Monday, November 28, 2016

EXHIBITIONS: Neue Galerie NY presents must-see show: "Klimt and the Women of Vienna’s Golden Age, 1900-1918"

There's no doubt that artist Gustav Klimt was enchanted by the ladies,
especially those of Vienna’s Golden Age. There he held court over the city's 
art world and its society matrons, like a sovereign over his personal dominion.

Photo c. 1917

Neue Galerie NY is currently showcasing numerous works from
the period of Klimt's ascendancy in an exhibition that includes approximately
12 paintings, 40 drawings, 40 works of decorative art (jewelry and furniture,

some designed by other Wiener Werkstätte artists such as 
Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser), and vintage photographs of the artist, 
drawn from public and private collections worldwide.

These works "cover the gamut of Klimt’s portrait style, from his early ethereal works influenced by Symbolism and the Pre-Raphaelite movement, to his 
so-called 'golden style,' as well as his almost Fauvist depictions."
                                                                         ...  Curator's note

Portrait of Ria Munk III, 1917 (unfinished)

See Christie's website for a detailed
description of this fascinating woman and the
story of her radiant portrait.

°     °     °     °     °     °     °      °
The paintings in the current Neue Galerie NY show, according to art historian 
Jill Lloyd, represent "chic, modern women who belong to a world of 
elegance and luxury, they also have the effect of exoticizing and 
etherealizing their subjects." As Lloyd observes in her catalog essay, 
"They seem both women of their time and timeless symbols of 
femininity, at once contemporary and archaic."

Below: Portrait of Szerena Lederer, 1899
Szerena Pulitzer Lederer was known in her youth as a great beauty,
and later in life as a fine art collector and Grande Dame of Viennese society. 
She was born into a wealthy Jewish family, much like many of the 
patrons of Klimt's art. Klimt and Szerena were rumored to be lovers, 
with a daughter Elizabeth who was the product of their union.

The Lederer collection was confiscated from Szerena in 1940 and she fled to Budapest, 
where she died three years later. The Gestapo transferred the collection to 
Immerdorf Castle, subsequently setting it on fire in May, 1945 
so that it would not fall into the hands of the Allies. 
The collection was destroyed.

°     °     °     °     °     °     °     °
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907
Ah, the glorious Golden Adele. She is probably the best known
and most loved of Klimt's portraits. Ronald Lauder,
founder of the Neue Galerie, was instrumental in the
return of this painting from the government
of Austria to Adele's niece Maria Altmann, its rightful owner.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912
This portrait of Adele was done five years later than #1.
It appears that by this time, their love affair had cooled,
but their friendship endured.
 She was the only model to be painted twice by Klimt.

°     °     °      °      °      °      °      °

Portrait of Mäda Primavesi, 1912

Miss Primavesi, an assertive, spirited girl, is depicted here at the age of nine.
Klimt did numerous preliminary sktches for the portrait, wanting to perfect 
his subject's attitudinal pose and the delightful background motifs.
Mäda's parents, Otto and Eugenia, were sophisticated
members of fin-de-siecle Vienna society, and ardent supporters of 
progressive Viennese art and design.

Above: Portrait of Gertha Loew, 1902

"The beautiful girl swathed in white gossamer was Gertrud Loew, the 
19-year-old daughter of Anton Loew, a celebrated physician who ran a
 private sanatorium beside his palatial home in Vienna, 
where his patients included composer Gustav Mahler 
and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein."
                                                                                                 ... The Guardian, June 2015 
When first exhibited in 1903, the portrait was described by one critic as 
"the most sweet scented poetry the palette is able to create.”

Like nearly all of these singular Klimt portraits, this one was
looted by the Nazis and only recently returned to its rightful owners. 

Above: Portrait of Elisabeth Lederer, 1914

"The influence of fashion design among society women in fin-de-siècle Vienna also plays a key role in the installation. Shanghai-based artist and designer Han Feng has been commissioned to create three one-of-a-kind fashion ensembles inspired by prevailing styles of artistic reform dress and the designs of Emilie Flöge, an important Viennese fashion designer and Klimt’s muse. Special hats and style accessories by paper artist Brett McCormack also adorn full-scale mannequins located throughout the show."
                                                                                                                    ... Curator's note

Visit the Neue Galerie NY's website for more information.This show runs through January 16, 2017.


Friday, November 25, 2016

EXHIBITION: "The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection" at Tate Modern/London

 A young Sir Elton (c. 1970)

We all know Elton John through his prolific music, not to mention
his flamboyant costumery and abundant collection of zany eyeglasses. But not 
too many people are aware that he is considered to be one of the most important
collectors of Modernist photography on the planet. 

Below: a rare print of Man Ray’s Glass Tears (1930), from Sir Elton's collection.
Glass Tears is the picture that "changed everything" for him.
“It was a huge leap,” he said about acquiring it. 
“It was like a Cape Canaveral leap.” 

The tears in this photo are strategically placed, and clearly don't look real.
There is some dispute as to whether the model is a living person or a mannequin.

Nearly 200 twentieth century photographs from Sir Elton's collection are currently 
on display at the Tate Modern in London. The exhibition will run through
through May 7, 2017, and includes works by such notables as
Edward Weston, Man Ray, Dorothea Lange, Irving Penn, 
 Imogen Cunningham, André Kertész  and Ilse Bing.

Underwater Swimmer, Esztergom, Hungary (1917) 
Nusch Eluard (1928), by Man Ray 
 Gelatin silver print on paper

 Nude by Edward Weston, c. 1930

Leaping Into the Weekend

To watch a video of Elton John talking about his collection,     
link here


Friday, November 18, 2016

EXHIBITION: "WOMEN: New Portraits: by Annie Leibowitz now in NYC

“The imagery of women has to catch up with the imagery of men,” Annie Leibovitz told 
the NY Times regarding WOMEN: New Portraits, her 2016 traveling photography exhibit. 
The images continue her 1999 project, Women, a book she published 
with her late partner Susan Sontag 
“Women are a work in progress,” she said. “To my dying day, 
I’ll be doing these photographs.”

Misty Copeland, dancer, NYC, 2015
© Annie Leibovitz  

There couldn't be a better time to celebrate the
spirits and accomplishments of women than right now, when the
forces of misogyny seem to have been unleashed all over the world.
WOMEN: New Portraits opens today November 18, at the 
Bayview Correctional Facility, a former women's prison in Manhattan 
that was closed after Hurricane Sandy. 

 The show's opening launches the Art Deco building’s restoration and 
transformation into a Women’s Building, which will reopen as a center for 
women’s groups and services in 2020.

The show has already been exhibited in
London, Tokyo, San Francisco, Mexico City and Milan.
It will head to Zurich after New York, rounding out a year-long world tour.

For her new photography exhibit  Annie Leibovitz shot portraits of 
female luminaries at work: Malala Yousafzai, Serena and Venus Williams, 
Gloria Steinem, Elizabeth Warren, Shonda Rhimes on set, Jane Goodall, 
Misty Copeland on pointe, Adele at her piano, 
Katie Ledecky in the pool, and Lena Dunham, among many others.

"Why do a project on women? There have not been representations of women that show them as whole human beings. So this is remedial. Each of these photographs, each one is a novel."

Gloria Steinem

WOMEN: New Portraits will be on view in New York from November 18 through December 11. For the November 18 opening, formerly incarcerated women will lead a discussion 
about female imprisonment and women’s rights. Speak-outs and "talking circles" have been an integral part of the exhibition since its outset.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

DESTINATIONS: GLASGOW: City of Design, Innovation and prize-winning Architecture

2016 has been designated as Glasgow's
Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design; during this time the city 
has been celebrating the best of Scotland's architecture, 
both old and new. Formerly a grimy industrial city that tourists
tried to avoid, Glasgow has reinvented itself through design and 
and the enthusiastic embrace of its glorious architectural history. 

"The Mac": 
 Renovations and reconstruction continue at the renowned Glasgow School of Art,
which was severely damaged in a May 2014 fire. The building was designed in the early 1900s by iconic Scottish architect 
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
who essentially brought Modernism to the UK more than 100 years ago, with his streamlined style and unique design vocabulary,

Left: close-up of school's exterior 

 Below: the school's singular library
"The school has responded to the effect of the
fire in a manner that seeks to
harness the creative energy of
the institution itself."

On the other end of the spectrum,
the Saunders Centre at Glasgow Academy --  a sleek, state of the art science and technology block that was constructed for a private school in Glasgow -- 
was recently awarded the Andrew Doolan "Best Building in Scotland" prize 
for 2016 from a shortlist of 11 projects.

 Exterior of new Glasgow Academy Building

Above and below: Interior views of the Saunders Centre 

Above: Diagrams of ventilation systems and lighting
178-seat auditorium

"The Glasgow Academy Saunders Building is about science in the city, science embedded into the early years of young people's thinking, science celebrated not out the way 
but right in the middle of our community, science as open, not closed and secret."
statement by prizewinners Paige\Park architects

  The festival, which began in October 2016 and runs through
Feb. 2017, comprises talks, walking tours, photography and art exhibits,
music, light projections, sustainable design lectures, films, conversations 
with architects and much more. A programme for the entire list of events
is available here.

Room De Luxe at Willow Tea Rooms,
  Sauchiehall street

"... the rich collections of art in the city museums, the concentration of small 
shops and vintage treasure troves, and unexpected leafy enclaves 
are only a few of Glasgow’s charms. Ultimately it’s the openhearted, 
hospitable and occasionally irreverent people who live here 
that create such a welcoming city. "
N.Y. Times, August 2014         


Thursday, November 3, 2016

BOOKS: Thoroughly modern Emily: The Belle of Amherst

Quarto Publishing has just released a delightfully accessible yet quite 
sophisticated book about Emily Dickinson, her world and her poetry.

Edited by scholar Susan Snively (whose hometown happens to be Amherst, MA, 
just like Emily) and charmingly illustrated by Paris-born artist Christine Davenier, 
the book brings Emily's poetry firmly into the present tense.
It's the premiere of Quarto's new "poetry for kids" series
but its appeal is to all generations.


It may come as a surprise to learn that Emily Dickinson is considered by many 
devoted readers and scholars to be a Modernist poet. Her spare aesthetic -- with air breathed into the rhythm of her words through the frequent use of long dashes -- relaxed the rules of Romanticism and a broadened its themes, style and subject matter. 

Poet Michael Burch wrote that Dickinson "loosened the corsets" of English poetry, 
leading the way for iconic poets like Walt Whitman, 
e.e. cummings and even Allen Ginsburg.

Photo c. 1847, Emily Dickinson at age 17

Though an introvert by nature, Emily was not nearly the recluse or misfit 
she is often portrayed as. There was also humor and wit in her poetry.

Snively writes in her introduction:
"The poet's life was both quiet and busy. She visited Washington, D.C, 
and also journeyed to Philadelphia, Hartford, Worcester, Springfield,
Boston and Cambridge. Yet Emily Dickinson felt most comfortable at home.
'Home is a holy thing', she remarked. She baked bread for the household, worked in the huge garden, wrote possibly 10,000 letters -- think of what she might have done
with email! -- and created poems that were unlike anybody else's,
full of word-play, startling images, puzzles and surprises."

 Above: Illustration for This is My Letter to the World,
one of my favorite Emily poems
This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,--
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty. 

Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me! 

 Above: illustrations for Exhilaration is the breeze and
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee

Thirty-five poems are included in the volume, organized in sections by season.
The text includes an engaging foreword and definitions of important words;
I have to admit that some such as plashless (smoothly, without splashing), 
lathed (covered), duties (clothing) and
repealless (endless) were head-scratchers for me.
 There's also a commentary section called "What Emily Was Thinking", in
which each poem is interpreted briefly, and with great wisdom. One I
especially liked was for the poem
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee:
"The poet liked to bake sweet treats, Here is her recipe
for a meadow, The secret ingredient is a daydream."

 To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee
One clover and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.

"To live is so startling, it leaves but little room for other occupations."

E. Dickinson, in a letter written in1871