Although the famous monuments and memorials were wonderful to see, one of the highlights of my day in D.C. was a stroll through the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. I just love the chance to see works of art that I have only seen in photographs, especially works that I use as the inspiration for classroom art lessons. So I can't begin to describe how excited I was to see Roy Lichtenstein's House 1 and Claes Oldenburg/Coosie Van Bruggen's Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, two sculptures that I have often shown to my middle school students.
I especially liked being able to stand by the Oldenburg sculpture in order to give my students a better sense of its size.
I also discovered two new sculptures and artists, or at least new to me, while walking through the gardens. Roxy Paine's Graft was an amazing stainless steel and concrete tree. My photograph can't really do it justice, but in the afternoon sunlight it was simply exquisite.
My second discovery was a humorous parody of Rodin's famous Thinker, which can be seen at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. This sculpture by American artist, Barry Flanagan, titled Thinker on a Rock made me smile because for years I have collected various and sundry items with a rabbit motif, something that goes back to my childhood fondness for the animal for reasons I have long forgotten and can no longer explain!
Back in Philadelphia, we spent an afternoon at a fabulous art museum that I had never heard of before. The Barnes Foundation Museum houses one of the world's largest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern European paintings, thanks to its founder, Dr. Albert C. Barnes. Not only were we amazed by the sheer number of works by Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Modigliani, and others, but we were enthralled by the way the works were displayed, as if each painting were hung as it was acquired, rather than by period or artist, as we usually expect in an art museum. What a treasure for the city of Philadelphia!
Check it out at http://www.barnesfoundation.org., or better yet, pay a visit next time you're in town. And while you're there, have one of the best deli sandwiches anywhere at The Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen...yum! http://famous4thstreetdelicatessen.com.