CURATOR'S CHOICE SM
Museums and Exhibitions in New York City and Vicinity
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GLENN LONEY'S MUSEUM NOTES
CONTENTS, January, 2009
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.
Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:
At the American Folk Art Museum: *
MARTIN RAMIREZ: The Last Works *
At the Ana Tzarev Gallery: *
SEE THE WORLD THROUGH THE EYES OF ANA TZAREV: JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY *
At the Bard Graduate Center Gallery: *
'TWIXT ART & NATURE: English Embroidery from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580 1700 *
At Bonhams: *
At the Brooklyn Museum: *
THE BLACK LIST PROJECT: Timothy Greenfield Sanders & Elvis Mitchell *
At the Maxwell Davidson Gallery: *
MEL ROSAS: La Calle Desconocida (The Unknown Street) *
At the Galerie St. Etienne: *
"THEY TAUGHT THEMSELVES": American Self Taught Painters Between the World Wars *
At the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation: *
IMAGES FROM THE TRIANGLE: The AIDS Paintings of Peter Harvey *
At Knoedler & Company: *
JOHN WALKER: Drawings, 1973 1975 *
At the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library & Museum: *
CURTAIN CALL: Celebrating a Century of Women Designing for Live Performance *
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art: *
BEYOND BABYLON: Art, Trade, & Diplomacy in the Second Millennium BC *
CHOIRS OF ANGELS: Painting in Italian Choir Books, 1300 1500 *
CALDER JEWELRY *
Mary & Michael Jahars Galleries for Byzantine Art: & The Medieval European Art Gallery *
At the Morgan Library & Museum: *
PROTECTING THE WORD: Bookbindings at the Morgan *
At MoMA/The Museum of Modern Art: *
PIPILOTTI RIST: Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters) *
MARLENE DUMAS: Measuring Your Own Grave *
ARTIST'S CHOICE: VIK MUNIZ, REBUS *
Sanford Smith's Special Shows: *
23rd Annual Modernism at the Park Avenue Armory: A Century of Style & Design, 1905 2005 *
Outsider Art Fair at the 34th Street Mart *
At the UBS Gallery: *
HEYDAY: Frederick W. Glasier's American Circus, 1890 1925 *
At the American Folk Art Museum:
[45 West 53rd Street/NY, NY 10019/Phone: 212 265 1040]
MARTIN RAMIREZ: The Last Works
[Closing 12 April 2009]
Martin Ramirez at the Folk Art Museum.
Museum Notes has commented on the strange visions of Martin Ramirez on view at the Museum previously, but an invitation to this exhibition was unfortunately not forthcoming, despite repeated requests to be notified in advance of Press Previews.
Confined to DeWitt State Hospital—between Auburn & Your Reporter's Home Town of Grass Valley—Ramirez created an amazing body of drawings in the last 15 years of his life. The current show, however, focuses on works in the collection of DeWitt's Dr. Max Dunievitz, who encouraged Ramirez to draw, providing him with supplies.
Although Ramirez died in 1963, neither his artworks nor his existence at DeWitt was generally known in either Auburn or Grass Valley.For obvious reasons, as DeWitt was what we called a "Mental Hospital." Your Reporter, who went to DeWitt on occasion, would certainly have been fascinated to meet Ramirez…
The Museum showed a Ramirez Retrospective of the DeWitt drawings in 2007. But these later drawings, now at the Folk Art Museum, use the familiar Ramirez Imagery of Horseback Riders, Trains & Tunnels, Landscapes, & Madonnas, but with more color & abstraction.
Note: In conjunction with Sanford Smith's Outsider Art Fair, the American Folk Art Museum sponsored Outsider Art Week: Celebrating Self Taught Artists, from 6 11 January. This included a Benefit Preview, Tours of the many Dealer Booths, Book Signings, Uncommon Artists: a Series of Cameo Talks in the Anne Hill Blanchard Symposium, crowned by the Nathan Lerner Annual Lecture: Collecting Apart: Mass Media & the Home in the Art of Henry Darger! The Folk Art Museum's Contemporary Center also presented its Visionary Award to Raw Vision magazine…
Among both dealers & art experts, the Question was raised: Does a Self Taught Artist stop being an artist when his or her work becomes popular & he or she begins mass producing typical or Signature Works?
That seems to embody its own Answer: if each new work is not a singular expression of the Vision of the Craftsman/artist—although using his or her typical materials & styles—then it could be seen as having been manufactured for the Tourist Trade or for Naïve Collectors of Naïve Art : "I've got a barn full of this stuff out back!"
At the Ana Tzarev Gallery:
[24 West 57th Street/NY, NY 10019/Phone: 212 586 9800]
SEE THE WORLD THROUGH THE EYES OF ANA TZAREV: JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY
[Permanent Home of Exhibitions of Ana Tzarev Artworks]
Ana Tzarev Rice song 2000, oil on linen 55 x 1/8 x 57 1/2 inches 0372 Presented by Ana Tzarev Gallery.
Even as Sharper Image & other shops are vacating "Luxury Rental Spaces" on West 57th Street, a handsome new two level Glass Façade Art Gallery has opened adjacent to the fabled Gallery Building.
This is the impressive new Ana Tzarev Gallery, featuring the Large Scale Artworks of the Croatian born artist & World Traveler Ana Tzarev.
Tzarev's Globe Trotting has paid off richly in a variety of stunning paintings, celebrating Traditions, Rituals, & Daily Life in a wide variety of Ethnic Cultures. What distinguishes all the works on view is the very heavy Impasto of intensely saturated Colors, the oils laid on so thickly a Blind Person could "read" the images with his or her Fingertips!
The designs & patterns which background boldly outlined figures are often arresting. There is nothing subtle about Tzarev's Muscular Vision of the Third World & even the Second. No bustling scenes of Manhattan or San Francisco here…
The current show is titled Journey of Discovery [closing 20 February], to be succeeded by Arts of Japan, celebrating Tzarev's "extensive knowledge & interest in Japanese Traditions & Culture." Kabuki & Tea Ceremonies will be among the subjects.
In addition to the spacious galleries bursting with the vivid colors of Tzarev's large paintings, there is also a Concert Series featuring musical soloists & the Common Ground film series. There is limited seating, so make your reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or phone: 646 652 9800.
ANA TZAREV Faces of Sorrow,1996
Oil on linen 51 1/8 x 38 1/4 inches
0176 Presented by Ana Tzarev Gallery.
ANA TZAREV Rose Sky (1 6), 2004 Oil on linen 76 ¾ x 51 1/8 inches 2126.Presented by Ana Tzarev Gallery.
At least some of the Artworks are for sale, but—considering the tremendous expense which must be involved in creating & operating these galleries—you may prefer to purchase prints or one of the handsome books of Ana Tzarev's vibrant Images.
Even New Yorkers who have yet to visit her gallery are already aware of The Art of Ana Tzarev, as huge outdoor posters seem to be sprouting up everywhere, featuring some of her Signature Paintings.
A Press Release regarding these displays notes that these Images are "Transforming New York's Cityscape [in] One of the Largest Outdoor Art Exhibitions Ever." Immensely enlarged Tzarev paintings have adorned six major billboards—some as high as four stories!
MTA buses also feature her paintings, as do a dozen phone kiosks & a number of bus shelters. Posters & Panels have been sited in both Midtown & Downtown Neighborhoods!
Great Jones & Lafayette features a four story African image, with a three story diptych of a Japanese couple at Houston & Second Avenue!
Tzarev explains all this Visual Overkill thusly: "I hope to bring the beauty of other cultures to New Yorkers, who collectively represent every nation of the world, with the aim of stimulating dialogue & understanding."
Vincent Van Gogh, Eat Your Heart Out!
[Vince was also Heavy on the Impasto…]
At the Bard Graduate Center Gallery:
[18 West 86th Street/NY, NY 10024/Phone: 212 501 3000]
'TWIXT ART & NATURE: English Embroidery from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580 1700
[Closing 12 April 2009]
Box with the Five Senses And Coat Of Arms.English, unknown designer and make third quarter 17th century ,5 ¾ x 9 x 7 ½ in. (14.6 x 22.9 x 19.1 cm).Silk, metal thread, pearls, and mica on silk satin applied to wooden frame,Rogers Fund,1929,29.23.1.views: overall and one detail of front,Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In its elegant West 86th Street Town House, the intimate Bard Gallery is an ideal showcase for small scale shows of very special Decorative Arts & Designs from Major Museums & Collections where such beautiful objects would be lost in the Plethora of Great Artworks.
The delicacy & detail of the embroidered creations currently on view & on loan from the Met Museum—where they would be lost in its Piranesian Spaces—is so intriguing that one needs both Time & a Magnifying Glass to appreciate what can be achieved with Needle & Thread. Colored Threads—even threads of Silver & Gold, often with some pearls or other gems—were integrated into Royal Scenes & Landscapes.
Not only were English Embroideries elaborately employed in the depiction of two dimensional representations of Court Rituals—or even King Charles I as a figure in Myth & Legend—but they were also used to decorate Presentation Salvers, Jewel Boxes, & Book Bindings, with quasi three dimensional People & Objects.
Biblical Scenes were also popular in the Jacobean & Carolingian Periods. The doomed Stuart Dynasty at least could already imagine itself in Paradise, via these lavish embroideries!
[580 Madison Avenue/NY, NY 10022/Phone: 212 xxx xxxx]
This is the address of the IBM Building & of Bonhams—the fabled  London Art & Antique Auctioneers—that now occupies the basement, ground floor, & 2nd floor premises originally dedicated to the IBM Gallery & later ceded to the now defunct Dahesh Museum.
Bonhams' PR lady was going to send me a press kit so I could share more information, but she never did so. Perhaps it was the Holiday Rush & all that?
Oddly enough, none of the catalogues, brochures, & flyers I picked up on my visit listed a Telephone Number! But there is a website: www.bonhams.com/us.
Considering the Sales Difficulties both Christie's & Sotheby's are now experiencing—thanks to the Worldwide Economic Collapse created by the very Masters of the Universe who customarily bid on fabulous Artworks, formerly driving prices ever Higher—it is very brave of Bonhams to enter the Manhattan Marketplace!
Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia including Animation Art.A wooden wall decoration from the original Browm Derby restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles 1926.
Actually, Bonhams achieved its American Toe Hold on the West Coast, apparently ingesting Butterfields, the foremost Auction House in San Francisco & the Southland. One of their Western cards advertises Classic California, with a reproduction of Steve McQueen's Passport Chinese Visa!
Last November, Bonhams auctioned Antique Arms & Armor & Modern Sporting Guns in San Francisco. Among the deadly treasures: General John Sutter's Ceremonial Sword, Chief Sitting Bull's Winchester, Chief Crazy Horse's Trapdoor Springfield, & WR Grace's Colt Six Shooter! The latter three items were offered at a suggested range of $80,000 $120,000.
In Manhattan in October, the important sale was of Property from the Wanamaker de Heeren Family Collection. There were some 430 lots at auction, including some splendid furniture & Decorative Arts.
On 26 January, Bonhams on Madison will offer Fine American Furniture, Decorative Arts, & Silver. In March, the Manhattan focus will be on European Furniture & Decorative Arts.
At the Brooklyn Museum:
[200 Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn, NY 11238/Phone: 718 638 5000]
THE BLACK LIST PROJECT: Timothy Greenfield Sanders & Elvis Mitchell
[Closing 29 March 2009]
If you don't have Cable, you might have missed the HBO broadcast of Blacklist: Volume 1, a Documentary shown first at the Sundance Festival & later shared with Viewers on the Tube.
Timothy Greenfield Sanders, American, born 1952. Chris Rock, 2007 Inkjet photograph. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery Timothy Greenfield Sanders.
Now at the Brooklyn Museum you can see snatches of the film on Loop on three flat screen monitors. But the core of this Ethnic Oriented show are the 25 large scale Photo Portraits of "a stellar list of subjects from the worlds of Politics, the Arts, Sports, Religion & Business."
Yes, they are all Black. Or African American. They are all looking straight into the camera lens of Timothy Greenfield Sanders & they are very Clearly In Focus.
Among the Luminaries: Al Sharpton, Sean Combs, Chris Rock, Vernon Jordan, Toni Morrison, Suzan Lori Parks, & Colin Powell—although Condi Rice seems to have been Overlooked…
On the video loops, Elvis Mitchell interviews some of the Portrait Subjects.
At the Press Preview, the Art Critic Turnout was rather small, disappointing even. Asked for a possible explanation, I—not necessarily defending my Colleagues—hazarded a guess that—with the week ago election of Barak Obama to the Presidency—some felt they had Done Their Bit for Improved Race Relations?
Great Photos, however!
At the Maxwell Davidson Gallery:
[724 Fifth Avenue/NY, NY 10019/Phone: 212 759 7555]
MEL ROSAS: La Calle Desconocida (The Unknown Street)
[Closing 7 February 2009]
At first glance, Mel Rosas' colorful Latino Pastel Façades could be walls in any small Mexican or even Venezuelan village. But through some of the doorways, you can see Hell. Or the Ocean.
An especially attractive Come On for this show is Davidson Contemporary's five panel Invite: It stretches out on the bookshelf, showing nine of Rosas' intriguing visions!
At the Galerie St. Etienne:
[24 West 57th Street/NY, NY 10019/Phone: 212 245 6734]
"THEY TAUGHT THEMSELVES": American Self Taught Painters Between the World Wars
[Closing 14 March 2009]
Morris Hirshield 1945.Oil on canvas 24*18 (61*45.7cm). Reproduced on the cover of view magazine, October 1945. Copyright The estate of Morris Hirshfield.Published by Galerie st.Etienne, New York.
Whenever Jane Kallir presents Outsider Artists at St. Etienne, you can be sure that Grandma Moses will be among the talents on view. Her father, Otto
Kallir—founder of the Galerie—was the first Manhattan dealer to showcase this remarkable old New Englander.
Among the oils by Anna Mary Robertson Moses now on view are Sap Time, The Old Covered Bridge, Home Dear Home, Shepherd Comes Home from the Hills, & Going To Grandma's.
The handsomely patterned images of Morris Hirschfield may owe something to his profession as a Clothing Manufacturer, but they are both amusing & attractive.
Other artists included in this show of American Nostalgia: Joseph Pickett, John Kane, Lawrence Lebduska, Josephine Joy, Horace Pippin, Patsy Santo, & Israel Litwak.
At the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation:
[26 Wooster Street/NY, NY 10013/Phone: 212 431 2609]
IMAGES FROM THE TRIANGLE: The AIDS Paintings of Peter Harvey
[Closed 20 December 2008]
When I was only about 10 years old, a Depression Era farm boy in the High Sierras, an odd & frequent Free Loader at our ever open table at Willowbrook Farm told me that a Terrible Plague would strike in the latter part of Our Century. This dumpy, Thrift Shop clad woman, Marion Ruth Glen, was a great favorite of my mother, who was much given to Psychics, Rosicrucians, & Astrologers.
Detail from "Images from the Triangle" (1993) by Peter Harvey.
Even though Miss Glen said my mother was a Very Old Soul & that she had known my poor father as an Egyptian Prince on the Banks of the Nile, she always chose me as confidant of her Darkest Knowledge. So I was on the lookout for a resurgence of the infamous Black Death for decades, through the '40s, '50s, '60s, & '70s.
Then, in 1981, I read a newspaper account about a Dreadful New Disease that seemed to have been brought from Africa by a randy Pan Am Steward. At first, it didn't have a Defined Name, but I knew instantly that This must be the Plague Miss Glen had foreseen. But, as she had been to Mars in a Flying Saucer, piloted by Little Green Men—who didn't smell bad & were friendly—I had always tended to discount her Visions.
But this time, I was sure she was Right. So I swore off Sex on the spot. But, as so many of my friends & colleagues were dying of AIDS, I bought two new black suits to wear to the Multiplying Funerals. So many, many Talented, Loving, & Beautiful People cut down in Mid Flight!
One of my friends who has long survived, but who tragically lost his Best Friend, has dealt with this Immense Loss in a quite different way: he didn't buy two black suits, for instance.
No. Artist & Stage Designer Peter Harvey has painted His Sense of Loss, but his richly evocative artworks suggest how Great That Loss is for all of us, especially those who Move, Breathe, Live, & Have Our Being in the Arts.
Harvey calls his collection of vividly colored paintings Images from the Triangle.
This Triangle has absolutely nothing to do with the dreadful Holocaust Fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Manhattan so many years ago. Nor is it an Historic Gay Bar, like the famous Stonewall, where Police Brutality immensely Raised Consciousness about vicious treatment of Gays & Lesbians by the Authorities.
Instead, this Triangle refers to a rather different kind of Holocaust, that which the Nazis conducted—after coming to power in 1933—against the despised, rejected, & outcast German Homosexuals.
Initially incarcerated in the Dachau Concentration Camp, but later imprisoned across a wide range of CCs & Death Camps, Homosexuals were distinguished
Peter Harvey. Photo by Glenn Loney.
by the Pink Triangle sewed onto their prisoners' black & white striped uniforms.
That made them Virtual Pariahs, even among the other victims of Nazi Persecution, lower even than the Gypsies, or Roma/Sinta. Of course they were looked down upon by imprisoned Jews, who wore Yellow Triangles or Stars of David.
At the infamous Wannsee Conference, the Nazis devised the Entgültige Lösung, or Final Solution to the "Jewish Problem." This was to be Complete Extermination of the Jewish Race in Europe.
But this was also the Fate decreed for Gays—whom even few non Nazi Germans missed, regretted, or pitied.
Almost every American City of any importance has its Holocaust Memorial to the Six Million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis by Execution—Mass Shootings, Hanging, Injections—or by Suffocation in the Gas Chambers, followed by burning in the Crematoria.
But where are the Holocaust Memorials across America for the many, many Gay Victims who were also Murdered—not for Horrendous Crimes but merely for their Sexuality?
[For that matter, as an additional Six Million Non Jews died in the Camps, where are Their Memorials? Those who died included Gypsies, Dissidents, Socialists, Protestant Parsons, Catholic Clerics—some now Sainted, Communists, & of course the Aged & Ill, the Handicapped, & Deformed Children: who now Mourns or even Remembers their Needless Deaths?]
When Peter Harvey recently invited me down to Wooster Street to savor the Triangle Images at the Leslie/Lohman Gallery, the first thing that struck me was his Mastery in incorporating Famous Images of Carravaggio, Michelangelo, & Goya—as well as portrait elements of Duncan Grant, David Hockney, Marsden Hartley, & Keith Haring—into his arresting canvases.
I am including some photos I took of Peter with his Pictures, which I hope will speak more eloquently than my Apple Keyboard can.
You can see that Remarkable Artists have been cut down long before AIDS began its Horrific Body Count. But the great Spanish Poet Federico Garcia Lorca was felled by Franco's Firing Squads, killed as much by Religious Intolerance as by Falangista Bullets!
Peter Harvey offers a self searching explanation for Images from the Triangle in the Leslie/Lohman Archive magazine. As AIDS progressed, he notes, he found himself constantly faced with Direct Personal Loss, which not only deeply saddened him, but also Isolated him.
He had been Stage Designer for Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band, but of that original Cast & Crew, only the Playwright, Peter, three Actors, & the Assistant Stage Manager yet survive…
As he now says: "This kind of annihilation of my peers & professional connections led me to work more by myself as a painter, rather than a theatre designer. …within a few years, I found the shadows of loss & grief made it harder & harder to believe in the colorful, cheerful subjects my gallery dealer cared about.
"I also found that the climate of destruction about me made me take more seriously my identity within the group that are the Prime Victims of this scourge here in America. As a gay man, I needed to make some gesture of solidarity within the community & to help, somehow, in encouraging & strengthening our self image & pride in it. I could only do this through my painting, as I'm not a Public Demonstrator type.
"So I began to think about what had always given me a positive attitude towards my sexuality & its world & what connected me to the past & present in that milieu.
"Clearly, it was the Cultural Contributions by other Gay Artists that had enriched my life, as well as all Western Culture, that had constantly sustained me.
"I also realized, in thinking about this, that many of these artists were often obscure or esoteric & sometimes it was not generally known that they were gay, or it was denied—although it is harder to do so these days.
"So here indeed was something I cared about deeply & which would be meaningful to bring to the attention of others & in so doing, hopefully, enrich them & help bolster them as it does me…"
Peter Harvey, Photo by Glenn Loney.
As Peter & I looked at his often riotously colorful—but not really cheerful—paintings, shortly before the show was to be taken down, he said sadly: "Well, I suppose they'll all go back into Storage, never to be seen again…"
If my walls were not already crammed with artworks—among them two powerful Duncan Grant images—I should have on the spot begged Peter to let me buy at least one of these impressive Tributes To What Has Been Lost…
[Once upon a time, I could have had some early Keith Haring chalk drawings on Subway poster black sheets. I used to follow him around, watching how deftly he stroked his Magical Babies & Floating Pyramids. When he finished—always looking out for the Cops—he'd make a little bow to the people who had gathered round.
[I wrote about him as Chalkman for the Westsider & Chelsea Clinton News. It never occurred to me to ask him his name. Or, dumber than dumb, to take a razor & strip off & roll up one of his fresh drawings for the Glenn Loney Poster Collection. Now in Bedbug Free Storage…]
For the Record: I met Peter Harvey when he designed Dames at Sea. My first contribution to Theatre Crafts magazine was about this feat: Busby Berkeley on a Budget!
It was raining cats & dogs on Cornelia Street, so I dodged into a tiny space with a Caffé Cino sign over the door. A new musical was about to debut on a tiny stage, featuring the Totally Unknown Bernadette Peters & David Christmas.
Amazingly, I spotted my old college buddy, George Haimsohn—who had been Editor of Occident, the Literary Magazine at UC/Berkeley, when I was a Senior Night Editor on the Daily Californian. The program cited George as one of the two authors of Dames. The other was my London buddy, Robin Philips. What's more, the score was by my CUNY colleague, Jim Wise!
The Rest Is History. Peter Harvey went on to design not only Boys in the Band, but also George Balanchine's Jewels!
Recently—as reported in this column—he also mounted a fascinating exhibition at Leslie/Lohman of Designs for the Theatre by a myriad of Gay Designers.
Not just because they were/are Gay—because all the set & costume designs & models were fabulous in & of themselves—but Peter did want to bring to Public Attention how many gifted artists who frequently enrich our Collective Cultural Lives are among that Unfortunate Group of Human Beings who are so detested by Mormons, Catholic Clerics, Orthodox Rabbis, & Born Again Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians…
[Religion used as a License for Hate!]
At Knoedler & Company:
[19 East 70th Street/NY, NY 10021/Phone: 212 794 0550]
JOHN WALKER: Drawings, 1973 1975
John Walker (b. 1937), Untitled, 1975. Charcoal on paper.
[Closing 7 March 2009]
The many black, gray, & white drawings in this Knoedler show are all titled Untitled. This may make it difficult years hence for Art Historians to devise a Catalogue raisonnée of Walker's Oeuvre.
Walker says of these works on paper—made only over a two year span, in fact—that: "I draw from my paintings as a way of seeing and identifying what I have visually. Whilst doing so it is important that the marks I make are what is there and not what I would like to see—to be truthful."
Some of the Monochrome Abstractions have a real Power. Others seem merely a re arrangement of the Basic Visual Elements.
At the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library & Museum:
[40 Lincoln Center Plaza/NY /NY 10024/Phone: 212 870 1630]
CURTAIN CALL: Celebrating a Century of Women Designing for Live Performance
[Closing 2 May 2009]
This is a fascinating & inclusive exhibition. The problem is that there have been so many talented Women Designers over the decades that there are almost too many Sketches, Photos, Videos, Costumes, & Set Models on display. The eye is Overwhelmed.
Early in the 20th Century, designers—whether male or female—often did not get significant Program Credit. All too often, however, men took the credit for costume ideas generated by ingenious women who were regarded as little more than seamstresses in many cases.
This show properly celebrates the innovative Lighting & Color contributions of famed dancer Loïe Fuller. "La Loïe" was the first to dance on glass, her
Costume design by Gladys Monkhouse for Jack O’Lantern (1917). R. H. Burnside Collection, Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Costume design by Caroline F. Siedle for a "wind" dancer, probably from Glinda's retinue from The Wizard of Oz (1903). Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
undulating body & flowing draperies lit from below!
Some women designers such as Cora MacGeachy, Kate Drain Lawson, & Beatrice Irwin have achieved a kind of retro fame in Theatre History. Others such as Tanya Moiseiwitch, Irene Sharaff, Marjorie Bradley Kellogg, Barbara Matera, Heidi Ettinger, Jean Rosenthal, & Karinska were or are Legends in Their Own Time.
[As the Oldest & Longest Contributing Editor to Theatre Crafts magazine, Your Reporter has interviewed many of these Great Women Designers over the years. These audio interviews have been Digitally Scanned & should soon be On Line!]
This exhibition is sponsored by the League of Professional Theatre Women, determined to win recognition for their work, talents, & achievements. That excellent designer, Carrie Fishbein Robbins, designed & installed this fine show.
The valuable show catalogue, edited by Alexis Greene, with Intro by Mary C. Henderson—who have both collaborated on the new 42nd Street Theatre history—has some insightful essays & is a Keeper Reference.
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
[1000 Fifth Avenue @82nd Street/NY, NY 10028/Phone: 212 535 7710]
BEYOND BABYLON: Art, Trade, & Diplomacy in the Second Millennium BC
[Closing 15 March 2009]
Long before Alexander the Great sought to conquer the Known World, long, long before, in fact, Merchants, Traders, & Adventurers were journeying far & wide in search of Metals, Semi Precious Stones, & Luxury Goods from hither & yon to adorn the Courts & Personages of Early Civilizations in the Fertile
Kneeling Worshipper. Bronze, gold, silver H. 19.6 cm (7 3/4 in.). Mesopotamia, Old Babylonian, ca. 1760 B.C. Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Antiquités Orientales. Photo by Réunion des Musées Nationaux Art.
Crescent & the Mediterranean.
In Biblical Antiquity, the Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon—with rich gifts of Gold from her fabled Mines—seems an early example. But, already in 2000 BC, the interchange of metals, gems, jewelry, weapons, images, artworks, woven goods, spices, & other treasures was well underway.
The current Met exhibition demonstrates—with some 350 objects from Temples, Tombs, & Royal Palaces—how extensive this trade in ideas, artistries, & objects was, stretching into Central Asia!
A major feature of the show are the Finds in the wreckage of an ancient trading ship off the Turkish Coast. Not only are there objects from Canaanite, Mycenean, Cypriote, Nubian, Assyrian, Old Babylonian, & Egyptian Cultures—a Golden Scarab of Queen Nefertiti! But there are also objects from the Baltic North & from the Northern Balkans. As well as from Central Asia & possibly from Sicily…
Millennia before we began to talk about our Global Interconnections—even when neither Rulers nor Traders could conceive of a Globe—Ancient Cultures were already becoming Interconnected…
What is even more impressive is that many of the objects on view are refined & even sophisticated in their designs. The Early Bronze Age may have been somewhat Primitive in its designs & decorations, but by the Middle & Late Bronze periods, remarkable things were being created.
From the Temple of Ishtar in Ashur, there is a Cult Pedestal of the God Nuska. From the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, there are polychrome & glazed tiles of, among others, a Philistine Leader. And where are the Philistines today?
For that matter, why isn't some Cult still worshipping Nuska? The Name sounds Nourishing, perhaps like an Enriched Breakfast Cereal?
CHOIRS OF ANGELS: Painting in Italian Choir Books, 1300 1500
[Closing 12 April 2009]
Music Publishing was a still a Long Way Off in the 14th Century. And, as the Mass had to be celebrated at least once a day—as well as observing the various services of the day—Choral Manuscripts were essential. With a myriad of Monasteries, as well as Great Cathedrals & Basilicas, Scribes were constantly scribbling staffs, notes & texts on vellum & parchment in wide spread Scriptoria.
To add an extra flourish to the often elegant lettering, the Initials of words opening important texts were usually elaborately decorated, frequently with fascinating Miniatures entwined in the letters.
The most impressive of these in the current exhibition are from Florence & Siena, works by Mariano del Buono, Sano di Pietro, Lorenzo Monaco, & Girolamo dai Libri.
Medieval Choirs of Monks & Priests may not always have sounded Angelic, but at least they had some written music from which to sing together. Some of the manuscript images in this exhibition are indeed of Singing Angels.
Others, however, depict Hebrew Prophets, Biblical Tales, Church Saints, & even Renaissance Princes. The detail & ingenuity of some of these small scale Epics is so compelling you might well wish for a Magnifying Glass. And much more Light, but such Ancient Colors & Surfaces cannot be so exposed.
And why are these Psalter Pages at the Met, instead of still in the Cathedral or Monastery for which they were originally created?
One reason is that, over time, The Mother Church has made changes in The Liturgy or the manner of Observation, so early manuscripts had to be replaced. Older Choir Books were retired to Libraries or disposed of to early collectors.
During the Thirty Years War—when Protestant Armies would sweep through Catholic Towns—"Popish Books" were often destroyed or carried off. The Library of the University of Uppsala has treasures galore…
As Napoleon's Army of Liberation swept across Europe, the "Little Corporal" systematically secularized great Monasteries & Religious Foundations. Not only precious Manuscripts, but also remarkable Religious Artworks thus found their ways into Private Collections or National Museums.
[Closing 1 March 2009]
Calder Jewerly Birthday gift.
Sandy Calder's early Wire Sculptures & Mobiles have graced this Art Season, so now the Met is sharing some allied Calder Creations, his richly imagined Jewelry.
Many of the brooches & necklaces were actually made for Women Friends, so they have a Special Provenance, often reflecting something personal that Calder sought to capture in the art object.
Brass or Silver Wire are favored materials, although some Gold is also in evidence. As simple wire sculptures, some of these objects have a Trade Mark Calder Charm. But when Calder hammers the wires flat, forming blades, rings, spirals, initials, or comical shapes the results are Very Special indeed.
Mary & Michael Jahars Galleries for Byzantine Art: & The Medieval European Art Gallery
These two areas of Medieval Artistic Expression may seem Worlds Apart.
In their time, in a sense, they effectually were: the Byzantine Orthodox East was divided from the Roman Catholic West. With the Religio Political Split between East & West, Constantinople & Rome could be seen as Poles Apart, at least, centers of the then Known World—Columbus having yet to Discover the New World…
The Cruzifixion. Medieval European Art Gallery.
The differences in Religious Beliefs, Interpretations, Liturgies, Rituals, & resulting Iconographies bred different artistic & architectural responses to Faith &
Flanking, Under, & Behind the Met's great Central Staircase, these galleries actually enhance important artworks previously on display. The former Medieval Tapestry Hall has been retooled for the Western European Artworks.
Among the new Treasures on view are the Jaharis Byzantine Gospel Lectionary, dated circa 1100. This is enshrined in a kind of Apse, a suggestion, not the Real Thing.
The Dominant Image for the Western European artworks is the 18 foot high Italian Ciborium, formerly in the Met's Cloisters Museum.
This is the Real Thing, having once sheltered the Altar of the Church of Sant Stefano in Italy!
Fortunately, the Met doesn't have to give this back to the Italians, as the Church was secularized way back in the 19th Century. But not by Napoleon Bonaparte: he would have sent such a Ciborium off to the Louvre!
At the Morgan Library & Museum:
[225 Madison Avenue @36th Street/NY, NY 10016/Phone: 212 685 0008]
PROTECTING THE WORD: Bookbindings at the Morgan
[Closing 29 March 2009]
The Light Level is Low; the Display Chamber is Small, but the Precious Bindings—which protect some of the most beautiful, valuable, & historical books in the world—do not want exposure to Blazing Sunlight, nor do they welcome hordes of gawkers crowding round Mr. Morgan's Treasures.
Some of the richly jeweled & intricately tooled Binding Boards on view may be almost more valuable than their contents. But most of the books displayed are important in their own right, either as outstanding examples of Medieval Manuscript Illustration, important developments in the Art of Printing, or for their Sacred & Secular Texts.
The Lindau Gospels, for instance, are themselves, page by page brilliant examples of Manuscript Illustration, though the jeweled & tooled front & back covers are so stunning that this priceless volume is seldom shown open. It was created for Charlemagne's grandson, Charles the Bald.
Penultimately, it came to rest in the magnificent Baroque Library of the Great Monastery of St. Gallen, in Switzerland—actually not far from Lindau, across the border in Germany. That voracious book collector, J. P. Morgan, acquired this 880 AD volume in 1901. [The exhibition title card doesn't note what he must have paid for it…]
Mr. Morgan didn't plunder the St. Gall Library, however. Your Reporter was there recently & it is still crammed from floor to–ceiling with Treasures! No Photography Permitted, alas.
When a trove of Coptic Bound Manuscripts was discovered in Egypt in 1910, Morgan purchased some sixty bindings & the manuscripts they enclosed, of course. The Coptic Tracery Binding is judged the finest of surviving Coptic bindings.
Having just studied the trove of English Embroideries at the Bard Gallery—where embroidered book covers are included—I was especially impressed by Morgan's 1638 Holy Bible, bound with the embroidered Arms of Charles I, whose Arms & Image are repeatedly featured at the Bard.
Not all these book binding are Ancient/Antique. Some of them are resplendent triumphs of Art Deco design. Paul Bonet's rayonnant design for Cirque suggests a blaze of radiating Circus Lights.
Among the binding styles on display: Florentine Portfolio, Andreoli, Condé, Roger Bartlett Mosaic, German Chained, Chinoiserie, Cobden Sanderson, Entablature, Parisian Enameled Strapwork, Wiener Werkstätte/Hoffmann, Triple Dos a Dos, Plaquette Decorated, Mearne Mosaic, &&&&&&&&.
Of Special Interest—not only because it contains a number of miniature bound books, but also because of its Former Owner—is Napoleon's Traveling Library!
It has been said: You Cannot Tell a Book by Its Covers. This show certainly demonstrates that folkloric cliché.
At MoMA/The Museum of Modern Art:
[11 West 53rd Street/NY, NY 10019/Phone: 212 708 9400]
PIPILOTTI RIST: Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters)
[Closing 2 February 2009]
Gone is the Barnett Newman Rusted Iron Monolith. Vanished—like his NY Waterfalls—is the Foucault's Pendulum Swinging Electric Fan of Olafur Eliasson.
Now the vast Atrium of the Museum of Modern Art has become a Giant Semi Surround Video Pit. A huge cushy Ring in the center is crammed from opening to closing with Kids & Adults, shoes off, reclining to enjoy the flood of colorful video images conjured up by Pipilotti Rist.
The Moving Images surge over Atrium surfaces 25 feet high & 200 feet wide in almost surround, Wall Projectors protruding as virtual Space Sculptures. It's Hypnotic just to stand & watch, without taking off your shoes & stretching out.
This is an Interactive Artwork that you simply cannot just walk through. It stops you In Your Tracks!
This must be one of the most Popular offerings at MoMA ever!
Too bad it has to come to an end. You fear it will soon be replaced by something appalling or grandiose by Sigmar Polke or Thomas Struh…
Bring back Barnett Newman?
MARLENE DUMAS: Measuring Your Own Grave
[Closing 16 February 2009]
Marlene Dumas' cascade of largely black, gray, & white images is not entirely obsessed with Death, the Hazards of Pregnancy & Birth also being invoked, along with menacing suggestions of Sexuality & Gender. Nonetheless, this impressive mid career Retrospective is, in sum, Depressive.
In fact, considering the ever present hovering flutter of the Wings of Death, why does MoMA refer to this show as MID CAREER?
Is Curator Connie Butler so very sure that Dumas—born South Africa, 1953—is good for another fifty years?
Your Reporter was mugged in Dumas' Cape Town at High Noon in the Main Thoroughfare—after Apartheid—only hours after arrival! So it was a Smart Move for Dumas to have moved on to Amsterdam, where she now conjures up such images as Dead Marilyn—inspired by an Autopsy Photo of Monroe & created for this MoMA show.
There are some 70 Dumas paintings & 35 drawings on view. There are a number of Hanged Women & Dead Bodies, plus Mutilates & Duct Taped Victims. Not to overlook the Dilated Assholes.
The often savage images are Powerful, Arresting, Disturbing. But very few are suitable for hanging Over the Sofa…
ARTIST'S CHOICE: VIK MUNIZ, REBUS
[Closing 23 February 2009]
The emblem of the show is, in itself, an optical narrative.
Brazil's own Vik Muniz is the 9th Validated Artist to be invited to rummage through MoMA's extensive Storage Vaults to assemble a Selective Show, permitting a wide range of Modernist Treasures to be placed On View, without an Art Historical Over Arching Theme, such as Renoir & Monet's Influence on Chuck Close & Marlene Dumas.
Muniz' ingenious image is that of a Rebus, one of those intriguing devices that combines Letters, Numbers, & Reductive Pictures to spell out a Title or Message. But he has used actual Art Works for viewers to Make Connections!
You can be your own Rebus Maker, for Muniz—in Curatorial Speak—has taken "works out of their normal museological classification & context… inviting the viewer to forge intuitive connections between the objects, based on form, color, scale, quantity, function, & pattern. The resulting narrative sequence creates surprising juxtapositions, forming a unique presentation of the Museum's collection."
If this does not work out for you, then you are probably to blame! If only you had majored in Art History…
There is hardly a work in this selection that is not a Delight, a Novelty, a Challenge, or a Discovery that will make your visit to MoMA rewarding. These galleries are fairly crowded, but many of the objects on view deserve close examination & post optical pondering, so you may want to avoid Peak Hours.
Yes, Virginia, both Pablo Picasso & Marcel Duchamp made the Muniz Cut! As did Brand Names such as Rachel Whiteread & Nan Goldin…
HERE IS EVERY. FOUR DECADES OF CONTEMPORARY ART
[Closing 23 March 2009]
This show is a variant on the Artist's Choice Device for getting stuff out of storage, but with a Purpose. More than 100 works in Film, Performance, Photography, Painting, Sculpture, Prints, Drawings, & Videos—have MoMA Curators left out any other form of Artistic Expression?—are included.
Here is the Curatorial Over View: "Here is Every attempts to link today's artists with their historical predecessors from the 1970s…" [Italics Added. –Ed.]
I don't know about you, but, for me, the 1970s seem like Only Yesterday…
Nonetheless, as in Rebus, there are many, many fascinating works on view. You could spend several days really studying both these shows.
The Problem with MoMA's several Re designs & Structural Enlargements is that More & Bigger & Longer Gallery Spaces do not mean that more of the Permanent Collection will be placed on Permanent View.
No, the Stellas & Serras of the Art World simply craft 30 Foot Long Artworks or Installations to hog all the available space…
Incidental Notes: Devastated with Bedbugs & an attendant Re Make of his apartment, Your Reporter missed MoMA's recent Joan Miró show: Painting & Anti Painting, 1927 1937. As well as Projects 88: Lucy McKenzie & New Photography 2008: Josephine Meckseper & Michael Subotzky…
Future Projects will showcase Klara Liden, Song Dong, & Artur Zmijewski!
Sanford Smith's Special Shows:
23rd Annual Modernism at the Park Avenue Armory: A Century of Style & Design, 1905 2005
Mario Minale, The Red Blue Lego Chair, made of Lego bricks. Courtesy Z Modern.
What is still amazing about the Modernism Annual at the Armory is the Available Plenitude of Furniture, Decorative Arts, Artworks, & other Objects by distinguished 20th Century Artists.
You might well wonder why all of these wonderful things are not already in Museums. Well, many of them are, thanks to the Miracle of Industrial Mass Production. Still, Josef Hoffmann's 1924 Wiener Werkstätte brass vase didn't find its way into every Austrian Arbeiter home.
As an Early Collector of Sam Maloof's beautiful furniture, Your Reporter was interested to see Sam's Rocker in one booth. But mine—commissioned early on—cost me only $250. Abel, Gruber, & Tyng were asking rather more, but later Maloof Rockers have longer runners… This booth also had works by George Nakashima, Wendell Castle, & Morton Esherick on offer.
[When the new Renwick Gallery opened in DC, Your Reporter wrote the wall texts for Sam Maloof's section of the initial show, which also featured Castle & Nakashima…]
Although most of these Armory Shows last only three days—with Thursday Eve Benefit Premieres—they are often more interesting in their very Hotch Potch nature than studying Highly Structured Exhibitions in Major Museums.
Outsider Art Fair at the 34th Street Mart
Tutelary 2007 mixed media on paper.
Formerly squeezed into awkward Ground Floor spaces in the Puck Bldg, this year Outsider Art was able to Expand on the spacious 11th Floor of the Mart at 7 West 34th Street. There were some 37 booths, including the Usual Suspects from Galerie St. Etienne & other galleries & dealers known for their interest in Art Brut, Untaught Artists, & even Unbalanced Artists. As in the Artists of Gugging…
Among the Usuals were the Rev. Howard Finster, Henry Darger, Martin Ramirez, Grandma Moses, John Kane, AG Rizzoli, & Morris Hirshfield.
Haitian Voodoo Artists were glitteringly represented.
Among my favorites are George Widener, Damien Michaels, Eugene Andolesk, Gregory Blackstock, Simon Sparrow, Joseph Yoakum, Mose Tolliver, & Stephen Palmer.
At the UBS Gallery:
[UBS Bldg: 1285 Avenue of the Americas/btwn 51 & 52/NY, NY 10019/Phone: 713 2885]
HEYDAY: Frederick W. Glasier's American Circus, 1890 12925
[Closing 23 January 2009]
How Bad can our Economic Collapse really be?
Pete Mardo, 1923. Born in 1881, Peter Guckeyson ran away from home and joined the circus. He performed as a traditional white faced clown under the name of Pete Marlo.
The US may have had to help Bail Out the great Swiss Banking & Investment Giant known as UBS, but it continues to present impressive exhibitions over on Sixth Avenue in the immense UBS Building. It is also a Major Sponsor at MoMA, where some of its extensive Art Collections have been shown.
But it is precisely in Troubled Times that the Arts can do much to relieve the Strains & Tensions of Fiduciary Uncertainty!
Heyday is just such a show! Not only does it feature posed & unposed photos of Clowns, Snake Charmers, Contortionists, Indian Chiefs, High Wire Artistes, Weight Lifters, Freaks, & Lion Tamers, but it also has a number of colorful old Circus Posters.
Who now remembers the Tom Mix Circus, starring that Hollywood Cowboy Hero, Tom Mix?
If you had forgotten about—or never knew of—the Al. G. Barnes Circus, some of its posters are now on view in the UBS Ground Floor Galleries. One of them shows two great Steam Locomotives rushing toward you, but they were never Under Canvas for the Big Show. They were merely "Thundering Through the Dawn Bringing To You All That Is Great in the Amusement World."
Actually, when that circus came to town—Grass Valley, CA—it was correctly called The Al G Barnes & Sells Floto Circus. Eventually, Ringling Bros—who had already digested Barnum & Bailey, who had acquired Al G Barnes—swallowed everything whole…
In fact, the Photos & Posters in the current show are from the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Ringling used to have a showplace in Baraboo,
Ringling Brothers, Army of 50 clowns, Storbridge Lithographing company, circa 1910.
Wisconsin, but all the Memorabilia is now in Florida. Sarasota or somewhere…
As for the unfortunate Tom Mix Circus, it ended up dashed to pieces on the rocky sides of the creek that tortuously wound down the Rough & Ready Grade below Grass Valley. Rushing off to the next show in Marysville, the circus trucks were racing each other, until they found the brakes would not hold on the twisting & precipitous narrow roadway.
Shattered animals had to be shot to put them out of their misery. We kids collected Circus Shards for weeks after…
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