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Joey Karczewski ’20 – Contemporary Art in Vienna and Marburg Germany

Joey Karczewski ’20 — As I reflect on my time abroad, I often think back to the numerous museums that I had visited. A couple of my favorite include the Mumok in Vienna and the Film Museum in Frankfurt.  These Museums were memorable to me because I left each of them changed in some-way. In particular, the Film Museum in Frankfurt had an extremely well curated room on the growth of film as a means of conveying a story. The room began with wheels that when spun, appeared as a moving object. Next was the Camera Obscura, and lastly the first produced films.  While the method of using film was interesting in and of itself, what the films chose to capture was even more fascinating. All the films in some way or another captured aspect of the Human condition: a couple kissing, a trains arrival, a silly man making jokes. Because of the steep Museum prices, I don’t that I would have been able, nor would have thought to, visit these museums if it weren’t for the Givens Family Fund.

Later on in my semester I had the chance to take a week-long visit to Berlin. It was here that I was able to visit the DDR Museum, Alte National Galerie, the Altes Museum, Jewish Berlin Museum, Topography of Terror, Berlin Wall Memorial, and the East Side Gallery.  While this was a more informative trip, I still got to see my fair share of art pieces. There was an exhibit at the Jewish Berlin Museum that I remember vividly. In the basement of the Museum, several Jewish citizens killed in World War II were memorialized. The exhibit was set up in a way that forced one to stand directly in front of what was the main focus. Each part of the exhibit had a piece of artwork created by the individual who was killed.  I think this exhibit was extremely moving for me because it made me change the way I look at art.

I can’t thank the Givens family, the selection committee, and Wabash enough for enabling me to have an incredible opportunity like this. There are so many other places and museums that I visited that I didn’t list in this blog post. I left my experience abroad with a much greater appreciation for art that will stick with me for a lifetime. I look forward to returning to Europe soon!


Isaiah Mears ’20 – Greek Art History

 

Ancient Ruins of Akotiri

Isaiah Mears ’20 — Nothing like six inches of snow and an 8 AM class to welcome you back from a semester in the Peloponnese am I right? My time in Greece was always filled with life-changing experiences. However, the most influential part of my journey was watching what I learned in my art history class come to life as I traveled.

I believe that liberally educated individuals are at a massive advantage from people who attend a state university or another institution that doesn’t require a well-balanced education. Wabash cultivates problem solvers and critical thinkers, and I think that the cultivation process is seen in the diversity of curriculum we are required to take. During my semester abroad, I decided to take a Greek Art History course to fulfill one of my distribution credits to graduate. Being a political science major, I was not particularly excited about making an art class, especially in one of the most important epicenters of the arts; and not to my surprise, this ended up being my most challenging course abroad. The Greek people are very in touch with their history and love nothing more than to share that history with others. I learned about material from just about every ancient era of Greek art, but two eras, in particular, would interest me the most both inside and outside of the classroom. The Bronze age and Hellenistic period of Greek art were the focus of my education and travel abroad.

Town of Oia in Santorini

The Bronze Age is filled with Greek art and ancient complex civilizations. One of these civilizations, in particular, was on the island of Santorini. Tucked away at the southern tip of Santorini, Akrotiri’s ruins are one of the Bronze age’s most sophisticated settlements, which prospered for centuries before being eradicated by a great volcanic eruption. Like the Roman ruins of Pompeii, the remains of the Minoan town are incredibly well-preserved. The settlement was all but destroyed when the volcano it sat upon, Thera, erupted, and its inhabitants fled. The volcanic matter covered the entire island of Santorini and the town itself, preserving the buildings and their contents. Even now, visitors can still identify houses and pots. With that being said, the inhabitants of this island must have fled well before the eruption because no corpses have been uncovered from the settlement. Through this scholarship, I was able to visit this ancient site and view the remains with my own eyes. I walked the same path and touched the same walls as the people who lived their hundreds of years ago. I cannot begin to explain how fortunate I was to see what I learned in the classroom come to life.

The other trip I was able to go on because of this scholarship was in Italy. Rome is home to many incredible people and places, but the Vatican museums were by far my favorite. I felt like I was living in a movie or a dream as I would wake up in the morning, grab an espresso and some Frittata and walk down the cobbled streets to the entrance of the Vatican. I would be lying if I didn’t say I wanted to see the Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s Basilica the most, however, yet again to be able to see what I learned in my textbook jump off the page and come to life right in front of me was remarkable. The statue of Laocoon and his sons would be my favorite piece in the museum. During the semester I had to work on a project with a couple of classmates, and we were tasked with this masterpiece. I was fortunate enough to go with these same classmates and see what we presented on in real life. Without the Givens scholarship, none of this would have been possible.

I would like to again extend my sincerest thanks to the Givens family for this unique opportunity. Please continue to foster liberally educated men through this scholarship because I genuinely received a life-changing experience.


Darian Phillips ’20 – Impressionism in France and England

Darian Phillips ’20 – During my time abroad, I was enrolled in a modern and contemporary art history course, which surveyed artwork from the beginning of the neo-classical period in the 18thcentury up through the abstract expressionism period in the 21stcentury. At the beginning of the semester, I had little to no background knowledge on anything concerning art, therefore whenever I had witnessed a piece of artwork I only recognized the superficial details and never fully appreciated its true value. However, this course offered context on each of the art periods that we discussed and provided insight on the social and political pressures that influenced and motivated each of the artists when composing a given piece of artwork. I discovered that artists from the neo-classical period were infatuated with heroism, nude subjects, dramatic lighting, bright primary colors, and hard and definite edges. On the other hand, artist from the romantic period were inspired by emotion and feeling, and often implemented looser and less precise brushwork in comparison to traditional academic paintings.

As the semester progressed, I continued to develop a keen eye for the seemingly insignificant details of a painting, and consequently, I became intrigued by the various aspects and underlying meaning embedded within a given painting. I specifically recall when a group of friends and myself made a trip to Amsterdam in late November and we had decided to make a stop by the Van Gogh museum. On the brutally cold Saturday afternoon, we elected to ride rental bikes so that we could quickly navigate Amsterdam’s compact roads. By the time we arrived at the museum, our faces were beat red from wind burn, our hands numb, moral was low, and were eager to find warmth and shelter. After we got inside and took a minute to thaw out, we proceeded to begin our journey through the four-story museum. I remember enthusiastically walking from painting to painting and eagerly explaining to my friends the various aspects of each painting that made it unique and describing to them what Van Gogh’s motivations and intentions at the time of their composition. Looking back on it, my friends probably were a bit irritated by my infatuation and could have gone without my poor attempt of being our own Van Gogh tour guide, but I could not contain my excitement for being able to actually witness the artwork that I had been studying in class for weeks in person.

With that being said, I would like to thank the Givens family for this amazing opportunity to explore a subject that I does not pertain to my major and the ability to expand my learning outside of the classroom.

 


Alex Pittsford ’20 – Goethe, Color Theory, and the Binding Power of Art

Alex Pittsford ’20

Alex Pittsford ’20 – Looking back at my semester abroad, I’m surprised at just how much I was able to learn and experience in just four short months. From celebrating Oktoberfest on opening day in Munich to perusing the Christmas Markets in Heidelberg, I was able to experience an incredible amount of German culture, while also greatly improving my language skills. One major factor in helping cultivate this experience abroad were the funds provided by the Givens scholarship. My theme of study was based on a conversation with Dr. Greg Redding, where we discovered that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, perhaps the most famous German author, had developed his own color theory. In order to pursue this topic, I decided to study artists influenced by this theory, which brought me to Hamburg, to see the works of Phillip Otto Runge in the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Munich, to see the works of Wassily Kandinsky in both the Neue Pinakothek and the Lenbachhaus, and London, to see J.M.W. Turner’s works in the Tate Classic. While this topic began with the color theory shared between these artists, the moment that stuck with me the most during my travels came during my visit to the Tate.

Art by J.M.W. Turner

Of the artists influenced by Goethe’s color theory, Turner is the only non-German. Despite this, I still found parallels, not only to Germany, but perhaps most surprisingly to the city in which I completed my study abroad. As I was working my way through the multiple rooms of his works housed at the Tate, I stumbled upon a landscape work that, despite my never having seen it, seemed eerily familiar. I had read during my visit that Turner had spent a significant portion of his life travelling Europe, Germany specifically, which is how he was introduced to Goethe’s color theory from the man himself. During his travels, Turner had spent some time in Heidelberg, the city in which I completed my studies and the subject of this eerily familiar painting. While the work was not complete, once I knew the subject was indeed Heidelberg, I started to recognize some of the characteristic landmarks in Heidelberg, from the castle towering over the city to the shore of Neckar splitting the city in half. This work gave me not only a feeling of nostalgia for what had become my second home, but it also allowed me to reflect on the interconnectedness of culture in Europe. This artwork, housed in one of the largest and most famous art museums in the U.K. and painted by one of the most famous British artists (in fact, the prestigious Turner prize is named for J.M.W Turner) managed to capture the ethos and aesthetic of a small town in Germany. This piece, while not the most well-known I saw during my travels, left the largest impact on me, and without the funds provided by the Givens family, I would not have been able to have this experience.


Ben Kiesel ’20 – Picasso in Spain, Switzerland

Kiesel at the Prado Museum

Ben Kiesel ’20 – As I spent an unforgettable semester in Valencia, Spain, I had the opportunity to visit a number of beautiful European cities to study art thanks to the Givens family. I was enrolled in a special topics Pablo Picasso class and though we studied major art movements throughout the 20thcentury, the course focused on arguably the most prolific and creative Spanish artist ever, Pablo Picasso. Picasso had an unmatched influence on movements such as surrealism, neoclassicism, impressionism and cubism.

My first trip was to Spain’s capital, Madrid, where I visited two museums, the Prado and the Reina Sofia. I first visited the Prado where I found some of the premier works of art by artists from all of Europe. These works include Las Meninas, The Third of May 1808, Garden of Earthly Delightsand Saturn. It was incredible to be studying these paintings in class one day and seeing them in person the next. While the Prado had many beautiful works, I was most excited to visit the Reina Sofia. The Reina Sofia is home to Guernica, my favorite painting by Picasso. It was incredible to see this masterpiece, and so many others in person. I had heard beforehand that Guernica is much bigger in person than you will think and this proved to be true. I marveled at the way Picasso was able to pack so many complex themes and imagery into one painting. For me, given how much I have studied this particular painting it was surreal to be able to study it in person.

I stayed in Spain for my next trip as well, and made my first visit to Barcelona and the northern region of Spain. Along with many amazing sites, such as the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell and La Rambla, I visited the Picasso museum which was a remarkable experience. This particular museum was great to visit in conjunction with my class because we could see progression of different styles throughout his life. Picasso’s ability to create works that bridged the gaps between different styles was evident when you could see many of his works together side by side. For this reason, I think my trip to the Picasso museum and Barcelona in general was the most informative.

My next trip was probably my favorite and would not have been possible without the support of the Givens family. I made the trip to central Europe to visit Switzerland. There, I spent about two and a half days in Geneva visiting a variety of sites including the United Nations building, St. Pierre Cathedral and Flower Clock. Additionally, although this is not directly applicable to Picasso and art, I visited the International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. This museum may have been my favorite just because going into it I really had no idea what the Red Cross and Red Crescent organization actually does. It was extremely informative and had a number of fascinating interactive activities. Once again, though it was not connected with my class, the ability to explore this museum and learn was only possible because I was given funds to visit Lucerne Switzerland to visit the Rosengart Collection. The Rosengart Collection is a collection of many works by Picasso and other 20thcentury artists. I particularly enjoyed one painting by Picasso that is not among his most famous, but one that we studied in class, Still Life.


Max Atkins ’20 – Experiencing Art in Spain, France, and the Netherlands

Atkins ’20 at Van Gogh Museum

Max Atkins ’20 – While I spent four months studying philosophy in Amsterdam, my travels were not limited to the Netherlands thanks to the Givens family. While my intention when going abroad was to focus on the work of Picasso, I was able to experience much more than that through the semester. Upon arrival in Amsterdam, I purchased a museum card that got me into all the museums throughout the Netherlands. With this I got to experience all different forms of art. I got to experience the work of Van Gogh through his life at the Van Gogh Museum, I got to see the work of Dutch classics through the golden age by artist such as Rembrandt, and even modern works of photography.

Thanks to the Givens Scholarship, I got to travel to Spain and France and further my experience of art. I went to Paris and had an overwhelming experience of art from all ages. I got to visit Musée d’Orsay, where the picture I’ve attached is taken, where I not only got to experience art different than what I was seeing in Amsterdam, but also in a completely different style. In Amsterdam many museums do not allow photography of any kind and are eerily quiet. D’Orsay was completely different in that as soon as you walk in you can here the chatter of everyone experiencing the art in their own way, taking photos of the art, with the art, and marveling at its beauty. The museum captured art through all of history from ancient rome all the way through the 20thcentury.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to travel and experience art many different ways. To experience architecture, paintings, sculptures, and many other art forms spanning across centuries. Thanks to the Givens, I got to have experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life.