Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Canova's GEORGE WASHINGTON at The Frick; Review By Polly Guerin

George Washington in Marble: By the time it was decided in 1816 to create a statue of George Washington, the first president of the United States and American Revolutionary War hero, the president had been dead for sixteen years. To accurately depict the features of the past president was at the core of the problem. Such was the dilemma of the General Assembly of North Carolina
who wanted to  commission a full-length statue of George Washington be commissioned to stand in the rotunda of the State Capitol, in Raleigh. Thomas Jefferson, by then a former president, suggested Antonio Canova, one of the most famous sculptors in Europe.
       The Frick Collection unravels this intriguing story in an exhibit CANOVA'S GEORGE WASHINGTON that addresses Canova's only work for the United States on view  May 23 to
September 23, 2018.  
Image: Antonio Canova, Modello for George Washington, 1818, Plaster, Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova, Possagno Fondazione Canova onlus, Possagno; photo
Fabio Zonta.
Antonio Canova Modello for George Washington 1818
       The undaunted task of replicating a true likeness of Washington involved several artists. Of the available models to use to reproduce Washington's features, it seemed that a painting, possibly one by Gilbert Stuart, would be most suitable.
       In the end, however, a sculptural model was preferred. Only two sculptures of Washington had been created from life: one in 1785 y Jean-Antoine Houdon and the other in 1791 by Giuseppe Ceracchi.  They are both shown together in this exhibition.
GIUSEPPE CERACCHI Deserves due credit. Ceracchi, an Italian sculptor, had visited the United States on two occasions, in 1790-1790 and again in
1794-1795, and had portrayed a number of American figures, including the president. 
      Conrad Appleton, American Counsel in Livorno and Thomas Jefferson agreed that the Ceracchi, of which Appleton happened to own a plaster bust, was "the best effigy of George Washington ever executed."
       Side note: Ceracchi life was cut short; he was condemmed for conspiring against Napoleon, in Paris and was guillotined in 1802. However, his bust of Washington, hugely popular and widely reproduced---was sent by Appleton to ANTONIO CANOVA and faithfully followed by the sculptor. Image: Giuseppe Ceracchi's George Washington, ca. 1791-92, Terracotta,
Nantes Metropole, Musee d'arts (c) Nantes Metropole-Musee d'arts de Nantes. Photographie: C.CLOS.
Giuseppe Ceracchi's Terracotta Image
       The Frick Collection presents Canova's George Washington, in an exhibition that examines the history of the artist's lost masterpiece. The show brings together for the first time all of the objects connected to the creation of the sculpture---including a remarkable life-sized modello that has r before left Italy---and tells the extraordinary transatlantic story of this monumental work. 
ANTONIO CANOVA The sculptor worked on the statue of Washington in Rome between 1817 and 1820. He began work in the summer of 1817, producing a number of drawings and three-dimensional sketches in preparation for the life-size modello which occupies center stage in the Museum's Oval Room. 
         Once he had produced a final small bozetto, he began creating the life-size model, referencing Ceracchi's terracotta bust for Washington's features.
         It is interesting to note, that while working on the sculpture, Canova, had assistants and his half-brother
read aloud a history of the AMERICAN REVOLUTION. He later wrote, in admiration, of "the immortal Washington---the genius who has performed such sublime dead, for the safety and liberty of his country." Canova had worked on the life-size marble sculpture for four years and in 1821 it was delivered to North Carolina to reside in the State House in Raleigh.  The sculpture was inaugurated with great fanfare on Christmas eve.        
Antonio Canova 
Canova's statue, however, was on view for less than a decade. In the early morning of June 21, 1831, a fire destroyed the Raleigh State House and The monumental statue that had been described as "the boast and pride of North America." Were it not for the "awful calamity," Canova's sculpture would today be one of the most important artistic treasures from the early history of the United States.

       Running concurrently with the Frick exhibition is Canova e la Danza (Canova and Dance) at the Italian Cultural Institute featuring sixteen newly restored tempera paintings dating from 1799 to 1806, which have never before been seen in the United States. A show at the Consulate General of Italy in New York features the work of photographer Fabio Zonta who documented Canova's sculptures at the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova in Possagno. Both exhibitions will be on view May 23 through June 28, 2018.
Image: Antonio Canova 1819-20  by Sir Thomas Lawrence, oil on canvas. Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova, Possagno Fondazione Canova onlus, Possagno.
TA TA DARLINGS!!! It's a wonder, it's part of early American history and it's worth spending time at the Frick. Accompanying the exhibition is a beautifully illustrated catalogue that examines
the fascinating history of the Canova's lost American masterpiece. the book is available in the Museum Shop. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs on fashion,
determined women, visionary men and poetry on www.pollytalk.com and click on the links in the left-hand column.

Monday, May 14, 2018


Artist in Residence JULIA BULLOCK
Visiting a museum today is not just about the art works and statues it's become something more performance-centric connecting entertainment to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's iconic METLIVEARTS series and Artist in Residence programming. Throughout 2018-1019, leading artists will connect with the museum's exhibitions and individual works of art through original commissions and site-specific performances.
      Believe me, this is an innovative approach in the life of this storied cultural institution.  It is a transforming experience, particularly in the galleries, where music and dance interact, respond to and are inspired by the works of art and sculpture.
     The stunning opera singer Julia Bullock has created five programs that will be presented throughout the year. This is an impressive feat for the bi-racial St. Louis born singer, as most opera singers don't even begin their careers till 28, she will be able to add The Met to her resume, as their new Artist in Residence. Her residency will include collaborations with renowned guest performers and will draw on the lives, legacies and words of Josephine Baker, Langston Hughes, and Thornton Dial, among others.                    Hailed as "opulent and glorious" by Opera News, Bullock brings her rich and resonant soprano vocals to poems by Langston Hughes, such as, "Harlem,"  "Genius Child," and "Song for a Dark Girl," in which she will be joined by other stellar performers. (December 2, 3 p.m., The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium). 
       An all new chamber music version of contemporary master John Adam's Christmas oratorio, El Nino is also on the schedule. In Meditations for Josephine, January 2019, Bullock will re- imagine Josephine Baker on the steps of The Met's Great Hall.  
SONNAMBULA at The Met Cloisters 
      The 2018-19 season also features a new artist residency focusing specifically on The Met Cloisters The historical performance ensemble SONNAMBULA will invigorate the location's medieval galleries through a series of concerts that bring a contemporary sensibility to the group's historically informed performances. During their residency at The Met Cloisters, Sonnambula will perform with world -renowned artists including the renaissance wind ensemble Piffaro, lute virtuoso Esteban La Rotta and author and photographer Teju Cole.
      "MetLiveArts commissions powerful artists to explore the Museum's collection and create relevant thought-provoking performances," said Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met.
"This upcoming season of programming will connect our three locations with a broad and diverse audience, creating new pathways for engagement with our exhibitions and encyclopedic collection and exhibitions."
IT'S SHOWTIME NYC! Among the seasons other highlights The Met's Department of Arms and Armor will showcase dance performances in the Arms and Armor Court, Battle! Hip-Hop in Armor in which the world hip-hop dance culture collides with the bygone age of armor when these freestyle dancers meet chainmail, leather, and metal armor from around the world. The MetLiveArts has commissioned the fierce artists of it's Showtime NYC! from the South Bronx's Dancing in the Streets urban dance organization to preform a series of pop-up dance battles in the gallery wearing pieces from The Met.
       The MetLiveArts explores contemporary performances through the lens of the Museum's exhibitions and gallery spaces with an extensive and multi-faceted line-up of performances.For program information information, visit www.metmuseum.org/metlivearts. For tickets visit www.metmuseum.org/tickets or call 212.570-3949. Tickets are also available at the Great Hall Box Office, which is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. 
      Ta Ta Darlings!!! The MetLiveArts world premieres and site-specific performances have been named some of the most "memorable" and "best of" performances in New York City by the New York Times, New Yorker and Broadway World. Innovative and mesmerizing the MetLiveArts is the new way to go for an unforgettable entertainment experience. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalkfromnewyork.com and click in the left hand column to the Blog for a direct link to the Blog that meets your interest.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Ecclesiastical Fashion Show at the MET: Review By Polly Guerin

Evening Coat Cristobal Balenciaga for House of Balenciaga
Fashion is becoming more than ever devout and the worshipers trending this inspiration include Christian Dior, Gianni Versace, Cristobal Balenciaga, Valentino, Dolce &Gabbana and Yves Saint Laurent, to name a few. Their fashion garments culled in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's fascinating Spring exhibition, HEAVENLY BODIES: FASHION AND THE CATHOLIC IMAGINATION, opens to the public this Thursday, May 10th.  Image 1 (left) El Greco, Cardinal Fernando Nino de Guevara (1541-1609), Oil on Canvas; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, H.O Havermeyer Collection Bequest f Mrs. H. O. Havermeyer (1929); Image (c) Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image 2 (right( Evening Coat, Cristobal Balenciaga for House of Balenciaga, autumn/winter 1954-55; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Digital
Collection Scan by Katerina Jebb.
      Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, at the press opening this morning, responded to something that may have been on the minds of some of the attendees; "You may be asking, what's this church doing here?" He explained that the Catholic imagination embodied not only truth and goodness, but beauty, too! "The truth, goodness and beauty of God is revealed all over the place, even in fashion," he said. 
Dolce & Gabbana
The thematic exhibition is presented in three distinct gallery locations---the medieval galleries and the Anna Wintour Costume Center where a group of papal robes and accessories from the Vatican occupy space and at The Met Cloisters. 

       "Fashion and religion have long been intertwined, mutually inspiring and informing one another." said Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. "Although this relationship has been complex and sometimes contested, it has produced some of the most inventive and innovative creations in the history of fashion."
        Approximately 150 ensembles, primarily women's wear from the early 20th century to the present captivate your attention in the medieval galleries alongside religious art from The Met collection, providing visitors with with a mesmerizing view of fashion's engagement with Catholicism. "Fashion and religion have long been intertwined, mutually inspiring and informing one another," added Bolton. Some designers initially told Bolton that their work wasn't influenced by religion, but later added that it played a roll in their creative imagination.     
Modern Nuns and Parochial Schoolgirls
The ecclesiastical fashions are obviously from couture collections where the runway shows are more about fantasy and entertainment than wearable art.  Nonetheless, fashionistas will be making a pilgrimage of sorts to view the collections enriched with religious symbolism, tiaras encrusted with thousands of diamonds, emeralds and rubies, papal cloaks and vestments encrusted with gold

embroidery richly designed with a Midas touch.  
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! This is one fashion statement you do not want to miss, which includes some rather parochial school-inspired black garments, a Chanel wedding gown inspired by a communion dress and saintly gowns with gold crowns to match. Fan mail welcome, please email
pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.org and click on the Blog link in the
left hand column to the subject that interests you on visionary men, women determined to succeed, the fashion historian and poetry from the heart.