Sunday, August 17, 2008

Houdon Kept His Head & Made Some More

Speaking of art, Friday, we went to the High Art Museum in Atlanta.

We have been several times before over the past two or three years checking out the Louvre Exhibit. The Louvre has been lending the High segments of it art collection for Atlanta to view. Each exhibit stays several months and then is replaced by another segment.

This time the treat was sculptures by Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828). Remember the famous bust of Benjamin Franklin made by a sculpture while he was in France trying to get support for the Revolutionary War? That was done by Jean-Antoine Houdon.

They probably had 20, give or take, sculptures by Houdon. We learned quiet a bit about his art. He developed a technique of accentuating eye pupils and irises… and one full length sculpture of a nude woman we could see he was pretty good at accentuation asses too.

He seemed to have perfected the facial body language in his sculptures: Some radiate intelligence; some their sincere warm nature; one looked like it just said something very clever and witty and is looking at you waiting for you to “get it”; some show a wise understanding; and it goes on.

If the Mr. and Mrs. Potato kit had half as many emotional lips and eyes to stick in the potato, I wouldn’t have hesitated asking Santa for one.

Also how many sculptured portraits have you seen that show their teeth? Not many I bet. There is one bust of his wife with her mouth partly opened exposing nice natural not-so-straight teeth, she looked very real.

When you check in the High and tell them you are going to the Louvre Exhibit they lend you an electronic gadget with headphones attached. When you stand in front of an art piece there will be a number along with a brief description on a small sign. If you want to hear a more elaborate detail and background information key in the number provided.

Now, here is the drawback: what if you went to great pains writing, producing, and paid a speaker to give the talk for the gizmo and you copy the audio in hundreds of the gizmos and then somebody else decides to rearrange things? The solution, was probably just a typical management decision: Ignore the problem, maybe it will go away.

Several times the voice was describing the statue or bust in front of us, then it said look to your left to see how he did his wife, and the wife is plainly to your right, and visa versa on another duo set of busts. And once it said to proceed to the 3rd floor to see Houdon’s bust of Napoleon. We went up to the 3rd floor, but they had the Egyptian exhibit on loaned from the Louvre, which we had already seen. The security man told us all of Houdon’s sculptures are on the 2nd floor. So, Napoleon did not get looked upon by us.

As I mentioned, he did Benjamin Franklin’s while he was in Paris, and I assumed he did Thomas Jefferson’s about the same time.

He traveled to the United States and did George Washington’s bust between the time he was General of the Continental Army and the first President.

He rubbed elbows with the rich and famous of Paris and also the philosophers responsible for the French Revolution, such as Voltaire (top picture) I guess he was in a position well known to both sides, so when the working class revolted and took charge, his head was pretty safe sitting on top of his torso.

I could not take pictures of the visiting exhibit but I had a camera permit to photograph the art in the permanent exhibit, which most of these are. The others are sculptures that by Houdon that I did not actually take – but I did find and copy them with Google’s help.

We only spent about two hours at the High, and our parking bill was $8.00. Can you believe that? Outrageous!!


Then we went to a barbecue restaurant we read about named Blues & BBQ on 5th near Spring Street. It was very hard finding a parking place. On one of our circles around a few one way blocks to go by the place again we got very near the Varsity on North Avenue and almost decided to go there instead, but on our next loop we found a parking lot, where I had to parallel park.

Also, I believe where the restaurant sits is about the same spot The Wits End* (*bring money) used to be over 30 years ago. Then, the street was a dead-end and you could see expressway traffic just through the trees. Now, there is a bridge going over the I75/I85 and onto the Georgia Tech campus. We went onto the campus, still looking for a place to turn around and saw a sign saying something about it was “Rush Week” – a lot of the “Joe College” type were standing around trying to look well dressed and suave. When we finally got inside the Blues & BBQ I saw a sign saying “Use Buzz Cards here” with a picture of a GT yellow jacket. That must we a meal card for students who pay for their meal tickets.

The place was covered with Tech students. One thing has changed – no orange caps “The Hell With GA” written on the top or bill. Used to freshmen at Tech had to wear those caps. They seemed to be all over the place on campus and at the restaurants nearby such as places like this and The Varsity.

Another thing that changed is while we were trying to park a Georgia Tech Orange and White trolley came by and not too long the same colors on a bus. Evidently Tech furnishes shuttle services to places off campus.

The lady in front of us was ordering for a whole office and numerous times she would say “center cut sandwich”. We finally broke her train of thought and keeping up with the money and change to ask her what center cuts was. She said it was the best, and was a 3 rib sandwich. I ordered the center cut. Anna ordered the regular chopped pork. Neither of us complained.

And that was our wild and crazy time in the big city Friday.

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