Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Des Moines Art Center........

The Des Moines Art Center was built on the north end of the Greenwood Park. The architect was Eliel Saarinen and they completed building his design in 1948.  From my research, he is best know for the two buildings that he design that didn't get built.  He was a Finnish architect that moved to the United States in 1925.  My wife's first cousin Lavern Kohls was one of the first directors when the place was first built.

I. M. Pei was the architect to the sculpture wing of the center. It was completed in 1966. It is a modern concrete building with a lot of windows making it a very pleasant place to be. The windows here overlook an outdoor sculpture garden and a very large rose garden.  Pei is well known for many buildings in the U.S. including the wedged shape National Art Gallery in Washington D.C.  He is also famous for the triangular pyramid that was places in the courtyard of the Louve, Paris, France.  It is loved my some and hated by many others.

The last addition to the Art center was this contemporary art wing designed by Richard Meir.  He is famous for his buildings that are made up of  geometric shape usually clad in large porcelain coated metal square sheets. It is exactly like the refrigerator material covering your ice box.  He is famous for creating buildings like this all over the world. His large spaces that he creates inside are like a free standing sculpture in itself.   Some call this our salt and pepper shaker building. The work that is housed in this building is ultra contemporary and to me doesn't do justice to the great design of this building.  Large squares of color do seem to be the going theme and the museum itself is very proud that they are a modernist museum.

The Art Center has three famous paintings.  One of them is this one by Edward Hopper called "At the Automat."  They use to have places where there were a wall of little glass doors and when you put in you nickle or dime, you would pull out a sandwich, a cup of coffee, a doughnut, and the such.  This painting shows a lady in her stylish hat enjoying a cup of coffee.
They do have some famous artist's works but they are very minor works. Some are sketches by well known artist or small easel work studies.

Click on this to see the marvelous handling of paint.

Portrait of Edouard and Marie-Louise Pailleron, 1881
by John Singer Sargent

This is my favorite painting at the center.  John Singer Sargent painted these two rich, bratty kids. It is a very large painting and his impressionistic work on this painting is phenomenal.  It was told by the great grandchild of the girl in the picture, that the two of them were difficult to work with and when the painting was finally done, the two of them threw the furniture and rugs out of the window.
One other work is by our Iowan artist Grant Wood.  We actually share ownership of the painting, "The birthplace of Herbert Hoover."  No we do not own the famous farm couple "America Gothic" as it is hanging in the Chicago Art Institute. 
That is it for the review of the art gallery.  They do have a very nice, pricey restaurant that is fun to eat at when you visit.  Thanks for stopping by......


Anonymous said...

wowowowow...that painting of Edouard and Marie is unbelievable! How talented some painters are! I also love museums, and I enjoy architecture! Thanks for sharing!

The Great Ethan Allen said...

Very nice. i love visiting our own art museum from time to time. They used to allow amateur artist display a couple of weeks each month. They haven't done it in a while though.

Vernita Hoyt said...

I am loving your post today. Architecture and Art, both of my favorite things to study. Speaking of Sargent, his paintings are at the Houston MFA through mid-May, and I want to get down to see this show, maybe more than once. Those who have seen it say it is terrific.

The Des Moines Art Center is quite a collage of famous architects and additions in their specific styles. I studied all three of them in my studies at U of H. Our MFA is a collage of its own. I feel a future blog in the works. I do love Richard Meir's work. The I. M. Pei pyramid at the Louvre is actually the entry portal of the museum. Seeing it in person and experiencing the walkthrough into the museum was like a transition in a time tunnel to view the paintings. I would love to go back there again. Out of the three architects, I do believe Eliel Saarinen may be my favorite. I may be a bit partial to the Modernist movement. Great examples of his work are at http://www.eliel-saarinen.com/3/Architecture.htm ... Great blog, Larry!

The Retired One said...

Very cool building. I knew when I saw the name Saarinen that it was Finnish..my last name has the double "a"'s too because my hubby's family is Finnish.
Looks like a nice art center. I trained in Ames, Iowa three separate times, for two weeks each time...that is a nice college town too. I had to fly in and out of Des Moines, and once....I got lost going into the airport and ended up on the back side and almost got arrested because Air Force One was parked there. ha

Far Side of Fifty said...

Thanks for sharing the story of the bratty kids..interesting:)