If art is more your speed

For those of you battling winter chills and stuffy noses, the Harvard Art Museums offer a nonalcoholic way to beat the cold in Cambridge this weekend. The sports-illiterate and those not quite up for sitting outside for hours on end can find refuge in the exhibitions on view.

The Harvard Art Museums consist of three museums, the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Although the building that houses the Fogg and Busch-Reisinger museums is closed for renovation, the Sackler remains open and showcases the best of all three museums’ collections. (Sound familiar? The Yale University Art Gallery is undergoing a similar renovation. Only one of its three buildings — the Louis I. Kahn building — is open until the construction is completed in 2012.)

“I Was Not Waving but Drowning,” a collection of 14 photographs that depict artist Atul Bhalla submerging himself in Delhi’s Yamuna River, is on temporary display. When viewed choronologically, the vertical photographs show the progression of Bhalla’s slow walk into the river. The exhibition investigates the contemporary and environmental issues surrounding the depiction of water as a life source. Contrary to the exhibit’s title, though, no one actually drowned during the production of the photographs.

Also on view is “The Art of Deceit: Looking at French Trompe l’Oeil,” which highlights illusionistic works from 18th-century France by artists Jean-Pierre-Xavier Bidauld, Louis-Léopold Boilly and Jacques-Charles Oudry. This exhibit highlights the humorous and intellectual side of paintings that “trick the eye” (trompe l’oeil). There is also an installation of unique Chinese brush paintings that include elements from traditional Eastern artwork and modern Western techniques. The exhibit, “Brush and Ink Reconsidered: Contemporary Chinese Landscapes,” ties this Far East movement to Western society, inviting audiences to “examine the meaning of ‘contemporary’ in non-Western contexts.” Who knew art could feel so fly (like a G6)?

The Harvard Art Museums provide something for everyone, from contemporary photographs and Byzantine art to an extensive collection of German work in all mediums. Regardless of your preferences, the museum has over 250,000 works of art in its permanent collection for any type of art enthusiast.

Yalies looking to preserve their hearing from the thousands of vuvuzelas expected to turn up Saturday, or those uninterested in watching America’s (other) favorite pastime, should consider taking a look at some of these cultural artifacts instead. But don’t expect too much: Everybody knows Harvard’s art collection can’t compare to Yale’s extensive gallery, which covers 10 curatorial areas and includes an exhibit on coins and medals.

The Harvard Art Museums are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays to Saturdays, and charge $6 for college students with valid ID.

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