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Hutton Honors College

 — Indiana University

Matthew Neff
Summer 2001

I My grant proposal outlined a budget and specific goals to be achieved in my time overseas. These goals included making drawings, with which I would apply to graduate school, researching aspects of Western European art and culture, and purchasing research materials while completing an extensive Museum tour beginning in Italy and concluding in Amsterdam.

My trip was eventful, and I did complete many of my original objectives. I spent six weeks in Florence Italy making drawings under the direction of Professor Barry Gealt, and while there toured the city of Florence and the Tuscan region extensively, visiting the Florentine Ufizzi Galleries, the Venetian wonder of San Rocco and San Marco, as well as the Roman Coliseum.

In search of French hospitality, and the likes of Monet, David, and Gericault, my art historical whirlwind tour landed me in the south of France, then on to the beautiful cities of Spain. While in Spain I visited Barcelona and toured the fairytale buildings of Antonio Gaudi, and rambled down the amazing Ramblas corridor in search of Tapas and spontaneous street performances. Leaving Barcelona, I had my eyes set on seeing the Spanish masters housed in the glowing walls of Madrid's Prado museum. As the intense museum tour rolled on I visited the home and museum of the nineteenth century master Sorrolla, and made drawings of his masterworks. It was from Madrid that I was able to catch a midnight train to Pamplona, arriving just in time to see the annual running of the bulls. I too had to run to catch my next train to Paris to ensure my visit to the Louvre.

It may seem that seeing painting after painting in each city I visited would dampen even the most zealous art enthusiast, on the contrary each new city brought on a new level of understanding that slides in a lecture hall or slick pages of a textbook cannot. To understand the influence of a cultural climate on an artists work while backpacking through the city that was their home is an incomprehensible experience. To have the opportunity to understand the sensitivity, beauty, and even harsh qualities of paintings in the flesh, and then take that knowledge and apply it to a global view of art and culture is something that is absolutely necessary when one seeks greatness. I will never be the same person I was before being submerged in history and architecture, cultural nuances, subtlety, and language barriers.

It was an honor to receive such a grant from the honors college. I am thankful for the generosity of the donors, and do wish to express my gratitude and pass on assurance that the money awarded to me was spent on an amazing educational tour. This experience served to spark a burning interest in returning to Europe and documenting future journeys with drawings and paintings of my experiences, with the hope of grasping some of the subtleties and sophistication of the works I was fortunate enough to see.