Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Sirak Collection at 20, and that Caravaggio guy too.

The Columbus Museum of Art has every reason to crow about their current exhibition Caravaggio: Behold the Man!. The chance to present a Caravaggio painting on North American soil is a coup for any museum; an event worthy of all the banners, billboards, and fanfare money can buy. And while I'm as big a fan as anyone of the art world's original enfant terrible, I'll admit to being much more excited about the CMA's other blockbuster show, Monet to Matisse: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Sirak Collection.

Edward Degas
Houses at the Foot of a Cliff (Saint-Valery-Sur-Somme), ca. 1895-1898
Columbus Museum of Art

Acquired in 1991, the Howard C. and Babette L. Sirak Collection represented a watershed moment for the Columbus Museum of Art. Complementing the earlier contributions of notable collector Ferdinand Howald, as well as an already strong selection of American modernists, the Sirak Collection provided a breadth of coverage the CMA had previously been lacking. Included in the 78 works the museum acquired were pieces by Monet, Bonnard, Matisse, Klee, Nolde, Degas and a host of other European luminaries.

James Ensor
The Assassination, 1890
The Columbus Museum of Art

What's perhaps most notable about the Sirak collection is the freshness of it. While it might consist of a "who's who" of European modernism, this is no "greatest hits" show. As CMA Executive Director Nannette Maciejunes explains in the exhibition catalog, "the Sirak's did not feel constrained to always by the canonical picture". That means there's plenty of surprises in store for viewers. These include a Degas landscape, a decidedly non-sun-dappled Monet, an early Matisse, and a Bonnard painting that does not feature his long-time companion Marthe. If you thought Georgio Morandi only painted still lifes of bottles and vases, think again. He did etchings of bottles and vases too, and the Sirak Collection has two of them. The collection also contains what may be one of the most representational Klee landscapes I've ever seen (View of Saint Germain).

Paul Klee
View of Saint Germain, 1914
Columbus Museum of Art

Monet to Matisse: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Sirak Collection will be on view at the Columbus Museum of Art through May 13th 2012. This is a fantastic chance to see all 78 works in the Sirak collection at one time, so don't miss it. Oh yeah, and that Caravaggio guy has had his stay extended. Caravaggio: Behold the Man! The Impact of a Revolutionary Realist will be up through Sunday February 5th. Check that out too.

Details and more info are available on the Columbus Museum of Art's website.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Resolution, of Sorts

I've been using Goodreads for the last couple years to keep track of what I read - and perhaps more importantly - to see what friends and colleagues are reading. I work in a library, so keeping abreast of new titles as well as books in a variety of genres is important. Goodreads helps me do that. It's also a great place to find recommendations from people who have similar tastes. I invariably learn about books I'd probably never had heard of through my Goodreads friends. Add in the copious social features (places to share reviews, comment on reviews and update your status) and you've got a pretty neat tool for book lovers. As if that weren't enough, the "Never Book Ending Quiz" is addictive and educational.

This year (2012 that is) I signed up for the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge. It's a system that allows you to set a target number of books to read in the coming year and then track your progress. My hope is that by using this tool I'll be a little more intentional about the time I set aside for reading. You see, for someone who works in a library I don't read all that much. Sure, compared to a lot of people I probably do, but compared to my friends in the profession I'm a plodding and pokey amateur.

The target for my 2012 Reading Challenge is 52 books. One book a week seems reasonable, but I guess we'll see how that works out. If you want to be friends and follow my progress I've linked my profile page below. Also - at the risk of sounding like a student in the panic of an almost late assignment - if you know of any good, short books, feel free to make a recommendation :)

Jeff's Goodreads Profile