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

”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

Looking at Jerry Lewis || The Nutty Professor Storyboards

Of all the stars who worked in the golden age of the Hollywood studio system, few valued the acts of looking and being looked at more than Jerry Lewis. Lewis had years of stage experience behind him by the time he emerged as a major screen actor and director, and acknowledging the audience became an essential aspect of the ”comedy of looks” that characterized his work. In no other Lewis film is the experience of being seen so central a theme as it is in The Nutty Professor (1963), in which he treats his audience as a main character. In this adaptation of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story, his masterly dual performance as the self-effacing Professor Kelp and the narcissistic Buddy Love represents different sides of the Lewis persona, while on-screen students and night-club audiences who witness his character’s behaviour represent the critical gaze of the movie-going public.
[source: MoMA] Bill Avery
Jerry Lewis shooting a home movie, 1953


Bill Crespinel
Jerry Lewis mixing music at this home, 1961


John Jensen (American, 1924-2003)
Scenes from the Hangover sequence, 1962
Black and coloured pencil on vellum paper John Jensen (American, 1924-2003)
Scenes from the Stella fantasy sequence, 1962
Black and coloured pencil and pastel on vellum paper John Jensen (American, 1924-2003)
Mina bird cage sketches, 1962
Pencil on paper John Lauris Jensen’s storyboards for The Nutty Professor were on display between October 2018 – March 2019; they were a recent gift to the Museum of Modern Art.

January 5th, 2019

Shit Happens

One hundred thousand. Shit that could have been avoided.

Images from Disappearing Acts, a Bruce Nauman retrospective that was presented in two parts, in MoMa and MoMA PS1.

”Disappearing Acts traces what Nauman has called “withdrawal as an art form”—both literal and figurative incidents of removal, deflection, and concealment. Bodies are fragmented, centers are left empty, voices emanate from hidden speakers, and the artist sculpts himself in absentia, appearing only as negative space. The retrospective charts these forms of omission and loss across media and throughout the decades, following Nauman as he circles back to earlier concerns with new urgency. Presented in two complementary parts, at The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, this is the most comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work ever assembled.” [source: MoMA]

Last photo (not) showing the Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh; I wonder when (or even if) will we ever see crowds like this anymore…

October 19th, 2018

Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done [@MoMA]

”For a brief period in the early 1960s, a group of choreographers, visual artists, composers, and filmmakers gathered in Judson Memorial Church, a socially engaged Protestant congregation in New York’s Greenwich Village, for a series of workshops that ultimately redefined what counted as dance. The performances that evolved from these workshops incorporated everyday movements—gestures drawn from the street or the home; their structures were based on games, simple tasks, and social dances. Spontaneity and unconventional methods of composition were emphasized. The Judson artists investigated the very fundamentals of choreography, stripping dance of its theatrical conventions, and the result, according to Village Voice critic Jill Johnston, was the most exciting new dance in a generation.” – [source: MoMA]

Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done was a walk through the history of Judson Dance Theater with performances, films, photographs, posters and other archival materials. It was also an introduction to the very beginnings of the life and work of artists I have been admiring for some time – and others that were completely new to me.

Instructed by the filmmaker Gene Friedman not to talk or hide their faces, Judith Dunn and Robert Ellis Dunn looked directly at the camera with deadpan expressions until they both broke into laughter. Judith Dunn was a choreographer and member of Merce Cunningham’s company, while Robert Dunn was a teacher and Cunningham’s accompanist.

Gene Friedman
Excerpt from Heads, 1965
16mm film transferred to video


In his workshops, Robert Ellis Dunn presented his students with Cage’s score for ”Fontana Mix” and asked them to use it as inspiration for a performance. The score instructed performers to layer transparencies containing lines and dots over a grid to create a random visual arrangement, with they then interpreted using a variety of movements and actions. This exercise exposed the students to chance operations, a composition technique popularized by Cage that introduced randomness into the art-making process.

John Cage
Fontana Mix, 1958
Ink on paper and transparent sheets


Laughter poem* for James Waring, 2 August 1960, by Ray Johnson


*If you are curious to know how a laughter poem sounds, please click on this page: Atlanta Poets Group to find out. You can also listen to the first one: Laughter poem for Ray Johnson, 30 July 1960, by James Waring
Judson Memorial Church, New York – March 16, 1966
Fred W. McDarrah


Yvone Rainer
”Bach” From Terrain, 1963
Performed at Judson Memorial Church, April 28th, 1963
By Trisha Brown, William Davis, Judith Dunn, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer and Albert Reid

Rainer’s first evening-length work Terrain, was a five-part dance for multiple performers. Some of the sections were choreographed, while others were structured like a game, with rules and strategies that defined each dancer’s behavior but still allowed for spontaneity and improvisation.

Lucinda Childs
Geranium, 1965. Performed at 940 Broadway, January 29th, 1965
Geranium was set to the sounds of a championship football game, complete with sports commentators describing the action on the field, to which Childs added her imitation of sports broadcasting and intervals of music. Using the tape as a score and its sounds as cues, Childs interacted with objects including a wooden pole, a tinfoil scrap, a hammer and a pound of soil. She used a hammock to support her weight as she performed, in slow motion, the movement of a football player who – according to the broadcast – raced toward the ball, stumbled and fell.

Huddle is part of Simone Forti’s Dance Constructions (1960-61), a continually shifting mass of bodies. Seven to nine performers create a solid base and take turns climbing over the group. In doing this, they create a sculptural form Forti has often described as a mountain.

Simone Forti’s Dance Constructions (1960–61) were key forerunners to Judson Dance Theater. Made from inexpensive materials, including plywood and rope, each “construction” prompts actions such as climbing, leaning, standing or whistling. Simultaneously sculptures and performances, the works were first presented at Reuben Gallery and the artist Yoko Ono’s loft, both in New York.

Huddle was performed live in intervals, throughout the exhibition.

September 15th, 2018

To Be Looked At (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour

Thus spoke Marcel, and we obliged (for five minutes).

Looking for ”almost an hour” would have a hallucinatory effect similar to Marc Chagall’s experience, some years earlier.

Marcel Duchamp
To Be Looked At (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour, 1918
Oil, silver leaf, lead wire, magnifying lens on glass (cracked) mounted between panes of glass in a standing metal frame, on painted wood base

”The title of this work, which Duchamp said he ”intended to sound like an oculist’s prescription” tells the viewer exactly how to look at it. But peering through the convex lens embedded in the work’s glass ”for almost an hour” would have a hallucinatory effect, the view being dwarfed, flipped and otherwise distorted. Meanwhile the viewer patiently following the title’s instructions is him-or herself put on display for anyone else walking by. 

Duchamp called this his ”small glass”, to distinguish it from his famous Large Glass of 1915-23. He made the work in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he had fled earlier in 1918 to escape the oppressive atmosphere of the United States during World War I. When he shipped it back to New York, the glass cracked in transit, en effect that delighted him.”

Marc Chagall
I and the Village, 1911
Oil on canvas

@MoMA

August 8th, 2018