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

By All Means: Time travel @ The Morgan

Travelling in time and space in just a few steps, from gallery to gallery, at The Morgan; when three fantastic exhibitions ran simultaneously through May 2019.

By any means: Contemporary drawings from The Morgan

Stephen Vitiello (American, b. 1964)
Speaker Drawing (22.06), 2006 – Pigment and spray fixative

This work is part of a series in which Vitiello explored the relationship between sound – his primary medium – and drawing. He placed pigment in a speaker that was embedded in a table, laying a sheet of paper on top. Vibrations from a synthesizer’s low-frequency oscillator moved the pigment from the speaker to the paper, creating an image that contrasted in its minimalism with the density of the aural event.


Sol LeWitt (American, 1928-2007)
Untitled (folded paper drawing), 1971

John Cage (American, 1912-1992)
Where R = Ryoanji (2R)/4-6/83, 1983
Graphite pencil

Cage often relied on chance to determine the forms of his works. The present sheet belongs to a series inspired by the Zen rock garden of the Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto, in which fifteen rocks are carefully arranged. The selection of stones, the number of tracings (here 30, as denoted by 2R, where R is equivalent to 15, the number of stones at the temple), their placement, and the number of pencils of different softness that he used (4) were determined by the I Ching, an ancient Chinese divination manual, by way of a computer simulation developed by Bell Labs in New York.


Marsha Cottrell (American, b. 1964)
Old Museum (Interior_7), 2015
Laser toner

Although Cottrell uses a computer to make her work, she does not use a computer programme to determine composition but instead passes Japanese paper through a printer numerous times, each time changing or rearranging the shapes on the screen to generate dense, layered images.


Invention and Design: Early Italian Drawings

After Girolamo Mocetto (ca. 1458-after 1531)
Metamorphosis of the Nymph Amymone, ca. 1500
Brush and brown, green-brown, and blue wash, pen and green-brown ink, and white opaque watercolour, over black chalk, on paper

Vittore Carpaccio (1460/66-1525/26)
Head of a Young Man, in Profile to the Right, 1490-1500
Black chalk, brown wash, and white opaque watercolour, on blue paper

Antonio Allegri, known as Correggio (ca. 1489-1534)
Head of a Woman Crying Out, ca. 1509-11
Charcoal and black and white chalk, on two pieces of light brown paper joined vertically

Timoteo Viti (1469-1523)
Head of a Woman in Profile to the Right, ca. 1515
Black and white chalk, on two pieces of paper joined vertically; incised with stylus

Bartolomeo Cincani, known as Bartolomeo Montagna (1447/50-1523)
Nude Man Standing Beside a High Pedestal, ca. 1515
Brush and black ink and brown wash, heightened with white opaque watercolour, over traces of black chalk, on blue paper faded to brown

Attributed to Francesco Bonsignori (1455/60-1519)
Head of a Man Wearing a Cap, in Profile to the Left, ca. 1490-1500
Red, black, and white chalk

Lorenzo di Credi (ca. 1456-1536)
Head of a Young Man, Turned to the Left, Looking Downward, ca. 1490
Metalpoint, with white opaque watercolour, on pink prepared paper

Giovanni Agostino da Lodi (active ca. 1467-ca. 1524)
Head of a Bearded Man in Profile to the Right and Head of a Youth Facing Left, ca. 1500
Red chalk

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth

J.R.R. Tolkien
The Tree of Amalion, [?1940s] – Coloured pencil, watercolour, silver paint, black in on grey paper
MS. Tolkien Drawings 88, fol. 1

”He was the sort of painter who can paint leaves better than trees. He used to spend a long time on a single leaf, trying to catch its shape, and its sheen, and the glistening of dewdrops on its edges. Yet he wanted to paint a whole tree, with all of its leaves in the same style, and all of them different.”

This extract from Tolkien’s allegorical short story, ”Leaf by Niggle”, is a poignant expression of his own creative struggle as he sought to bring his works, both literary and academic, to completion. The story was written in the early 1940s as he worked fitfully on The Lord of the Rings, his Elvish languages and his wider legendarium, all of which seemed very far from completion. His perfectionism often resulted in numerous revisions and rewritings, whilst his interest in the minutiae led him down interesting but distracting side roads.

The only snapshot I could steal; so long were the lines, the guards had to usher Tolkien’s devotees, or the gallery would burst from overcrowding!


The Morgan Library

March 9th, 2019

The Young and Evil

From February through April 2019, David Zwirner presented The Young and Evil, a group exhibition featuring significant works from the first half of the twentieth century by Paul Cadmus, Fidelma Cadmus Kirstein, Charles Henri Ford, Jared French, Margaret Hoening French, George Platt Lynes, Bernard Perlin, Pavel Tchelitchew, George Tooker, Jensen Yow, and their circle.

Among them, some works by Pavel Tchelitchew, to which I was particularly drawn.

March 7th, 2019