Wednesday, October 30, 2019

BACH CHRISTMAS ORATORIO Nov. 24 Performed By Canterbury Choral Sodiety

"Listening to Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio is a holiday experience like no other!" The Canterbury Choral Society's concert begins the holiday season by reminding us to remember how the joys of Christmas can lift our spirits with praise and wonderment,
        The Canterbury Choral Society's concert, presenting Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachtsoratorium) brings to New Yorker's one of the most venerable concerts of all time on Sunday, November 24, at 4 p.m. at the Church of the Heavenly Rest located at 1085 Fifth Avenue at 90th Street.
        The CCS artistic director Jonathan de Vries will conduct the Canterbury Choral Society and full orchestra, with a cast of soloists, in the Bach Christmas Oratorio consisting of cantatas that resonate with the Christmas season.
     Bach composed the  "Christmas Oratorio" in 1734, for two Leipzig Churches, St. Thomas and St. Nicholas, for which he served as music director. Bach intended the Oratorio for performances in church during the Christmas season. Now, some 285 years later the Canterbury Choral Society similarly ushers in the holiday season with this glorious Oratorio, its cantatas and timeless story. 
         EACH OF THE CANTATAS HAS ITS OWN STORY, AND ITS OWN SOUND: Each part is a cantata for 1 of 6 feast days within the twelve days of the Christmas season. The Story begins with the birth of Jesus:
PART I Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf,  preiset die Tage, Cantata for Christmas Day. 
PART II Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend, Cantata for the second day of Christmas. 
PART III Herrscher des Himmels, erhore das Lallen, the shepherds. Cantata for third of Christmas. 
PART IV Falit mit Danken , Falit mit Loben describes the naming and circumcision of Jesus, Cantata for New Year. 
Part V Ehre sei, dir, Gott, gesungen, is Cantata for the Sunday after New Year (Not sung ll/24) 
PART VI Herr, wenn die stoizen Feinde schnauben, Cantata for Epiphany describes the Three

Kings, or Magi for the first Saturday after New Year. 
       TICKETS: $25 general admission, $20 seniors and $10 students. Order on line at        

Monday, October 28, 2019

BETTY SAAR: The Legends of a Black Girl's Window: By Polly Guerin

Betye Saar 2012
BETYE SAAR, who turned 93 in July, has been called a legend in the world of contemporary art. An African American artist known for her work in the medium of assemblage, Saar is a visual storyteller and an accomplished print maker. Though her work has been exhibited steadily since the 60s, attention to her work has burgeoned in the past decade, among artists of younger generations and curators internationally.
      THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART recently launched  newly expanded and reconfigured space with
"BETYE SAAR: THE LEGENDS OF BLACK GIRL'S WINDOW, an in-depth solo exhibition exploring the deep ties between the artist's iconic autobiographical assemblage Black Girl's Window (1969) and her rare, early prints made during the 1960s. Betye Saar: The Legends of Black
Girl's Window is drawn almost entirely form the Museum's collection, and highlights the recent acquisition of 42 works on paper that provide an overview of Saar's sophisticated, experimental print practice. The exhibition, through January 4, 2020,  engages with the themes of family, history, and mysticism, which have been at the core of Saar's work from the earliest days, and traces a link from her printmaking to the assemblages for which she is best known today. Image: Betye Saar (2012). The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York. (c) Michele Mattei (c) 2019. Betsy Saar, courtesy the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles. All Digital Images (c) Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Photos by Rob Gerhardt. The MoMA exhibition is the artist's first art museum solo in New York, since an appearance at the Whitney in 1975.

Black Girl's Window 1969
        Saar's bricolage practice was inspired early, by watching Simon Rodia's Watts Towers rise, and 
nourished further by an introduction in the late '60s to the work of  Joseph Cornell. Her use of scavenged materials developed in fertile ground and rich company in L.A. Among the kindred efforts of Edward Kienholz, Noah Purifoy, John Outterbridge, and others. Saar's constructions range from the intimate architecture of altars to immersive installation.  She favors materials worn on the body, such as handkerchiefs and gloves or tools of domestic labor like washboards and irons. Saar has Incorporated birdcages, photographs and fabrics, clocks and ladders, globes and scales into works steeped in remembrance, grief, rage, humor, and tenderness. Image: Betye Saar: Black Girl's Window, 1969. Wooden window frame with paint, cut-and-pasted printed and painted papers,, daguerreotype, lenticular print, and plastic figure, 35 3/4 x 18 = 1 1/2. The Museum of Modern Art, Gift of Candace King Weir through The Modern Women's Fund and Committee on Painting and Sculpture Funds (c) 2019 Betye
Saar, courtesy the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles.
       A major in postwar art, Betye Saar (b. 1926) has lived and worked in Los Angeles her entire life, and is part of a generation of artists who pursued assemblages there during the 1960s and 70s. Although best known for sculptures made from found materials, particularly those that challenged African American stereotypes, Saar's earliest independent works are prints working in a range of techniques, including intaglio and lithography, she created works on paper that reveal experimentation and an early interest in incorporating physical traces of the world with her art.
MoMA now has the largest public collection of Saar's printed work, which remains largely unknown even to those familiar with her oeuvre. SAAR at home: Saar lives in the same house in Laurel Canyon, in the Hollywood Hills, where she moved with her family in 1962. Her adjacent studio reflects her assemblage work with objects, worn surfaces, bundled items, collectibles and sketch books in an ordering fashion of sorts. in summing up it is obvious that the unstoppable Betsy Saar is simply interested in getting on with the next project.
Image: Betye Saar, ANTICIPATION, 1961, 

18 l/8 x 14 7/16",  The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Candace King Weir Endowment for Women Artists (c)2019 Betye Saar, courtesy the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles
       Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Betye Saar reminds us to remember the emotions of the heart through her broad range of assemblages and print work. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's other Blogs at and click on the link to visonary men, women determined to succeed, fashion historian and even, Polly's poetry.

Monday, October 21, 2019

EDITH HALBERT and the RISE OF AMERICAN ART: Review By Polly Guerin

Edith Halpert in the Downtown Gallery with artists in the background
TODAY, THE STRENGTH OF THE AMERICAN ART MARKET, nearly 100 years after Edith Gregor Halpert, the influential art dealer, opened the Downtown Gallery, is a testament to her extraordinary vision and steadfast belief in the value of American art.  But, Halpert's true legacy lies in the dozens of artists she discovered and sustained, in the many women art dealers and curators she inspired and in the thousands of art works that found their way through her into American collections.
       Edith Halpert's name may be scarcely recognized today, even among art scholars and her peers till now. THE JEWISH MUSEUM presents EDITH HALPERT AND THE RISE OF AMERICAN ART, the first exhibition to explore the remarkable career of Edith Halpert, (1900-1970) the influential art dealer and founder of the Downtown Gallery in New York City. On view through February 9, 2020. Image: Edith Halpert at the Downtown Gallery, wearing the 13 watch brooch and ring designed for her by Charles Sheeler, in a photograph for Life Magazine in 1952. She is joined by some of the new American artists she was promoting that year. Photograph (c) Estate of Louis Faurer.
Stuart Davis, LITTLE GIANT, 1950
A pioneer in the field and the first significant female gallerist in the United States, Halpert propelled American Art to the fore at a time when the European avant-garde still enthralled the world. The artists she supported---Stuart Davis, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O'Keeffe, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Ben Shahn, and Charles Sheeler key among them---became icons of American
      Halpert also brought vital attention to overlooked nineteenth-century American artists, such as William Michael Harnett, Edward Hicks and Raphaelle Peale, as well as little-known and anonymous folk artists. With her revolutionary program at the Downtown Gallery, her endless energy, and her extraordinary business acumen, Halpert inspired generations of Americans to value the art of their own country, in their own time. Image: Stuart Davis, Little Giant still life, 1950, oil on canvas. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, John Barton Payne Fund. Artwork (c) Estate of Stuart Davis/Licensed by VAGA at Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York; photograph by Katherine Wetzel.
         The Downtown Gallery quickly attracted important clients. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, founder of The Museum of Modern Art, under Halpert's tutelage became a key patron to many modern artists and later an enthusiastic collector of American folk art. Halpert became an influential advisor to other art patrons, who, like Rockefeller went on to build new museums or donate major collections of American art to public institutions across the country. Halpert's circle of collectors
included Duncan Phillips, founder of the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC; William H. Lane, the great benefactor of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Electra Havermeyer Webb, who established Shelburne Museum in Vermont.
      In addition to regularly presenting work by women, immigrants, and Jewish artists, the Downtown Gallery was the first major mainstream art space in New York City to consistently promote the work of African American artists, including Jacob Lawrence and Horace Pippin.
Jacob Lawrence THE MUSIC LESSON from the Harlem Series, 1943
When the Japanese American painter Yasuo Kuniyoshi was classified as an enemy alien during World War II, she mounted a defiant exhibition of his paintings in 1942. Her insistence that we support free expression and diversity of opinion, and that these are the defining features of American art and culture, has never been more timely or more relevant. Image: The Music Lesson, from the Harlem Series, 1943, gouache o paper, New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, gift of the Friends of the New Jersey State Museum. Artwork (c) The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. HALPERT: Born to a Jewish family in Odessa, Russia (now Ukraine) Halpert opened the Downtown Galley in 1926, at the age of 26, at 113 West 13th Street, the first commercial art space in bohemian Greenwich Village. She deliberately promoted a diverse group of living artists, fundamentally shifting the public's opinion of whose voices mattered in the art world. Halpert was, for 40 years, the country's most resolute champion of its creative potential and the defining authority of the American landscape and she paved the way for the next generation of women leaders in the art world.
       Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Kudos to Edith Halpert, and amazing visionary who continues to inform our understanding of American art today. Fan mail welcome Visit Polly's other Blogs on and click on the links in the left-hand column to visionary men, women determined to succeed. the fashion historian, and poetry.

Monday, October 14, 2019

TAMARA DE LEMPICKA: Painter Extraordinaire By Polly Guerin

Self-Portrait Tamara De Lempicka  driving Bugatti
TAMARA DE LEMPICKA: Russian Revolution refugee, bohemian, socialite, and classic beauty--- she sped forward into the limelight as a painter extraordinaire in the Art Deco era, the age of modernity.
          Her stunning Auto-Portrait featured on the cover of the German fashion magazine, Die Dame featured Tamara in her green Bugatti, wearing a chic helmet, her glove hand on the steering wheel driving forward as a free, independent woman paving the route for women of the century to follow in her footsteps. Tamara possessed a persona and beauty that rivaled Hollywood stars, but her reputation as an Art Deco painter is legendary,  Interest in Tamara paintings are re-discovered and sort after by the art world cognoscenti.
         ****Tamara Lempicka is in the limelight at the The Kosciuszco Foundation with her famous portraits on display at 15 East 65th Street, opening  October 16th. Free admission.****
          Tamara was born into a wealthy and prominent Polish family. Born on May 16, 1898, she was named Maria, and later in life adapted the name Tamara. He mother, the former Malvina Decler was a Polish socialite and her father Boris- Gurvik-Gorski was a Polish lawyer. Adhering to the custom of the aristocracy, at the time, she was sent off to a Swiss boarding school . However, her first exposure to the Great Masters of Italian painting came when she fortuitously spent the winter of 1911 with her grandmother in Italy. Her parents divorce in 1912 and moving still further Tamara went to live with her wealthy Aunt Stefa in St. Petersburg.
       Tamara by then was quite a beauty and at the age of fifteen she set her sights on marrying
the man of her dreams and abetted by her well-connected Uncle she married Tadeusz Lempicka
in St.  Petersburg. Rumor circled that this bon vivant, ladies man, probably was seduced by
Tamara's significant dowry.
      Their privileged lifestyle cane to a startling end during the RUSSIAN REVOLUTION in
1917, when Tadeusz was arrested by the Bolsheviks. Escaping to Paris, the Lempickas lived for
a while from the sale of her family jewels. While Tadeusz seemed unable or unwilling to find
work Tamara literally became the breadwinner. Paris the city of light and haven for artistic venues was the ideal place for Tamara's artistic development. It was also at this time that Tamara gave birth to her only child, a daughter named Kizette. who was sent off to a boarding school while Tamara studied and improved upon her oeuvre. 
Tamara developed a technique that exemplified the Art Deco era. Her lines had an architectural quality that was sleek, clean and elegant, yet had a certain curvilinear softness, which was described as "soft cubism"  Through her aristocratic connections she produced numerous portraits and the Lempickas lifestyle improved significantly.  During the Roaring 20s Tamara was a recognized celebrity.  She knew the best of the Bohemians from Pablo Picasso to Jean Cocteau and her legendary reputation became the topic among the gossip mongers.            Tadeusz andTamara divorced in 1928, and it was perfect timing because a long time patron, Baron Raoul Kuffner commissioned a portrait of his mistress, but true to her winsome ways Tamara replaced the mistress when the portrait was finished. 
       Through Kuffner, who she married in 1923, Tamara was re-established on the high society of the era.  The Depression did not seem to curtail her prolific output and her painting continued its popular course of commissions. And yet, there is more opportunity when the Kuffner's settled in Beverly Hills, California and they began to socialize with the Hollywood stars of the day. She became known as the "Baroness with the Brush," and cultivated a Garboesque persona, which was not so difficult to do because Tamara was still a blonde beauty and was often compared to the legendary star.
The Glamorous Tamara de Lempicka
However, her trademark style of angularity in figures of celebs and
in streamlined poses were beginning to become less popular, so Tamara turned to palette painting but this technique never took off.  We remember best the grand scale and prolific renderings of paintings in magnificent color with nuances so realistic, yet so mesmerizing, that forever made her one of
the most revered painters of her time.
        She retired from painting in 1962 and after Baron Kuffner's death, the same year. Tamara traveled extensively, the lived with her daughter Kizette for a while in Houston, Texas.
She finally moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico in 1978 where she died in her sleep.
       Ta TA Darlings!!! You have a chance in a lifetime to see the extraordinary talent of Tamara Lempicka at the Kosciuszco Foundation and revel in her whirlwind career in paintings that are mesmerizing and modern.  Fan mail to: Visit Polly's other Blogs at        

Monday, October 7, 2019

SARGENT, VERDI, GUERCINO Exhibits at THE MORGAN: Review By Polly Guerin

Mrs. George Swenton 1906
"Good Things come in threes," so they say, and with the start of autumn THE MORGAN LIBRARY and MUSEUM introduces three exceptional exhibitions to delight your cultural inquiry.
       While John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) is best known for his powerful paintings, The Morgan presents JOHN SINGER SARGENT: PORTRAITS IN CHARCOAL through January 12, 2020. This is a rare and insightful opportunity to see the first major exhibition to explore over 50 of these expressive portraits in charcoal. Sargent changed his oeuvre in 1907 when he largely ceased painting portraits and turned instead to charcoal to satisfy portrait commissions. His technique took a mere three hours, sometimes less, and in that short time through the mastery of chiaroscuro he animated his sitters on canvas. Then, too, he captured in charcoal the flimsiest of fabrics, sun kissed highlights in a coiffure or a shimmering satin gown, which gave female sitters elegance and facial features revealed their personality
      Sargent was a master craftsman in the charcoal genre and many of his sitters were famous for their roles in politics, society, the arts, theater, writers, patrons and  very often valued  friends including the author Henry James, who had championed the young Sargent's work. His striking charcoal drawing of Ethel Barrymore resonated with a powerful presence. Often set against a dramatic dark background, his charcoal portraits---they number 750 in total--are vivid portrayals of the men and women who sat for hm. The finished charcoal portraits are valuable testaments to Sargent's prodigious skill as an artist and draftsman, and reflect the social and cultural fabric of the United Statesand Great Britain in the early twentieth century.
       Concurrently the exhibition VERDI:CREATING OTELLO AND FALSTAFF---HIGHLIGHTS FROM MILAN'S FAMED RECORDI ARCHIVE MAKE U.S. DEBUT, is on view through January 5, 2020. It is astonishing to learn that except for occasional projects Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), Italy's pre-eminent composer, retired from Opera at the age of 58. However,
the opera world did not agree. With constant pleas from his publisher and future librettist for the maestro to return to the opera stage, reluctantly Verdi was coaxed out of retirement and composed what would become the crowning achievements of his career. Otello premiered in 1887, and Falstaff in 1893. The Morgan Library and Museum offers visitors a rare opportunity to view insight into the production of these two operas, as well as the complex enterprise of bringing an opera to life.  Highlights from the Ricordi Archive traces the genesis and realization of Otello and Falstaff through original scores, libretti, selected correspondence, set and costume design, and more, marking the first exhibition of these rare documents and artifacts in the United States.
Otello and Falstaff Costumes on Display from Milan's Teatro alla Scala
The Ricordi Archive is regarded as one of the world's foremost privately owned music collections. In this exhibition, treasures from the Archive are complemented by rarities from the Morgan's collection, including early editions of texts by William Shakespeare, whose dramaturgical material served as a basis for Verdi's last two operas. In addition to rare editions of scores and libretti, contemporary publicity material include
an autograph letter from Verdi's wife, and autograph sketches for Otello. Set designs, costumes from Milan's Teatro alla Scala, autographed manuscripts, contracts, publications, publicity and video excerpts from recent productions provide entertaining viewing, even if your are not an opera lover. This exhibit makes it perfectly clear that Grand Opera exhibited here enables visitors to experience the tremendous collaborative efforts behind operatic productions. 
      GUERCINO: VIRTUOSO DRAFTSMAN: The Morgan Celebrates the most diverse draftsman
of the Italian Baroque Era through February 2, 2020.  Who was Gercino? Giovanni Francesco Barbierei (1591-1666), known as GUERCINO, was arguably the most the most interesting and
diverse draftsman of the Italian Baroque era, a natural virtuoso who created brilliant drawings in a broad range of media.Supreme examples of virtually every type of drawing, produced in seventeenth century Italy survive from his hand: academic nudes, genre scenes and caricatures, energetic and fluid pen sketches for figures and compositions, highly refined chalk drawings, designs for engravings, and diverse landscapes. To say that Guercino was prolific only tells a
small part of his celebrity. The Morgan owns more than thirty-five works by the artist, and these are the subject of a focused exhibition, supplemented by a pair of loans from New York private
For a complete list of related prgrams:          
GUERCINO: Vision of St. Philip Neri (1646-47) pen and brwon wash.

 IMAGE LEFT: The Morgan Library and Museum, gift of Janos Scholz, 1977.
         TA TA DARLINGS!!! Cultural news comes in three wonderful exhibits at the Morgan, not to be missed.
So make it a day visit and take lunch or tea in the Morgan Cafe.  Fan mail welcome, please send an email to: Do visit Polly's other Blogs at and click in the left-hand column with direct links to visionary men, women determined to succeed, fashion historian, and poetry.