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Review: Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Taking a Trip

Figuratively Speaking!

By

Leticia Marie Sanchez

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Despite the Seismic retrofitting currently taking place at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, this gem of a museum is well worth a visit due to the strength of its permanent collection and its innovative, thought-provoking exhibitions. The master works in the vividly curated permanent collection include masters like Maillol, Monet, Degas, Chagall, and Picasso. Auguste Rodin’sThe Walking Man” greets visitors as they enter the museum through the Ludington Court.

Aristide Maillol; Bather Putting Up Her Hair; 1930; Sculpture; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Bequest of Wright Ludington 

Santa Barbara Museum of Art 5One not-to-be missed work is Christian Marclay’s Video Installation “Telephones.” This riveting 7-minute work reveals the hopes, fears, and drama behind the incessant ring of a telephone. Drawn from more than a 100 films, this work, produced in 1995, includes images of actors ranging from Humphrey Bogart and Grace Kelly to Danny De Vito and Whoopi Goldberg. Remarkably, there is no narrator. The only narrative thread is the telephone itself. The audience is forced to play an active role, piecing together the mysterious inferences behind each look, sigh, and facial expression. The film reveals the whole gamut of emotions behind a phone call: panic, tragedy, love, expectation, concern, boredom.

Image above: Christian Marclay, Telephones 1995; Video, running time. 7:30 minutes. SBMA, Museum Purchase; @Christian Marclay. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.

A second highlight is the current timely exhibition: “You Are Going On A Trip.” Organized by independent curator Michael Duncan, this exhibition coincides with summer, a time when many embark on adventurous journeys. In this exhibit, the trip is purely figurative. Inspired by an etching by Charles Garabedian that depicts the hand of the artist touching the viewer’s consciousness, the exhibition encourages metaphorical travel. The themes of the exhibit include dreams, icons, notions of home and travel, history, and images of humans and wildlife.

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Charles Garabedian

You are Going on A Trip

1980

Etching 

Santa Barbara Museum of Art,

Gift of Stephen Acronico 

On the note of summer wandering, my artistic meandering brought me to one of the museum’s crown jewels, “The Pleasures of the Evening” by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. The transcendent use of light envelopes dancers at crepuscule: mystical, free spirited kin of Botticelli’s “The Three Graces.” The intoxicating light conveys the blissful warmth of a receding sunset. One presumes it is a summer eve, as the ladies bask barefoot in thin, gossamer dresses. Enraptured in the moment, they sway carefree, imagining that the sun will never leave. Admiring Corot’s work, I too did not want to leave a light so resplendent, imbued with all the promise of youth and summer. Summer proves an ideal time to expand one’s geographic and artistic horizons.

pleasures-of-the-evening-jean-baptiste-camille-corot

 

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

The Pleasures of the Evening

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

 

 

Posted by on June 8th, 2017

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