Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Mint Museum

The Mint Museum here in Charlotte is having a Coco Chanel exhibit, so Sue and I thought we'd take a look at it. This is one of the emblematic Chanel Number 5 bottles manufactured between 1940 and 1955.

These dresses are part of a larger exhibit showcasing the various modes of dress from about 1900 through the years immediatley following World War One. Pre-Coco is not an inapt description of them in their definition of the modern woman just emerging in the 1920's. And the difference when you walk into the Chanel portion of the exhibit is astounding.

Not just a perfume designer, Coco Chanel was known for her clothing styles, men's included. The collection was dimly lit, and photographs were prohibited with a flash, so this photo does not do the collection all the praise which it is due. It is a wonderful collection, encompassing the years between the two World Wars, and then on from the mid 1950's when Chanel re-opened, to the heady years of the 1970's and beyond. She has achieved a certain sense of immortality through her creation of clothing as an art. This suit alone shows the difference in her perception of women as equals in the world of business, as well as academia, than anything which pre-dated it.

This early 18th Century tureen, at least I think that is what it is, is my idea of Early American grace. If I could, I would own, and use, this piece on a daily basis. It's simply that beautiful.

The collection at the Mint Museum is very varied for a museum of such small size. Here's a beautiful wine pot from the Song Dynasty in China. It's hard to believe that these things were formed by human hands now long gone. How wonderful it would be to go back and see it being used by the original owners. The Eastern and Western Cultures have so much in common. Their needs are largely the same, but the Eastern Cultures advanced so much more quickly in the area of art than their European counterparts. At the same time that this wine pot was in use in China, the Vikings were drinking from gourds and crude tin steins.

But now we come to my favorite piece of the entire day. The Turtle. This is an 1856 piece from my home town of Brooklyn New York. How odd that I should find it here in Charlotte. If there was ever a piece of ceramic that appealed to me more than this one does, I don't remember it.

There were plenty of paintings to look at, but with the flash not allowed, and the lighting so dim, it was hard to get any pictures worth printing here. But the entire Museum, as well as the Coco Chanel exhibit, was a real treat to see.

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