Posts Tagged ‘art & architecture’

Red Fuji by Hokusai

Monday, March 8th, 2010
The print Red Fuji from Hokusai's famous series, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.

The print Red Fuji from Hokusai's famous series, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.

We may recognize Katsushika Hokusai’s South Wind, Clear Sky (also known as Red Fuji) but not know much about the artist or why he painted it red. Born in 1760 in Edo (now Tokyo), Japan, the artist had a lengthy career but most of his best known works were created after the age of 60.

Hokusai created the the series “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” between 1826 and 1833, both as a response to a domestic travel boom and as part of a personal obsession with the mountain. But to see Mount Fuji as red as the artist painted it is a rarity. The volcano has to be seen at a special time of day, under a series of the right weather conditions. These conditions only occur at most three times a year, and sometimes a year can go by without one red Fuji. Some artists and photographers challenge themselves to find, capture, and create a red Fuji as Katsushika Hokusai did in the 19th century, but it takes a lot of patience as you’ll see from this segment from Portrait of Artistic Genius: Katsushika Hokusai on the Smithsonian Channel.


Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones to see a Red Fuji at Mt. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park on our Insider’s Japan tour.

Which natural location inspires your artistic side?

Photo: Romance in India

Thursday, February 11th, 2010
Romance Blooms in Agra at the Taj Mahal

Romance Blooms in Agra at the Taj Mahal

There are some love stories that have become legendary. Romeo and Juliet, Lancelot and Guinevere, and Scarlett O’hara and Rhett Butler to name a few. Then there are love stories that are actually true, like the love between The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz of India. While we may not have their names on the tips of our toungues, their symbol of love is a lasting icon:

The Taj Mahal.

The Emperor created the architectural treasure after his wife passed away when giving birth to his 14th child. Not only were the Mughals wealthy, they were incredibly supportive of the arts - including architecture, gourmet foods, and music. In the mid-17th century, the Emperor built the symmetrical memorial out of white Makran marble, placing his wife’s grave at the center.

While this may have perfected the symmetry of the Taj Mahal, it wasn’t the end of the story. Shah Jahan was overthrown by his zealous and fanatical son Aurangzeb, held under house arrest, and later buried alongside his long departed wife – which technically throws off the symmetry of the building, but doesn’t mar its beauty in the eyes of visitors who flock to it each year.

What was the most romantic thing you’ve done for someone you love?

Take your love to the Taj Mahal on Mystical India, a Smithsonian Journeys Signature Tour.  

Video: A Palace with 9,999 Rooms

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Most of us are lucky to have a home that might have three bedrooms and one bathroom. But imagine living in a place that has 9,999 rooms! There is such a home which boasts the name “The Forbidden City,” and it can found in the middle of  Beijing, China.

But why 9,999? Why not 10,000?

There’s a perfectly good reason, but you’ll have to watch this video to find out. If you want to learn more, China’s Forbidden City can be seen on the Smithsonian Channel. This summer, students who travel on our new Smithsonian Studies Abroad program in Beijing will have the opportunity to see the Forbidden City and explore some of these rooms. They may come back wanting to redecorate their own bedroom, or possibly the entire house.

Would you want to live in a home with 9,999 rooms?

Smithsonian Studies Abroad is filling up fast for this summer! Will you go to China, Italy or Spain?

Video: Do You Know the Code?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

We are thrilled to launch our new Smithsonian Studies Abroad program, designed specially for high school students looking for unique experiences this summer. One of our most popular programs is located in gorgeous Florence, Italy, where students will learn Italian while focusing on the art, architecture, and history of the Renaissance.

Even before the Renaissance, Italy had a fascinating history of conflict between pagan Romans and early followers of Christ.  Issues date back as early as 64 A.D., far before Italy became the predominantly Catholic country we know today. To be Christian could mean prison, torture, or being put to death. As a result, codes were required for Christians to travel throughout the region. What kind of codes were used? Find out by watching this video from the show Decoding Christianity courtesy of the Smithsonian Channel.

The deadline to sign up for Smithsonian Studies Abroad for Summer 2010 is quickly approaching! Click to learn more.

Which program do you want to explore? Share below!

Video: The Smithsonian Craft Show

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Simply put, the Smithsonian Craft Show is one of the most prestigious contemporary art events in the United States. More than 100 exhibitors meet in Washington, D.C. at the National Building Museum to not only show and sell their limited edition creations; they also connect with visitors to discuss their work in person. This unique opportunity provides art lovers the opportunity to meet expert artisans in jewelry, furniture, glass, ceramics, and basketry. Check out some of the most amazing pieces from the 2009 Smithsonian Craft Show.

What would you buy at the Smithsonian Craft Show? Share below.

Get the inside scoop on all the artists and a private curator-led tour of the Renwick Gallery on The Smithsonian Craft Show tour.