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The National Museum of American History, one of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC, is closing after September 4 for renovation. It is scheduled to reopen during Summer 2008.

This museum, originally called History and Technology Museum, is home to Dorothy's Ruby Slippers, the Bunkers' easy chairs, Fonzie's leather jacket, the original Star Spangled Banner, and countless other treasures.

Recently reopened, after a several-years-long renovation, are the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum.

~~ Alison
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I wasn't smitten with the National Portrait/American Art Gallery myself, but I think my problem was mostly with the content, not the building (which is too dark but otherwise OK).

I mean, how could you have an American portrait gallery with lots of photos but no Arnold Newmans? I mean, hello, there are a lot of photos utilizing the "organic portrait" concept. This type of portrait was in large part pioneered by Newman, yet the featured organic portraitist was born in 1946, some years after the mature Newman was already taking organic portraits, so the work being displayed was, to be charitable, derivative.

When I see stuff like this I always wonder if the donor of the displayed works wasn't in fact seeking to maximize his tax write offs by enhancing the provinence of his donations via their display in a major venue. Given the govenrment we currently have, this wouldn't surprise me.

Be sure to see the Paul Klee exhibit at te Phillips. It's great, and the related small exhibit of children's art is mind blowing.
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I always wonder if the donor of the displayed works wasn't in fact seeking to maximize his tax write offs by enhancing the provinence of his donations via their display in a major venue

Yeah, I'm seeing more and more "Named" galleries/sections in museums.

wasn't smitten with the National Portrait/American Art Gallery myself

We actually went the day the buildings reopened, so there were lots of festivities and special events, which made the whole day lots more fun. I know in the past there've been special exhibitions which aren't permanent, and of course, I've enjoyed some more than others.

Be sure to see the Paul Klee exhibit at the Phillips.

We went recently when Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party" had returned. That was another full museum day, as we spent hours there.

While I don't love everything in every museum, I'm always glad to spend time there, especially when I see a special favorite.

~~ Alison
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I used to live around the corner from the Phillips and I would go there all the time. It was free in those days. Now that they are charging, I have sort of avoided it except for special exhibits, since I know the permenant collection by heart.

I finally bit the bullet and bought a membership so I can just go any time I want. After the modest tax write off, it makes sense.

I still love that Renoir, but now I am starting to grow very fond of another painting in the same room; Van Gogh's Public Garden in Arles. Speaking of which, there are three Van Goghs in the collection, one from Arles, one from St. Remy and one from Auvers. Last time I was there, I didn't see the one from St. Remy. I had meant to ask about it but didn't.

Ever been to Auvers-sur-Oise? It's an easy day trip by train from Paris. You pull into town, head to the tourist office and get a map and you can walk the town viewing subjects painted by Van Gogh, many of which have not changed, like the spooky L'eglis d'Auver. Visit Dr. Gachet's garden where strange herbs still grow, and the ratty little room where Van Gogh died. His grave and that of his brother Theo are also there.

Not cheap eats, but lunch in the old rooming house where Van Gogh lived is very nice. Try the lamb.

One other place not to be missed in Auvers is the atelier of Daubigny.

http://english.pidf.com/page/p-291/art_id-1025/idf-PCUIDF2950000002/

Auver is also closely associated with Pissaro. I believe Dr. Gachet had treated Pissaro too.
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I still love that Renoir,

About two years ago, there was an exhibit at the Corcoran called "Beyond the Frame" by J. Seward Johnson. Johnson, a (former) heir to JNJ, is a sculptor who has created three-dimensional, lifesize renditions of a number of Impressionist paintings. The Washington Post art critic thoroughly denounced the exhibit, but I thought it was wonderful. And it was great fun to "walk" into the paintings, rather than having to stand back gazing respectfully and reverentially. One of the renditions was "Luncheon of the Boating Party." There were other Renoirs, a couple of Van Goghs, and others. Below are a couple of links about Johnson and the exhibit.

http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/4aa/4aa87.htm
http://bigpicture.typepad.com/writing/2005/07/beyond_the_fram.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Seward_Johnson,_Jr.

One of my favorites at the Phillips, in the living room maybe, is a small seascape by Eugene Boudin. It's a rather small painting, but somehow it conveys the feeling of being at the ocean, with all its air and spaciousness. As I look at it, I almost forget that I am in someone's former home and instead, remember how I feel when I'm at an uncrowded beach, perhaps off season.

Ever been to Auvers-sur-Oise?

No, and I don't know if it will ever happen, but your description sounds delightful.

~~ Alison
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That's a great Boudin. The Degas in that room is nice too.
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<iThe Degas in that room is nice too.

Indeed it is.

That's a great Boudin.

I'm glad you agree. Sometimes I wonder if I'm nuts thinking that such a small painting can feel so big.

~~ Alison
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I don't think you are nuts at all. With a large scale, it becomes a lot easier for a work of art to make an impression. Would a 4 inch by four inch Jackson Pollack have anything to say? I don't think so.

That for me is part of the genius of Paul Klee. His works are frequenty abstract and are invariably small, yet they have a great deal to say. That makes the Klee exhibit at the Phillips truely worth seeing. Just as Boudin can create the feeling of the whole Normandy coast in 25 square inches, Klee can probe the depths of the human subconscious in the same amount of space. They are both remarkable.
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the genius of Paul Klee.

Is this the "Klee and America" exhibit which ends shortly?

http://tinyurl.com/pddxo

I'll see what I can do.

Thanks ~~ Alison
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That;s it. You will like it. Check out the children's art thing too.
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