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Harvard Art Museums May 13, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Arts, History.
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I recently visited the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge. This museum features an art collection that highlights various genres and time periods.

Here are five nuggets that I gleaned from my time at the museum.

1. Hand-held fans actually served as a medium for East Asian artists, and this art form reached its height in the 6th and 7th centuries A.D. Lollipop-shaped fans originated in China and were introduced to Japan and Korea by the 6th century A.D. The more familiar lunette-shaped folding fan originated in Japan during the Nara period and were later introduced to Korea and China. Fans of that era typically had artwork on one side and a beautifully-written calligraphic poem on the other side.

2. Arabian horses were imported from the Fergana Valley to China in the 2nd century B.C. These horses replaced the Mongolian ponies that were prevalent in China at that time. Known as “thousand-mile” horses, these equine marvels had unusual strength and stamina.

3. The Mogao Caves at Dunhuang were situated at a critical junction on the Silk Road. Interestingly, this cave complex was replete with replicas of Buddhist-themed art. One of the motifs in these art pieces featured a seated Buddha with its hands held in a mudra position; this Buddha was surrounded by various figures, including angel-like creatures known as apsaras.

4. The Entente Cordiale consisted of a series of agreements between Great Britain and France that were designed to isolate Germany in the years leading up to World War I. Edward VII and Joseph Chamberlain were instrumental in bringing these agreements to fruition. On the flip side, the Germans did score a major victory over the British when the use of dum-dum bullets was outlawed at the Hague Convention of 1899.

5. Lyonel Feininger, though a noted painter, also happened to be an excellent photographer. He joined the Bauhaus in Dessau and experimented with photography 1) at night, 2) in unusual weather conditions and 3) from odd angles. Much of his photography was melancholy in nature, particularly his images of street life in the early years of the Third Reich. Interestingly, his promotion of the avant-garde movement drew the ire of prominent Nazis.

The museum’s collection of Asian art was rather impressive, and I enjoyed inspecting works by famous artists including Pollock, Monet and Rembrandt. I also enjoyed browsing a series of Cold War-era photographs that were actually being used for a Harvard course.

I don’t have any quibbles at this time.

Overall I enjoyed my time at the museum, and I would definitely recommend it to art buffs who happen to be in the Harvard area.

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