Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Legacy of James Simon

While I was at The Legion of Honor yesterday to see Leonardo, I did a quick stroll through their other special exhibit, The State Museums of Berlin and the Legacy of James Simon. This show highlights the patronage of James Simon (1851-1932), an important philanthropist of the era & a German Jew. It's an exhibition of diverse works, spanning cultures & millenia. It's a something-for-everyone show, though it lacks a single artistic theme.

I enjoyed most the 1st two rooms of Egyptian & Babylonian artifacts. I was intrigued by the Babylonian Kudurru, a football-sized black stone covered with cunieform & topped with a band of pictures. I wish there was more wall text explaining it. I was surprised by the presence of Buddhist items collected from the Silk Road. This stuff must have looked very exotic to late 19th century Germans. In the last room, I was charmed by Renoir's portrait In the Summer & both fascinated & disturbed by Luca Giordano's violent & pretty St. Michael.

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