Posts Tagged ‘modern art’

El País Vasco – Rediscovering Spain

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Allison Larkin is a Tour Director for International Seminar Design (ISDI) in Washington, D.C. She joined the ISDI team in 2007 after spending three years in Japan as a high school English teacher. She is fluent in Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Japanese and has lived in Spain, France, and Japan. Her love of foreign cultures and travel has taken her all over Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Click here to read more about Allison.

Since I was young, my stereotypical images of Spain were of sandy beaches scorching under the Andalusian sun, dark-haired flamenco dancers enveloped in enviable multicolored layered skirts, and lazy afternoons of long meals and even longer siestas. But when I ventured to the Basque Country of northern Spain with Smithsonian Journeys, I was lucky enough to discover a different Spain, intrinsically distinct from the one a typical traveler might encounter.

The Basque Country is unlike any region I’ve visited, and this particular adventure would take us through the contemporary arts of Bilbao’s Guggenheim, the vine-clad valleys and hills of La Rioja, and into the seaside town of San Sebastian. But the highlight was traveling through the green, sinuous valleys and pine forest where Basque sculptor and artist, Agustín Ibarrola, has his home, studio, and enigmatic Bosque Pintado (Painted Forest).

El Bosque Pintado, Agustín Ibarrola. Photo: Courtesy Flickr user jlastras

El Bosque Pintado, Agustín Ibarrola. Photo: Courtesy Flickr user jlastras

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For Valentine's Day: Hanging Heart, Jeff Koons

Friday, February 13th, 2009
Hanging Heart, Jeff Koons, as displayed at the Palazzo Grassi during the 2007 Venice Biennale.

Hanging Heart by Jeff Koons, as displayed at the Palazzo Grassi during the 2007 Venice Biennale.

We are all mesmerized by Jeff Koons’ Hanging Heart which sold at Sotheby’s for $27 million, and which is one of five versions he created for his ”Celebration” series. This 3500 pound piece is powerful, well-crafted, and nine-feet tall, and it is made of chromium stainless steel coated with ten layers of painta true hanging wonder.

Next to Koons’ Balloon Flower, Balloon Dog, or Puppy (which once graced the entrance of the Guggenheim Bilbao), the Hanging Heart represents the embodiment of love and serves as a reminder that there is a child in all of us.

Mariana Carpinisan has lived in Washington, D.C. since 1995, where she serves as an art critic, independent curator, and lecturer for the Smithsonian Institution. She has led more than 60 Smithsonian Journeys. Click here to learn more about traveling with Mariana Carpinisan and to read her biography.