Monday, July 16, 2007

Ugly Babies and Big Cars

The Nagoya Boston Museum of Fine Arts currently has two exhibitions on show.I biked down last Friday in the tyhphoonal rain to see them.
The first was titled Children in American Art.44 paintings from various American artists ranging from 1670 to 1944.As the program notes suggest the paintings depict changes in how society sees children at first as miniature adults and later as children in their own right.
One of the earlier paintings reminded me almost of a Diane Arbus photo.The child or "man-child" is perched on his sisters knee.He has a huge head,saucer-sized eyes and a five oclock shadow.Really freaky.
Another painting depicts a young girl.Again like the painting above, her physical proportions seem out of kilter with those of a child.It seems she has been put on a rack as her arms appear unnaturally long and her shoulders belong to someone much older.Her pose seemed to exaggerate this physical imbalance.Odd yet strangely rivetting as with the painting above.
Later paintings in the collection appear less forced and natural.There were a couple of Winslow Homer paintings including one showing a young soldier from the Civil War.

A large oil canvas by John Singer Sargent was well displayed with lots of space to examine the painting up close.Not crowded out or cheek by jowl jostling with other pieces for your attention.
Altogether moderately interesting.

The second exhibition on the floor above is entitled American Car Design 1945-1970.
131 pieces illustrating industrial and automobile design in America.On show were various watercolours,graphite drawings,posters and pen and ink designs.
The exhibition has examples of concept cars,exterior and interior designs,commerical vehicles such as tractors and advertising artwork.
Wandering round the display listening to the 1950s soundtrack playing in the background I was surprised how big the cars were back then.Compared to todays space and energy conserving models its quite a contrast.
Huge Oldsmobiles,Plymouths and Cadillacs sporting extravagant tail fins and bumpers.
Larger than my living room.Better air conditioning as well.
Again like the collection above this one was mildly diverting.Both were set up so each piece had enough space to be viewed individually.The light was good so you could easily make out details on some of the older pencil rendered designs on display.
While not essential viewing,I spent about an hour and a half leisurely walking between the two collections which together cost me 1200 yen to view.
Both exhibitions run through to 19th August.

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