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 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 - pronto

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 . . . .