Monday, January 13, 2014

Sunday in DC

Marc Chagall's 'Orphée

Yesterday was the most glorious day here. Sunny and cool, but after the bitter cold weather  of the past weeks it felt almost spring-like. We decided to go into DC after I read an article in The Post on Sunday morning about this Chagall mosaic in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. I have been waiting for this mosaic to be displayed for years, and apparently it was installed in November.  Who knew? I first read about the mosaic years ago--and about John and Evvie Nef, who lived on 28th Street in Georgetown and were friends with the artist Marc Chagall, who made this mosaic for their garden.  I was so mad that I didn't know about this mosaic earlier, as we have walked around Georgetown for years and years, and I didn't even know it was there! I would have surely searched it out, peeked in the garden, climbed over a wall, or gone on a garden tour to see it displayed in their garden.  But alas, I didn't know about it until I read the article in 2009 that Evvie Nef had died and left the mosaic to the National Gallery of Art, and then learned the whole story about the mosaic, and about their friendship with Marc Chagall.

 This gorgeous mosaic is made of thousands of tiny hand-cut pieces -- called tesserae--of colored glass and stone. When Chagall first proposed the idea of a mosaic for their Georgetown garden, the Nefs thought it would be a simple plaque. Instead it was a 10-foot high and 17-foot wide mosaic, and the Nefs had to build a 30-foot brick wall to house the piece.  It was installed in their garden in 1971, with Chagall in attendance!

When Evvie Nef died in 2009 (John Nef died in 1988)  at the age of 96, the National Gallery began the painstaking process of disassembling the mosaic.  The Nefs left their entire art collection, including the mosaic, to the NGA.  Evvie Nef wanted the mosaic to be displayed outdoors,  and so it was installed in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden.  You can imagine the process involved in taking it down and reassembling it--involving a team of conservators, mosaicists, carpenters, masons, architects, and engineers working for more than three years.  And so I have been waiting...and it was worth waiting for.

The colors of the mosaic are beautiful, the glass pieces reflecting light and glittering in the sunlight.  The setting is perfect--tucked in a corner of the garden, so similar to its original home in the Nef's Georgetown garden. I know it will be a must-see every time we are on the Mall.

It was such a pretty day and we were happy just walking around the garden and watching the ice skaters in the NGA ice rink that we almost didn't go in any museums. But we did pop into the National Gallery to see the new Van Gogh that went on display in December, Green Wheat Fields, Auvers, that was painted just before his death in 1890.

This stainless steel tree is one of my favorites. You can see if from across the mall, so bright and shiny and it looks spectacular against the blue sky.

'Graft' stainless steel tree

Lots of skaters on the rink (National Archives in the background)



Love these gnarly crape myrtles

Close-up of heavily pruned crape myrtles

Van Gogh's  Green Wheat Fields, Auvers

1 comment:

  1. Patsi, Looks and sounds like an amazing day, mosaic, museum, sun, skaters, sculptures, the works. How lucky to be so near to all this culture. Biff