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Finally went to see the Hide/Seek show and had so many thoughts, especially about digital reproductions of fine art works.
Read my interview with the co-curators of Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, which is currently on view at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.
Days after seeing this show, I read the UK’s Independent 1995 article: Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’. I haven’t read Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War by Frances Stonor Saunders. Have you? What do you think?
Two weeks ago, I finished reading The Sistine Secrets. No, not reading, devouring! This afternoon I finally went to see Michelangelo: The Man and the Myth show at The Louise and Bernard Palitz Gallery- Syracuse University’s Lubin House. This exhibit was worth seeing just for a close inspection of Marcello Venusti’s portrait of Michelangelo–the only surviving painting of the Renaissance Master, in a rich array of late Baroque style lighting captured in rich oils. But far more rewarding was admiring the physicality of the Pièta in person. The Renaissance fascination with perfect human form cast by the Master of his time. Then, see the same pair of hands and eyes trace the contours of an effeminate profile in a sketch for the head of Leda: minimum strokes, maximum pathos. To think that before the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo had not created any large-scale frescoes…what else can demonstrate the power of the ‘beginner’s mind’? In who else do we see the art mastering both the intimate (portraits, poetry) and the grandiose (frescoes, sculpture) with such electic splendor?
Salvador Dali described his paintings as “hand-painted photographs”, but not even that description could prepare one for the multi-faceted narratives of his film sketches. Finally, I was able to see Destino, Dalí’s collaboration with Walt Disney on a remarkable animation that is compliments Dali’s flowing forms and transitional landscapes. Here, a pre-Surrealist landscape showing an idyllic serenity through Impressionist talent. This is one of Dali’s earliest known works, and I could not help but compare these qualities to the landscape treatments in Destino. It also reminded me of Richard Billingham’s recent work in the UK countryside.
Every New Year I gravitate towards this painting, by Ross Bleckner. And every year, I feel refreshed by its qualities.
The Piano Lesson, Henri Matisse, 1916. Oil on canvas. The Museum of Modern Arts, New York, NY, USA.
One of my favourite modern paintings.
Not only did he paint a landscape, but he did so with a palate knife! I would have never guessed this painting to have been by Paul Gauguin. The style we learn to be associated with his work is flat, 2-dimensional, saturated colour. This painting has the turbulence of Van Gogh, and the light of Corot and the composition that Cézanne has applied. But it’s Gauguin!
Another classical rendition of the Three Graces, which I came across while researching images for my most imminent obsession.
Two favourite scandalous combinations: Both the Courbet and Manet caused a stir with their styles, both influenced by Photography. While the Courbet was a specific commission for the private male gaze, the Manet was a defiant public declaration. Not suprisingly, Kate Moss in a suit, surrounded by two naked models would probably cause a bit of a stir, even today. A woman, in a dominant (well, assertive, really!) role with two nude male nymphs? Outdoors, at a picnic? Both the original painting and Sorrenti’s photograph present relevant interpretations of social taboo.
In Mario Sorrenti’s homage to Courbet, the female embrace of the effeminate probably passes unnoticed, but I believe it is there. I could go on, indefinitely…
My favourite work from the Guggenheim’s “Body and Soul” exhibition, featuring emerging Brazilian artists.
Catarina de Bragança, in a 1662-1672 miniature by Samuel Cooper, and painting by Dirck Stoop, from around the same time frame: the monarch after which the borough of Queens is thought to be named after, in New York City. Not all agree on this matter, but one fact is clear: she was the wife of Charles II, who in 1683 was the legal owner Brooklyn and Queens. According to wikipedia, “her large dowry brought the port cities of Tangier and Bombay to British control.” She is also believed to have introduced the custom of tea-drinking to England, a custom Portugal adopted from contacts with Asia in the previous century.
Queen Isabel of Aragon, spouse of Dom Diniz in a painting by Francisco Goya.
The King of Portugal depicted as a countryside hunter. Oil on canvas, circa 1634-35. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
Four views of the Boulevard Montmartre at different times of day.
Paris, in the late 1800’s by Camile Pissarro.