1YoT: The Art of Melbourne

We’ve already given Melbourne two posts, but this city is so grand it deserves a third. As we mentioned previously, Melbourne is the most artistic city we’ve ever visited, even more than Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco… The artwork may not be as famous in those cities, or as influential on the international stage, but the sheer amount of art here combined with its influence on the city was astounding.

And so here is our last Melbourne post, on the art of Melbourne.

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We’ll begin this post inside Melbourne’s grandest art museum: the National Gallery of Victoria. This museum was housing a temporary exhibit when we visited, an exhibit so grand it singlehandedly warrants this post.

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Inside the lobby and already we are treated to some cool works.

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This exhibit, the temporary exhibit I mentioned above, was the most beautiful art exhibit I’ve ever seen. And I’m a guy, so you can only imagine what Inna experienced here.

Here they are: three examples of the priceless jewels in this unbelievable collection. Famous for its popularity amongst Hollywood celebrities, Bulgari is significant because he was the first designer to consider aesthetic appeal and design influence when selecting stones for his jewelry. Before him, jewelers simply chose the stones with maximum intrinsic value.

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There we so many pieces in this Bulgari collection, the value must have been astronomical (if you can even put a price on these at all). But this was the best photograph I got; these jewels were unbelievable.

Bulgari also helped popularize the modern snake bracelet, although the concept goes back at least as far as ancient Egypt.

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One day Inna, one day…

Moving on, here are a couple of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibits. This museum contained everything from ancient Mesoamerican sculptures to a post-modern scooter made to resemble a baby animal.

Like seemingly all art museums, the National Gallery had a great impressionist collection. Most interesting was the painting pictured lower right: for more than 60 years this painting was believed to be one of Van Gogh’s works, only for this to be proven incorrect in 2007. Now, the painting is believed to be the work of an unknown contemporary of Van Gogh, and while it is still a significant work of art, its value has decreased significantly (the previous valuation was $5 million).

Next to the National Gallery was Melbourne’s Arts Centre (the building with the famous Eiffel Tower-like structure), housing the State Theater, the Pavilion, and the Melbourne Playhouse. Here are some sculptures outside the building, paying tribute to the dancing performances that are hosted inside.

Speaking of statues, we found lots of eclectic works throughout Melbourne. Our favorite was Cow in a Tree (pictured right); it was super-random and we have no idea what it means.

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Our previous posts contained a lot of Melbourne’s grand architecture, but we saved this building for this post. This is the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, one of the wealthiest and most prestigious universities in Australia.

Downtown Melbourne, specifically its alleyways, was filled with murals. They weren’t the most amazing pieces (we’re from Los Angeles, arguably the mural capital of the world) but we enjoyed them nonetheless.

How about some Christmas art? This exhibit, created by local chefs, was the most intricate gingerbread house, er city, we’ve ever seen. And the gingerbread itself was delicious!

Speaking of Christmas art… We already posted this in our first Melbourne post, but it was so artistic and fun and beautiful, we thought we would put it here as well.

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Here is another temporary exhibit that was on display during our visit. Inna and I are big fans of Banksy and we were super excited to see this one, especially when we saw tickets advertised for only $12. But when we arrived, we discovered the tickets were $30, not $12. Would we have paid $30 under normal situations? Maybe, after all Banksy is arguably the greatest artist of our time, but after tricking us into thinking the tickets were one-third cheaper, no way. Lame, event promoters, lame.

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For the final art exhibit in this post, we’ll head to the State Library of Victoria, which we originally visited here. For this building was housing its own art display, showcasing rare and unique books from around the world. 

Here are some examples of the rare books we saw. These are historical printings of works by such literary greats/historical figures as Martin Luther, Dante Alighieri (who’s tomb we visited in Ravenna), and Virginia Woolf. Also, the book pictured above these three is from Geoffrey Chaucer.

And here is a Bible, Koran, and Torah. The Bible (pictured left) is approximately 700 years old; I don’t remember how old the Koran and Torah were but I believe they were of a comparable age.

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This weird looking artifact is a Cuneiform Tablet. Cuneiform Tablets contain some of the oldest scripts in existence (~4000 years, specifically), used to document merchant and tax collector transactions, and later to record laws and create academic texts. According to signage at the exhibit, the above tablet documents the delivery of taxes, paid in sheep and goats, in the 10th month of the 46th year of Shulgi, second king of the Third Dynasty of Ur.

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This collection is labeled a “Midget Library” but in truth it is way to small to be considered midget. These books are roughly half an inch in height and contain the complete work of whatever book they are (above is a Bible, Koran, English/French/German dictionaries, poetry collections, and more). These books are not just for novelty; they are also backups that help ensure these important works will never be lost and can also be easily stored.

Finally, the State Library’s book collection also featured some modern day works, including rare comics (pictured left) and an entire pulp fiction collection (pictured right). I’m not sure if the pulp fiction was worth anything, but I’m guessing the comics were worth a lot.

With that we come to the end of our art tour of Melbourne. And here I must say, I think this is one of my worst posts. I’ve shown you the artwork we saw, but I didn’t capture the feel at all. I don’t even know if the feel could be captured in a blog post; Melbourne was so filled with art, it permeated the city and the people who lived in it, all in wonderful ways. The whole city felt like an art studio and I don’t know that I’ve ever felt that in any other city. Like I said at the beginning of this post, Melbourne is the most artistic and artistically influenced city I’ve ever visited.

Anyways, even though Melbourne was amazing, we still have the rest of the world to see! Up next on our itinerary: Australia’s greatest attraction and arguably the greatest attraction in the entire world, the Great Barrier Reef.

 

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