Big City Tales

Cool Off With Cool Things at Phoenix Art Museum

November 1, 2018
Comments Off on Cool Off With Cool Things at Phoenix Art Museum

As a self-professed sun worshiper and art lover, nothing beats a trip to Arizona to soak up the desert heat and check out the cultural landscape. After a morning basking by the pool, it’s time to head indoors to cool off with cool things at the Phoenix Art Museum.

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Considered to be the largest visual arts institution in the American Southwest, the Phoenix Art Museum boasts more than 18,000 items in its permanent collection and annually welcomes a wide array of temporary international exhibits.

In addition to American and Western American holdings, the museum’s collection includes Asian, European and Latin American pieces. There are also galleries dedicated to modern and contemporary art, photography and fashion, interior design and architecture, as well as exterior sculptural installments.

On the museum grounds, one piece that appeals to both young and old is Jurassic Age by Chinese artist Sui Jianguo who used bronze, steel and bright red industrial paint to create his contemporary work.  Modern and contemporary sculptures can also be found in the museum’s inner courtyard area. If you can handle the desert heat, it’s worth working up a sweat to stroll around the grounds and courtyard to check out the fun and funky sculptures.

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Wonders of America

From Native American sculptures to portraits of the founding fathers, the museum’s collection of Western American and American pieces is extensive and showcases works from the 18th century to emerging artists of today.

Be it the strong pose of Awéaté by Louis-Philippe Hébert; the stoic grace of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, or the serene sacredness of Offerings to the Little People by Howard A. Terpning, the many wonders of America’s past are brought to life in the Western and American galleries. Landscapes of the west’s rugged terrain and other paintings depicting common day-to-day activities provide additional insights into what life was like in the new frontier.

Intrigues of Asia

The Art of Asia gallery is comprised of artifacts from Far East countries such as Tibet, Nepal, India, China, Japan, Sri Lanka and Java.

Samurai armour and saddles, reclining Buddhas, and silkscreens and calligraphy panels are just a few of the exotic works in the museum’s diverse Asian collection.

Due to the delicate nature of items such as scrolls, prints and textiles, this gallery is regularly changed out to prevent over-exposure to light.

Treasures of Europe

The glitz and glamour of the land across the pond are the focus of the European gallery that showcases over 1,200 paintings and sculptures created between the 14th and 19th centuries.

Prominent artists from the Renaissance and Baroque to Impressionism eras are represented and include Barbieri, Boucher, Corot, Delacroix, Monet and Rodin.

Marvels of Miniature Rooms

Fans of doll house furniture and architectural design will appreciate the series of  delightfully intricate miniature interiors on display in the Thorne Rooms.

Named in honor of American artist Narcissa Niblack Thorne, there are 20 rooms in total and all of the items come from her vast personal collection of miniatures. Rather than storing her treasures away in her home, Thorne was keen to share them with the public and came up with the idea to create historical interiors from Europe, Asia and North America dating from the late 13th to the early 20th century.

Thorne was known for her incredible attention to every last detail and her exacting scale of one inch to one foot used for her miniature creations. Many of her rooms are based on actual interiors of upper-class homes in the United States and Europe; while others are interpretations of what would have been in vogue according to the time period and country the rooms represented. In some rooms, Thorne had custom floor rugs made to add to the authentic look and feel.

The Thorne Rooms are definitely one of the coolest and classiest parts of the Phoenix Art Museum.

Surprises of Contemporary

Walking into the Contemporary Art gallery, one of the first pieces on view is Nude Man by Viola Frey who was famous for her larger-than-life colorful ceramic figures. The kitschy and kooky nature of Frey’s work sets the stage for more visual treats to come. Be prepared to see everything from LED installations, to steel and fiberglass trees, to painted aluminum and acrylics. There are also numerous abstract canvases from the likes of Andy Warhol, Hans Hofmann, Karel Appel and Josef Albers.

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