Monday, August 6, 2018

BRANCUSI, The Originalist at MoMA: Review By Polly Gueri

Mille Pogany, Version 1 1913 
Constantin Brancusi's risk taking and inventive approach to form changed the course of the art that followed. As such he is often regarded as the most important sculptor of the 20th century.  
       "Simplicity is not the end of art. We usually arrive at simplicity as we approach the true sense of things."   Constantin Brancusi quote           
        The Museum of Modern Art's exhibition celebrates MoMA's extraordinary holdings---eleven sculptures by Brancusi are shown together for the first time alongside drawings, films and photographs. A selection of never-before-seen archival materials shed light on his relationship with friends, sitters, and patrons On view through November, 2018
      Looking back at the first showing of Constantin Brancusi's work in the 1913 Armory Show, one writer reflected that sculptures on view were "disturbing, so disturbing that they completely altered the attitude of a great many New Yorkers towards a whole branch of art." 
       Indeed Brancusi's beguilingly simple forms looked like nothing else, then or since. This sculpture is a portrait of Margit Pogany, a Hungarian artist who sat for Brancusi several times, while she was in Paris studying painting. Shortly after her return to Hungary, Brancusi carved a marble Mille Pogany from memory, then cast four versions, including this one in bronze. The work was a significant departure from conventional portraiture. Large almond-shaped eyes overwhelm the oval face, and a black patina represents the hair. As with other motifs, this was a subject Brancusi would return to and rework in the years to come.
     
Bird in Space,  1928
His visionary sculptures often exemplify ideal and archetypal representations of their subject matter. Bearing icon titles such as Fish, Princess X and Bird in Space, his sculptures are deceptively single, with their reduced forms aiming to reveal hidden truths. Unlike Auguste Rodin, for whom Brancusi briefly assisted early in his career, Brancusi worked directly with his materials pioneering the technique of direct carving, rather than working in plaster or clay models. 

       Explaining that "The artist should know how to dig out the being that is within matter." Brancusi sought to create sculptures that conveyed the true essences of his subjects be they animals, people, or objects by concentrating on highly simplified forms free from ornamentation. While many regarded his work as abstract, the artist disagreed; he insisted on representational nature of his works, asserting that they disclosed a fundamental, often concealed, reality.
     Brancusi once said, "Do not look for obscure formulas or mystery in my work. It is pure joy that I offer you. Look at my sculptures until you see them. Those closest to God have seen them"
       Brancusi's work was largely fueled by myths, folklore, and "primitive" cultures.These traditional old-world sources of inspiration formed a unique contrast to the often sleek appearance of his works, resulting in a distinctive blend of modernity and timelessness. 
      Rather than modeling in clay like his peers, Brancusi carved his work directly from wood or stone or cast it in bronze. Simultaneously, he rejected realism, preferring that his sculptures evoke rather than resemble the subjects named in their titles.    
Brancusi Installation at MoMA
CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI (1926-1957) was born in rural Romania and moved to Paris in 1904 where he established his studio and quickly immersed himself in avant-garde art circles. In his adopted city, he embraced an experimental modern spirit, including an interest in modern machines and popular culture. With his friend, Man Ray, he made films that captured his life in the studio--working with his materials and muses, activating his artworks through movement and recombination, and revealing his sources of inspiration such as animals at play, light in nature, and dance. Yet, until his death her proudly presented himself as an outsider, cultivating his image as a peasant, with a long beard, work shirt, and sandals.

      Ta Ta Darlings!!!  The contradiction of Brancusi's appearance also informed his art making which was dependent on ancient techniques as much as modern technologies. Fan mail is always
welcome pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's other Blogs on www.pollytalk.com. 
      
      

     

Monday, July 23, 2018

REBEL WOMEN: at MCNY: Review by Polly Guerin

Rebellious Women of the 19th Century
The Hewitt sisters, Sarah and Eleanor, granddaughters of Peter Cooper were among society's Victorian women who deferred to their father or brothers to make decisions for them.  They weren't the only women who were willing to accept the commonly known constraints on their lives. White, middle-class women were relegated to domesticity and held under the power of masculine rule. Any woman could be considered a Rebel simply by walking alone in the street, speaking in public, working outside the house, or disregarding middle-class morality or decorum.Yet, 19th Century New York City was full of rebellious women who defied those rigid expectations in both overt and subtle ways. Caption: L-R Hetty Howland Green, ca. 1897, Courtesy Library of Congress; The Real Ellen Jewett, 1836, MCNY; Portrait of Elizabeth Jennings Graham 1895, Courtesy Kansas State Historical Society, Adah Isaacs Menken in Mazeppa, 1863, MCNY.
         REBEL WOMEN: Defying Victorianism, a historic exhibition on view at the Museum of the City of New York, through January 6, 2019, explores the trailblazing women who challenged Victorian social norms in 19th Century New York City.  The exhibit is divided into three categories, political working and professional featuring photographs, garments, ephemera, and prints primarily drawn from the Museum's collections. 
       "At a time when the subject of women's rights is at the forefront of a national conversation, this exhibition and Beyond Suffrage: A Century of New York Women in Politics demonstrates the Museum's commitment to documenting and celebrating the important contributions of women in the City's History," said Whitney Donhauser, Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum of the City of New York.      
Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Steward
        Remember dear readers, even their attire was a challenge. Rebel women in the pursuit of individuality and purpose were also burdened by confinements such as constricting Victorian corsets and wearing heavy drapery or voluminous skirts that might curtail their drive and activity. The museum brings to light the compelling and often untold stories of these independent and unconventional women who had an indelible impact on New York's society, culture, and economy by the 20th century.
      This exhibition highlights pioneers for women in professional careers in medicine and journalism like
Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Steward (1847-1918), the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree and the first in New York state. McKinney-Steward's medical career focused on prenatal care and childhood diseases. She ran her own practice in Brooklyn and co founded the Brooklyn Women's Homeopathic Hospital, and in 1911 attended the Universal Race Congress in London and delivered a paper entitled, "Colored American Women."    
       Elizabeth Jennings Graham was another Black woman was ahead of he time. She refused to leave an all white streetcar in 1854.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
The exhibition features other well known figures who entered public life with a political agenda, demanding women;s rights as social activists or a politicians, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) and Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927). A feisty 
personality, in 1872 she ran for president of the United States, so ya see Hilary was not the first.
         Adah Isaaca Menken (1835-1868) was an American actress who broke the rules of decorum and became the highest earning actress of her time. She was best known for her performance in the melodrama Mazeppa, with a climax that featured her apparently nude whilst riding a horse on stage. A celebrity who created sensational performances in the United States and Europe Menken was also known as poet, painter and writer. Menken expressed a wide range of emotions and ideas about women's place in the world and her collection Infelicia was in print well into 1902. 
       Hetty Howland Robinson Green (1834-1916), a successful stock broker branded "The Witch of Wall Street," went on to become one of the richest people in the country, but stingy to the end. 
Then, too, there were women of questionable character but activists as well, like Helen Jewett (1813-1836). New York's most prominent courtesan is also represented. Before her sensational murder, she turned a shunned profession into a source of power. Ground breaking investigative reporter, Elizabeth Jane Cochrane (1864-1922) better known as "Nellie Bly," may be a household name but she was a courageous forerunner. In conjunction with one of her first assignments, for the New York World, she spent several days on Blackwell's island, posing as a mental patient for an expose. Her book "Ten Days in a Mad House (1887) led to lasting institutional reforms. 
      Ta Ta Darlings!!! One hundred years later: Ladies can we say that things have changed? No doubt some of the racial and gender inequalities still exist today. Fan mail welcome please send
your comments to pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Polly's Blogs can be accessed on www.pollytalk.com.

       

Monday, July 16, 2018

DEVOTION TO DRAWING: Eugene Delacroix: Review By Polly Guerin

Remembering Eugene Delacroix with admiration as one of the leading artists of the 19th Century's French Romantic period may have been your first encounter with the celebrated painter. Yet it will surprise you to know that Delacroix was equally a dedicated and innovative draftsman.
"To imagine a composition," according to Delacroix, "is to combine elements of objects that one knows, that one has seen, with others held inside, in the soul of the artists." The drawings he made in direct preparation for works in other media exhibit precisely this blend of components: the observed, the remembered and the imagined. 
DEVOTION TO DRAWING: The Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugene Delacroix opens at
The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Tuesday, July 17-November 12, 2018. The exhibit explores the central role of drawing in the artist's practice through more than one hundred works--from finished watercolors to sketchbooks, from copies of old master prints to preparatory drawings for important projects. This is the first North American exhibition devoted to Delacroix's drawings in more than 50 years and as such introduces a new generation to the artist's Cratfsmanship.
Horse Frightened by Lightning 
STUDIES OF HORSES 
Early in his career Delacroix expressed his desire to master the subject of horses. He noted in 1823, "I really mjust settle down seriously to drawing horses. I shall go to some stable or other every morning." His depiction of horses racing at speed combines observation with memory and imagination.
The artist undoubtedly studied the animals in motion, but then inevitably based his drawing to some degree on memory. The third section in the exhibition reveals how Delacroix the possibilities offered by graphic media, including ink, wash and watercolor.
REFINING IDEAS FOR PAINTINGS ON CANVAS Looks at how Delacroix used drawing to invent, research and refine his ideas for painting on canvas, decorative and religious murals. A catalogue published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art is distributed through Yale University Press and is available for purchase in the Met store.
Liberty Leading the People

This exhibition Devotion to Drawing overlaps with a major retrospective in North America devoted to the artist---on view at The Met from September 17, 2018- January 6, 2019. 
     Titled DELACROIX, it will illustrate the artist's resless imagination through more than 150 works, the majority of them paintings. 
Ta Ta Darlings!!! It is interesting to see how Delacroix's blend of components: the observed, the remembered, and the imagined form the base of his creative oeuvre. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click in the left hand column on the Blog that resonates with your interest.
      

Monday, July 9, 2018

BERNSTEIN;S Peter Pan at Bard's 2018 SummerScape: Review By Polly Guerin

The dreamlike abandoned Amusement Park Set
Bard SummerScape, the celebrated art festival at Annandale-on-Hudson lures sophisticates out of the Big Apple to attend the season's most innovative (and at times most unusual) cultural experiences. Such is the case with Bard's innovative production of Peter Pan with a new agenda and re-imagined cast. All photos herewith by Maria Baranova.
      To honor the Leonard Bernstein's centennial, 2018 Bard SummerScape is celebrating with a provocative production of Bernstein;s score for Peter Pan and a production set in a dreamlike abandoned amusement park including a working 1950's carnival ride on stage. Obviously, this isn't the 1954 Broadway Musical I am talking about, but an adaption of J.M. Barrie's play that debuted in the 1950s and ran for 321 performances and has rarely been revived since. Bernstein wrote the lyrics of the nine songs, as well as the music.
Comedian/actor Peter Smith as Peter Pan
CHRISTOPHER ALLEN  
Bernstein specialist Christopher Allen's adaptation presents an intimate contemporary production for modern audiences. Taking his cue from Peter Pan's desire for eternal childhood, Alden situates the story in a dreamy environment reminiscent of an abandoned fair ground. His treatment features a young, diverse cast, a dreamlike concept, and a humorous off-kilter energy that combine to propel the period classic into the 21st century. Kudos go to Bard for bringing this new production to the stage. It is the only one of Bernstein's theatrical works staged in the New York area during the centennial year. Allen's psychological gripping treatment reveals an "on trend" take of the story. The result is an innocent children's tale turned into something darker with up-to-date action and vivid characters.
     It all makes sense. Peter Smith as Peter and Erin Markey as Wendy represent a growing community of young trans and nonbinary performers who are gaining increased visibility in the mainstream.   
SUMMERSCAPE PRODUCTION
The Summerstage production features new choreography by Jack Ferver who also portrays Tinker Bell whilst holding a disco ball throughout. By turns whimsical and sinister, it is transfigured with Leonard Bernstein's shimmering score. The production's cast is led by "America's Baritone" (Broadway World) William Michals as Captain Hook who sonorous voice is breathtaking. Then, too, the energetic Peter Smith "cabaret powerhouse comedian/entertainer" takes center stage as Peter scaling the heights aboard the carousel and interacting with mesmerizing Erin Markey, another trans star of the New York performance scene,. 
Accolades go to Marsha Ginsberg's vivid sets, striking lighting and costume and lighting design by Terese Wadden and Jax Messenger.
           For Bard's take on Peter Pan Garth Edwin Sunderland re-scored Bernstein's music for a band of musicians. Fully integrated with the action kudos go to the excellent playing by a young instrumental sextet on stage.
      The new production premieres with 25 performances in the LUMA Theater of the Frank Gehry designed Richard B. Fisher Center of the Performing Arts on Bard's Judson Valley campus until July 22.
JUST THE FACTS 
Originally an Edwardian play by Scottish dramatist J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up owes is an enduring children's classic and owes its long status to two popular American adaptations, both of which date from the 1950s. Three of the songs"Who I Am?", "Build My House", and "Dream With Me" have been incorporated into the American songbook.
For tickets contact Fisher Center Box Office at 845-758-7900 or visit: 
www.fishercenter.bard.edu/summerscape. 
    Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Get out of town and day trip up to BARD for an unforgettable journey with Bernstein's Peter Pan.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's Bllogs
on www.pollytalk.coim.
       

Monday, July 2, 2018

OBSESSION: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele and Picasso at The Met Breuer: Review By Polly Guerin

The Met Breuer turns up the summer heat with a brilliant group of erotic and evocative watercolors, drawings, and prints by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Pablo Picasso whose subjects, except for a handful are nudes.  
OBSESSION: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele and Picasso from The Metropolitan Museum of
Art's Scofield Thayer Collection presents some fifty works in an exhibition opening Tuesday,
July 3 through October 7, 2018.  The exhibition is the first time these works are shown together and will provide a focused look at this important collection, it also marks the centenary of the deaths of Klimt who died at 55 of a struck and and Schiele who died at 28 during the Spanish flu epidemic. Image: Egon Schiele (Austrian, 1890-1918). Standing nude with orange drapery, 1914. Watercolor gouache, graphite on paper. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Bequest of
Scofield Thayer, 1982.
 INTRODUCING AMERICA to MODERNISM   An aesthete and scion of a wealthy family, Scofield Thayer (1889-1982) was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. His family fortune accumulated in the textile business Scofield afforded Scofield opportunity to enlarge his passion for modernism He was co-publisher and editor of the literary magazine the DIAL and from 1920 to 1929 was an influential outlet for modernist literature in English. 
       The avant-garde journal introduced Americans to the writing of Ezra Pound, D. H. Lawrence, Arthur Schnitzer, Thomas Mann, E. E. Cummings, and Marc Proust, among others. The first publication of T. S. Elliot's "The Waste Land," appeared in the Dial and the poetry prize that accompanied it had enormous influence at the time. The roster of contributors represented the who's who of the most celebrated poets and writers of the era. 
       Then too, let's not forget the poet, Marianne Moore's affiliation with the DIAL The prolific Greenwich Village poet served as editor of the DIAL along with other luminaries in the literary and art world.
       Scofield often accompanied these writer's contributions with reproductions of modern art never seen in America..  Throughout his life he was a passionate friend of Picasso.
      Thayer assembled his large collection of some 600 works---mostly works on paper in London, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna Ebetween 1921 ad 1923. 
SCOFIELD THAYER While he was a patient of Sigmund Freud in Vienna, he acquired a large group of watercolors and drawings by Schiele and Klimt who at that time were unknown in America. When a selection from his collection was shown at the Montross Gallery in New York in 1924, five years before the Museum of Modern Art opened, it won acclaim.      

However, it found no favor in Thayer's native city, Worcester, Massachusetts, that same year when it was shown a the Worcester Art Museum.
     Incensed, Thayer drew up his will in 1925, leaving his collection to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. With ongoing illness and  psychological difficulties his mental condition became worse.  He withdrew from life in the late 1920s ad lived as a recluse on Martha's Vineyard and Florida until his death in 1921.
EXHIBITION CATALOGUE The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by The Met.
An essay by James Dempsey, instructor at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an authority on Scofield Thayer discusses the collector's professional and private life. Sabine Rewald discusses
in depth the works of the three artists and also examines Thayer's purchases between l921 and 1023, as documented in invoices.The exhibition is featured on the Museum's website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using hashtag #MetObsession.
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! This is a steamy exhibition, most nudes. Visitors are advised that some images at this exhibitio contain explicit erotic content. Fan mail welcome, please contact
pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs on www.pollytalk.com and click on the Blog in the left column that resonates with your interest.

          

Monday, June 25, 2018

GIACOMETTI: at Guggenheim: Review By Polly Guerin


The Giacometti Exhibition within the Museum's Rotunda 
Although most of us remember Giacometti, as the preeminent modernist sculptor renowned for creating distinctive figurative sculptures the exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum examines anew the artist's expansive oeuvre. Encompassing the entirety of the artist's career, GIACOMETTI opens up a rare opportunity to see decades of his works installed within the museums rotunda. Through September 12, 2018.
       Featuring nearly 200 sculptures, paintings, an drawing, this is the first major museum exhibition in the United States in more that 15 years dedicated to the Swiss-born artist. some of which have never before seen in the United States as well as archival photographs and ephemera. 
Alberto Giacometti in his Paris studio, 1958
THE FIGURATIVE SCULPTURES Renowned for the distinctive figurative sculptures that he produced in reaction to the trauma and anguish of World War II, includes a series of elongated standing women, striding men, and expressive bust-length figures.  Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) investigateted the human figure for more than forty years. He moved to Paris in 1922 and eventually settled in a 15-by-16-foot studio in the artists' quarter of Montparnasse. Image: Alberto Giacometti in his Paris studio, 1958. Photo Ernst Scheidegger. (c) 2018 Stiftung Ernst Scheidegger-Archiv-Zurich.
He produced the greater part of his work in this tiny space, which he maintained until the end of his life. Giacometti's brother Diego, also an artist , became his assistant, he and Annette Arm, whom Giacometti wed in 1949, were the artist's most frequently rendered models. It is interesting to note that the new Giacometti Institute will soon open in the historic Montparnasse district where the artist lived and worked.
RETROSPECTIVE Visitors will have the opportunity to view works from across Giacometti's career. Examples of his early production reveal his engagement with Cubism and Surrealism as well as African, Oceanic, Cycladic art, and reflect interaction with writers including Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.  
The Nose (Le nez) 1949
The selection of paintings and drawings on view demonstrates his attempt to capture the essence of humanity which identifies with his incessant sculptural investigation of the human body. Rich historical photographs and ephemera, such as journals ad sketchbooks containing drawings, also provide insights into Giacometti's process and artistic development. Image: The Nose, (Le nez) 1949 (cast 1964) Bronze, wire, rope and steel. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 66.1807 (c) Alberto Giacometti Estate/Licensed by VAGA and ARS, New York. Photo: Kristopher McKay (c) The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
      Education and Public Programs with details are posted at
guggenheim.org/calendar.  Including: REFLECTIONS ON GIACOMETTI, Tuesday, July 31 at 6:30 pm. Film Screenings take place in the New Media Theater, Level B and are free with museum admission including Alberto Giacometti (1966), dir. Ernst Scheidegger and Peter Munger, 28 min on Friday September 7 at 3 pm, 3:30 pm and 4 pm. For more information visit: guggenheim.org/films.
      Ta Ta Darlings!! Giacometti's oeuvre transcends the stick figures and emerges at the Guggenheim shedding new light on the artist's notable works in paintings and sculptures of another kind.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's other Blogs at
www.pollytalk.com. Just click in the left hand column to links on visionary men, women determined to succeed, fashion and even poetry.

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.
DAVID COPPERFIELD.
       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 PROGRAMS
     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:
http://www.history.org/summer-magic. 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 pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's website at www.pollytalk.com to click on links
to other Blogs on women determined to succeed, visionary men, fashion or poetry.