Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris – Audio Tour

San Diego Museum of Art

A couple of weeks ago I took a trip out to San Diego that was essentially three years in the making. My best friend moved out there my sophomore year of college and asked me to come and visit immediately. Well, being a broke college kid kind of limits your ability to do much of anything except drink cheap beer on Friday nights and occasionally study. Fortunately for her, I was able to immediately secure this receptionist gig right after graduation (thank you craptastic economy and your limited job resources) and was finally able to save up enough money and get my butt westward.

Now if you are a northeast-coaster like me, you’re probably thinking “there’s no place like home.” We’ve got some of the best cities around, and even better, we get changing leaves and snow! But there’s no getting around California Dreamin’ (unless you’re a Bret Easton Ellis fan and then California is just a hell-hole waiting to suck you dry). Probably because of that whole frontier thing, we’ve come to sentimentalize the Golden State: clean beaches, beautiful weather (almost on a daily basis), semi-laid back people – things all us east-coasters crave on the daily. Changing leaves and snow are always awesome… except when you slip and fall and get hot tea all over you, or its 30 feet deep, preventing you from leaving your house forcing you to watch hours of instant Netflix (which isn’t such a bad deal in hindsight, but you get my point). San Diego is quaint in comparison to what I’m used to but I really loved it. But then again I am easily swayed – I pretty much love anything that can effortlessly combine my three favorite things: Mexican food, beer/wine, and of course art. So you can assume that I returned home a little plumper, a litter drunker and with a new appreciation for the art world.

If you know anything about San Diego, you probably know about Balboa Park. For an art enthusiast this place is heaven. Home to about 18 different museums (including the San Diego Zoo), many of which are housed in old school Spanish-style architecture and surrounded by beautiful gardens, this place is seriously worth it. You could spend a whole day just exploring the grounds and the museums. I only made it to two museums before my friends decided they’d had enough art for the day. Lucky for me (and for you) they were quality museums with really great exhibits.

 This audio tour will focus on the first exhibit we saw – Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris at the San Diego Museum of Art. Toulouse is one of my favorites, not only because his art is awesome but because his life story is so interesting. He’s the kind of artist that keeps me going at this stuff because he offers a sincere visual history that has lasted in the public conscious for over a century. You don’t have to look far for the weight of his influence Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge is proof enough. In true nerd form, I start geeking out over Toulouse’s personal life and its immense impact on his chosen subject matter. Tragic/weird stories just makes art all the more interesting, why do you think people are so over the moon for Vincent Van Gogh or Jackson Pollack (who I think is a total whack)? Tragedy sells.

As goofy and strange as Toulouse may appear, he resonates for another reason: even amid the wailing alarm set off by some kid getting too close to a painting in the 20th Century Art wing and various other disruptions (including a guy taking a phone call about his cell phone bill) for a moment you felt as if you were being pulled back in time, to a Paris long lost, forever preserved in the works of Toulouse-Lautrec.

- Anastasia


Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris on view at the San Diego Museum of Art

July 10 – Dec. 12, 2010

Your Handy Package includes: MP3s, Photos, Intro to Audio Tour

Click here to Download the zip file


DISCLOSURE:  I DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT, speak French and I probably never will. So, I am sorry in advance for sounding incredibly stupid when French words are brought up – I tried to avoid them as much as possible. So have fun and enjoy!


photo credit: Aaron Vowels

Audio Tour: Your Introduction to Kandinsky & Malevich


              After spending four years starring at countless slides and replications in glossy 30 lb art books, I proposed a personal mission to visit every new art exhibit in the Philadelphia / New York vicinity. There is always a giddy sense of excitement and an overwhelming feeling of anticipation I get when thinking about seeing an art piece up close. Yes, I am the jerk with my nose millimeters away from a painting, blocking everyone else’s view (look I wear glasses and I tend to forget them…all the time, so it can’t be avoided I’m sorry). Unfortunately, as soon as I step foot into a museum my excitement immediately dissolves. Crowds aggravate me and audio tours usually bore me to tears. As a result, I’ve had to become a master at the old in-and-out.

                Ok, so maybe I’m a bit (extremely) selfish in my quest to explore art on a different level, but I’m sure there are tons of people out there who feel the same way I do. I love getting lost in a painting and reflecting in my own time which is extremely difficult to do with 30 people crowded around the same painting listening to some British guy drone on about how Picasso perfected his brushstroke for 20 minutes.  But I also like being able to show non-art enthusiasts that art can be intriguing.

                So our esteemed editor and I have decided that it’s time to make the art experience a little more interesting and a lot less aggravating. At the risk of sounding like a commercial, HAHA’s audio tours will not only get you away from the crowds, but will be informative in a different kind of way. If you can’t make it to an exhibit you can experience it here. If you’re turned off by the snobbish atmosphere of big museums, you’ve come to the right place… get educated and enjoy it. You won’t get the same up close and personal experience with a real art piece, but hopefully you’ll leave with a completely different perspective.

-          Anastasia


MP3 Audio Tour Excerpt

I really wanted to do something I was relatively familiar with for my first audio tour, and when I found out the Guggenheim was having an exhibit on Kandinsky and Malevich I literally jumped for joy and did a dance in my kitchen. Needless to say, I love Russian art. But, I don’t know how many times people have told me that they just don’t get it. That kind of statement always confuses me. What’s not to get? Russia’s visual history is so distinct and crisp it is hard to understand where the confusion sets in. And then I’ve got to stop, and quietly remind myself that not everyone majored in history and subsequently did a history of Russia through its art accompanied by a miniature art exhibit as their final paper. More importantly, I have to remind myself that not everyone is a total nerd.

                The thing about Russian art is, if you step away from it and put the aesthetic aspect aside, you are literally getting a history lesson. Every change in style, taste, imagery and even brushstroke comes down to the distinct political and social changes Russia experienced. You can trace the origins and the fall of communism through Russia’s art (how cool is that?).  You can pin point the moment Stalin died, you’ll know without hesitation that Khrushchev made his secret speech denouncing Stalin precipitating the thaw, and you’ll see that Gorbachev has come to power and any minute now that wall is coming down and Russia will be scrambling to create a new history…

The Geometry of Kandinsky and Malevich runs at the Gugg until September 7, 2010

 Click here to download your Kandinsky_Malevich Audio Tour

Your Handy Package includes: MP3s, Photos, Intro to Audio Tour, and a trusty map




photo granted by micaela from her great Flickr account (we love CC)