Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kossak Travel Grant

I was thrilled to recently travel abroad on a Kossak Travel Grant from Hunter College, specifically to study the works of Hieronymus Bosch in Madrid and Pieter Bruegel in Vienna. Bruegel and Bosch are probably the two most influential figures on my artistic practice, so it was an incredible experience to see their major works in person. The Museo Nacional del Prado contains the largest collection of Bosch works, including the Haywain Triptych, Seven Deadly Sins tabletop, and the Garden of Earthly Delights, even more vivid in person than I could have imagined. Bosch's incredible use of detail, rich color, and bizarre compositions left me mesmerized and inspired beyond words.

The Prado also has two Pieter Bruegel paintings, including the terrifying Triumph of Death, which provoked a young museum viewer to exclaim to her parents 'I don't want to die young!'. After a wonderful stay in Madrid, I travelled to Vienna, where the Kunsthistorisches Museum contains the largest collection of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, including the Tower of Babel, Way to Calvary, and many more. Absorbing the vast narratives, allegories, and details infused within each of these scenes, I was able to spend several hours over the course of two separate visits, and still felt like there was much more to see. It was a truly enlightening and life-changing experience.

While in Vienna, I also saw another Bosch triptych, The Last Judgement, at the Academy of Fine Arts. Unlike most other artistic depictions of The Last Judgement, Bosch's version is basically one continuous hellscape. A wonderfully dark fantasy, with detailed torment scenes infused with a sickly humorous imagination.
After Vienna, I finished the trip with a long weekend stay in Berlin. I was able to view even more works from Bruegel, including the amazing Netherlandish Proverbs. The scene visually depicts over 100 different proverbs and old sayings, many still in use today, such as 'don't count your chickens before they hatch'.

Beyond seeing the works of Bosch and Bruegel, I took in many other sites, museums, food and culture in each city. It was an amazing trip, leaving me greatly inspired for my final thesis work at Hunter College, and beyond.