December 24th, 2008

Conques

Yesterday's visit to the Museum of Fine Arts

Yesterday we went to the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) to see the Art and Empire - Treasures from Assyria exhibit which is closing on Jan 4. It was quite fascinating to see all this incredible 7-9th century BC art. The exhibit is well done; quite a few of the artifacts are displayed in walls with glass views of both the front and back sides. The explanations on the walls were quite excellent giving lots of background and describing details about what was going on some of the stonework. I don't know very much about that era and area - I don't think was covered in any ancient history courses I took many moons ago.

In the 19th century the British archeologists did lots of excavation and discovery and brought back many of these antiquities - but they left lots of stuff much of which got into the Iraq National Museum. There was a reminder of how much looting in the Bagdad museum resulted from the 2003 war - yet another atrocity caused by our dear soon-to-be ex-president.

Included was a brief exhibit of dog sculptures that got buried under houses to keep them safe. These dogs were named and I got a kick out of their names.
Expeller of Evil!
Catcher of the Enemy!
Don't Think, Bite!
Biter of his Foe!
Loud is his Bark!

There was also a fantastic exhibit of photographs taken by Yousef Karsh (closing Jan 19). He took many photos of famous people. In a page of his appointment book from a trip to Hollywood there were Boris Karloff, John Barrymore, Elizabeth Taylor, and other equally famous stars of the time who I forgot to jot down. In a list of about 100 people from Washington were 8 supreme court justices, most cabinet secretaries, big name senators, etc.
The exhibit included notes that he took about his sessions taking pictures of Winston Churchill and King George VI. For Churchill who didn't want to be photographed, and alloted only five minutes Karsh decided he didn't want another cigar picture and took the cigar out of Churchill's mouth. He actually got to take a second picture. Afterwards WC said
You certainly can make a roaring lion stand still and be photographed.

The King was more polite and gave him an hour so he could take many pictures. Karsh was a bit overwhelmed by the King's entrance, but warmed up and actually told the king where to stand, etc. It's probably a rare event that anyone tells the King what to do.

We also saw an exhibit by Rachel Whitread called Village. It was composed of several hillsides of hundreds of small houses that she constructed that were full of many details such as parquet flooring. They were faintly lit and it was in a darkened room. It was quit magnificent and magical. It close Jan 25.