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

The way we hammer art

without a nail

Jonathan Borofsky’s Hammering Man was installed right in front of the Seattle Art Museum, in 1991. Hammering Man is a series of monumental sculptures situated in different cities and was created in honour of the working class women and men of the world.


Daedalus/Upliftment, 2016
Acrylic, gold leaf, spray paint on canvas
Fahamu Pecou


Double Elvis, 1963/1976
Silkscreen in, synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Andy Warhol


Caterpillar Suit 1, 2007
Anodized brass wire
Walter Oltmann


Untitled, 1982
Acrylic, spray paint and oil stick on canvas
Jean-Michel Basquiat


Warhol/Basquiat, NYC August 1986
wowe (Wolfgang Wesener)


Birdcage
Wood, metal, ivoyr
Late Qing dynasty (1644-1991) or Republican period (1850-1920)


Leda and the Swan, probably after 1915 and before 1923
Oil on canvas
John Covert


Morning, probably 1933
Oil on burlap
Morris Graves

Morning is a deeply affecting image of retreat, of the pain of facing the light, of the fear of facing the day.


Catfish clan figure, 19th-20th century
Wood, polycrhome
Melanesian, Papua New Guinea, Guam River Region, probably Breri or Igana people


Seattle Art Museum

June 15th, 2018

The way we disappear

Blending in / Standing out

1/ Three Beauties: Kayo of Kyoto, Hitotsuru of Osaka, Kokichi of Tokyo, 1877
Woodblock print, ink and colour with metallic pigments
Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1847-1915
Meiji period, 1868-1912

There is a poem card above on the right, decorated with gold flakes, and inscribed with a haiku, which reads:

Oh to see moon and snow together
In the mountain of cherry blossoms

Works by Australian Aboriginal Artists: photos 2/ to 5/

2/Untitled, 1997
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Yala Yala Gibon Tjungurrayi

3/Untitled: Munglipa, 2014
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
George Tjungurrayi

4/Swamps West of Nyirripi, 2006
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Ngoia Napaltjarri Polland

5/Yuparli (Bush Banana), 1993
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Dorothy Napangardi

6/- end
Project 42: Jono Vaughan 
Seattle -based artist Jono Vaughan’s series Project 42 addresses the pattern of violence against transgender people in the United States, providing both a form of memorialization and an entry point for engagement and discussion. Begun in 2012, the project’s name is taken from the short life expectancy of transgender individuals in the United States, which the artist estimates is forty-two years, based—in lieu of official census data, which excludes trans identities—on third-party texts and research. Eventually the artist plans to make forty-two individual works.

Each of the three dresses in this exhibition memorializes the life and death of a transgender person who was murdered: Myra Ical, Deja Jones, and Lorena Escalera Xtravaganza. Vaughan alters images of the murder locations and turns them into abstract textile prints, which she then sews into a garment. The style of the garment is inspired by the life and history of the individuals. A collaborator wears each dress in a performance that commemorates and celebrates the individual, an act that Vaughan describes as “the returning of humanity and the sharing of missed opportunities.”

Seattle Art Museum

June 15th, 2018

We Construct Marvels

Between Monuments

Titus Kaphar | The Jerome Project (Asphalt and Chalk) XVI | 2014 | Chalk on asphalt paper


Sarah Lucas | Oh! Soldier | 2005 | Braces, wire hanger, cast concrete army boots and nylon stockings


Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons | Untitled | 1999 | Lithograph and paper pulp


William Morris | Artifact Panel | 2000 | Glass, wood, and paint


Nicholas Galanin | By-Product | 2012 | Glass and vinyl


Portland Art Museum

June 9th, 2018

An obnoxious cat

”Firmin-Girard enjoyed great popularity at the time the Impressionists were revolting against the highly detailed, academic style that he practiced. However, Firmin-Girard shared the Impressionists’ interest in painting modern life, especially scenes along the River Seine. In this work, Parisians enjoy a Sunday brasserie overlooking the river at Bas-Meudon southwest of Paris. At left, the artist depicted his daughter stroking an appreciative cat as her brother chats with their grandmother…” (from the accompanying tag)

An appreciative cat? I don’t think so… What I see, is a mean character, eyes narrowed, probably plotting its next attack; I can almost hear it hissing and growling at the dog across the street.

Marie-François Firmin-Girard (1838-1921)
Sunday at Bas-Meudon, 1884
Oil on canvas

Portland Art Museum

June 9th, 2018

The Gibbes Shades of Green

”Because when we open ourselves to art, we open ourselves to the world – to people and ideas, to beauty, craft, process and detail, to different cultures, to pain and pleasure, to questions, expression and emotion, to truth and transcendence.” 

”The Gibbes Museum of Art is home to the foremost collection of American art that incorporates the story of Charleston. The Museum connects the city and region’s artistic past to a vibrant contemporary art scene. This is what we believe.” 

– The Gibbes Museum of Art

Mrs. Elizabeth Digby Peale Polk, 1770
By Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827)


Girl with Cat, ca. 1845-50
By unidentified artist (painted in New England)
Oil on canvas


Rosy Moon off Charleston Harbor, ca. 1908-1916
By Birge Harrison (1854-1929)
Oil on masonite


April (The Green Gown), 1920
By Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Oil on canvas

Originally titled April 1859, this painting is believed to be a portrayal of the artist’s mother, Rosa Hawthorne Hassam, pregnant with her son. In April 1859 she would have been three months pregnant with Hassam, who was born on October 17, 1859.


The Green Fan (Girl of Toledo, Spain), 1912
By Robert Henri (1865-1929)
Oil on canvas


Magnolia Gardens, ca. 1920
By Alfred Hutty (1877-1954)
Oil on canvas

Alfred Hutty traveled to Charleston for the first time in 1920 to teach a season of painting classes at the Gibbes Museum of Art. Overwhelmed by the city’s beauty, he returned every winter for the next thirty years.


Designs, Wrightsville Beach, 1968
By Minnie Evans (1892-1987)
Collage with oil, crayon and pencil on canvas


Ms. Johnson (Estelle), 1972,
By Barkley Hendricks (b. 1945)
Oil and acrylic on linen canvas


Corene, 1995
By Johathan Green (b. 1955)
Oil on canvas


Steamboat ”Victoria”, 1859
By James Bard (1815-1897)
Oil on canvas


Among the various treasures, a small sample you have seen – and hopefully enjoyed – above, there is a very interesting collection of miniature portraits such as the one below, of the fair Eliza Izard (Mrs. Thomas Pinckney, Jr.), painted by Malbone & dated 1801.

This is where we learned that the first American miniature portraits were painted in Charleston, and the Gibbes’ collection is one of the most important portrait miniature collections in the United States. Containing more than six hundred objects, it spans nearly two hundred years and represents the work of over a hundred artists.

The miniatures, too small to be photographed with a smartphone camera, are not just tiny masterful works of art, but also remembrances of loved ones in the age before photography. They are tokens of love and affection, passed down to us through generations and, as such, should be treasured for ever.  

The Gibbes Museum of Art – Charleston, SC

April 11th, 2018