Tag Archives: art

Vilnius, as painted by de Chirico: a play in two acts

Act 1 Scene: late September: HOB and WOB walk into the main square of Vilnius, Lithuania. WOB: Vilnius looks like a de Chirico painting. HOB: Wait, remind me who de Chirico is?  Oh, yeah, I think I remember.  Is he the one with the steep perspective and shadows and the girl with the hoop? WOB: […]

The entirely real glory of the Viet Stoss altarpiece in Krakow

When it comes to looking at altarpieces, I consider myself a professional.  I have so much experience, I could teach a class. Hmmm, how about it?  Let’s have a quick class, right this minute. How to View a Famous Altarpiece by the Wife of Bath Show up early and buy a ticket to see your […]

Is that broken crockery on your pants or are you just happy to see me? Jiannian temple décor in Taiwan

The next time you’re in Taiwan find a temple and look at the roofline: dragons! There are always dragons on the Taiwan’s temple rooflines and they are fantastic.  Go ahead and click on this beauty (I put a high res shot in just so you can appreciate the detail.) Notice the dragon’s dynamically twisting form, […]

Stećci, the mysterious medieval tomb sculptures of the Balkans (and a Bosnian coffee break)

Any of you nerds out there wait breathlessly for UNESCO to announce the newest additions to their list of World Heritage Sites?  [Raises hand].  Well, a few days ago I was delighted to read that stećci, tombstones from medieval graveyards in the Balkans, had been added to the list. Most Stećci—about 60,000 of them—are found in graveyards in Bosnia […]

A wardrobe malfunction in the Legend of the True Cross fresco, Arezzo

We arrived in Arezzo, a lovely art-laden town in Eastern Tuscany, with reservations to see Piero della Francesca’s Legend of the True Cross fresco cycle.  Actually, I’d booked two separate viewing times, since reservations are compulsory and limited to a 1/2 half hour and that’s not enough time for us.  As it turns out, we were the only visitors during both […]

Liquid architecture: the sea organ of Zadar

Don’t you love it when art exceeds your expectations? We knew what we were looking for, having traveled to Zadar, Croatia just for this purpose, but still we were surprised as the lilting, moaning music emerged through the misty afternoon on the coastal promenade. The Sea Organ is a perfect work of art.  (Or is it architecture?  A […]

My ten favorite works of art in situ and why you should see art in its original context

Of course I had a conversion experience: it happened in Florence, back when I wasn’t such a prepared traveler.  HOB and I were on our honeymoon eating too much gelato and wandering through the art historical wonders of this Renaissance city.  We entered the Museum of San Marco on a whim and were instantly drawn […]

In which the art of Thomas Kong swallows a bodega in Rogers Park

I’ve been walking by Kim’s Corner Food in Rogers Park on Chicago’s far North Side almost daily for 14 years. I went inside a few times to have keys copied.  The proprietor, Thomas Kong, was always kindly and soft spoken. About five years ago this sign appeared.  God is good.  You are special.  Fudge Brownies. Soon after, […]

The Allegory of Good and Bad Government: frescoes as political propaganda in Siena

Throughout Italy you’ll find almost all central town squares dominated by a church.  Not Siena: its enchanting Piazza del Campo is presided over by Palazzo Publico, aka City Hall.  Inside Palazzo Publico is another delightful surprise: secular frescoes. Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted The Allegory of Good and Bad Government frescoes inside the council chamber of Palazzo […]

The spiritual warmth of Deseşti and the wooden churches of Maramureş

So I have this thing about sacred art and architecture.  And in all my travels to see religious art in situ, I’ve never experienced sacred spaces as unique as the wooden Churches of Maramureş in Northern Transylvania.  During 1000 or so years Hungarians ruled Maramureş, they forbid the Orthodox Romanians from building churches in stone.  As a delightful result, a distinct style of […]