I remember nodding off in art history class during college, only to be called out by my professor in front of the entire auditorium — on more than one occasion!
But can you blame me? This is so boring! I used to think to myself. For one, it was my fault for signing up for a class right after lunch. Second, after seeing slide after slide on the projector, everything started looking the same. Coffee or Red Bull didn’t cut it for me.
But when I went to Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art today, I gained a stronger appreciation for art than I did that entire semester. This alone tells you that even the least “artsy” person will have an enjoyable, intriguing time at the gallery’s latest display, “Figuratively Speaking: A Survey of the Human Form.”
Walking through this gallery felt like I was traveling through time. It begins with work from Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir and ends with a Nick Cave’s mixed media piece that was completed a week ago. There’s three centuries worth of art you’ll see during your visit.
Check out the late Keith Haring’s Elvis Presley piece. This is what I imagine Elvis would look like if he were a young adult in the ’80s. Haring’s graffiti-inspired Elvis painting resembles something you would find on a side of a subway or building in New York City. Fascinated with creating what could be considered truly “public” art, Haring took his work to the streets and subways. Wanna-be taggers would be jealous: Haring’s rapid painting technique allowed him to create as many as 40 subway drawings in one day. An icon of the ’80s, Haring achieved international fame and recognition before dying of AIDS related complications in 1990 at the age of 30.
What really captured my attention (and personally my favorite piece) is Yoshitomo Nara’s “After the Deluge.” The drawing of this little boy reminded me of one of my old Fisher Price Little People dolls. But instead of little beady dots for eyes, this child had large, innocent ones. I found myself asking: What is he looking at? Why does he appear to be so curious? Why is he standing in a puddle of water? Why does he have a smug expression on his face? The beauty of Nara’s work is that he leaves the answers to all these questions up to the viewer’s imagination. Nara’s artistic background is just as fascinating. A popular artist in Japan, he got his inspiration from his hobbies — Japanese animation and punk music. His work is adored by art critics and hipsters alike. If you’re already a fan of Simone Legno’s popular Tokidoki art, you’ll easily fall in love with Nara’s work.
In addition to paintings, the gallery also showcases photography and mixed media. Fashionistas and “Vogue” readers can really appreciate Herb Ritts’ 1989 black-and-white photograph, “Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi.” Just steps away, you’ll find Nick Cave’s mixed media piece, “Soundsuit” (2010). The mannequin used for this project is covered in colorful, knitted doilies, with random objects surrounding it. You’ll see everything from tambourines, rattles and even jack-in-the-boxes (make sure to check out the classic Bugs Bunny and Charlie Brown).
Other noteworthy artists featured in this exhibit include Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Fernand Legar, David Hockney and Judith Shea. There’s truly something for everyone, so you have to come see it all for yourself.
Hours are Sunday – Tuesday, Thursday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. The cost is $15, with special discounts for seniors, locals, military, teachers and college students. Children 12 years old and younger are free.