CURATOR'S CHOICE SM
Museums and Exhibitions in New York City and Vicinity
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GLENN LONEY'S MUSEUM NOTES
CONTENTS, March, 2008
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.
Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:
MUSEUM WONDERS ACROSS THE HUDSON! *
THE GREEN HOUSE: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture & Design: *
MUSICAL-MACHINES & LIVING-DOLLS: *
GILDEN LIONS & JEWELED HORSES: The Synagogue to the Carousel: *
DESIGNED FOR PLEASURE: The World of Edo Japan in Prints & Paintings, 1680-1860: *
FIRST UNDER HEAVEN: Korean Ceramics from the Mr & Mrs John D Rockefeller 3rd Collection: *
THE SHAPE OF THINGS: Chinese & Japanese Art: *
SHAKER DESIGN: Out of This World: *
ENCHANTED STORIES: Chinese Shadow Theatre in Shaanxi: *
ART CABINET *
ASIAN ART WEEK & Then Some: *
ROCOCO: The Continuing Curve, 1730-2008: *
CAMPANA BROTHERS SELECT: Works from the Permanent-Collection: *
PARMIGIANINO’S ANTEA: A Beautiful Artifice: *
TRANSFORMING REALITY: Pattern & Design in Modern & Self-Taught Art: *
CAI GUO-QIANG: I Want to Believe: *
WARHOL’S JEWS: Ten Portraits Reconsidered: *
ART, IMAGE, & WARHOL CONNECTIONS: *
WRITING TO CHARACTER: Songwriters & the Tony Awards©: *
OLIA LIALINA & DRAGAN ESPENSCHIED: Online Newspapers: New York Edition: *
NEW GALLERIES FOR 19TH & EARLY 20TH CENTURY PAINTINGS & SCULPTURE: *
POUSSIN & NATURE: Arcadian Visions: *
GUSTAVE COURBET: *
Chatsworth Is Not in Devon! *
JASPER JOHNS: Gray: *
RADIANCE FROM THE RAIN-FOREST: Featherwork in Ancient Peru: *
BEAUTY & LEARNING: Korean Painted-Screens: *
blog.mode: addressing fashion: *
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Irving Penn—Portraits of Artists & Writers: *
MICHELANGELO, VASARI, & THEIR CONTEMPORARIES: Drawings from the Uffizi: *
LUCIAN FREUD: The Painter’s Etchings: *
COLOR-CHART: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today: *
DESIGN & THE ELASTIC MIND: *
BEAUTY SURROUNDS US: *
LISTENING TO OUR ANCESTORS: The Art of Native Life along the North-Pacific-Coast: *
AUDUBON’S AVIARY: Portraits of Endangered-Species: *
JOSIAH WEDGEWOOD & HIS CIRCLE: *
THE WHITNEY BIENNIAL 2008: *
When Madison Avenue Was Still Wilderness: *
OTHER VENUES/OTHER EVENTS: Some Sanford L. Smith Shows: The Outsider Art Fair 2008 at the Puck Bldg: *
The 20th Anniversary of Works on Paper at the Park Avenue Armory: *
Museum-Wonders Across the Hudson!
New Yorkers can reach New Jersey fairly swiftly with the PATH train, if they do not have cars. This mode of transport is fine for Museum-Goers who want to check out the impressive permanent-collections & changing-exhibitions of such excellent resources as the Newark Museum.
A NJ Transit train will drop you off at Madison, NJ, which has a smaller, but fascinating, set of exhibitions in the historic Public Library.
But some of New Jersey’s most interesting museums can only be reached easily by car. Thomas Alva Edison’s Laboratories, in West Orange, NJ, are worth an entire day’s outing, but you need wheels for this visit.
That’s also true of the Morris Museum, in Morristown, NJ, which can ultimately be reached via both the Lincoln & the Holland Tunnels, from Manhattan. But, once out of the tunnels, directions become more complicated. So phone ahead…
At the Morris Museum:
[6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown, NJ 07960/Phone: 973-971-3714]
Now housed in a handsome McKim, Mead, & White mansion—built for Peter Frelinghuysen in 1913—the Morris Museum has more than 48,700 objects in its collections, covering a wide range of interests.
It also houses the Bickford Theatre, with a contemporary drama-program & occasional-incursions from the New Jersey Opera. There are also regular programs of lectures & workshops. As well as touring-exhibitions, the latest of which is:
THE GREEN HOUSE: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture & Design:
"Get into Green" at the National Building Museum 401 F Street NW Washington DC 20001
[Closing 4 May 2008]
This is a timely, even provocative, exhibition, engaging its viewers with interactive-elements. What is a Green-House or a Green-Office anyway? An energy-efficient Green-House is not the same thing as a Nursery-man’s Greenhouse…
This show has been created by the National Building Museum, in Washington, DC. It won’t be seen in Manhattan, so a trip to Morristown & its attractive Museum may give you some good ideas about improving the Greenness of your own home or apartment!
MUSICAL-MACHINES & LIVING-DOLLS:
Clown Illusionist Made by Jean or Henry Phalibois, Paris, France c. 1890-1900 33 ½” x 15 ¾” x 19 1/8”
At the Morris Museum : The Murtogh D. Guinness collection Morris Museum
[6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown, NJ 07960]
An impressive new wing has been added to the Morris Museum, specifically to accommodate the Guinness Collection of Musical Machines & Automata.
Amassed by a Guinness brewing-heir, Murtagh D. Guinness, the entire inventory includes more than 700 mechanical musical-instruments & automata, plus some 5,000 programmed-media, such as player-piano-rolls & pinned-cylinders for music-boxes.
Spacious as the exhibition-spaces are, only 150 objects from the entire collection are currently on display. But they are in themselves so unusual that you may want to reserve most of your day in Morristown for your visit to the Guinness Automata!
Cylinder musical box with bells, drums, castanets and zither Probably made by F.Conchon et Cie, Geneva, Switzerland c. 1870-1875
Among the objects on display—all shown in smart design-contexts—is a ten-foot-high Mechanical One-Man-Band! Human-figures & Animal-Automata perform, animated by hidden-clock-works. These were once the playthings of Royals & the Very-Rich in the 17th & 18th centuries.
But in the 19th century—the provenance of most of Guinness’ beloved automata—large-scale Music-Boxes, Pianolas, & Calliopes became popular Side-Show & street-attractions.
Every day at 2 pm—when the museum is open—there is a special Guided-Tour, during which many of the instruments & mechanical-figures are set in musical-motion. There are also some Hands-On interactive installations. Great for kids & adults alike!
GILDEN LIONS & JEWELED HORSES: The Synagogue to the Carousel:
On the left : Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses. On the right : Asa Ames : Occupation sculpuring. At the American Folk Museum.
At the American Folk Art Museum:
[45 West 53rd Street/NY, NY 10019/Phone: 212-265-1040]
[Closing 23 March 2008]
Talk about Assimilation of Immigrants to America! Pious & talented Orthodox-Jews—who came through Ellis-Island from the Shtetls of Eastern-Europe—soon found ways to integrate themselves into their new American lives, without entirely abandoning the distinctive Askenazi-Culture they had left behind.
This assimilation is no more astonishing than in the adaptations Jewish artist-artisans made of their sculpted-decorations for Synagogues, transforming some elements into Carousel-Horses & other Merry-go-Round novelties!
The astonishing exhibition at the American Folk-Art Museum is surely the first time the connection has been made between those ferocious Golden-Lions atop Synagogue Torah-Arks & the leaping, bounding, Jeweled-Horses of Coney-Island Carousels.
Synagogue Ark-Carvings from as distant as 19th century Vilna—"The New Jerusalem"—or as near as Orchard Street have been loaned from museums & private-collections from New York & as distant as Israel!
Featured are carvings by Marcus Charles Illions, Solomon Stein, Charles Carmel, & Harry Goldstein. But also on view are models of Eastern European Wooden-Synagogues, Jewish Paper-cuts, & Gravestones, which also show elements adapted for the more secular artworks.
PS: You have until 30 April to file your application for the HENRY DARGER STUDY CENTER FELLOWSHIP. Darger was a very unusual & obsessive Outsider-Artist, whose Archives are preserved at the Folk-Art Museum.
But you just missed the Museum’s RUG WEEKEND 2008. Better luck next year…
Do mark, however, the date of 15 April 2008 in your Calendar. Not only will the Museum open its new exhibition of ASA AMES: OCCUPATION SCULPTURING, but it will also launch DARGER-ism: CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS & HENRY DARGER!
DESIGNED FOR PLEASURE: The World of Edo Japan in Prints & Paintings, 1680-1860:
Utagawa Toyoharu (Japanese, 1735–1814), Spring Concert, Japan Edo period, 1780s, Two-panel folding screen; ink and color on silk 67.4 x 178.8 cm Collection of Robert and Betsy Feinberg Photo: Courtesy Robert and Betsy Feinberg. At the Asia Society.
At the Asia Society:
[725 Park Avenue @70th Street/NY, NY 10021/Phone: 212-288-6400]
[By the time this report is put online, you will have missed the International Asian Art Fair, as well as the astounding collections of Chinese, Japanese, & Other Asian Art on view at the leading auction-houses, Sotheby’s & Christie’s.
[Asian-Arts are currently Very Big: Asian Collectors now have the Big-Bucks to buy-back art-objects which have flown into the West over the decades… If you have some old Japanese woodblock-prints, you may have metaphoric money-in-the-bank!]
[Closing 4 May 2008]
If you look for Edo on a modern map of Japan, you will not find it. But in its heyday, it was the largest Metropolis in the world: more than a million inhabitants!
The Ruling-Seat of Emperors & Shoguns, it became known as Tokyo. But the elegant & highly-stylized lives enjoyed by the Nobles & the Wealthy—as well as their Paramours & Retainers—in the 18th & 19th centuries was captured by some outstanding Japanese artists of those times: Utamaro, Hokusai, & Hiroshige.
Although some of the images included in this fascinating exhibition were commissioned by wealthy Patrons, most of them were mass-produced with hand-carved wood-blocks for the commercial-market, at popular-prices, making it possible for ordinary Japanese to have a colorful vision of the "floating world" of Edo’s spectacles & entertainments.
Not all of these famed prints are concerned with Pleasure. Some depict scenes from Real-Life: Japanese crossing a curved-bridge in a rainstorm, a village being covered with snow. Or Hokusai’s dramatic vision of Rampaging-Nature: Under the Well of the Great Wave Off Kanagawa.
There are some 140 of these Masterworks on view, contexted to both their Creators & the Times they celebrated.
[Incidental-Commentary: Because these popular prints were made on fairly fragile-paper—as well as being designed for what could be a throw-away-market—relatively few prints have survived, making them very valuable to Collectors. Your Scribe once owned ten of these original prints, bought for virtually nothing from Harry Lawton, who had acquired the remains of the late Samuel Hume’s famed Palindrome Bookshop in Berkeley. Someone pinched them from storage, alas…]
FIRST UNDER HEAVEN: Korean Ceramics from the Mr & Mrs John D
Foliate Bowl-and-Saucer Sets, Korea, South Jeolla, Province Goryeo dynasty, early 12th century, Stoneware with glaze\ Bowls; Saucers, Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.193.1–4 Photo by Susumu Wakisaka, Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo
Rockefeller 3rd Collection:
[Closing 4 May 2008]
The Forms of these varied Korean Ceramics are elegantly Simple. Whether decorated with Flying-Herons & twisted pine-branches—or quite smoothly coated with a glistening Celadon-glaze—they are handsome indeed!
From the Goryeo-Dynasty, they deserve their 12th century accolade of being included in the List of Things "First Under Heaven."
THE SHAPE OF THINGS: Chinese & Japanese Art:
[Closing 27 July 2008]
These works date from the Neolithic to the 19th century. They include some 90 art-objects in stone, wood, metal, & ceramics, all serving to illustrate that Modernist-Idea that Form-Follows-Function.
Or should this Formulation be, instead, that Function Dictates/Suggests Form? The Form of each displayed artwork, it is posited, reveals a depth of information about its creation/production & its actual function.
Whatever… The wall-texts & labels will Tell You All, if you don’t get it, just by looking. Nonetheless, Looking is itself a Great Reward, as the varied Forms are all both impressive & seductive! They range from artworks for mere Decoration, for Daily-Use, & for Ritual-Functions.
SHAKER DESIGN: Out of This World:
At the Bard Graduate Center Gallery:
[18 West 86th Street/NY, NY 10024/Phone: 212-501-3000]
Shaker Design : Out of this world. On the left : Shaker spirit drawing. On the right : Shaker katcher chair. At the Bard Graduate Center Gallery.
[Closing 15 June 2008]
The Shakers have now all died-out. This was long-ago etched in the Stars, as their Celibate-Practices forbade them from reproducing in kind.
When the Founder of this Dissident-Quaker-Sect, Mother Ann Lee, migrated to America in 1774, she was accompanied only by a few disciples. Nonetheless, over the next half-century, 18 Communal Shaker-Villages were founded, from Maine to Kentucky
The Sect grew through Conversions, but various villages adopted Orphan-Children whom they raised communally. Most of these Foundlings did not become Shakers, instead preferring to go "Out Into the World."
Whereas Quakers meet silently, waiting for one or another of the Meeting to be moved to speak, Mother Ann taught that her flocks should sit silently until Spiritually-Shaken. This often culminated in massive Round-Dances, in concentric-rings, with alternating-circles of men & women in their simple Shaker garb.
Like their clothing, their meals, their rituals, their prayers, & their manners, the elegantly simple Furniture, Tools, & Household-Articles they made with their own hands were also Functional & Unpretentious.
Along the walls of Meeting-Rooms, Bedrooms, Kitchens, & Workshops, long wooden-strips, studded with pegs, were used to suspend chairs & other objects, to keep them off the floors when not in use!
Currently, the Bard Grad Center, on West 86th Street, is showcasing some handsome examples of Shaker furniture, clothing, & useful-objects. They did not craft purely Decorative-Objects, but they did make furniture & other objects for sale to the Outside-World.
Although they prized Simplicity—like the Pennsylvania-Dutch Amish—they were not opposed to painting decorative-designs on trunks or cupboards.
Organized by the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, the exhibition includes some 150 Shaker creations, some rarely seen, many from private-collections.
[Lovers of American Arts & Crafts, as well as fans of American-History, have Electra Watson Webb to thank for the impetus to found & stock Shelburne-Village, with its Vintage-American-Houses, filled with antique-handcrafts. Worth a visit this Spring or Summer!]
[For that matter, you could make a Shaker-Tour of the surviving Shaker-Communities, now preserved as Living-Museums, often with non-Shaker local-craftsmen on hand to show how various things were made by hand. Pleasant Hill, in Kentucky, is an attractive side-trip during the Humana-Festival or the Kentucky-Derby in Louisville!]
The Bard Center also has an Exhibition Side-bar, with contemporary works influenced by Shaker-Designs. One of these is a wooden bench by George Nakashima. As George was best-known for his use of slices of great tree-trunks, the uneven-edges-unfinished—the only really Shaker-Element in this handsome settee is its back of narrow-spindles.
[When Your Scribe’s Cousin Theron Zimmermann was pastor of the Moravian-Church in Doylestown, PA, after Sunday-Services, we would drive over to George’s workshop outside New Hope. I regret that I never bought a piece, although this wonderfully talented artist-craftsman often offered me reduced-rates…]
[Doylestown is also of great interest because of the Mercer Tile-Factory, the Mercer-Museum, & Henry Chapman Mercer’s Castle—like the Museum & Factory—all made of poured-concrete, largely by Mercer & his old horse, Maude!
[When will the Bard, the Folk-Art Museum, or the Smithsonian honor this amazing Architect-Archivist? Mercer roamed Rural-Pennsylvania to buy up Forges, Tools, & Workshops of dead & dying American-Crafts, now all installed in his Museum!]
ENCHANTED STORIES: Chinese Shadow Theatre in Shaanxi:
At The China Institute:
[125 East 65th Street/NY, NY 10065/Phone: 212-744-8181]
[11 May 2008]
In the Muslim-World, the use of Shadow-Puppets has long been a way of getting-round the Traditional-Prohibition of presenting real Humans or Animals on-stage, which might violate the Commandment about Making-Images, graven or otherwise.
In Turkey, the Karagoz shadow-puppets are still a delight, at least for children. In Southeast-Asia, the effect is similar, but the great Ritual-Dramas —such as the Saga of Rama & Sita—can more easily be performed with Shadow-Puppets, especially if they are brightly-colored, so these hues can shine through the thin fabric-screens used to form at least a Symbolic-Barrier between the Images & the Viewers.
Traditional Chinese-Shadow-Puppets are similar in their Uses & Effects, also being related to the Buddhist-Traditions of India & the Asian-Sub-Continent. The current exhibition of historic Shadow-Puppets from China’s Shaaanxi-Province is especially interesting as it also offers three Shadow-Puppet Shows performed by Chinese Theatre-Works!
Tiger-Tales—with a wise old rabbit as a narrator—shows how the Small & Clever can outfox the Powerful. One of China’s oldest Buddhist-Fables—The Journey to the West—has been adapted to focus on The Birth of the Monkey-King, who challenges the Heavens.
Zodiac! Surveys Ancient Chinese Cultural & Religious Traditions by revealing the Secrets of each of the Twelve-Signs of the Chinese-Zodiac. The Old-Belief is that your Character is formed by the Sign under which you are born. Many Chinese still believe that: Better to be a Tiger than a Rabbit!
ENCHANTED STORIES : Chinese Shadow Theater in Shaanxi. At The China Institute.
Unlike the Western-Zodiac—which has such signs as Gemini/The Twins, Virgo, Aquarius/The Water-Bearer, & Sagittarius/The Archer—the Chinese-version is composed entirely of Animals. We are now in the Year of the Rat!
[Your Scribe was born in the Year of the Dragon, which is especially Fortunate.]
[20 Rockefeller Plaza/NY, NY 10020/Phone: 212-636-2000]
The Meriem Collection : Important Chinese Snuff Bottles. At Christie's.
[14-17 March 2008]
This was a free Public-Exhibition of some of the Masterworks Christie’s will be auctioning this Spring season. The Press got to see it first, but delays in formatting this column online—not Your Scribe’s responsibility—make this report effectually Wonders Noted After-the-Fact.
As this Art-Cabinet was only an Auction-Preview, you will be able to see these works free in Christie’s Galleries several days before the actual sales take place. You can even attend the Auctions, with some planning ahead…
There were some 50 works in the Art Cabinet, representing 20 categories of Art & Antiquities to be auctioned. The total-valuation of the artworks on display in Christie’s two-room cabinet was in excess of $200 million!
One of the most impressive works on view was Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Portrait of Princess Sybille of Cleves. Sales estimates ranged from $4 million to $6 million. This is not Cranach’s only portrait of Princess Sybille—sister of Henry VIII’s onetime wife, Anne of Cleves—so if you see this painting when it’s on-view before the actual auction & think you have already seen it in a museum, you are almost right.
One of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup-Can-screenings—Soup Can (Pepper Pot)—has an estimate from $7 million to $9 million. But the Warhol-Market seems to be weakening, so you might pick it up at the Reserve-Price…
How about a million-dollar Isfahan silk-rug from the Estate of Doris Duke? This will be in the Rugs & Carpets auction.
Joan Miró’s La caresse des étoiles is estimated at $10 to $15 million! In contrast, a Georges Braque is estimated about $7 million less…
Other artists of note, whose works will be auctioned in April & May include Francis Bacon, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Mark Rothko, Thos. Gainsborough, Childe Hassam, Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, & Zeng Fanzhi.
Trendy Contemporary Chinese Artists are now all the Rage. Fanzhi’s Mask Series No. 9 could cost some avid-collector as much as $2 million! Or more, if there’s a Bidding-War!
Galileo’s first printed-book—with a correction in Galileo’s Own Hand!—is estimated at $200,000 to $300,000.
Then there’s a fine copy of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, inscribed by Dickens to a German fellow-traveler on a Rheinfahrt!
An extremely rare wooden-sculpture of Dainichi-Nyorai, the Supreme-Buddha, has just been sold at Christie’s for $14,377,000. Japan’s Mitsukoshi-Company was the buyer. This sum-summit set new records.
Important photographs by the late Diane Arbus will go on sale on 10 April, part of the 2,500-piece Berman-Collection. Arbus’ black & white print of Russian Midget Friends in a Living Room on 100th St., NYC, 1963 is estimated to go for as much as $30,000.
On 16 April, if you are a fan of the romances of novelist Danielle Steel, you could buy some of her precious jewelry.
Almost every weekend, during the Auction-Season, there is Free-Viewing at Christie’s, prior to the announced-auctions. Most of the works on view are Museum-Quality. But most museums cannot now afford to compete for these Masterworks.
If you would like to be kept-posted on the various categories of auctions, their viewing-dates, & the actual auctions, contact Christie’s at the address or phone-number noted above. Of course, there’s always Christies.com…
ASIAN ART WEEK & Then Some:
The extensive galleries of both Christie’s & Sotheby’s were crammed with many important Chinese, Japanese, & Asian Artworks over the Palm-Sunday/St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Other Asian Cultural-Venues & Galleries were also filled with works for both display & for sale.
Not only were Post-Maoist China’s Emerging-Artists on offer—often at very high prices!—but Asian-Antiques were also on view: Snuff-Bottles from the Meriem-Collection, Jade & Ceramics, bronze Sword-Hilts, richly-embroidered Chinese & Japanese robes…
Some of the Chinese avant-gardistes have already been showcased at the Asia Society, PS 1, & the Guggenheim, among other New-York venues.
ROCOCO: The Continuing Curve, 1730-2008:
TEAKETTLE AND STAND. Joseph Richardson, Sr. (1711–1784). Philadelphia, PA, 1745–55 Silver. Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, 1932.93 Photo: Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
[Closing 6 July 2008]
At the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design:
[2 East 91st Street/NY, NY 10128/Phone: 212-849-8400]
Americans-Abroad—long-accustomed to our Native Historic Neo-Classic, Federal, & Victorian styles in Architecture & Design—are often baffled when confronted with the lavish, geometry-defying stylistic-excesses of the European-Baroque.
But when they come to Paris, after museum-tours in, say, Vienna, Dresden, or Munich—they may be even more confused when introduced to the Rococo! Considering that the Baroque already reveled in luxurious Asymetric-Curves & Volumes—often suggested by Natural-Forms—how is one to distinguish between Baroque & Rococo, when the latter seems only Even-More-So?
The current Curve-Rich Rococo-Exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt will explain it all. In fact, it does indicate that Rococo is something of an Extension, even a Refinement of the Baroque. Rococo was spawned in Paris, partly as a reaction to the pompous, imposing Baroque style of Louis XIV’s Court at Versailles.
Instead of the Grandness of the Baroque, Rococo, as an aesthetic, prized Delicacy, Wit, & Pleasure, instead of Pomp & Circumstance.
The name Rococo does, in fact, borrow from the Italian Barocco, with the addition of the French Rocaille, referring to complicated shell-studded rock-works used in the almost-obligatory Grottoes in great Baroque-Palaces.
An outstanding exponent of Rococo-Style was Juste-Aurèle Meissonier, who is represented in the current show with some Masterpieces. His fantastically complicated Tureen & Platter is a centerpiece. Of course, Meissonier did not actually make the works on display: he designed them for artist-artisans to fabricate.
This is also often the modus-operandi of Jeff Koons, whose almost parodic gilded-neo-rococo-mirror, heavy with the S-Curves distinctive to Rococo-design, is included in the show. These modern inclusions are offered as evidence of Rococo influences in current designs, including architecture…
It could be argued that such borrowings come from a later permutation of Rococo, Art-Nouveau. Nonetheless, Rococo-Style rapidly spread across Europe & to the Americas, displacing the Baroque.
One element of the exhibition focuses on the City of Nancy & its justly-celebrated Place-Stanislaus, rich with Rococo artifices.
[When Your Scribe was a Univ. of Maryland Prof, teaching US Airmen in Eastern-France in the 1950s, he had classes in Nancy & Bar-le-Duc, so he was able to record much of this Historic-Rococo with his Retina 3-C for INFOTOGRAPHY™!]
CAMPANA BROTHERS SELECT: Works from the Permanent-Collection:
[Closing 28 September 2008]
This is another one of those charming Eclectic-Exhibitions which permits not only the Cooper-Hewitt—but other cost-cutting museums, as well—to raid its Storage-Vaults for relatively-inexpensive shows.
Where there are not enough Design-Oddities or Conceptual-Constructions to justify an entire Themed-Show, museums can invite Famous-Names—at least in the Curatorial-Art-World—to choose their favorite artworks or designs from basements & attics, cupboards, cabinets, & bins…
The Campana Brothers initially made a name for themselves—even if you may not be familiar with them or their work—by using bubble-wrap, cardboard-sheets, cotton-ropes, & even stuffed-animals in their designs. They design for major brands, such as Swarovski. Manhattan’s MoMA & London’s V&A have showcased their creations!
One of their own works, in the TransPlastics-Series, is included in the show, as it is a Cooper-Hewitt Commission.
The other inclusions are often quirky & certainly charming. The Bros. Campana have chosen—among other odd design-treasures in the vaults—an 1830 dyed-horsehair-necklace, a complicated Longhorn-Chair, an elaborate 17th century embroidered-book-cover, & a Cupid illustration from The Temple of Flora!
No Longer At the Dahesh Museum:
[Formerly at 580 Madison Avenue/NY, NY 10022/Phone: 212-759-0606]
Sad to report, but the Dahesh Museum—specializing in Paris & London Salon-Art & Orientalisme—is no more! It could no longer afford to mount the splendid exhibitions it once offered in the lower-level of the IBM Building. It is being replaced by Bonham’s, the admirable art-dealership.
PARMIGIANINO’S ANTEA: A Beautiful Artifice:
[Closing 27 April 2008]
At the Frick Collection:
[1 East 70th Street/NY, NY 10021/Phone: 212-288-0700]
When a Museum mounts an exhibition that focuses on only one Masterpiece, understandably there has to be a lot of scholarship & commentary attached to the event, to stress the Singularity & Importance of the work on view.
No question that Antea is a beautiful young woman, richly-dressed, & recorded in painstaking-detail in oils on this portrait from 1531-4. Exhibition-commentary brackets this portrait with Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, as "one of the most important portraits of the Italian-Renaissance."
To arouse additional-interest, the Question is posed: Who was Parmigianino’s Actual-Sitter? Was she a famed Roman-Courtesan?
Was Parmigianino’s model his own Sister? His Servant? Or a Noble-Bride, arrayed in all her Finery?
No one knows for certain. But a close-analysis of her elegant-garb & costly-adornments may indicate that she is something of an Ideal-Beauty, with several of the details of her dress manifesting Important-Symbolic-Values in the context of Parmigianino’s Place & Time.
Antea is on-loan from Naples’ historic Museo di Capodimonte.
[When Your Scribe was lecturing at NATO Naval HQ in Naples, late-1950s, he was able to photograph—never with Flash or Tripod—many of the Museo’s Treasures. But that was before many museums decided they’d rather sell their own postcards of the Artworks than let individual Lens-men make photos of them. So, somewhere among the 350,000-plus INFOTOGRAPHY™ images, there is a Glenn Loney record of some of the Museum’s major works.]
Frick-Bulletin from Pittsburgh!
New Yorkers who have never been to Pittsburgh may not know there is also a Frick-Museum there. Even some who have been to beautiful Downtown-Pittsburgh may have missed Frick’s Clayton Estate on the outskirts…
Not only is Henry Clay Frick’s handsome Victorian-Mansion open to the public, but there is also an Art-Museum, a Vintage-Car-Collection in Frick’s Stables, & the Frick Art & Historical-Center. All worth at least a day’s visit…
The Center has just acquired, at auction, a very rare & important early 16th century Illuminated-Manuscript-page, thought to be the work of the Franco-Belgian artist, Jean Bellegambe.
Although primarily a page from an Abbey-Psalter, with Medieval Music-Notes on seven-lines of staff, with a Gothic-Latin singing-text, its most memorable feature is a lovely image of the Blessed-Virgin, with the Baby-Jesus in the Manger. There is another illumination at the foot of the page, as well.
This acquisition is especially valued by the Frick for it relates to the Jean Bellegambe Diptych it already possesses.
TRANSFORMING REALITY: Pattern & Design in Modern & Self-Taught Art:
At the Galerie St. Etienne:
[24 West 57th Street/NY, NY 10019/Phone: 212-245-6734]
[Closing 8 March 2008]
Although there are obvious-differences in the skills-levels of, say, Grandma Moses & Pablo Picasso, as painters they have in common the search for ways to record their unique-visions of People, Animals, & the World around them.
But you certainly won’t mistake one of Grandma Moses’ painstaking-renderings of a New England Village scene with any Picasso canvas.
The Outsider-Artist, Henry Darger, may be Light-Years away from Henri Matisse, but there is something in both the Moderns & the Outsiders that suggests a sense of pattern & design that spurns the Academic-Rigidity of Salon-Art in the 19th Century.
The Galerie St. Etienne has a large stock of Self-Taught-Outsiders—Moses, Darger, Fischer, Lesage, & Hirshfield, among others—but it also offers works by important Moderns such as Otto Dix, Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee, Käthe Kollwitz, Gus Klimt, Egon Schiele, Emil Nolde & Leonard Baskin!
Jane Kallir, the Guiding-Spirit of the Galerie, notes that Major-Moderns such as Picasso & Matisse were themselves influenced by Outsiders, unknown Primitive-Artists from ancient Tribal-Societies. Some African-Masks certainly seized Picasso’s imagination…
If you missed this interesting show of Comparisons, focusing as it does on Pattern & Design, you can certainly savor some of the artworks at the Galerie, as well as Jane Kallir’s always informative & provocative catalogues & exhibition-notes.
And, when one show closes, there’s always another on the way!
CAI GUO-QIANG: I Want to Believe:
At the Guggenheim Museum:
[1071 Fifth Avenue @89th Street/NY, NY 10128/Phone: 212-423-3500]
[Closing 28 May 2008]
Whatever you may think—or fear—about Exploding-Automobiles in Baghdad & Basra, those White-Cars falling from the Atrium-Summit of the Guggenheim’s lofty Rotunda are not really exploding!
Nonetheless, all those sprays of flickering lights, sprouting from the car-bodies, are supposed to remind you of Vehicles blowing-up halfway across the world.
But the Creator of this Bursting-Spectacle—which fills the Rotunda as never before!—is not a Muslim-Terrorist. The estimable & variably-gifted Cai Guo-Qiang is a Cutting-Edge Modern Chinese-Artist.
Do not worry about one of the cars losing its moorings & dropping-down on you on the floor of the Rotunda. They are all secured with cables. What’s more, their Motor-Blocks have been removed to reduce the weight on the supporting-cables!
In fact, four of these auto-engines are suspended in the air in another gallery, where their fans seem to be pushing a Vast-Raft of inflated-pig-skins, high in the air! This is a kind of Homage to Genghis Khan, who used just such a Swine-Ship to cross rivers…
Cai Guo-Qiang is also enamored of Arrows: One section of the Rotunda-Ramp is devoted to Snarling-Tigers, their suspended-bodies pierced with Arrows.
In another gallery, there is an entire wooden Ship-Hulk, sprouting hundreds of Arrows. A similar work was shown some time ago at PS 1, out in Queens.
In fact, Cai Guo-Qiang has already had a lot of Exposure in New York, notably at the gallery of the Asia Society, where his Gunpowder on Paper designs excited comment. There are some impressive examples of this Gunpowder-Art on view at the Guggenheim.
There is also a ruined ship-hulk, swamped with thousands of shards of china, in yet another gallery. Some suspended wooden Asian-Deities are also pierced with Arrows.
On another segment of the Rotunda-Ramp, a fierce Pack of Wolves gradually rises in the air, bared-teeth ready for the attack.
At the Press-Preview, I wondered why PETA was not on hand to protest this Exploitation of Wild Animals. If these Animal-Lovers can throw red-paint on the fur-coats of Madison-Avenue-Socialites, why not on Guggenheim Curators & Visitors for tacitly endorsing such Needless-Cruelties?
It was explained to me that the Stuffed-Tigers & Wolves were made with sheep-skins, not real wild-animal-skins!
Cai Guo-Qiang’s Conceptual-Artworks are obviously not entirely of his own fabrication. It takes a Team, if not a Village…
Videos show how some of these projects are manufactured. And on one segment of the Ramp, a number of sculptural-assistants were busy—at the Preview—with molding clay-faces of a number of sculptural-groups. There were even some sculptural-armatures, not yet packed with clay, waiting for Human-Forms.
But then, wasn’t Maoist-China all about the Collective?
[Oh! The show’s title—I Want to Believe™—has been used by permission of the 20th Century Fox Film Corporation! All rights reserved…]
WARHOL’S JEWS: Ten Portraits Reconsidered:
At the Jewish Museum:
[1109 Fifth Avenue @92nd Street/NY, NY 10128/Phone: 212-423-3200]
[Closing 3 August 2008]
From left to right : Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Georges Gershwin, Louis Brandeis and Franz Kafka from Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century, 1980, synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas. Private collection. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society, New York/Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York.
Was Andy Warhol "good for the Jews"?
This may seem an odd question, but "Is this good for the Jews?" is a query often uttered when Someone, some Comment, or some Event has provoked what could be viewed as Anti-Semitic-Reactions.
In the wake of Linda Tripp’s infamous revelations about Monica Lewinsky’s questionable-relations with President Clinton, Tripps’ confidante, Lucienne Goldberg, was reported to have asked: "Is Monica Lewinsky good for the Jews?"
Fortunately, no one now seems to remember Monica—nor her brief-lived Handbag-Line. Nor did most people, even with an Impeachment-Trial in-progress, see these tragi-comic events as the result on an International-Jewish-Conspiracy—with Monica as its Cats-paw…
Nonetheless, Questions were certainly asked when Andy Warhol’s Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century premiered at the Jewish Museum in 1980.
The problem—notably for some art-critics—was not that Warhol had shown Anti-Semitic-Tendencies in his depiction of Ten Notable Jews, but that his decision to create the Portraits was, somehow, Exploitive, commercially-inspired.
Warhol, of course, was not Jewish. He was of Polish-descent, but he was never accused of harboring the Anti-Semitic-Sentiments so long popular in Poland.
But Warhol had never shown much interest in Jewish History, Religion, or Culture, so why now focus on Ten 20th Century Jews?
The severe & conservative art-critic Hilton Kramer suggested the impulse was Commercial & Exploitive, pure & simple.
In fact, the Idea for the Series seems to have originated with Warhol’s Dealer, Ronald Feldman, who commissioned the portraits together with an Israeli-dealer, Alexander Harari.
Obviously, this was not a Plot of the Goyyim. And, considering the prices then being paid for Warhol’s silk-screened Portraits—not to forget what his visions of Chairman Mao, Elvis Presley, or Elizabeth Taylor, produced in Multiples, now command—the Series must have seemed a sure-fire success to Feldman & Harari.
Tempest in a Teapot, or rather in a Glass-Tea…
Raising the old Issues of Exploitation & Commercialism now seems only a Hook to arouse interest in this small-scale exhibition at the Jewish Museum.
But it is rewarding to see the Screened-Portraits, as well as the actual paintings Warhol also made of the Ten 20th Century Jews. He made five sets of the paintings, possibly with help from some of his Acolytes at the Factory, who generally did the silk-screenings. Andy even had one of his favorites sign some of his works…
The original-photos which inspired the Portraits, as well as sketches, reviews, & other related materials—add dimension & background to this show.
Especially interesting is the rough-list Feldman made of Possible-Subjects. Elvis Presley & Frida Kahlo were passed-over. Andy did Elvis proud in Another-Context. And he could not Out-Kahlo this distinctive artist’s images of herself.
The Portrait-Subjects, once again on-view at the Jewish-Museum, include: Golda Meir, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Martin Buber, Gertrude Stein, Franz Kafka, George Gershwin, Louis Brandeis, & Sarah Bernhardt, plus three of the four Marx Bros., Harpo, Chico, & Groucho. So there are really more like 12 than 10 Portraits?
ART, IMAGE, & WARHOL CONNECTIONS:
[Closing 3 August 2008]
This small show presents fairly Contemporary-Artists such as Alex Katz, Deborah Kass, Ben Shahn, June Wayne, & Devorah Sperber, all of whom have in some way been influenced by Andy Warhol, whether by Portrait-Subjects, Current-Events, Styles, or Techniques.
No-Question but that Andy Warhol left an indelible-imprint on our Artistic-Consciousness. A Silk-Screening of Celebrity, if you will…
[Before Andy Warhol’s INTER/View became trendy & famous, Your Scribe used to write for it on famous film-makers such as Ingmar Bergman. But that is Another-Story…]
WRITING TO CHARACTER: Songwriters & the Tony Awards©:
At the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library & Museum:
[40 Lincoln Center Plaza/NY/NY 10024/Phone: 212-870-1630]
The first rehearsal of My Fair Lady. Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison with Lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and Composer Frederick Loewe. Contact sheet by Friedman-Abeles, Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
[Closing 14 June 2008]
Writing To Character is small-scale show in the Amsterdam-Gallery of the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Complex. It has obviously been inspired by the recent Tony Awards©, but it is interesting to see & hear—also to remember—some of the Broadway-Hit Show-Tunes of yesteryear.
On display are the obligatory & colorful Production-Posters, design-sketches, librettist-jottings, & original-Manuscript-Scores, as well as archival-photographs, videos, & recordings related to prize-winning Tony-Shows.
Some sketches of Tevya & his Fiddler-family are especially charming. The idea of this exhibition is to demonstrate how major show-songs evolved, inspired by the Characters for whom they were written. Or characters who might be sung about…
But, if you do not read music, cases filled with sheets of staffs, bars, & notes—often with composers’ changes—may be as alien as Hieroglyphics to you…
Major Tony-Shows include Ragtime, Fiddler on the Roof, Guys & Dolls, Company, & Cabaret!
OLIA LIALINA & DRAGAN ESPENSCHIED: Online Newspapers: New York Edition:
Mad. Sq. Art. 2008, Olia Lialina & Dragan Espenschied. Online Newspapers : New York Edition.
At Madison Square Park/Madison Square Art 2008:
[Madison Square@23rd & 5th/Phone: 212-538-1884]
[Closing 27 April 2008]
The all-time best artworks on display in Madison Square Park were Roxie Paine’s Silver-Trees. One of them seemed to be listing badly in the last snowstorm, but it was time to take them down anyway. So they are now gone, either back to Storage or off to that Great Silver-Tree Forest in the Sky…
The new Mad-Park Art-Show has just opened, but it’s essentially four fairly static-videos on four screens, mounted near the Shake-Shack. Most recently, these Monitors featured William Wegman’s Weimariners, dressed as People in the Park.
The two young European-Artists whose digital-visions are now represented on these screens have devised tiny moving-figure-cartoons—animals & insects—spattered around the front & back-pages of Mainstream-Manhattan newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal & the New York Post.
Olia Lialina & Dragan Espenshied’s Concept is to combine the kind of early amateur-blogging that informed the worldwideweb—before Commercial-Publications & Corporate-Websites began their High-Pressure Technical-Invasions—with the more sophisticated & structured technology of Your Daily Tabloid.
They both live in Germany, lecturing at the Merz-Akademie. [Didn’t Merz—as a term—have something to do with DaDa? Kurt Schwitters, or someone like that?]
NEW GALLERIES FOR 19TH & EARLY 20TH CENTURY PAINTINGS & SCULPTURE:
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
[1000 Fifth Avenue @82nd Street/NY, NY 10028/Phone: 212-535-7710]
Manet on the left : Boating by Manet, on the right : Bridge Over a Pool of Water Lilie, by Monet. At the Metropolitqn Museum of Arts.
With the formal-opening of the Metropolitan-Museum’s "Expanded & Renovated" Galleries for 19th & Early 20th Century European Paintings & Sculpture, the much-admired retiring Director, Philippe de Montebello, could look back on a year of impressive openings of New & Renovated Galleries, notably the Greek & Roman Installations in the Atrium.
Among the many Met Masterpieces by Cézanne, Manet, Courbet, Delacroix, Monet, Corot, Seurat, & Matisse, M. de Montebello was in his genial-element, praising both the collections & the design of the old & the expanded exhibition-spaces. There are now 8,000 square-feet of New-Space!
These new galleries are named for Henry J. Heinz II, a gift of his amazing widow, Drue Heinz, a bountiful patroness of the Arts, both in New York & Pittsburgh, where the Heinz "57 Varieties" Ketchup-Fortune was founded. Drue Heinz is also a Met Museum Trustee.
Four intimately-scaled rooms in the Heinz-Galleries are devoted to 19th century European plein-air paintings. For such artists as Corot & Denis to be able to paint landscapes outdoors, instead of in their studios—based only on sketches made in Nature—made possible the evocation of actual shadings of Natural-Light, which could only be remembered or imagined indoors.
There is also a small gallery devoted to the haunting paintings of Caspar David Friedrich & his students, a notable German artist almost unknown in America. You need to travel to Weimar, Dresden, & Berlin to see his most famed Masterworks…
The expansion of these galleries now permits some Met-Treasures, formerly in storage, to take their proper places on walls that have been entirely rethought in terms of their background-colors. Few museum visitors may notice, but the color of the walls of exhibition-spaces does have a subliminal-effect on how spectators may perceive paintings.
Consider a room full of Rembrandts, hung against a bright-green wall? Perhaps a dusky-red might be more effective? Or a suite of El Grecos arrayed along a wall of Orange? Even muted-orange? Possibly some soft shade of blue might complement El Greco’s hues of blue…
The most astonishing discovery in the Galleries is the installation of The Wisteria Dining-Room, an Art-Nouveau masterpiece of interior-architecture, decoration, & furnishing.
Designed by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, on the eve of World War I, this was only one of a suite of chambers he created for an elegant mansion virtually at the foot of the Tour-Eiffel.
Everything in this room suggests Natural-Forms: notably those of wisteria-vines & blossoms. Lamps, chairs, curtains, carpets, walls, framings, cabinets: all are thus influenced, all intended only for this room & this room alone.
But this remarkable chamber has been in Met-Storage for 40 years, because there was never an appropriate-space in which to install it. This discovery might make you curious to know what other Amazements are in the Met’s-Vaults because there is no space to show them?
Nonetheless, M. de Montebello has provided Outstanding-Stewardship during his tenure as the Met’s Director. This position has to be one of the most prestigious Museum-Directorships in the world, not excepting that of the Louvre.
What has especially impressed Your Scribe over the years is Philippe de Montebello’s frank, friendly, open manner in discussing new-exhibitions or Met development-plans with the Press.
Even when he is standing with King Juan-Carlos & Queen Sofia of Spain—in front of the gleaming golden tapestries from Madrid’s Palacio-Real—he introduces them as if they were Old-Friends you would want to know.
Once, when I returned from an INFOTOGRAPHY™ Photo-Safari to Paris, I showed him a shot I had made in the Vaults of the Panthéon of the Tomb of one of France’s Great-Military-Heroes, le Marechal de Montebello. Of course I should have known this was one of Our-Director’s Illustrious-Ancestors.
On the occasion of the Ingres Portraits exhibition, I noted the handsome visage of a certain Duchesse de Montebello. Was she another ancestor or relative? Philippe de Montebello smilingly acknowledged his relationship.
Not only is M. de Montebello eminently-knowledgeable about All Aspects of the Arts, but he is also a Consummate-Gentleman—noblesse-oblige, after all!—as well as the Very-Friendly Public-Face of the Metropolitan-Museum. He also has been able to charm Seriously-Rich-Patrons to continue to richly endow the Met.
What’s more, he has been quite a Contrast to & a Refreshing-Change from his immediate Predecessor, the often Contentious & Bumptious Thos. Hoving. The Managerial-Styles of these two Met-Directors could not be more opposite.
Nonetheless, Thomas Hoving deserves a lot of credit for awakening the Cinderella-Slumbering Metropolitan-Museum from a long Post-War-Sleep.
When Your Scribe first came to Manhattan—after four-years of lecturing in Europe, North Africa, & the Middle-East, for the University of Maryland—the Met was Free! But during weekdays, there were few people in the galleries. Most came on weekends!
There were more Visitors in Winter. But they were often Homeless folks, huddling near the radiators, not admiring the Artworks…
When Hoving instituted his much-disputed policy of Blockbuster-Exhibitions, everything changed. For the better—despite that Harlem on My Mind incident, when someone carved his initials in a Masterpiece…
But who will be able to equal or improve-upon Philippe de Montebello’s Achievements at the Met?
POUSSIN & NATURE: Arcadian Visions:
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
[1000 Fifth Avenue @82nd Street/NY, NY 10028/Phone: 212-535-7710]
Landscape with a Nymph and a Sleeping Satyr by
Nicolas Poussin (French, Les Andelys 1594 - 1665 Rome) Oil on canvas, 29 ½ x 35 3/8 in.
[Closing 11 May 2008]
Although Nicolas Poussin is credited as the Creator of the Classical-Tradition in French-Paintng & is perhaps best-known for his imposing visions of History, Mythology, & Biblical-Subjects, he was also fascinated by the World of Nature.
But Poussin—as this Major-Met-Exhibition demonstrates—was not interested in mere Landscapes. Instead, a rather Idealized-Nature often served as a Visual-Environment for Heroic or Mythical Personages or Events. As in such canvases as: Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun, Landscape with John of Patmos, Spring: Adam & Eve, & Landscape with Orpheus & Eurydice.
What may be a bit disappointing in the massing of so many of these Landscapes-with-Figures—some 40 of them—is that, while the skies remain often brilliantly, almost transparently blue, the foregrounds are very dark.
One has to look very closely to discern Poussin’s detailings. Is this the result of his having chosen darker-pigments originally, or have the colors darkened over time? Or have the possibly brighter-original-hues become obscured by layers of darkened Varnish?
If you want lighter almost luminous, landscapes, you will be well rewarded with Poussin’s en plein air sketches. When in Rome, he loved to journey to the countryside to sketch, often with Claude Lorrain.
Landscape with a Burning Fortress by Nicolas Poussin (French, Les Andelys 1594 - 1665 Rome) Pen and two different brown inks over black chalk, 12 5/8 x 8 1/8 in.
His sketches from Nature could be put to good use in the Studio, when he was confecting an Heroic-Scene in the Grand-Manner. An instance: his sketch of Landscape with a Burning Fortress
There is one dark painting in this show that should excite the Morbid-Curiosity of those Occultists who believe that the Body of Jesus Christ is hidden inside a stone-mountain in Southern-France, near the mysterious village of Rennes-le-Chateau.
This is the canvas known both as The Arcadian Shepherds & Et in Arcadia Ego. This strange painting is on-loan from His Grace, The Duke of Devonshire, from the galleries of his historic home, Chatsworth. [The Noble-Duke will be lecturing on the Gardens of Chatsworth at Sotheby’s on 25 March!]
There is a better Poussin-Treatment of this subject & scene in the Louvre. Its Latin-title—inscribed on a Classical-Tomb the shaggy Shepherds are inspecting—can be translated as: I am even in Arcadia, with the interpretation that the I signifies Death, something definitely non-Arcadian.
Or you could translate this as: Even I Am in Arcadia, suggesting that the I is not Death, but someone of Great Religio-Historical-Importance. How about Jesus-Christ?
The Tomb of St. Mary Magdalene was sited in this area, where she supposedly went after the Crucifixion, with the Holy-Grail. And possibly with the Holy-Blood of Jesus also in the bodies of the children some believe He had with his Holy-Wife!
There is an even old engraving of the Magdalene’s Tomb in Provence, occasionally on view at the Met in the Corridor leading to the Impressionists. Her Holy-Relics, including her Skull, are exposed in Procession annually in this area, once the Domain of the Heretic-Sect of Cathars, which had to be exterminated by the Roman-Catholic-Church, to protect the True-Faith. [Think: La Santa Fé!]
But what excites the Fanatics of the Modern-Cult of Royal-Blood, Holy-Blood is the idea that Poussin was concealing the Secret-Triangulation of Jesus’ concealed-burial-site in his mysterious painting.
There are also other Poussin mythic-canvases that have aroused questions about possible Hidden-Messages. Some Seekers even want to X-ray Et in Arcadia Ego—to discover if there’s something hidden in the under-painting…
At the very least, someone could remove several layers of varnish from some of the darker paintings!
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877) Self-Portrait with Pipe, ca. 1849 \ Oil on canvas\ 17-3/4 x 14-5/8 in. (45 x 37 cm)
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
[1000 Fifth Avenue @82nd Street/NY, NY 10028/Phone: 212-535-7710]
[Closing 18 May 2008]
Compared with the darkness of Poussin, the bold-color & the rough-vitality of some major Courbet canvases is not just refreshing, but a real jolt of energy. Seen as one of the forebears of Modernism, Courbet is represented by more than 130 oils & works-on-paper in the Met’s extensive Retrospective.
Gustave Courbet was not only a Revolutionary as an artist, but he was even a real one politically, having taken part in the Uprisings of the famed Paris-Commune!
When the Revolutionary-Government was put-down, Courbet was denounced as having taken part in the destruction of the Vendôme-Column, fined, & imprisoned. He fled to Switzerland, where he spent the rest of his life in Exile.
But well before the Commune of 1871, Courbet was already scorning the dictates of the Academiciens, becoming, in effect, a Realist of astonishing power.
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877)
The Desperate Man, 1844-45 Oil on canvas 17-3/4 x 21-5/8 in. (45 x 55 cm)
Photo: © Michel Nguyen
Considering that Paris-Salon artists were still producing Grand-Historical or Mythological-Paintings, what could the Salon-Juries think about a rebellious painter who could create such astounding portraits as The Man Mad with Fear & The Desperate Man?
The latter image—actually a Self-Portrait!—is a closely-cropped Hysterical-Face, with hands entangled in hair, the frantic-eyes looking straight into those of the Viewer! This is my favorite of all Courbet’s wide-ranging subjects.
Courbet’s Desperate Man must be the Met-Curators’ favorite as well, for it is the Cover of the handsome Press-Kit. I have dismantled it, so the Wild-Eyed Courbet is now staring right at me, as I write this screed!
Gustave Courbet also painted some Elegant-Canines!
JASPER JOHNS: Gray:
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
[1000 Fifth Avenue @82nd Street/NY, NY 10028/Phone: 212-535-7710]
[Closing 4 May 2008]
Those who love Bold-Colors & have Strong-Patriotic-Feelings surely honor Jasper Johns for his American Flag paintings.
But there is Just-So-Much you can do with gray or grey as your Basic-Pigment. Notably, when you choose to work on very large canvases. Especially if you are more or less Abstractly-Expressing-Yourself… Minimally Expressing, that is.
On the left : Flag, 1958 Pencil and graphite wash on paper, 8 7/8 x 12 in. Collection of Barbara Bertozzi Castelli © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY, Photo: Jamie M. Stukenberg / Professional Graphics Inc., Rockford, Illinois On the right : Two Flags, 1959 Acrylic on canvas, 79 1/4 x 58 1/4 in. Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, on loan from the Ludwig Collection, Aachen © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY Photo: Jamie M. Stukenberg / Professional Graphics Inc., Rockford, Illinois.
[A Question, suggested by this Show: Is grey less-Powerful, more effete, than the Uncompromising Dull-Hues of Gray?]
One reviewer of the current Met Mega-Show of Johns’ Gray-Periods noted that it only demonstrates that Johns cannot draw. He suggested that Johns is most secure when he is using a Template: the Outline of the Number 8, for instance…
But since when has it been a Requirement for a Career as an Avant-Garde-Artist to be able to draw, either from Nature or from the Kitchen-Table?
You certainly do not have to be able to draw, sketch, or model-in-clay to win a place in the Whitney Biennial. A Closet full of Cast-Offs will set you up in business as a Creator of Installations at the Whitney!
For the Record: On-view at the Met—among other Masterworks—are Johns’ No, Driver, Canvas, The Dutch Wives, Gray Target, Jubilee, & 0 through 9, which apparently employed some Templates…
RADIANCE FROM THE RAIN-FOREST: Featherwork in Ancient Peru:
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
[1000 Fifth Avenue @82nd Street/NY, NY 10028/Phone: 212-535-7710]
Three Plumes Chimú; 13th-15th century Said to have been found at Chan Chan, north coast Wood, camelid hair, vegetal fiber, feathers; H. 11 in. American Museum of Natural History, New York (B/3167, 3168, 3169)
[Closing 1 September 2008]
American & European Museums must be very grateful to those Ancient-Cultures which buried their Dead, instead of Cremating them or leaving their bodies out to be pecked to pieces by Vultures.
Pyramids—whether in Egypt, the Sudan, Mexico, or Peru—do tell us something about those vanished Empires & Peoples, but we have learnt even more from Tomb-Raiding.
Tabard Chimú; 15th-16th century Cotton, feathers; 27x27 in.
Unfortunately, some Ritual-Regalia & Ornament for the Sacred-Dead have not survived the Millennia. Colorful Peruvian Feather-work is rare, especially because the bright feathers used in capes, caps, fans, & head-dresses were so fragile. They do not long-endure centuries of entombment.
The wonder is that those arresting-objects now on display at the Met Museum have not lost their brightness—even occasional iridescence—over the Ages.
Other Inca arts & ornaments have weathered fairly well, often shown in Pre-Columbian exhibitions. But this is the first time any American-Museum has focused solely on Peruvian-Feathercrafts.
The current show is a riot of reds, greens, blues, & bright yellows!
BEAUTY & LEARNING: Korean Painted-Screens:
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
[1000 Fifth Avenue @82nd Street/NY, NY 10028/Phone: 212-535-7710]
Eight-panel folding screen. Books and Scholar's Possessions (Ch'aekkori) Choson dynasty (1392-1910), last quarter of the 19th century Eight-panel screen; ink & color on silk, 63 ¾ x134 ½ in.
[Closing 1 June 2008]
The exhibition of four multi-panel antique Korean-Screens now on view at the Met—like the Peruvian-Feather-works—is an American-First!
Each of these Ch’aekkori screens features depictions of stacks of shelves filled with planar-representations of Books & Scholar’s Possessions. The images are both complex & fascinating.
In fact, Ch’aekkori means Books & Things. It is a genre of screen-painting developed during the reign of King Chongjo, whose rule began about the time Our Founding Fathers were signing the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia!
Space of Yin-Yang 2002 Six-panel collage; handmade mulberry paper mounted on board, antique printer trays, taemosi, 100 x 154 x 1 in.
This small-scaled show also offers a modern six-panel collage: Space of Yin-Yang, lent by its artist, Shin Young-ok.
One of the loveliest screens, a ten-panel work, is the gift to the Met of Shelby White, who did so much to bring the New Greek & Roman Galleries into being.
Of the other three, one is an Anonymous-Loan [you don’t need to alert potential Art-Thieves to the Nature & Extent of your Collections!], while the other two are loans from the Los Angeles County Museum & the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
For study & comparison, there are also actual Historical Korean Art-Objects on display, similar to those on the screens!
blog.mode: addressing fashion:
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
1. Gilbert Adrian (American, 1903-1959) Textile design by Salvador Dali (Spanish, 1904-1989) Dress, Light blue rayon crepe with pink, black, and grey printed Dali motif and polychrome printed rayon crepe appliqué patches. The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
2. Alexander McQueen (British, b. 1969) Oyster Dress, Evening Dress, spring/summer 2003 Ivory silk chiffon and silk organza. The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
3. Elsa Schiaparelli (French, born Italy, 1890-1973) Coat, 1938 Polychrome wool felt. The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
[1000 Fifth Avenue @82nd Street/NY, NY 10028/Phone: 212-535-7710]
[Closing 13 April 2008]
Instead of inviting some famous Fashionista to root through the drawers, bins, closets, & vaults of the Met’s Costume-Institute to Curate an inexpensive show, Harold Korda & Andrew Bolton have done the task themselves.
But the Distinctive-Hook, the Over-Arching-Theme, which justifies getting various Costumes & Accessories out of storage is this time Very-Trendy: The Internet & Blogging have been invoked!
The Gowns & Outfits on-view now invite a kind of Interaction, in that viewers can post their reactions on a special Costume-Institute Website: www.blog.metmuseum.org/blogmode.
Although the costumes on display & on the website range from the 18th Century to the Present, they have all been acquired in the past 7 years, so that may be another kind of Hook?
These display-items have been arranged in Chronological-Order, in order to: "stimulate debate abut the vicissitudes of fashion." And why not?
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Irving Penn—Portraits of Artists & Writers:
At the Morgan Library & Museum:
[225 Madison Avenue @36th Street/NY, NY 10016/Phone: 212-685-0008]
[Closing 13 April 2008]
This is a First for the Morgan: 20th Century Photographs on display!
But not Vintage-Images of Paris, Berlin, or London by famous European Lens-Men.
No! This intriguing show focuses on some 67 portrait-prints by the Very-American Irving Penn, 35 of them a gift to the Morgan by Penn himself. The remaining 32 were a Museum-purchase.
These powerful black & white images are not off-the-cuff camera-candids. They all look Posed & Studied, with that special-flair for which Penn is famed.
Penn’s device of posing a noted writer or artist in the tight-apex of two wall-sections has the advantage of making them seem almost Reclusive, Defensive, Vulnerable. This works very well with the coy Truman Capote, engulfed in an oversized Tweed-Topcoat.
Other Famous-Faces include: Arthur Miller, Salvador Dali, Paul Cadmus, John Cage, Stephen Sondheim, Orson Welles, Ingmar Bergman, Edward Albee, HL Mencken, SJ Perelman, TS Eliot, WH Auden, Norman Mailer, Sandy Calder, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, & Man Ray—himself a famed photographer!
Not only will you surely enjoy these portraits, but you will also be able to recall some of the most powerful images with the Free-Brochure, an 8-fold, with 10 Irving Penn photos on thick white paper—almost card-thickness
Copyright-Restrictions do not permit the reproduction of any of the above-images in this column. Fortunately for the Uffizi-Drawings, Michelangelo’s-Copyright ran out centuries ago!
MICHELANGELO, VASARI, & THEIR CONTEMPORARIES: Drawings from the Uffizi:
[Closing 20 April 2008]
One of Florence’s most impressive Medieval-Monuments is the Palazzo-Vecchio. Initially, it was the City-Hall, but Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici commanded that it be transformed into his Ducal-Palace.
One of his favored Renaissance artist-architects, Giorgio Vasari, was chosen for the transformation, in which he enlisted leading artists & designers of the time. These talents are the main-focus of the current exhibition, on loan from the Palazzo-Vecchio’s adjoining-Offices, now the Uffizi-Museum.
There are three-sections for this show, the first saluting the Great-Masters who inspired Vasari: Michelangelo, Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, Francesco Salviati, Bronzino, & Rosso Fiorentino.
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564)
Bust of a Woman, mid 1530s Black chalk 14 1/10 x 19 15/16 in. (357 x 252 mm)
Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574)
Male Figure Seated on a Stool, (1555–65) Black chalk 14 5/16 x 8 3/8 in. (353 x 253 mm)
Two Studies of Male Figures, (1521–21) Black chalk and red chalk, red wash, heightened with white chalk (v.)–Red chalk (r.) 11 1/4 x 16 1/16 in. (285 x 408 mm)
Rosso Fiorentino (1494–1540)
Virgin and Child with SS. John the Baptist, Margaret, and Sebastian and an Elderly Male Saint (Joseph?), (1522–25) Black chalk and gray wash 13 x 19 15/16 in. (331 x 253 mm)
Next come drawings by Vasari & His Collaborators, with many sketches & designs for the transformations. Bernardo Buontalenti, Giovanni Stradanus, Santi di Tito, & Giovan Battista Naldini are featured.
There are many Vasari-Studies in this section especially for the historic Salone dei Cinquecento.
When the art-loving Francesco I de’ Medici ascended the ducal-throne, he chose some outstanding artists to decorate his Studiolo, or Study. This is the focus of the third section. Notable are Alessandro Allori, Maso da San Friano, Carlo Portelli, Jacopo Zucchi, Jacopo Coppi, & Poppi.
The opportunity to savor & study such delicate artworks close-up is not to be missed, as they are seldom on display in Florence.
The Uffizi has so many treasures—famed-paintings, priceless-sculptures, historic-tapestries—that it does not have space for acres of showcases to show its thousands of drawings, sketches, engravings, & prints,
If you are a bona-fide Art-Historian or Art-Student, you may be granted access to study these collections, depending on the availability of staff to oversee your research & to ensure that an original Michelangelo doesn’t vanish.
It’s much easier to admire these remarkable designs here in New York at the Morgan—which has its own impressive collections of Medieval, Renaissance, & Mannerist drawings.
If you have never visited Florence, even with the Dying-Dollar, it is a Must. The entire city is an Open-Air-Museum of Architecture, Sculpture, Mosaics, Design, & Decoration, all free for Tourist-Gawking.
And there are a multiplicity of Museums & Churches to see. But do check on hours of opening, as some museums seem to be open only on Alternate-Tuesdays.
Your Scribe has been blessed to live in Florence for brief periods. Thanks to his acquaintance with the Marquesa Nannina Fossi—named for Nannina de’ Medici, sister of Lorenzo the Magnificent—he was able to meet her amazing daughter, Dr. Maria Fossi-Todorov.
My Travel-Guide noted that the famed concealed Vasari-Corridor—which runs from the Palazzo-Vecchio, through the Uffizi, down the side of the River Arno, over the Ponte-Vecchio, through the nearby Church’s Choir, and on into the Pitti-Palace—was Closed to the Public.
Fortunately, both Dr. Fossi-Todorov & I had Stanford University degrees. She was also monitoring Stanford’s Year in Florence Program, so she invited me to join both Stanford U & Smith College students for a private-tour the Corridor.
It is lined with Self-Portraits of the Greats in European-Art! After the Medici-Dynasty died out & the Lorenas succeeded, they continued to purchase such artworks. When Florence finally was freed from Ducal-Oversight, the Municipality also began buying modern Self-Portraits, even though Duke Cosimo would have no idea who Lovis Corinth might be…
But this Unusual-Venue for displaying such priceless-artworks—the Medicis & the Lorenas could enjoy them on their way to the Throne-room, the Church, or back home to the Pitti-Palace—is much too narrow, too tortuous, to allow even a small group of careless & carefree tourists to traverse it. You almost brush the Masterpieces on either side as you walk on…
Maybe some of these remarkable Self-Portraits could come to the Morgan? Or to the Met?
LUCIAN FREUD: The Painter’s Etchings:
At MoMA/The Museum of Modern Art:
[11 West 53rd Street/NY, NY 10019/Phone: 212-708-9400]
[Closing 10 March 2008]
Lucian Freud—grandson of Sigmund Freud—has been performing a kind of Visual-Psychoanalysis for years. His bold, frank, craggy, at times almost caricatured Portrait-Images spare no one, not even his mother Lucie Freud, a frequent-sitter.
This provocative survey of Freud’s use of etchings—which have clearly influenced his treatment of subjects in his better-known paintings—is his first solo-show at MoMA. Although his canvases have been exhibited at the Museum, the full range of his work with etching-techniques has never before been considered.
Starr Figura, Curator of the show, says it plainly: ‘…Freud’s etchings speak for themselves in terms of their quality & strength…" That being the case, I hope our NYMuseums.com Webmaster will post some of the MoMA images from this show in this column, rather than having Your Scribe try to describe them…
What’s especially interesting—even for those unfamiliar with Freud’s powerful-paintings—are the ways in which the etchings relate to the finished paintings, for which they often were effectively Studies. There are some 68 of Freud’s 82 etchings on display, shown alongside 21 related canvases. There are also five Freudian drawings.
The inclusion of three large etched-copper-plates, along with the actual etching-prints that were pulled from them, offers an impressive Before & After effect, with the images, of course, reversed on the plates.
Most of the show’s etchings are divided between Freud’s "Naked Portraits" & "Portrait Heads." He doesn’t flatter either his daughter Bella, nor his friend, Lord Goodman. Performance-artist Leigh Bowery—a frequent-sitter, especially in the fleshy-nude—is not flattered, except in the apparent Honesty with which Freud has captured his Essence.
COLOR-CHART: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today:
[Closing 12 May 2008]
When you go to your local Paint-store, you may want to take a look at the Color-Chart, whether the products are Sherwin-Williams—"Cover the Earth"—or Benjamin Moore.
Such useful Commercial-Tools—Which shade of green should I use?—inspire the title of this Colorful-Show at MoMA. But its concerns are not about what other color would best complement Green.
In fact, this glowing, trendy exhibition celebrates Modern Artists freeing themselves from Academic-Theories about Color. From Received-Ideas about the Values of various colors in expressing or suggesting Emotions, Spiritual-States, or even Times of Day or Night…
Georges Seurat’s complicated theories about the use of tiny dots of colors in his Pointillisme canvases obviously have no place here. Instead there are Riots of Basic-Colors & Geometries of Lines, Angles, Blocks, & even Concentric-Circles of Intensely-Saturated-Colors on view.
What would such a show be without the multi-colored checkerboard by Ellsworth Kelly, titled Colors for a Large Wall. Or Jim Dine’s blocks of color-shades in Red Devil Color Chart No. 1.
The point of this show seems to be that ready-made commercial-colors, as well as colors derived from objects in Everyday-Life, have freed artists from old Aesthetic-Constraints: a "democratization of the realm of Fine Art."
OK, already. The Power of Colorful Advertising-Graphics is not to be dismissed!
Among The-Usual-Suspects: Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Pablo Picasso, Frank Stella, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Marcel Duchamp, Damien Hirst, Mike Kelley, Bruce Nauman, Barnett Newman, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Ed Ruscha, Sol LeWitt, & Ad Reinhardt, famed for his All-White & All-Black canvases.[Ad was a Brooklyn-College colleague of Your Scribe.]
You may well ask—as the show’s Opening-Parameter is 1950—why Picasso & Duchamp are on-board?
Well, it helps to have a Back-Story. Changes in Attitudes about Colors & their Uses in the High-Arts had to start somewhere. And who used bold brush-strokes of vivid-color more boldly than Vince van Gogh, also included in this show.
What’s especially interesting is how many of the canvases & works in other Media have been borrowed from Private-Collections & even Museums-Abroad!
As MoMA has an amplitude of works by the artists listed above, they could have hung the show from their Vaults.
Would it surprise you to learn that the show has been "supported" by no less a commercial-entity than Benjamin Moore Paints!
In fact, Frank Stella painted six 12" x 12" canvases with Benjamin Moore flat-wall-paint. This suite of Elemental-Geometries was a gift from Andy Warhol to the Brooklyn Museum, no less!
DESIGN & THE ELASTIC MIND:
[Closing 12 May 2008]
As with the previous MoMA-Survey of What’s New in Scientific, Tech, & Commercial-Design—also curated by the resourceful Paola Antonelli: where does she find all this Fun-Stuff?—Design & The Elastic-Mind is so crammed into the quirky-spaces created for the "more than 200 objects, installations, & concepts" that comprise this challenging-exploration that you do not know where to look next.
Engaging-Objects & Visuals are packed so closely together that you are apt to bump into other spectators if you back-off to admire some Scientific-Wizardry or Home-Improvements-from-Mars from a Safe-Distance.
Among the MoMA-Novelties: Nanodesign: DNA Origami; Organic-Design: With a Little Help of the Bees, & 3-D Printing: Sketch-Furniture. If you are a fan of Wikipedia, History-Flow can show you how the present version of an entry was first entered & subsequently modified. Talk about never getting rid of those incriminating e-mails!
Yes, there is a lavishly-illustrated Catalogue. But even better: There is a website with all of the show’s 300 projects, plus an additional 50 unique to the website.
With this kind of Digital-Technology, you soon won’t have to go to Museums at all! What’s more, websites can be Interactive, whereas most Museums are filled with Do-Not-Touch Signage.
If you can read this online, why not check out the actual show? Try: www.moma.org/elasticmind.
At the [Smithsonian] National Museum of the American Indian:
The George Gustav Heye Center:
[One Bowling Green/NY, NY 10004/Phone: 212-514-3888]
The magnificent Beaux-Arts US Customs-House down near the Battery was long a Landmarks-Problem. What to do with it, as it no longer served its original purpose, but was much Too Grand to Demolish.
As very few New-Yorkers ventured way uptown to the impressive Beaux-Arts Museum-Complex at Audubon-Terrace, the seldom-visited Museum of the American Indian was seeking a new & more accessible home. The Customs-House proved an Ideal-Fit.
[But there are still major paintings by Goya, Murillo, & other Spanish-Masters on-view in Archer Huntington’s impressive Museum of Hispanic-Arts on the Terrace. Huntington mistakenly believed that Manhattan’s fashionable-center would keep moving uptown…
[Do check this out! John James Audubon’s imposing Memorial-Cross is across the street in Trinity-Church’s uptown Burial-Site as well!]
Your Scribe long ago produced & hosted a program for Channel 31 about the Museum of the American-Indian when it was still uptown, but thinking about a move. This was one installment of my Exploring Your Museums Series for Channel 31.
But with a list of over two-thousand NYC Museums & even more galleries, I couldn’t continue, as Brooklyn College gave me No Released-Time—or thanks—for creating this Series, as well as another: Meet the Professor!
But this was not the Connection that led me to the New & Improved American-Indian-Museum at the Customs-House. In fact, since its move, I had never been invited as Press to explore its Collections & Installations.
Instead, I discovered its amazing treasures only when I arrived early at the Customs-House for the Municipal Art Society’s ceremony awarding the annual Brendan Gill Prize to Sarah Jones, for her impressive Bus & Tunnel program of New-Yorker Impressions.
No longer on view is the Norval Morrisseau: Shaman-Artist installation. His colorful canvases & totemic-images have become costly Collectibles. This show was organized & is being toured by the National Gallery of Canada, which has substantial holdings of Morrisseau artworks.
In the Museum’s foyer stands Rick Bartow’s impressively symbolic bronze: From the Mad River to the Little Salmon River, or The Responsibility of Raising a Child.
This complex of Shamanistic-Images stands 99 inches high. Balanced precariously on the back of the Coyote-Trickster, a tiny Baby peeps out of a basket, flanked by Salmon & topped by a spread-winged Eagle.
Currently, there are two important installations on-view, noted below.
Important to Remember: the Museum is open 10 am to 5 pm every day except Xmas. And it is FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE! Well, you get the Idea… The impressive brochures for each exhibition are also Free!
BEAUTY SURROUNDS US:
NORVAL MORRISSEAU, Shaman Artist, at the National Museum of the American Indian.
[Diker Pavilion Inaugural-Exhibition]
This handsomely-mounted show is not limited to American-Indians, but embraces the Arts & Crafts of Native-Peoples of the Western-Hemisphere, from the frigid-climes of Alaska, to the steamy jungles of the Amazon & farther South.
Objects on display demonstrate the often intricate-artistry that was involved in making the most functional of household-vessels, tools, clothing, boots, & weapons. Just because a bowl or a spoon was to be used for ordinary purposes of preparing or eating food was no reason not to carve & color it with attractive designs & symbols.
Sections of this exhibition deal with such subjects as: Nurturing Identity, Recreation & Pastimes, Honor & Respect, Elegance of Presentation, Communicating Through Sound, Tools of Existence, Containing Culture, Expressions of Movement, Design as Identity, & Power of Transformation—achieved in Shamanistic-Ceremonies often by donning a Mask.
LISTENING TO OUR ANCESTORS: The Art of Native Life along the North-Pacific-Coast:
[Closing 20 July 2008]
Both the Installation-Design & the Native-Artifacts in this exhibition are more impressive than the Met Museum’s newly-arranged Northwest-Coast collections, though they do rival the major-treasures of the American Museum of Natural History.
If you want to know more about a Potlach, this is the show for you. The varied Indian-Tribes represented here have been living along the Norwest Coast for some 10,000 years! [Give or take a century or two…]
Here are Masks, Carvings, Weavings, Vessels, Tools, Ceremonial-Robes, & Weapons from such tribes as the Haida, the Salish, the Tlingit, the Kwakiutl…
AUDUBON’S AVIARY: Portraits of Endangered-Species:
At the New-York Historical Society:
[170 Central Park West @77th Street/NY, NY 10458/Phone: 212-873-3400]
[Closing 16 March 2008]
The priceless 42 Original-Watercolors prepared for John James Audubon’s magisterial Birds of America will not be seen again for at least another ten-years. This may sound a bit like making the Pilgrimage to Oberammergau for the famed Passion-Play that is presented only every Decade: 2010 is the next showing!
The reason these impressive Avian-Portraits are put on display at ten-year-intervals is their extreme Sensitivity-To-Light. At the N-Y Historical-Society, in fact, the gallery-light-levels are very low.
If you have missed this exhibition, not to despair, however. There are many more than 42 plates in the N-YHS storage-vaults. This year’s show was the fourth in a five-part exposure of Audubon’s amazing artistry.
The Special-Focus of this exhibition is to present the watercolors of those American-Birds already Extinct, threatened with extinction, or declining in numbers. There are more of these bird-species than you might think…
Among the Winged-Beauties on-view are the lamented Passenger-Pigeon. In Audubon’s time, there were some 5 billion of these handsome birds in the skies of Ohio, Indiana, & Kentucky, but the last one died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914!
The Piping-Plover [Charadrius melodus] is one of the Top-Ten of Endangered-Birds, considered in "Extreme Peril." The gloomy & doomy California-Condor [Gymnogyps californianus] is also in danger, with only 250 known-survivals.
John James Audubon (1785–1851), on the left : Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus), Havell plate no. 220, 1833, Watercolor, graphite, and black ink on paper, laid on thin board; 14 11/16 x 21 1/16 in. (373 x 535 mm), on the right : Whooping Crane (Grus americana), Havell plate no. 226, 1821; 1822, Watercolor, oil, gouache, graphite, lead white pigment, black ink, and charcoal on paper laid on Japanese paper; 37 5/16 x 25 11/16 inches.
The elegant Whooping-Crane [Grus americana] is also in great danger of extinction. This Audubon watercolor, oil, gouache, graphite, black-ink, charcoal, & lead white-pigment on Japanese-paper is especially interesting. Not only for its combination of Color-Media, but also for the way Audubon posed his image.
In order to conform the very-long-necked Crane to the dimensions of the Plates of his Elephant-Folio, he had to show it with its head down—almost to the ground—poised to snap up a colorful Lizard in its bill!
It must have been about ten-years-ago that this Portrait & other of the Audubon watercolors were shown in-tandem with an exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, just across the street. The AMNH has the actual bird-feather-pelts that Audubon used to paint his plates, so this was an Instructive-Collaboration.
Although Audubon sketched his birds in-situ, they certainly weren’t going to stand still for him to paint their Portraits, including the local-backgrounds. Nor could he make photographic-plates of them at that time, certainly not in Color.
So Audubon shot them & cured their feathered-skins for later Research & Development. Most of the actual bird-images were painted by Audubon, but he did have helpers, including his two sons. The background of the City of Charleston in one plate was done by a son, for instance.
The Saga of publishing The Birds of America is an Adventure in itself. It took Audubon some 12 years, with 8 crossings of the Atlantic to find the right Engravers & Printers for this Monster-Project: a Double-Elephant-Folio, with some 489 species of American-Birds!
In 1863, the New-York Historical Society—New York’s Oldest-Museum, with the Distinctive-Hyphen—purchased 434 of Audubon’s Originals from his widow, Lucy Bakewell Audubon. In 1966, the California-Condor original was added to its collection.
That means that if they show only 42 of the Originals each year, we could have almost Annual-Exposure to some of these remarkable American-Avian-Images!
John James Audubon’s great Celtic-style Memorial-Cross is sited in Trinity Church’s uptown burial-ground, at Audubon-Terrace on Upper-Broadway. It is richly-carved with Audubon-images, not only of his Birds, but also of his American-Animals!
Woven Splendor from Timbuktu to Tibet : Exotic Rugs and Textiles from New York Collectors. At the New York historical Society.
NB: The Triumphal-Return of the Marquis de Lafayette to America is still being celebrated at the N-YHS, until 10 August! See the actual coach in which Lafayette traveled in New England! See a Guillotine!
Orientalisme must be in the Spring-Air, not only at Sotheby’s. From 11 April to 17 August, the Society will present ALLURE OF THE EAST: Orientalism in New York, 1850-1930.
Concurrently, it will offer WOVEN IN SPLENDOR: From Timbuktu to Tibet. This show will feature "Exotic Rugs & Textiles from New York Collectors." This exhibition will be largely thanks to members of the Haji-Baba Club!
[Please pray they are not on George Bush’s List of No-Fly Potential-Terrorists, as are some Americans who are only interested in the History, Arts, & Crafts of the Middle-East.]
Asian Arts : A Buddha Shakyamuni, gilt copper with painted details, Tibet, 14/15th century. At Sotheby's.
[1334 York Avenue/NY, NY 10021/Phone: 212-606-7100]
Asian-Arts are very much on the minds of the Auction-Experts at both Sotheby’s & Christie’s. Mid-March has seen a profusion of exhibitions & sales of Artworks from China, Japan, Korea, & India.
Some of the works on offer have Historical-Provenance—lavishly-embroidered Chinese & Japanese Robes, elaborately-carved Jades, Celadon-glazed Ceramics, bronze Sword-hilts—but many are paintings & sculptures by Important Contemporary-Artists.
On St. Patrick’s Day, Sotheby’s held its Korea, Japan, & China Auction, featuring such works as Cai Guo-Qiang’s Gunpowder-on-Paper pattern: Escalator: Explosion Project for Centre Pompidou. Sotheby’s estimate for this symphony of brown-bars on tan-paper at auction: $500,000 to $700,000.
Cai currently has pre-empted most of the spaces in the Guggenheim with a wondrous profusion of his varied art-forms, so any of his artworks is eminently Collectible.
Also in mid-March, Modern-Masterworks from the Estella-Collection were on view at Sotheby’s. Then they were flown off to Singapore for a showing, followed by Taipei & Hong-Kong, where they will be auctioned on 7 April.
Among the Estella Chinese-Artists are, of course, Cai, with more Gunpowder-on-Paper: Two Wandering Tigers. But there are also Zeng Fanzhi, with Chairman Mao with Us; Lin Tianmiao, with Initiator, & Zhang Xiaogang, with Bloodline: The Big Family, No. 3.
Zhang is now especially popular with Collectors for his distinctively-styled almost-blank Chinese-Faces. Both Zhang & Cai now command prices in the millions of dollars!
If you want to bid, you can do so through Sotheby’s in New York, where part of the Collection is also to be auctioned. For more Info contact: sothebys.com.
If you are a fan of Orientalisme—especially if you regret the closing of the Dahesh Museum, which specialized in such artworks—Sotheby’s will have an auction of outstanding examples of this Salon-Art on 18 April. Customarily, the artworks going-for-sale are on exhibition three or four days before the auction.
Sotheby’s will also have Orientalisme-Auctions in London [6 June] & Paris [30 October]. So, if you happen to have an old Alma-Tadema painting of Bath-Time in the Sultan’s Harem that you have tired-of, you could send it for sale in London or the City of Light!
As the Purchase-Power of the American-Dollar daily-declines—approaching Potential-Collapse—you might well want to be paid in Euros or Pounds!
Chatsworth Is Not in Devon!
His Grace, The Duke of Devonshire, will lecture at Sotheby’s on 25 March. His Grace’s topic will be: The Gardens at Chatsworth & the Reinvention of the Picturesque!
This 6:30 pm lecture is a benefit for scholarships at the New York School of Interior-Design. So it will cost you $250, but there will be Cocktails afterward & the opportunity to chat with the ancestral-owner of Chatsworth! Contact Sotheby’s…
Not only are the expansive Gardens at Chatsworth famous, but the Duke’s great ancestral Country-House, Mansion, or Palace is one of the most important Ducal-Residences in England. What is often surprising to some who have motored down to Devon, thinking to visit Chatsworth, is the discovery that it is not in that Shire at all!
Chatsworth is not only an Architectural-Treasure but it also is effectually a Museum of one of the most important Private-Collections of Antique & Period Sculptures, Paintings, & Objects-d’Art in the European-Union.
[Your Scribe photographed the Gardens, Chatsworth itself, & many of its Masterworks for INFOTOGRAPHY™ many years ago!
[Curiously, the Duke of Norfolk’s historic seat, Arundel Castle, is—like Chatsworth—not in the County or Shire of which he is the Titular & Actual Duke! It is situated in the South of England, not far from Chichester!]
[As for the age-old Style & Title of England’s Dukes—Royal & Otherwise—while His Grace or Your Grace may sound either odd or feminine, that’s just The Way It Is. As with our Your Honor or Your Excellency.
[This recalls one of the late Kenneth Williams’ Music-Hall jests: "Your Grace…" "No no no! You’re Grace. I’m Herbert!"]
JOSIAH WEDGEWOOD & HIS CIRCLE:
At the UBS Art-Gallery:
[1285 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019/No Phone Listed]
[Closing 18 April 2008]
Although the UBS Art-Gallery is a sort of Walk-Through in the UBS-Lobby, it presents small-scale, but fascinating, exhibitions on a regular basis. Currently, it is showcasing some remarkable examples of the Art-Ceramics & Porcelains of Joseph Wedgewood.
There are also designs & prints, outlining the development of this distinctively English-Endeavor, creating dinner-services & objects d’art that have become prized Collectibles. How about a Black-Jasper copy of the famed Portland-Vase in the British-Museum?
As Wedgewood is still an admired & fully-functioning brand—you might well want to own some pieces fresh from the factory—it could be both interesting & instructive to see this installation. There is also a handsome & informative illustrated-brochure, completely free!
The exhibition comes from the extensive collections of the Binghamton University Art Museum, one of New York’s most respected State-University campuses.
THE WHITNEY BIENNIAL 2008:
At the Whitney Museum of American Art:
[945 Madison Avenue @75th Street/NY, NY 10021/Phone: 800-WHITNEY]
[Closing 1 June 2008]
The Great-Advantage of the new Whitney Survey of What’s Cutting-Edge in American-Art—at least what’s what in New York City & Los Angeles, where most of the Honorées are based—is the Access it offers to previously Off-Limits Historical-Chambers in the Park Avenue Armory!
Expanding its Exhibition-Spaces from its original Marcel-Breuer-Complex on Madison Avenue does not mean that the show’s Innovational-Curators were overwhelmed with so many brilliant Artworks, Installations, & Videos that they could not be accommodated at home.
In fact, fewer Dubious-Videos—NYU Film-School wouldn’t give you an MFA for some of these—would free-up what are now unease-making dark-spaces, for more wall & floor-space for paintings & sculpture. Unfortunately, these Tired-Old-Genres are apparently no longer either Inspirational or Innovative.
Nor were the few canvases on-view outstanding. Not to mention those few sculptural-efforts which were not more accurately categorized as Installations.
It wasn’t enough to add Videos to the Biennial-Mix some time ago, but now Performance-Art has been included. These performances—some reminiscent of the Happenings of Yesteryear—obviously cannot be presented effectively on the Whitney-Premises, so the vast spaces of the Armory’s Drill-Hall do beckon.
But this expansion cannot have been the Whitney’s Idea alone.
The Park Avenue Armory, organized in 2007—partially concerned with Restoring & Preserving the Armory—has been promoting it as an Ideal-Venue for multiple-performance-spaces, so generously inviting the Whitney Biennial Performance-Artists to show their variable-wares may be a Smart-Strategy.
That is, if the actual Performance-Art doesn’t put you off… Some of these people are still trying to Invent-the-Wheel. But a Wheel with four-sides?
Foes of this project for New-Uses of the Armory have been taking-out full-pages in the New York Sun to show the Horrible-Congestion all the hundreds of spectators will bring to this section of Park Avenue. In their "digitally-enhanced" photos, the Avenue seems filled with people, with no room for the Limos of the Park Avenue Elite…
Actually, some seasons ago, Tamara worked very well in the Armory, with five or six scenes being played simultaneously in the Historic-Chambers, as well as in the cavernous basement. You could follow one character around or focus on the Narrative. At Intermission, audiences mingled with the artists—in character & costume—to enjoy a buffet from Le Cirque!
The Art Production Fund is also involved in these developments. [The Electric-Fountain in Rockefeller-Center is one of its current-projects!]
[Do not miss Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Epic-Opera, Die Soldaten, to be staged in the Drill-Hall in early July, by the Lincoln Center Festival!]
But where to park all the cars on Performance-Nights?
Aside from the handsomely-designed [free] Tequila-bar of Eduardo Sarabia in one of the Armory chambers crammed with Military-Memorabilia, most of the rooms had but one object or installation on view. Few of them memorable…
Your Scribe had long-ago photographed the Louis Comfort Tiffany-Room & other decorative-details in the Grand Hallway & Staircase during various Art & Antiques-Sales Benefits. [Where will these be staged, if the Armory is crammed with Alternative-Performances?]
But this was the first time INFOTOGRAPHY™ was able to penetrate several always-locked chambers. In one, there is a Rembrandt Peale portrait of General George Washington, as well as a matching vision of the Marquis de Lafayette! Plus a portrait of King George VI!
But it was very difficult even to view these large portraits, as the room was filled with a large white box of a room, with some furnishings inside. The artist was not on-site when I was there, but ordinarily you can strike up a conversation, I was told.
Yes, there were in fact some Arresting-Artworks & Installations at the Whitney, but many of the entries looked as though the nominal-artists had merely cleaned out their closets…
And why were almost all of those selected for this show from NYC, LA, & the SF-Bay-Area? Are there no young—or even middle-aged—Avant-Garde artists Out-There in Middle-America? What about Kansas, say, or Arizona?
Nonetheless, I did admire Carol Bove’s glistening thicket of hanging golden-bronze rods, succinctly titled: The Night Sky Over New York, October 21, 2007, 9 pm. As a title, this is rather more helpful than simply Untitled.
Still, that Ubiquitous-Generic-Title did not prevent Seth Price’s wood & plastic planar-wall-installation from catching Viewer-Attention.
The simplicity of Joe Bradley’s abstracted-geometric-figures was also striking & colorful. In four parts, each had its own title: viz. Cavalry, Itz, The Thing, & Night Runner with Strike.
Amanda Ross-Ho offered an impressive black fausse-primitive wall-hanging, titled White-Goddess 8.
A Wooden-Construction resembling an abandoned Cattle-Chute in the OK Corral was the framework for Mika Rottenberg’s three Video-Loops of a cult of blonde-women making Cheese, appropriately titled: Cheese.
But my All-time Favorite in this Biennial is Eduardo Sarabia, not only for his Free-Tequila Babylon-Bar, but also for what looks like a crammed store-room, filled with his often hilarious Ceramics & other Objects.
There is even a Free-Catalogue depicting his many Artworks & Installations. You can order a couple of your own Sarabias, if you like. If you have some spare cash, after the Collapse of Bear-Stearns…
In fact, you can order a copy of the Babylon-Bar for only $50,000! Sarabia’s hand-blown-glass Tequila-Bottles—he makes his own brand of this dynamite Macho-Drink—will cost you only $300 each!
When Madison Avenue Was Still Wilderness:
Sitting squarely on top of Marcel Breuer’s concrete-canopy-entrance to the Whitney is a giant Eagle’s-Nest, made of sticks. Inside the outer-walls of the site is a Beaver-Pond—no Beavers yet—plus various evocations of Avian, Animal, & Insect-Habitats.
Along the outer-walls are attractive bronze-plaques, each celebrating the creature that once may have lived on this site when it was nothing but Wilderness!
Late-Breaking News: Leonard Lauder, he of the Cosmetics-Fortune, has just pledged $131 million to the Whitney, the largest gift in its 77-year history! Lauder is Chairman of the Estée Lauder Companies, with a net worth—according to Forbes—of some $3.2 billion.
[Before the admirable but controversial Bess Myerson retired to Florida, Estée Lauder used to drop-off gift-bags for Bess on top of our Co-op Mail-boxes! That is, when Bess was not at home to receive her…]
OTHER VENUES/OTHER EVENTS: Some Sanford L. Smith Shows: The Outsider Art Fair 2008 at the Puck Bldg:
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910-1983)
No. 796- The Filament of Ages Oil paint on masonite panel "April 24, 1959" 24 x 24 inches Milwaukee, Wisconsin Courtesy Carl Hammer Gallery
What would an Outsider-Art-Fair be without some of those strangely-perverse water-colored drawings of Henry Darger? Who would have known the Old Man had so much watercolor in him, to paraphrase Macbeth.
The American Folk-Art Museum—which has a Darger-Trove—was on hand at the Puck Bldg to advertise its own Outsider-Art-Week, "celebrating self-taught artists."
Galerie St. Etienne was on hand, as usual, not only with Henry Dargers & Grandma Moseses, but also with some examples of the artworks of Insane-Austrians: Josef Karl Rädler & the Artists of Gugging.
While, in the New-World, "Naïve" or "Primitive" Artists are generally labeled Outsider-Artists, on The-Continent, the phrase for the paintings & constructions of the Untaught is Art-Brut.
Some of the works on view are, of course, incredibly rough, even amateurish: how could it be otherwise if you are, indeed, an Amateur?
But others of these artworks are incredibly sophisticated & finished, even if Obsessive in their Subjects & visual-detailings. Damian Michaels’ Matriarch is certainly a compelling example.
Among my favorites in this show were works by George Widener, Edgar Tolson, Carlo Zinnelli, Martín Ramírez, & The Rev. Howard Finster!
I always stop by the booth of the Rising Fawn Folk Art Gallery, which is itself located on Lookout Mountain in Georgia. Not only because Jimmy Hedges showcases an interesting variety of Self-Taughters, but also because one of my City University MA students, Dr. Hugh Taliaferro [pronounced Tolliver], retired there.
Rising Fawn features the creations of Mose Tolliver, but I assume he’s No-Relation?
The 20th Anniversary of Works on Paper at the Park Avenue Armory:
What will Sanford Smith do if the Park Avenue Armory Drill-Hall is turned into a Mammoth-Performance-Space, as has been proposed/promised by the New-Management?
This may present a Problem not only to the varied shows Smith mounts in the Drill-Hall, but also to other notable-show-sales, such as the Winter-Antiques-Show.
The Conservancy for the Park Avenue Armory insists it is "restoring & revitalizing the Armory, one of New York’s most important historic structures & weaving it back into the social & cultural fabric of the city."
Actually, thanks to the myriad Art & Antiques Sales mounted in the Drill-Hall, almost every weekend it is Very Much Interwoven in the Social & Cultural Fabric of the City!
The Foreword by Sanford Smith in his Works on Paper catalogue expresses an Optimism that may be severely challenged by the new Movers & Shakers: "Even with the new challenges facing art-shows at the Armory, we fully expect to be here to celebrate our 25th Anniversary!"
[If you want to know more about the New-Visions for the Armory, phone 212-616-3937 or log-on to www.armoryonpark.org.]
As Works on Paper can be loosely interpreted to mean also artworks on cardboard & photographic-paper, as usual there was a wide-range of artistic-endeavors on view in the Drill-Hall.
And, as usual, many of the booths were attractively-structured, some cramming in as many visuals as they could hang on the walls, stock in bins, & spread-out on tables & showcases.
Among the galleries with booths in the show were a number from abroad, including one of my favorites, Sims Reed Ltd of London. Also from London: William Weston, Chris Beetles, James Mackinnon, & the Adam Gallery.
Parisian-Galleries were represented by Galerie André Candillier, De Bayser, Marion Meyer, & Galerie Grillon.
And from Madrid: Jose de la Mano Galeria de Arte. From Barcelona: Jean Paul Perrier-Fine Art Gallery. From Nuremberg: Die Galerie Hafenrichter & Fluegel. From Berlin: Jörg Maass-Kunsthandel. From Utrecht: Juffermans Fine Art. From Brussels: Galerie Patrick Lancz.
So this was truly an International-Art-Fair! In keeping with the Asian-Art focus in March, there were fine old Japanese prints by Hiroshige & Utamaro, as well as the Ubiquitous-Chinese on view at Christie’s & Sotheby’s.
Also among the Modern-Notables: Andy Warhol, P. Picasso, Thos. Hart Benton, Henri Matisse, Andrew Wyeth, C. Pissarro, F. Léger, Paul Cadmus, V. Vasarely, M. Duchamp, Singer Sargent, Romare Bearden, Childe Hassam, & Kiki Smith!
Of special interest were the arresting drawings of Historic-Sites by the famed architect Louis I. Kahn. These were on-view at Lori Bookstein Fine Art. She can be contacted at her same-named website-dot.com.
NB: The New York Antiquarian Book Fair—featuring some 200 International-Booksellers—will be at the Park Avenue Armory from 3-6 April. As usual, this impressive show is managed by Sanford L. Smith & Associates. Put the date in your Calendar!
Copyright © Glenn Loney 2008. No re-publication or broadcast use without proper credit of authorship. Suggested credit line: "Glenn Loney, Curator's Choice." Reproduction rights please contact: email@example.com.
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