The artists Salvador Dali was a master painter and through this medium revealed inner dreamscape. This oil painting done in 1935 is called Echo nostalgique was inspired by his sister’s school.
The sad figure sitting inside the doorway to this strange landscape seems to be depressed. Shrouded in shadow and wholly disconnected from the activities going on in the rest of the painting. This could be Dali himself, but I have no reason to believe this other than a personal interpretation of the work.
In the mid-ground of the oil painting a young girl in a white dress running as if in play. The girl is Dali’s sister before school. The grey bell looks like a girl or woman abstracted symbolically in a dress.
The wall text does label the Oculus as an “I” symbolism or self-reference, but this is not for sure. This theme of imagery seems to be repeated on a smaller level in the bell tower with a gray ball on top for the Oculus.
Perhaps the sad figure in the entrance to the painting is Dali himself waiting for his sister to be out of school so they can spend time together.
Surrealism is a fitting genera of art that captures dreams so well. Where other kinds of art show the real external world, Surrealism captures man’s inner world and self. This inner mystery
For more works by Surrealists artists visits the Menil Museum. (Currently closed for the summer but will reopen soon after renovation is finished.)
My photo was taken at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts for the educational purpose of the blog.
The artwork to the left is in his early career in the class Mucha Art Nouveau style while the one on the right is pained after he went to America to pursue portrait painting. His early works were of advertisements where Mucha did give his women spaghetti-like hair. He was also inspired by a stain glass window in churches and this is reflected in his backgrounds as well. His women have an ethereal or goddess likes quality about them. You will read more about the painting of Josephine later on in this post.
I presented few years back on an artist Alphonse Mucha for the Czech Center. Here are some of my notes from my slides and two images I am using from website Pixaby of his work. Mucha was born in Ivance Moravia in 1860. Had taken art lessons that would help develop various skills such as Stage painting, portrait painting, and drawing. He would later combine his influences to make his own unique style. Posters were the way to get notice in Paris; this is what made Mucha’s stand out.
His poster work in Paris after his creative portrayal of the famous actress Sarah Barnhart is what set his style apart. In one of many was the length of his posters, they were very elongated this lead to the theft of his works, as this was new and exciting.
Sarah is the central figure in this work for her play Gismonda. The long frame has her not only look slimmer but adds a dramatic effect as well. Byzantine style, flowers and muted colors also add visual balance.
This last work by Mucha is very interesting. The portrait is oil on canvas. Josephine Crane Bradley is the American modeling for the work. In this work she is the personification of Mucha’s people, the Slavic’s.
Josephine is “sitting in a carved chair in front of a linden tree” (Mucha, Sovon 36). The only part of the chair that is visible is the upper right back rest and a black bird on a branch.
Slavia has ribbons and a crown of leaves. Her Slavic appearance may or may not be traditional Slavic Clothing.
A sword rests on her lap, meaning she will, as the Slavic people do, defend herself if need be, but in general is peaceful. The two smaller birds sitting on her lap show that she is gentle. Once again the circle appears many times in this work, a large one in the background with smaller ones around the inside. They are full of flowers. She holds up a large ring or circle that could be unity.
On her chest is a decorative clasp and flowing sleeves with flowers at the end. Josephine sits stately and regal as Slavia. The pink softens the work and adds a feminine touch. This work was later used a model for the one-hundred bank-note in Mucha’s home country. Like so many other works by Mucha, the Josephine painting is full of symbolism, flowers and women. Mucha is said to have designed the frame for this one as well. (Mucha Foundation web).
The last of the three women in this paper is Josephine Crane Bradley as Slavia. It’s hard to see any American connection to this work. It you did not know Josephine was American and painted in the U. S., you probably would never know. However, her impact on Mucha was the greatest through her family. Though Mucha painted Josephine in 1907, he met the Crane family much earlier in 1904 and never lost touch. Later on “when Crane’s daughter Josephine married Harold C. Bradley, her father had a house build for them by Louis Sullivan at a cost of $50,000 and commissioned Mucha to paint a portrait of Mrs. Josephine Crane Bradley, representing the symbolic figure of Slavia.” (Mucha, Jeri 236).
Because of the passion of both men, Mucha and Crane saw to the funding and Mucha would later paint his Slavic Epic. Mucha’s trip to America paid off; he finally received the funding to paint his large canvases. Mucha’s vision of the Slavic Epic meant he could show his people in a variety of scenes, everyday scenes and moments of glory to capture the pride of the people. It was also going to be on a massive scale.
See some of his work here in this link.
The rich style of Mucha’s work encapsulates a man of many talents who was both a master in Art Nouveau and a very good portrait painter. In his later years he did accomplish his Slavic epic. Massive canvases that he climbed in his old age and to show the pride of his people, by this time it was not well received. As this time of nationalism work had fallen out of favor.
Today in the Czech Republic his work is much loved. His work is making a comeback in the US as well and in particular Houston’s own Czech Center. See post about that here.
This section is for tips on museum Q&A for visitors and more.
Navigation: Please see the front desk not only for tickets but navigation on what is where in the museum. They know about upcoming exhibitions and prices if you are a student, veteran or senior. Get a map at the front desk. There might be a daily events flier as well. Elevators and ramps are available for those with special needs, call in advance if you have questions.
Coat check: Next to the ticket desk or not far is the coat check. It’s a place that visitors can store there items free of charge. Store your coats, backpacks, drinks, and more. You will check in your bag and get a numbered token, turn it in at the end of your visit to collect your bag.
If you need to keep your bag or backpack with you, ask for a tag from coat check, that way security know you are allowed to keep you bag with you.
Food and Drinks: Most if not all large museums have a café or eating place for guests. If you walk in with food or drink from outside, please finish it in the lobby as these items are not allowed in the galleries.
Exhibition or general Questions: If you have past the ticket desk and have a question about an exhibition or anything, asks a security guard, they might know the answer.
Tours: Visitors seeing tours have a few options tours are able to be scheduled in advance, or visitors can drop in at a advanced scheduled time and place in the museum. Ex: in the lobby at 2pm. Tours are available for school groups lead by docents with chaperones present.
The Permanent Collection is the art that the museum has up all the time and this work never changes, but they can rotate it. For example Egyptian art will always be up, but it may not always be the same.
What is a docent?
A docent is a person in the museum that is a tour guide that has special training to talk about art and give tours to all ages. They are a volunteer and do this to share their passion with others.
What is a “free day”?
Museums have a day were the fee for a group or business has paid in advance, thus making general admission “free” for the public for that day. Note that a special exhibition is still going to cost the visitor money.
What is a special exhibition?
It is an exhibition that is on show at a museum for a short amount of time. It is outside of the permanent collection and thus “special”. Exhibitions like these draw a large number of people to the museum that might not normal go just to have a unique experience. An example would exhibition on Sherlock Holmes.
My favorite artwork is gone? Why? Art museums will lone out works of art to complete other shows in other museums. So the work you want to see might be gone for a while.
Why does the art work I came to see not what I expected? – Each museum will have different art works up and some of the more famous ones are only in one location. For example while there are many versions of The Last Supper, the original that most people think of is on a wall in Florence Italy and cannot be moved it is work that is in seitu.
What is in seitu? The Last Supper is an example of art that is meant to be viewed in its original setting in which it was created and not in a museum.
What does a museum do with all its extra art? Art museums will typical buy more art than it can hold and will put the rest of it in storage.
Libraries in the art museum: Love to read or need to recharge your phone? Libraries are for you. Students can come here to do research projects and use book copying/scanning technology for a small fee.
Other things to do at the museum
Films– see a film about your favorite artists.
Kid’s activities– let the little kids color and draw.
Concerts– listen to music in the galleries (sometimes for free).
See the museum website for more details below on the following:
Volunteering– Become a docent or help out in some other way.
Careers– work in an art museum in preservation, media, archives, security, curator and more.
Try an Internship in a museum for students.
Thanks for joining me!
Welcome to my blog on art and history.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton