Sound and Sight: The Seattle Art Museum

Author: Sophia Modica

I took me, myself, and I on a date to the Seattle Art Museum. The Seattle Art Museum is great for art lovers, couples, platonic friends, potential couples, or a perfect place to soak up alone time. Currently the SAM has a wide variety of art on display, but Sound Affect and Flesh and Blood are the draw. Think music turned visual and you have “Sound Affect”. The exhibition was composed of musically themed art pieces across different mediums. The gigantic portraits of Nirvana, shot by Charles Peterson in 1990, have been recreated years later to serve as a reminder of the musical contributions of Kurt Cobain.

Images of Kurt Cobain playing in Nirvana falling over a drum set
Nirvana, shot by Charles Peterson in 1990

His spirit looms through Seattle, and his spaztic energy is captured within the photos. We often disregard the evolution of music start to finish. Start to finish of production and recording process, but also start to finish from early centuries to the present. Those who made the building blocks of music have left them behind to be ever changing. “Sound Affect” featured other artists like Leonard Cohen, who carved early paths for music. The energy of the exhibit felt like organized chaos, a small collection of great musicians contained in a square room.

Now for the meat and potatoes, “Flesh and Blood”. Flesh and Blood is a collection of Italian renaissance paintings dating back to the 1600s. I was overwhelmed to standing in front of paintings with such a heavy history. Flesh and Blood is meant to focus on depictions of the human form. Men and women among boys and girls, draped in robes or left in bare skin. Thin halos and hidden angels, Mars, Venus, and Cupid. Still-life images left on pause, slaughtered meat, and gold plates.

Painting of an angel draped in a white and rust colored tunic, her hand holding dice
“Angel with Tunic and Dice” by Simon Vouet in 1620-25

Many of the pieces played on themes of death, religion, and mythology. The piece entitled “Atalanta and Hippomenes” (See cover photo) by Guido Reni in 1620, is an interpretation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, remembered as dreadful from English class. Look at the painting, now look back, now look again. There are multiple stories between the foreground and background. This piece was one of my favorites because of how detailed it was on a large scale, it also has more vibrant colors than other paintings in the collection. The purple tunic is one of the brightest colors in the exhibit.

Women were painted as angels and goddesses, powerful figures who commanded men. These paintings were some of the earliest forms of feminism. Overall I’d highly recommend both “Sound Affect” and “Flesh and Blood”, though they are polar opposite exhibits. Among these exhibits are also stunning photos by Danny Lyon and “The Porcelain Room”, which is exactly as it sounds, a large collection of decorative dishware. A 10/10 experience that  ended with a grilled cheese/ soup combo from their cafe, and I’d recommend that too.

Sophia Modica | Only wears platform shoes | KXSU Arts Reporter

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