Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 2001 - We Remember

Remembering and Honoring artist Michael Rolando Richards

We remember our dear friend and colleague artist Michael Richards, who perished in his studio in one of the World Trade Center towers.  Please read about his life and work on About.com: Art History.

He was best know for his Tuskegee Airmen Series.  Here is one:

The Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian, 1999

Please view the permanent installation of Are You Down? on the website for Franconia State Park. 

We still miss you, Michael.

Artist Todd Stone Remembers:

Todd Stone, 4 Raising, 2012

How can we adequate commemorate in art over 3,000 people who perished on September 11, 2001 in the World Trade Center towers, Shanksville, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, plus those who died or live with chronic ailments because they worked at Ground Zero?   Todd Stone answered this question 11 years ago as he witnessed the attacks on the WTC towers from his studio in Lower Manhattan.  He recorded what he saw and he continues to record the rebirth of the site.   Recently he sent me a new image, 4 Raising, which interprets the shiny resilient surface and spirit of this new building at 150 Greenwich Street. 

Upon completion, the buildings at the former WTC should look like this:
A digital illustration of 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 WTC

To learn more about Todd Stone's September 11th series Witness and Downtown Rising, please visit his website: www.toddstone.com and read my review of his 2011 exhibition at 7 World Trade Center, which included poetry readings and other commemorative events.  A film of the events on August 27, 2011 entitled Witness Downtown Rising Renga premiered last March.  The next venue will be Berlin's ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, October 18-21, 2012. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Last Call- French Drawings at NYU's Grey Art Gallery through July 14th

"Storied Past: Four Centuries of French Drawings from the Blanton Museum of Art" and "French Art from NYU's Collection," Grey Art Gallery, New York University, 100 Washington Square East, April 17 through July 14, 2012.

Alexandre-Louis Leloir
Moroccan Girl Playing a Stringed Instrument, 1875
Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on ivory wove paper
9 5/8 x 13 9/16 in.
Gift of the Wunsch Foundation, Inc., 1983

Celebrate Bastille Day 2012 (known in France as Le Quatorze Juillet - July 14th) with a splendid array of French drawings executed from the 16th through 20th centuries. Comprised of 50 drawings from the Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas as Austin and about two dozen more from New York University's permanent collection, these two separate shows feature narratives of heroes, femme fatales, and contemporary street life from the years before and after the French Revolution.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fathers and Sons: Max Ferguson's "Paintings of My Father," 1982-2011*

Max Ferguson: Paintings of My Father, Hebrew Union College, Brookdale Center, One West Fourth Street, New York, April 16 through June 29, 2012

My Father on Fifth Avenue, 2011
oil on panel, 9 1/2 x 12 inches
Collection of the artist

Some critics see Edward Hopper's urban loneliness, some critics see Johann Vermeer's geometry.  I see none of that, really.  Max Ferguson's Post-Modernist Realism is warmer than Hopper's and more complex than Vermeer's.  That complexity doesn't stop with his formal considerations.  Ferguson takes on the complexity of a  relationship.  In this case, the Father and Son Relationship, which has so many dimensions.  From hero worship to disillusionment, from constant camaraderie to unspoken boundaries, fathers and sons slog through different stages of their development together and, hopefully, remain friends.

In Max Ferguson's meticulous paintings of his father Richard Jacob Ferguson sometimes there is truth and sometimes there is fiction.  I asked the artist a few questions so that I might understand his choices.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Last Call: Francesca Woodman at the Guggenheim, closing June 13

Francesca Woodman, Guggenheim Museum
March 16-June 13, 2012

Francesca Woodman, Polka Dots, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976
Francesca Woodman, Polka Dots
Providence, Rhode Island, 1976. 
Gelatin silver print, 13.3 x 13.3 cm. 
© George and Betty Woodman,
 courtesy George and Betty Woodman

One of this season's most important exhibitions is about to close: the first survey of Francesca Woodman photographs in New York since the first traveling retrospective in 1986-88, presented at Hunter College in NY, Wellesley in Massachusetts, University of California at Irvine and Krannet Art Museum in Champaign, Illinois.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Review of Chasing Aphrodite: The Getty Mess Sparks a Summer Sizzler

(originally published in Venice Magazine, July-August 2011, and posted on Chasing Aphrodite Facebook page)

Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino, Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2011)

How would Gustave Flaubert update his Madame Bovary in 2011?  Perhaps, he would recast her as an ambitious art history student, eager to please and aching to get away from a boring working-class life just outside of Boston (Newburyport, to be precise).  Let’s say this updated Emma Bovary completes her degree at NYU and continues on to Harvard for a Ph.D. program but drops out when she meets an older, well-off cardiologist, looking for a trophy wife.

Now this contemporary Emma Bovary first seeks upward mobility through her marriage, just like her nineteenth-century counterpart, and spends far in excess of what her husband’s prenup lifestyle considered reasonable  – just like Flaubert’s Emma who hitched her wagon to a lowly country physician.  Dissatisfied and frustrated, our contemporary Madame Bovary takes $50,000 out of the join bank account to put a down-payment on her own condominium.  No suicide for this desperate housewife.  She got herself a Honda CVCC (surprisingly, not a Porsche) and rode out of the marriage into a heterosexually gay-divorcĂ©e sunlight.

Then what? 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Where in the world is Beth Gersh-Nesic? One year later . . . .

Copy of Victorious Youth, Fano, Italy, overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
Photo: Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, June 8, 2011

One year ago Shelley Esaak posted the question "Where in the World is Beth Gersh-Nesic?" on her About.com: Art History website.   Where was I indeed?   In Fano, Italy, on a press junket that met with President Gian Mario Spacca, right in front of a copy of Atlete di Fano (Victorious Youth),* pictured above.  Here is the story:

One Hot Body – The Getty’s Victorious Youth (aka Atleta di Fano)
In 1977, the Getty Museum bought Victorious Youth for $3.95 million. Now Italy wants it back. An assortment of international journalists were invited to the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan on June 7, 2011 to listen to President Gian Mario Spacca, the governor of the Marche Region, plead his case for the return of the statue to Fano, located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, in the heart of the Marche.  On May 3, 2012  the Italy courts ordered the return of this ancient sculpture - prontohttp://chasingaphrodite.com/2012/05/04/the-gettys-bronze-italian-court-upholds-order-to-seize-a-getty-masterpiece/

Unknown                                                   The sculpture before it was cleaned
Greek, 300 - 100 B.C.
59 5/8 x 27 9/16 x 11 in.

Here’s  the backstory . . . .

Monday, May 28, 2012

Last Call - Steins Collect at the Met, closing June 3

The Steins in the courtyard of 27 rue de Fleurus, ca. 1905, 

From left, Leo Stein, Allan Stein, Gertrude Stein, Theresa Ehrman, Sarah Stein, Michael Stein

Bancroft Library, Berkeley

The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde,  February  28-June 3, 2012, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The poet/critic  AndrĂ© Salmon wrote in his memoir L’air de la Butte (1945): “When we went to poor Rousseau’s home, we dressed as carefully as when we were invited to visit the high society couturier and arts patron Paul Poiret. We dressed even better than when we went to see the Steins, the brother and sister millionaires who came from San Francisco, posed as transatlantic bohemians and lived near the Luxembourg Gardens. On those evenings on the rue de Fleurus, in a study adorned by [Picasso’s] excellent Saltimbanque Period canvases and in a boudoir studded, like stars, with little Renoirs, an ordinary suit from the wardrobe would do.”* 

According to John Richardson, in his second volume of Picasso’s biography,  Gertrude Stein was as capable of following a conversation in French as the artists were capable of following her writings in English – that is, not very well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Last Call - Yorgo Alexopoulos: Transmigrations, through April 5

If you are like me this week, you have no time to stroll through Chelsea for unexpected wonders.  You have to cook and clean and great ready for the holidays - or maybe not.  Maybe you are going to be a guest.  Congratulations - you are in luck.  Now hurry, please, to Cristin Tierney's gallery for the last day of "Yorgo Alexopoulos: Transmigrations," a wondrous video installation packed with images from photos, drawings, paintings and video on 24 flat-screen monitors.  Inspired by Jennifer Bartlett's Rhapsody, a 987-enamel plate installation from 1976 (perhaps one of her best known works), Alexopoulos brings a new dynamic to the grid aesthetic.  Here his quick succession of images plunge us into worlds that touch on nature, fantasy and the beyond - a sort of digital meets spiritual.  We float, we fly, we soar through innumerable realms of visual splendor.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Last Call: Mark Podwal's Haggadah Paintings at Forum Gallery

Mark Podwal: Sharing the Journey, Forum Gallery, February 14 through March 7.

CCAR Press (a division of the Central Conference of American Rabbis), 2012.

With the Lenten season upon us and the Feast of Esther (Purim) almost here (March 7 and 8), can Paschal celebrations for 2012 be little more than one month away?  Yes.  The first night of Passover falls on Good Friday, April 6 (one week later for Orthodox Christians).  Within these four short weeks, vigorous preparations for festival meals take place. Jews completely clean their homes, ridding every crack and crevice of hametz (daily cakes and bread).  Then books (haggadot) that guide the Passover service at the table come out of storage, receive a good dusting and finally end up distributed at each place setting before the guests arrive. 

The haggadah helps the participants fulfill the necessary rituals before and after the Passover meal, which in its entirety is called the seder (the order).  Based on the Greek symposium, either a leader or each member of the dinner party reads from the haggadah while everyone else follows the text.  Some families prefer a set of one edition of the haggadah that everyone follows and some families prefer collecting different haggadot, which tend to liven up the conversation around the table or cause mass confusion.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Patricia Cronin's Memorial to a Marriage in DC exhibition "Bodies and Soul"

Patricia Cronin, Memorial to a Marriage, 2002 in bronze and marble.

Patricia Cronin: Bodies and Soul, Conner Gallery, Washington, DC , Febuary 4 - March 10

In July, this blog celebrated the marriage of New York artists Patricia Cronin and Deborah Kass, whose long-time commitment inspired Cronin's sculpture Memorial to a Marriage, 2002, permanantly installed in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.  The marble mortuary sculpture was accomplish in death that which seemed - in 2002 -  impossible in life.

Now the exhibition of the bronze version of this sculpture, on view at Conner Gallery in Washington, DC, celebrates the transition of this artwork from depicting a dream to immortalizing reality. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Last Call: The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats, through January 29

Ezra Jack Keats, "Crunch, crunch, crunch, his feet sank into the snow." Final illustration for The Snowy Day, 1962. Collage and paint on board. Ezra Jack Keats Papers, de Grummond Children's Literature Collection, McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi. Copyright Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.
The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats, The Jewish Museum, through Sunday, January 29, 2012.

Now that New York has just survived its first snowy day of 2012, it's time to visit or revisit another "snowy day" in the form of Ezra Jack Keats' original art for his enchanting book A Snowy Day (1962).  Born Ezra Jack Katz (1916-1983) to poor Eastern European Jewish immigrants living in Brooklyn, he experienced first hand the pain of antisemitism and being an outsider.  This aspect of his life accounts for his choice of African-American protagonists, featured for the first time in modern American children's literature. 

Best known among all his characters is Peter, the adorable little boy who ventures outside into the snow to make a snowman, snowangels and snowballs.  When he decides to bring one snowball home in his pocket, he discovers - much to his chagrin - that his precious creation has disappeared.  But luckily, more snow falls the next day and he goes out this time with his friend to enjoy another snowy day.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Luminous Modernism in Scandinavia House

Luminous Modernism: Scandinavia Art Comes to America, 1912
Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue at 38th Street, October 25, 2011 - February 2012

Harold Sohlberg, Flower Meadow in the North, 1905
Oil on canvas, 37.8 x 43.7 inches; 96 x 111 cm
The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo

As we celebrate the new year and the rebirth of light after the Winter Solstice, Scandinavia House on Park Avenue gives us one more reason to break out the akavit to commemorate an important occasion: Luminous Modernism.  This exceptional exhibition presents 48 works by 20 artists who participated in a similar exhibition 100 years ago, sponsored by The American-Scandinavian Foundation.  Back then, these young European artists offered a taste of the avant-garde hardly known in the United States - preceding the infamous Armory Show of 1913 (wherein Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending Staircase, No. 2 blew the critics' minds).  Eight of the paintings in the 2011-12 exhibition were included in the 1912 exhibition.