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JOEL Joel's Blog

The Cloisters

10/01/2008

The Cloisters 4All the way up at the northern tip of Manhattan, in Fort Tryon Park, is The Cloisters which is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum that specializes in medieval art displayed in a medieval like setting - a cloister. This past weekend we took the kid and met a friend to go to a Renaissance Faire because we thought it might be fun - and it would have been except it rained so we went to the Cloisters instead. With a small boy we have about one hour before we had to leave and we spent the time roaming around. What I forgot about the place is that 1- it's home to the Unicorn Tapestries (see main picture above) and 2 -home to tons of carvings along with carved furniture and panels.
This time period is really interesting because furniture was rare, and in many cases carved. The furniture has a certain solidity and isn't nearly as fancy as furniture of the 18th century. The picture below is of a 15th century French door and what caught my I was that it's a great piece of fairly uncomplicated linenfold carving. I should be able to do something like this - that is for a non-carver like myself this is simple enough so I won't find it overwhelming. The Cloisters 5And even in its simplicity it is a very wonderful decoration that still entertains today. It shows that not everything needs to be a masterpiece to work well. So I need to get up a head of steam and give it a bash.

They also had panels and furntiure that were far far fancier. Which is inspiring but above my level of skill right now. The photos of that stuff turned out too dark.

In any case this goes back to my point of a few months ago about seeing as much good stuff as you can because it's great for the creative process. It's also pretty interesting in that these linenfolds look like they were carved without roughing them out first with hollows and rounds - which is a pretty common method of doing it - but as this example shows you don't actually need them to get the job done.

PS - the pictures are from my cellphone - sorry they are not better.
Join the conversation
12/11/2008 wrduce
Hi Joel

I couldn't agree more both about seeing as much good stuff as you can, and the time period being really interesting.

If you ever find yourself in Toronto, be sure to check out a little side room in the Art Gallery of Ontario that houses the Thompson (or rather, a portion of) collection of medieval boxwood and ivory carvings.

There is simply some amazing work there, particularly when you consider the working conditions of the day. If you're into the over-hyped concept of patina, nothing beats old boxwood and ivory.

take care and keep up the good work.

bill
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