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Benjamin Mossoney ’20 — Picasso’s Social Criticism

Benjamin Mossoney with Nathan Young at the Van Gogh Museum

Benjamin Mossoney ’20 — I took a Pablo Picasso class while abroad in Valencia, concentrating on his pioneering of several styles and social commentary. The Givens scholarship enabled me to travel to several cities to experience Picasso’s work directly, and also some work that had a substantial influence on Picasso.

Vincent Van Gogh had a lasting influence on Picasso, which led me to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I spent nearly three and a half incredible hours wandering the Van Gogh Museum. The week before I went to Amsterdam, our Professor gave a lecture on Vincent Van Gogh, noting his unique use of colors and perspectives that influenced many works of Picasso.

The Musée National Picasso-Paris has one of the largest Picasso collections in the world. While visiting this Museum in Paris, I followed Cubist works of Picasso, and also several other artists. The Centre Pompidou also had an extensive collection of Cubist paintings.

I visited the Reina Sofia while in Madrid, and this is where I was able to observe the breathtaking “Guernica” which depicts the town of Guernica being bombed by the Nazi party during the Spanish civil war. I spent nearly an hour analyzing and taking in this miraculous painting. Noting specific areas of Picasso’s techniques and how they blended into his social criticism was an incredible thing to be able to do, and I will never be able to replicate that experience in my life.

I took a Holocaust class my Sophomore year at Wabash, co-taught by German Professor Tucker and Political Science Professor Hollander. While Picasso had much to say concerning the Nazi party and the second great war, I was able to see some hugely influential memorials while I visited Berlin. I went to the Jewish Museum and also the memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe. I deeply pondered the significance behind these memorials and also how Germany handled commemorating their misdoings from the Holocaust. Underneath the monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe is an entire museum that has thousands of stories of Jewish families. Berlin was one of my last trips, and seeing the memorials that we discussed in my Holocaust class was one of my favorite things that I did in Europe.

I want to thank the Givens family for their profound generosity. Their selflessness empowers Wabash men to experience things that they have directly learned about in the classroom and transition them to the real world. Without the Givens scholarship, I would not have been able to go to many of these sites nor gained the appreciation and knowledge I now have for Pablo Picasso, and his social criticism.


James Anthony Williams ’20 — Gloucester and Brentford

James Anthony Williams ’20 —  From drawing with a fine tip of gold or silver to drawing with ink on a Bamboo pencil, my experiences abroad expanded my knowledge and confidence in Art. I never envisioned myself being an artist but with the overwhelming existences of art in the United Kingdom, I easily found a great appreciation for Art and the representational meaning being it. When I wasn’t seeing and embracing art from streets, museums, or vintage Cathedrals or castles, I would surely be making art in my rigorous, yet interesting art course at Harlaxton College. We made metal point drawings, pastel portraits, and studied and practiced many other art forms. My favorite and most interesting art that we studied would have to be our graphite drawing of our actual eye. Though it is one of our simpler drawings, it challenged me to be critical and observant of minor detail to help the overall drawing.

Anthony Williams at Lincoln Cathedral

When traveling and experiencing art outside of class and at Harlaxton Manor, my favorite places that really impacted me were the Museum of Self-Playing Instruments in Brentford, United Kingdom and Lincoln Castle/Cathedral in Lincoln, United Kingdom. At the museum, I was astonished with the work, sounds and sight of these self-playing instruments. Beautiful in every way, these instruments took many months for these instruments to be made and many people from different trade working together to make them a true reality. Massive, breath-taking and meticulously made, Lincoln Cathedral and castle were a gem to see as they have stood strong and tall for decades. The sight inside of the cathedral is only compared to that of Canterbury Cathedral, which is one of the most prestigious buildings in the United Kingdom. Trimmed with the finest metals and marbles, Lincoln Castle and Cathedral was an honor to see touch and appreciate. After studying aboard, I have honestly gained a great respect and appreciation for Art as it tells an underlying story, touches each person differently and gives us the freedom to appreciate its message to us.

Again, I would like to thank the Givens family, scholarship committee, Amy Weir and Wabash College for their everlasting commitment to engage, support and sponsor Wabash Men. It is because of experiences and opportunities such as these that I chose Wabash and I am forever grateful for my decision to be a part of this honorable place we all call home.


Nathan Young ’20 — Spanish Art Throughout Europe

Nathan Young ’20 — Standing and admiring famous art throughout Europe is something that I never thought would be possible before I received the Givens Scholarship. After receiving the scholarship, I thought of the many possibilities of museums and artwork that I could visit. However, I did not realize it until I stood in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. There I saw the man who influenced many important 18th and 19th century Spanish artists. This opened my eyes to the world of art. Before Europe, I had hardly blinked an eye at art’s importance to a country’s history and now I had the opportunity to witness the “writing” and changes of the Spanish society in that era.

Nathan Young with Benjamin Mossoney at Museo Del Prado

I embarked on a trip to Madrid, the center of Spanish art. While there, I witnessed the works of many of the masterpieces of Spanish art including works by Goya, Velazquez, and Ribera. My personal favorite were the works of Goya which I had particular interest in from my work researching his use of women in a paper in Spanish 301. Upon seeing these works it brought together the amazing realization that I am seeing in person the works I had written and observed so much during my studies at Wabash. It changed my perspective on the importance of how art influences people and its immense importance to a country’s culture. For example, seeing the painting of Carlos IV and his family by Goya in the museum drastically changed my perspective of the painting and the importance of the Spanish royal family. The painting’s position in the center of a large room with the clever positioning so that the royal family “looks” over the large hall of the museum is very symbolistic of their role in Spanish society. The nuances of the painting such as the queen standing slightly forward in a position of power is something that I never would have been able to notice without taking an art class through the lens of a Spanish citizen.

I cannot thank enough the Givens family for their generosity provided me and other Wabash men the opportunity to expand beyond our comfort zone. I never would have been able to travel and see the many amazing spectacles of Europe and North Africa. My appreciation of art changed drastically during my time in Europe and I know that art will continue to be a strong interest of mine for the rest of my life. Thank you immensely for this opportunity and I can only hope to pay the same generosity you paid to me unto future Wabash men.


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.


Matthew Hopkins ’19: Exploring Connections Between Impressionism and Expressionism

Matthew Hopkins ’19 — As I reflect back on my four months abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, I realize how formative a time it was for me. I realize how much I’ve grown, I see the things I’ve learned – whether academically or culturally, and of course I was able to improve my French a bit too! It wasn’t always the easiest at times, but my journey abroad was a positive growing experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

In addition to my academics and cultural assimilation in France, a big reason I was even able to go abroad in the first place was thanks to the Givens Scholarship, which I was awarded the semester before I left.  The Givens Scholarship paid for my travel and admittance fees to several museums and historical sites around Europe. Thanks to the Givens, I was able to travel to Berlin to study German expressionism, Paris to study the French impressionists, and many things in between. Before I went abroad, I laid out a plan for what I was going to do with my award money. Though I had to cut a few things out once a got there, on account of the ongoing strikes in France which cancelled many trains and planes I had scheduled, my main goal for the Givens Scholarship was to explore the connections between Impressionism and Expressionism – a goal I feel I was able to reach (or, at least, I beganto reach).

I would like to talk about one specific trip I was able to take thanks to the Givens Scholarship.  About mid-way through the semester, I travelled to Paris, and one of the museums I went to was le Musée de l’Orangerie, to see Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies.”  “Water Lilies” is regarded by some as the masterpiece of Monet, the French Impressionist. When you see it, it’s understandable why some would make that claim. First, the way they were presented – something Monet was very specific about. The painting, in its entirety, spans 8 massive landscape canvases, and these canvases are arranged, in order, around the perimeter of two ovular rooms, which are connected by a small walkway. Picture an infinity symbol shape as a room, and the walls in that room are covered in Monet’s art. The experience of entering that room is one that words could never do justice. Ethereal is the only descriptor that comes close.  The rooms are full of people, but strangely it doesn’t feel cramped – perhaps because the paintings themselves open up an entirely new world that you cannot enter physically, but are still somehow pulled into. Each room has benches in the center, and I sat here for what seems like hours (could have been), just following the stories on the walls.

The reason Monet’s “Water Lilies” was impactful to me is pretty clear, as it is for most everyone, but the reason I chose to talk about this in relation to my Givens Scholarship is perhaps just as intriguing. As I said above, I set out to see the connections between two different art movements – Impressionism and Expressionism, and I found the perfect marriage of those two in Monet’s “Water Lilies.” Monet completed this painting (I refer to it in the singular, because it really is just one painting) towards the end of his life – it wasn’t even put on exhibit until after his death — and you can begin to see the movement to a more abstract, expressionist style of painting in the work. Of course Monet was an Impressionist (maybe the Impressionist), so the characteristics of Impressionism are still very much alive in this work. I saw in Monet’s “Water Lilies,” vibrant Impressionism and budding Expressionism. The way the colors worked to tell stories was emblematic of Monet’s Impressionist style, but the slight tinkering with reality and play on proportions and perspective also showed the seeds of an Expressionist painter. Monet’s “Water Lilies” was truly a masterpiece.

We were not able to take pictures inside the “Water Lilies” room, and to be honest I think I preferred that. I decided to include a picture of me, standing in front of Mont Saint Victoire, which was the subject of hundreds of paintings by another French Impressionist master, Paul Cézanne.

I would like to thank the Givens family once again for the chance to expand my learning outside the classroom, to be able to see pieces of history in the flesh, and draw from them lessons no textbook could teach me.