|Michelangelo Merisi "John the Baptist," 1604|
So I walked the few blocks from my hotel through the beautiful wooded neighborhood around the museum. I spent some time reminding myself about the enormous badminton shuttlecocks that parade up the grand green vista before the main building. Those are by Claes Oldenburg and are supposed to be representative of a match, with three on one side and the fourth on the other side--the building being the badminton net. In any event, I went in with great anticipation, only to find that the painting is actually part of an exhibition in Milan. This particular full figure of the saint is an enormous work (life-size) showing a dark, brooding young man in a dark wilderness. It was painted in 1604 as a commission from an Italian noble, whose family owned it for generations afterward. In preparation for the exhibition the painting underwent investigation with careful restoration as part of the process. The Milan exhibition includes a number of other favorites of mine by Caravaggio, including his "Rest on the Flight Into Egypt," from the Doria Pamphilj Palace in Rome. In any event, the painting was in Milan for the exhibition, and I only had an hour or two.
So I spent the short time going from one remembered favorite to another. The Nelson-Atkins Museum is a treasure of a museum if only because of the Caravaggio. But there is more to enjoy there than one might think. For one thing, the collection is quite varied, comprising African, Asian and European concentrations and ranging from Ancient Art to Contemporary. The museum is quite strong in European Art and holds work by El Greco, Rubens, Rembrandt and Titian to name only some of the most familiar. And the museum is also exceptionally strong in American Art.
|Thomas Hart Benton, "Persephone," 1939|
Barbizon School, a predecessor of Impresionism, the palette is quite different. Many in our present culture may find this particular work of Monet less attractive since the brighter palette of Impessionism is missing. Regardless, I enjoy this work almost as much as Benton's.
As always there is never enough time to savor everything that the museum has to offer. On the other hand it is close to home and no doubt I will be in Kansas City another day.