The word museum comes from the Greek word for “sanctuary of the muses”. The Muses were inspiring gods of the arts and sciences. Taken literally, a museum is a shrine dedicated to the inspiring actions of others. It is a place where one can contemplate incredible works, extract their own unique meanings and inspire change in people’s lives. The Saint Louis University Museum of Art (SLUMA) is home to many amazing works of art from a variety of genres and artists.
SLUMA has a stellar collection for students to see and admire.
- “Chairman” by Erik Nordgulen
This piece is really attention grabbing. It’s simple: the parts of the chair are rearranged into a human form. However, there is something extremely off-putting about seeing such nondescript material take on an imposing and expected form. Nordgulen successfully suggests the idea of rethinking the way we interact with the world and the objects we don’t think about.
2. “Disc #2” by Arnaldo Pomodoro
This sculptureUre looks like something that would be in a future museum as an artifact of human technology. Tears in the shiny material make the piece look like it survived a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions, and the textures underneath give it an elusive yet familiar quality of future technology. It is interesting to compare artifacts from history and hypothesize what these new artifacts and the stories behind them might look like.
3. “Surface”, 206 ”by Giuseppe Capogrossi
The artist Giuseppe Capogrossi was educated as a lawyer, but is an artist by profession. Caprogrossi used many styles in his career, but his most famous is the use of a comb-like symbol called Superficie (Surfaces). With this style used, the piece has a puzzling appeal. The piece looks like unreadable language. The simplicity yet uniqueness in each symbol and the stark contrast of the black and white canvas give it a book-like quality. No matter how long you watch it, no definite message will ever be revealed. One possible message from this piece is that not everything will be known and there is some knowledge that is lost to us or will never be obtained, but that is okay.
4. “New England Harbor” by Henry Chase
As part of SLUMA’s current Landscape exhibition, this piece shows a sea scene. It is a classic style and there is something alluring about the vastness of the sea and the elegance of the ship. A dualistic dynamic is also present in the work. The calm of the beach and the gentle tide contrasted with the bustling scene of numerous ships going their own way, each with its own story and purpose.
5. “A Bench in the Park” by Bessie Lowenhoupt
This piece is also part of SLUMA’s Landscape exhibition, but in a very different and distinct style. George McCue, in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, described the work as “sophisticatedly naïve,” I agree too. In the very sparse images, Lowenhaupt manages to convey the scene quite well. Lowenhaup practiced a style called memory painting, in which she would create the scene from memory rather than a model. Lowenhaupts style shows how intriguing the human mind is, in what it remembers and how little it needs in a scene to create a unique experience.
These are just a few pieces from the collection of SLUMA and its people
y draw different interpretations for them. This is why art and museums in general are amazing because each of us can get a unique experience from them and they can have a very personal impact on our lives. SLUMA has more exhibits with seemingly endless messages and meanings for the viewer. So whenever you can, explore the art available for viewing on and off the SLU campus and draw your own meanings from the works.