Who comes to mind when you are asked for great artists of all time? Monet? Picasso? Rembrandt?
Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum is home to an original Rembrandt piece. A portrait of Dirck van Os III was completed in 1658. Can you imagine a painting more than 350 years old in an Omaha museum? I always think that artwork such as this is always located in the bigger, older museums of the world. This painting says that Omaha has a great art collection.
The Rembrandt piece was recently returned to the gallery following its conservation (repair and restoration). The painting was last on exhibit in 1999.
The Joslyn has a fascinating art collection – from Greek pottery to modern art. One cool thing is that the museum doesn’t charge an admission fee, except for the special exhibits. You don’t have to view the special exhibit to tour the rest of the museum.
The museum features art from the Medieval (Middle Ages) period (considered the 5th-15th centuries) and Renaissance (14th-17th centuries) to today’s art. Other art collections include: Ancient, European, Asian, as well as Latin American. You can see a variety of art at the museum, which should satisfy anyone’s specific genre.
My favorite art style is abstract. I like the use of angles and geometric designs. Modern abstract expressionists, such as Jackson Pollock, also pique my interest. To the naked eye, Pollock may have just splashed paint willy nilly on a canvas. But, he told a story. He expressed his view of art. I just enjoy the mix of colors and open presentation. Omaha is home to one of his first non-easel works – “Galaxy.” In 1947, he supported the idea that art on an easel was dying. He used the floor as he easel. He also experimented in adding texture to his paintings, including sand and gravel.
American Western art is also a favorite. The Joslyn has plenty of that style on display. You can view work by Charles Russell, as well as others. A beautiful painting shows a mountain side that will need to be climbed.
Native Americans are portrayed in a variety of settings, including a buffalo hunt and “counting coup” after a battle.
A gallery is dedicated to Native American pieces, including a display of Sioux (Lakota, Dakota and Nakota traditionally) pieces.
An Omaha tribal shirt is one of the first things people see when they enter the gallery. It is said to have been worn by Logan Fontanelle, but this couldn’t be verified.
An Omaha tribal suit displays the top and leggings.
Modern art pieces come in a variety of styles – sculptures, paintings and video pieces.
A piece by George Segal highlights life in New York’s Time Square at night in the early 1970s. The men are walking through the area and pass a pancake house next to an adult movie theater. I recognized his name from a sculpture – “Rush Hour” – on display at the Nelson Atkins Museum’s sculpture walk in Kansas City. So, culture is soaking into my brain.
Another piece takes a look at technology. It created the ultimate couch potato – televisions, computers and a working fax machine are absorbed with a recliner. People can fax their thoughts to a number identified on the museum’s wall note, which will be included on Nam Jun Paik’s 1994 work.
Lisa’s favorite art style is architecture. She really enjoys looking at a variety of buildings when we are out and about. She likes the art deco style used to build the Joslyn Museum. Across the sculpture garden is Omaha Central High School, which offers another take on older architecture.
Lisa also likes the sculpture of “The Little Dancer,” by Degas. We saw another copy of the sculpture in St. Louis.
A short walk from the “Dancer” was a Console Table from 1735. Furniture from the Baroque period took on an artistic approach with carvings.
Joslyn rotates special exhibits every few months. Currently, a temporary exhibit highlights “American Modern” artists, including Norman Rockwell and Georgia O’Keefe. The paintings and sculptures on exhibit highlight American art between 1910-60. The exhibit, which costs $10 to attend for non-members of the museum, runs through May 17th.
Previous exhibits have included Andy Warhol’s work, “The Lorax” drawings and a photo exhibit of the Union Pacific’s expansion of the railroad in the 1800s.
We checked out another temporary exhibit covering graphic novels. “Bam!” covers the genre, but highlights a couple of graphic novels – “Big Nate” and “Baby Mouse.”
A new addition to the museum is Art Works. It’s an interactive area where people of all ages can take part in nine art stations, including pottery and painting.
Outside the museum is a sculpture garden. It has some interesting pieces on display. One of my favorites is a sculpture of a Hidatsa tribe member.
Another favorite of ours is the “Large Covered Wagon,” by Tom Otterness. The piece – created in 2004 – has a unique look.
Visitors to the museum are greeted by the statue of a Sioux warrior. Local artist Mattew Placzek created the piece in 2008.
For more information on Joslyn Museum, please visit its website at www.joslyn.org.