Saturday, August 15, 2015

Salute To Baltimore, Grand Tour Part Five

George Washington Monument in Baltimore, MD

Against a backdrop of racial tension earlier this year, I planned to arrive in Baltimore for the BRIDGES exhibition and conference and found a convenient place to stay in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood.  I loved walking around Baltimore's Washington Monument ( designed by the same people who created the Washington Monument in D.C. ) and I also found some surprises including great wall murals and the fascinating Walters Art Museum just across the street from my hotel.

One of many wall murals I found walking in Baltimore

I salute Baltimore for the strength of their cultural institutions and the access people have to their museums.  The Baltimore Art Museum and the Walters do not charge a visitor to see their collections.  Since I was last in the city three years ago, there is a new contemporary art wing at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and anyone visiting will want to see that and the new arrangement of the Cone Collection.

Henri Matisse: "The Yellow Dress"
oil on canvas, 1929

In the early 20th century, the Cone sisters ( Clara, and Annabelle ) bought Matisse paintings by the yard but they were very discerning in their choices.  Two of my favorites were hanging including "The Yellow Dress" from 1929, and a later painting "Pink Nude" from 1935 just before WWll.  Both paintings have the characteristic Matisse fluidity of brushwork, and the simplification of essential form and color that he is known for.  If you want to check more deeply into the life and work of Matisse, I suggest this link to a new site devoted to the artist: <>


Henri Matisse, Pink Nude, 1935

 The Baltimore Museum of Art has a wide range of art on view going back into history.  I found a remarkable Botticelli and several other masterworks on view in the upper floor, and I was pleased that the galleries were not crowded with people like the National Gallery in Washington when I visited earlier this month.  The Botticelli had the most ornate frame for a round painting on wood, and it featured a Madonna, and children  ( his children all seem to come from the same family - maybe he used one as a model for all ) .

Botticelli  at Baltimore Museum of Art

There were so many new finds in the Baltimore Museum of Art, I wanted to see it all, but I came for the contemporary art and so I had to move on.  I really enjoyed seeing  the famous little dancer from Degas, and also an absolutely terrific Paul Cezanne painting of Mount St. Victoire from Bibemus Quarry with its gorgeous color and structure - this painting is so rewarding to see.

Degas ( The Little 14 year old Dancer ) , circa 1881

Paul Cezanne's " Mt. St. Victoire from Bibemus Quarry "

In the new section of the museum, they had the winners of the Sondheim Prize on view and the permanent show of contemporary art had representative examples of minimalist art including paintings by Ellsworth Kelly, and Frank Stella.  In the entry I saw a trio of works including an austere painting by Elizabeth Murray ( a painter I met when she came to Rochester, to speak to my class ) and also works by Yayoi Kusama, and a floor sculpture by Carl Andre.

Left to right: Kusama, Andre, and Murray

Walking home I found many wall murals and art in the open spaces that really creates a wonderful destination for a visitor like me.  I had the benefit of a beautiful day to walk down North Charles Street, and I am really glad I made it to Baltimore this summer.  In my final post for the Grand Tour, I will review my new find: The Walters Art Museum, I can't wait..

Outside of the railway station
on North Charles Street, in Baltimore