Monday, May 22, 2017

A WORLD OF EMOTIONS at Onassis Cultural Center: Review By Polly Guerin

WHY DO EMOTIONS MATTER?  Life would  be pretty dull without emotions that  penetrate every aspect of our lives, they are the background of every form of art and literature and are interwoven with memory, attention, cognition, and decision. Emotions are such heady stuff that they determine our interpersonal relations, our private life, the public sphere, and religious worship. 
      Perhaps we need more emotion in our lives, let's see how the ONASSIS CULTURAL CENTER'S stunning ancient Greek masterpieces bring emotions to the fore in a groundbreaking exhibition, A WORLD OF EMOTIONS Ancient Greece, 700 AD-200 AD on view through June 23, 2017, Free admission and public programs, Onassis Cultural Center New York, 645 Fifth Avenue at 51st Street.
     Image Right Features two heads: The Head of PENTHESILEA Marble, Roman copy of a Hellenistic original. (c) Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig. Second head ACHILLES, Marble, Roman copy  of a Hellenistic original. (c) Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig. 
      The exhibition brings together more than 130 masterpieces from world-renowned museums including the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum Athens, the Louvre, the British Museum, the Vatican museums and many more opening pathways to a wide world of unending, conflicting, universal emotions. A World of Emotions explores the ideas and attitudes of people in classical antiquity toward emotion and the ways in which the emotions are depicted, revealing how some are strikingly familiar to us and some shockingly alien.  It features vase paintings, sculptures, theatrical masks, amulets, coins, and votive offerings, among other artifacts, many on view in the United States for the firs time, and some for the first time outside of Greece.  

Angelos Chaniotis, Professor of  Ancient History and Classics, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton wrote: "Emotions have a particular significance for Greek Culture. Greek  theorized emotions as early as the 5th century BC.  Emotions were personified and worshipped as divinities. The very first word of Greek (and European) literature describes an emotion: menis, "anger."  Emotions are manifest in every expression of Greek culture, in institutions and society, drama and poetry, rhetoric and history, art and philosophy." Image Left: Funerary Stele, Marble, early 3rd century BC, from the Cemetery of Ancient Thera. Archaeological Museum of Thera (c) Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports--Archaeological Receipts Fund. Photography Kostas Xenikakis.
     Think upon this: According to Aristotle's definition, tragic plays had a surging effect on spectators by arousing fear and compassion. The tragic poets drew their subjects from the passions of larger-than-life figures such as Euripides' Medea with themes of love, betrayal, jealousy, anger and revenge,  which become part of the world's cultural heritage. The myth of Medea inspired six operas, the best known being Luigi Cherubini's Medee of 1797. Maria Callas played this part in her only film role, in Pier Paolo Pasolini's Medea of 1969.  Presented on the theatrical stage, myths triggered fear and empathy that led audiences to catharsis, which according to Aristotle was the defining goal of tragedy.   
     Professor Chaniotis adds: "This exhibition presents an itinerary into a world of emotions. It confronts the visitor with question of timeless value: What were the means with which ancient artists represented emotions. How did images and texts arouse emotions that still resonate with a modern audience.
     A World of Emotions is the kind of exhibition that provides a timely opportunity to think about the role of feeling in our own personal, social, and political lives, and prompts questions about how we express control, manipulate or simulate feelings. Image Right
A marble votive relief of Greek mythology hero
Zeus from 340 BC.
     The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue of essays, available for purchase  at the Onassis Cultural Center New York.   Contact info: www.onassisusa.org/emotions.  
     Ta Ta Darlings!!!  This exhibition gives me cause of express my emotional reaction: Don't MISS this opportunity to revisit the Greek classics and immerse yourself in the emotional thrill  of seeing some Greek antiquities on view for the first time in the US.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs on www.pollytalk.com, and n the left-hand column click on the subject that resonates with your interest on visionary men,  women determined to succeed, the fashion historian and poetry. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

POSTERS and PATRIOTISM at MCNY: Review By Polly Guerin

 As Memorial Day approaches, it is fitting to pause to remember those who served and made great sacrifices in all the wars to keep our nation free and safe.  
    Then too, it is interesting to look into the annals of war propaganda and to note that although New York City is located some 4,000 miles from Europe's bloodiest battlefields during World War I,  it played an important role in the conflict, particularly as a producer of all types of war propaganda.
     The Museum of the City of New York's "POSTERS and PATRIOTISM: Selling World War I in New York" displays sixty original illustrations to sell the war to Americans, on view through October 9, 2017.
    Why does this exhibition matter? Just the magnitude of the outpouring of Posters, Patriotism, and the Power of advertising, the persuasive method that was used to promote patriotic responses during World War I captures our collective interest.  
      In order to unite
Americans in the war effort, a formidable propaganda machine was set up in New York. Three hundred illustrators and admen were recruited with producing posters leaflets, magazine covers and sheet music covers.                  During the 20 months of American engagement in the war, 2,500 illustrations were designed , reproduced and posted over all 50 states. However, at first their image of the war was innocent and romantic; often portrayed as a glorious and exotic adventure. 
    To mobilize the home front New York became a theater of war. Vibrantly colored illustrations covered newsstands, subway stations and billboard all over the city and department stores dressed their windows simultaneously to reflect the propaganda.  Few people thought that the war would drag on but it did and as news of the fallen victims reached the citizens. the reality of the war set in and the vibrant message was darkened.     

Once the Armistice of November 11, 1918 was signed, New York entered the Jazz Age. Spared by the destruction of battle New York City transformed, admen and artists cast aside propaganda for the Dada art movement and Harlem became a mecca of new clubs inspired by African-American soldiers.  It was the roaring 20s and the city was the epicenter of freedom and frivolity.   
 It is interesting to note, that John W. Campbell, the railroad executive most well-known today for his gilded age office in Grand Central Terminal, lastly as the bar, Campbell Apartment (now closed) made substantial donations from his private collection of propaganda posters.
    Something to ponder: Would such a propaganda campaign work in today's society? 
    Ta Ta darlings!!! Let's remember the men and women who so gallantly served and revere their memory this Memorial Day, and lay a wreath at a statue in their memory or throw a wreath into the water for those lost at sea. Fan mail always welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and in the left
hand column click on the Blog that resonates with your interest on visionary men, women determined to succeed, the fashion historian or poetry.
    

Monday, May 8, 2017

NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S Center for Women's History: Review By Polly Guerin

Soaring Glass Grand Staircase by Norman S. Benzaquen 
Dazzling like sparkling colored gemstones, the custom-designed glass gallery of 100 illuminated Tiffany lamps displays works of artistic creation, many made by the "Tiffany Girls," who at last get their 15 minutes of fame in the groundbreaking new, CENTER FOR WOMEN'S HISTORY. The first of its kind I am told, in a major U.S. museum, the the fourth floor of THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY has been transformed into a space that tells women's stories and the impact women have made on American history.
     As the centerpiece on the fourth floor, the museum offers a rare opportunity to view a custom-designed glass gallery showcasing the Museum's preeminent collection of Tiffany lamps re-imagined in a permanent installation and displayed within a dramatically lit jewel-like space with its soaring glass Norman S. Benzaquen Grand staircase. 
      Quite true, the museum did have an earlier Tiffany exhibition but that was around 2005, and now the full scope of the museum's Tiffany lamp collection is on view in glorious drama, and to say the least, it is quite stunning, and tugs at one's mind to remember that many these faceted creations were designed and assembled by women.  
The fully renovated fourth floor reveals the often overlooked stories of women who had made an impact on American history.  Then too, the exhibition was inspired by the New-York Historical's discovery of the unknown story of Clara Driscoll, and her Women's Glass Cutting Department, who designed and created iconic Tiffany lampshades at the turn of the 20th century. It is interesting to note that Louis Comfort Tiffany so valued his
leading lady that he paid her the same salary as his employees in the men's glass cutting department.  Image right: The installation includes  multiple examples of the Dragonfly shade, a unique Dogwood floor lamp, a Wisteria Table Lamp, and a rare, elaborate Cobweb shades, among many others.
     With state-of-the-art interactive media, the visitor experience includes a hands-on "Design-a-Lamp" experience in the Tiffany gallery and a diorama that illustrates the rise of electrification. Putting it quite succinctly Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society said, "The reopening of our Henry Luce III Center on the fourth floor of our landmark building marks a new and dramatic phase in the museum's history. Many of the objects we now are able to have never been seen by the public before, others had not been seen for generations."  
     
Interactive Dolley Madison dining table invites visitors 
Of course, the The Women's Center, fourth floor, offers much more than the magnificent Tiffany gallery. SAVING WASHINGTON, for example, showcases the contributions of Dolley Madison and her female contemporaries to the fledgling democracy in early America. Image left: An interactive recreation of Dolley Madison's dining table invites visitors to practice their diplomacy skills. All photos by Corrado Serra.

     In the North Gallery the striking space presents treasures from the museum's holdings in 15 themes relating to the port of New York, Hudson River School artists, slavery in New York, and 9/11, among other objects on view. Highlights of early American silver include a display of silver and jewelry from the New York retailer Tiffany & Co.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Here's to the women who made America great!!!  Visit the new Center for Women's History, where women take pride and place in American history.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click in the left hand column on the links to visionary men, fashion, women determined to succeed or poetry.

Monday, May 1, 2017

FLORINE STETTHEIMER; Painting Poetry: at The Jewish Museum: Review By Polly Guerin

Picnic at Bedford Hills 1918
Jazz Age Manhattan's influential American painter, designer and poet, Florine Stettheimer's sharp satirical wit, places her centrally in the modern dialogue of  high and mass culture. Her whimsicality and pictorial depiction of society gives us pause to be enchanted, and why not, her work continues to provoke comment and curiosity. Florine gives us a peak through the magnifier at a life well lived and well loved. She was an astute commentator on her social milieu and the American scene, including icons of New York City.
     Then, too, the leading lights of the artistic vanguard were attracted to her.  One dandy, in particular, Marcel Duchamp, the flamboyant epicurean was an intimate friend, and frequent visitor, but her circle also included Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keefe, Elie Nadelman, Gaston Lachaise, and many others. Image Left: Picnic at Bedford Hills, 1918, oil on canvas. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Gift of Ettie Stettheimer, 1950.
     
Asbury Park 1920
By 1918,  Florine had articulated her unique style, typified in the painting Picnic at Bedford Hills. The figures are painted in a miniaturized, self-consciously naive manner that seemingly draws from folk art.  In other paintings she chronicled urban life---beauty contests, parties, the revelries of celebrities, gatherings, skyscrapers, Wall Street and consumer culture. Ahead of her time she anticipated many of the interests that would later animate Pop Art. Even Andy Warhol loved her art. Her oeuvre became a source of inspiration for some of the most fascinating artists working today.  At the height of her creative powers, the Manhattan salon she hosted with her sisters Carrie and Ettie,  attracted the best of the cognoscenti in society and the art world.

       Enchanting and  engaging your unique sensitivities deserve to view and first major U.S. exhibition in over 20 years focuses on Florine Stettheimer (1871-1944) at THE JEWISH MUSEUM, May 5, 2017 and remains on view through September 24, 2017. FLORINE STETTHEIMER: PAINTING POETRY showcases over 50 paintings and drawings in addition to costume and theater designs, photographs, and ephemera. Image Right: Stettheimer's satirical wit shines in Asbury Park South 1920. Against a golden background the lively movement of black and white beach goers intermingle on the New Jersey beach, when in reality, Asbury Park was a segregated beach. Here, Stettheimer depicts members of her inner circle including Duchamp in a pink suit, leading the actress Favia Marinoff. Carl Van Vechten is in the stand above it all, quietly examining the view of people, flirting, playing and promenading in their finest. Look deeper, Florine stands near the center of the archway, under a green umbrella. Oil on canvas. Collection of halley k harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld, New York.     

     
Florine;s Unrealized Ballet 
In addition to her work as a painter, She was active as 
a and set designer and her vision for a ballet of her own. The exhibition includes many of Stettheimer's sketches, maquettes and sculptures of the designed for her unrealized ballet, Orpheus of the Four Acts. 
       Image Left: Procession Orpheus "Orphee of the Quat-z-ars, 1912, oil, fabric, and beads on canvas. Museum of Modern At, New York, Gift of Miss Ettie Stettheimer. Art Resources, New York.      A poet, too; at one time she offered an explanation of her strange, intoxicating, beguiling works in a poem, published after her death. She wrote: "For a long time, I gave myself, To the arrested moment, To the moment of quiet expectation, I painted the trance moment, The promise moment, The moment in the balance, In mellow golden tones, Then I saw, Time, Noise, Color, outside me, around me, knocking me, Jarring me, Hurling me, Rousing me, Sailing, singing, Forcing me in joy to paint them."
      Ta Ta Darlings!!! I can still visualize Florine in one of her stylish silk pajamas entering through the cellophane curtains in her studio high above Bryant Park. Take in the view and make a date to see Painting Poetry and awaken your child-like wonder.  Fan mail welcome at
pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Web Site: www.pollytalk.com and in the left-hand column click on the Blog that resonates with your interest for a direct link to visionary men, women determined to succeed, poetryfromtheheart, and the fashion  historian.