Hirshhorn Museum

Hirshhorn Museum

Washington, DistrictofColumbia – August 5, 2012

After breakfast, reading the Sunday newspaper, and cleaning up, I decided to head to the Hirshhorn Museum. It is one of the Smithsonian museums, so it has free entry. What a wonderful museum! It is nowhere near as crowded as the Air and Space Museum (which is directly east) or the Natural History Museum. It houses works by such well-known artists as Andy Warhol, Frank Lloyd Wright, Joan Miro, Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, and of course my favorite, Pablo Picasso.

I came up from the Smithsonian Metro stop and walked the 300 or 400 meters to the museum. After getting my bag checked, I decided to go up to the top floor and work my way back down. Each level is circular with exhibits along the outer and inner portions. That makes it very easy for one to see each item exhibited on each floor.

The first item that caught my eye was Wall Drawing #356 by Sol Lewitt. It is one of those optical illusions that seem to keep switching perspective the more prolonged one stares. On the other side of the same room was Wall Drawing #1113, also by Lewitt. The colors were striking.

Wall Drawing #356 by Sol Lewitt (2003).
Wall Drawing #1113 by Sol Lewitt (2003).
Detail of Wall Drawing #1113 by Sol Lewitt (2003).

In the adjoining room was Flowers by Andy Warhol. He is not one of my favorites; but, how often does one see a Warhol original?

Flowers by Andy Warhol (1964).
Neon Structure by Lucio Fontana (1951).

I was surprised to see two windows done by Frank Lloyd Wright. I appreciate his architectural style, so seeing those was quite a treat. The title of the windows was Composition in Light: Window from the Coonley Playhouse. His design vision was striking.

Composition in Light by Frank Lloyd Wright (1912).

Of course, I had to include a photograph of Woman (Personage) by Joan Miro since he was a Spanish artist. It was not my favorite work, but he was from Spain.

Woman (Personage) by Joan Miro (1947-48).
Untitled by David Hammons (1989).

At this point, I entered one of the most interesting areas of the museum. The exhibit dealt with light. To a certain extent, it reminded me of the shows we saw recently in Colorado Springs at the Fine Arts Center. The first exhibit at Hirshorn by Joseph Kosuth, Four Colors Four Words set the tone. There was a lot of neon. Next was a display of black lights done by David Flavin. I found it interesting to stand there and watch the other patrons marvel at the blue hue.

Four Colors Four Words by Joseph Kosuth (1966).
People walking by Untitled by David Flavin (1974).
Untitled by David Flavin (1974).

The exhibit by Jesus Rafael Soto, Blue Penetrable BBL was the most interactive display in the entire museum. It consisted of multiple strands of some blue plastic string. It was perfectly OK to walk through the exhibit and experience the work from the inside out.

Soto was also responsible for Three and One. It was a mobile of different colored wires floating in front of a background that had multiple parallel black lines. The effect on the eye was fascinating.

A small boy emerges from Blue Pentrable BBL by Jesus Rafael Soto (1999).

Museum patrons walking through Blue Penetrable BBL by Jesus Rafael Soto (1999).
Three and One by Jesus Rafael Soto (1966).
Detail of Three and One by Jesus Rafael Soto (1966).
Light in Movement by Julio Le Parc (1962).

Several rooms later, I stumbled across two works by Pablo Picasso, Woman with Baby Carriage and Head of a Woman. While in Spain I became more and more enthralled with Picasso. I was surprised to see two of his bronze works on display.

Woman with Baby Carriage by Pablo Picasso (1950).
Head of a Woman by Pablo Picasso (1909).
Light in Movement by Julio Le Parc (1962).
Back I by Henri Matisse (1909).
Reclining Nude I (Aurora) by Henri Matisse (1906-07).
Iris, Messenger of the Gods by Auguste Rodin (1890-91).
Head of Sorrow by Auguste Rodin (1882).
Helmet Head No. 3 by Henry Moore (1960).

When I made it to the lower level, there were a couple of things that caught my eye. The first was the installation Belief + Doubt by Barbara Kruger. She had several words and phrases posted all over the walls, floors, and escalators at the lower level. One of my favorite shots by far was the lady in a black burka standing in front of the word Belief.

Belief + Doubt by Barbara Kruger (2012).
Belieft + Doubt = Sanity by Barbara Kruger (2012).
When was the Last Time You Laughed? by Barbara Kruger (2012).
People observing Belief + Doubt by Barbara Kruger (2012).
Don’t Look Down by Barbara Kruger (2012).
Money Makes Money by Barbara Kruger (2012).
People near Forget by Barbara Kruger (2012).
Question mark detail of a work by Barbara Kruger (2012).
People in front of Belief by Barbara Kruger (2012).
People in front of Belief by Barbara Kruger (2012) II.

The other item in the lower level that caught my eye was Ron Mueck’s Untitled (Big Man). That was because of the realism of the piece. Other than the size of the work, it looks like a real man. I did enjoy seeing the sculpture; however, I could never have such a piece in my home. That would be too eerie for me.

Untitled (Big Man) by Ron Mueck (2000).
Detail of Untitled (Big Man) by Ron Mueck (2000).
Detail of Untitled (Big Man) by Ron Mueck (2000) II.

After a quick stop at the gift shop, I went outside to enjoy the fountain. There were 12 works by Ai Weiwei placed around the fountain, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads.

The building is a four-story, hollow cylinder, supported by four massive columns. Between the columns, it is an open, walk-through space. One of those areas has been glassed in. That is where the main entry and gift shop is located. In two of the areas, there are tables and chairs. They provide a relaxing, shady rest stop.

The center of the cylinder features a large water fountain to which I alluded above. That adds to the relaxing ambiance. Periodically, maybe every 30 minutes or so, the spray stops.

People walking by Circle of Animals by Ai Weiwei (2010) as seen from inside the museum.

People by Circle of Animals by Ai Weiwei (2010).
Circle of Animals by Ai Weiwei (2010) in the courtyard of the museum.
People taking photographs of Circle of Animals by Ai Weiwei (2010).
People walking by Circle of Animals by Ai Weiwei (2010).
Detail of the bull in the installation Circle of Animals by Ai Weiwei (2010).

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