Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast – the weekly English show where we speak about everything under the sun. The major goal of this show is to help you improve your English and of course learn something new. My name’s Katya, I’m your host and today with me…
See, we have quite a big party again. Woohoo! Four people! So I have, just as I always do, a little bit of a request to our listeners. So please, you know, we’re doing our best to be as useful to you a possible and we would love to get some feedback about it.
So subscribe to our pages on Apple, Yandex, Google, Vk or any other platform where you listen to our podcast and let us know what you think. Tell us what you like or dislike about our show, what would you like to be different?
What topics would you like us to talk about? We’re always, constantly looking for new ideas, cause we want to be interesting to you dear listeners. So and I wanna ask you guys how is your summer going? Can you believe it’s… Half of it is gone.
The cup is already half empty.
You’re like it was a good day until you said that Katya.
That’s right. We barely had acknowledged that the cup was half full and it’s already half empty.
So what has been the brightest event of this first half of the summer?
There was more that one bright event.
Okay. So that gives a choice, let’s see. Bright events, bright events.
Okay, singular, what was brightest event?
Well they are yet to come.
Okay, what are your plans for the rest of the summer?
So I have birthday in August, it’s pretty soon. So yeah, I think I’m looking forward to it. It’s gonna be fun.
Oh I don’t know really. So usually I just go somewhere with my friends. Like last year I went to Saint Petersburg all alone, it was kinda fun. So maybe I will do something like that this year too but I don’t know yet.
I like the, you know, the spontaneous vibe that your answer gives. Wait, what August? I mean, what’s the date?
The 7th, so the beginning of August, perfect. Gary, Masha, any plans for the rest of the summer?
Maybe to get some rest. To go on vacation. Yeah. No definite plans but still.
We will be spontaneous. I will spontaneously lie on my sofa.
Then I will spontaneously change the position the position on my sofa.
Yes, and then I will spontaneously eat something instead of something else.
Man, I’d hold back on all of that. It can get out of hand anytime.
So and is going to museums in the picture? You’re like a what? We are having…
We can consider, we can consider this idea.
Natalie just looked very surprised, and you know, that’s funny cause today we are having a topic of art. And when I suggested going to museums her face suggested that that would not be, you know, in the picture, not in the plan. So wait, does that…
Well, we are in Novosibirsk. I mean there are museums in Novosibirsk.
Have you ever been to any of those?
I’ve been to the art museum, the Картинная галерея.
So and what do you think?
It was good. Well I do like it there and it has a nice representation is our famous… What is the fellow’s name? Altai…
Yeah it seemed to me that Gary was trying to master his skill of using euphemisms. You know, how do I say something about Novosibirsk museums without sounding rude?
No, I was trying to remember Roerich. One of those memory tests.
Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s exactly what you were doing.
Alright. So what in general is your relationship with art? What role does art play in your life? Cause you looked all very interesting when I mentioned museums.
No I mean we’ve just talked about this with Masha and I mean, we should understand first what art is.
What are going to include?
And that is even more difficult. Why not complicate the problem too simple… Let’s complicate it.
I mean because everything can be art, I mean like life can be art.
Oh well that’s deep. So she’s done it Gary.
Have you been meditating in the morning or what?
Right, right, yes. Wow. I’m gonna take that coffee away from you. That’s right. Imma pour it out on the table as a matter of fact. Lest that happen anymore, yes. Anything like that.
So shall we include music? Music is art, yeah.
Painting? Sculpture, architecture. What else? Graffiti, I would include as well.
That’s actually, yeah, I know that some people find it very debatable whether to include graffiti, but also I would say that if we do that, that would be in the subcategory of painting in a way.
Actually I googled it before.
And there are like seven kinds of art, like, kind of aspects of art, but I think we’ve mentioned all of them before.
An interesting question then – tattoos, is it a type of art?
It’s kinda like paintings. Yeah, it’s visual art.
It’s just the canvas is different, you know.
That’s also deep, you know.
Look at Gary. He’s skeptical.
Now I’m trying just not to say anything.
And Gary sits, you know, closer to the door than anybody else. He’s like okay, I’m thinking of the way out of here.
If you are going to discuss this, I’m out of here.
So, okay, so let’s first talk about art in your life in general. And then we are going to narrow it down. So…
I think art is like, yeah…
Sorry. I think, I mean, for all human beings I think art and beauty, so it’s like one of the most important kind of signs of human nature and human civilization I think in general. So and I think without art, without sense of beauty, people would not be as much people.
Are you connecting art with beauty?
Of course, of course. I know. But yeah, I still connect it with beauty, definitely.
Gary, what about you and art?
Me and art go back a long way. Right, yes.
No, I like, I appreciate art. I mean, art art, if we’re gonna be narrower. But we don’t wanna be narrower.
So let’s then actually do narrow it down to painting and sculptures.
Yeah, let’s talk about that today and then leave architecture and other aspects till our next meeting, yeah. Cause I think we can’t just, you know, have one episode on art. I think it requires more episodes, like, we had two on transport. And see, all of them are with Gary: transport part 1, transport part 2. Art part 1. You’re stuck with us, Gary.
No matter how much you want to leave.
I’m excited. I’m getting excited. I’m trying to get excited, I’m excited.
I’m doing my best to try to get excited.
So, paintings and sculptures. So what role do they play in your life?
I like paintings a lot, I mean, like, a lot.
Well for example, I don’t have any art pieces at home and I don’t even know if I would like to because maybe for me art, if we speak about paintings and sculptures, it’s something that you enjoy, that I would like to enjoy in a museum, art gallery or something like this.
I mean, not constantly, not all the time, but sometimes. I wish I had a desire to enjoy it, to like to immerse myself into this, and then I go to a museum.
Do you often go to museums in general? So when you travel, do you do that or…
Of course, yeah. Only when I travel.
I do that, I do that. Definitely.
Can you think of any museum that maybe struck you most? The one that was…
Oh you’ve got some favorites. I guess Novosibirsk art gallery is not of them, is it?
And I’m glad there is an art gallery here. And I have nothing bad to say about that.
I wish we had a video podcast, cause Gary’s face is just…
It’s fine. I mean, I should go back again and look again and appreciate it more. But anyway, one museum I really like is the Pushkin state museum of European art.
Moscow, okay. Cause I was having my doubts about Moscow / Saint Petersburg.
It’s in Moscow. And it has… It’s not the biggest museum in the world, but it’s very… It’s in an old building and it’s got this incredible staircase that goes from the first floor to the third floor with really high ceilings. And so it’s got this staircase, it’s all red carpet and it goes just up and up and up and up and up and when you go up and up and up and up and you get to an amazing room that has Picassos in it.
Yeah, and really famous Picassos and it’s got Harlequin, you know. The clown, famous in a blue, a blue some kid on a beach ball and some guy looking at him, you know, And it’s a famous. But because the building’s old it has character itself.
And you have to kinda track of the stairs. I don’t think there’s an elevator even there. But anyway, it’s worth a trip up the stairs. And then there’s all kinds of very selected baroque and other things there that are very wealthy.
Is it possible to go through all the and see all the exhibits of this museum in one day? Cause sometimes…
Okay. I’d never been there, so…
It’s not big. And this is not… There’s another Pushkin that’s like… I think it’s like… It’s trying to be a universal museum and that I don’t care for, because it’s got a lot of… I don’t wanna do that. Anyway, it’s fine. But I’d not recommend that. But this I really like. And I can make another one, but that’s probably enough for me.
Alright. Cause, you know, there are museums like the Hermitage where you can’t, you know, see everything within a day. Even within two days. They say that if you stop in front of every single exhibit and spend one minute looking at it, you’ll have to spend 9 years. Just because there are so many things over there.
So yeah. So what about you ladies? Have you had any spectacular maybe museum visits? Or some museum that struck you to the core?
Well maybe no. I guess that the last museum I visited was the Tretyakov gallery in Moscow which I visited last August. That’s, yeah, I think it was the last time I visited a museum. It’s alright, its small and cozy. You can go around within like 3 hours, it’s enough. Yeah.
Yeah. I mean the first part of it. Because as far as I know there are two department, the one with the modern art, more modern art.
And the traditional one. So I’m talking about like the first.
Cause I remember being there, I spent like 5.5 hours there. And I didn’t even look at icons so…
Well it was my second time there, so maybe that’s why…
Oh may I share an interesting fact about Tretyakov gallery? Did you know that during the second world war most of the exhibits and most of the paintings were kept, they were moved and kept at our Novosibirsk opera and ballet theater.
Cause they didn’t want to lost them in case Nazis took over Moscow. So and that’s why they moved them here to Novosibirsk. And the theater, every single day, they got one wagon of coal to keep the temperature warm enough for the paintings not to crack.
And since, you know, paintings are very delicate, you know, they need a certain temperature, certain humidity, so that’s why they would hang, you know, the sheets, soaked sheets so the humidity would be enough for the paintings.
And people, you can imagine the war times, you know, they didn’t have much, right. They didn’t have much food, they didn’t have much of anything. So people would bring oil, all the oil they had, just, you know, so they would cover the paintings so they would not crack. So thanks to Novosibirsk, most of the paintings survived. Yeah.
Yeah that’s how much people appreciate art.
And they did the same thing with Hermitage exhibits and the paintings from there in Omsk. So it was Siberia who saved the art.
Woah. Sounds good, right.
Novosibirsk, Siberians. That’s what we do – save the world basically.
And what about let’s say museums in other countries? Have you been to museums in any other country?
Yeah of course. Like every country. Okay I think you have something to say.
I have, yeah. Mostly in other countries, yeah.
In the US, yeah. And to a number of them. There’s even a really good art museum in my home town of Cleveland. It’s kind of a universal art museum and for its small scale it’s really pretty quite good. But a favorite in the United States, or maybe two favorite quickly. There is a museum called the Morgan which is JP Morgan’s private house.
It’s on Lexington avenue, it’s in New York city. It’s in Manhattan. It’s in the museum area roughly. Don’t think it’s on 5th avenue. Anyway, JP Morgan was a banker, famous banker and art collector.
So it’s his private collection.
And so he’s got this incredible library I mean, a library with a Gutenberg bible and…
Well there’s many… It was a movable type, and so they printed many. Not many, but mane because it was still slow.
Yeah, it’s not that you can find million copies in the world, of course, it’s rare.
I think it’s in the maybe… I don’t know how many, hundreds maybe?
But it’s still, it’s rare.
Yeah there’s gotta be a hundred. Anyway, but a very beautiful Gutenberg bible and all kinds of other things and some… And then he’s got another room that has some, like, Dutch masters in it and that are very amazing also. And that’s one and the other is the Whitney museum of American art. Which is also, it’s down in kind of midtown.
Also Manhattan, yeah. And it’s pretty amazing, it’s all, it has… It’s all American art, but it’s… A lot of this is modern art. And of course there are other museums there.
Natalie you must have been to the Louvre, haven’t you?
Actually no, I haven’t. Actually I haven’t been to Paris, you know.
That makes it… That’s part of the reason. I’m here to make things simpler, not like you who wants to make it… What is art anyway? Right, yes, right. What is it? I mean, and what are those things made up of?
Cause I was like… I was like well, Natalie majored in French, you know.
Yeah I’ve been to France.
Yeah I mean it’s so basic.
Actually it’s too mainstream.
That’s actually what I thought.
Man, I don’t wanna to point out the basic error here. This is like what… What did you float in on a boat and just stay close to the shore or something? Is that it?
Touched your foot onto this… I’m giving Natalie a very hard time, I’m sorry.
Yeah. Kind of. Okay yeah basically…
Right, now she’s gotta actually explain the facts here.
Woah. Okay. See I was saying that I went to France but I went to the south of France. Actually it was my decision, so I didn’t want to go to Paris. Because I mean I majored in French and English obviously but we spoke so much about Paris, we spoke so much about French architecture, literature, all this stuff, so I was like so sick of it. And I didn’t want to go to Paris.
Understandable. Five years of reading about Paris, listening about Paris, talking about Paris – everyone would have got a little bit, you know…
Why bother. That’s right. But no reason. Probably all talk, you know what I mean, that’s right, that’s right.
You know, actually, since you know, I’ve seen your reaction to Novosibirsk art gallery Gary.
Don’t hold that against… I don’t want…
No, but this is one thing that is kinda annoying to me. I mean we are, we live in the third biggest city of the country. Why is there no art scene? I mean, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, they have you know, a lot of exhibits, they have genuine paintings, the originals. We have nothing. So even, you know, they don’t even bring anything here. I understand…
They should, they should. That they should do, they should have exhibitions of all these wonderful things.
I mean, even if they bring one original of something, I’m pretty sure people would love to see it. Cause I have no idea what they think, cause people here love art. We can see that in the amount of theaters we have. Concert halls.
And sometimes, trust me, I want to buy tickets to, you know, opera or ballet, but they are not always available. So people love art. They want to have more of that. But…
Yeah. Bad on the center. I’m gonna blame the center.
Yeah, that’s what we should do.
Moscow. Well it is their fault. Cause they just don’t give the money for it, that’s all.
I mean I just sometimes wish we had a better art scene in terms of paintings. We only have the locals. We have nothing from other cities, nothing of the, you know, Russian famous artists.
Except Roerich. That’s right.
Except him, yes. Well not him, except the family I would say cause he was not the only one who was painting. It was the whole family of painters.
The father, the son. And if I’m not mistaken his wife was also helping and painting, yeah. They have paintings of Altai mountains which they got inspired by a lot. So yeah, it was a very talented family I should say.
I’m just trying to think of a reason why we don’t have any paintings, really.
Yeah like why? Seriously. I mean there is demand, so there must be some.
Well it takes… I mean, that could easily be done. I’m sure that the Moscow and Saint Petersburg museums are sharing their wealth with New York, Paris and all of these lovely places. Just not here because well…
So since we’re talking about paintings, why don’t we talk about the styles or let’s say the movements maybe. Cause this is something that, you know, we hear a lot… We hear impressionism here, cubism there.
But what is the difference between all those? So why don’t we go through at least the most widespread or most talked about genres… Well not genres, no, but styles. So which one can we start with?
So how would we describe it? So, what’s common…
Maybe neoclassicism how about that? So that’s the revival of classicism. Classicism is what the Greek and Roman models…
Oh yeah, exactly, and then in like 17th or 18th century they started to…
Right. They started… There was a revival of that and it was Napoleon, it was a big neoclassicist. One classical, like the Roman empire, he wanted to have a classical type of thing, so and that’s very traditional sculpture look and ordinary proportions and everything. Representational.
So what were the typical motifs of neoclassicism then?
I think it’s about Bible, right? But not necessarily.
Well biblical themes maybe yeah, but neoclassicism was looking back at Greece and Rome.
Yeah, right, right, right.
And these forms and all the myths.
And the body aspect of it too, for sure, yeah.
Can you think of any representatives?
Of Neoclassicism, David, an artist named David. Looks like David. But… Yes.
Alright, classicism, neoclassicism.
From four years of learning about Paris and I know it’s not David, but David.
Anyway, he’s a neoclassicist.
Okay. So what other styles can we think of? I think…
Well then it went to romantic, the romanticism. Right, and that was as opposed to the kind of correct forms and all of that. Now we’ve got all kinds of storms and we’ve got…
Yeah. The truth is in the heart and it’s all in the feeling and rather than strict representation of things exactly as they are.
Okay, can you think of any representatives?
Of romanticism. Delacroix.
And Turner, English man. Turner. And he had storms and sea type of thing and…
Can we say that Aivazovsky then would be the same?
Cause he depicted, you know, the sea, the waves and it was like a very…
Yeah I mean Pushkin and his words.. he’s a romantic, he was European. I just don’t know my Russian well enough unfortunately. Maybe Vereshchagin, I don’t know, is that neoclassic?
I try to not to look at you cause I do not know much about Russian art. I’m sorry, shame on me. So but I don’t.
I’m just not good at categorizing.
For me it’s just whether I like it or not. Whether it appeals or it does not. So I just keep forgetting all the types and styles.
I think when it comes to styles, it’s very convenient with the Renaissance, cause like, oh. Cause it’s a huge time period. You’re like amazing, Renaissance! Italy? Renaissance! Very convenient!
Dark colors? Sad people? Renaissance.
I would even… Have you seen one of those not a pamphlet but like a post in different social media like how to differentiate different artists. Do people look like they’re suffering and do they all look pale and thin? It’s Titian.
I find them extremely helpful. And funny.
So what was it like? If there a lot of, like, you know, not very thin women, like very curvy women, it’s…
So and you know, and there were tips like that. How to differentiate between different artists.
Or even how to understand some modern types of art, like cubism or some other -ism.
I actually have a question whether it’s possible to understand, but we’re gonna get to it a little bit later. Just a tiny bit later. So then we have one of the most popular maybe is Impressionism.
Yeah, everybody likes it.
Kinda an extension of romanticism, it just keeps going.
So what’s the idea of impressionism?
To paint impressions, how you see things. Unlike classicism again, so it’s not about structure, it’s not about some kind of, I don’t know, plots from different myths or Bible or anything like that. It’s all about your impressions again, nature, people, so… Again, to me it’s this kind of…
So it’s about light and just how things struck the eye, just how things look.
Yeah but with impressionism, the brush strokes are easily distinguishable, so you could see the, you know… So who are the representatives?
Right, French people. Mostly French people.
Yeah. French people – it’s art.
There is a reason for that. Cause at that time for art to be accepted and for it to become popular and sellable, it all had to go through French academy of art. So that was the authority at the time. So that’s why, you know, a painting of a certain artist had never been, you know, showed at the exhibitions of the French academy of art, that would not be known.
A person would not become famous. So that’s why a life goal of a lot of people at that time, so to be presented, to be exhibited so at the Paris…
So Paris was the capital of the art world and you had to be accepted.
So and I have a feeling that it was just a little bit easier for the Parisians, you know, to be exhibited in Paris. Rather than, you know, for people from other countries who had to somehow find the connections, you now, find the people who would help them.
You know what’s so funny? When we speak about art we only speak about European art.
That’s actually, yeah, that’s a good point, that’s a good point.
Yeah that’s a good point, sure.
And I think this is the case for a lot of people and for a lot of countries. When we talk about art, we immediately think about European art. For some reason this is the art that is the most popular and the most known. Cause let’s say if I ask you do you know any famous American artists?
Not so many probably. I mean you do probably.
Well but still, American, European, kinda the same thing.
But I mean you know them because you grew up in the US. So let’s say I visited so many museums in the US and I’ve seen the paintings, but I don’t remember. So you know, but at the same time if you ask people can you name artists? Just any artists that come to your mind, everyone’s gonna say Van Gogh, Dali, Monet, Renoir.
And not… And I’m not speaking about other countries. Let’s say do we know anything about let’s say Tunisian art? Nigerian art?
Oh that’s a whole new world let’s say, yeah. So should we learn about this other…
It’s not like we should, but if we want to.
Natalie thinks we should.
I’m gonna do it cause Natalie thinks so. Right yes. That changed my mind. She had so much conviction in her voice too. Yeah I think so, yeah.
But let’s say at school when…
Go ahead and learn about them.
Let’s say at school when we had the classes of a history of art, so we never learned about, you know, other countries. We never learned about Asian art. Why?
That’s so strange, because I mean Chinese people actually invented water color and all the stuff.
So I had three years of history of art at school, so when I was a teen, so we were never taught about that.
Just a little bit maybe, just…
Maybe it’s because for us it’s more relatable, I mean European art.
We can relate to it easier.
It’s easy to understand it.
Yeah. Well it’s more… Gives us more information, I mean, it connects more to our…
Because of the values shared.
Also things we are used to.
But I mean there is… In a big universal meaning… There is gigantic sections of every kind of art. Down to Pacific island art, things that you don’t… Of course African art. All kinds of… And there is very amazing things there. But if you go universal museum the problem is there’s so much there, like the Hermitage. That you just wow, what’re you gonna do? Well…
I had… When I went to the what’s it called? Well it’s Boston Museum of Art, so but it has a certain name that I don’t remember. So I took three trips there, different days, different months. But every time I only went through a certain section.
So, for example, okay, today I’m looking at European art, so this century, this century. So next time I remember I visited Egyptian art like, you know, from ancient Egypt. So I didn’t even look at other parts of the museum. Just because I would understand that I would not remember a single thing.
It would be too much, I would be overwhelmed.
Yeah I did that when I had opportunity that I went to London and I went to the British museum and of all things I decided that I was going to concentrate on one area and guess what that area was?
A surprise move. French art, yes. No. Assyrian.
Well because they actually have surreal artifact like gates from you know the Assyrian kings, because it’s the British museum and they just take things, you know. That’s a nice gate, you know, that’s…
You know what I love about British museums.
They are free. Boston Museum of Art - $25. Most of the places are like within the $20-30 range. So. I don’t know about… I guess in Europe they are not free, are they?
I mean in Greece they are not, so it’s like about 10 or 15 euros. So.
But let’s say, you know, $20-25.
The MET, Metropolitan in New York, it used to be free and you could make a contribution, and it was a suggested contribution.
Well yeah. There always is.
But then they pulled that and the last time I went there it was $25 which was like ow.
Yeah it’s painful. British museums, they do have these, you know, the boxes where you can donate money, you know, to support. But still they are…
Cause I remember I visited the National Gallery I think 6 times. I saw every single painting in there. Like I spent a reasonable amount of time being there at that museum. Cause I could… I can’t say I could afford it, cause it’s free. So yeah, I was given this opportunity.
Which brings me to a question – is art a privilege or…
I mean should it be free or should we pay for being able to enjoy it? It just came to my mind.
That’s an interesting point. Cause of course I understand that, you know, museums have to get some funding. But I think that government could as well, you know, cut down on financing the military.
For example, yes. Good example.
Cause I remember let’s say in the US more goes… Well in Russia I’m pretty sure the same thing. More goes on military than it does on education, medical care, well, medicine and art all together.
So why not take a bit of those expenses and, you know, spend them on art and museums, so. But at the same time I understand that, you know, there is like classic art. But about modern artists I would say that museums might be free but if you, as an artist, as an independent artist, want to have an exhibition, you should have your right to charge something.
Like a small fee for the entrance. Cause let’s say I don’t think Renoir cares anymore, you know, about whether people pay to see his paintings or not. So yeah. What do you think?
Yeah, well, it would be wonderful if, I mean, the British plan is magnificent, just to be able to walk in and say okay, well, I’m here, I’m a human being. I’d like to look at some art, you know. And you just walk in, that’s lovely.
Also a lot of famous museums, like, museums in London, MOMA, SFMOMA, they make a lot of money on merchandise as well.
Like, come on, they make thousands and thousands of dollars every single day on the merchandise. I’m one of those people who actually buys things over there. So. Yeah. You’re like oh, okay, alright.
But like what do you buy? Some kind of replica of some paintings?
That depends, that depends. So let’s say I usually buy postcards, but I sign them right there at the museums. I buy the stamps and send them. Then sometimes, if there is a certain… So the thing is that when I’m visiting if there is a painting that I just love, I try to find some kind of merchandise with it.
Postcard, maybe some kind of a, you know, a replica for the wall. Something little. I used to have a little purse for the coins which had one of the paintings. Whose painting was it? That’s a good question. And then I have…
You could just say anything and we wouldn’t know.
That’s true. But I don’t wanna lie to you. I’m an honest person Gary!
Make it simple. Again I’m trying to simplify things.
Don’t make it complicated, just say some artist, yeah.
And then a friend of mine, she brought an umbrella to me which had one of the Japanese gardens by Monet and it was brought from Museum in Los Angeles. The Getty Museum I think it is.
I love it so much. And it’s now somewhere in the basement in the storage unit in Wellesley.
Yeah, yeah, unless rats get to it but I hope they don’t. You know. Okay and I have a question about two more styles of paintings which are surrealism and cubism. Cause people always, well, not always, but some people confuse them and I used to do the same thing for a very long time and I think I still do sometimes. So what’s the difference between those two? Surrealism and cubism.
So that’s not cubism, I mean, it’s obvious when you look at his paintings.
There is elements that are there that are kind of distorted and… but in a curious way, not in a consistent, like geometry. Cubism does sort of the same thing across the whole image, it’s just taking something that might be representational.
Picasso. Okay. And then surrealism if it’s something weird going on.
Yeah, something like that. Some weird I don’t know…
Yeah the clock that’s melting.
Weird interconnection of real things and imaginary things. Things that can come to you when you are under something or just in a sleep.
Yeah, alright. So what’s your favorite style? If you have one.
Well I like surrealism and I like Dali’s paintings because they have a lot of details but at the same time you can see that he can draw and… You know, it’s maybe in my stereotype, but I just want to understand that an artist can draw, that he or she has this mastery.
Because sometimes when I look at some pieces of contemporary art I just can’t understand if it is an art form or if it was made by an elephant in the zoo or a child like 3-year-old child.
I just want to be able to understand that some effort was put in it. And the person has some message to get across.
I understand what you mean.
That’s where Picasso’s interesting because he’s in his representational things, his early period, right, it’s obvious that he’s just a great artist, just doing normal things like the blue painting that I mentioned. It’s quite representational. But then he starts…
Experimenting, yeah. Geometrical and it’s sort of it is, but it isn’t. It’s something else. It’s now got all kind of geometry all over it, but it’s still the same thing, it’s broken up into parts. But it’s obvious that he’s doing it from the point of mastery.
So we have surrealism as the favorite genre, favorite style rather.
I can’t… I really… I even like modern art, even the very…
Even the non-representational strange, very abstract things. I do like that. And I mean great artist, great art. So I can’t pick a favorite.
But if you like modern art, why don’t you like graffiti for example?
There is a very thin line, you know, between graffiti being an act of vandalism and one being art.
That’s the problem. I mean, I’ve seen some amazing graffiti that is artistic and in fact there is where I was in New York city there are some… Not in Queens, there is some area there that is totally consciously given to graffiti and it’s completely amazing. Just, you know, that’s what you’re supposed to do there.
Gary what years were you living in New York city?
I lived there from 2004 to 2007.
Cause I remember. I don’t remember the years, but I remember that at some point there was an artist, contemporary artist, very popular in New York city. Jean Michel Basquiat I think his name is. Was.
So and he was… He added to the culture of New York and he was one of the first people who actually let’s say started the art scene. I remember that he left… He died when he was very young at the age of 27 or something. And I remember also seeing his art and it was very peculiar I would say. I don’t think I would be the one to appreciate it but that’s just again, art is very personal.
Was it a museum art or was it somehow…
I think it was more of street art and then, you know, there were some kind of exhibitions or something. So but. Yeah. So. Okay. So and Natalie, what about you? You have not…
It’s really hard for me to answer I think. So lately I’ve been doing a little bit of watercolor and since then I started to appreciate, you know, all this, like watercolor pieces. I mean they’re really like… I’m not sure what style it is actually. I mean it’s just watercolors. So they’re really like translucent and really..
I don’t know, light. I don’t know. But basically I think I like all art. But I remember when I was like 10 or 12 or something like that, and I went to Moscow. And I went to the Tretyakov gallery. And there was this piece by Vrubel, the Demon City or something like that.
So and I remember like, I didn’t care about any other art, I don’t remember any. But this piece I just looked at it and I was looking at it for several minutes.
I guess this is romanticism?
Well look at them experts talking. I just feel so… Right now, I’m like ah-huh, okay okay okay.
What was the artist’s name again? Sorry.
There is a whole part in the gallery dedicated to his art.
Yeah yeah yeah, exactly. And all the paintings are like huge. So for this one, I don’t know, it was like three to two meters.
I think so. And I remember I was like really impressed by that.
You can recognize him by his colors like purple, grey and…
Like, it’s really kinda dramatic and melancholic and really like… All drama is going on there like a lot. So yeah. But and I think actually teenagers and children are the most… They feel art much better than adults I would say. All kinds of art, I think.
I think it might be because children and teenagers tend to be more open.
So in general more open to the world, more open minded.
Less busy probably. Have less things to do.
Yeah, well, yeah, that’s also true. Yeah. So and we have all these artists that everybody knows like Van Gogh, like Dali. So what then in your opinion makes artist a famous one? So why do some artists become so famous and the whole world knows them? And some remain unknown.
Fair enough, fair enough.
Yeah I think some of the names you mentioned there, they’re more modern, right. And they’re more familiar and we can kind of relate to that. Whereas something baroque, you know, something with heavy religious themes and… It’s just not modern and it would be…
Oh by the way guys what do you think about Medieval art? Have you seen all these pictures like they are like so odd.
You mean like Medieval miniatures.
The thing with the rabbit and the snails.
Yeah, they are so so weird.
It reminds me of this group, this public…
Remember I mentioned that Gary in our episode about Medieval times?
I’m flashing back to that.
A bit unintentional advertisement maybe, but there is an Instagram account which is called YaAndArt, so it’s like YaAndArt, and it’s an art expert. And by saying expert I mean that the person majored in art. So she studied at Moscow State University, she now works as an art expert and teacher.
And that person, her name’s Katya, she’s about to have some kind of intensive on Medieval art and miniatures. So she’s going to have and she’s going to give three lectures. One hour long. Well, each is one hour long where she’s going to tell about Medieval art and you know, explain all these weird things that we see.
And in general her profile has so much about Medieval times, Medieval art and art in general. So highly recommend, really. So even if you are not interested in art, you are going to be after that trust me.
A personal recommendation.
Natalie what is your idea of Medieval art? Why do you ask us?
Because it’s so strange and you can’t understand what’s going on. I mean it’s just based on Bible.
Well, actually, as far as I know, a lot of sarcasm and irony is hidden there in these weird pictures.
Yeah, because they were like criticizing the church and the government, yeah, it was hidden in these pictures.
Not necessarily, not every painting, but…
I mean the church was everywhere then and so people just had to kind of confront it.
It was kind of, you know, secret communication.
You know when people say I don’t like modern art, you know, I can’t understand it. Can you understand medieval art I'm sorry? Like have you seen the... What is it? The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch.
Oh my god, I wanted to speak about that actually.
There is nothing to understand, really.
I like it so much, really.
Well, while we’re talking about that fine work of art, I actually saw that in person.
It’s at Prado in Madrid. And believe it or not, I was in high school. No, I was in college. And I actually did go to the… I went to the store and I bought a frame of that on canvas of that.
No, it was… yeah it’s not life size, I think it’s big. I don’t even remember how big it was on the wall, but it was… And that’s what I bought and I hung it in my college room which tells you a lot about me.
And why I’m like this. People wonder how are you like that? Well.
That’s how we got what we got.
But you know what’s interesting. You know, people look at this painting and other paintings by Bosch. Cause in Russian we would have a different pronunciation of that. So and they would try to understand it, but he was one of very very very few artists of the time who didn’t leave anything.
Not a diary, no notes. He left nothing after him. So that’s why the meaning of those paintings is nothing but speculation. So artists and experts can only speculate about what that really meant. So we are never going to find out.
There’s going to be people that are in all different kind of mental states, right, I mean if you think of Van Gogh, the famous Van Gogh and some of his stary-starry night and such as that. You know, there are some things that are just a person’s in a not…. In a different state of…
So maybe that’s what makes people popular, yeah.
Well I think a huge part of it is luck. Cause let’s say Van Gogh was never famous when he was alive.
Actually he was in the end, just a little bit.
How little? Like the last week of his life?
He finally got his name in the paper.
Actually I googled it, I googled it because I also thought he wasn’t, because I heard a lot that he never became popular. So he was always like really poor and he died in misery. But actually he did, he did become famous so and he didn’t really like the fame. So he wrote in like letters to his brother or something like that that he hates it.
Because he was like a really introvert, so he didn’t like all these people speculate on his art. And also he said that he really hated pleasing the audience. So yeah. Like, he did art for himself. And then when he became popular, so he had to kinda do it for the audience and he hated it. So yeah.
Interesting. I should look that up. Cause I’ve never heard about it, I’ve never heard about it.
Me neither. Until this morning.
So yeah, I think there is… Until 15 minutes before the podcast.
Right, right. This life time…
Going up in a lift, you know. Googling.
Life time of interest in art, which reached the peak just hours before the…
You sounded so sophisticated.
Yeah. That’s right, yeah.
You know like I did my research.
I got up an hour early and started hitting Wikipedia.
That’s how modern research looks like.
That’s right. And I became an expert almost immediately.
It didn’t take more than one hour.
So yeah. But I do believe that a lot of it is luck. So why were some paintings accepted by the Paris of Academy of Art and some weren’t? Maybe some paintings didn’t even make it there. But some people didn’t have money to go to the Academy of Art. It all comes down, very often it all comes down to luck.
And actually since, oh god, what’s his name? Cause there is a fantastic book, it’s a non-fiction book which is called Key moments in art which describes 50 events in history of art that somehow affected the whole, you know, the whole situation let’s say.
And it says, one of the points in the book, one of the chapters was about the Paris Academy of Art and how, you know, paintings were getting there. How all the decisions were made. So yeah, fantastic book. Not very long, it’s like 200 pages, so really cool.
I really recommend it to everyone, yeah. So and speaking of understanding/not understanding art, especially modern art. What’s your outlook on modern art by the way?
Oh you and your definitions.
Let’s define time. Let’s start with the short history of time.
You were the one who makes things simpler.
Right. Yeah, I’m sorry. What happened to me. I blew it.
It reminds me of a Doctor Who episode, like how would you define this thing? Oh you know, it’s a wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff. So yeah. That’s the best I can give you on hey, let’s define time.
Yeah, modern is like the 20th century or the 21st?
Yeah it would be the 20th century. Beginning of the 20th, well, general right.
Yeah, I think 20th, 21st. Yeah. That period.
Yeah, so I like… Was the question… What was the question?
What’s your outlook on modern art?
I like it, I like it. Just this the other place that museum that sort of stands out, like I think I mentioned maybe, the Whitney which is American art which after World War II, New York became the Paris, right. Because Paris was destroyed, right. And Europe was destroyed. So where else, right? And so there were some movements, art continued to be experimental.
And continued to go into new areas all the time and so you have things like abstract expressionism which consisted of a guy names Jackson Pollock and he would literally throw paint at the canvas. He would just pick paint up and throw it at…
And that would cost millions and millions and millions of dollars. The most expensive painting in the world I guess.
Yeah. And it’s very… I mean it really amazing work. Just take him as object, you know, not representing anything there. But just as kind of beautiful things in their own way, a chaotic kind of way. They’re beautiful. And there is Rothko there too. Rothko is on the list in that same room. And just shapes, you know. And actually at the Hermitage, right, there is I think a Malevich.
Just a black. Yeah. The Black square it’s called.
You know, it’s interesting cause when you look…
It’s from Bosch. Having Bosch hanging in your room for a couple of years in college, yeah.
That says a lot about you Gary.
There is all kinds of reasons.
But you know what’s interesting, so let’s say when we look at a lot of paintings that are, just, you know, shapes, we see the direction in which the brush was moving. So more or less as a rule. But one thing that is striking about the Black Square is that you don’t see what direction the brush was moving, so it’s just as if it appeared there, so…
And art experts, they still don’t understand, you know, like was Malevich was drawing the painting from left to right, right to left, from top to bottom. So no. It’s just so even. So and so nice and then of course there are some theories of what that might have meant and whatnot. So yeah. So wait. Natalie and Maria, modern art.
I mean, it depends on the name, it depends on who it was. For example I don’t think that I understand or appreciate Malevich’s art pieces. Well, I just… Well maybe I need to do some research and know more about the background, the history behind it. That’s what.
I’m trying to think of the style that Malevich worked in, cause it has a certain name.
No. But that book that I told you about, it has a chapter about it. So and… So when you think of modern art, so what names come to mind? So Gary mentioned Rothko, Pollock.
Oh he has a very interesting life story I would say. I mean, Chagall in general, his biography is very-very interesting. So check this out. His love story, oh, so great, so great. I think one name that comes to my mind is Jeff Koons. Have you seen those like balloon dogs but they’re not balloon cause they are like 10 meters tall?
For some reason I missed that.
So and if you know these balloon dogs and different balloons creatures, but they’re not balloons, they just look as if they’re made of some. If they are something, you know, interesting, it looks peculiar, but it looks fun, especially when they are of bright colors.
He has some very scandalous pieces as well. So very scandalous ones, so and that’s why I have very mixed feelings about him. But he’s the only modern artist, the only modern creator who has a whole factory to produce his pieces and to produce his works.
Cause they are so big in size and they are made of metal and different materials. So it’s just impossible to do that alone. So and that’s why he even got a factory to…
He’s getting a lot of money for it, so you know.
I think he… Doesn’t he have a record now still or he did for the most expensive…
Highest price tag sale. I think he did. And that was an outrageous thing, 200 million dollars or something, it was really preposterous.
And is there a painting or a work of a certain artist that you really want to see with your own eyes?
I mean now it’s like, it’s not so much difference, you can see it on a screen anywhere.
That’s why I said with your own eyes.
But I mean what’s the difference?
You’re putting the whole existence of museums under question.
Why do we need museums? Masha asked like should they be free or not free and you’re like who needs them? Who needs them?
Well it’s because of the atmosphere, it’s like live music and recorded music. Same here.
Yeah and the works are made to be viewed by, you know, some people in front of the picture.
It also depends on the style, because some paintings are supposed to be looked from the distance or from a closer perspective.
Yeah, but I mean you can just put it on your screen and just go a bit further or a bit closer.
I’m not sure it works like that.
I’m gonna stand here in the hallway and look at this. В коридоре. Вид с коридора.
I have my Hermitage in my hallway.
So well now you can say like what were you doing at the weekend? You’re like oh you know, visited the Louvre. Yeah I took a Google 3D tour.
You know, online tour of the museum. Okay. So I guess nobody has anything they want to see?
I mean if you like really put you know, some meaning into that, I want to go to Louvre and see Mona Lisa or something like that. So it’s not about actually seeing the picture, I think it’s about the museum, the place, the city. So all of it. But other than that, I don’t know, really.
I think I have something, but just nothing comes to my mind right now. I’m bad at remembering names and titles. That’s my problem. I should have created the list.
So Kate, what about you? Do you want to see some…
Well I think I in general love to see the original works. And I remember how shocked I was when I first came to a museum and realized that this is not a replica, this is not just a picture of a picture, but you know, a real thing.
So and I remember when I was looking at, let’s say, Van Gogh’s paintings, you could see the brushstrokes. You know. Cause it was oil paint, so, you know, it dries the way you put it, so I was like this is what… This is.. Wow!
Exactly. And the whole realization of that is like woah, woah! I think I want to see more of Monet, just because, you know, he, so he has different series of paintings, so for example when he was living in London, he would come to the embankment every single day and paint the Parliament, the building of the Parliament.
So and that’s why he has about 70 different paintings of different weather, different color scheme. I love that, I love Monet. And then for some reason, I think it’s more like of you, like a quest maybe, I wanna see more of Degas.
There is a Degas in that room, the beautiful Degas in that famous where there is Picasso with the blue and all that, there is a Degas.
But I think I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself, cause I don’t wanna see the paintings, I wanna see the ballerina, the sculpture. That’s it, I’ve just jumped to the subtopic. Cause I remember I visited a museum in Philadelphia and I saw this 14-year-old ballerina, which is a sculpture.
And I thought oh it looks so lovely and detailed. And there is a real tutu, like, okay. The sculpture is made of… It seems to be made of metal, but there is a real tutu, like the fabric. So, okay, I thought about that and then of course forgot about that. Then I went to Chicago and I went to a museum there.
Did you go to the art institute of…?
And there it was, a 14-year-old ballerina by Degas. I was like wait, wait, wait a second! So maybe it was moved from Philadelphia which I visited in September, to Chicago in May. But guess what? Then I went to Boston museum. And there it was. I’m like wait, there is something… Am I going crazy? Is there a glitch in reality? What are there…
Are you sure you’re not losing it?
I was not sure I was not losing it.
The problem with the viewer.
But then I Found out that there are more than, well I think about 50 or like 30-something of these 14-year-old ballerinas all over the world.
Yeah, so the thing is that so there was one initial one that he made, but he made it out of wax. And of course this is not a durable material, so and he had different, you know, cast for that. And when he died, people found a lot of them in the studio. So and they decided to make them and cover them with metal. And that’s why they…
They were all wax covered with metal?
I’m not sure if like there is wax inside now. Cause I don’t remember the details, but yeah they covered it with another material, so and I don’t know what happened with wax but yeah and that’s why there is now not one 14-year-old ballerina by Degas, but quite many in different countries.
So and I wanna see some more of them. And I think it’s not about, you know, finding the difference, but just for the sake of seeing them. Why not? Have a little bit of a side quest to life. So yeah. Well since I’ve touched upon this, so what about sculptures? So what do you think about sculptures?
I don’t know really, it’s like… I mean paintings are so much easier to understand probably. I guess. And it’s so much easier to make probably. I guess.
Well you know it takes less place at least, to say the least.
Well I don’t know, maybe I will sound what? Stupid, but for me sculpture is something that belongs to a garden or.. I mean, in a good way. I mean, not like my grandmother’s garden, but like, you know, Peterhof’s garden or something like this. Which is like outside, it looks…
It fits and it belongs there. Like among the trees, among the… Beside the fountain or inside the fountain, something like that.
You see, you need space for that.
It needs space, yeah, the right surroundings.
Well sculptures is for your famous sitting at home and looking at it, it’s… Paintings you can do through the internet pretty well, but sculptures more difficult, yeah.
Well yeah. But I think that looking at it on a screen doesn’t give it, you know, enough credit. Cause let’s say when I saw a picture of David my Michelangelo, I thought yeah okay, it looks nice. It’s so detailed, it’s fantastic. Until I read that it’s 5 meters. And then I thought wait a second.
And it was just difficult for me to even imagine it afterward. And I thought wow, I need to see it one day in my life. Cause it’s such a monumental work then. So how? What? Wow! So and I think this is not something that just a picture of it on the internet can do. Shock.
You have to be able to walk around it.
The same with all those, you know, sculptures made of marble. You look at them and you think how could that be made out of just one, you know, big stone?
Exactly. You don’t have, you know, right to make a mistake there. So if you make a mistake, so it’s all ruined. So you can’t erase it, you know.
Exactly. Can’t cover it. And you know how they have this effect of like flowing fabric.
Yeah, like a veil or something, yeah.
God, it’s just so impressive!
But why do you think paintings tend to be more popular than sculptures? So people now paintings, but we don’t know much about sculptures. We might name a few that are, you know, that are most famous ones. But…
Well I think it’s easier to find an image, the satisfying image of painting and feel like you’ve sort of experienced that to some degree, right. Whereas a sculpture, without the space to mention and then you can walk around it. You just can’t… It doesn’t come across as well… You lose what makes it effective, right.
What materials can sculptures be made of? So what did they use to be made of and what about now? What do you think?
So bronze, different metals like gold, silver, clay, plaster. I don’t know.
I think marble was the classic one. The most impressive one, yeah. But other than that, yeah. You know, I have… Well I know a person, I can’t call her a friend, but I just know a person and she’s a sculptress. And sometimes she sends a picture like look what I made and you are like great!
What is it? What’s the idea behind it? And she just welds certain pieces of metal, you know, like connects them with… Yeah. So she’s a welder, welder-sculptress.
That’s kind cool I think.
Also all the pieces look kinda creepy, but well. So yeah.
Maybe she puts her energy into it.
Of course she does, that’s what artists do.
Maybe even negative energy, it helps.
Yes. Out of that nasty psyche comes this nasty work of art.
That’s how it works I guess, probably.
Well you can do that, you know, that type of sculpture and you can’t really do that with marble.
So yeah, it’s totally different emotions that can be put into there. Maybe so, yeah, maybe that can be a good way to deal with the stress and annoyance and anger. You know, the welding.
All those things you associate with art.
Right. That’s exactly what you think of when you think of art.
He was releasing his anger, obviously.
Yes, right, yes, right. He was having a bad day. Bad month.
Malevich had a bad day I guess.
Oh yeah, a bad year maybe.
And Pollock had a lot of them I guess. You know, with the…
I think a lot of artists had bad days.
Part of being an artist, yeah.
Yeah. Alrighty, alrighty.
Well thank you very much for this conversation.
On this cheerful note, right, yes.
A little wisdom, you know, piece of advice, wisdom from Gary the wise, find ways to release your anger.
Through welding. And then sell it as a piece of art.
Sounds like a business plan, you know.
You’re welcome for the idea. Alright. Well, that was the BigAppleSchool podcast and today we discussed art and to be more specific, we talked about paintings, mostly, and just a little bit about sculptures. Just the way it is usually done in the artistic world I guess. So.
Yes, of course we did it that way. The classic way.
The classic way. Well thank you for listening and remember, if you struggle to understand you conversation, you are always welcome to our website which is bigappleschool.com/podcast. You can find full scripts of each episode there.
Just make sure to play the podcast and then click on the show script button. And it will be very-very interactive and easy to follow. And if you want to get more content which will help you learn English, you can follow us on any social media, be that Instagram, Telegram, Vk, we are everywhere. Just search our name, which is BigAppleSchool. That was Katya and my guests for today were…
Stay tuned and we’ll see you around!