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Jane’s Carousel

21 Oct

Photos of Jane’s Carousel and the Brooklyn Bridge at night.

“The Brooklyn Bridge Blues”

by Jack Kerouac

I looked at the red winter
disgusting dusk of the world,
saw the alleys beyond,
Brooklyn, Wolfe’s redbrick
jungle (that I’d only
last night walkt, unto
Gowanus Cana!)—-O!
–& I remembered the dreams
the dreams about racks
and Joan Adams and drear
and a tear appeared
in my eye over the river
on the Bridge of Sights
that as soon as I’d
(c r o c o d i l e)
crossed it, had taken
me to the shore
I was looking for!
Svaha! I am
the perfect man
the Buddha of This World

Occupy Wall Street

10 Oct

50 Museums in 50 Weeks

5 Sep
Delilah Shearing Samson’s Hair (detail), by the workshop of the Boucicaut Master.
Bible historiale; France, Paris, ca. 1415–20.
Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.394, f. 112 (detail). [source]

One month in…

Today I have been in New York for exactly one month! Last week I decided to set a goal to see (at least) fifty different museums during my first year, roughly one museum a week. I will track my progress on this blog with my highlights and occasionally some background information on various institutions or works of art.

This weekend I saw two museums: the Morgan Library & Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.

First Stop: The Morgan Library & Museum

I chose the Morgan Library & Museum to be my first visit to a New York museums because of the current exhibition, “Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art”. In a previous post, I mention that Eero Saarinen’s list enumerating his favorite qualities about his bride-to-be, Aline Bernstein is included in this show.

While I did see Eero Saarinen’s charming note in person, I spent most of my time in another show at the Morgan. “Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands,” which closed yesterday, tracks the evolution of fashion trends in the Middle Ages in Northern Europe in over fifty manuscripts and printed books.

Geneviève Receiving King Mark’s Letter, by the Master of the Vienna Mamerot.
Romance of Tristan; France, Bourges? dated 1468.
Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.41, f. 24v (detail). [source]

A bit about the Morgan

“No price is too high for an object of unquestioned beauty and known authenticity.” -Pierpont Morgan

American financier Pierpont Morgan began collecting art in 1890, following the death of his father, Junius Morgan.Thirty-four years later J.P. Morgan, Jr. bequeathed his father’s library to the public.

As the collection grew, the institution likewise expanded beginning with the 1902-1906 Charles Follen McKim addition of the palazzo-style private library for Pierpont Morgan. In 1988 J.P. Morgan, Jr. purchased a mid-nineteenth-century brownstone on Madison Avenue and 37th Street and used this building as his personal residence. A few years later a garden court tied the buildings together. Lastly, in 2006 the Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano unveiled the most recent addition to the Morgan complex, a system of three diaphanous steel-and-glass pavilions.

View of new Madison Avenue entrance, Photography by Michel Denancé [source]

Top Pick from the MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art recently installed eight works by the late painter, Lucien Freud (1922-2011), on its second floor. The London-based artist’s lengthy career was dedicated to creating haunting and merciless paintings, drawings, and prints rooted in observation. The meticulously-crafted portrait below, Girl With Leaves, is from my favorite period of his work.

Lucian Freud, Girl with Leaves, 1948. Pastel on gray paper.
Purchase. © 2011 Lucian Freud [source]

Double Rainbow All the Way

9 Sep

“What does it mean?”

I woke up on the morning of September 7, 2010 with the double rainbow guy on my mind. So, I made a goofy painting in honor of Paul “Hungry Bear” Vasquez.

Double Rainbow All the Way, 2010, gouache on paper, 29.5 x 21 cm.

Fans of the “double rainbow guy” will be pleased to learn that he has just been paid to make a commercial for Microsoft Windows. If you live in a cave and somehow missed this youtube video sensation, please enjoy:

Full disclosure: I adore quirky landscape paintings.

My painting reeks of Charles Burchfield. I was introduced to Burchfield two summers ago at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, New York. The museum on the campus of Buffalo State College has many paintings by Burchfield, who lived and worked in the area. (Random fact: Artist Cindy Sherman went to college at Buffalo State.)

I’ve been looking at Burchfield all summer, reading reviews of his show that traveled from UCLA’s Hammer Museum to the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City. While Burchfield was well-respected in his lifetime, he has curiously fallen out of fashion today. To rekindle acclaim for Burchfield was undoubtedly part of Robert Gober’s motivation for curating the show, entitled “Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield.”

I like Burchfield because his cryptic paintings are often awkwardly graphic. There is evidence of his success as a wallpaper designer in works like Sun and Rocks, below.

Sun and Rocks, 1953, Watercolor and gouache on paper, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.
[Photo credit: Hammer.Ucla.Edu]

Many other artists come to mind when I look at Burchfield: van Gogh, William Blake, or Caspar David Friedrich. Though there are apparent references to European artists, his sense of invention both in a technical and stylistic sense give the work an American flavor. His technique was innovative; he used a dry brush with these watercolors to achieve that scratchy sense of immediacy. Most of all, Burchfield’s paintings read like transcendental illustrations of his admiration for the American writer, Henry David Thoreau.

Landscape painting is decidedly American. The same nation that invented the idea of a  national park naturally endeavored to preserve its landscape in the arts as well. I posit that although romantic, landscape paintings may seem unfashionable, at least in the current academic milieu, a small renaissance is taking place. Recent works by Inka Essenhigh and Hernan Bas, for example, are exploring the great outdoors again. Maybe there is more behind the viral video of the double rainbow, after all. Maybe Americans are getting back in touch with their roots, pardon the pun.

In closing, a quote from Paul Vasquez, “Whoa, that’s so intense.”