The NC Art Museum: Part Two

The European Art Wing was absolutely massive and divided into smaller sub categories by country of artistic origin, and then further separated into time periods. I stepped into the Early Italian Art Section and saw dozens of paintings and reliefs that all looked pretty much the same. While all beautiful– full of bright red colors and almost glowing gold accents– the pieces in this section referenced early Catholicism. I had never seen so many “Madonna and Childs” or “The Crucifixion of Jesuses” in my life. Aside from the repetitive quality of this gallery, I was intrigued by the history behind each piece.

The Italian Renaissance art was more my style. While still full of allusions to Catholicism and chubby cherubs, this art had a more realistic allure. One portrait, “Lucrezia de’ Medici” by Alessandro Allori, dated back to 1560 and was simply amazing. Depicting a beautiful young lady in ornate formal dress, I loved this portrait. It showed exactly how women dressed over 5 centuries ago, while referencing the historic Medici family. The Medici family, also known as the House of Medici, first attained wealth and political power in Florence in the 13th century through its success in commerce and banking, and their support of the arts played a major role in the Renaissance.

"Lucrezia de’ Medici" by Alessandro Allori. Photo courtesy of the NCMA.

“Lucrezia de’ Medici” by Alessandro Allori. Photo courtesy of the NCMA.

Other European art galleries exhibited Flemish, Dutch Baroque, English, and German artistic talent. One painting in the Dutch area had me frozen in awe. “Ships in a Stormy Sea off a Coast” by Ludolf Backhuysen was a 18th century masterpiece. The juxtaposition of dark colors with expertly applied whites created an artificial stream of sunlight that looked so real I couldn’t believe I was looking at a painting, not a photograph.

“Ships in a Stormy Sea off a Coast” by Ludolf Backhuysen. Photo by Melanie Langness.

“Ships in a Stormy Sea off a Coast” by Ludolf Backhuysen. Photo by Melanie Langness.

Separating the main European galleries from the French, Impressionist, and American galleries was the historic art area. The Ancient Greek Art was probably my favorite section. It was awe-inspiring to see pieces that dated back thousands of years– the earliest I saw was from 3000 BCE.

My friend enjoyed the Historic Egyptian Art. The Museum is lucky enough to house authentic sarcophagi alongside delicately painted cosmetic applicators and sculpted bronze mirrors. It was interesting to see what I consider to be everyday items in such a historic context.

"Cosmetic Tube and Applicator." Photo courtesy of the NCMA.

“Cosmetic Tube and Applicator.” Photo courtesy of the NCMA.

The Historic area was completed with the Mesoamerican and Judaic art. I continued my journey across the floor a few hundred feet into the French gallery. I love French culture, so seeing their art made me inherently happy. Many French painters favored the heavy, short-stroke style of oil painting that Claude Monet was so famous for. NCMA actually exhibits a few Monet works, including my favorite, “The Cliff, Étretat, at Sunset.”

“The Cliff, Étretat, at Sunset" by Claude Monet. Photo by Melanie Langness.

“The Cliff, Étretat, at Sunset” by Claude Monet. Photo by Melanie Langness.

The last few stops I made inside of the beautiful museum included the Impressionism gallery and the American gallery. As a huge American history nerd, I geeked out with a strange thrill of “hey, I know who those guys are!” at the painting “American Landscape with Revolutionary Heroes” by Roger Brown. Expertly using shadows and contrasting colors, Brown’s portrayal of America’s Founding Fathers as silhouettes against a bright background made me think of how the presence of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and their other comrades lives on in today’s busy society, even though we may not see them directly.

"American Landscape with Revolutionary Heroes" by Roger Brown. Photo by Melanie Langness.

“American Landscape with Revolutionary Heroes” by Roger Brown. Photo by Melanie Langness.

Another painting in the American gallery, “Three Trees, Two Clouds” by John Beerman, made me think about the beauty in simplistic symmetricality.

"Three Trees, Two Clouds" by John Beerman. Photo by Hannah Sermersheim.

“Three Trees, Two Clouds” by John Beerman. Photo by Hannah Sermersheim.

My review of the Rodin Gallery and outdoor portion of the museum will be posted tomorrow, November 5, 2014.