Monday, June 18, 2018

SUMMER OF MAGIC at New-York Historical Society: Review By Polly Guerin

An enchanting adventure into the magical world of illusion and mesmerizing feats of dare devil fate invites children and adults with childlike wonder and awe to an unforgettable SUMMER OF MAGIC at the New York Historical Society on display through September 16, 2018.
      With an exciting, museum-wide line-up of mesmerizing displays, evening programs, family
activities, and free films the exhibit offers a historical spectacle of magic and the magicians, like the legendary Houdini, who became famous performing death-defying feats. 
      You may not be an aficionado of the magic genre but at his exhibit you will surely respond to the opportunity to discover the tricks, illusions and escapes that mystified audiences in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Then, too, the historical reenactors portraying the great illusionists of the past will invite you to try your hand at magic tricks, learn about mind reading, women in magic, tragic performances, unsolved mysteries, and more.
       The exhibition features highlights from the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts and the unrivaled treasure trove of magical historical artifacts from Emmy Award-winning illusionist David Copperfield's private collection. Image: middle-Harry Houdini's Milk Can, ca. 1908. Copperfield Collection. Photo Glenn Castellano. 
     Displays showcase iconic objects used by Harry Houdini in his famous escape stunts,
culminating with the spectacular installation of the DEATH SAW, one of Copperfield's ground-
Harry Houdini Artifacts
breaking illusions.
     Recalling his childhood experiences Copperfield related how his family endorsed, his passion for magic. "Every week my mother took me to Macy's," Copperfield told an enthralled audience. A re-creation of a magic shop includes archival information on how Copperfield learned magic tricks at MACY'S MAGIC COUNTER,  where magic demonstrator, DannyTsukalis (1965) 
mesmerized the young Copperfield, who learned magic there.  David was already an accomplished conjurer by the age of twelve, and at sixteen, he was an adjunct professor at New York University, where he taught a course called 'the Art of Magic."  Copperfield is an artist with numerous accolades in the fields of television, Broadway shows, literature and in popular culture. He is the first illusionist to be honored with a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
Handcuffs used by Harry Houdini
     Family fun takes on Saturdays and Sundays during the Summer of Magic when the magical past comes to life with historical magicians, fortune tellers, escape artists and other marvelous illusionists from the past---all portrayed by Living Historians from the present. Image: Handcuffs used by Harry Houdini for the Daily Mirror challenge, 1904. Photo Homer Liwag. 
For in depth information about Summer of Magic and its related programs, visit the museum's website: Would be magicians and illusionists will have a wide scope of subject matter to attract their attention, such as the Magic Workshop, Tuesday, August 7 at 7pm with Jeremy the Magician, when everyone will learn more astonishing magic to wow their friends. No prior magic experience is necessary. Then, too, there's Parlor Mind Reading, Tragic Magic, The Escape Game to name a few. SUMMER OF MAGIC Free films on pay-as-you-wish Friday evenings---free film screening's including Houdini, Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles, and War of the Worlds, and more.
Ta Ta Darlings!!! I can't wait to attend Women in the Golden Age of Magic, when magician Margaret Steele tells tales about the first glamorous female illusion partners.  Fan mail always welcome Visit Polly's website at to click on links
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Saturday, June 16, 2018

VANISHED!!! Old New York's Past By Polly Guerin

Landmarks in peril sound the alarm
Old New York is losing its charm

Neighborhood treasures disappear
Demotion inevitable, this I fear

The Sunshine Cinema closed for good
Petitioners wondered not understood

The walls of sacred places on the log  
And the 168-year old Hagadol Synagogue

Structures keep vanishing each year
Losing our color past is very clear

The wrecking ball struck a 173-old
Building on East Houston Street

The old city is quickly swept away
All that was wonderful in its day

Stamping out the varied landscape
For rising glass places in the sky

Why, Why Why do let us rally and protest
Save the varied urban landscape at its best.

All that makes New York City unique
The wrecking ball continues to deplete.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders at the Morgan: Review by Polly Guerin

Artists in the Middle Ages were ahead of their time with marvels of imagination. They filled the world around them with dragons, unicorns, and other fabled beasts to inventive hybrid creatures that captivated the imagination of medieval men and women, just as they continue to fascinate us today.                                                     Image: The Taming the Tarasque, from Hours of Henry VIII, France, Tours, ca.1500. The Morgan Library and Museum, MS H.8 fol Photography by Graham S. Haber, 2013.                                                          Drawing on the Morgan Library and Museum's superb collection of illuminated manuscripts, this major exhibition MEDIEVAL MONSTERS; TERRORS, ALIENS, WONDERS, the first of its kind in North America, is on view through September 22, 2018. It explores the complex social role of monsters in the Middle Ages and brings together approximately seventy works spanning the ninth and sixteenth century ranging from illuminated manuscripts and tapestry to metalworks and ivory.                                                                               Medieval Monsters leads visitors through three sections based on the ways monsters functioned in medieval societies. "Terrors" explores how monsters enhanced the aura of those in power, be they rulers, knights, or saints. Throughout the Middle Ages, rulers capitalized on the mystique of monsters to enhance their own aura of power. By embellishing all manner of luxury objects with monstrous imagery, the nobility and clergy could also reinforce and dramatize their own authority.                                                                         In the modern world, the term alien is most strongly associated with extraterrestrials but in the Middle Ages, however, aliens were very much inhabitants of our world. The second section on "Aliens" demonstrates how marginalized groups in European societies—such as Jews, Muslims, women, the poor, and the disabled—were further alienated by being depicted as monstrous. Women, the poor, the mentally ill or physically impaired could all be made monstrous by medieval artists.  
The final section, "Wonders", considers a group of strange beauties and frightful anomalies that populated the medieval world. Whether employed in ornamental, entertaining, or contemplative settings, these fantastic beings were meant to inspire a sense of marvel and awe in their viewers.                                                    Image: Siren, from Abus du Monde (The Abuses of the World) France, Rouen, ca.1510. The Morgan Library and Museum, MS M.42, fol.15r. Photography by James Chiu, 2017.                                  "In the medieval world the idea of the monstrous permeated every level of society," said Colin B. Bailey, director of the Morgan Library and Museum, "from rulers, and the nobility and the clergy, to agrarian and urban dwellers alike.  Artists of the Middle Ages captured this phenomenon in images of beings at once familiar and foreign to today's viewer."
        Exhibition related firms, free with museum admission include King Kong vs Godzilla, July 13, 7 pm, Pans Labyrinth, July 27, 7 pm. Gallery Talks
include June 29 and July 20, l pm. A family program, Monstrous Masterpiece takes place Saturday June 16 11 am-1pm. Participants will join New York City-based artist Max Greis to create monstrous creatures with beastly painted paper and their favorite real and make-believe elements.
Ta Ta Darlings!!! Enough, enough, need I say more, this is a fascinating exhibit that may strike terror in your heart or amuse by the mere monstrosity of the images.
Fan mail welcome at  I invite you to visit Polly's Blogs at Click on the link in the left-hand column to the Blog that resonates with your interest on fashion, determined women, visionary men or poetry.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The MAGIC OF HANDWRITING at the Morgan: Review by Polly Guerin

Peering into the intimate lives of the great artists, poets and historical figures is the focus of the new exhibition THE MAGIC OF HANDWRITING, but this exhibit is not about handwriting itself. It is about the "magic" that one finds in handwritten correspondence that intimately connects us back to the everyday life with the people who marked the page.
      Left: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). The concluding portion of an autograph, letter signed to his father, Leopold Mozart, (Mannheim) 7 February 1778 in which the-two-year-old composer ventures to make his own decisions regarding his musical career rather than following his father's strict instructions.   Collection of Pedro Correa do Lago. 
      Culled from Brazilian author, the Pedro do Lago's collection, 140 items are on display with letters and manuscripts in the hands of such other luminaries as Vincent van Gogh, Emily Dickinson, Albert Einstein, Marcel Proust and Jorge Luis Borges and others.  Musical compositions and inscribed photographs and documents included, some never been publicly are mesmerizing insights into private lives of historical figures.
THE YOUNG COLLECTOR At the age of eleven, Pedro Correa do Lago began writing to individuals he admired. The English novelist, R.R.R Tolkien, Lord of the Rings fame, may have declined to send him anything, but scores of others did. Mr. Correo do Lago shares the passion of the Morgan's founder, John Pierpont Morgan, for collecting letters and manuscripts that bear the handwriting of some of the most influential figures in Western history and culture. 
        "From the time I was very young I have derived enormous pleasure from collecting autographs, which serve as tangible link that defy the passage of time," said Mr. Correa do Lago. "I am thrilled to be able to share of the manuscripts and letters that have brought me such joy and to do so within the library of one of the greatest American autograph collectors."
HISTORY:  Early letters document the personal and political relationships of Western Europe's monarchs and scions. Twentieth-century historical letter bring to life moments and relationships of great drama. In 1917, Dutch-born dancer known as Mata Hari writes a desperate plea from prison after being arrest on charges of espionage in 1947.  Tender moments inscribed in letters share the intimacy of love. At the age of eighty, his handwriting shaky after a recent stroke, Winston Churchill sends a letter to Pamela, Lady Lytton, his first
great love saying, "I am getting older now the trappings of power and responsibility have fallen away, and I totter along in the shades of retirement.ART: The items on view span more than four centuries and include examples of the handwriting of some of the leading artists in modern Western history including Benvenuto Cellini, J M W Turner, Monet, Henri Matisse and Frida Kahlo. The earliest work on view in this section is a small, hitherto unpublished block drawing with notes by Michelangelo, dated ca 1518. More than four hundred years later, in 1949, Henri Matisse wrote a note to his friend Albert Skira, the Swiss art publisher, filling more than half the page with a crayon sketch, thus turning
a personal letter into an intimate work of art.
       Image: Henri Matisse (1860-1954). Autograph note signed with initials, to Albert Skira 16 February, 1949. Collection of Pedro Correa do Lago (c) 2018 Succession
H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
MUSIC and PERFORMING ARTS; On view is an extremely messy
draft page for The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanculla del West), which reveals the energy and frenzy in which Giacomo Puccini composed. Then, too, there are examples of the handwriting of Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig von Beethoven to a signed sketch of the dancer, Vaslav Nijinsky by Jean Cocteau.  
Finally inscribed photographs of some of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth-century include entertainers Billie Holiday, the Marx Brothers, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and even the Beatles. Their handwriting and signatures serve as reminders of their unique personalities. 
       Image: Signed photograph of Josephine Baker (1905-1975) inscribed to Mille Le"Dunf," Paris, 1930; Photograph by R. Sobol. Collection of Pedro Correa do Lago.
LITERATURE Extraordinary personal communications in the show include one of only tow know surviving letters from Oscar Wilde, author of Dorian Gray to Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, and extremely complimentary letter from Gustave Flaubert to Victor Hugo, and a charming letter from twelve-year-old Ernest Hemingway asking his father if they might go see the Chicago Cubs play that weekend (it will be a dandy game"). 
Emily Dickinson writes "To be remembered is next to being loved, and to be loved is Heaven, and is this quite Earth? I have never found it so." HER LETTER IS A REMINDER THAT HANDWRITTEN LETTERS PROVIDE A POWERFUL MEANS OF REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE LIVING AND DEAD.
       Ta Ta Darlings!!!   If you love history as I do, scanning the private writings of the world's most famous people, is worthy of a visit to the Morgan.  I adore receiving fan mail, please respond to and visit Polly's other Blogs on 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Canova's GEORGE WASHINGTON at The Frick; Review By Polly Guerin

George Washington in Marble: By the time it was decided in 1816 to create a statue of George Washington, the first president of the United States and American Revolutionary War hero, the president had been dead for sixteen years. To accurately depict the features of the past president was at the core of the problem. Such was the dilemma of the General Assembly of North Carolina
who wanted to  commission a full-length statue of George Washington be commissioned to stand in the rotunda of the State Capitol, in Raleigh. Thomas Jefferson, by then a former president, suggested Antonio Canova, one of the most famous sculptors in Europe.
       The Frick Collection unravels this intriguing story in an exhibit CANOVA'S GEORGE WASHINGTON that addresses Canova's only work for the United States on view  May 23 to
September 23, 2018.  
Image: Antonio Canova, Modello for George Washington, 1818, Plaster, Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova, Possagno Fondazione Canova onlus, Possagno; photo
Fabio Zonta.
Antonio Canova Modello for George Washington 1818
       The undaunted task of replicating a true likeness of Washington involved several artists. Of the available models to use to reproduce Washington's features, it seemed that a painting, possibly one by Gilbert Stuart, would be most suitable.
       In the end, however, a sculptural model was preferred. Only two sculptures of Washington had been created from life: one in 1785 y Jean-Antoine Houdon and the other in 1791 by Giuseppe Ceracchi.  They are both shown together in this exhibition.
GIUSEPPE CERACCHI Deserves due credit. Ceracchi, an Italian sculptor, had visited the United States on two occasions, in 1790-1790 and again in
1794-1795, and had portrayed a number of American figures, including the president. 
      Conrad Appleton, American Counsel in Livorno and Thomas Jefferson agreed that the Ceracchi, of which Appleton happened to own a plaster bust, was "the best effigy of George Washington ever executed."
       Side note: Ceracchi life was cut short; he was condemmed for conspiring against Napoleon, in Paris and was guillotined in 1802. However, his bust of Washington, hugely popular and widely reproduced---was sent by Appleton to ANTONIO CANOVA and faithfully followed by the sculptor. Image: Giuseppe Ceracchi's George Washington, ca. 1791-92, Terracotta,
Nantes Metropole, Musee d'arts (c) Nantes Metropole-Musee d'arts de Nantes. Photographie: C.CLOS.
Giuseppe Ceracchi's Terracotta Image
       The Frick Collection presents Canova's George Washington, in an exhibition that examines the history of the artist's lost masterpiece. The show brings together for the first time all of the objects connected to the creation of the sculpture---including a remarkable life-sized modello that has r before left Italy---and tells the extraordinary transatlantic story of this monumental work. 
ANTONIO CANOVA The sculptor worked on the statue of Washington in Rome between 1817 and 1820. He began work in the summer of 1817, producing a number of drawings and three-dimensional sketches in preparation for the life-size modello which occupies center stage in the Museum's Oval Room. 
         Once he had produced a final small bozetto, he began creating the life-size model, referencing Ceracchi's terracotta bust for Washington's features.
         It is interesting to note, that while working on the sculpture, Canova, had assistants and his half-brother
read aloud a history of the AMERICAN REVOLUTION. He later wrote, in admiration, of "the immortal Washington---the genius who has performed such sublime dead, for the safety and liberty of his country." Canova had worked on the life-size marble sculpture for four years and in 1821 it was delivered to North Carolina to reside in the State House in Raleigh.  The sculpture was inaugurated with great fanfare on Christmas eve.        
Antonio Canova 
Canova's statue, however, was on view for less than a decade. In the early morning of June 21, 1831, a fire destroyed the Raleigh State House and The monumental statue that had been described as "the boast and pride of North America." Were it not for the "awful calamity," Canova's sculpture would today be one of the most important artistic treasures from the early history of the United States.

       Running concurrently with the Frick exhibition is Canova e la Danza (Canova and Dance) at the Italian Cultural Institute featuring sixteen newly restored tempera paintings dating from 1799 to 1806, which have never before been seen in the United States. A show at the Consulate General of Italy in New York features the work of photographer Fabio Zonta who documented Canova's sculptures at the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova in Possagno. Both exhibitions will be on view May 23 through June 28, 2018.
Image: Antonio Canova 1819-20  by Sir Thomas Lawrence, oil on canvas. Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova, Possagno Fondazione Canova onlus, Possagno.
TA TA DARLINGS!!! It's a wonder, it's part of early American history and it's worth spending time at the Frick. Accompanying the exhibition is a beautifully illustrated catalogue that examines
the fascinating history of the Canova's lost American masterpiece. the book is available in the Museum Shop. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs on fashion,
determined women, visionary men and poetry on and click on the links in the left-hand column.

Monday, May 14, 2018


Artist in Residence JULIA BULLOCK
Visiting a museum today is not just about the art works and statues it's become something more performance-centric connecting entertainment to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's iconic METLIVEARTS series and Artist in Residence programming. Throughout 2018-1019, leading artists will connect with the museum's exhibitions and individual works of art through original commissions and site-specific performances.
      Believe me, this is an innovative approach in the life of this storied cultural institution.  It is a transforming experience, particularly in the galleries, where music and dance interact, respond to and are inspired by the works of art and sculpture.
     The stunning opera singer Julia Bullock has created five programs that will be presented throughout the year. This is an impressive feat for the bi-racial St. Louis born singer, as most opera singers don't even begin their careers till 28, she will be able to add The Met to her resume, as their new Artist in Residence. Her residency will include collaborations with renowned guest performers and will draw on the lives, legacies and words of Josephine Baker, Langston Hughes, and Thornton Dial, among others.                    Hailed as "opulent and glorious" by Opera News, Bullock brings her rich and resonant soprano vocals to poems by Langston Hughes, such as, "Harlem,"  "Genius Child," and "Song for a Dark Girl," in which she will be joined by other stellar performers. (December 2, 3 p.m., The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium). 
       An all new chamber music version of contemporary master John Adam's Christmas oratorio, El Nino is also on the schedule. In Meditations for Josephine, January 2019, Bullock will re- imagine Josephine Baker on the steps of The Met's Great Hall.  
SONNAMBULA at The Met Cloisters 
      The 2018-19 season also features a new artist residency focusing specifically on The Met Cloisters The historical performance ensemble SONNAMBULA will invigorate the location's medieval galleries through a series of concerts that bring a contemporary sensibility to the group's historically informed performances. During their residency at The Met Cloisters, Sonnambula will perform with world -renowned artists including the renaissance wind ensemble Piffaro, lute virtuoso Esteban La Rotta and author and photographer Teju Cole.
      "MetLiveArts commissions powerful artists to explore the Museum's collection and create relevant thought-provoking performances," said Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met.
"This upcoming season of programming will connect our three locations with a broad and diverse audience, creating new pathways for engagement with our exhibitions and encyclopedic collection and exhibitions."
IT'S SHOWTIME NYC! Among the seasons other highlights The Met's Department of Arms and Armor will showcase dance performances in the Arms and Armor Court, Battle! Hip-Hop in Armor in which the world hip-hop dance culture collides with the bygone age of armor when these freestyle dancers meet chainmail, leather, and metal armor from around the world. The MetLiveArts has commissioned the fierce artists of it's Showtime NYC! from the South Bronx's Dancing in the Streets urban dance organization to preform a series of pop-up dance battles in the gallery wearing pieces from The Met.
       The MetLiveArts explores contemporary performances through the lens of the Museum's exhibitions and gallery spaces with an extensive and multi-faceted line-up of performances.For program information information, visit For tickets visit or call 212.570-3949. Tickets are also available at the Great Hall Box Office, which is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. 
      Ta Ta Darlings!!! The MetLiveArts world premieres and site-specific performances have been named some of the most "memorable" and "best of" performances in New York City by the New York Times, New Yorker and Broadway World. Innovative and mesmerizing the MetLiveArts is the new way to go for an unforgettable entertainment experience. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and click in the left hand column to the Blog for a direct link to the Blog that meets your interest.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Ecclesiastical Fashion Show at the MET: Review By Polly Guerin

Evening Coat Cristobal Balenciaga for House of Balenciaga
Fashion is becoming more than ever devout and the worshipers trending this inspiration include Christian Dior, Gianni Versace, Cristobal Balenciaga, Valentino, Dolce &Gabbana and Yves Saint Laurent, to name a few. Their fashion garments culled in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's fascinating Spring exhibition, HEAVENLY BODIES: FASHION AND THE CATHOLIC IMAGINATION, opens to the public this Thursday, May 10th.  Image 1 (left) El Greco, Cardinal Fernando Nino de Guevara (1541-1609), Oil on Canvas; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, H.O Havermeyer Collection Bequest f Mrs. H. O. Havermeyer (1929); Image (c) Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image 2 (right( Evening Coat, Cristobal Balenciaga for House of Balenciaga, autumn/winter 1954-55; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Digital
Collection Scan by Katerina Jebb.
      Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, at the press opening this morning, responded to something that may have been on the minds of some of the attendees; "You may be asking, what's this church doing here?" He explained that the Catholic imagination embodied not only truth and goodness, but beauty, too! "The truth, goodness and beauty of God is revealed all over the place, even in fashion," he said. 
Dolce & Gabbana
The thematic exhibition is presented in three distinct gallery locations---the medieval galleries and the Anna Wintour Costume Center where a group of papal robes and accessories from the Vatican occupy space and at The Met Cloisters. 

       "Fashion and religion have long been intertwined, mutually inspiring and informing one another." said Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. "Although this relationship has been complex and sometimes contested, it has produced some of the most inventive and innovative creations in the history of fashion."
        Approximately 150 ensembles, primarily women's wear from the early 20th century to the present captivate your attention in the medieval galleries alongside religious art from The Met collection, providing visitors with with a mesmerizing view of fashion's engagement with Catholicism. "Fashion and religion have long been intertwined, mutually inspiring and informing one another," added Bolton. Some designers initially told Bolton that their work wasn't influenced by religion, but later added that it played a roll in their creative imagination.     
Modern Nuns and Parochial Schoolgirls
The ecclesiastical fashions are obviously from couture collections where the runway shows are more about fantasy and entertainment than wearable art.  Nonetheless, fashionistas will be making a pilgrimage of sorts to view the collections enriched with religious symbolism, tiaras encrusted with thousands of diamonds, emeralds and rubies, papal cloaks and vestments encrusted with gold

embroidery richly designed with a Midas touch.  
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! This is one fashion statement you do not want to miss, which includes some rather parochial school-inspired black garments, a Chanel wedding gown inspired by a communion dress and saintly gowns with gold crowns to match. Fan mail welcome, please email  Visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the Blog link in the
left hand column to the subject that interests you on visionary men, women determined to succeed, the fashion historian and poetry from the heart.