Looking for Love Through Our Collection

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Looking for Love Through Our Collection

By Carrie Reese
Marketing and Communications Intern

Valentine’s Day marks an interesting ideology cross point in American culture. Some people hate it, others love it. Regardless your view, you can’t escape it. So, why not celebrate it through art, finding out what the “meaning” of Valentine’s Day is really about. Or what it isn’t about.

Docent Mark Krzysiak took me on a preview of the Amorous Love tour through the museum’s collection. I learned that that there’s a little something for everyone. The pieces he covers during the tour are perfect for getting a great conversation going.

Take, for instance, Peter Paul Rubens’s portrait of Isabella Brandt. The trick to getting to the heart of this piece is knowing the relationship of painter to subject. Because he knew his wife so well, Rubens was able to work with her expression to a point where he was able to overcome the common lack of expression. While it shows the modern skill of Rubens talent, it also shows the particular attention he paid to detail in his wife’s expression, eyes, and movement. In fact, Rueben’s used that very expression as a model for Diana and her Nymphs.

In a less obvious piece of “amorous art,” Marsden Hartley paints a “portrait” of Karl von Freyburg in Military. The portrait is not immediately identifiable as a portrait. There are numbers, symbols, flowers, lines, flags—pretty much anything except a face. The portrait develops though a conglomeration of all the things Karl von Freyburg meant to Marsden Hartley. In fact, they were lovers at a time when it was life-threatening to be in a homosexual relationship. While Peter Paul Reubens broke out from the strict expectations of paintings, Marsden Hartley disguised a portrait of love as a piece of abstract art.

Finally, a stop by Jacques-Louis David’s painting of Cupid and Psyche; if you are still at a loss for words, the smirk on Cupid’s face will give you something to talk about.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is located in the heart of University Circle—an ideal “date night” scenario. Whether you want to snag a quick bit of cheesecake at the museum’s café or go out for a nicer dinner at L’Albatros or Sergios right around the corner, the conversation the art offers can’t be beat.