Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Visit to the National Gallery

Yesterday we took a field trip to the National Gallery in Prague for my Color & Composition art class.  It's hard to believe, but that's the first art gallery I've been to here in Prague, probably because we've been gone so much lately.  The museum was HUGE, and we only went to a small section of it.  I'll probably try and go back on one of the free admission days and see the rest of the exhibits.  The main area of the museum is a seven-story atrium, which was awesome.  While art museums are typically very spacious, all of the different areas are usually closed off from one another, but with this atrium and all of the overlooking balconies, we could see all of the different areas from anywhere in the space.  It was also wonderfully daylit from the giant skylights and felt so open.  
One of the coolest exhibits was this elevator.  The designers called it a "functional exhibit."  It was just a big glass box (with a transparent bottom!) that went from the ground floor up to the very top floor of the museum.  We rode it all the way up, which was fun, except I kept remembering the sign at the bottom that said, "limit your movement while car is in motion."  I did feel it swaying a little...
There were so many different exhibits, from furniture design to architecture to photography in the 20th century to ancient Chinese architecture and decorative detailing.  Most of the exhibits were really good, but some were boring and others were just downright disturbing.  Here are some cardboard chairs designed by Frank Gehry.  These chairs are made from layers of corrugated cardboard and reinforced by laminating.  I've seen them several times in magazines and online, but never in person.  I really liked them and the idea behind the chairs--simple, strong, environmentally conscious design that could be affordable for everyone.  However, I doubt buying a Frank Gehry chair is affordable, and it's going to take a whole lot of big cardboard sheets (with a lot of wasted negative space) to cut out 50 or so of that shape to glue together, so they're really not that environmentally conscious either...  Even still, the idea behind the chair has inspired a lot of other designers to consider making furniture from non-traditional recycled/recyclable materials, and hopefully with less waste.  It has even sparked the AIAS Chair Affair design competition in which architecture students design and build cardboard chairs.  I actually got to see the winning chairs from 2006 in Washington, D.C., and it was pretty cool to see what students came up with to take the concept of cardboard chairs even further and make so many completely different structurally sound and innovative chairs.  
There were many exhibits on architecture from around the world, but the model above is of the Dancing House in Prague, also designed by Frank Gehry in conjunction with Czech architect Vlado Milunic.  The building has been really controversial here in Prague; some people here love it, but others think it's extremely ugly.  It represents a pair of dancers and has been nicknamed "Fred and Ginger" after Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  I visited the building several weeks ago but have yet to get some actual photos of it. 
Among all the other interesting installations at the National Gallery, this vortex-like sculpture was pretty interesting.  All of those little lights were actually miniature TVs that had different videos playing on fast-forward or in some mode that resembled a strobe light.  Pretty trippy.  There were so many other fun and weird pieces on exhibition at the museum, so click here to check out my photos to see some of the other art I saw!

1 comment:

Nadine Wise said...

Hi Heather!

You are going to have to do a mini travelogue when you get home to tell all about this wonderful experience! I can't wait to come visit and get a taste of where you have been! What a great study this has been for you! Love,