Monday, February 24, 2020

The Book of Ruth: Medieval to Modern at The Morgan: Review by Polly Guerin

A stunning modern artistic take on The Book of Ruth is the focus of a major attraction at The Morgan Library & Museum and you have until June 14, 2020 to see the exhibition THE BOOK OF RUTH: MEDIEVAL TO MODERN.
     The story of Ruth has been recorded in ancient manuscripts but this exhibition introduces an interpretation of remarkable skill and innovative interpretation. It celebrates the gift of Joanna S. Rose of the Rose Book of Ruth to the Morgan Library & Museum. The accordion-fold vellum manuscript, measuring nine inches tall and an astonishing eighteen feet long was designed and masterfully illuminated by New York artist Barbara Wolff who worked tirelessly on the project two years  (2015-17). The complete biblical text of the book of Ruth is written in Hebrew on one side and in Engish on the other side the work of Izzy Pludwinski  The Hebrew side features twenty colored illustrations and a continuous landscape with accents and lettering in silver, gold and platinum; the English side has forty executed in black ink. The manuscript is housed in a modern "treasure binding" a custom designed box in shot silk and decorated with 24-carat gold lettering that reads "Your people shall be my people and your God shall be my God in Hebrew.  The Book of Ruth speaks of  courage and devotion. Ruth and her daughter-in-law craft the means of their survival, and their strength helps build the foundation of the House of David. 
      Visitors will discover how Wolff was inspired by the techniques of medieval illumination. Her approach iconography, however, differs from that of her medieval forebears. Medieval illuminators illustrated pivotal events in the biblical narrative by depicting people involved, mainly Naomi and her family, Ruth and Boaz---arranged like characters on a stage set. Wolff takes a different approach. On the Hebrew side of her manuscript she paints few human figures, illustrating instead such elements as a landscape, harvest grains, flowers, a sandal and a significant wedding belt to tell the story. Image: The Barley of  Beth-Lechem. The Joanna S. Rose illuminated Book of Ruth in Hebrew and English. United States New York, and Israel, Jerusaleum 2015-17. Commisioned by Jonnna S. Rose, written by Izzy Pludwinski, designd and illustrated by Barbara Wolff, Ms M 1210. fol 9r. Gift of Joanna S. Rose, 2018. The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Rudi Wolff. Artwork (c) Barbara Wolff.  The vignettes on the English side function almost like an archaeological gloss to the text, illustrating tools, weights, pottery and other artifacts of the early iron age, in which the story is set. With no Jewish tradition for illustrating the book of Rufh, Wolff created her own illustrative scheme, one in which the characters are evocatively conjured up by the objects they would have touched, handled or worn.         

The Book of Ruth is presented in conversation with twelve manuscripts from the Morgan's holdings, that unfold the
the Christian traditions for illustrating the story of Ruth
during the Middle Ages. Through the juxtaposition of the modern manuscript with these ancient works, which date from the twelfth to the fifteenth century and include three
leaves from the Morgan's famed Crusader bible, the exhibition brings into focus the techniques of medieval illuminators that inspired Wolff , as well as her innovative
approach to iconography. IMAGE: Ruth threshing and bringing grain to Naomi. Naomi counseling Ruth workers
threshing grain. Ruth lays at the feet of Boaz. "Crusader
Bible," added inscriptions in Latin, Persian and Judeo-Persian . France, Paris ca 1250. MS M 638, fol. 18r. Purchased by J. P. Morgan, 1916. The Morgan library & Museum. Photography by Janny Chiu, 2018, RELATED
PROGRAMMING:Your People Shall be My People Illuminating the Book of Ruth March 27, 7 pm, May 19,
3 pm and June 8, 7 pm. Lectures and Discussion: Join Roger Wieck, Melvin R. Seiden Curator and Department head of Medieval and Renaissance
Manuscripts and artist and illuminator Barbara Wolff at they discuss Wolff's contemporary work  and the ancient historic traditions. For detailed info contact IMAGE: Ruth departing the tent of Boaz.
     Ta Ta Darlings! This is jewel of an exhibit.  I suggest you bring a magnifying glass to get a closer view of Wolff's delightful objects that serge as storytelling images of what people wore or the work they engaged in Biblical times and their interaction with one another.  Fan mail welcome:  

Monday, February 17, 2020

THE ORCHID SHOW, Jeff leatham's Kaleidoscope at the New York Botanidal Garden: Review by Polly Guerin

Jeff Leatham
The multi-fascinating colors in nature at THE ORCHID SHOW, at the New York Botanical Garden, immerses the visitor in a wonderland where thousands of orchids are on display in dazzling creations by icon and floral designer to the stars Jeff Leatham.
        Leatham's captivating designs and installations have transformed each gallery of the exhibition, in NYBG's historic Enid  A Haupt Conservatory, into a different color experience, like the turn of a kaleidoscope.
    THE ORCHID SHOW: JEFF LEATHAN'S KALEIDESOPE, on display through April 19, 2020, invites you to get out of the chill of winter and be greeted by purple verandas suspended above a 10-foot-tall mirrored orchid sculpture with a fountain of water streaming into a black pool. Other galleries and spaces of the exhibition, each designed in its own color
scheme, include plantings of green and white cymbidiums aid grasses, yellow orchid arches, and a kaleidoscope of
       "Color is the first and most important aspect of my work, always," Jeff Leatham said when describing his creations for THE ORCHID SHOW. "I want every gallery to be a different color experience for visitors as they move from through them, like looking into a kaleidoscope. I loved kaleidoscopes as a child. You start dreaming as you look through one. People have seen the interiors of the conservatory already, but with this exhibition, I want them to look through them like never before."        
Kaleiescope Installation
     The popular Orchid Show now in its much anticipated 18th year, thousands of orchids provide bursts of forms and colors---in purples, red, oranges, and hot pink---revealed through overhead arches, vine-inspired ribbons, mirrored sculpture, and dramatic lighting, and other artistic embellishments. Leatham worked with horticulturists from NYBG, including Senior Curator of Orchids Marc Hachadourian, to assemble orchids from its collections as well as from the finest growers in the world. 
       ABOUT THE DESIGER: Jeff Leatham has been creating a sensation with his floral installations since he began his career in 1995. His work is a combination of his love for flowers and passion for design Leatham has produced spectacular displays in Paris for nearly two decades and among his accolades in 2014 he was knighted with The Order des Arts et des Lettres---the highest honor for artists and others who have made a significant contribution to French culture. His client list includes the most celebrated movie stars and personalites.  His books remain best welling design books worldwide.   
 Beautiful Orcchid
STYLISH ORCHID EVENINGS, A DEISGNER TALK and more:  During Orchid evenings on select dates, throughout the run of THE ORCHID SHOW, Jeff Leatham's Kaleidocope adults 21 and over can experience the exhibition at night with music, cash bars and light bites. Top of the list, Princess
Lockerdoo teams up with renowned musician Harold O'Neal for a fierce and fabulous performance. You are invited to come dressed in your boldest floral-inspired fashion. Advance ticket purchase is recommended to gain admission to these special events, Visit: evenings/ for more details.
     Other exhibition programming includes Orchid Basics Q&A Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 p.m. at the NYBG Shop where staff help customers select the best orchid for the home, and Orchid Care Demonstrtions on Sundays at 1 and 2 p.m. in the Haupt Conservatory GreenSchool where orchid experts provide advice on how to choose and successfully grow these elegant plants. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ORCHID SHOW: JEFF LEATHAM'S KALEIDOSCOPE and to purchase tickets visit:
     Ta Ta Darlings! Nothing like taking a color immersion to inspire and warm up our imagination
in Leatham's kaleidoscope world of wonder and fascination. Please send your comments and
fan mail to   

Monday, February 10, 2020

Jean-Jacques Lequeu Visionary Architect at The Morgan: Review By Polly Guerin:

Jean-Jacques Lequeu 
A builder of architectural fantasies, Jean-Jacques Lequeu, (1757-1826) dreamed of becoming an architect and draftsman. With the zeal of youthful endeavor he began his career working on building sites, but ultimately he spent the majority of his life as a bureaucratic draftsman. However, before he died in poverty and obscurity, Lequeu donated one of the most singular and fascinating oeuvres of his time to the Bibliotheque nationale de France.                                                 Lequeu's oeuvre is rampant with curiosity, mystery and fantasy. Whether you are an architect or merely a voyeur, Lequeu's work deserves a look beyond the ordinary into the realms of extreme interpretation. You will not be disappointed, but perhaps be transfixed and mesmerized by the magical quality of his interpretations.  The exhibit has much to offer young architects today.
     The MORGAN MUSEUM & LIBRARY  is the first institution in New York City to present a selection of these works in the exhibition, JEAN-JACQUES LEQUEU: VISIONARY ARCHITECT,  through May 10, 2020. Some sixty of Lequeu's several hundred drawings are now on view in the first museum retrospective to bring significant public and scholarly attention to one of the most imaginative architects of the Enlightenment. IMAGE: Jean-Jacaues Lequeu (1757-1826) HE IS FREE, 1798-1799. Pen and black ink, brown and red wash. Bibilotheque nationale de France, Department des Estampes et de la photographie. A semi circular niche from which a nude woman leans out to free a songbird.
Draftsman's /Tools
Lequeu's meticulous drawings in pen and wash include highly detailed renderings of  and
imaginary monuments populating invented landscapes. Solitary and obsessive, he created fantastic worlds shown in his drawings without ever leaving his studio, and enriched them with characters and stories drawn from his wild imagination and his library. Working on his own, Lequeu produced animated self-portraits, erotic drawings and over one hundred designs for imagined projects. It is said that his drawings demonstrate a remarkable degree of skill and creativity, as well as an inventiveness inspired by antiquity and the Enlightenment. IMAGE: Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1757-1826) Draftsman's Tools, from Civil Architecture,.1782. Pen and ink, brown and gray wash, watercolor, Bibliotheque nationale de France, Department Estampes et de la photographie. 
       Lequeu's brilliant career was upended by historical
He was born during the reign f Louis XV and was witness
to the death throes of the ancient regime, the upheavals of the new order established under Napoleon's Empire. His work created in solitude, and fueled by self-study, reflects his troubled times and his vision of architecture that defied
academic boundaries. The exhibition is accompanied by a 192-page hardcover volume in French. The publication provides unique insight into an extraordinary time, and allows the reader to follow Lequeu on the his obsessive and solitary course. 
Tomb of lsocrates
 IMAGE: Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1757-1826) TOMB OF Isocrates, Athenian Orator 1789. Bibliotheque nationale de France, Departament des Estampes et dela phtographie.  Related programming includes WHERE IN THE WORLD IS JEAN-JACQUES LEQUEU? Meredith Martin, Associate Professor at New York University will explore various ways that Lequeu's corpus has proven to be fruitful for scholars as well as architects over the past two centuries. Wednesday, April 29, 2020, 6:30 pm. Then, too, there is a Curator Guided Tour on April 3, 2020 at 1 pm. for more information about this exhibition, tours and admission, visit  The Morgan Library & Museum is located at 225 Madison Avenue at 36 Street. 
TA TA DARLINGS!!! It's amazing how solitary work can produce such unique  renderings
of imagined architecture and with such draftsmanship finesse. Don't miss this exhibit, It's a thrilling adventure into the realm of fantasmagorical imagination.
Fan mail welcome at

Monday, February 3, 2020

ALFRED JARRY: The Carnival of Being at the MORGAN: Review by Polly Guerin

Alfred Jarry
An artist who would play a seminal role in the radical upheaval in the arts, more than a century ago, ALFRED JARRY stands on Terra Ferma as a exceptional artist who worked beyond the bounds of restraint and carved an important place in art history.  He was an inspiration for Dada and Surrealism and a touchstone for the Theater of the Absurd. 
        Alfred Jarry's remarkable and innovative body of work is presented in the first major United States exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum though May 10, 2020. Jarry was a multifaceted creative force unto himself. He was a puppeteer, a critic, a novelist, an artist and a bicycle fanatic. His works suggested that technology, popular imagery, and the performance of everyday life could constitute works of art.  Jarry's statement that "living was the carnival of being," embodies his anti-authoritarianism and subversive theatricality expressed in being larger than life itself in excess, wordplay, alter egos, and the unfettered imagination. Since his death in 1907, Jarrry's eclectic works and ideas have continued to 
Les minutes de sable memorial
for figures of the twentieth- and twenty-first avant-gardes. Image: Alfred Jarry, ca. 1894-96. Attributed to Nadar. Photograph courtesy of Thieri Foulc. ALFRED JARRY: The Carnival of Being celebrates the gift to the Morgan Library and Museum of the books and manuscripts in the Robert J and Linda Klieger Stillman Pataphysics 

       The exhibition considers some of Jarry's many innovations by his engagement with printed matter and the graphic arts.  On of the first writers to experiment with visual typography, Jarry forged new relationships between image and text in the experimental approaches to book and magazine design.  His use of assembling anachronism, collage, and appropriation are bellwethers of modern and contemporary practices. Image: Alfred Jarry (1873-1907). Les minutes de sable memorial (Paris: Mercure de France, 1894). The Morgan Library & Museum gift of Robert J and Linda Klieger Stillman, 2017. PML 197917 . Photograph by
Janny Chu. Drawing primarily on the Stillman's collection, the exhibition is contextualized with other objects in the Morgan's collections as well as loans from private and institutional lenders, comprising manuscripts, drawings, photographs and ephemera. Paintings and prints by figures in Jarry's circle, such as Henri Rousseau, Pierre Bonnard, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec are also featured. 
Alfred Jarry" Ubu roi"
JARRY is best known today for his revolutionary play Ubu Roi (1896). With only one legendary  performance recorded it remains one of his most significant works. The final portion of the exhibition points to ways in which Jarry's writings have inspired pataphysical organizations and visual artists at particular historical moments, featuring works by Marcel Duchamp, Mary Reynolds, Joan Miro, Dora Maar, Max Ernst,  Thomas Chimes, and William Kentridge, among

others. Gallery Talks, Readings and Performances including a Symposium, Alfred Jarry: Paraphysicist and Prophet on Saturday, April 25th. For more information about the exhibition visit

        Ta Ta Darlings!!! Alfred Jarry accomplished an astonishing body of work in his short life.
THE CARNIVAL OF BEING will jolt your creative juices, visit the Morgan's  celebration of the iconoclast Alfred Jarry.  Fan mail welcome at

Sunday, February 2, 2020

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS FESTIVAL: March 8: Canterbury Choral Society

With its nod to spring and glorious music, the Canterbury Choral Society presents the VAUGHAN WILLIAMS FESTIVAL on March 8, 2020, at 4 p.m. at the Church of the Heavenly Rest, located at 1085 Fifth
Avenue at 90th Street. Tickets are available on EVENTBRITE, or at the Door, $25 General Admission, $20 Seniors and $l0 Students with ID.
        With a stellar vocal cast and conductor Jonathan 
De Vries leading, the Canterbury Choral Society presents Toward and Unknown Region, Dona Nobis
Pacem, Sancta Civitas and the piano Concerto in C
with concert pianist, Steven Graff. 
       This is a rare and delightful opportunity to hear Vaughan Williams' masterful works as he is among the best known British symphonists and his large scale choral pieces soar to the heights of musical achievement.
Jonathan De Vries

In addition to fulfilling the Canterbury Choral Society's mission to revive and present important music, conductor and artistic director De Vries is a multifaceted artist. He is also affiliated with the Upper School Choral and is Musical Theater Director of the Greenwich County Day School in Greenwich, Connecticut.      
Steven Graff
PIANO CONCERTO IN C: A special presentation, on this Festival occasion, is the performance of the Piano Concerto in C with Steven Graff who has not only been affiliated with the Canterbury Choral Society for twenty years, but he has appeared on the stage, over the airwaves and in the classroom and serves as Professor at Hunter College and
t the Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York.
      Soloists include a stellar cast with soprano, Hannah Spierman who has appeared in major roles with Canterbury Choral Society on numerous occasions, and has been Soprano One Section Leader since 2017.  
      Tenor Blake Friedman returns to the spotlight. He sang most recently in the Canterbury Choral Society, November 2019 production of J S Bach's Christmas Oratorio. His voice has been cited by the New York Times for its "plummy fullness and dusky hue.:  He has been heard in performances at Chautauqua Opera singing the role of Almaviva in both Il Barbiere de Siviglia by Rossini and The Ghost of Versailles by John Congliano.  
          The third soloist, Robert Balonek has been praised by Opera News as having a "commanding, steely baritone and a direct crystal clear delivery."  Among his many credits, last season he performed in the Canterbury Choral Society's revival of Ariani's Oratorio di San Francesco.
        The Canterbury Choral Society looks forward to presenting the Vaughan Williams Festival.
Be there, are in for a most inspiring and entertaining afternoon.