Sixth and a Half

Times Fifty Sixth, equals the magic number that unlocks the mysteries of the Avenue That Does Not Exist.

You too can uncover its mysteries; but tread gently or you might upset the kind denizens of this strange, parallel world.

Popeye by Jeff Koons, 2009-2012
Granite and live flowers

Big, big Penny by Tom Otterness, 1993
Bronze

July 26th, 2017

They come in all sizes

Museums come in all shapes and sizes, integral parts of our society and pivotal in preserving, studying and expanding knowledge about the culture, heritage and nature of our world. And in an ethnically diverse metropolis of the magnitude of New York City, Museums come in every conceivable type: from the matchbox Mmuseumm to the jewel box Frick Collection, the Ambassador of Modernism that is the MoMA to the National Museum of the American Indian, advocate of Native American heritage, there are weird museums, pop up museums, museums of gigantic proportions like The Met; there is something for every interest, taste and even physical condition.

The Brooklyn Museum falls under the category of those Tardis-like structures that are surprisingly ”bigger on the inside”. How else can I explain the seemingly endless space when, after going through the galleries hosting the extensive Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition occupying -what we thought was- the largest part of the Museum, we found ourselves walking through corridors and galleries, monumental installations and even reconstructed period rooms, only to end up in this vast open space, its glass-tile floor reflecting the natural light coming from a skylight as large as the ceiling, enhanced by a huge chandelier?

It was only afterwards I looked it up and realised we had just visited the third largest Museum in New York City! This is the ”Beaux-Arts Court”, where the portraits of Washington A. Roebling and his wife, Emily Warren Roebling, fittingly hang side-by-side. Mr. Roebling was the chief engineer during the construction of Brooklyn Bridge, visible through the window in his portrait. When he fell ill, it was his wife who stepped in and oversaw its completion. Mrs. Roebling was the first person to cross the bridge, carrying a rooster for good luck.Portrait of Washington A. Roebling, 1899 by Théobald Chartran
Portrait of Emily Warren Roebling, 1896, by 
Charles-Émile-Auguste Carolus-Duran

Brooklyn Museum

July 22nd, 2017

Haunted

By benign spirits.

1/Henry Trippe House; Secretary, Maryland; c. 1730
Major Henry Trippe, a gentleman landowner and planter of English origin, built this one-and-a-half story brick home he called ”Carthagena” between 1724 and 1731 on land he head inherited from his father. The house faced the head of Secretary Creek on the eastern shore of Maryland. This orientation indicates the importance of water access before the development of good roads.

Greatly altered, the house still stands on its original site. A model and its living room can be viewed at the Brooklyn Museum, one of the twenty-three American period rooms installed as part of the Museum’s decorative arts collection.

2/Raphael Soyer (American, born Russia, 1899-1987); Café Scene, ca. 1940; oil on canvas
Raphael Soyer had a lifelong interest in the daily lives of working-class New Yorkers. His paintings of lone women in the early 1940s suggest the absence of husbands or sweethearts who had been called up to serve in WWII.

3/Luigi Lucioni (American, born Italy, 1900-1988); Paul Cadmus, 1928; oil on canvas
Luigi Lucioni and Paul Cadmus probably met as students, and they doubtless shared acquaintances within New York’s circles of gay artists and writers.

4/Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954); The Bowl, 1933; egg tempera on pressed wood panel
In this vivid Depression-era painting of one of the wild “bowl” rides at Coney Island, friends and strangers alike are thrown into contact by the overpowering centrifugal force. Reginald Marsh described the chaotic tangle of female bodies with the sensual physicality for which his work was best known.

5/Abbott H. Thayer (American, 1849-1921); The Sisters, 1884; oil on canvas
The women in this portrait were Bessie (left) and Clara Stillman, the sisters of the powerful financier James Stillman. 

The Dinner Party

Yesterday’s ”seating plan” was drawn in preparation of today’s ”Dinner Party”. Please come in, make yourself at home – but don’t get too comfortable – and meet our guests of honour.

Blending in


Amazon
On the plate is an image of breasts covered in gold and silver, representing the breastplates that the warriors wore in battle. The image may also refer to the legend that Amazon warriors cut off one of their breasts to be better archers. The plate also depicts two double-headed axes, a white egg, a red crescent, and a black stone, all of which are associated with the Amazons.


Sappho
Called the Tenth Muse by Plato, Sappho was a prolific poet of ancient Greece. She innovated the form of poetry through her first-person narration (instead of writing from the vantage point of the gods) and by refining the lyric meter. The details of Sappho’s life have been obscured by legend and mythology, and the best source of information is the Suidas, a Greek lexicon compiled in the 10th century.


Aspasia
Aspasia of Miletus was a scholar and philosopher whose intellectual influence distinguished her in Athenian culture, which treated women as second-class citizens during the 5th century B.C.E. She used her status to open a school of philosophy and rhetoric, and she is known to have had enormous influence over such prominent leaders and philosophers as Pericles, Plato, and Socrates.


Caroline Herschel
Caroline Herschel was a pioneering female astronomer, and the first woman to discover a comet. Her achievements enabled generations of women to develop a career in the sciences, a field that was once exclusively reserved for men.


Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth, born Isabella Baumfree, was recognized as one of the first people to identify the similarities between the struggles of black slaves and the struggles of women. As an abolitionist and suffragist, she was a powerful force in the fight for justice and equality for both African Americans and women in the U.S.


Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony’s life and work offer a glimpse into the extraordinary events of both the abolitionist movement and the women’s suffrage movement in the late nineteenth century. Anthony was the face of the American suffrage movement and one of its primary organizers. Her actions contributed to significant progress in the inclusion of women in the United States political process.


Natalie Barney
Natalie Barney was both a poet and a prose writer, who was famous for her weekly salons, which gathered together many of the twentieth century’s greatest artists and writers from the Western world. She is celebrated for openly living and writing as a lesbian during a time when women’s behavior was closely circumscribed.


Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf is a renowned British novelist associated with the modernist movement in literature; her writing is characterized by experiments in language, narrative, and the treatment of time. Woolf is often considered one of the most innovative writers of the 20th century, best known for fractured narratives and writing in a stream-of-consciousness prose style, in which characters are depicted through their interior monologue; her books were sometimes called psychological novels. In her work, she also discusses the issues and prejudices surrounding women’s writing in the Western world.


The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, an important icon of 1970s feminist art and a milestone in twentieth-century art, is presented as the centerpiece around which the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is organized. The Dinner Party comprises a massive ceremonial banquet, arranged on a triangular table with a total of thirty-nine place settings, each commemorating an important woman from history.

The settings consist of embroidered runners, gold chalices and utensils, and china-painted porcelain plates with raised central motifs that are based on vulvar and butterfly forms and rendered in styles appropriate to the individual women being honored. The names of another 999 women are inscribed in gold on the white tile floor below the triangular table. This permanent installation is enhanced by rotating Herstory Gallery exhibitions relating to the 1,038 women honored at the table. {source}

Hope you enjoyed your Dinner @ the Brooklyn Museum.

July 22nd, 2017

 

Attaining Perfection

Imagine living in a world where these treasures were household items – not museum objects.

1/ Maurice Sterne
The Awakening, ca. 1926
Bronze

2/ Kem Weber
Vanity with Mirror and Stool, 1934

3/ John Vassos
RCA Victor Special Model K Portable Electric Phonograph, c.a 1935

4/ Emilie Robert
Pair of Gates, ca. 1900 (detail), France
Iron

Brooklyn Museum

July 22nd, 2017

Adagio

Swaying into December with Grace.

Auguste Rodin
Pierre de Wiessant, Monumental Nude (Pierre de Wiessant, nu monumental), 1886, cast 1983, for The Burghers of Calais.
Bronze

The Burghers of Calais is a memorial to a group of fourteenth-century citizens who offered to sacrifice themselves to save their long-suffering city. It comprises six large figures. For each of four of the monument’s six figures, Rodin also executed a full-scale nude, among them this undraped version of the burgher Pierre de Wiessant. The practice of creating nude figure studies, which allowed artists to refine poses and understand how clothing should drape over the body, derives from the academic tradition that Rodin both embraced and rejected during his career. {source}

The full picture:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn Museum

July 22nd, 2017

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Who’s the bitchiest of them all?

 

Coupling her sardonic wit with the direct, uncompromising gaze of her subjects, Carrie Mae Weems eviscerates the racism embedded in jokes made at the expense of people of color. This photograph is part of the Ain’t Jokin’ series, one of Weems’s earliest bodies of photo-text works.

Carrie Mae Weems (American, born 1953). Mirror Mirror, 1987–88. Silver print, 24 3⁄4 x 20 3⁄4 in. (62.9 x 52.7 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
© Carrie Mae Weems

We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-1985
Brooklyn Museum

Julyn 22nd, 2017

Infinite Blue

Intercontinental, Intercultural, Intemporal, Infinite Blue. My favourite colour.

Bodice, ca. 1840-60
Tailleur Filles & Cie, France
Silk, linen, metal


William Merritt Chase
Girl in a Japanese Costume, ca. 1890
Oil on canvas


Wedding Dress, ca. 1860
United States
Silk, cotton

Sarah Elizabeth Fish (1824-1901) of Waldoboro, Maine, wore this elegant full-skirted dress, with stylish pagoda sleeves and a blue and silver jacquard pattern, as her wedding dress. The blue colour was probably achieved using an early synthetic organic dye. It was not uncommon for women in eighteenth- and nineteenth- century America and Europe to wear wedding dresses in colours other than the white that is now customary, and to wear them again after the wedding for other special occasions. Blue was a popular wedding dress colour for its strong association with loyalty, purity and virtue; this is echoed today in the traditional ”something blue” that brides may wear.


Booties, 1898
Probably France
Leather, silk, linen

Embellished infant’s booties of this type would have been worn at a christening or some other important event. The same baby girl who wore this pale blue kid leather pair also wore a matching pair in pink (not shown), suggesting that the code of blue for boys and pink for girls was not yet firmly established at the turn of the twentieth century. Historically, pink had been favoured as a more vigorous and thus ”masculine” colour, suitable for boys and blue as a passive and thus ”feminine” colour, suitable for girls.


Portrait of a Child of the Harmon Family, ca. 1840s
United States
Oil on canvas


Boot, ca. 1795-1810
Europe
Leather


”Current” Chair, 2004
Vivian Beer
Steel, automotive paint


Nun Vessel, ca. 1539-1493 BC
Egypt
Blue faience with black-painted details

In ancient Egyptian origin myths, dark blue and black were colours of the primordial waters that the Egyptians called ”nun”, or nonexistence.


Day Dress 1915. Blue dress with printed fabric
Fashion sketch, Henri Bendel, Inc.


Helen Cookman for Reeves Brothers Inc.
Maintenance Worker’s Uniform and Cap, 1948
United States


Kuosi Society Elephant Mask, early 20th century
Bamileke artist
Grassfields region, Cameroon
Textile, glass beads, plant fiber

Elephants are often associated with political power in the highly stratified kingdoms of the Cameroon grasslands. Because imported beads were historically rare and costly, beadwork is also associated with high social rank, making this mask a potent symbol of power.


The O’Keeffe exhibition was only one of the wonders waiting to be discovered in the various galleries of the Brooklyn Museum.

Infinite Blue, was an array of objects and works of art featuring blue in every possible shade, size and texture, a visual narrative that would expand over the following months, eventually filling the Museum’s first floor.

Brooklyn Museum

July 22nd, 2017

Georgia before O’Keeffe

An icon in the making. Georgia O’Keeffe 
Woman with blue hat, 1916-1917
Watercolour, gouache and graphite on paper

O’Keeffe may have created this watercolour for classroom use. The work demonstrates the application of flat, stylized designs of fashion illustration. In this same period, the magazine Vanity Fair published similar stylized illustrations by O’Keeffe, who was searching for additional ways to turn her art skills into income. 


Hilda Belcher
The Checkered Dress (Portrait of O’Keeffe), 1907
Watercolour and gouache on cream laid paper, with JW watermark, mounted on paperboard

To pose for Hilda Belcher, who had also studied at the Art Students League of New York, O’Keeffe wore a stylish checkered dress that she most likely made for herself, in the black and white palette she would favour throughout her life. This watercolour, with its tour-de-force detailing of the dress, won Belcher membership in the male-dominated New York Water Colour Club. Several years later, a female writer composed a love poem to the then unknown sitter shown in the image; it reads in part:

”Could you know, did you guess/Such a daring rhythmic dress/Gleaming here, darkening there,/Would but render you more rare?”


Eugene E. Speicher
Portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe, 1908
Oil on canvas

When Eugene Speicher, an older student at the Art Students League, asked O’Keeffe to model for him, she wore a three-piece outfit associated with the so-called New Woman: a white shirtwaist, black skirt and jacket, and black bow at her neck. This combination allowed women to move with greater ease than in conventional Victorian dresses and was a style of reform dress widely endorsed by budding women artists and professionals. In 1948, Life magazine ran an image of the sixty-one-old O’Keeffe posed next to the portrait (in a different frame), noting, ”she has changed from an unknown youngster to one of the foremost painters in the U.S.” Her personal style, however, had remained the same. 


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern, Brooklyn Museum

July 22nd, 2017

Meanwhile, New York was doing ‘OK

Thanks to Brooklyn Museum at its curators who had organised an extraordinary exhibition about the work and lifestyle of Georgia O’Keeffe. It was truly extraordinary because, refreshingly and for the first time ever, it focused on her wardrobe, showing some of her signature garments alongside her paintings and photographs. In doing so, the show was successful in capturing the spirit of the woman behind the artist, her steely determination to be in charge of her own life and work, the reinvention of herself as a style icon. I went into the exhibition an avid admirer of the work by one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century. I came out full of new images, knowledge and a better understanding of her intriguing personality. Coming back from Los Angeles, I couldn’t have asked for a smoother landing into the frenzy of New York City. 

Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe at 291, 1917
Platinum print


Georgia O’Keeffe
Shell and Old Shingle VI, 1926
Oil on canvas


Georgia O’Keeffe
Black Pansy & Forget-Me-Nots (Pansy), 1926
Oil on canvas


Cecil Beaton
Portrait of Painter Georgia O’Keeffe, 1946
Gelatin silver print

Black remained her favourite colour throughout O’Keeffe’s life. Her reason was described in one article in 1929: ”She wears black almost invariably – not, she says, because she prefers it, but because, if she started picking out colours for dresses, she would have no time for painting.”


Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1932
Gelatin silver print

A modernist in dress as well as art, O’Keeffe liked to wear white blouses partially covered with a black sweater to create defined blocks of light and dark. 


Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe, probably 1919
Gelatin silver print

O’Keeffe considered her neck and head as integral shapes in arranging her dress. She frequently used the necklines of her blouses as visual framing devices for her long neck, and headdresses or her neatly wound hair to bring closure to her sartorial composition.


Georgia O’Keeffe
Manhattan, 1932
Oil on canvas


Georgia O’Keeffe
Brooklyn Bridge, 1949
Oil on masonite

Just before moving to New Mexico permanently in 1949, O’Keeffe painted this farewell salute to New York, her home for thirty years.


Arnold Newman
Georgia O’Keeffe, Ghost Ranch, N.M., 1968
Dye transfer on paper


Apron, 20th century
Denim

This apron was probably bought off-the-rack, but O’Keeffe added the lower section using her own scraps of denim. Though she had kitchen help much of the time, she was a good cook. She used fruits and vegetables from her own gardens and prepared food as she dressed, simply with few adornments.


Claudius Lafond jacket & red and purple cotton madras dress, 1950s

O’Keeffe rejected the synthetic fibers that were popular during and after WWII, such as nylon, acrylic and polyester. When traveling in the 1950s and 1960s, she continued to seek out natural cottons and silks in either a single colour of sometimes with stripes, checks or plaids. She may have bought this heavyweight cotton-work jacket when she went to Franc for the first time, in 1953. She most likely designed the plaid Madras dress for herself. 


Don Worth
Georgia O’Keeffe with Chair, 1958 (printed 1968)
Gelatin silver print

Customarily, O’Keeffe wore black and white when photographers came to visit, but in 1958, she made an exception for Don Worth. She wore her white French work jacket over the red plaid dress, we saw above.


Armi Ratia for Marimekko
”Mother’s Coat” Dress with matching belt, designed mid-1950s.


Annika Rimala for Marimekko
”Varjo” Dress, ca. 1963


Georgia O’Keeffe
Ram’s head, White Hollyhock-Hills (Ram’s Head and White Hollyhock, New Mexico), 1935
Oil on canvas


Georgia O’Keeffe
In the Patio IX, ca. 1964
Oil on canvas mounted on panel


Emilio Pucci
”Chute” Dress, ca. 1954

This was one of the first Pucci dresses to be sold in the American market, testifying to O’Keeffe’s interest in and awareness of contemporary fashion.


Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1918
Gelatin silver print


Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1918
Gelatin silver print


Paul Strand
Georgia O’Keeffe, Texas, 1918
Platinum print

Paul Strand, a young photographer supported and mentored by Stieglitz, was the first to capture O’Keeffe sleepy-eyed and slightly disheveled, wearing a kimono. The fact that kimonos were sleep and bath wear for her gives this photography its frisson; her letters to Strand show that the two were briefly attracted to one another and may have had a short-lived dalliance.


Georgia O’Keeffe
Green, Yellow and Orange, 1960
Oil on canvas


Philippe Halsman
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1967


Philippe Halsman
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1967


Tony Vaccaro
Georgia O’Keeffe with the Cheese, 1960
Gelatin silver print


Ansel Adams
Georgia O’Keeffe, Carmel Highlands, California, 1981 – printed 1982
Gelatin silver print

In 1981, O’Keeffe visited Ansel Adams in California for the last time. They were very dear friends and had known one another for over fifty years. He unfailingly got her to look directly at him and his camera for portraits that characteristically are straightforward and natural, without the mythos that attended photographs of her as a solitary and remote figure of the desert.


Alexander Calder
Pin, ca 1938
Brass

Sculptor Alexander Calder, who also made hand-wrought metal jewelry, created this brass pin for O’Keeffe. It first appears in a 1938 photograph and, from then on, O’Keeffe wore it often for photo shoots. When her hair turned grey, she found the pin’s copper colour less flattering and, on a trip to India in 1959, she found a craftsman to make her a silver version, which she wore for the rest of her life. She was known to boast that the copy cost her only five dollars.


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern was running in Brooklyn Museum until July 23rd, 2017. I caught it one day before closing.

July 22nd, 2017