Monday, September 17, 2018

THE RUSSIAN AVANT-GARDE at The Jewish Museum: Review By Polly Guerin

Chagall Over The Town
"I found myself in Vitebsk when the great celebration of the October Revolution were over, but the city was still resplendent with Malevich's designs---circles, squares, dots and lines of different colors---and with Chagall's flying people. I have the impression of being in an enchanted city, but in those days everything was wonderful, and everything was possible, and at that moment the people of Vitebsk had become Suprematists." ---Sofia Dymshits-Tolstaia. 1921.
      This introductory quote opens the exhibition, CHAGALL, LISSITZKY, MALEVICH, The Russian Avant-Garde in Vitebsk, 1918-1922, at The Jewish Museum, through January 6, 2019.  It is the first major exhibition to explore a little known chapter in the history of modernity and the Russian avant-garde: Chagall's encounter with the leading figures of abstraction, EL (Lazar) Lissitzky and Kazimir Malevich, at the time of the Russian Revolution. The exhibition focuses on the People's Art School, founded by Marc Chagall in his native city of Vitebsk (in present day Belarus).  He was soon joined by Lissitzky and Malevich along with other  teachers and students, many of them Jewish, including Lazar Khidekel and David Yakerson.     
El Lissitzky, Beat the Whites with Red Wedge
The Jewish museum offers visitors a rare opportunity to visit the extraordinary years following the Russian October Revolution of 1917, during which Vitebsk, a small city with a significant Jewish population, became a incubator of avant-garde art.  Image: El Lissitzky, Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, 1919-20. Image provided by the Library of Congress, Photographs Division.

     Through nearly 160 works and documents loaned by museums in Vitebsk and Minsk, and major American and European collections, the exhibition reveals how the three major figures sought, each in his distinctive fashion, to develop  a leftist art in tune with the new revolutionary emphasis on collectivism, education and innovation.  Chagall remained  faithful to a figurative and allegorical style, in contrast to Malevich, whose recent invention, Suprematism, offered a radical view of geometric abstraction. Lissitzky, a trained architect, applied the concepts of Suprematism to his innovative geometric compositions that he called, " a transfer station on the way from painting to architecture."
       
Kazmir Malevich, Mystic Suprematism
It is interesting to note that in this period of intense artistic and political ferment, history was made through art. Visionary creativity was nurtured in a city far from the cultural centers of Moscow and Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). The five years, THE RUSSIAN AVANT-GARDE IN VITEBSK, 1918-1922, transformed Vitebsk into the laboratory of a new world.   Image: Kazimir Malevich, Mystic Suprematism (Red Cross on Black Circle) 1920-22. Stedelijk Museum Collection, Amsterdam. Ownership recognized by agreement with the estate of Kazimir Malevich, 2008. 

     CHAGALL'S 100th Anniversary: The year 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of Chagall's appointment as Commissar of Arts for the Vitebsk region, a position the enabled him to carry out his idea of creating a revolutionary art school in his city, open to everyone, free of charge, and with no age restrictions. The People's Art School was he perfect embodiment of Bolshevik values, and was approved in August 1918.  A month later, Chagall was appointed Commissar of Arts.  El Lissitsky and Kazimir Malevich, leading exponents of the Russian avant-garde, were the two of the artists invited to teach at the school. Each of these major figures sought, in his own distinctive fashion, to develop a "Leftist Art" in tune with the revolutionary emphasis on collectivism, education and innovation.
      In ensuring years, Chagall's dream was to develop a revolutionary art independent of style or dogma, but this came to an end in the spring of 1920. He decided to leave Vitebsk in June and went to work for the Jewish theater in Moscow.  A number of designs he produced for the theater are also on view. 
      PUBLIC PROGRAMS:  In conjunction with the exhibition, the Jewish Museum presents a series of public and family programs featuring speakers such as Marc Chagall's granddaughter Bella Meyer December 6 and noted architect Daniel Libeskind on December 13, and a family day on October 21.  Visit: TheJewishMuseum.org or call 212.423.3200. Located 1109 Fifth Avenue, at 92nd Street.
      Ta Ta Darlings!!!  This breathtaking leap into modernism at revolutionary times is worthy of a trio uptown. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Check out the links to Polly's other Blogs at www.pollytalk.com. Just click in the left hand column to the Blog that resonates with your interest.

Monday, September 10, 2018

COMPETING WITH GIANTS: Book Review By Polly Guerin

The dynamic Phuong Uyen Tran, a spokeswoman who not only represents her family's business, Tan Hiep Phat (THP) as its world ambassador, she represents the new Vietnamese woman making her mark with an innate focus on modern Vietnam. 
       Phuong recently arrived in New York City and invited friends, family and press to an extravagant book launch party for COMPETING WITH GIANTS at her publisher, Forbes Books Center on lower Fifth Avenue. I was there, and to my delight her mother and father (the founders of THP) happened to sit on a sofa at the presentation right next to me, and through an interpreter I had the most delightful opportunity to learn more about the company.
      Phuong's debut monograph, COMPETING WITH GIANTS, is a riveting story of how her family launched a business against a devastating backdrop of war, crippling trade sanctions and record hyperinflation. "It is never easy to compete with giants," says Phuong, "let alone face them down. For families that lived through the early post American years in Vietnam, it was one crisis after another.  Yet our family not only survived and thrived, it built one of the largest businesses in Southeast Asia from scratch."
     Proficient in English and never at a loss for words, Phuong recalls how her father, Tran Qui
Thanh, started out with nothing but two rice bowls and four chopsticks. Eventually the company grew so large with market share that Coca Cola wanted to buy it for more than $2 billion. 
 
Guest and right Phuong Uyen Tran
  FATHER KNOWS BEST Her father, Tran Qui Thanh, founder, chairman and CEO of the beverage 
company, Tan Hiep Phat (THP) turned down the offer from Coca Cola and with good reason. 
      A visionary businessman Thanh's THP company was ahead of its time and with close ties to local culture it was on the wavelength of people's preference for healthy drinks. The company now supplies beverages, including herbal and green teas, sports and energy drinks, soya milk and purified waters across Vietnam plus 16 countries, including China and Australia.
     Today, THP is Vietnam's largest family-owned manufacturer in the "fast moving consumer goods category, employing more than 5,000 staff members nationwide."  Phuong's family legacy is a story that proves that David can indeed compete with (and even outperform) Goliath.
WHAT PHUONG LEARNED FROM HER FATHER ALWAYS APPLIES IN ANY FAMILY BUSINESS is revealed in detail in the book. Herewith is an abbreviated  summary of three of the five values:
CreateAuthentic Products  Authentic local products are heard to beat because they can beat the big guys in product, price, promotion and place.
Govern Growth The best companies prepare for the inevitable ups and downs of business by by growing slowly and methodically.
Motivate Employees As companies get bigger, they must focus on how employees work with each other, as well as senior management and customers. 
      COMPETING WITH GIANTS is a consuming book of interest narrated by the author who watched her parents overcome numerous obstacles to achieve success.  The book shows that small companies , which take advantage of their local knowledge and marry it to the best of international standards, can hold their own and even outflank giant global corporations. Phuong says, "Whether you start with rice bowls or owning the entire rice factory, scaling a business requires discipline and good old fashioned family values."    
Tran Qui Thanh and author/daughter Phuong Uyen Tran 
PHUONG UYEN TRAN CEO of the THP Group is a powerful woman representing modern Vietnam with an entreprenural spirit filled with the fire of multi-faceted optimism . She is responsible for the company's marketing, public relations, and CSR programs nationally and across Vietnam's 63 provinces. She also leads THP's international marketing programs across 16 countries where 
HTP's products are distributed including Canada and China.  (http://www.thp.com.vn/en/.
       Her book,COMPETING WITH GIANTS was realized wtih Jackie Horne and John Kador. Forward by Brian Tracy. www.ForbesBooks.com.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!! As reviewer John Murphy, Founder of Interbrand said, "A seriously valuable contribution. If you aspire to build a major international brand on foundations rooted in an emerging economy, this is the book for you."  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.
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