Friday, January 25, 2013

Museums of Bogota

Even though we have quite a bit of family in Colombia the last time we were all there together, before this past holiday season, was seven years ago, so, unlike my mother, we are tourists - even my sister and brother who were both born there. And being the proud tourists we are, we visited many touristic destinations during our trip, especially museums.

In Bogota we began our tour under the guidance of my Mom's cousin Rafael - whom Chris began referring to as "Wikipedia Colombia" because of his quick and straight-forward answers to all of Chris' questions about Colombia. We first went to El Museo del Oro (The Gold Museum) in the historic neighborhood of La Candelaria. El Museo del Oro boasts to having the largest collection of Pre-Hispanic gold work in the world and, once you've visited, you'll understand why. Two entire floors of the museum are dedicated to the display of items the indigenous made out of gold before Europeans discovered their land and, of course, took their gold. It is an impressive exhibition that holds everything from large gold masks that were repeatedly beaten until paper thin to the smallest and most delicate jewelry pieces I've ever seen (even the tiny hooks were made out of gold) and it is all separated into rooms by the different Pre-Hispanic cultures of that time. 

I lost myself in thought thinking about the work and dedication that went into creating these detailed objects by using their bare hands and primitive tools and, in general, imagining what life was like back then. As you'll see, most of the archaeological treasures have been recoated in gold to demonstrate what they would have looked like hundreds of years ago but not every piece in the museum is gold, there is pottery and different textiles as well. The quality of my photographs isn't stellar because the museum is kept dark in order to better preserve the artifacts and everything is behind protective glass. It's times like these I think about investing in a good camera with real lenses. Also, I don't have many descriptions for these pictures but I believe most of them are body adornments or will prove to be self-revealing. 

*The tiger was a human, a shaman. He got dressed, turned himself into a tiger and attacked men, but only from other clans. Before they reached puberty, he would scare the young ladies; he would gently stroke their bodies with his tail. On one occasion he came upon a man. When he would dress like a tiger, he warned everyone to call him by name, so he wouldn't kill them by accident. That man did not call him by name, so he killed him.

*Once the nothing was controlled, Naainuema created water: he transformed the saliva in his mouth into water. Later he sat down in this part of the universe, which is our earth, to create the sky: he took a part of this earth and with it made the blue sky and the white clouds.

*Yeah, yeah ...this photo is shit...but I had to put it in because this is probably the most famous gold work in the entire museum. It's the Muisca Raft and was found in the 1960s by farmers somewhere in  Pasca in the Andean region of Colombia. It's said to have been made sometime between the years 600-1600 and represents the legend of the Muisca tribal chief El Dorado.

Afterwards we walked a few blocks to a Menage a Trois of art: Casa de Moneda, Museo de Arte del Banco de la Republica, Museo Botero. We went primarily to see the Fernando Botero Museum but we began with the Coin Museum. 

I'm a little ashamed to admit that I didn't take one single picture of a coin. I found the coin museum a bit boring since I'm not into collecting coins or their history- I just like spending them (hardy har). But I did take a picture of an antique map I thought was neat, as well as pictures of the actual museum itself, as in the roof, walls, courtyard, and the floor. Apparently I'm more into architecture than numismatics (yes I did look up that word). 

When we were ready for some change (pun totally intended) so we walked next door to the Botero Museum. Fernando Botero is a Colombian artist from Medellin. He is known for painting what most think of as fat figures but what he considers "voluminous". I'm no art critic but his work seems to encompass many styles - from abstract expressionism to realism - and he says that in 1957 the moment that determined his artistic style happened almost by accident: "Un día mientras dibujaba una mandolina de rasgos generosos, en el momento de hacerle el hueco al instrumento, lo hice muy pequeño y la mandolina adquirió proporciones fantásticas. Mi talento fue haber podido reconocer que algo había pasado." (One day, while I was drawing a mandolin with large features, right when I made the instrument's hole, I made it too small and it made the mandolin have fantastical proportions. My talent was being able to recognize that something important had happened.)

Botero's art is not the prettiest and it doesn't please everyone, but he's a Colombian staple so I didn't want to leave the country without seeing it in person. Plus the museum was celebrating his 80 years of life so it seemed like an important time to experience his work. Having seen it I can safely say that I am a fan of his art. I enjoy the surreal and real qualities of it - the larger-than-life figures enveloped in emotional scenes of love and sadness, life and death; the comedic quirkiness of some of his paintings versus the moroseness of some of his others (which I didn't take any pictures of, unfortunately, but a quick Google search should suffice).

*El Estudio - The Study

 *Pareja Bailando - Dancing Couple

 *Mujer Delante de Una Ventana - Woman in Front of a Window: If you look closely at her right butt cheek you can see a fly that Botero painted on her, a small detail that, for some reason, I really liked.

 *Pareja - Couple

 *Una Familia - A Family; In the foreground is Wikipedia Colombia himself - Rafael.

 Naturaleza Muerta con Bananos - Still Life of Bananas. I think it's interesting that in Spanish the words "Naturaleza Muerta" translate in English to "Still Life" when what they literally mean is "Dead Nature".

 *Mona Lisa

*Caballo - Horse
 *El Ladron - The Burglar

 *Naturaleza Muerta con Helado - Still Life with Ice Cream

*La Mano - The Hand: This bronze sculpture is flipping us off, right? Is it subtle, obvious, or am I completely wrong and it's just an innocent portrayal of a hand?

After walking around the Gold Museum, the Coin Museum, and the Botero Museum we were too tired to see the rest of the exhibits in the Museo del Banco de la Republica, which is where the Botero wing is, but I did catch a quick glimpse and photo of a Frida Kahlo sculpture with which to end the day.

In Medellin we visited another museum and saw more Botero works of art which I'll show in another post. It's Friday and Chris just got home from work so we're going to begin our date night with a beer and then we're working on our Instagram wall mural in the dining room. To see updates on it you can follow me here. It's a private account but all you have to do is click Follow and I'll click Yes. Have a happy weekend everyone!

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