May 2, 2014
Field trip to the Hammer Museum
At the moment, the Hammer Museum is hosting two major exhibitions, "The Armand Hammer Collection," which is a permanently displayed collection and comprises both American and European works of art of the 19th century, reflecting Armand Hammer's personal taste, and "Tea and Morphine: Women in Paris, 1880 to 1914," exhibition that presents a variety of art work depicting women and their feelings of struggle and desperation resulted from the extreme social differences of the time, and how tea and morphine became their favorite drugs to deal with those feelings. Although seemingly different, both of these exhibitions focus on the France of the late 19th century and early 20th century, and how the circumstances of the period affected all social classes in such a way that it was reflected in the work of the artists of that time.
One of the paintings ...view middle of the document...
It appears as if the artist wants the viewer to be able to see what he was seeing and feel what he was feeling at that particular moment. The landscape could easily be the author's view from a second story window, alone in an empty house or maybe not alone, although lonely, desperate and deeply sad. The small green plants and flowers could be a symbol of a still latent hope and growing longing for better days, and the overpowering coldness of winter a symbol for the sadness consuming him. It is also possible that the painting is not about the artist's personal life, but about France and the difficulties people were going through during that period of time.
The second work of art that caught my eye, which was part of the "Tea and Morphine" exhibition, was "Rayons de Chaussures 1895," by Hermann-Paul. The image depicts three people interacting in a shoe store. On the left side a saleswoman, who could be a representation of the lower working class given her almost vowing posture and the simple look of her clothes, and on the right side a couple of customers who, as opposed to the saleswoman, are wearing what appear to be very high-end attires. In the background two high shelves full of shoe boxes extend to both sides and converge in the middle. The shoe boxes on the left shelf are small and white, while the ones on the right shelf are big and green. This conversion of the shelves, as well as the different color and size of the shoe boxes, mark a clear and thick line between the two sides represented in the scene, which only reinforces the wide separation of classes in that time and the extreme differences between them. Because of the period in which this piece was created, it is fairly obvious the artist must have been influenced by the issues women were facing at the time, as well as their known addiction to morphine, caffeine and alcohol as a way to alleviate their suffering.