If you have time to view one gallery of paintings at the St. Louis Art Museum if you’re in St. Louis, the collection of European Art should be your only choice.
European Art consists of the variety of paintings, sculptures, textiles, and metalwork made in Europe and parts of the British Isles between the 7th and 18th centuries. Early records of European Art came from the Ancient Middle East around 3000 BC, where different art forms from the Ancient Middle East began to parallel with the art that was abundant throughout Europe. As artistic development was made, different cultures would adopt their own forms of it and cause it to spread to a majority of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Eventually, as time went on, art would change, vary and different types of it would flourish, depending on what was going on in society. It’s very rare and hard to have even a few pieces of European Art, so considering how the St. Louis Art Museum has over ten galleries full of European Art, I felt like I saw years of European history and culture in just the few hours I was there. When I arrived at the museum, I was initially astonished at the look of it even before I went in. The three-story building stood tall and mighty, and it seemed to have been made based off of an Ancient Roman architectural style.
As I entered the museum and found my way to the galleries of European Art, I noticed that the museum was calm and bright, which I thought made the art stand out more and conveyed of sense of liveliness. The first picture that stood out at me as I strolled through the galleries was Vineyards at Auvers by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. After Van Gogh had spent two years in France, he had moved to the village of Auvers, slightly north of Paris in around May 1890. While he was there, he produced seventy paintings, one of which was Vineyards at Auvers, before his suicide. I was intrigued at how real the painting looked, yet I was pleased that I could see artwork by a well-known artist like Van Gogh. Moreover, as I observed the various galleries, I noticed the sculpture Titan by German sculptor Markus Lüpertz.
This piece of art was a monumental bronze figure that stood with its feet firmly planted with one arm raised and the other reaching out straight ahead. Lüpertz posed Titan after an ancient Greek sculpture of the god Zeus who throws a spear or lightning rod. I was amazed at how someone could create a sculpture of the caliber that it was and it seemed to convey a feeling of quiet enlightenment to the gallery.
Although there were many other interesting pieces of art in the European Art galleries, the variety of unique paintings by German artist Max Beckmann caught my eye. The St. Louis Art Museum has the world’s largest collection of Beckmann, so it was amazing to see famous paintings of his, like Acrobat on Trapeze, that I wouldn’t find anywhere else. Overall, the galleries of European Art at the St. Louis Art Museum were put together really well and enhanced each piece of artwork that was present.
The experience taught me much about European culture and how art was involved more in society than one may think. The European Art was definitely worth seeing and I would definitely go again to see the European Art and the other collections they have there.