Monday, April 24, 2017

Birkenwald at the Seattle Art Museum


Last weekend, we had a rare opportunity to spend all day together as a family, and since it was rainy outside, I picked a trip to a museum. I wanted to catch the last chance to see the Jacobs Lawrence: Migration Series exhibit offered by the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), and it was absolutely worth it - if you're interested, you can check out my Russian article about this exhibit HERE and see the whole series which contains 60 panels telling the powerful story of the Great Migration in the album I shared on my FB page HERE (the album is public). But it wasn't all we wanted to see in the museum, and while we loved the Lawrence exhibit, it is closed by now, but the other unique temporary exhibit we visited, called Seeing Nature, is open till May 23, so if you're in town, get your tickets now, I guarantee you will thoroughly enjoy it!



First of all, we were absolutely delighted to see the new art installation that greets visitors at the main lobby. The previous one (cars "exploding"), called Innopportune: Stage One, was created by the contemporary Chinese artist and pyrotechnic Cai Guo-Qiang who was involved in designing the fireworks display for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. It only was meant to be on display for a couple of years, but stayed there for 8 years - ever since we moved here from the Midwest! (More on the installation HERE.) I have to say, it was the most unusual, but really it was time for a new installation, and we finally got it! The Middle Fork sculpture by John Grade, made of nearly a million individually trimmed and sanded pieces of Western red cedar, and was previously displayed in Switzerland and Washington DC (more HERE). We loved it - not only does it make a big impact, but is uplifting and feels relevant to the local culture.


As we got to the Seeing Nature exhibit, I did not know that this wonderful painting by my beloved Gustav Klimt would be one of the Paul Allen's collection pieces, so I almost squeaked when I saw it! A little unexpected bonus: my outfit matched the painting as if it was planned, as if the designers were actually trying to recreate the Klimt masterpiece in this brown tapestry coat and rust orange set! Birkenwald, or Birch Forest, was created by the artist in 1903. It is hard to find an adequate copy of this masterpiece online - most of them don't show the colors correctly. The colors are actually quite subtle! As a website dedicated to Klimt states, "during his summer retreat in Litzlberg on Lake Attersee, Klimt started his days at 6 o'clock with vast strolls in the woods. Locals called him a "Waldschrat" meaning somebody who lives in the woods on his own. From 1901 to 1904 Klimt accomplished several paintings of different woods, such as Fir forest I, Fir forest II, Beech forest, Beech tree, and Birch forest." 



Birkenwald is one of 50 landscapes that the artist created, even though it wasn't his typical genre, and he only started painting landscapes when he was in his 30s. Interestingly, most of his landscapes are square shaped, which is very unusual for this genre, and their style have nothing in common with other impressionistic landscapes - faithful to his own manner, Klimt painted very ornate, busy landscapes, that absolutely lack people. On the Christi's website, it is said that Birkenwald was sold for over 40 mln US dollars (while the highest estimate was 30 mln).


We loved our visit so much that we immediately purchased a SAM family membership - it really is affordable, if you think of it, much more so than buying the art at Christi's! For only $99 per year, you  and your family will be able to enjoy this amazing collection, and many more (and you can apply your ticket price towards the price of membership). Have you considered getting a membership to your local museums? To tell the truth, we used to practice it all the time when our daughter was little - children's museums, science museums, zoos and aquariums in every city where we lived, and nearby towns too. But she got so busy with middle school homework and projects, that we simply lost track of things. But now we are back on board, and I'm sure we'll find time to visit SAM, especially given that Anna got into art school (it's what's called a magnet school in the US, specialist school in the UK, or specialized school in Russia), just as she dreamed! 

Linking with Visible Monday

Tapestry coat, pleated top and pants - Elvi
Sandals - old, via Nordstrom Rack

Location: Seattle Art Museum
Photos by Justin, the last three photos by Anna and me (via my phone :)

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21 comments:

  1. you look fab standing next to a 40 mln $ painting :-D
    serious - the moment i saw the first pic and you in that coat with the suit underneath i was "hin und weg"!! and sandals! so cool!!!
    impressive museum! you guys are very lucky to have such in your neighborhood. i´m sure we will see you there very often now. i think we don´t have such like a membership, but we can buy year cards - you pay once and with more then 4-5 visits (usually) per year its practically free...... we did this lately for a beautiful and quiet baroque park - a 15min drive from here - which we really love. perfect photo location btw :-)
    *waldschrat* not only means one who lives alone in the woods - it means that this one is a bit strange and has a long beard and raggy clothes - so klimt in his artist smock and much facial hair (very uncommon at the time) did fit the bill perfectly :-)
    and i fear its that what people think if they strand at our house and see me in my "house dress" of an old dirndlskirt, tatty pullover and sheepskin vest, hair like a birds nest.....
    much love to you my dear!!!! huge hugs! xxxxx <3 <3 <3
    p.s.: thank you very much for all the lovely comments lately!!!

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    1. Beate, thank you - I was actually wondering what you'd comment on this German word, and what you explain really makes much more sense! Thank you for everything, my dear! <3 <3 <3

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    2. Oh and yes, Seattle (this whole area) is unique I think with the richness of nature, industry, art and spirituality, I feel it's where it all is coming together.

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  2. Those warm autumnal colours suit you beautifully, Natalia, and how uncanny that you tone so well with the painting! That huge installation certainly does have impact.
    It's lovely to see you out and about, you always make the most of what is on offer in your local area. And you always look gorgeous doing it! xxx

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    1. So nice to hear from you, thank you, dear Curtise! <3

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  3. I love visiting museums. I don't do it as often as I used to when I lived in Split...perhaps because there are fewer museums in Mostar? But visiting museums can be such a wonderful experience. This Seattle art museum seems like a lovely place to visit. That new art installation is pure magic. I love how grand it is...and at the same time one can feel a connection with the nature through this big tree installation. It can be interpreted metaphorically as well...tree and its roots can represent our connection to one another and to art....

    I didn't know that Gustav Klimt used to get up that early to wonder through woods but that painting of woods is certainly very beautiful. It seems that his observations payed off because he was really able to capture the essence of nature in his works.

    It is a lovely photograph, you standing next to that wonderful painting. Orange suits you! This is a very chic outfit, I like it a lot.

    Thank you for your lovely comment on my post about love. I love you too!

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    1. I love your interpretation, Ivana! Beautiful and meaningful, as always! <3

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  4. You couldn't have planned the perfect match to the art work better! Your outfit is fabulous, you do suit those rich, earthy tones so well.
    The museum looks fantastic, so really thought provoking exhibits on display. xxx

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  5. ohhh, that's an amazing picture, love that whimsical forest and the colors, which really match your outfit (so beautiful colors, and you look so gorgeous wearing them, love the different textures and subtle harmony!)
    glad you enjoyed some magnificent art (I love the big sculpture!)
    besos

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed this post, my dear! <3

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  6. What a truly amazing place your Seattle Art Museum is , I have no doubt you will make very good use of your annual pass. The installation in the foyer must be quite a sight. The artworks all are so very special as is your Autumn toned outfit and how perfectly you compliment each other. My congratulations to Anna too. xxx

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    1. Thank you, Jill, you are very attentive. <3

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  7. Amazing art and tank you for the background stories. You look lovely and totally at ease amidst the art! xox

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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  8. Wow, that new art installation is fabulous! I especially love that second view of it. I love Gustav Klimt too, and went to see an exhibition of his work back in the late 1980s, early 1990s, although I cannot recall if there were any of his landscapes. This one is very evocative. I'm in love with that pleated top and pants and that tapestry coat is such a wonderful piece. You were really dressed for the occasion! xxx

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    1. How wonderful that you were able to see Klimt masterpieces. Landscapes are not what first comes to mind when we think Klimt, yes? Yet he was genius in this genre too! <3

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  9. Wow Natalia, you wear this wonderfull nature colours standing this wonderfull painting. It remembers me to our "Klimt-Projekt" ... soo amazing. And you wear sandals!!!
    I think the membership is a great deal. You can visit it whenever you want! Cool!
    Big hug, Tina

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    1. Yes, I was also thinking about our Klimt inspired theme! <3

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  10. Hello Natalia!
    How wonderful you look! I adore this texture outfit and how it relates to the masterpiece from the museum! The coat is also lovely, i have something similar and I really enjoy wearing it. I am so pleased that that Anna got into art school. Please share her work with us?
    I also love the amazing installation in the entry of SAM! I can see why it has stayed for 8 years!
    I seldom go to museums ,and although i love the experience, I feel like in manhattan , all I have to see to be inspired is whatever is in front of me!
    Kisses to you , Justin and Anna!
    xx, Elle
    http://www.theellediaries.com/blog/

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    1. Thank you, dear Elle! Anna submitted her writing and was accepted. This school teaches all kinds of art, visual, performing and writing as well - they have writers come and teach classes! I guess I could share her story, she doesn't mind. <3

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