Sunday, September 15, 2019

Honolulu Museum of Art ~ Art Inspiration of the Islands

"Many things are so beautiful that they don’t seem real. 
My idea of the world—nature—things that grow ... "
~ Georgia O'Keeffe, 
letter from Hawaii to her husband Alfred Stieglitz

George Rickey
Two Open Rectangles Excentric, 1977
Burnished steel, 31' x 11'
(Balanced with counterweights, it moves with the wind!)

Honolulu Museum of Art
Opened to the public in 1922

This is a wonderful museum in Honolulu with a beautiful and varied art collection. I actually joined the museum when I was there, hoping to be able to spend more time. If I was an O'ahu resident I think I would practically be living there! You'll see why.

"The museum’s permanent collection has grown from 500 works to more than 50,000 pieces spanning 5,000 years, with significant holdings in Asian art, American and European painting and decorative arts, 19th- and 20th-century art, an extensive collection of works on paper, Asian textiles, and traditional works from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas." - from the website

Beautiful flowers as you enter the museum ...

"That our children of many nationalities and races, born far from the centers of art, may receive an intimation of their own cultural legacy and wake to the ideals embodied in the arts of their neighbors....that Hawaiians, Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Northern Europeans and all other people living here, contacting through the channel of art those deep intuitions common to all, may perceive a foundation on which a new culture, enriched by the old strains may be built in the islands."
—Anna Rice Cooke’s dedication statement, which she read at the opening of the Honolulu Academy of Arts on April 8, 1927    

"The museum is really lovely—white— rooms not too large—open courts here and there—open to the sky—a lovely building ... The Chinese room very beautiful—much more human feeling than what we do with such things in the East—flowers and grass seem to get in—they help in a museum ..."  ~ Georgia O'Keeffe, letter from Hawaii to her husband Alfred Stieglitz

There's a building for the "Arts of Hawai'i" which is so lovely to experience while you are in Honolulu. Here is a very small sampling of those works. 

Theodore Wores
The Lei Maker, 1901
Oil on Canvas

Chris Campbell
Strike a Pose III, c. 2005
Oil on canvas

"It is hard to tell about the island- the people have a kind of gentleness that isn't usual on the mainland. I feel that my tempo must definitely change to put down [or paint] anything of what is here- I don't know whether I can or not- but it is certainly a different world- and I'm glad I came." ~Georgia O'Keeffe

Lionel Walden
The Torchlight Fishermen, Waikiki, 1930
Oil on canvas board

Lionel Walden
Hawaiian Fisherman, 1924
Oil on canvas

William Twigg-Smith
Hilo Sampans, 1917
Oil on canvas

"One of the things I find myself thinking most often is that there is some thing so perfect about the climate here that it seems a bit ridiculous— even if you walk in the rain as I did yesterday up on the side of the mountain . . . it is neither hot nor cold and I love slushing through the water—Such lovely rainbows too ... "  ~ Georgia O'Keeffe, in a letter to her husband Alfred Stieglitz

Robert Delaunay
The Rainbow, 1913
Oil on Canvas 
(I love his piece!!!)

If you'd like to get to know more of Robert Delaunay's work check out this slideshow (with music) someone uploaded to YouTube. I actually adore his wife Sonia Delaunay's work, as well.

Alexander Calder
Hi!, c. 1928

Hans Hofmann (American, 1880-1966)
Fragrance, 1956
Oil on canvas

I love this vibrant work of abstract impressionism! In person it has even more a sense of energy, light and movement! 

Detail of Fragrance

Kevin, below, enjoying art of the 19th century. Van Gogh to the left, Monet's Water Lilies directly in front and a lovely Camille Pissarro, Rouen Saint-Sever Morning, to his right.

Vincent van Gogh
Wheat Field, 1888
Oil on canvas

This next photo was one of my favorite rooms. I want this room! Haha! I could have sat in there for hours with my journal or sketchbook. How cool do the orange walls look with the incredible (and very large) portraits, crystal chandelier, and lucite chairs? Yum!

On the left
John singer Sargent
Mrs. Thomas Lincoln Manson, Jr., 1891
Oil on canvas

On the right
James McNeill Whistler
Arrangement in Black No. 5: Lady Meux
Oil on canvas

Alex Katz
Ada With a Black Scarf, 1966
Oil on canvas

There's also a wonderful Alice Neel painting in that room!

And, of course, when there are Italians present I must include a couple of those! Check out the look on Baby Gésu's face below.

Follower of Benozzo Gozzoli
Madonna and Child with Angels (detail) 15th Century
Tempera, gilding on wood panel

Workshop of Fra Fillippo Lippi
Two Saints, Mid 15th Century
Tempera, gilding on panel
(And velvet?!)


I love this garden area! So peaceful and the pond has koi fish! I want to go back and sketch there too!

The beautiful area above leads you into their wonderful collection of Asian Art. 

I don't have any photos of the Japanese Woodblock Prints because (for preservation) the room was too dark but they have the most incredible and expansive collection. More than 10,000 prints which is the 3rd largest in the United States! You can see many of them on their website including Hokusai's The Great Wave.

What I did get were photos of some of the other beautiful artifacts and exhibits that were on display.

Japan, 15th century
Wood, gold

Bodhisattva Seishi
Japan, Heian period, 10th-11th century

The figure above is one of the main attendants of Amida Buddha and symbolizes the power of wisdom.

Anonymous Empress
Japan, Edo period, 19th century
Porcelain, paper-mâché, wood, hair, 
silk, cotton, metal and pigments

Attributed to Tankei (1173-1256)
Eleven-Headed Kannon
Japan, Kamukura period, 13th century
Wood, bronze, gold

So delicate and the face is exquisite!

OK, so keep in mind this next sculpture is large. As in ... life size. The room lights are dim and as you enter the room it's presence is so powerful. As you'll see, it sits there washed in a warm glow of light in the "royal ease" positing. Stunning.

Guanyin ~ The Bodhisattva of Compassion 
c. 1025
China, Northern Song or Tangut Xia dynasty 

The Hawaiian wood works and textiles were almost impossible to photograph behind glass. It was too dark and there was too much glare for my iPhone but if you get there, they are definitely worth seeing.

When I came around a corner and saw these paintings I took a long breath and exhaled. Beauty in green! There's nothing else like a Georgia O'Keeffe. Here, she seems to pare the paintings down to their absolute essentials and the result is captivating. You have all the information you need about these beautiful scenes.

Georgia O'Keefee
Waterfall-No. III-Iao Valley, 1939
Oil on Canvas

" My paintings are all sharp green valleys with waterfalls. Today was very rainy so the valley is full of mists—It is queer to sit out there in the rain painting and not mind the rain till it really poured so hard I couldn’t see much ..."~ Georgia O'Keeffe, in a letter to her husband Alfred Stieglitz

Georgia O'Keeffee
Papaw Tree, 'Iao Valley, Maui,
Oil on Canvas

Georgia O'Keeffe 
Waterfall-End of Road-'Iao Valley, 1939
Oil on Canvas

"Such deeply wrinkled mountain sides with such high waterfalls could be seen through breaks in the trees across the valley—It is really a beauti-ful world . . ." ~ Georgia O'Keeffe

There was a whole show of O'Keeffe's Hawaii paintings at the New York Botanical Garden last year! Wouldn't that have been great to see? Well, we may have missed it but here's a great little video explaining her time in Hawaii. The video also shows more works that she did while she was staying in the islands as well as works she painted when she got home that were inspired by her visit. 

(The sound cuts out for about 10 or seconds near the beginning but it kicks back in so don't give up!)

"It all just doesn’t seem real—a lot of different kinds of waterfalls—mostly very thin—tumbling way down from way up high—Then the trees—such wonderful trees  ... " ~Georgia O'Keeffe

"The shade is sort of thick and light at the same time—the sun pale—a long dreamy blue sort of a mountain raising up out of the ocean to the right and on the other side of the house a nearer mountain rises up so abruptly it is startling—it has a look like a sort of mossy rock.—palm trees—other trees—flowering things—many birds. I think I am going to like it."  ~ Georgia O'Keeffe
  1. The letters are in the Alfred Stieglitz/Georgia O’Keeffe Archive in the Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and copyright © 2012 by Yale University. Per O’Keeffe’s request, the correspondence was sealed until 2006, twenty years after her death. 

    Hope you enjoyed the museum visit! For more information about the Honolulu Museum of Art, click HERE.
 Blessings, Light and Aloha!

1 comment:

isabella kramer - veredit said...

WOW!! Warmest thanks for this Museum walk. That's such a nice walk through this special exhibition and I'm thrilled what great masterpieces they own. Very inspiring documentation.

You're looking so happy and beautiful - and stylish!

Warmest regards,