The Detroit Institute of Arts
Although the current Detroit Institute of Arts has been in place since 1885 (1927 at its current location), it has been a major talk of the news as of late. (DIA.2014) This is in large part due to it being one of the city of Detroit’s biggest assets in the city’s bankruptcy case. (TheDetroitNews.2014) Even with the major coverage the DIA has received recently, and having lived just 25 minutes away for the past three years, I only recently made my first visit. After taking in a large part of what the museum has to offer, I can say many more visits in my future.
Upon first approaching the DIA, my expectations were not too high. The building looked bland from afar, but in my defense, I am a Milwaukee native and have been blessed with the beautiful museum designed by Santiago Calatrava. However, as I walked closer to the DIA, the bland building became more and more beautiful. With sculptures and statues displayed high on the building, a grand staircase, and beautiful arch entryways, I realized I was not giving it enough credit. Then upon entering, without insulting my hometown museum, I was blown away to find that the collection the DIA has to offer far surpassed The Milwaukee Art Museum. Instantly catching my eye upon entering was the Great Hall which does have different pieces of art on the wall, but it was the lavish detail and art on the ceilings that my eyes were drawn to. The ceiling has arches at both ends, but also in the middle. It is separated into panels of different paintings and finished with a grand chandelier. This was one of the greatest concepts in the structure and experience at the DIA; most of the exhibits were designed floor to ceiling to coincide with the art on display. Another such example is their Ancient Greek and Roman collection. The entire exhibit is decorated in marble and stone walls to match the sculptures on display. In the “Inspired by Italy” collection sits The Meeting of David and Abigail by Peter Paul Rubens. (Exhibit number 89.63) It is an oil on canvas painting. The painting depicts the moment when Abigail offers an apology to David after he husband has insulted him. At the center of the painting is David leaning in towards Abagail. His expression looks as though he is moved by Abagail’s offerings. Behind David stands his army, spear in hands, and a horse. To the right of Abagail is a basket of bread, a donkey, and Abigail’s maids and servants. They are outdoors with trees and grassy hills in the background. The work of art was completed somewhere between 1625-28. (DIA) The story of Abigail and David comes from The Old Testament. (Wheelock.2000) As Abigail kneels before David and his army, he reaches his hand out as if to help her rise. This emulates that after this scene, David decides to do away with his plan to attack Abigail’s husband. However, after informing her husband of what she had done, his heart stops and he turns to stone. David hearing of the news sends his army back to Abigail to marry her. (Wheelock.2000) Coming from Italian influences in the 1600’s, it is no surprised that Ruben’s The Meeting of David and Abigail has Baroque characteristics. The build and complexion of Abigail and her maids in this painting is perfected with the lighting techniques that Ruben uses. Baroque art had favoritism for displaying movement. (Benton and DiYanni.2014) The movement we see in Ruben’s work is seen has David reaches for Abigail, this center of the piece is highlighted by his brighter coloring and swift paint strokes. Also common in Baroque style is the drama within the painting. (Benton and DiYanni.2014) In Ruben’s piece we see this biblical story brought to life by the dramatic expressions on the subjects’ faces, the gaze between David’s army and Abigail’s servants, and the exchange of compassion between David and Abigail. After studying the Baroque…