Monday, January 22, 2018

WINTER ANTIQUES SHOW 2018: Review by Polly Guerin

Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg
Wandering through the historic Park Avenue Armory at the press preview of the Winter Antiques show found me stepping over rugs just being  laid down, hammers nailing into place last minute hangings and the air electrified by the exhibitors putting final touches on their booths. Such was the case last week, when the Armory was being transformed into a spectacular showcase for the evening's gala opening ceremonies.
     The WINTER ANTIQUES SHOW, the leading art, antiques and design fair in America, now in its 64th year, offers a week-long opportunity, through January 28, to view a dynamic mix of works dating from ancient times through the present day. Each object at the fair is vetted for quality and authenticity.
       Image: Among the VMFA works on display are the Russian firm, Faberge's Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg, which was present to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna by Czar Nicholas II in 1903. It was created to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg. Workmaster, Mikhail Perkhin used gold, platinum, silver gilt, diamonds, rubies, enamel, sapphires, watercolor on ivory and rock crystal in its creation. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt. (Photo: VMFA) 
     
Still Life with Daisies, Arles, 1888, Vincent van Gogh,
The Winter Antique show invites one institution to showcase its collection during the show and this year the major feature is the loan exhibition from the (VMFA) VIRGINIA MUSEUM of FINE ARTS,"Collecting for the Commonwealth Preserving for the Nation, Celebrating a Century of Art Patronage, 1919-2018, which is an annual benefit for the East Side House Settlement, a community-based organization serving the Bronx and Northern Manhattan with programs which focus on education and technology as gateways out of poverty and as keys to economic opportunity. CHUBB is the presenting sponsor of the Winter Antiques Show. Open Daily 12 pm-8pm, Tuesday 12 pm-4:30 pm and Thursday and Sunday 12pm-6pm. Daily admission is $25 (includes catalogue). Tickets can be purchased at winterantiqueshow.com.

       I was drawn to other notable works including Still Life with Daisies, Arles 1888, by Vincent Van Gogh from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon. Photo by Travis Fullerton (c) Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  Then, too, there is cause to mention Paul Storr's stunning Figure of Hebe, Beauford Delaney's Marian Anderson, and George Bellow's Tennis at Newport.  Together, the exhibition's 48 varied works reveal as much about the museum's maturation as the patrons, who have shaped the collection.
     
Parisian Lady 1910, Kees van Dongen
 If you are into samplers, as I am, exhibitors at the Winter Antiques Show include Stephen and Carol Huber's rare and dynamic sampler by sixteen year old Jane Elliott of Chester County, exquisite technique, featuring a large red building and a profuse ribbon border. Then, too, Lillian Nassau, Tiffany Lamps include the rare Bat Lamp, c. 1906, on of the few elaborate models produced by Tiffany Studios.
  
          I particularly admired the charming portrait
Parisian Lady (La Parisienne) also referred to as La Dame au Chien, 1910, by Kees van Dongen (Dutch painter 1877-1968) from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, featured in the VMFA collection.  In this portrait of a fashionable Parisian woman, the subject's attenuated shape sits in playful contrast to her oversize plumed hat and diminutive frolicking pet.  
        Bernard Goldberg Fine Art's image of The Opera Singer, 1927, by Guy Pene du Bois, is also a most engaging portrait. Du Bois made a gift of the painting to friend and dealer Antoinette M. Kraushaar in 1927.. A superb pair of antique brooches, c. 1890, caught my eye at Kentshire. In the form of Birds of Paradise with diamond bodies and emerald, sapphire and ruby plumage the birds can be worn as a single brooch when joined at their beaks by a pearl which is contained in a concealed compartment, quite amazing to say the least! At A La Vieille Russie look for the two porcelain covered cups in the form of Turkish Ladies' heads with jeweled headdresses, by the Gardner porcelain Factory, Russian, 1770-1790, they are quite entertaining. For information on the Show lecture series visit winterantiquesshow.com.
      Ta Ta Darlings!!! You ought not miss this show, it's packed with amazing, some never-before- seen objects and art works. The exhibitors are very friendly and really welcome your visit and inquiries.  Fan mail always welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs on fashion, poetry, visionary men or women determined to succeed on www.pollytalk.com and clink on the direct links in the left hand column.

Friday, January 5, 2018

DISCOVER THE LABYRINTH and Healing Parks BY Polly Guerin

"All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking, " Friedrich Nietzsche.  Have you ever thought of walking a Labyrinth to unwind, recharge and seek answers to your innermost questions or heart's desire? Whoever you are and wherever you are on your journey of faith there are places in the heart of New York City where you can relax, refresh, contemplate or mediate in peaceful areas to escape from the cacophony of the city.  
     
Grassy Green Labyrinth at Battery Park 
What is a Labyrinth? A labyrinth is a sacred symbol that can be traced back in history some 3,000 years to ancient Greece. In English, the term Labyrinth is generally synonymous with the word Maze. As a result of the long history of the uuicursal representation of the Mythological Labyrinth, a labyrinth has an unambiguous route to the center and back and presents no navigational challenge. Unicursal patterns have been used historically both in group ritual and for private mediation, and are increasingly found for therapeutic use in hospitals and hospices. 

HOW TO USE THE LABYRINTH First, relax, there is no right or wrong way to approach the path. You may use a labyrinth in many ways. Perhaps you seek some quiet. Perhaps you bring some care or concern that you wish to release. Maybe you seek direction for a perplexing question. Perhaps you bring great joy and thankfulness, gratitude to your walk. You may find it useful to sit for a moment before beginning. Take a few deep breaths, releasing any tension as you exhale. 
     SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR WALK Read a passage from scripture or from some other inspirational writing, such as the healing quotations from the readings of Edgar Cayce. Use a walkman to provide music for your journey, skip or dance your way along the path, or walk slowly. There is no right or wrong way to move though a labyrinth. Remove your shoes and walk in your socks to feel the grass or pavement beneath you more completely. Walk once or several times. Pause in the center and contemplate, rest awhile before making your way back into the world.
    The BATTERY PARK LABYRINTH  located in Battery Park, invites everyone to freely express themselves and do the walk through its grassy green labyrinth, designed by Arianne Burgess, installed in 2002 and restored in 2015.  Directions: You will find the  LABYRINTH for CONTEMPLATION just north of Castle Clinton in Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan. It was commissioned for the first anniversary of 911. For further information: http://www.facebook.com/batterylabyrinth. Battery Park is accessible by train or bus.    
Chartres-inspired Labyrinth at Riverside Church
     Then, too,  at the other end of Manhattan Island there is RIVERSIDE CHURCH at 450 Riverside Drive, 10027. with its MEDIEVAL-  INSPIRED LABYRINTH based on the inner circuits of Chartres Cathedral, France, circa 1200s.. The labyrinth type is marble inlaid in the floor of the Church Chancel. There is a charge of $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, students and children. Contact the Welcome Center, 212.870.6700. Group tours can also be arranged. www.trc.nyc.org.  If want
 enjoy a long bus ride the number 4 Bus on Madison Avenue takes you along Riverside Drive to the Church. Otherwise use train service.
     While you are up in this area head over to Morningside Heights and take in the "Path of Peace," painted Medieval Style, GODSONG LABYRINTH. It was installed on Mother's Day weekend, 2014. For further information email the following: soulbysole@aol.com.
     
The Permanent Labyrinth at Marble Collegiate Church
MARBLE COLLEGIATE CHURCH,  located at 
(1 West. 29 St., 1000l-4596) has a permanent labyrinth in the basement of the church open to the public. It is based on the labyrinth inlaid in Medieval, Chartres Cathedral, near Paris, France. Marble's was installed in 2012. The labyrinth is open for walking the first Sunday of each month from 1 to 3 pm, and every Wednesday from 5 to 6 pm . It is best to call first before visiting 212.686.2770.
    There are other labyrinths in Manhattan such as the EAST RIVER REFLECTION LABYRINTH, located at East River Park,  (Houston Street, NYC 10010), installed in 2004. The entrance to the park is at the foot of Houston Street where you cross the FDR drive. The labyrinth is to the right or south of this entrance. It is also available by several other areas off the East River Esplanade. Contact www.dianacarulli.com
     DE WITT CLINTON PARK (West 52nd and 54th streets and 11th Avenue) has two painted-on- concrete labyrinths, one for adults and one in the children's playground always open on its 5.8 acre public park. 
     As you walk the walk remember that Labyrinths are an ancient and yet modern way to stroll though its pathway and in this simple act of contemplation find release from personal concerns as the stress seemingly melts away to a renewed you. Hope to see you there on the pathway to enlightenment.
   






     


       

Monday, December 11, 2017

DAVID HOCKNEY: SPLASHY EXHIBITION, Review by Polly Guerin

David Hockney, Pool with Two Figures
A splashy new exhibit of American artist, David Hockney's California sojourn warms the heart on even the coldest days.  No bathing suit required, but inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you can vicariously jump into the pool surrounded by the the blazing sun-drenched colors of a never ending Los Angeles summer. Hockey's majestic larger-than-life paintings, invite you to join the swimmers and voyeurs on a halcyon day of dazzling sun-lit colors. California was his muse and helped to make him a famous swimming pool artist, but Hockney's oeuvre was more complex, more diversified, more intriguing. These paintings are not the entire focus of the exhibit, but they do provide insight into Hockney's willingness to flaunt conventions and to brazenly reference homoerotic subject matter.  Pool with Two Figures, one person gazes at a figure floating underneath the water.
       Many fine examples of Hockney's work from Los Angeles, California in he late 1960s and early 1970s as well as his double portraits from New York and London, show the artist's interest in the tension that exists in social relationships and the difficulty of depicting transparent material such as glass and water.   

David Hockney, GARDEN, 2015, 48 x 72 inches

 For nearly 60 years, David Hockney (British, born 1937) has pursued a singular career with a love for painting and its intrinsic challenges.  A major retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the shows only North American venue, through February 25, 2018, honors the artist in the year of his 80th birthday by presenting his most iconic works and key moments of his career from 1960 to the present. GARDEN, 2015, for example, draws you across a garden on a magical red pathway to Blue happiness. 
     The exhibition, DAVID HOCKNEY, takes time to savor as it offers a grand overview of the artist's achievements across all media, including painting and drawing, photography, and video. Working in a wide range of media with equal measures of wit and intelligence, Hockney, has examined, probed, and questioned how to capture the perceived world of movement, space, and time in two dimensions. From his early engagement with modernist abstraction and mid-career experiments with illusion and realism, to his most recent, jewel-toned landscapes, Hockney has consistently explored the nature of perception and representation with both intellectual vigor and sheer delight in the act of looking. For example, the painting, Garden with Blue Terrace, defies the laws of perspective by seeming to advance and recede at the same time.
David Hockney, Garden with Blue Terrace, 2015
By the late 1970s and 1980s, Hockney turned to a brightly hued palette and fractured, cubistic perspective that mirrors both is interest in Pablo Picasso and his own experiments with Polaroid photography. In recent decades Hockney has ventured outdoors to paint the changeable landscapes of his native Yorkshire across the seasons, while simultaneously returning to the study of figures in social groupings. A modernist seeker, keenly interested in scientific innovations in the aid of art, Hockney recently experimented with an old technology: he created a series of portrait drawings using a camera Lucida, first employed by artists in the Renaissance to render one-point perspective. He has always embraced new technologies, including the possibilities for colorful composition offered by applications on the iPhone and iPad. Examples of the artist's experiments in that media are also included in the galleries.

      Related Programs: On Monday February 5 acclaimed stage and screen actors Alan Cumming and Simon Callow will perform a dramatic reading in The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy. Inspired by Hockney's 1968 portrait of the pair, the actors will recreate the painting and bring an extraordinary relationship to life. Tickets for this program as well as others scheduled are available on the metmuseum.org website.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!!  I'm feeling ever so much better drenched in Hockney's brilliant colors of a never-ending summer day. You should, too. Fan mail welcome, pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and in the left-hand column click on the direct links to visionary men, women determined to succeed, the fashion historian and poetry from the heart.


Monday, December 4, 2017

CHARLES DICKENS and THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS: Review By Polly Guerin

Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol 1843 Mr. Fezziwig's Ball
Christmas would never be as memorable without revisiting the iconic holiday book, Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol."          It bespeaks of the author's condemnation of the individuals who failed to ameliorate human wretchedness when they had an opportunity to do so, a warning so applicable even today.
      Charles Dickens penned one of the most memorable, beloved holiday stories of all time and legions of people have read and re-read the book. Mixing real life inspirations with his vivid imagination he conjured up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale, forever changing the holiday season into the merry celebration we know today.  It never fails as a holiday classic and the treasure trove of the hand-written manuscript pages and other intriguing memorabilia from Dickens's lecture circuit provides a rare opportunity to view them all at The Morgan Library and Museum's exhibit, CHARLES DICKENS and THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS, which runs through January 14, 2018. (Image: Charles Dickens (1812-1870) A Christmas Carol, London, Chapman & Hall, 1843. Illustration by John Leech depicting Mr. Fezziwig's Ball. The Morgan Library & Museum) The exhibition explores the genesis, composition, publication and reception of A Christmas Carol and its impact on Charles Dickens's life. The manuscripts of four other Christmas books are also on display.
      Every holiday season, the Morgan displays Charles Dickens's original manuscript of
A Christmas Carol in Pierpont Morgan's historic library. It is interesting to note that Dickens wrote his iconic tale in a six-week flurry of activity beginning in October 1843 and ending in time for Christmas publication. I will not take time to recount the story here, except to say that as a young  girl, one of the most chilling in the entire ghost story is Marley's ghost that drifts "out upon the bleak, dark night."      
PUBLIC PROGRAMS at the Morgan include,  A Gallery Talk, "Charles Dickens and the Spirit of Christmas," given by Declan Kiely, Director of Exhibitions, and exhibition curator, on Friday, December 8 at 1pm.  Then, too, why not make it a day at the Morgan; the same day at 7pm and watch the film, A Christmas Carol (1951) The classic adaptation of Charles Dickens's beloved novel follows the stingy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge ( Alastair Sim) as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future in Victorian England. Purchase tickets at 212.685-0008, ext. 560 or tickets@themorgan.org
THE LITERARY SUPER STAR /During his life
Dickens acquired the kind of celebrity in sync with international movie stars today. That status made him the darling of the lecture circuit for he never read from his books he had memorized that passages he wished to dramatize, and indeed he did, with stand up
renditions as equal to the talents of a matinee idol.  Wherever he traveled he took his custom designed podium pictured herewith.
       The exhibition marks the 150th anniversary of Dickens's famous reading tour of the United States in 1867, and examines his later career as a performer. His public readings of A Christmas Carol, which began in 1850s, played a pioneering role in what is now commonplace in the marketing of fiction, the author's book signing. It is surprising to learn that among the unexpected and unintended consequences of the success, of A Christmas Carol, was Dickens's decision to devote enormous energies to his public readings.
      The first ever trade edition of Charles Dickens's "own and only"  of his classic and beloved story, contains a facsimile of the original manuscript of A Christmas Carol, published in full color, with a foreword by Colm Toibin and introduction by Morgan curator Declan Kiely. Now available in the Morgan Shop.
Three Plagiarisms of Dickens's work 
PLAGIARISMS of DICKENS'S WORK  Oh yes, there were several. Housed in the Charles Dickens's Museum, London England are a handful of Dickens plagiarism. Some issues copy Dickens's text nearly word for word changing only minor spellings in name or title, while other use Dickens's characters and setting as template for their own writing much as we see in today's fan fiction. An example of three of Dickens plagiarism in the Morgan collection include: "Mister Humfries' Clock," "Posthumous Papers of the Cadgers' Club" and the play "The Peregrinations of Pickwick." These impostors were sold through tobacconists and small shops to reach "a market of semi-literate readers outside the range of middle-class booksellers. The enormous readership spelled out great financial success for the authorsThomas Peckett Prest and Edward Lloyd Prest encouraging the pair to publish The Penny Pickwicks for an additional ten months after Dickens had finished his original Pickwick Papers.
TA TA DARLINGS!!! I shall be revisiting A Christmas Carol this holiday as indeed I am sure you will want to do so yourself. Wishing you Happy Holidays and best wishes for a Very Happy and Healthy New Year 2018. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at 
www.pollytalk.com and in the left hand column click on the link to women determined to succeed, visionary men, the fashion historian and poetry.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Thanksgiving Legend: Sarah Josepha Hale By Polly Guerin

As we celebrate Thanksgiving 2017 there are so many more reasons to be thankful. However, none is more interesting than the reminder, "Let us not forget," it was Sarah Josepha Hale, a petite crusader in crinoline, the pioneering Victorian who inspired President Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. 
HALE’S LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN
      Sarah Josepha Hale’s relentless handwritten letter campaign spanned a period of almost three decades in which she urged that Thanksgiving be declared a holiday. With tireless zeal she penned thousands of editorials and wrote handwritten letters to prominent, citizens, governors and went right to the White House, addressing the issue to United States President. She never gave up letter writing her campaign, which had its inspiration at that time for the unification of the country
CIVIL WAR UNIFICATION
       As the dark days of the Civil War divided the country into two armed camps Mrs. Hale’s editorials became more vigilant. Who would listen to a lone woman with her persistent plea for "just one day of peace amidst the blood and strife"? Eventually she came to see the nationalization of Thanksgiving not only as a day for counting our blessings, but as a logical bond of union, one more means of drawing the sympathies of the country together. 
WITHOUT TYPEWRITER OR COMPUTER
Year after year without typewriter or the convenience of a computer Sarah Josepha Hale continued to pour out hundreds handwritten letters, which were sent to influential people urging them to join in establishing the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
LINCOLN DECLARES THE HOLIDAY
     With the country gripped in the North and South divide, Mrs. Hale’s concept of unity finally caught the attention of one man in the White House. Prompted by a letter she had written to Secretary of State William Seward in 1863 President Lincoln recognized the urgency for unification and promptly issued a proclamation appointing the last Thursday in November as a day of national Thanksgiving in America.
                                                                                     HALE, THE LADY EDITOR 
      Sarah Josepha Hale succeeded at a time when there were few opportunities for women to escape the drudgery of domesticity. In addition, like other women of her era, she had been denied a formal education but found refuge in her father’s library, self-educating herself. 
      After her husband died, leaving her penniless, she wrote and published a novel, Northwood, which captured the attention of a Boston publishing firm. She was offered editorship of one of their periodicals in 1836 and at the age of 40, with five children to support, she left her home town of Newport, New Hampshire and moved to Boston to assume the post of Lady Editor. Running one of the most powerful magazines in the country did not escape critics, but she always explained that she was forced to hold down a job to feed her children.
ARBITER OF WOMEN’S ISSUES
       Sarah Josepha Hale, as Lady Editor, was the arbiter of parlor etiquette, fashion, manners and intellect. As a journalist, lobbyist, career woman and crusader in crinoline she spoke her mind and succeeded where others had failed. A petite woman, she dressed in the crinoline style of the Victorian era. However, even in this cumbersome attire and the pressing restrains of society, she championed numerous women’s issues bringing about a number of important improvements in the lives of women in the Victorian era. She was the first to advocate women as teachers in public schools. She demanded for housekeeping the dignity of a profession and put the term “domestic science” into the language. Sarah Josepha Hale was to prove to be unique exception of her times.
HALE'S MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB 
        In addition, she helped to establish Vassar College, the first college for women. Hale was highly civic minded and among her credits she promoted the movement to preserve Mount Vernon as a National memorial and raised the money that finished the Bunker Hill Monument. How she found the time, I will never know, but this prolific lady was also the author of some two dozen books and hundreds of poems, including the best known children’s rhyme in the English language, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
       Sarah Josepha Hale stepped from the shelter of an early nineteenth century marriage untrained, unschooled and stepped forward to become the nation’s most celebrated Lady Editor. For her patriotic part in nationalizing Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks.
      Ta Ta Darlings!!! Wishing you all a very peaceful and Happy Thanksgiving. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs on www.pollytalk.com on fashion, visionary men, women determined to succeed and poetry.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Bartolome Esteban Murillo, self portrait, ca 1670
The Frick Museum's significant role as the custodian of ancient art is also one of New York's most quiet and revered places to discover the Old Masters and retreat for quiet contemplation in its inner fountain courtyard.  With its rare paintings by the Old Masters The Frick reminds us to remember the great painters who set the ancient course of art history. 
      Paying tribute one of Italy's renowned artist's  achievements, this year marks the 400th anniversary of the birth of one of the most celebrated painters of the Spanish Golden Age, Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1617-1682). The exhibition runs through February 4, 2018 after which it moves to London's
National Gallery from February 28 through May 21, 2018.
     Murillo, the self portrait, pictured at the left, ca. 1670, attests to the artist's profession. The elegantly rendered Latin inscription below the portrait translates, "Bartolome Murillo painted himself to fulfill the wishes and prayers of his children." This is a second self-portrait, similar to an earlier one, but the trompe l'oeil stone frame around Murillo's image is more elaborate, decorated with scrolls and idealized foliage.  Flanking the frame, the artist's had engagingly holds the frame and there on the ledgeare the signature attributes of an artist including painter's brushes and palette.  
     
Murillo's Two Women in a Window ca. 1655-60 
Murillo's career was a successful one, and he painted canvases for the most important patrons and churches in Seville, and also created allegorical and genre scenes.  Image Right: Murillo's Two Women remains one of the best known and most mysterious of Murillo's paintings. The affect of these two figures emerging from the window is exceptionally realistic. The women have been identified as servants or prostitutes. A Spanish proverb from the period warns that "a woman at the window a grape of the street." It is interesting to note that the nature of the painting's commission and its message remains, unknown. However, his portraits of 
urchins in the street of Seville are particularly well known, and together with Immaculates and other religious images, they remain his signature works. The Museum Shop offers a richly illustrated publication.
     Concurrently on exhibit are two Venetian Renaissance Masterpieces by the celebrated artist
Pablo Veronese (1528-1588), St. Jerome in the Wilderness and St. Agatha Visited by St. Peter. 
The two rarely seen canvases left Italy for the first time since their creation, over 450 years ago. And thanks to Venetian Heritage and the sponsorship of BVLGARI, they have been fully restored and returned to their original glory. On view through March 28, 2018, this provides a unique opportunity to discover two masterpieces in the Frick's unique setting. 
       
Veronese St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter (1566-57)
St. Agatha was a third-century martyr from Sicily who lived in Catania at the time of the Christian persecution under Roman emperor Decius. Of noble origin she had pledged her chastity to God and therefore would not yield to the advances of Quintianus, a Roman consul, who was enticed by her beauty. When she refused to worship pagan idols, he sent her to prison where she was tortured and Quintianus ordered her breasts be cut off. In St. Agatha, Veronese sets the scene in Agatha's agony, her wounded breasts a testament to her devotion. In the dark prison cell. she steadies herself against the bench, surprised by two visitors that burst into her cell. A glorious blond angel dressed in light blue holds a long taper, he precedes St. Peter, who stands by the open door. In his left hand he holds the keys to heaven and with his right hand he gestures upward, referring at once to his celestial mission and to Agatha's imminent healing, and possibly death and heavenly reward. The two paintings, Agatha and St. Jerome in the Wilderness (1566-67) are Murano photo credited to: Ufficio Beni Culurali del Patriarcato di Venezia, Accompanying the exhibition is a richly illustrated publication, available in the Museum shop.

      Ta ta Darlings!!!  The dual exhibition is a breathtaking experience, worth your while to spend an hour or two reveling in their remarkable restoration. Then too, before heading out to the cacophony of New York City, take a some time to sit for awhile in the quiet fountain courtyard. Fan mail is always welcome www.pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click in the left-hand column to the Blog that resonates with your interest on visionary men, women determined to succeed, the fashion historian and poetry.

Monday, October 23, 2017

LOVING VINCENT, A Masterpiece: Review By Polly Guerin

No other artist has attracted more legends and controversy over his death than Vincent van Gogh. Variously labelled a madman, a genius, even a layabout, the real Vincent is at once revealed in his letters, and obscured by myth and time. Vincent himself said in his last letter, 'We cannot speak other than by our paintings'. The film LOVING VINCENT takes Vincent at his word and lets the paintings tell the real story of Vincent van Gogh's life. 
      The film is an art lover's dream with storytelling charm that sheds new light on the great artist, so misunderstood, bullied and so under appreciated in his time. His genius was great but sadly he sold but one painting during his entire life. LOVING VINCENT can be enjoyed as a gigantic painting, bursting with colors, mesmerizing with its reproductions of familiar faces and places, but as remarkable as Vincent's brilliant paintings, is the portrayal of his passionate and ill-fated life, and mysterious death. 
      It was first shot as a live action film with actors, and then hand-painted over frame-by-frame in oils.  The final effect is an interaction of the performance of the actors playing Vincent's famous portraits and the performance of the painting animators, bringing those characters into the medium of paint.
     This is a first time in cinematic history that a movie has been created exclusively using handmade paintings in an animated feature film.   Every one of the 65,000 frames of the film is an oil-painting hand-painted by 125 professional oil painters who painted directly onto the rushes while trying to remain as faithful as possible to Van Gogh's technique and style.  The start and end of each shot is the exact copy of one of Van Gogh's works. A total of 94 paintings were fully reproduced, and 31 ere partially recreated.    
       The result is an example pure visual enchantment in which some of the world's most renowned paintings are animated, such as The Starry Night, Portrait of Dr. Cachet, Wheatfield with Crows, and The Night Cafe, pictured right. And we also meet again Doctor Gachet, and his daughter Marguerite Gachet. Then too, he painted many other famous faces that match the famous paintings they portray.  
Jospeh Roulin, Postman
The film begins in the summer of 1891, one year after Van Gogh's suicide. Armand Roulin, is asked by his father, the postman, Joseph Roulin, one of Van Gogh's favorite models,  to deliver a posthumous letter to Van Gogh's brother Theo. Armand, who becomes a central character in the film, is not pleased with the task as he never approved of his father's friendship with the artist. Yet he dutifully goes to Paris only to learn that Theo, devastated by the death of his brother, had only lived a few months after Vincent's suicide. He then travels to Auvers-sur-Oise to shed light on the mysterious circumstances surrounding Vincent's death.   Armand becomes central to the investigation, 'Was Vincent murdered,' and in so doing encounters Dr. Gachet and questions him about the real circumstances behind Vincent's death. Alas you will have to see the movie to find out.     
The Cafe Terrace Place de Forum, Arles
Breathing life into Van Gogh's painting was written and directed by young Polish director Dorota Kobiela and the British producer Hugh Welchman. produced by Poland's BreakThru Films & UK's Trademark films.  The duo animated a selection of oil paintings created in the style of the Dutch master to portray the final weeks of the painter's life in Auvers-sur-Oise in the Paris region, where he was staying at the time of his death in the south of France. The collaborators drew inspiration for the film from the wealth of letters Van Gogh exchanged with his family.  

      Find LOVING VINCENT at local movie theaters. The film introduces theater actor Robert Gulaczyk in his first film role as Vincent van Gogh, and Armand Roulin, central to the story, is played by Douglas Booth.  Sharing the spotlight Chris O'Dowd is the Postman, Joseph Roulin.
      Doctor Gachet is portrayed by Jerome Flynn and his daughter Marguerite Gachet is played by Saoirse Ronan; Helen McCrory plays Louise Chevelier, house-keeper to Doctor Gachet. Notable, too, is Aidan Turner is the Boatman from Vincent's Bank of the Oise-sur-Oise painting. Thanks to the magazine FRANCE-AMERIQUE for story details.
      Ta Ta Darlings! I loved this film, but I had a feeling of great sadness after viewing how Van Gogh was tormented by local bullies in Auvers-sur-Oise, and disrespected by local individuals, and then, too, did he really commit suicide or was he murdered?
     Fan mail always welcome please send your comments to pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click in the left hand column to the blog that resonates with your interest on visionary men, women determined to succeed, the fashion historian and poetry.