Atlantis Alumni

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Of Art and the Architectural History of Gustavia

This morning we walked from our villa to the far end of the town of Gustavia, to near the Hotel de Ville, the main government building of the Collective. (A Collective is sort of like a Department of France.) Nearby the modern Hotel de Ville there is an old 18th century building known as Wall House, built when the Swedes ruled the island. It houses a museum which usually has exhibits of the island’s history. But currently there are two displays quite different. One is a show of watercolors by the contemporary enigmatic Italian artist Francesco Clemente. Some of these show Caribbean people carrying baskets on their heads, but others were inspired by words from Homer’s Illiad, and often incorporate lines from that poet, in English, right on top of the images. Many of these beautiful watercolors are done wet paint onto water-logged paper which produces a flowing and dream-like world in the medium. The second exhibit at the Museum showed architecture in Gustavia from the 18th century through today, and charts how the West Indies style grew, disappeared and then reoccurred locally. Some of the buildings featured in the exhibit are unique wooden and stone structures unlike anywhere else in the Caribbean. The exhibit illustrates how modern architectural styles replicated the look of the original stone and wood houses until the real estate price boom of the late 20th century. Then modern materials and styles were used in construction. –Dan

Brigantin Building

Wall House, the town museum

Architecture Exhibit

Dinzey House, the only remaining all-wood house in Gustavia

Watercolor of Gustavia ca 1798.

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