Bowing to Art

Jar || Syria, probably 16th-17th century,
paired with
Venus Rising from the Sea || James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) || ca. 1866-870

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

Freer Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

March 21st, 2019

Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern – part III

Paul Klee
Actor’s Mask, 1924
Oil on canvas mounted on board

O. Louis Guglielmi
Wedding in South Street, 1937
Oil on canvas

Pavel Tchelitchew
Leaf Children, 1940
Oil on canvas

Bernard Perlin
The Lovers, 1946
Gouache and ink on paper-faced board

Pavel Tchelitchew
Head of Autumn (Study for Hide-and-Seek), 1941
Watercolour and pencil on paper

Edward Hopper
House by the Railroad, 1925
Oil on canvas

Ben Shahn
Willis Avenue Bridge, 1940
Gouache on paper on board

Ivan LeLorraine Albright
Woman, 1928
Oil on canvas

Bernard Perlin
The Lovers, 1946 (detail)
Gouache and ink on paper-faced board

Pavel Tchelitchew
Hide-and-Seek, 1940-1942
Oil on canvas

Elie Nadelman
Man in the Open Air, c. 1915
Bronze

MoMA, Mar-Jun 2019

March 15th, 2019

Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern – part II

Paul Cadmus
Ballet Positions. Drawings for Ballet Alphabet: A Primer for Laymen 1939
Ink, pencil, coloured ink, and gouache on paper

Works by Forrest Thayer, Charles Rain, Tom Lee, and Keith Morrow Martin

Keith Morrow Martin
Costume design for the ballet Harlequin for President 1936
Gouache, watercolour, metallic gouache, and pencil on paper

Alvin Colt
Finale Girls. Costume design for the ballet A Thousand Times Neigh 1940
Gouache, pencil, stamped ink, and stapled fabric on coloured card

Alvin Colt
Costume design for the ballet Charade (or The Debutante) 1939
Gouache, stapled fabric, pencil, and stamped coloured ink on coloured card

Forrest Thayer
Costume designs for the ballet Promenade 1936
Watercolour and pencil on paper

Kurt Seligmann
Costume designs for the ballet The Four Temperaments c. 1946
Fourth Variation/Choleric
Gouache, watercolour, coloured pencil, and pencil on paper

Kurt Seligmann
Costume designs for the ballet The Four Temperaments c. 1946
First Variation/Melancholic
Crayon, gouache, watercolour, coloured pencil, and pencil on paper

Kurt Seligmann
Costume designs for the ballet The Four Temperaments c. 1946
Second Variation/Sanguinic
Gouache, watercolour, coloured pencil, crayon, and pencil on paper
Kurt Seligmann
Costume designs for the ballet The Four Temperaments c. 1946
Theme 3 (Female)
Gouache, watercolour, and pencil on paper

Henri Cartier-Bresson
Lincoln Kirstein, 1964
Gelatin silver print, printed 1968

Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern

MoMA, Mar-Jun 2019

March 15th, 2019

Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern – part I

Lucian Freud
Portrait of Lincoln Kirstein, 1950
Oil on canvas

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.


Lucian Freud
Portrait of a Woman, 1949
Oil on canvas

Artworks by Pavel Tchelitchew, George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus & Jean Cocteau
Pavel Tchelitchew
George Platt Lynes, 1935
Coloured ink on paper

Walker Evans
Lincoln Kirstein, c. 1931
Gelatin silver print

Paul Cadmus
Designs for the ballet Filling Station, 1937
Paul Cadmus
Designs for the ballet Filling Station, 1937
Paul Cadmus
Designs for the ballet Filling Station, 1937
Paul Cadmus
Designs for the ballet Filling Station, 1937
Paul Cadmus
Designs for the ballet Filling Station, 1937

Karl Free
Costume designs for the ballet Pocahontas, c. 1936

Jared French
Costume design for the ballet Billy the Kid, 1938

“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]

Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern

MoMA, Mar-Jun 2019

March 15th, 2019

”Through blue-tinted glass”

Elie Nadelman (American, born Poland, 1882–1946)
Woman at the Piano, c. 1917 (detail)
Stained and painted wood
Joseph Cornell
Taglioni’s Jewel Casket, 1940
Joseph Cornell
Taglioni’s Jewel Casket, 1940
Joseph Cornell
Taglioni’s Jewel Casket, 1940
Elie Nadelman (American, born Poland, 1882–1946)
Woman at the Piano, c. 1917 (detail)
Stained and painted wood

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]

Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern

MoMA, Mar-Jun 2019

March 15th, 2019