CURATOR'S CHOICE SM
Museums and Exhibitions in New York City and Vicinity
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GLENN LONEY'S MUSEUM NOTES
CONTENTS, FEBRUARY 2014
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.
Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:
At Christie's Auction House: *
TITIAN MEETS WEST SIDE STORY: The Work of Edward Melcarth *
FOOL OF MYSELF: Photos of Kevin W. Burns *
RADIANT LIGHT: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral *
THE LITTLE PRINCE: A New York Story *
A COLLECTIVE INVENTION: Photographs at Play *
VISIONS & NIGHTMARES: Four Centuries of Spanish Drawings *
MEDIUM AS MUSE: Woodcuts & The Modern Book *
GAUGUIN: Metamorphoses *
Report for The Month of February 2014
RAMBLES ROUND MUSEUMS, GALLERIES, INSTALLATIONS, & AUCTIONS--
At Christie's Auction House:
Coming in March: Want to bid on Van Cliburn's Piano? It's an Historic Bechstein, a gift from Van's Mom!
At Bonhams Auction House:
The those Eager Bidders who went to the Big Sale in February could have been described as Going to the Dogs…
The capacious Bonhams Galleries were crammed with Large & Small Portraits of Dogs: Hunting Dogs & Lap Dogs, Westminster Kennel Show Dogs, & Canine Pets.
Even if Fluffy or Sandy had died & gone off to Doggie Heaven, Grieving Owners still had Old Master Style Paintings of what many agree to be Man's Best Friend.
Although you may also see Bonhams occasionally filled with Fillies & Thoroughbreds--Magnets for Lovers of Horses & Racing--you won't find Walls hung with Cows…
At The Forbes Galleries:
TITIAN MEETS WEST SIDE STORY: The Work of Edward Melcarth
[Closing 7 June 2014]
Just imagine what WPA Murals might have looked like had Veronese, Titian, or Tintoretto been Out of Work Artists in the Great Depression!
Born in 1914, Edward Melcarth was too young to Paint Post Offices in the 1930s, but, when he finally Hit His Stride after the 1950s, he was commissioned to create the Decorative Program for the Rotunda of the Hotel Pierre, as well as the Auditorium Ceiling of the Lunt Fontanne Theatre.
His Genius Idea--abandoning the Abstract Expressionism in which he'd been Originally Schooled--was to adopt the Renaissance Color Palette of the Great Venetian Painters!
But, even if he also adopted the Roiling Compositions of a Tiepolo Church Ceiling, he did not paint Baroque Subjects.
Instead, he chose New York City Subway Workers, Striking Auto Workers, Sailors, Lifeguards, Prossies, Everyday People as his Pictorial Portrait Targets.
He made the Cover of LIFE Magazine & was regarded as one of the Most Important Young American Artists, even though he was a Firm Proponent of Figurative Painting, rather than Trendy Abstractions.
Paul Cadmus was often interested in similar Male Visions, but his were more frankly Homoerotic than those of Melcarth.
Nonetheless, Junkie with Open Shirt has a certain Quality about it, but his Nude Portrait of Peggy Guggenheim isn't going to Excite Anyone.
Melcarth's Great Good Fortune was to find a Patron & Collector in Malcolm Forbes, Publisher of that Financial Organ bearing the Forbes Name.
Currently, the Forbes Galleries are Overhung--or Overstuffed--with Large & Small Melcarth Canvases & Studies.
Unfortunately, when Melcarth was finally able to establish Working Residence in Veronese Venice--preparing to do Bronze Casting--his Life was almost Over…
FOOL OF MYSELF: Photos of Kevin W. Burns
[Closing 1 March 2014]
Whatever you may think of Photographers operating out of New Jersey--Hey! Didn't Thomas Alva Edison try some Innovative Images with his Camera Obscura over in West Orange?--Kevin W. Burns is certainly On To Something.
Not exactly On Something, though some of his Hilarious Photo Pranks suggest a Whiff or Two of Controlled Substances.
His Color Photo Print of Light Reading has Books floating in the Air, above a Slumped Reader.
What you now can do with Digital Cameras & Photo Shop Manipulation!
That Guy featured in Head in the Clouds might also be titled Up in the Air.
As for Five Hand Piano, can you guess how many Hands this Prodigious Pianist possesses?
Did someone steal that Roman Bust & leave it standing outside a Village Alleyway, ready for its Close Up in Busted?
Other intriguing Burns Titles include: Fool Steam Ahead, Implants, Double Crossed, Turning Over New Leaves, & The Jerk in the Mirror.
Steve Forbes has been very generous to his Fellow New Jerseyan. Not only has he given Burns this nice little Photo Exposure at Forbes Galleries, but he's also made it a Marketing Opportunity as well!
On the Gallery Wall, there's a Plastic Pocket full of Order Forms for Individual Prints of Selected Photos, all priced at $250 each.
Burns will not only Sign & Number your Choice[s], but he will include the Postage in the Cost.
Any Five Prints will cost you only $1,100, but the Complete PortFOOLio of Sixteen Prints is priced at $2,850.
Burns is certainly no Melcarth--despite the Forbes Seal of Approval, but--who knows?--one of those Portfolios, auctioned at Christie's, just might cover your Mortgage Payment one Dark Day!
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art at The Cloisters:
RADIANT LIGHT: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral
[Closing 18 May 2014]
The Church of England's Prime Shrine is sited in Canterbury Cathedral, founded in 597.
Over the Centuries, there has been some Wear & Tear on the Stone Fabric.
Currently, Window Frame Repairs are being made in the Clerestory of the Cathedral Choir, necessitating the removal of some magnificent Stained Glass Windows.
Six glowing Glass Panels from an Ancestor Cycle--commissioned by the Benedictine Monks in 1178--are now on loan to the Met Museum & are impressively installed at The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park.
The Enthroned Figures are part of a Medieval Cycle that represented 86 Ancestors of Jesus Christ.
Nearly Life Sized, they feature Lamach, Jared, Noah, Abraham, Thara, & Phalec.
If you have never heard of Phalec & Thara, the Authority for the Genealogy is to be found in the Gospel of Luke [3:23 38].
What is especially remarkable about these Canonical Windows is the Richness of the Varied Colors in the Pictorial Glass Sections.
What Pigments, Metals, or other Color Agents were used is still a Mystery.
These Alleged Ancestors are Masterpieces of Romanesque Art, exuding "an Aura of Dignified Power."
According to the Experts: The Angular Limbs, Form Defining Drapery, & Encompassing Folds of the Mantles all add a Sculptural Quality to the Majestic Figures.
But, when the Stained Glass Windows are in place, they are some Sixty Feet above the Cathedral Floor!
When they are back in place, No one will ever see them this Close again…
Even those who have not been to Canterbury Cathedral to see the Ancestor Windows surely have heard about the Canterbury Pilgrims, immortalized by Geoffrey Chaucer.
The Canterbury Shrine is sacred to the Memory of the Martyred Saint, Archbishop Thomas à Becket.
The Absolute Monarch, King Henry II, is said to have said: Will No one rid me of this Troublesome Priest?
Four of his Noble Knights obliged, resulting in both Sainthood & a Play by TS Eliot: Murder in the Cathedral.
Indeed, this Dastardly Deed has become so Infamous that Jean Anouilh wrote another play about it: Becket, or the Honor of God.
Not to overlook William Goldman's The Lion in Winter…
When you go over to England, if you want an Audience with Becket's Successor, His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury, you won't usually find him in his Holy Seat.
No, indeed! He is more likely to be In Residence at Lambeth Palace, in what the Roman Occupation used to call Londinium.
Fortunately, the Romans never occupied The Cloisters, which is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year.
At the Morgan Library & Museum:
THE LITTLE PRINCE: A New York Story
[Closing 27 April 2014]
Considering how Internationally Famous that long ago Night Flight made the French Author/Pilot who wrote & illustrated The Little Prince, it is altogether Fitting & Proper that Air France provided Generous Support for this Charming Exhibition of the Original Manuscript & Watercolor Drawings of that Beloved Tale.
How & Why The Little Prince has a New York Connection has to do with the War in Europe.
Antoine de Saint Exupéry--instead of Flying for Free France against Reichs Marschall Hermann Goering's Luftwaffe--was safely in New York, where he wrote The Little Prince, publishing it here in both English & in French.
Not only the Manuscript, Watercolors, & Sketches, but also Vintage Photographs have been Charmingly Deployed in the Morgan's Major Gallery, along with Children's Play Stations which can make a Trip to The Morgan with Kids a Positive Pleasure.
A COLLECTIVE INVENTION: Photographs at Play
[Closing 18 May 2014]
Long Internationally Known for its Fabulous Collections of Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts & Ancient Seals, the Morgan has just instituted a Department of Photography.
Its First Exhibition presents "an Eclectic Selection of 85 Photographic Works, arranged in a Continuous Sequence that provocatively links Images divergent in Format, Scale, Process, & Historical Period."
Well, There You Have It!
If this sounds rather like a Hodge Podge of Photos, Think Again!
In fact, this Show draws on Images ranging from Folk Art to Conceptual Art & from Astronomy to Law Enforcement.
The Morgan's Press Release further explains: "It also Highlights the Creative Role played by Collectors in bringing the Many Voices & Purposes of the Medium [Photography is certainly a Medium, no?] into Critical Focus…"
Focus is especially an Apt Word Choice, considering that this is all about Photography.
Aha! It may well be that this Exhibition is also about Showcasing Collectors, as well as their Loaned Photos.
Twenty Five Private Collectors have shared Their Treasures…
This also gives these Images an Added Provenance, which could prove useful whenever Hard Pressed Collectors have to send the Photos to Christie's for Auction!
One of the most interesting features of this Eclectic Exhibition is a Sign Collection that reaches up to the Ceiling of the Wall by the Entrance Door.
All of these Signs--some in Hebrew & Chinese--have the same Essential Message: NO PHOTOGRAPHY!
VISIONS & NIGHTMARES: Four Centuries of Spanish Drawings
[Closing 11 May 2014]
Recently in Madrid, at the Prado, I marveled at a Chamber filled with Goya's Capricchios, but absolutely No Photography was allowed.
Now, at the Morgan, you can also see some of the Haunting Visions of Francisco Goya y Lucientes--certainly not an Entire Room of them--but there is also No Photography.
Murillo & Ribera are also on view, along with other Greats from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Centuries.
Best of all is the 1780 Illustrated Edition of Cervantes' Don Quixote…
MEDIUM AS MUSE: Woodcuts & The Modern Book
[Closing 11 May 2014]
One Picture may well be worth a Thousand Words, but if it's a Twentieth Century Woodcut by Lynd Ward or by Otto Nückel, it will be only One in a Highly Styled Series that Tells a Story Without Words.
Forget about Marvel Comix: Super Heroes still have to have Words in those White Bubbles.
In Wild Pilgrimage: A Novel in Woodcuts, Lynd Ward has created an Art Deco Fantasy that's astonishing.
More Astonishing--even Shocking--are the Boldly Savage Woodcuts in Destiny: A Novel in Pictures which show us Weimar Era Sexual Corruption, as envisioned by the almost forgotten Otto Nückel.
At the Morgan, ordinarily you only get to see Two Open Pages of a Richly Illuminated Medieval Manuscript.
In this Show, you initially see Lynd & Nückel's Actual Volumes in their Original Dust Jackets. But, of course, Un Opened.
Fortunately, through the Miracle of Video, you can follow their Entire Visual Narratives on a Monitor Screen!
These Artist Story Tellers are only two among many Talents who employed Woodcuts to make Printed Books into Works of Art in the Early Twentieth Century.
Also on view are wonderful Arts & Crafts Creations by William Morris, Eric Gill, Vanessa Bell, & others who were published by the Kelmscott & Hogarth Presses.
William Blake is also on hand, but more as a Precursor of modern Illustrated Books.
The Elegant Visions of Stage Genius Edward Gordon Craig take their place alongside those of William Nicholson.
Also Exposed: Max Ernst, Félix Vallotton, Alfred Jarry, Gustave Doré, Walter Crane, Edward Burne Jones, Lucien Pissarro, & Ernst Ludwig Kirchner…
At MoMA--The Museum of Modern Art:
[Closing 8 June 2014]
Although you will find early Gauguin Images of Breton Women in this intriguing Exploration of both Paul Gaugin's Subject Matter & Work Methods, it is not a Painterly Chronology.
Instead, it documents the Artist's Experiments with various Media & Materials.
Here are rarely seen Ceramics, Woodcuts, Planar Wood Carvings, & Wood Sculptures, with Exotic Visions from Polynesia predominating.
Not only do certain Female Images recur, but Elemental Horses also find Favor.
In this Colorful Show, there are some 160 Artworks, 130 of them Works on Paper.
Print Makers should be especially interested in studying the Successive Images pulled from Woodcuts worked & reworked.
In addition to Gauguin's Trade Mark Oil Paintings, Four Sections are devoted to Special Methods:
1] Zincographs--The Volpini Suite, which involved drawing on Zinc Plates rather than the Limestone Slabs traditionally employed in Print Making.
Instead of fine Hand Made Paper, for his Off Prints, Gauguin used a vivid Yellow Paper, more often used for Commercial Posters.
Named for the Café Volpini, where the Suite was exhibited, these Prints included images from Brittany, Martinique, & Arles, where Gauguin had gone to work alongside his friend, Vincent Van Gogh.
They both had the same Dealer: Vincent's Brother, Theo Van Gogh--who could never sell a Van Gogh Canvas while Vincent was alive…
2] Woodcuts--The Noa Noa Suite & the Vollard Suite, which were both inspired by Visions of Life in Tahiti. The second Suite was named for the Parisian Art Dealer, Ambroise Vollard.
Gauguin had changed Dealers…
3] Watercolor Monotypes--Evanescent, Ghostly: these Images were usually made by Water Based Color on Metal or Glass Plates, transferred to Damp Paper by Rubbing or in a Press.
Gauguin's Practice is something of a Mystery, for he may have used a freshly painted Image on Paper, pressing that to the Plate, then making a Print Image from that.
4] Oil Transfer Drawings--Gauguin discovered & developed this Unusual Technique in 1899, but he is the only Notable Artist who seems to have been able to make Effective Use of it.
This Art Option--unlike a Woodcut, which can yield many, many Copies--produces only Two Images, but, as they are on Opposite Sides of the same piece of Paper, Multiples are out of the question.
Gauguin would roll Printer's Ink onto any kind of Paper. Then he would place another Paper on top of it.
As he drew on the Exposed Surface, his Pencil or Stylus Sketch would also be repeated--in Reverse--on the other side, from Oil picked up from the Inked Sheet.
This can be Messy, but it's an almost Forgotten Method that's Worth a Try, even for an Amateur.
You do not have to Book a Flight for Tahiti to look for Subject Matter either…
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