It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tulips, Tulip Mania, Tulip Fever…

Dancing Tulips in progress (watercolor and graphite) by Rebecca Swain 

In the 17th century a fanatical interest in horticulture caused wealthy collectors to buy tulip bulbs for extraordinary amounts of money. The Persian poets were praising their beauty as early as on the 12th century. This spring several of our courses focused on tulips, the symbols of devotion and love. Tulip Mania class studied the history of tulips in Europe and concentrated on watercolor techniques combined with graphite.

Today we have over 3000 different varieties of tulips and 87 accepted species.

See some works from our tulip mania and other tulip inspired courses  by clicking here.
 (by Jean Scorgie, colored pencils)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Label Designs for the 2017 Plant Sale

(Plant compositions suggested by Angela Tingle) 

 Denver Botanic Gardens has many years included in their annual plant sale Container-in-a-Bag plant groupings based on the color palettes of famous artworks. This year our students simplified and slightly stylized the plant selections which normally are shown by photographs. This gave the students an opportunity to compose and draw small compositions to show gardeners what to expect. They also learned how to work to specs, including following templates, adhering to style and color requirements, and meeting deadlines.
One of the illustrated tiles was selected to the final Container-in-a-Bag label, see all the designs by clicking here.
(The final Edgar Degas' Label, plant #5 by Angela Tingle)

Monday, May 15, 2017

2017 Arts and Archives: Final days

On Saturday morning we visited the Berlin Museum of Medicinal History at the Charite. At the end of the 19th century, Rudolf Virchow created one of the largest collections of pathological-anatomical specimens. He wanted to provide specimens of healthy and diseased organs to improve the education among physicians, students and even the public for every known illness, and to also show what was under the human skin.  The museum opened in 1899 and included about 35000 specimens. A great number of collections were lost during WW II, only some 1800 specimens survived without greater damage. In 1998 the Museum at Charite was reopened to the public. The former Rudolf Virchow Lecture Hall was also destroyed at the very end of the war, the ruins were preserved and now form a unique atmosphere for scientific gatherings and other events. 
In this unique museum we could view not only 300 years of medicinal history starting from the time when the Charite was established as a plague hospital (around 1700), but also patient treatment history. With the help of our excellent guide (a medicine historian) we were able to view the 750 piece specimen collection and documentation of the founder's views of health, illness and the course of diseases. This was very interesting and educational - no photos could be taken.

On Saturday evening we had an exceptional opportunity to enjoy a sold-out concert with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra with the guest conductor Mariss Jansons (chief conductor of Royal Concertgebow in Amsterdam).  It was an unforgettable experience be among the 2440 others and listen to Sibelius, von Weber and Mahler with one of the world's greatest orchestras (ranked as #2 after the Royal Concertgebow in Amsterdam). The concert building by Hans Scharoun was inaugurated in 1963 and still is one of the most impressive and significant spatial creations of the 20th century in the whole world. 

Entombment of Mary by Giotto di Bondone, 1310. This painting is Giotto's finest demonstration of his skills and deep philosophical understanding of religious events. Giotto was also one of the first  artists to implement perspective.

On Sunday, many of us returned to the Kupferstichkabinett and revisited the Maria Sibylla Merian-exhibit and also the Gemäldegallerie with its extensive Paintings from the 13th to 18th century.
Before it was time to say good bye to Berlin we made sure to visit the Jewish Museum with the Daniel Libeskind building.

“Voided Void,” or Holocaust Tower is a part of the Libeskind building at the Jewish museum in Berlin.  Daylight penetrates the tower only through a narrow slit in the unheated concrete silo and any exterior sounds are heavily muffled by the walls. 

This was the end of our 2017 Arts and Archives Tour, another inspirational and successful trip. We were fascinated with the science history in both Copenhagen and Berlin, and also the current architecture, infrastructural efficiency, friendliness, the very moving WW II legacy, and so on.
Next year we'll return to Europe, to the south of Spain (Grenada and Seville) and Amsterdam.  

For more pictures please click here

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Summer and Fall 2017 Course Catalog

Our 2017 Summer and Fall catalog is out. Registration for these classes begins on June 6th, 9 a.m. The catalog will be shortly added here. You can also view and download it from here.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Arts and Archives 2017: Potsdam, the city of history

In Summer 1945 Harry Truman, Josef Stalin and Winston Churchill met at the Cecilienhof Palace for the Potsdam conference. The very famous photo of the Big Three was taken right at this point. 

The goal of the Arts and Archives Tours is not only to familiarize the participants with the science documentation and cultural history but also some of the political history of the nations that we visit. For centuries Potsdam has played an important role in German history and we visited this historical town, now UNESCO World Heritage Site, for one day. The day was a successful sightseeing experience and a teaser to return when more time is available.
Please see photos from our sightseeing tour by clicking here

 Neues Palace on the western side of Sanssouci park. The building was begun in 1763, after the end of the Seven Years' War, under King Frederick II (Frederick the Great) and was completed in 1769. It is considered to be the last great Prussian baroque palace.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

2017 Arts and Archives: Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum

The Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden has 16 glass houses open to public.
One of the very highlights of our 2017 Arts and Archives tour was the visit to the Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden and Museum where our guide was Dr. Norbert Kilian, the head of the library and museum.
Berlin Botanical Garden was originally developed by the Great Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick William as a model agricultural garden in 1679. In 1879 a Botanical Museum was created to house and promote research on the continuously growing collection. It is today the second largest botanical garden in the world with an area of 43 hectares (126 acres) and ca 22000 plant species. In 1995 the institution became part of the Freie Universität Berlin.

Carl Ludwig Willdenow's Album Amicorum  from the latter part of the 18th century. Willdenow was the director of the Berlin Botanical Garden from 1801 until 1812. He formed the basis for the herbarium and library.

During the bombings of WWII the Museum lost 90% of its herbarium collections, 99% of the library and 100% of the rare collections. The rebuilding started 1957 and the museum and herbarium today includes the Willdenow Herbarium, Bridel Herbarium, spirit collection, gymnosperm cone collection, fruits and seed collection, wood collection, gall collection, plant remnants from Egyptian tombs (G. Schweinfurth Collection), collections of resins and plant fibres, and DNA bank.
The museum has a large herbarium of about 3.6 million preserved specimens in 24 herbarium rooms, and the library includes 300000 books (on some 9.5 km of book shelves). The Garden publishes two periodicals, Willdenowia and Englera.
Dr. Kilian gave us an enlightening presentation of the history of the Garden and Museum, a tour of the library and Herbarium, showed a collection of rare and antique books with botanical illustrations, and explained how botanical illustrations have been a part of the botanical sciences through the millennia.

The oldest herbarium at the Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Museum. The individual plants are attached on the pages of a bound book, This book-herbarium is from 1660.   

Please click here for more photos from our visit 

Friday, April 28, 2017

2017 Arts and Archives: Children's and Young People's Department, Berlin State Library

 (From 12 Monate des Jahrs, Frederic Terrisse, 1853)

Early Thursday morning Dr. Carola Pohlman, the director of the Children’s and Young People’s Book Department  at the Berlin State Library welcomed us to Westhafen where this department is temporarily located because the  House Unter den Linden-branch is under re-structure.
First Dr. Pohlman gave us an excellent historical overview of the library development. At the earlier days of the library’s existence children books were not collected, it was first 1951 when this changed and since then every published German children book was acquired.  The library began the systematic acquisition of original illustrations for children books in 1978 and that collection includes more than 10000 pieces by 140 illustrators.  
Today the library has 200 000 volumes, these cannot be borrowed, but only viewed in the reading room. The collection in Berlin is one of the largest and most outstanding of its kind in Europe.
After viewing a large number of first edition volumes and seeing original illustrations published in Children books we toured the whole 200,000 volumes collection. Thank you Carola for a excellent morning!  
 Our great takeaway: a faximile of Heinrich Hoffmann's Struwwelpeter (Frankfurt 1926)
More photos from our Thursday morning, please click here

2017 Arts and Archives: Humboldt explorations and educational reaching collections

In the morning we visited Dr. Jutta Weber, the Director of the Manuscript Department of the Germain State Library. This library was founded in 1661. It was an independent part of the Prussian state administration since 1810, which was closely connected with the newly founded university in Berlin. From 1810 to about 1884 the rise to the leading library of Prussia took place. In 1918 it was named the Prussian State Library, and it became one of the most important scientific libraries in the world. The Second World War caused great destruction to this institution, and its development was hampered for nearly half a century.

Today the Berlin State Library is placed on three different  localities: Haus Potsdamer Strasse designed by Hans Scharoun. The Potsdamer Strasse building it was opened to the public in 1978. It was renovated from 1999-2001. The building is currently being further redeveloped into a modern research library as a companion to the Haus Unter den Linden and will house the collection from 1946 onward. Parts House Unter den Linden is now under re-structure and children and youth literature are placed on a third location in Westhafen.

During our visit with the help of Dr. Jutta Weber, the director of the manuscript department, we focused on Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and his legacy, his travels and connections, especially the to the relationship between him and Chamisso. Chamisso knew many of the early explorers very well and provided important contacts to Humboldt. He traveled to America 1798-1884 and then lived in Paris until 1827.
In the afternoon we visited the Humboldt-University of Berlin and got a viewing of their teaching collections at the Comparative Zoology department. Professor Dr. Gerhard Scholtz was our enthusiastic guide. The collection was founded in 1884, and includes some 30000 objects which are still used for teaching purposes today.
Radiolaria model designed by Franz Schultze

 For more photos from our day, please click here

Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017 Arts and Archives: Kupferstifkabinet and Museum fur Naturkunde

 Kupferstifkabinet is part of the Kulturforum in Berlin, here you can see the invitation to the Maria Sibylla - exhibit

The Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) is home to a universe of 'art on paper,' from masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli and Albrecht Dürer to Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter. With its wealth of treasures, It is a central place for European artistic ideas and images and it contains works from 1000 years of the history of art, culture, and the media, ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. The collection comprises some 550,000 prints and some 110,000 drawings, watercolours, pastels, and oil sketches. The museum also contains illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

We had the opportunity to view the current Maria Sibylla Merian and the Tradition of Flower Illustration – exhibit, which included a great number of plates from the museum’s own collections and completely new for us. George Hoefnagel and several other early 16th to late 18th century flower painters were included in the exhibit totaling to around 150 works on paper and vellum (Merian’s works were on vellum). – No photographs inside this exhibit

We also saw a smaller exhibit about the 17th century Holland’s Golden Age including illustrations from the natural world. That time there was a huge interest in the animal and plant world, in zoology and botany. 
Matthias, our guide was with us to interpret  the “Old Master’s” exhibit part focusing in the German and Dutch Master’s in the 14-18th centuries (The other part of this exhibit is about Italian masters), he also gave us a quick introduction to the “Alchemy”- exhibit (no photos).

We all wanted to re-visit these museum collections before we leave Berlin.

The Berlin  Kulturforum in Berlin, with its museums, concert halls, libraries and institutes, is one of the most important cultural sites of Germany.

 Museum für Naturkunde, Museum of Natural History in Berlin

In the afternoon we rushed to the Museum für Naturkunde where we had a viewing of historical documentation material mainly connected to the animal kingdom. This museum is one of the most important research institutions worldwide in the areas of biological and geological evolution and biodiversity. Its collections comprise over 30 million items covering zoology palaeontology, geology and mineralogy and are of highest scientific and historical importance. We were joined by Dr. Oliver Coleman, the Curator for Crustaceae and Protozoa, he also teaches scientific illustration at the museum and we were taken behind the scenes  to the wet collections (the museum has 30 million specimens stored in the rooms away from the public view). All these specimens are stored in glass jars with 70% alcohol solution (as an example of the size of the collections: one million ‘wet’-specimens are stored in 276,000 jars, taking up 12.6 km of shelf space on three levels). We did have a nice discussion about scientific illustration before we left.
 Dr. Oliver Coleman showing us his drawings for publications

We did return in the evening for an excellent Museum-at-night tour led by Viktor, who is working for his Ph.D. within systematic, biogeography and evolution. We were the only people in the exhibits halls and could closely see Tristan Otto, Archaeopteryx lithographica, Knut and the other celebrities from this museum

 The 150 million year old Berlin specimen of the primeval bird Archaeopteryx lithographica is thought to be the best-known fossil in the world

This was a long day, well worth every minute, for more photos, please click here.