Distraction pieces

Tamsin Athalie Nicholson

Whether you want to entertain yourself for free, kill time between lectures or impress someone with your cultural knowledge, visiting Glasgow’s museums and galleries is a solution that even your parents would approve of.

To make things easier, here are just a few of the many amazing works of art you can find in Glasgow.

Christ of St John on the Cross (1951) – Salvador Dali

Voted Scotland’s favourite painting in 2005, this painting is amongst the most visited in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. The unconventional ‘angels-eye’ view and the dramatic contrasts of light and dark make the traditional subject totally revolutionary – we would expect nothing else from Dali.

Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2, Thomas Carlyle (1872) – Whistler

The lonely figure of Thomas Carlyle sits just off-centre in a harmonious arrangement of black and grey. Spectral shadows surround the philosopher where the artist has altered his pose. This is an experiment with tone, modulating darkest black to the brightest white of his starched collar. Also at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

Mackintosh House (1981)

The home of one of the most renowned Scottish artists, architects and designers, fastidiously reconstructed at the Hunterian gallery. Only 100m away from its original location at South Park Avenue, the house has been orientated to contain the same natural light as the original. This is a prime example of the artist’s work in its intended setting and the effect is overwhelmingly elegant.

Scullery Maid (1738) – Chardin

This painting is a melody of light. The lonely figure of a scullery maid stands brightly silhouetted against the dark background. Her mind begins to wander and she gazes wistfully through an unseen window as she scrubs her pan, which like the copper pots beside her shimmer with reflected light. Shadows fall around the objects asserting their solidity and all the time she remains trapped in the four sides of the frame. Also at the Hunterian.

Entombment Sketch (1635) – Rembrandt

The intense intimacy of the moment captured in this painting is emphasized by the artist’s use of candle light within the cave. The mourners desperately crowd in from the upper right corner making the composition feel unbalanced and unsettling. Christ is illuminated in pure white amongst the dark figures, showing not only his purity but also that he is at rest, whilst those around him are consumed by darkness of grief. Viewable at the Hunterian.

Unbuilt Mackintosh (2012) – Ozturk

Several architectural models, meticulously constructed from unbuilt Mackintosh designs to be seen in this exhibition. The variety of designs provide an unparalleled, eclectic demonstration of the Mackintosh vision. These internally lit structures are testament to the artist’s ability to transfer his ideas and designs to a much larger scale. Can be seen at The Lighthouse.

The Rehearsal (1874) – Degas

This was one of his earliest paintings of the ballet and Degas has managed to capture both movement and stillness in this painting. It appears like a snapshot of a moment. We are not interrupting and we are not  part of it – we observe. Part of the Burrell Collection.

The Thinker (1880) – Rodin

Rodin’s most celebrated sculpture. This work was originally entitled “The Poet” and it is believed to be a depiction of Dante. The figure is muscular and idealised which demonstrates the esteem the artist held for Dante and poets in general. Such an iconic sculpture is definitely worth seeing. Also in the Burrell Collection.

Lady in a Fur Wrap (1577) – El Greco

She is wrapped in ermine and silk, denoting opulence and luxury, yet she is isolated by the darkness behind her. Her cool gaze appears lonely and distant. The monochrome palette creates rhythms of colour with her pale face and ebony hair, the dark lashes framing her white eyes with her pupils darker still. She is detached and alone, withdrawing further into her white furs as if our eyes upon her create suspicion and make her cold. In Pollok House.


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