Monday, December 14, 2015

ARTISTIC FURNITURE OF THE GILDED AGE: Review by Polly Guerin


This "jewel box" of a room, the opulent Gilded Age interior called, the Worsham-Rockefeller Dressing Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, opens tomorrow, December 15 and continues through May 1, 2016. Visitors will gain new insights into the luxurious and artistic interiors found in New York's wealthiest households in the 19th century, which reveal the artistic embellishments, the decorative arts of a period in history when the tycoons could afford every luxury. 
    It is a rare surviving commission by New York-based cabinetmaker and interior decorator
George A. Schastey for art collector and philanthropist Arabella Worsham.
    The Worsham-Rockefeller Dressing  Room is a quintessential expression of the Aesthetic movement, which was in vogue during the late 1870s and early 1880s. The room comes from the     4 West 54th Street home of Arabella, mistress (and late, wife) of railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington.

     This dressing room may not be every woman's dream room but it deserves close examination for the sheer breath of design elements are quite intriguing. Careful study of the ornate marquetry ornamentation are executed in satinwood and purpleheart with mother-of-pearl inlays that reveal a multitude of sea shell and pearl motifs that reference Worsham's great love of pearl jewelry.          Other elements of design focus on a woman's personal accouterments with depictions of hand mirrors, scissors, hair combs, brooches, necklaces and earrings--all suggesting the dressing room's intended use.The private room, intended solely for Worsham's use, is a totally cohesive artistic interior with intricate woodwork, a built-in wardrobe, two full-length dressing mirrors, a delicate dressing table and chairs.
   The Rockefeller connection: In 1884, Worsham sold the house, complete with furnishings to John D, Rockefeller, who made few change to it and gifted it to The Museum of the City of New York after Rockefeller's death in 1937. The room has found new life at the Metropolitan, where it was recently conserved and identified as the work of Schastey and is located Gallery 742 in the American Wing. It takes its place with a suite of American interiors arranged in historical sequence.

Gallery 746 features furniture from several other rooms of the Worsham-Rockefeller house, notably the Moorish reception room and a bedroom.
    Herter Brothers and the William H. Vanderbilt House, Gallery 743
     An adjoining gallery displays works by Schastey's best-known competitor Herter Brothers. The installation is Herter Brother's most important commission for the William H. Vanderbilt House (on Fifth between 51st and 52nd streets). Among the new discoveries being shown for the first time are a pair of rosewood side chairs for Vanderbilt's library; a pair of gilded and mother-of-pearl armchairs and gilded console table from one of the most sumptuous rooms of the day.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!! The artisan workmanship in the Arabella Worsham dressing room is worth closer examination, do go and see for yourself.  Fan mail always welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.
Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and in the left hand column click on the link to the Blog that resonates with your interest.

Monday, December 7, 2015

DENIM FASHION FRONTIER at The Museum at FIT: Review by Polly Guerin


Robert Cavalli, ensemble, embroidered denim, 2002
How does anyone explain the phenomenon of Denim fashion? Yves Saint Laurent in 1981, defined it all, "I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans, the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity---all I hope for in my clothes."
     From workwear to haute couture denim may be the most popular fabric in the world yet it continues to make a fashion statement even greater today. For an in depth look at how denim has captured its place of superiority in fashion check out this museum exhibit.
     Image: Robert Cavalli, ensemble, embroidered denim, Spring 2002, Italy, Gift of Robert Cavalli. Photograph courtesy of The Museum at FIT.
     The Museum at FIT's DENIM FASHION FRONTIER, at The Fashion Institute of Technology explores the multifaceted history of denim and its relationship with high fashion from the 19th century to the present. The recently opened exhibition features more than 70 objects from the museum's permanent collection, many of which have never been on view.
    Of course, we all are familiar with Levi Strauss's historical story as the first purveyor of blue jeans, but the even before that fact, denim was already being used to create workwear of all kinds. 
Walking Suit, striped denim, circa 1915 
The exhibit DENIM FASHION FRONTIER takes a wider view and juxtapositions examples of historic garments with workwear and high fashion, street style, commercial garments, and menswear and women's wear.  By the start of the 20th century denim had begun to appear in prison uniforms and naval uniforms, and then in fashionable women's wear during World War I. 
Image: Walking Suit, striped denim, circa, 1915, Courtesy of The Museum at FIT.
     Two distinct genres of lifestyle clothing helped link denim to the romance of the Old West and the American spirit: "Western Wear emerged parallel to the booming popularity of "cowboy" films and dude ranch vacationing while "play clothes" were designed to outfit fashionable men and women  who engaged in leisure activities.
    World War II ushered in "Rosie the Riveter" who became the poster girl of the home front, and simultaneously a new market blossomed with practical and fashion clothing for the affluent housewife, which included Claire McCardell's denim "Popover" dress.
     The influence of films also contributed to the denim craze like the 1955's Rebel Without a Cause, but the denim's worn by James Dean caused denim to be equated with teenage rebellion and delinquency.  About this time the Denim Council was established to combat these negative connotations.  I would also like to note that public relations guru Terry Mayer promoted denim for a number of years with a strong public relations campaign and fashion shows.
     Denim took on a different persona in the 1960's and identified with hippies whose trends outlived he movement, such as bell-bottom jeans, embroidered and patched denim, and faded, pre-worn jeans.  
   
Comme des Garcons (Junya Watanabe) dress
Who would ever thought that denim would become a luxury fabric?  Luxury items on fashion's runway included Gucci, Comme des Garcon, Katherine Hamnett, Gianfranco Ferre and Yves Sain Laurent, and others.

    Emma McClendon, assistant curator of costume and exhibition, and curator of DENIM FASHION'S FRONTIER wrote in the program notes,"Today, contemporary designers often incorporate denim through postmodern pastiche and deconstruction, taking apart classic denim garments and putting them back together as historic homages." 
Image: Comme des Garcons (Junya Watanabe) dress, repurposed denim, spring 2002, museum purchase. Photography by William Palmer.
    The exhibition is on view through May 7, 2016. FREE and open to the public at The Museum at FIT, Seventh Avenue and 27th Street. Hours Tuesday-Friday noon-8pm and Saturday, 10 am-5pm. The museums information line: 212.217.4558.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!!  I once owned a denim dress, but  now I'm sorry I gave it away.  Denim Fashion's Frontier is a trip back to nostalgic memories of how denim played such an important part in fashion history and the lifestyle of the global population.  Fan mail always welcome pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click on the link in the left-hand column to the Blog of your interest.
    
     

Monday, November 30, 2015

UNORTHODOX Jewish Museum's Multigenerational Exhibition: Review by Polly Guerin

Auste, A Mistaken Style of Life, 1987
UNORTHODOX, The Jewish Museum's global, multigenerational exhibition does not comment on Jewish religious orthodoxy or critique it dear readers, but takes its inspiration from the legacy of progressive Jewish thought, in particular the Jewish tradition of dialogue and debates, Jens Hoffmann, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Public Programs clarifies this further, "Unorthodox aims to break with cultural and artistic uniformity that has developed over the last century among artists and museums, proposing a nonconformist engagement with art as a means to disrupt the status quo." 
   The large-scale group exhibition features 55 contemporary artists from around the world whose practices mix forms and genres without concern for artistic conventions. Although the artists in UNORTHODOX come from a wide variety of backgrounds and generations, they are united in their spirit of independence and individuality. Through over 200 works, the exhibition highlights the importance of iconoclasm and art's key role in breaking rules and traditions. 
      The human figure is also central to the exhibition often appearing in distorted, anthropomorphic, or hybrid forms. Captivating attention:  Auste's "A Mistaken Style of Life, 1987, acrylic on canvas fantasizes the human figure, while Nick Payne's drawings and watercolors feature grotesque figures, and Mrinalini Mukherjee's sinuous and biomorphic sculptural works. Stephen Goodfellow's VANDALS, 1983, acrylic on canvas is from the Susan and Alan Lichtenstein Collection. Image courtesy of the artist.
       
Stephen Goodfellow, VANDALS, 1983
Numerous works in Unorthodox  examine social and political values, trauma, religion, an identity. Artists like Margit Anna, whose dreamlike paintings reflect the trauma of the Holocaust, and Xanti Schawinsky's, whose Faces of the War series (1942) was influenced by the destruction and the
militarism of World War II, draw on transformative personal experiences. Several artists channel political activism through their work.
      Many artist in Unorthodox use pop culture, animation, and cartoons to address serious issues around violence, racism, and sexuality. Margaret Harrison tackles gender politics through the use of iconic characters such as Captain America and Playboy pinups.
     
Installation view of Unorthodox Photo by David Heald    
The exhibition is on view through March 27. 2016. Unorthodox is accompanied by a series of public programs developed by the Jewish Museum and presented in collaboration with the 92nd Street Y. Programs, however, take place at the Jewish Museum. Visit The Jewish Museum website at TheJewishMuseum.org for further details.

      As you enter the museum you will encounter a new installation by Brazilian-born, New York-based contemporary sculpture artist Valeska Soares, which is on view as part of the ongoing series Using Walls, Floors and Ceilings. Titled TIME HAS NO SHADOWS, the piece features a large, vintage carpet onto which poetic texts are placed, with antique pocket watches hang down from above.  The installation draws on the artist's enduring fascination with the subjectivity of time and language, and investigates the history of Jewish migration and resettlement.
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! There's plenty of time to see both exhibitions. Admission is Pay What you Wish on Thursdays from 5pm to 8pm and free on Saturdays. For information on museum hours and admission costs call 212.423.3200. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click on the links to Blogs that resonate with your interest.
    
      
     

Monday, November 23, 2015

JACQUELINE de RIBES, FASHION ICON: Review by Polly Guerin

Jacqueline de Ribes in YSL, 1962,  
If you're a Countess, a renowned style icon and a patron of the Paris Haute Couture you become one of the most celebrated fashion personas of the 20th century. The Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, still chic at 86, has graced the International Best Dress List 1962. When she established her own fashion house, her friend Yves Saint Laurent gave his blessing to the venture as a welcome projection of her elegance. 
  The exhibition, Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style, focuses on this French aristocrat whose profile prompted the famous photographer Richard Avedon to capture her image in photographs that pays homage to her commanding presence. The photo left: Jacqueline de Ribes in Yves Saint Laurent, 1962, Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Richard Avedon, (c) Richard Avedon Foundation.
    The exhibition is on view in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Anna Wintour Costume Center through February 21, 2016.
   
Gallery View, Evening Wear (c) The Metropolitan Museum
"A close study of de Ribes's life of creative expression yields illuminating insights into her strategies of style," said Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. "Her approach to dress as a statement of individuality can be seen as a kind of performance art." With her breathtaking gowns and knack for accessories, the Countess always knew how to make an entrance. However, the Countess was a 'no show' at the opening gala. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Christian Dior cancelled the black-tie dinner because in the wake of the current events, the Countess canceled her trip to New York to stay in Paris. 

      Her absence was quite de riqueur and did not cast a shadow on the illuminating exhibition. It traces the socialite's collection of some 60 ensembles of haute couture and ready-to-wear from de Ribes's personal archive dating from 1962 to the present. Also included are her creations for fancy dress balls, which often made by cutting up and cannibalizing her haute couture gowns to create unexpected, thematic and conceptually nuanced expressions of her aesthetic. These along with photographs, video and ephemera, tell the story of how her interest in fashion developed over the decades, from childhood "dress-up" to the epitome of international style.
   
Jacqueline de Ribes in her own design, 1983
A muse to haute couture designers, they placed at the disposal their drapers, cutters and fitters in acknowledgment of their esteem for her taste and originality. Early on she realized that she could not sketch so upon recommendation from one of her designer friends she engaged the young Valentino as her sketcher. Ultimately she used her talent and experience to create her own successful design business directed from 1982 to 1995. Of her day-wear she said "My clothes have to be comfortable," and indeed they are the very essence of daytime chic. 

     Opposite: Jacqueline de Ribes in her own design, 1983. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Victor Skrebneski, Skrebneski Phtotograph (c) 1983.
     Designers represented in the exhibition include Pierre Balmain, Bill Blass, Marc Bohan for the House of Dior, Roberto Cavalli, John Galliano, Valentino Garavani, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Guy Laroche and others.
     Her high-society lineage certainly helped to fulfill her designing aspirations. Born into an aristocratic French family, she married Edouard, Vicomte de Ribes when she was nineteen and became the toast of high society. She garnered praise for her swan-like beauty and grace and was seen by many as the ultimate of Parisian elegance. In 2010, she received the Legion d'Honneur from French President Nicolas Sarkozy for her philanthropic and cultural contributions to France. 
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! Tours of the exhibition will be held Tuesday-Friday at 2:00 pm. The exhibition is featured on the Museum's website www.metmuseum.org/jacquelinederibes. Fan mail always welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click on the links to Blogs in the left-hand column.
    
     
    

Monday, November 16, 2015

THE ETERNAL SPACE: Tribute to the Old Pennsylvania Station: Review by Polly Guerin

Not everyone cares about the old Pennsylvania Station, but many New Yorkers and landmark aficionados still remember its grandeur and its majestic Cathedral imagery. 
     Now Justin Rivers brings to Theater Row's Lion Theater "The Eternal Space," play that charts an unlikely friendship during the social and cultural upheavals of the mid-1960s.
    Directed by Mindy Cooper, the play is set against the skeleton images of the wrecking crews' demolition of the old Pennsylvania Station by using original photography from the journalists who documented the station's destruction and recreations of broadcast recordings of the day. "I decided the demolition photography would have to be central to the show," said Rivers. "Not only would it provide the backdrop for all the scenes, it would be a living presence on the stage. and became the third character on the stage." The Eternal Space features photography of Norman McGrath, Peter Moore, Alexander Hatos, Ron Ziel and Aaron Rose. 
     Central to the play are the two actors.  As the wrecking crew worked to dismantle the 53-year-
Matthew Pilicci as Paul  & Clyde Baldo as Joseph
-old architectural marvel, a chance meeting between a photographer and an English teacher sparks a three year odyssey where one man fights to keep the station standing while the other tears it down.  Just two players tell the story, of the majestic station with Clyde Baldo as Joseph Lanzarone and Matthew Pilicci as 
Paul Abbot. They command the stage in a synergistic debate that tells the riveting story of the demise of the station. 
    Why is this play important?   It pays homage to the once grand Pennsylvania Station. Most significantly it commemorates the 50th anniversary of the demolition of the old Penn Station, October 28th, 1963, which marked the end of an era in New York City history.  The most dramatic result of the station's demise is
Postcard :General Waiting Room Penn R.R. Station N.Y. C.
the fact that the loss of the beaux-arts Penn Station invigorated and launched the efforts of the preservation movement both locally and nationally. National legislation that followed would later be critical to saving Grand Central Terminal and other New York City buildings. Playwright Justin Rivers wrote the first draft of The Eternal Space in 2002 as a testament to all the things we don't appreciate until they're gone. The Eternal Space resonates with these sentiments and poignantly captures what New York City lost among the treasures of the city. Opposite: A postcard image of the old Pennsylvania Station in its glory days. The Eternal Space is presented at Theatre Row's Lion Theatre, located at 410 West 42nd Street in New York City. To view the performance schedule and purchase tickets visit: TheEternalSpacePlay.com. In addition a Tour of the Remnants of the Original Penn Station will be led by The Eternal Space playwright Justine Rivers on December 6, 2015. Tickets at untappedcities.com/events.

      Ta Ta Darlings!!! If your are an historian aficionado, as I am, well need I say more head over to the Lion's Theatre and pay tribute to the old Penn Station. Fan mail welcome please email me at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and in the right-hand column click on the direct link to the Blog that resonates with your interest.

Monday, November 9, 2015

GRAPHIC PASSION: MATISSE AND THE BOOK ARTS: Review by Polly Guerin

Circus, pochoir plate 11 in Jazz (1947) 
World renowned for his paintings, sculptures, and drawings, Henri Matisse, the master of his craft, also embraced printed books as a means of artistic expression during the latter part of the artist's life. Aside from his prolific oeuvre Matisse personally enjoyed making books, and the collaborative synergy it entailed, working with poets, authors, printers and publishers.
     GRAPHIC PASSION; MATISSE AND THE BOOK ARTS on view at the Morgan Library & Museum through January 18, 2016, brings together thirty of these modern masterpieces and explores Matisse's creative process. Colin B. Bailey, director of the Morgan, "The extraordinary volumes n view show Matisse delighting in the smaller scale of book design and are a testament to the fact that his talent transcended any medium."
   
Poems de Charles d"Orleans, Paris,.Teriade Editeur
The exhibit segues into several venues from Early Work, First Artist Book to Function and Illustration, Creative Differences and Classics. JAZZ as pictured above in the photograph by Graham S. Haber, illustrates how Matisse's book work reached a crescendo of color in his last years when he began to experiment with gouache cutouts, or, as he called it, "drawing with scissors."At first the artist wanted to call it Cirque but then agreed on the title JAZZ, which was more in keeping with the free-form aphoristic text. Although Matisse was pleased by the sensational success of JAZZ, in private correspondence he conceded that the pochoir stencils did not adequately reproduce the "purity" of his scissor work.
     Creative differences were inevitable in these collaborative projects. Almost everything went wrong in the production of James Joyce's Ulysses, although the idea was brilliant.  Matisse and Joyce agreed on a pictorial scheme based on the Homeric subtext of the book but the publisher insisted upon a more conventional concept. 
    Not just Joyce, but also leading figures in the French avant-garde inspired the book work of Matisse---poets such as Rene Char, Pierre Reverdy and Tristan Tzara and acknowledged classics of French literature; the works of Charles d'Orleans, the cover pictured above, and the works of Ronsard and Baudelaire. A boating trip in the Bois de Boulogne gave Matisse the original idea for the angry swan for Stephane Mallarme's Poesies (1932) Matisse's first independent work of art based on a literary text.
Pierre Matisse sketching for The Swan in the Bois de Boulogne
     The exhibition explores Matisse's creative process based on a collection donated by Frances and Michael Baylson in 2010. In addition, the gift includes hundreds of monographs, exhibition catalogues and related ephemera. Adult programs include: YOUR BOOK, BOLD AND BRIGHT: Stencils and Cut-Outs Saturday November 13, 2-4 pm. and SKETCHING IN THE GALLERY on Saturday November 21. Drop in 11 am-1pm. CLASSICAL JAZZ: Musical Reflections on Henri Matisse takes place on Friday, November 13 at 7:30 pm. Visit The Morgan Library & Museum at 225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street. www.themorgan.org. 
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! You too can become a cut up artist, they're easy to make so tell your stories in bright colors and bold shapes. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and in the left-hand column click on the direct link to a Blog that resonates with your interest.
     

Monday, November 2, 2015

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: ART ADDICT: Review by Polly Guerin


Peggy Guggenheim, the consummate collector
PEGGY GUGGENHEIM was an extraordinary art benefactor and collector. Now Lisa Immordino Vreeland brings to the screen the latest portrait of this notoriously eccentric grand dame in the film, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict. Submarine Deluxe will release the film in New York, Friday, November 6. Check local listings and the IFC Center in Manhattan. 
    To the art world the name  Peggy Guggenheim resonates as a  colorful character who was ahead of her time and became a central figure in the modern art movement. As she meandered through the cultural upheaval of the twentieth century she collected not only art, but launched the careers of artists, many of whom become her lovers. Sharply put together with interviews of celebrated artists, cultural personalities, curators, and gallery owners, the firm is a riveting documentary and consistently entertaining.
     Peggy's colorful personal history included romantic liaisons with such figures as Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollack, Alexander Calder, Marc Duchamp, as well as countless others. this film is rich with the lives of of the most important artists of the time, and Peggy is in the center of the action.

Peggy Guggenheim and Calder Mobile
What was it about Peggy? As a Guggenheim heiress she could have easily gone astray into the world of high society,  but her quirky personality resonated with her desire to find a deeper purpose in her life. She was in Paris in the 20s, the most exciting place to be, culturally, among the Dadiaists and Surrealists. Her destiny trust her into the role of benefactor, helping artists she meets and promoting them in her gallery. The modern art movement became her focus and catapulted her forward as one of the art world's most celebrated art collectors.
     While battling personal tragedy, her father dying on the titanic, the loss of her beloved daughter, she not only championed the work of many seminal artists, but also built one of the most important collections of modern art, now enshrined in her Venetian palazzo.
From Polly's Blog notes: womendeterminedtosucceed.
      I first saw Peggy's extraordinary art collection at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal in Venice when I took twenty college students from the Fashion Institute of Technology on a whirlwind fashion tour several years ago. In an attempt to include some cultural venues on the fashion expedition I took the students to Venice to view Peggy's magnificent collection of modern art. 
     The students were in awe of the art works as well as the garden sculptures, but more than that your presence, though absent, was felt deeply and inspired visitors alike. Your name is synonymous with the Guggenheim Museum yet you carved out a life determined to succeed as an independent art collector who bought art, not as an investment, but primarily because you loved the works, sometimes even picked up works of art even if they didn't sell, but now are coveted masterpieces. 
THE HEIRESS AND ART 
    It certainly makes a big difference if you have enormous wealth to support purchasing art. Peggy was unique and became a true patron of the arts discovering among modern artists Jackson Pollock when he was working as a humble carpenter in the Solomon Guggenheim museum. Peggy was a unique woman, born in 1898 to a wealthy New York City family. Her lineage gave her certain advantages. 
     Peggy’s father was Benjamin Guggenheim and she was the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim, who established the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. However, her education in modern art did not begin until 1920 when she inherited from her father, who went down with the Titanic in 1912, a trust fund with an income of $22.500 a year. With her inheritance Peggy Guggenheim could have chosen to play the role of a socialite among New York’s tony social set, but she became something more than that: a pioneer, a risk taker, an avid art collector who safeguarded modern art from obscurity.
THE AVANT-GARDE CONNECTION       
     With such financial resources Peggy realized her desire to carve out a life of her own. When Peggy was twenty-two, she traveled to Europe and discovered the literary and art worlds in Paris and lived there on and off for some twenty years returning to New York sporadically. She made Paris her home base and quickly immersed herself in the arty circles. Peggy became celebrated not only as a patron and collector of modern art, but also for her love affairs with important artists including Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock and Samuel Beckett. A dedicated collector she acquired Constantin Brancusi’s “Bird in Space and works by the abstract painter Robert Delaunay. 
   
Max Ernst and Peggy Guggenheim
 In 1938 she opened the gallery Guggenheim Jeune in London and Marcel Duchamp was her chief advisor showing the first one man show for Wassily Kandinsky, the abstract expressionist, and Yves Tanguy, the surrealist painter’s work, Le Soleil dans son ecrin (The Sun in a casket) 1937. In 1942 on the advice of the surrealist painter Max Ernst and the poet Andre Breton she continued to add to her collection and opened the gallery Art of This Century in New York. Venice beckoned in 1949 and she moved into the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, where she installed her remarkable collection of modern art.

LOVE AFFAIRS AND FAMILY 
Peggy coveted both art and lovers and became notorious for her overt love affairs, such was her free spirit. However, she did sandwich in several marriages. On one of her visits to New York when visiting a gallery owned by a cousin, Harold Loeb, she met Laurence Vail, a Dada sculptor and writer who was part of the avant-garde intelligentsia in Greenwich Village. They married two years later and had two children, Michael Sindbad and Pegeen Vail Guggenheim. 
     The marriage ended and in 1928 she met and formed a relationship with the English intellectual John Holms, never a success he was a man who suffered from writer’s block. They engaged in a tempestuous alliance that was riddled with drunken harangues and boisterous rows. Her second husband was Max Ernst, in 1941. Another liaison was with Kenneth McPherson with whom she felt comforted and safe, and they eventually became the best of friends. Throughout her days in Venice Peggy was always surrounded by her beloved Lhasa terriers and when she died she was interred in the sculpture garden of her home next to her beloved dogs inside the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

ARCHITECTURAL MODELS FROM ANCIENT AMERICAS: Review by Polly Guerin

House Model, Nayarit, Mexico 100 B.C.--A.D. 200 Ceramic and Pigment
If you were leaving for eternity what would you place in your burial chamber? The Aztecs, the Incas and their predessors, in a rarely seen before exhibit, shed light on the subject in a rare exhibition with never seen before artifacts. 
    From the first millenium B.C. until the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, artists from the ancient Americas created small-scale models to be placed in the tombs of important individuals.
    These works in stone, ceramic, wood, and metal range from highly abstracted representations of temples and houses to elaborate architectural complex populated with figures. 
   The exhibit, Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the first of its kind in the United States, sheds light on the role of these objects and their relationship between the living, the dead and the divine.
     Arranged chronologically, the exhibition features groups of works from ancient Mesoamerican and Andean cultures. Featured is an exceptional ceramic work, perhaps the finest example of a house model known from the Nayarit culture of West Mexico was made between 100 B.C. -- A.D. 200 and measuring 12 inches in height, and includes twenty-six figures engaged in a grand feast.
   
Ball-Court Model, Ceramic with Slip and other pigments
The artifacts give us a birds eye view into how these people lived, played and entertained. Also included from West Mexico, is a ceramic model of a ball court with five players engaged in ritual play, with about twenty spectators, and an Andean artifact---long believed to be an architectural model---that is now thought to be a game board.

     Some thirty remarkable loans from museums in the United States and Peru join the works from the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum. While scant written documentation concerning how the artifacts used has survived. Maya hiero-glyphs call them "god houses: or sleeping places for the gods." Indeed, many of the artifacts combine a buildings shape and that of a vessel, and some of these double as musical arrangements.   The centerpiece of the exhibition is a spectacular wooden model that depicts part of a pre-Inca palace at Chan Chan, the capital of
Pre-Inca Palace at Chan Chan, Chimu Empire
of the Chimu Empire. (the Chimu people were defeated by the Inca in the 15th century)l Figures that represent musicians, beer servers, and others are sewn to the cloth base, thee larger figures, which are not secured to the model, represent mummies, one male and two female. The scene may be an early representation of funerary practices that later became common among the Inca, who did not bury their royal dead.

   The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog, Yale University Press, at the Museum's bookshops ($25.00, paperback).  The exhibition is also featured on the Museum's website at www.metmuseum.org, as well as on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via the following hashtage:#DesignforEternity.
    Ta Ta darlings!!! Take time to visit this ancient world of wonder works that shed light on these ancient people and their relationships between the living, the dead, and eternal life.  Fan mail always is welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and in the left-hand column click on the link to the Blog that resonates with your interest.             



Monday, October 19, 2015

Fashion and Virtue: Textile Patterns and the Print Revolution, 1520-1620: Review By Polly Guerin

Illustrating the Ancient Technique
The printed resources related to the design of textile patterns, starting as far back to the 1520s are rare specimens of women's ingenuity and ability to transfer patterns into works of textile art and beauty.
     These small booklets of textile patterns, published regularly, in pocket-size with easy to-use patterns, were not made for library use, but became an instant success, essentially forming the first fashion publications.  
    These small reference books were the active use of their 16th-century owners across all levels of society. who were interested and invested in textile decoration as a means of self-expression and transformation of their household linens and ornamental design on dresses and ceremonial attire.
   Unfortunately, in most cases, the instructions were made easier when users of the books tore out the pages and pasted or nailed them to workroom walls for inspiration. As a consequence many of these precious records of creativity were lost.
But not forever: the Metropolitan Museum of Arts exhibition FASHION and VIRTUE; TEXTILE PATTERNS and the PRINT REVOLUTION, 1520-1620 is a rare opportunity to view some of the amazing patterns that passed through the hands of homemakers and professionals who embellished textiles with the intricacy of design at a time when only human interpretation could realize the result. In an age when the computer governs design one can appreciate this art form with even more sensitivity for the vast volume of creativity that the exhibition displays.  The collection drawn largely from the Metropolitan's own collection, combines printed pattern books, drawings, textile samples, costumes, paintings, and various other works of art to evoke the colorful world in which the Renaissance textile pattern books first emerged and functioned.
Leonardo da Vinci's Fifth Knot, Copy by Durer

     During the first quarter of the 16th century, the market for publications of textile patterns quickly expanded and the exchange of designs and ideas was established between Italy and the countries north of the Alps. The books became highly influential sources that both instructed and inspired many in the arts of making embroideries, weavings, and lace, as can be seen in surviving costumes and textiles of the period.
    Throughout fashion history the urge to decorate, embellish and superimpose gave textiles beauty and were a testament to the instuitive talent of the women (and men) who interpreted designs into beautiful works of art.
  The wide reach of these early publications meant that they were easily adapted for educational purposes, instructing women and young textile makers in the art while, like today's fashion magazines, they dispensed advice on proper conduct and a virtuous lifestyle.
   
Georgio Sanr'Angelo ensemble 1970
On November 6, designer Todd Oldham will join Associate Curator, Femke Speelberg, for a conversation about the exhibition. The exhibition opens October 20 and runs through January 10, 2016, Robert Lehman Wing, Galleries 964-965, Lower Level.

     A runway of showcased garments highlights the incredible diversity of this textile art as interpreted in ancient garments that made highly diversified fashion statements through the intricacies of textile art. The exhibition also  brings this art form full circle showing how designers interpreted this art form and made it their own fashion statement in red carpet collections. 
   Ta ta darlings!!! This exhibition is a tribute to the women (and men) who interpreted the intricacies of design. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Viisit www.pollytalk.com and in the right hand column select the link to the Blog that resonates with your interest.
    
     

 

    

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ancient Egypt Transformed: The MIDDLE KINGDOM: Review by Polly Guerin

Relief with Senwosret, Dynasty 12, Senwosret I
The ancient sands of time unearths Egypt's historical legacy in remarkable carvings and statues in the exhibition, Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, which opened recently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
      Why does the Middle Kingdom matter to us? It sheds light on the great cultural flowering that lasted nearly 400 years. During the Middle kingdom (mid-Dynasty 11-Dynasty 13, around 2030-1650 B.C, artistic, cultural, religious, and political traditions first conceived and instituted during the Old Kingdom were revived and re- imagined.
    This transformational era is represent through 230 powerful and compelling masterpieces (individual objects and groups of objects) and ranging in size from monumental stone sculptures to delicate examples of jewelry.  The works of art are drawn from the preeminent collection of the of the Metropolitan, which is rich in Middle Kingdom material--and 37 museums and collection in North America and Europe. 
    This is the first comprehensive presentation of Middle Kingdom art and culture and features many objects that have never been shown in the United States.
     
Detail : Nemtihotep's statue
"The astonishing continuity of ancient Egyptian culture, with certain basic principles lasting for thousands of years, gives the impression of changelessness," said Adela Oppenheim, Curator of Egyptian Art. "But the works of art in the exhibition will show that ancient Egypt constantly evolved, and was remarkably flexible with a consistent framework. New ideas did not simply replace earlier notions; they were added to what had come before, creating a fascinating society of ever-increasing complexity."

     During the 12th Dynasty, the construction of pyramid complexes resumed, after a lapse of more than a century. Profound changes in the concept of kinship are also demonstrated through a series of royal statues that span several hundred years.
   Royal women were always closely connected to the pharaoh, as evidenced by the placement of their burials near those of the king. Although less is known about Middle Kingdom queens and princesses, some of the finest ancient Egyptian jewelry was produced for elite women of the time. Inscriptions and symbolic motifs endowed the jewelry with spiritual power and related to the roles these women played in supporting the kings as guarantors of divine order on earth. Calling all jewelry designers and art enthusiasts, it is interesting to note that a studio workshop on jewelry design will take place October 17 and 24. Register at www.metmuseum.org/artmaking. 
     
Nemtihoptep 
During the Middle Kingdom, the god Osiris gained importance as a funerary deity and, from then on, the deal at all levels of society became manifestation of the God. Because Osiris functioned as the ruler of the underworld certain symbols and regalia that had been the sole prerogative of the reigning king were appropriated for non-royal use: mummies sometimes had a uraeus on the brow (a stylized cobra usually seen on a pharaoh's crown), and a flail (a standard attribute to the pharaoh)( could be placed inside the coffin.

   the Middle Kingdom---the achievements of its artists, its religious beliefs, burial customs, and relationships with other lands in a large part stems from the Metropolitan Museum sponsorship of numerous excavations at Middle Kingdom sites. 
   Related events include a Sunday at the Met on October 25 and a one-day symposium on Friday, January 22, 2016.
   Ta Ta darlings!  I'm checking out the jewelry and the elite women of the Middle Kingdom. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc.gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click on the links in the left-hand column.




    
     

Monday, October 5, 2015

ERNEST HEMINGWAY Between Two Wars: Review by Polly Guerin

Author: Ernest Hemingway   
Why does Ernest Hemingway matter? Well, the Morgan Library and Museum's recent exhibit, Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars clearly reminds us that this is the first museum exhibit devoted to one of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century.
     In 1917 he took a job, a short stint, as a cub reporter for The Kansas City Star, where he learned the essentials of good writing from the newspaper's style sheet: "Use short sentences, use short first paragraphs, and eliminate every superfluous word:," and the precepts he learned there shaped his literary style that endured forever.
       His direct, spare style of writing influenced successive generations of author's around the world and tens of millions would read his books and never forget the stories and characters in such masterpieces as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which are among the best known and acclaimed books of the modern era. They focused on recurring war themes that he derived from his first-hand participation and later as a war correspondent.
     In 1925, for example, in 1925 he told F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The reason you are so sore...you missed the war, because war is the best subject of all. It groups the maximum of material and speeds up the action and brings out all sorts of stuff that normally you have to wait a lifetime to get."
      The exhibition provides a rare insight into Hemingway's creative process, from 1918 to the aftermath of World War II--and the finality of death--with grace and courage.His experiences as a war casualty shaped numerous short stories and novels.
     This a a rare opportunity to view almost one hundred rarely exhibited manuscripts and letters, photographs, drafts and typescripts of stories, first editions and artifacts from the author's life. In the beginning, wherever he was, he often used cheap notepads or scraps of papers, even letterheads to write with pencil in hand.
Ernest Hemingway recovering in Milan
      Upon entering the gallery  there is a big blowup of a handsome eighteen year old Hemingway as a solder in 1918 when he was serving as a volunteer with the Red Cross on the Italian Front During World War I. He was recovering from shrapnel wounds at a Red Cross hospital in Milan, Italy. War would engage his writing interest and this is the first time the author tried to turn his wartime experiences into fiction. Later he wrote on Red Cross stationery, "When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed; not you. Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose the illusion and you know it can happen."
     In the early 1920s Hemingway was determined to make his living as a writer and moved to Paris with his wife Hadley Richardson. This move that would bring him into a constellation of friends including F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso among others at Sylvia Beach's legendary bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, which served as a gathering place. In Paris Hemingway transformed himself from a journalist into a writer of fiction and would launch a career that saw the completion of five novels, short stories and poetry.. Image right: Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
First Page: A Farewell to Arms 
 Hemingway resided in Paris until the end of 1929. and for the next ten years he lived mostly in Key West, Florida with his second wife Pauline. In the spring of 1939, Martha Gellhorn, who would become his third wife, rented a farmhouse, the Finca Vigia near Havana. No wonder, The exhibits walls are painted tropical blue to suggest his years in Key West and in Cuba. And, oh yes, Hemingway's literary fame grew steadily in the 1930's on the heels of the highly successful 1929 publication of Farewell to Arms, which he completed in Key West. Image left: First page of autograph manuscript of A Farewell to Arms, Charles Scribner's Sons,1929. Reprinted with the permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.(c) 1929..
     His own first-hand knowledge of war, and it fatal dangers, did not keep Hemingway at home in 1944, upon returning to Europe to report the war for Collier's magazine, he explained his presence at the war front by saying, "I got war fever like the measles."
    Ta Ta Darlings!!! Sadly depression and deteriorating health took their toll on his creativity. However in 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, "for his mastery of the art of narrative...and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style."  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.
Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com with links in the left hand column.

   


Monday, September 28, 2015

THE POWER OF PICTURES: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film: Review by Polly Guerin


The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film exhibition at The Jewish Museum, on view through February 7, 2016, is remarkably relevant today. As we think about the role of images in the age of social media, the exhibit has numerous lessons to offer; particularly in regard to the circulation of pictures and the relationship to the mass public. It reminds us that to maintain a connection between art and politics is a matter of urgency.
            Why is this exhibit significant? Jens Hoffmann, deputy director said, “The innovations of early Soviet lens-based art are remarkable relevant--even prescient--for our contemporary moment. In a time when the relationship between art and politics is still defined, it is opportune to look back at a period of enormous synergy between artistic creation and extreme political action.”
            Covering the period from the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution through the 1930s, the exhibition explores how early modernist photography and film influenced a new Soviet Style. It revisits a moment in history when artists acted as engines of social change and radical political engagement. Through 181 works, The Power of Pictures reveals how striking images by master photographers and filmmakers were seen as powerful propaganda tools in the new Soviet Union.
           
Alexander Rodchenko Sports Parade Red Square
Recognizing that images had the power to transform society, Lenin put lens-based art at the service of the Revolution. A large number of the most prominent photographers, photojournalists, and filmmakers were Jewish and includes major constructivist photographers Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, and Boris Ignatovich to name a few.
           The period of intense innovation was brief. By 1932, as Joseph Stalin consolidated power, independent styles were no longer tolerate; the avant-garde became suspect and artistic organizations dissolved to be replace by state-run control.
            Becoming Jewish: Warhol’s Liz and Marilyn presents a close look at two of Andy Warhol’s muses Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, exploring the Jewish identities of Warhol’s most celebrated subjects.  Both screen icons converted to Judaism in the 1950s. Warhol was fascinated by their star power and used publicity stills to create his iconic portraits. This intimate single-gallery exhibition features several portraits of these renowned actresses alongside a large selection of photographs, letters, and ephemera, shedding new light on their relationship with Judaism and Warhol’s interest in Celebrity culture.
           
Arkady Shaikhet 's Assembling the Globe
Masterpieces &Curiosities: Alfred Stieglitz’s The Steerage: This exhibition focuses on Stieglitz’s enduring 1907 photogravure of steerage-class passengers aboard the ocean liner Kaiser Wilhelm II. Stieglitz’s concerns, however, were largely aesthetic rather than social-minded: he was moved more by the picture’s formal qualities than its subject matter.  Stieglitz considered the work to be his greatest triumph, stating lager in life, “If all my photographs were lost, and I’d be represented by just one, The Steerage, I’d be satisfied.”  This gallery also includes related artworks from the Jewish Museum’s collection.
           The Television Project: Picturing a People is drawn from the Jewish Museum’s Nation Jewish Archive of Broadcasting. It explores the ways in which television has addressed the Jewish experience through clips and artistically important programs, ephemera, and works of art and considers how Jews have been portrayed on American television through the 1950s to the present.
            Ta Ta Darlings!!! Film screenings accompany this exhibit. For daily the film schedule contact: www.thejewishmuseum.org. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly’s Blogs at www.pollytalk.com.


            

Monday, September 21, 2015

FASHION UNDERGROUND: The World of Susanne Bartsch: Review by Polly Guerin

Susan Bartsch in Abel Villarreal's leather horse look
Get prepared to be swept up in the magic and the creative fantasy of Fashion Underground, The Museum at FIT's Susanne Bartsch retrospective, the ringleader of 80s club-style chic. The exhibition opened recently and runs through December 5, 2015 covering Bartsch's 30-year career, from her days as a promoter and retailer of young British designers to her current role as nightlife doyenne. This is an unusual exhibit at FIT and when you walk through it you just might find yourself remembering a club scene adventure and recall when you first saw Susanne wearing one of her exotic outfits or a Ziegfeld Follies fantasy ensemble..On view, the exhibit features approximately 80 looks from the underground fashion impresario's personal collection of clothing and accessories, including designs by Rachel Auburn, the Blonds, Leigh Bowery, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Pam Hogg, Stephen Jones, Alexander McQueen, Rich Owens, Vivienne Westwood and Zaldy.  Pictured Left: Susan Bartsch in Abel Villarreal's leather horse look, April 1992. Photo by Albert Sanchez.
WHO IS SUSAN BARTSCH: So who is Susanne Bartsch to garner an exhibition st FIT? She is an event producer and  has been the queen of new York City nightlife since the 1980s, when she became renowned for creating spectacular parties where she and a diverse mix of individuals---uptown, downtown, gay, strait, multiracial---dressed up in their own version of high fashion street style, drag and Mardi Gras extravaganza..Her outlandish over-the-top monthly parties at the Copacabana united the haute and demi-monde and made her an icon of New York night life. An enthusiastic promoter of 1980s English fashion, she was one of the first New York retailers to import Vivienne Westwood. So why does this collection matter? Because Bartsch is a muse for fashion designers and makeup arts and.today she is increasingly creating events that explicitly link fashion and art. "Style is about expressing yourself," says Bartsch. You can be whatever you want to be---a silver screen star, a Marie Antoinette baroque creature, a Victorian punk. I love that about fashion and makeup."
Susanne Bartsch in a corset by the Blonds, circa 2013 
PRETEND YOUR A PARTY ANIMAL::The best way to approach this exhibit is to pretend that you are crashing one of Susanne's famous parties. As you enter the exhibit,you are greeted by a lineup of extravagantly costumed party goers, mannequins dressed to impress the 'doorman' in a graffiti alley complete with an aluminum trash can, which sets the stage for the extravaganza exhibition in the galleries to come.. But before you enter be sure you are on the guest list. .One flamboyant mannequin holds a RSVP guest list and your name better be listed to get in on the fun.."It was about seeing and being seen," says Bartsch.  The presentation has ceiling high venues of mannequins perched above in spectacular line up of the collection.with the conception of the exhibition design by Thierry-Maxine Loriot. Right above:t: Photo by Marco Ovando.
   
Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch
THE GALLERIES: In the main exhibition gallery, the first section focuses on the 1980's English fashions that Bartsch introduced to New York displayed in a mise-en-scene evoking her surreality styled boutiques. The second and largest section features a variety of creations that Bartsch and her friends have worn at their famous club nights at Savage, Copacabana, and Le Bain, with a special section featuring the "Love Ball" in 1989 which raised 2.5 million dollars to fight AIDS. The final section evokes her apartment at the Chelsea Hotel, a facsimile of Bartsch's own boudoir, is on display with her most current outrages looks.  A small introductory gallery features images and videos of Bartsch and her world.
    The exhibition curated by Valerie Steele and Susanne Bartsch is accompanied by a book by Steel and Melissa Marra. A two-day symposium will feature a range of designers, performers and scholars speaking on fashion, creativity and performance art. The exhibition is FREE and open Tues-Fri, noon-8pm. Closed Sunday and legal holidays. At Seventh Avenue and 27th Street. www.fitnyc.edu.
Ta Ta Darlings!!! The costumes are amazing, the message is inspirational with creativity exploding on all levels. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc.gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com.

Monday, September 14, 2015

PICASSO SCULPTURES IN 3-d: Review by Polly Guerin

 
Bull. Cannes, 1958
Picasso loved some of his sculptures so much that during his lifetime he kept many of them in his home, living among them as if they were family members. Now MoMA has brought them to New York in the largest exhibition of the Spaniard’s three-dimensional works spanning the years 1902-2016.
            That’s what makes Picasso Sculpture, the exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, a once-in-a-lifetime event, not to be missed, and some rare and wonderful ceramics also dominate the show. The exhibition opens today, September 14 and has an extended run through to February 7, 2016.
            This is the largest museum presentation of Picasso sculptures to take place in the United States and fills the museum’s entire fourth floor galleries allowing sufficient space to view the sculptures fully in the round. The exhibition brings together approximately 140 sculptures from Picasso’s entire career via loans from major public and private collections and includes 50 sculptures on loan from the Museee Picasso in Paris.
           
Still Life with Guitar
The galleries reveal works that have never been seen in New York before. Most of us know Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) as a painter and from the start he was an untrained sculptor and had a natural disregard for tradition. As a result his sculptures have a spontaneity that occupied a deeply personal place in his work. He approached sculpture with a sense of freedom and curiosity, creating innovative works that continue to intrigue us today.        
Of special note, in the second gallery, is the cardboard Guitar, a humble still life that employs the simple craft of cutting, folding and threading. This fragile sculpture reveals how Picasso, at this time unschooled in sculpture construction, used paperboard, paper, thread, string, twine and coated wire to create this work.
            Picasso’s monument for the tomb of the poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire, who had died in 1918, may have been rejected at the time, but his complex works of welded metal, realized in collaboration with the sculptor Julio Gonzales, can best be described as Metamorphosis I and II, which Picasso’s art dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, christened “drawings in space.”
           Beginning in 1933, began Picasso’s foray into collecting discarded everyday and materials objects to incorporate into such works as Head of a Warrior (1933) whose eyes began as tennis balls. He started imprinting plaster with found objects. The narrow ridges of corrugated cardboard, for example, served to articulate the drapery of Woman with Leaves and the Orator.
           
Vase Woman: Vallauris
Picasso was one of the few artists designated by the Germans as “degenerate” to remain in occupied Paris during World War II. Somehow he managed to obtain enough clay and plaster o produce a population of human and animal figures. Although bronze casting was prohibited, as precious metal was reserved for wartime purposes, Picasso had his sculptures secretly transported to and from the foundry by night. The largest work of this period is the seven-foot-tall Man with a Lamb. Picasso’s witty assemblage did not altogether disappear during these somber times. Bull’s Head (1942) caught my eye. It is simply a strategic pairing of a leather 
bicycle seat and a pair of metal handlebars, cast in bronze.
           After the liberation of Paris, Picasso renewed contact with the French Riviera and visited the ceramic workshop of George and Suzanne Ramie in the town of Vallauris and began to experiment in the ancient medium. He bought an abandoned perfume factory, which he converted to a studio and began making a series of assemblages created from a vast array of found objects. His most whimsical. He painted with glaze on ceramics in the shape of figures and animals.For further information. MoMA 212.708.9400, www.moma.org.

Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Picasso never fails to amaze...don't miss this show. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click on the links in the left-hand column.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

'THE ARMED MAN: A Mass for Peace, FREE concert 9/24.

The pomp and circumstance of events paying tribute to Pope Francis’ visit to New York brings “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace” by Karl Jenkins as a timely opportunity to celebrate not only the humble Pope but also to celebrate a Mass for Peace.  “It is an inter-religious and cultural melting pot, and there is no better way to celebrate Pope Francis’ visit to our great city,” said Richard Owen, music director of Camerata New York.
          Camerata New York, under the baton of Maestro Owen, and the Amor Arts chorus will perform the rarely heard evocative work in New York, on Thursday, September 24 at 8 pm at a FREE concert, open to the public, at St. Jean Baptiste Church (Lexington Avenue at 76th Street). Reservations are requested. For more information, call 212.874-3990.
         
Amor Artis Chorus
“It is  a tremendous privilege for Camerata New York, in collaboration with the Amor Artis Chorus, to be performing this seldom heard work,” said Owen. The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace is a multi dimensional performance, based on the famous 15th century French folksong, “L’homme arme, a multi-religious work. The performance, accompanied by a video slide-show, is composed of traditional mass movements and Old-Testament Psalm settings, a Muslim call to prayer, and poetry by noted 19th century poets. In a world of turmoil and grief the work affirms that change is possible, and proposes that in the new millennium, in the words of Tennyson, we “Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace.”
          This epic event is a powerful reminder Owen said. “It is a tremendous privilege for Camerata New York, in collaboration with the Amor Artis Chorus. “What makes the piece so special is that it is inspired by the Mass, the Islamic call to prayer, and the Mahabharata, as well as Rudyard Kipling, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Sankichi Toge, who survived the Hiroshima bombing.”
         
St. Jean Baptiste Church
What is Camerata New York? Now celebrating fourteen successful seasons in New York, the orchestra is made up of the finest young musicians in this great city. The orchestra has performed in major concert venues and hailed by critics for its “lustrous tone-quality with collaborations with some of the finest artists of the day including Alvin Ailey, cellist Nathaniel Rosen, soprano Aprile Millo and film star Alec Baldwin. For more information visit www.cameratany.org.
          It would be remiss not to mention something about conductor Richard Owen. His celebrity is prolific and in addition to being the music director of Camerata New York Orchesta he is principal conductor with the Adelphi Orchestra and music director Saints John and Paul church in Larchmont, New York.
          Just to give equal billing to Amor Artis let it be said that for more than fifty years, it is one of New York’s beloved institutions. Its chorus and orchestra gained renowned as a pioneer of the early music revival in the U.S. Under its founder, Johannes Somary, it issued the first recordings ever of Handel’s oratorios, Theodora and Jephtha, and after 9/11, Amor Artis was there, making music with renowned musicians from around the world. For more information visit www.amoratis.org.
          Fan mail is always welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly’s Blogs at www.pollytalk.com.