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: Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly’s Blogs at


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 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.
Ta Ta Darlings!!! The costumes are amazing, the message is inspirational with creativity exploding on all levels. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at

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,

Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Picasso never fails to amaze...don't miss this show. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at 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
          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
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