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Art: No touching and touching

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Having visited the Freer and the Sackler Galleries this past weekend, there are many extraordinary works to see including “Off the Beaten Path: Early Works by James McNeill Whistler.”

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“Off the Beaten Path: Early Works by James McNeill Whistler

September 28, 2013–September 28, 2014

Freer Gallery of Art

In the summer of 1858, twenty-four-year-old Whistler traveled with a friend from Paris through the Rhineland. Their goal was to reach Amsterdam and view The Night Watch and other paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn—but they soon ran out of money and were forced to return to Paris. Their excursion through the countryside, where they drew portraits in exchange for food and lodging, resulted in a body of work that for years served as source material for the artist. The drawings, etchings, and watercolors on view not only document Whistler’s adventures, but they also shaped his selection of subject matter and his approach to composition, light and shadow, and perspective.”

You may inspect these drawings and etchings up close as magnifying glasses are provided. As with most museums of art, there are rules. Generally, there is the 12 inch rule that says patrons must step back from the work as to not endanger it.

There are incredible Chinese paintings of former emperors. See the photo of one taken at the Freer exhibit. Then, there is a story today in the Voice of America about art in Beijing that features a modern reproduction of one of the old paintings that is designed for interaction.

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“A man interacts with a 3D painting during a Magic Art Special exhibition at a gallery in Beijing, China. In the 3D painting exhibition, visitors are encouraged to interact with the lifelike images by touching or other creative action into the artworks.”


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