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.