Monday, February 29, 2016

ANDY WARHOL Book Artist Exhibit at Morgan: Review by Polly Guerin

Andy NWarhol, In the Bottom of my Garden , ca. 1956
Andy Warhol's unparalleled creativity had no limitations and his fascination with publishing and the art of the book was a lifelong pursuit. It was rooted in his artistic training as a college student and early career in advertising, fashion and commercial illustration. For over forty years books were a touchstone for Warhol, a medium to which he returned again and again as a platform for his unbridled creative. 
      For the first time in New York an exhibition devoted solely to Warhol's career as a book artist, gets its due recognition in the exhibition, ANDY WARHOL'S CAREER AS A BOOK ARTIST, at The Morgan Library and Museum, on view through May15, 2016
      Image: Andy Warhol, In the Bottom of my Garden, ca 1956. The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. Contribution the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, (c) 2016. The Andy Wahol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.      
For the firs time, neophyte viewers of Andy Warhol's bookmaking genius will find 130 objects dating from the artist's student days, his years in New York as a commercial artist and self-publisher, and his innovative work of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s that solidified Warhol's standing in the history of modern art. Items on display include the only surviving book project from the 1940s drawings, screen prints, photographs, self-published books, children's books, photography books, text-based books, unique books, archival material and his much-sought after dust jacket designs.
     Image: Andy Warhol's Index (Book), New York, Random House, a Black Star book, 1967. The Morgan Library & Museum purchased on the Gordon N. Ray fund. Photography by Graham S. Haber, 2015 (c) 2015.The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
       Harking back to antique reference books Warhol, like other artists, found inspiration in the works of early artists. His hand-colored books of the 1950s, such as One Blue Pussy, Wild Raspberries and In the Bottom of My Garden, are infused with a sense of frivolity. He derived witty, sometimes erotic, figures from imagery in famous illustrated books. Two sources Warhol used were Les fleurs animees (1847) by J.J. Grandville and the saccharine flower fairies of early 20th century artist Cicely Mary Baker. Another source was Jacques Stella's figures in Les jeux et plaisirs de l'enfance (1657) --a popular engraved book of its time, which was itself modeled on a predecessor. However, Warhol favored variations in composition. No two books are alike.
     Warhol's oeuvre was prolific and he left many book projects, unfinished.  Examples on view are children's projects such as The House The Went to Town, There was Snow in the Street and Rain in the Sky, and So, as well as works aimed at older audiences such as Horoscopes for the Cocktail Hour and The Boy Book. Warhol's reputation in the early 1960s changed from that of a successful commercial artist to a so-called fine artist associated with the Pop art movement. As he became
Horoscopes for the Cocktail Hour, ca. 1968
evermore influential, his book designs would move away from the personal qualities and commercial art techniques that made his early work so notable.
     The majority of his publications after 1964 reflect his concurrent interests in painting, printmaking, photography, and film. He was a multi-dimensional man who also published a book of philosophy, a memoir, and left behind a bestselling diary. Warhol no longer had to rely on self-publishing to make and distribute his books. A celebrity in his own right, he was under contract to major publishers for the rest of his life.
     A lecture by Thomas Crow, THE TWO WARHOLS on March 17th at 6:30 pm, offers a clarifying look at the transition between Andy Warhol's first career as a successful illustrator in print media and the second, storied career as a fine artist.  For additional details on other events visit www.the 
      Ta ta darlings!!! I'm so impressed with Warhol, his artistic diversification and his magnificent talent that left so many more reasons to visit this exhibition. Fan mail welcome email:  Visit Polly's Blogs
go to and in the left had column are links to Blogs that will interest you.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Ana Rajcevic's Animal headpiece
"Beauty is in the eyes of the Beholder," and how one perceives beauty takes on extraordinary "discourse around the transformative power of aesthetic innovation" said Caroline Baumann, director of the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
      Now is your chance to assess the recent work from the most outstanding voices in the global design scene. "Beauty -Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial," the fifth installment of the museum's popular contemporary design exhibition series is on view through August 21, 2016.  With projects ranging from experimental prototypes and interactive games to fashion ensembles and architectural interventions, "Beauty" will stimulate the imagination, assault your senses with innovation and perhaps even demand that you reassess your concept of  what is considered beautiful.  Image: Ana Rajcevic's Animal headpieces partly obscure the face of the wearer, questioning the boundary between humans and animals. Photo by Matt Flynn.
      The image provoking exhibit features works by 63 designers filling most of two floors of the museum with more than 250 works from around the globe and explores beauty through themes: Extravagant, Intricate, Ethereal, Transgressive, Emergent , Elemental and Transformative.
Alfreaks by Haas Brothers/ Monkeybiz 
TRANSGRESSIVE is an eye catcher that should resonate with anyone young at heart. On view for the first time in the United States, be sure to see the charming, whimsical Alfreaks. The collection of fantastical beaded creatures, created by Haas Brothers in collaboration with Monkeybiz, is a nonprofit income generating bead project that works with craftswomen from the Khayelitsha township outside of Cape Town, South Africa. The Haas Bother is the partnership of designer and twin brothers Nikolai (Niki) and Simon Haas. Playful and confrontational they create furniture and sculptural objects that explores themes of nature, sexuality, society equity and authorship. In 2014, they began collaborating with Monkeybiz.  The bead artists lovingly call themselves "The Haas Sisters" and together they create the expressive, fantastical and joyful Alfreaks collection. 

Image: Fantastical beaded creatures created by Haas Brothers in collaboration with Monkeybiz.
        Fashion takes a spin into the dramatic with clothing concepts that are more sculptured forms with chameleon characteristics than mere wearable art. Lauren Bowker founder of the London-based fashion and accessory house, The Unseen, engages contemporary materials, and like the leopard who changes his spots, creates stunning garments that change color based on heat, wind pressure and turbulence. 
'The Scarab" by The Unseen 
Image: This leather jacket that takes a unique direction in fashion, by the use of chemical technology created by the designers of TheUnseen. It is covered in ink that responds to heat and wind pressure and when automated fans blow on the garment, it reacts and changes colors. Photo by Johnny Lee.
     Lauren Bowker, founder of TheUnseen, leads two hands-on Color Alchemy Workshops exploring contemporary materials. Bowker, who creates stunning garments that change color based on heat, wind pressure and turbulence guides participants through the precise chemical process for hand-dying their own color-changing leather. Saturday, February 27th 3-4:30 pm and 6-7:30 pm. Registration required $25 general, $20 members, $15 students.
      Ta Ta darlings!!! It's a wild, wonderful world of amazing innovation, worth a visit to "Beauty--Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial."  Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the Blog that resonates with your interest. The link is located in the left-hand column.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

MUNCH and EXPRESSIONISM at Neue Galerie: Review by Polly Guerin

The Scream 1895, Pastel on board 
Edvard Munch's The Scream may be one of the best recognized paintings and a symbol of modern angst, but the exhibition MUNCH and EXPRESSIONISM  at  the Neue Galerie, Museum for German and Austrian Art, is a show that offers a a compelling look not only at Munch's work but examines Munch's influence on his German and Austrian contemporaries.   Opens to the public, February 18 and will be on view through June 13, 2016.    
        Is Munch relevant today? Munch's poem describes on the frame of The Scream: "My friends walked on - I stayed behind-quaking with Angst - I felt the great Scream of Nature." This seems to me to resonate with the great uprising of environmentalist, who are screaming, even today, to protect our planet. Be prepared to visit the deep blue, grotto-like gallery, that pays homage to the process and variations of The Scream. Image: Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1895, Pastel on board in the original frame, Private Collection.
        Although, much has been written about the relationship between Munch's personal life and his art, preoccupied with matters of chronic illness, sexual liberation, and religious torment, he expressed these obsessions through works of intense color, semi abstractionism and mysterious undertones. Munch once said, "No longer will I paint interiors with men reading and women knitting. I will paint paint living people who breath and feel and suffer and love," and indeed that is exacting what you will find in Munch and Expressionism.  
       However, this exhibition, the first to thoroughly study artist's work, presents a broader venue in the context of his German and Austrian peers including Max Beckmann, Gabriele Munter, Emile Nolde, Egon Schiele and others. 
Erich Heckel Girl with Doll (Franzi) (Oil on Canvas (1910)
 Munch enjoyed a strong following in the German-speaking world, Expressionist artists including Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Erich Heckel in Dresden and Richard Gerstl and Oskar Kokoschka in Vienna, had ample opportunity to view Munch's work firsthand and to draw inspiration from his highly personal and original way of depicting the world.  Image: Erich Heckel Girl with Doll (Franzi) Oil on Canvas, Private Collection.

     Munch was innovative in his technique of cutting wooden blocks into sections so that he could apply different colors and reassemble them for printing. Artists Kirchner and Heckel both adopted this method and, like Munch, combined woodcut with lithography in highly experimental prints, which sometimes had hand-colored additions.
Madonna, Edvard Munch 1895/1902
Artists were also influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche's idea that nature was a vital source of renewal with lush depictions of nude bathers include Munch's oil on canvas, Standing Nude against Blue Background (1935-30) and Bathing Men (1918) and Erich Heckel's Bathers in a Pond (1908). Heckel's Girl 
Girl with Doll 1910, oil on canvas, is another most beguiling image.
Left: Edvard Munch's Madonna: Colored lithograph in black, red and light olive green, and woodblock or stencil in blue on light golden Japan paper. 
     Emil Nolde was particularly impressed by Munch's expressive color variations in sequences of prints, no two of which are alike. This "one-off" approach to printmaking attracted the Expressionists, who favored small hand printed editions that were unique works of art.
    Munch use of vivid color intensives, the emotional power of his subject matter, helped to pave the way for an entirely new attitude towards art in the early 20th century and Munch began to express his tormented inner world through his artistic creations, giving birth to the art style that would be known as Expressionism.
          To understand Munch's torment one need only dig deeper into childhood events; the premature death of his mother from tuberculosis when he was five years old, that tragedy compounded by the death of his older sister Sophie, from the same illness, his own fragile health added to his misery. And during his crucial stages of development, his father became emotionally unavailable when he suffered an agitated psychotic depression.  In a never ending saga of woe these traumatic events no doubt underscore his statement, "I will paint living people who breath and feel and suffer and love."
     A fully illustrated catalogue, published by Prestel Verlag, is available with contributions by leading scholars in the field. This authoritative and beautifully illustrated book explores Munch's impact  on German and Austrian artists of the period with an Expressionist context.
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! Munch and Expressionism is a monumental installation, a broad spectrum of innovation that influenced other artists of the era. At Neue Galerie, 1048 Fifth Avenue @ 86th St. Fan mail always welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and in the left hand column click on the link to the Blog that resonates with your interest.

Monday, February 8, 2016

George Bernard Shaw's WIDOWERS' HOUSES: Preview by Polly Guerin

Theatergoers on the night of December 9, 1892 at the Royalty Theatre in London were shocked by the commentary in George Bernard Shaw's first play, WIDOWERS' HOUSES. It was not the usual sappy melodrama but a comedy of sex, greed and real estate, produced under the auspices of the Independent Theatre Society, a subscription club, formed to escape the Lord Chamberlain's Office censorship.
      By the cacophony of the people who savagely attacked his politics Shaw probably gloated with pleasure. The fledgling playwright knew that by the tumultuous reaction he was a good playwright and he would eventually garner the Nobel Prize in literature.  
       This play is one of three plays Shaw published as Plays Unpleasant in 1898; they were termed "unpleasant' because they were not intended to entertain their audiences, as traditional Victorian theater was expected to, but to raise awareness of social problems and to censure exploitation of the laboring class by the unproductive rich.  
       The play had originally been written in 1883, as a collaboration with William Archer, but the two fell out and this first attempt was abandoned.  Shaw reorganized the fragments, and added a third act. With this play Shaw began the creation of modern English drama. which went on to revolutionize the English theater.The other plays in the Plays Unpleasant group are The Philanderer and Mrs. Warren's Profession.
      At a time when most other playwrights were writing sappy works, Shaw's plays tackled many hot topics from morality versus finance, sexual manipulation, and the ever present duality of the class system. This is a rare opportunity to see the master craftsman of the genre, George Bernard Shaw, at his most comedic with David Staller, the director putting a fresh spin on the play. 
      David Staller, like Shaw, is a  like-minded humanitarian, the current production stays true to the Shaw classic but Staller imbues it with a pristine modernism that resonates with audiences today. No better director could have spearheaded this Widowers' Houses new production. 
      In 2006 Staller created the Gingold Theatrical Group to present works championing human rights and free speech using  the writings and humamanitarian precepts of George Bernard Shaw as its platform. Mr. Staller also casts and directs the PROJECT SHAW reading series which is held at Symphony Space. 
    Who was Gingold? Many of us still remember Hermione Gingold, the enchanting English actress known for her sharp tongued, eccentric persona.  For many years Hermione was a great friend of David Staller in theatrical circles and play readings. He formed the GTG as a tribute to the actress.
      Is Shaw relevant today? In keeping with people's views on social and political issues WIDOWERS' HOUSES not only addresses the hidden agenda of the rich profiting from the poor but it does so in a comedic commentary that unveils the true character of an idealistic doctor who find his principles compromised. Such a scenario was addressed by Shaw in 1892 but it still ranks as one of the most thought provoking discourses that confronts society even today. 
       It is interesting to note that the costumes and the stage settings are rendered in a monochromatic scheme that allows the audience to focus primarily on the developing revelations of sex, greed and real estate in repartee delivered with comedic relief.
      Where: The Beckett Theater, Theater Row, 420 West 42nd Street is host to Widowers' Houses, a TACT (The Actors Company Theater) and Gingold Theatrical Group production with previews beginning on March 1st. The official opening is March 13 with a limited engagement to April 2. or call 212.947.8844 and use promotion code TRWHDM.
        Ta Ta darlings, I have already purchased my ticket for Widowers' Houses and hope to see you there. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the direct link to a Blog that interests you, located in the left hand column on my home page.

Monday, February 1, 2016

EMOTION, DISCOVERY and ILLUSION: Between Art and Fashion @ the National Academy: Review by Polly Guerin

Does fashion and art marry well in today's modern consciousness? The world of fashion and art are inseparable components that merge together to provide an endless discussion as to what genre influences the other, is it fashion first or is it art? The National Academy's exhibition may allude to the answers as it examines the forms, colors. and shapes that influenced and synthesize the worlds of fashion and art. Image Left: Ivory Silk gown, Early 19th Century, Private Collection, New York and Right: Sarah Tse, Sweet Little Sixteen, 2011-15, collage screen print.
     EMOTION, DISCOVERY and ILLUSION BETWEEN ART AND FASHION runs from February 3rd to 28th, 2016 in the National Academy/Sonia Gechtoff Gallery, 5 East 89th Street. 
    In the spotlight are works by designers from the early 19th century to today, including Christian Dior, Issey Miyake, and Hermes, alongside artworks by National Academicians, emerging artists, and gifted students of the academy.
    The eclectic selection of fashion items includes antique European gowns, Asian hair pins, brushes, slippers and robes, plus cloaks of an ecclesiastical nature and equestrian garb. Aspects of these materials and items have serves as a direct inspiration for some artworks in the show while others are conceptually related to fashion.   
: William Merrit Chase, The Young Orphan, Miriam Schapiro, "Fanfare "
Nancy Shapiro recycles paper into a dapper lady's hat, bringing an elegant eco-friendly western twist to the Japanese tradition of origami. The wide brimmed "Paper Hat" hovers in the gallery near a 19th century ivory, silk gown, as if Shapiro's headpiece were designated to top off the ghostly gown. 

    Drawn entirely from the museum's impressive collection of work by National Academicians, AN AMERICAN COLLECTION features more than 100 works from the 1820s through 1970s, incorporating many significant art movements in America. This installation marks the return of the National Academy's popular Salon Gallery. On permanent exhibition: Miriam Schapiro, A Visionary presents a cross-section of works of a pioneering feminist artist. 
"I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can" Miriam Schapiro 1934"

    Two additional exhibitions open concurrently at the National Academy Museum. Contemporary Highlights from the Collection and Method Over Metric. For instance, Contemporary serves as a continuation An American Collection, and features pieces gifted by artists from the mid-1960s through the mid-2000s, including works by Louise Bourgeois, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg and Carrie Mae Weems, among others. On view February 4-May 8, 2016.  Gallery Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9am-8pm; Friday-Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 11am-6pm. Email: 212.966.1908.
    Ta Ta Darlings: Wonderful opportunity to start your own discussion: which genre influences the most? Is it art or is it fashion.  Fan mail welcome at: Visit Polly's Blogs at and in the left hand column click on the Blog that resonates with your interest.