ART MUSEUM, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Weisman Art Museum, Designed by Frank Gehry, Minneapolis, MN
Perched on a bluff above the Mississippi River, the gleaming exterior of the Weisman Art Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota seems to hover like an earthbound space station.  Designed by Frank Gehry and first opened in 1993 (it was recently remodeled and expanded) the museum houses more than 20,000 artworks, many of them on view in the large, airy spaces inside.  On a recent visit to the Twin Cities I visited the museum.  It brought back memories of my trip to Bilbao, Spain, a few years ago and visiting the Guggenheim Museum there, also designed by Frank Gehry.  While not exactly a twin, the two buildings are close relatives.
Sculpture: Executive in a Red Chair by Duane Hanson
The Weisman Museum’s permanent exhibits feature twentieth century American art, a rich collection of ceramics, traditional Korean furniture, and works on paper.  As I walked into the large central gallery I saw what appeared to be a seated man reading a newspaper in one corner.  At first I thought he was a museum employee (the guards don’t wear uniforms), but as I got closer realized that it was a life size sculpture depicting Weisman, the businessman who donated much of the money to build the museum.  The sculpture, by Duane Hanson is called “Executive in a Red Chair.”
Special Exhibit:  Siberia, Imagined and Reimagined
An exhibit of photographs of Siberia filled the two rooms for temporary exhibits.  The pictures, which span both the history of photography and of Russian involvement in Siberia, range from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day and reflect cultural, historical and political aspects of Siberia as well as its vast landscape.  Some of the pictures depict the indigenous people who have inhabited the region for centuries, hunting, fishing, and herding reindeer and show how their lives and the landscape have changed, in most cases not for the better.  A last section of the exhibit compares Siberia with the American West, pairing photographs such as the Ansel Adams photos of a meandering river with mountains in the background with a very similar scene shot in Siberia.
Painting, Flowers by Georgia O'Keefe
The galleries with American art had works by many familiar artists–Louise Nevelson, Georgia O’Keefe, Andy Warhol, Marsden Hartley, and many more.  David Smith’s sculpture, Star Cage, 1950 was displayed in one corner.  During the year I took classes at Hunter College in New York (1967), David Smith was my sculpture teacher.  By then his works had become much more minimalist.
Sculpture: Star Cage by David Smith
Just outside the entrance to the museum is the beginning of a walking bridge across the river to the West Bank campus.  It was a beautiful day, so I walked across to enjoy the sunshine and the view.  Behind me was the museum and university campus.  In front I saw the skyline of downtown Minneapolis, which has been totally transformed since the time I was a child and grew up in the city.  While some things have stayed the same, I always enjoy coming back and seeing my home town as a tourist.
Detail, Clasp on Korean chest

1 comment:

Bashu Thapaliya said...

The hike through the most rugged and fascinating trails of Sagarmatha National Park, witnessing the traditional Sherpa culture in the villages of Khumbu and being in close proximity with world’s highest peak - Everest Base Camp Trek.