”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

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

Wait, is that a Rothko…? @ MoMA [permanent collection, part 4]

How subtle and feather-light, how wonderfully surreal, how utterly refreshing from his later work where drawing gave way, drowned under thick layers of colour.

Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea, 1944. Oil on canvas || Mark Rothko

<<”Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea” pictures two creatures dancing between sea and sky, surrounded by arabesques, spirals, and stripes. The forms ”have no direct association with any particular visible experience, but in them one recognizes the principle and passion of organisms,” Rothko said. For him art was ”an adventure into an unknown world”; like the Surrealists before him, Rothko looked inward, to his own unconscious mind, for inspiration and material for his work.>>

MoMA, views from the permanent collection.

January 30th, 2017

 

Furry Encounters of the Surreal Kind @ MoMA [permanent collection, part 3]

By Meret Oppenheim.

Another perfectly unusable, utterly memorable object. Because one can always trust the Swiss to strike a balance between the simplicity of Surrealism and the surreal Simplicity.

Object, 1936. Fur-covered cup, saucer and spoon || Meret Oppenheim

<<It began with a joke over lunch. In 1936, Meret Oppenheim was at a Paris café with Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso, who noticed the fur-lined, polished metal bracelet she was wearing and joked that anything could be covered with fur. “Even this cup and saucer,” Oppenheim replied and, carrying the merriment further, called out, “Waiter, a little more fur!” Her devilish imagination duly sparked, the artist went to a department store not long after this meal, bought a white teacup, saucer, and spoon, wrapped them in the speckled tan fur of a Chinese gazelle, and titled this ensemble Object. In doing so, she transformed items traditionally associated with decorum and feminine refinement into a confounding Surrealist sculpture. Object exemplifies the poet and founder of Surrealism André Breton’s argument that mundane things presented in unexpected ways had the power to challenge reason, to urge the inhibited and uninitiated (that is, the rest of society) to connect to their subconscious—whether they were ready for it or, more likely, not.>>

MoMA, views from the permanent collection.

January 30th, 2017

The Shapeshifting Master of Modern Art~ Francis Picabia @ MoMA [part 5]

The Kiss (Le Baiser) c. 1925-26. Oil and enamel paint on canvas in a frame likely by Pierre Legrain

Idyll (Idylle) c. 1925-27. Oil and enamel paint on wood

Woman with Matches [II] (Portrait of a Woman on a Blue Background) (La Femme aux allumettes [II] [Portrait de femme sur fond bleu]) c. 1924-25. Oil, enamel paint, matches, coins, curlers and hairpins on canvas

Promenade des Anglais (Midi) c. 1924-25. Oil, enamel paint, feathers, pasta and leather on canvas, in a snakeskin frame by Pierre Legrain

Painting (Flowerpot) (Peinture [Pot de fleurs]) c. 1924-25. Enamel paint, Ripolin paint-can lids, brushes, wooden stretcher wedges, string and quill toothpicks on canvas
Woman with Monocle (La Femme au monocle). Alternative title: Woman with Pink Gloves (Man with Gloves) (La Femme aux gants roses [L’Homme aux gants]) c. 1925-26. Oil and enamel paint on board
From the accompanying tag: ”In 1926, the review ‘This Quarter’ reproduced thirteen of Picabia’s ‘Monster’ paintings, including this one, which bore the title ‘Woman with Pink Gloves’. By the time of the painting’s first known exhibition in 1956 however, it had acquired the title ‘Man with Gloves’. The work is displayed here with both titles restored. Although neither necessarily originated with Picabia, both speak to the androgynous character of his wasp-waisted, white-suited figure. With its green face, single oversized eye, and pustule-pink hands presumably clad in driving gloves, it is one of Picabia’s quintessential Côte d’Azur Monsters. The Surrealist André Breton was one of its early owners.”

Sphinx, 1929. Oil on canvas

Μélibée, 1930. Oil on canvas

Aello, 1930. Oil on canvas

Portrait of the Artist (Portrait de l’artiste), 1934. Oil on wood

From the accompanying tag: ”This work began as a portrait of Picabia painted by the German artist Bruno Eggert in 1934. Eggert gave it to Picabia, who then added his own touches: a pair of dark-tinted glasses on his nose, a face in the lover left corner, a transparent female body across the picture, the edge of a stretcher in the upper right corner. He also signed and dated the work. Here, Picabia adopted another artist’s work as the support for his own, with over-painting used to assert rather than deny.”

Portrait of a Woman (Portrait de femme), 1935-37. Oil on canvas

Fratellini Clown (Le Clown Fratellini), 1937-38. Oil on canvas


Part 5 concludes our round of Francis Picabia’s retrospective at MoMA.

Connecting the pieces:

January 30th, 2017