Though he was famously suspicious of photographic reproductions of works of art, Freer felt an immediate affinity with Alvin Langdon Coburn, who came recommended as ”a young man of taste” who shared his host’s enthusiasm for the art of Whistler. Like Freer, Coburn believed that Whistler was preeminent among contemporary painters. Many of Coburn’s pictorialist photographs were indebted to both Japanese prints and Whistler’s tonal landscapes and urban views.
At Freer’s house, Coburn worked from six in the morning until ten at night to photograph the collection. During those long hours, Freer became comfortable enough with Coburn to pose for a series of portraits. Never intended for public display, these images document Freer’s intimate relation ship with his collection. Though it took ”heaps of hard work” to capture the ”elusive” qualities of the art, Freer enjoyed the photography project. He admitted to a friend, ”You will understand what fun we are having”. [source: Freer Gallery of Art]
Photographs of Freer with works from the collection, 1909, by Alvin Langdon Coburn
Kirstein sat for this portrait while he was in London for a New York City Ballet performance at Covent Garden and to organize the exhibition Symbolic Realism in American Painting: 1940-1950 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.
“I have a live eye,” proclaimed Lincoln Kirstein, signaling his wide-ranging vision. Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern explored this polymath’s sweeping contributions to American cultural life in the 1930s and ’40s. Best known for cofounding New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet with George Balanchine, Kirstein (1907–1996), a writer, critic, curator, impresario, and tastemaker, was also a key figure in MoMA’s early history. With his prescient belief in the role of dance within the museum, his championing of figuration in the face of prevailing abstraction, and his position at the center of a New York network of queer artists, intimates, and collaborators, Kirstein’s impact remains profoundly resonant today. [source: MoMA]
The first of dozens of works that Cornell made in honor of famous ballerinas, this box pays homage to Marie Taglioni, an acclaimed nineteenth-century dancer of Italian origin, who, according to the legend inscribed in the box’s lid, kept an imitation ice cube in her jewelry box to commemorate the time she danced in the snow at the behest of a Russian highwayman. The box is infused with erotic undertones—both in the tactile nature of the glass cubes, velvet, and rhinestone necklace (purchased at a Woolworth’s dime store in New York) and in the incident itself, in which Taglioni reportedly performed on an animal skin placed across a snowy road. Adding to the intimacy of this delicate construction, the glass cubes were designed to be removed, revealing a hidden recess below that contains two beaded necklaces and rhinestone chips placed on a mirrored surface and seen through blue-tinted glass. [source: MoMA]
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