Monday, November 28, 2016

MASTERWORKS: Unpacking Fashion at The Met: Review by Polly Guerin

Ball Gown, Viktor & Rolf spring/summer 2010
Why does fashion matter? Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of the Anna Wintour Costume Center at The Metropolitan Museum of Art says it all, "Our mission is to present fashion as a living art that interprets history, becomes part of the historical process, and inspires subsequent art. Over the seven decades since The Costume Institute became part of The Met in 1946, our collecting strategy has shifted from creating a collection of Western high fashion that is encyclopedic in breadth to one focused on acquiring a body of masterworks."
    The Costume Institute's fall 2016 exhibition, MASTERWORKS: Unpacking Fashion features significant acquisitions of the past 10 years and explores how the department has honed its collecting strategy to amass masterworks of the highest aesthetic and technical quality, including iconic works by designer who have changed the course of fashion history and advanced fashion as an art form  The exhibition runs through February 5, 2017. Image: Self-proclaimed "fashion artists" Viktor & Rolf celebrates their distinct brand with this blue polyester tulle and black silk-synthetic moire embroidered with white plastic sequins from their "Credit Crunch Couture" collection. The striking sculptural form subverts the tradition of a feminine 1950's-style dress bisecting densely stitched clouds of tulle with a flourish intended to evoke the swipe of a chainsaw.
Maison Margiela ensemble with Red Coat 1787-92  
Some newly acquired objects are paired with pieces already in the collection to illustrate the enduring influence of certain master couturiers and iconic historical silhouettes.  In this Maison Margiela ensemble,  (left) John Galliano reinterprets the eccentric dress of dandified young men in post-revolutionary France. The historical influence is evident in the high collar, oversized lapels, and exaggerated coattails, which have been transformed into trailing lengths of silk chiffon. (right) The red wool broadcloth coat from France (1787-92) was worn by raffish young men known as the Incroyables (Incredibles), whose tightly fitted fashions took on extreme proportions. The high, turned-down collar, narrow sleeves, and sharply curved coat fronts create the impression of an elongated figure.

Heidi Slimane spring/summer 2014

     A selection of Charles James structured ball gowns draws attention as do numerous examples of creations by contemporary designers including Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander McQueen and Comme des Garcons.
     Yves Saint Laurent's scandalous 1971 "Liberation" collection featured signature elements of 1940's fashion. (right)The dress at center with a print of bright red lips against a black background belongs to the ready-to-wear interpretation of the collection. (left) In 2014 Yves Saint Laurent creative director Heidi Slimane revived the iconic motif in a white silk crepe blouse, embroidered with lip motifs in white iridescent and red plastic sequins and black glass beads, trousers black wool gabardine.
      The exhibition is a fascinating  If the holidays prove too hectic for you, take this option. The exhibition is featured om the Museum's website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #FashionMasterworks.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Fan mail is always welcome at  Visit Polly's Blogs at and click in the left hand column to Blogs on visionary men, women determined to succeed, poetry from the heart.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

FRAGONARD: Drawing Triumpant at The Met: Review By Polly Guerin

The Swing 1766 Wallace Collection, London 
Whenever I think of Jean Honore Fragonard I recall at best his series on romance,"The Progress of Love," for which he is chiefly known.  It calls to mind his most famous  painting, "The Swing' with its enchanting colorful depiction of an erotic subject that was then in vogue.
    However, the current exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, FRAGONARD: Drawing Triumphant --Works from New York Collections sheds new light on one of the most forward-looking and inventive artists of the 18th century. Now on view through January 8, 2017 at the Met Fifth Avenue, Galleries 691-693,  the exhibition celebrates the artist's achievements as a master draftsman. 
The Armoire (Lover discovered( 1778
    Among the 100 works on paper on view, nearly half are from private collections, some of which will be shown publicly for the first time. Now is your chance to re-discover Fragonard in this rare opportunity to see well-loved masterpieces alongside new discoveries and works that have long been out of the public eye.  The exhibit reveals how Fragonard, one of the most forward-looking and inventive artists of the 18th century was equally skilled in drawing and etching. In this genre, Fragonard explored the potential of chalk, ink and wash to create sheets that were works of art in their own right. As displays of virtuosity and an imaginative spirit, Fragonard's drawings were highly prized from his own day to the present.
     The Armoire was Fragonard's first print and his most accomplished, the culmination of many months immersion in printmaking. A technical tour de force, it would have appealed to contemporary audiences for its entertaining subject.  Furious parents have stormed into their daughter's bedroom, she weeps into her apron while her lover is discovered shame-faced in the armoire.
      The freedom and speed afforded by chalk or wash on paper were particularly suited to Fragonard's improvisational talents and allowed his creative genius to shine.  Among the other subjects for which he is best known are joyful images of daily life, portraits, and landscapes, as well as episodes from the Bible and diverse works of literature from the fantastic to the licentious. The frolicking children, young lovers, and sunlit gardens that spring from his imagination are not weighted down by detail, but rather speak to the viewer's sensitivity and appreciation of the subject.
    The exhibition follows the chronology of the artist's life, from his early training in Paris in 
Fragonard Triumph-Works from New York Collections
the studio of Francois Boucher to his training at the French Academy in Rome, to his return to the French capital, and ultimately to his break with the official arts establishment.  A highlight is the display of all five of the works on paper, three drawings, an etching,  and a gouache, related to the famous composition The Little Park (Le petit parc). Also on view, are many pairs of works whose compositions echo one another, experimental variations on themes, often in different media.
     Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Re-connecting with Fragonard as a master draftsman and printmaker is a challenging experience. Do go with an open mind and find new reverence in Fragonard's genius. Fan mail welcome at  In addition, visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the links in the left hand column to subjects that resonate with your interest.

Monday, October 31, 2016

KERRY JAMES MARSHALL MASTRY at the Met: Review by Polly Guerin

Kerry James Marshall's "Untitled (Vignette) 2012 
The monumental scale and the black beauty of Kerry James Marshall's paintings often evoke familiar themes with black image sensitivity on subjects that often are a Requiem to the 60's a decade synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement.
     Then, too, in the large paintings, some 8 and l/2 x 10 feet, that Marshall has come to be known, art history is also suggestively part of the picture.
     For instance, based on Jean-Honore Fragonard's series on romance, "The Progress of Love," Marshall's "Untitled (Vignette) 2012, places black lovers--a rare subject in Western paintings---frolicking in a pink setting amid heart notes descending form a musical scale, flowers and chirping birds. Marshall gives new dignity to courtship and romance in paintings about Black lovers, that echo universal sentiments of endearment and commitment. Commenting recently Marshall said, "Images don't only express our desirers, but teach us about our desirers."
       KERRY JAMES MARSHALL: MASTRY is the largest museum retrospective to date of the work of Chicago based, American artist, Kerry James Marshall, which opened recently at the Met Breuer and is on view through January 29, 2017. 
      Marshall said, "To be part of the Met's magnificent history has always been my dream.  This is where I always wanted to end up, thankfully while I am still living."
     Encompassing nearly 80 works---including 72 paintings, that span the artist's 35-year career, the monographic exhibit is based on the central concern of redressing the absence of the black figure in the canon of Western art.
Kerry James Marshall's Garden Project series
Black skin is always dominant in Marshall's art---black as you have never seen before. Marshall uses three kinds of black---carbon black, mars black and ivory black and each is subtly different. Look into the depths of the blacks in Marshall's painting, no white has been added, the blacks have absolute value and demonstrate that black can have complexity, be beautiful with rich intensity.
     The exhibition also reunites five paintings of Marshall's Garden Project series, pictures from the mid-1990s that serve to complicate the idea of public housing as bleak or desolate. For the first time in 20 years, included among these is Watts 1963, where the 8-year-old Marshall and his family lived when they first moved to California in 1963.
MARSHALL THE MAN Born in 1955 in Birmingham, Alabama,before the passage of the Civil Rights Act, he grew up in Los Angeles and was witness to the Watts rebellion in l965.  Marshall has long been an inspired and imaginative chronicler of the African American experience. He holds a BFA (1978) and honorary doctorate (1999) from the Otis College of Art and Design. Marshall is a hometown resident of Chicago where has lived since the late 1980s.   The show originated at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.  As a storyteller, Marshall is a born raconteur. In the painting, Souvenir 1 (1997) a middle-aged woman wearing glitter-encrusted golden wings arranges her living room as a shrine to the 1960s civil rights martyrs.  
Kerry James Marshall's "Souvenir 1" (1997)
     Thomas B. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art said, "The exhibition is an important body of work that fills a void in the history if art to tell stories about people we don't usually see at the Met."
     Kerry James Marshall Mastry is accompanied by a variety of educational programs at The Met Breuer, including family tours and exhibition tours. At The Met Fifth Avenue, an all-day symposium "Kerry James Marshall---A Creative Convening: will take place on Saturday January 28, 2017.  Additional information at
     Ta Ta darlings!!!  One visit is not enough to resonate with Kerry James Marshall.You will want to come back to Met Breur another time. The scale of his works are monumental and resonate in some cases with Renaissance magnitude. Fan mail always welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and click in the left-hand column to links to amazing Art Deco divas, visionary men, fashion and poetry.

Monday, October 24, 2016

TEFAF, International Art Fair Comes to New York: Review By Polly Guerin

La Ciel, Art Deco Mystery Clock, Cartier
Maastricht, AKA, TEFAF, (The European Fine Art Foundation) and Artvest Partners introduces the quintessential fair of all art fairs "TEFAF New York Fall" at the Park Avenue Armory through October 26 where 94 art and antique dealers are holding court. To the general public this is an experience not to be missed.
       The fair showcases the world's most illustrious dealers of fine art, design, furniture, and jewelry from antiquity through the early 20th century. In a never before seen environment that carries the signature visual identity of TEFAF Maastricht, Europe's biggest and most prestigious art and antiques fair, it gives visitors a taste of the world-renowned Dutch event that takes place annually in March.
Image Left: Le Ciel, an Art Deco mystery clock with a transparent blue night sky dial embellished with rose cut diamond comet hands and mother-of-pearl and enamel hour markers in the form of stars.Signed at the base 'Cartier Paris Londres NewYork.' Paris 1928. At Siegelson, New York.
     Tom Postma Design has transformed the Armory's 
stately historic rooms into a palace of art. Shrouded in translucent white veils to protect the period rooms on the second floor and awe-inspiring white floral arrangements throughout the cushioned exhibition hall, the treasures on display are prominently showcased against a more modern architectural environment for viewing the museum-quality works of art.   Don't be surprised is you run into museum directors, curators and collectors, just about everyone interested in art. As my cab pulled up in front of the Armory the director of the Morgan Library and Museum was waiting patiently for me to exit. I greeted him and he said, "It's a wonderful show, you'll enjoy it."
Book of Hours of Queen Claude de France
     That is exactly right, the new gossamer white atmosphere invites the visitor to linger, to revisit the dealers, and sit on the many couches that provide a chance to catch one's breath as there is so many museum-quality artifacts to discover.
     Image Right: Book of Hours of Queen Claude de France. Illuminated manuscript on vellum in a gold and enamel binding, comprising 39 miniatures, fully illuminated borders surrounding each of the text pages. Circa 1522-1523, binding in Prague, Imperial workshop, circa 1600. From Antiquariat Bibermuhle AG Heribert Tenschert, Remsen, Switzerland
       Then, too, there are other reasons to linger. Bollinger Oyster Bar on the second floor is another respite where you can enjoy Oysters a la Rockefeller or salmon on brown bread with a glass of champagne. The main floor cafe is another choice worthy of mention. Although it was packed when I was there recently, the overflow sat on the banquets outside.
Art Nouveau Screen an Settee Maison Gerard

There are so many wonderful art works to visually tempt our cultural senses that it can set one's head swirling with imagery, so I cannot mention all of the dealers, but one of my favorites is Maison Gerard, New York City and its Art Nouveau treasures exhibited at the fair.
Image Left: Art Nouveau Screen, Carved maple, walnut, mahogany and satinwood. Signed in inlaid monogram. Italy, circa, 1902.
     To the right: Art Nouveau Settee, painted wood, silk velvet upholstery, typical of Georges de Feure's style at the turn of the twentieth century. The high back with scooping lines, paired with straight legs is reminiscent of pieces De Feure created for the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle.  France,circa 1900.
    TEFAF Coffee Talks take place daily from 10:30 to 11:30 am, Empire Restaurant, Board of Officers Room as follows:
Global Art Networks: Digital versus Physical on October. 25, The Art is at Least Twice my age' Life in the Art Market Under 40, Wednesday, October 26.
Ta Ta Darlings!!! It's been quite an adventure at the TEFAF New York Fall Fair. Don't miss it, but if you do there will be a TEFAF New York Spring in 2017. Fan mail welcome at  Polly's other Blogs can be accessed at her website Just click in the left hand column for topics on visionary men, womendeterminedtosucceed (amazing divas) and fashion historian.

Monday, October 17, 2016

CHARLOTTE BRONTE: An Independent Will at The Morgan: Review By Polly Guerin

Charlotte Bronte 1850 National Portrait Gallery
Charlotte Bronte,  a woman determined to succeed, declared herself "a free human being with an independent will." She was born in the era of The Cult of Domesticity on the desolate moors of Yorkshire, the daughter of an Anglican clergyman. 
   Charlotte and her sisters, and their brother, Branwell,  grew up blighted by domestic tragedy and loss and had to create a world of imagination for themselves. Save for the Parsonage cemetery at their doorstep and monotonous hours exploring the windswept expanses of the moors they were led as teenagers on a path of creative Juveniiia that resulted in plays and hand-made miniature books, illustrated with watercolor images. 
      For Charlotte and her sisters later it was Jane Eyre, Withering Heights, and Agnes Grey that gave the mid-nineteenth century a new concept of women in love and trying to live in society. 
Image Left: Life portrait of Charlotte Bronte, by George Richmond, on loan from London's National Portrait Gallery.
     CHARLOTTE BRONTE: An Independent Will, a new exhibit at The Morgan Library & Museum runs through January 2, 2017. It traces the writer's life from imaginative teenager to reluctant governess to published poet and masterful novelist. The exhibition celebrates the two-hundredth anniversary of Bronte's birth in 1816, and marks an historic collaboration between The Morgan, which holds one of the word's most important collections of Bronte Manuscripts and letters, and the Bronte Parsonage, in Haworth, England which lent a variety of key items including the author's earliest manuscript, her portable writing desk and paintbox, and a blue floral dress she wore in the 1850s.
Bronte's earliest surviving miniature manuscript book
THE MINUSCULE BOOKS Reading of the classics, the bible and Milton, Scott, and Lord Byron to name a few,  fueled the Bronte children's imagination and their games informed their writing, and enhanced their stories. The selection of Juvenilia presented in the exhibition highlights the whimsy and imaginativeness of the Brontes' production.  On one view is Charlotte's earliest surviving manuscript, a tiny handmade booklet. I observed, it is no more than two and a half inches by one and a fourth inches illustrated with watercolor drawings. It presents the story of a little girl named Anne who goes on an exciting journey. Best to use the magnifying glass provided in the exhibit hall to try to see the almost indecipherable writing. Bronte wrote it when she was about twelve. Image Right: Charlotte Bronte's story, beginning "There once was a little girl and her name was Anne ca 1828 Bronte Parsonage Museum.
TEACHING and PUBLISHING: In 1836, when she was nineteen, Bronte entered the Roe Head School where she previously had been a student, as a teacher, but chafed in her new role.  A few years later she took a a short-term position as a governess in a private home, caring for what she called the "riotous, perverse, unmanageable cubs."   Relief came with the largesse of an aunt. Bronte and her sister Emily went to Brussels in 1842 to study and improve their teaching credentials.  It was there that she fell under the influence of her inspiring teacher, Constantin Heger and later suffered years of what appeared to be unrequited love for the married professor.  
Add caption
      As Bronte biographer Rebecca Fraser wrote, "Working as governesses, teaching school, traveling to the continent, and caring for their volatile and tragic brother, Branwell, Charlotte and her sisters led difficult and fiery lives---lives that electrified their fiction, challenged the Victorian Age, and made them the most distinctive, enduring women---and novelists--of their time."
     In 1846, she and her sisters Emily and Anne self-published a book of poems, which by the record sold but one copy, yet was held in esteem by some of her followers. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights. and Agnes Grey followed. The authors retained the pseudonyms they had chosen for their book of poems the year earlier. Charlotte was Currier Bell, Emily, Elias Bell and Anne, Acton Bell.
 LEGACY:  Bronte published her last novel, Villette, in 1853. The following year, at the age of thirty-eight, she married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father's curate. A mere nine months later, she died, most likely from complications of pregnancy.  Bronte's writing continues to have a profound impact on readers throughout the world, and many find her life story just as compelling as much of what lays within the stories parallel her extraordinary life's experiences. A woman who wrestled with her own independence. Charlotte Bronte's, An Independent Will Gallery Talk takes place Friday November 4 at 6 pm Free with museum admission. For further information about programs and the adult workshop visit  
      Ta Ta Darlings!!!  A reading group on Charlotte Bronte's final novel, Villette, in the historic family rooms of the nineteenth-century Morgan House,takes place on Nov. 1 and Dec. 13. Advance tickets are required. I'm going!!!  Polly loves to receive fan mail at Visit Polly's other Blogs at and check the Blog that interests you listed in the left-hand column  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

ROOTS OF KNOWLEDGE: Stained Glass Panorama of History at GSMT October 17 By Polly Guerin

Tom Holdman, Stained Glass Artist and 'Roots of Knowledge'
The most inspiring work of art glass ever created may well be credited to the monumental "Roots of Knowledge" a panorama of history and human drama in stained glass splendor by glass artist Tom Holdman. He was commissioned to create the masterpiece, a series of 80 panels that come together in a vast undulating window that will eventually be 10 feet tall and 200 feet long, and comprising 60,000 pieces of glass.  It begins with fire. The creation of glass, an ancient process re-imagined and relevant today in a new art form, the "Roots of Knowledge" stained glass mural. This behemoth work represents years of painstaking research on the events and people that shaped humankind from the days of the woolly mammoths to the IPhone, and perhaps even more than meets the eye of the beholder.
        Illuminating Knowledge: Creating a Major Stained Glass Installation to Foster Engaged Learning at Utah Valley University is the first Artisan Lecture this fall at The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York, Monday, October 17th, 20 W. 44 St. Free Exhibition viewing, same day, from 11 am to 8:30 pm.  Advance registration recommended, contribution, $10,  to attend the 6:30 pm Panel Discussion and Reception. (Visit for the other free exhibition visiting hours scheduled from October 12 to October 15.
ROOTS OF KNOWLEDGE  Stained Glass Mural utilizes the symbolism of a tree's roots connecting humanity

    This Artisan lecture will be in a panel discussion format and the program will discuss the creation of "Roots of Knowledge," a significant new work of monumental proportion that will soon be installed in the Library at Utah Valley University (UVU) in Orem, Utah. The mural utilizes the symbolism of a tree and the roots that flow through the windows include leaves from part of the world a section is depicting, along with a DNA strand running through the roots and connecting humanity.  Speaking at a Roots of Knowledge UVU meeting the artist said, "Our goal is to create the most inspiring piece of art glass ever created on this earth. I love the medium of glass, there is nothing else like that feeling, it just speaks."
      Rootsof Knowledge invites the public's interest. It is an interactive piece. People will be able to click on a picture of the window and get more information about why the artists on the project choose certain elements.
The program on the 17th will also touch upon the production of stained glass in New York City.
Roots of Knowledge: Conceived by Utah artist and former UVU student, Tom Holdman, and UVU President Matthew Holland, the work was commissioned to celebrate the 75th anniversary of what is today the largest public university in the state. In this program Mr. Holdman and President Holland will speak about the evolution and development as a fusion of art, education, and public spaces.
Tom Holdman  and his mural at Utah Valley University 
Cybele Maylone, Executive Director of Urban Glass in Brooklyn, will give a short lecture, followed by a panel discussion with Tom Holdman and Kate McPherson UVU professor of English, from the Roots of Knowledge team and Rebecca Allan, moderator.

TOM HOLDMAN:  Owns and operates Holdman Studios, Inc., located at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah. His works of art appreciated worldwide and represent many different techniques in glass. In a field where competition can be steep, he has committed himself to producing visually stunning, emotionally moving and inspiring pieces of art that stand the test of time. His journey has included enhancing edifices of all types---private and public, sacred and secular. 
     Tom Holdman is a visionary. Along with the incredible designs that fill his mind are the endless possibilities of how to use those designs to enhance the life experiences of others. Bravo to Tom Holdman, a man who overcame a speech impediment to express his genius in "Speaking Through Glass," which incidentally is also the title of a video documentary created about Tom and aired on PBS.
    Inquiries about this review may be addressed to

Monday, October 10, 2016

MARTIN LUTHER'S REFORMATION: Word and Image: Review by Polly Guerin

Theologian (1483-1546) Martin Luther 
When Martin Luther, thinker, monk, rebel hammered his 95 These to the door of the castle church, the sound reverberated throughout the world. Or so the legend goes.
    His influence spread through Western Europe, with European settlers, to the United States. Lutheran communities scattered across America are all direct beneficiaries of Luther's legacy. 
THE WORD: His weapon was the word. He not only revolutionized the church, but also the way people thought, giving them reassurance and conveying to them the comforting image of a merciful and forgiving God. Luther's 95 Theses constitutes one of the most important documents in German and European history. Luther was a man who defined his time and whose message is as relevant today as it was 500 years ago.
     October 31, 1517 is considered the day the Reformation began, and the 500th anniversary of this momentous event is October 31, 2017. In celebration of this historical landmark the Morgan Library and Museum presents WORD and IMAGE, Martin Luther's Reformation with nearly 100 artworks and objects on loan to the Morgan thorough a collaboration with several German museums, and most of the objects have never been seen before in North America. Exhibit runs through January 12, 2017.
INDULGENCES: Martin Luther forever changed Christianity when he began the Protestant 
Reformation in 16th Century Europe. Luther was given a permanent post at Wittenberg University in 1512. It was the selling of 'indulgences' that drove him to publish his 95 Theses. 
Excerpts from Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses
In 1517, Pope Leo X announced a new round of indulgences to help build St. Peter's Basilica. On October 31, the same year, an angry Martin Luther nailed a sheet of paper with 95 Theses on the university's chapel door.  Though he intended these to be discussion points, the Ninety-Five Theses laid out a devastating critique of the indulgences as corrupting people's faith. Luther pursued further and sent a copy to Archbishop Albert Albrecht of Mainz, calling on him to end the sale of indulgences.  Aided by the fortuitous invention of the printing press, copies of the Ninety-Five Theses spread throughout Germany with two weeks and throughout Europe in two months.

Martin Luther Translated New Testament into German Language
EXCOMMUNICATION: The Church eventually moved to stop the act of defiance.  In 1518 the Church investigated Luther on charges of heresy, and in 1521 he was declared an outlaw by the Holy Roman Emperor. A condemned man he took refuge in Wartburg Castle. While in seclusion, he translated the New Testament into the German language, to give ordinary people the opportunity to read God's word. Though still under threat of arrest, Luther returned to Wittenberg Castle Church in May 1522 and began organizing a new church, Lutheranism.
    His actions fractured the Roman Catholic Church into new sects of Christianity and set in other reform within the Church. Luther's translation of the Bible into the language of the people, radically changed the relationship between Church and their followers.   
    LECTURES and Discussions: November 13th Martin Luther and Anti-Semitism, and December 8th, Social Media and Activism. Gallery Talks: Word and Image October 21 and December 16th.
    Ta Ta Darlings! Did you know..."As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs." With these words, preacher Johann Tetzel vociferously sold indulgences, which promised absolution from sins, and served to finance St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Fan mail welcome. Contact Polly at  Visit her other Blogs listed in the left hand column on