Met Breuer

Edvard Munch always makes a strong impression but, in this case, the same can be said about the host building. This is Met Breuer, built in 1966 and named after its Brutalist architect Marcel Breuer, who designed it to house the Whitney Museum – and so it did until 2015, when the Whitney moved to its current location in downtown Manhattan, and this beautiful concrete ”inverted ziggurat” was leased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Artwork from “Delirious Art at the Limits of Reason 1950-1980”, an exhibition running in parallel to Edvard Munch’s “Between the Clock and the Bed”.

 

Credits:

Cob II, 1977-80 by Nancy Grossman
Wood, leather, painted horn, lacquer, lead

13/3, 1981 by Sol LeWitt
Painted balsa wood

Beginning Study for Changes and Communication, 1978 by Alfred Jensen
Oil on canvas

Three Mirror Vortex, 1965 by Robert Smithson
Stainless steel, three mirrors

My Father Pledged Me a Sword, 1975, by Anselm Kiefer
Watercolour, gouache, coloured pencil and ballpoint pen on paper

Met Breuer, 945 Madison Avenue, Manhattan

December 28th, 2017

Edvard Munch Art

As intrigued as I was in discovering Munch the Photographer, I couldn’t wait to renew my acquaintance with some of the inspiring, melancholic and – at times – tormented, works of Munch the Painter; and be reminded that there’s more loneliness in Munch the Man and a deeper agony than what he let us see/hear with ”The Scream”.

Self-Portrait, 1886
Oil on canvas


Self-Portrait with Cigarette, 1895
Oil on canvas


Self-Portrait with the Spanish Flu, 1919
Oil on canvas


Self-Portrait with a Bottle of Wine, 1906
Oil on canvas


Self-Portrait by the Window, ca. 1940
Oil on canvas


Inheritance, 1897-99
Oil on canvas


The Sick Child, 1896
Oil on canvas


Sick Mood at Sunset: Despair, 1892
Oil on canvas


Despair, 1894
Oil on canvas


Death in the Sick Room, 1893
Oil on canvas


Madonna, ca. 1895-97
Oil on canvas


Puberty, 1894
Oil on unprimed canvas


Ashes, 1925
Oil on canvas


Jealousy, ca. 1907
Oil on canvas


Model by the Wicker Chair, 11919-21
Oil on canvas


Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed @ Met Breuer, November 2107 – February 2018.

December, 28th 2017

Cultural Services of the French Embassy & Albertine

Next, we went on to discover a small but very significant part of France here in New York City, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and its very own Bookstore, Albertine, on the Upper East Side.

While Albertine is not exactly a secret, sitting as it is on the ground floor of the majestic Payne Whitney mansion and being open to the public seven days a week, the other floors of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, that include working and reception spaces, are usually off-limits to most of us, unless invited to an event.

New York loves France, it seems, judging by the constant flow of people making it impossible to photograph the various salons, marble halls and staircases. But I couldn’t leave the place before snapping at least a quick souvenir photo of the most popular item on show that day: Marilyn’s dress.

“‘We are pretty sure that it belonged to her but the mystery remains, we don’t know why it is here, because to our knowledge, she never came to the French Embassy,’ said Benedict de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy.”

Could it have anything to do with Marilyn’s brief admission to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Hospital, an experience so traumatic that Marilyn called upon her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio to help have her released, after she was kept in isolation and threatened with a straight jacket? I guess we’ll never know; some secrets are better left untold.

Albertine’s ceiling – a hand-painted mural of constellations, stars, and planets — was modeled after the extraordinary ceiling of the music room at the Villa Stuck in Munich, Germany, crafted by Franz von Stuck (1863-1928). [source]

In this series we revisit three – out of the dozens of – buildings and sites that opened their doors during OHNY weekend, on October 14 & 15th, 2017:

The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York
Cultural Services of the French Embassy & Albertine
The Eldridge Street Synagogue

***

Open House New York weekend takes place every year in October.
Next series coming up:  October 19-20, 2019.

Art of War

There is a sad beauty in these artworks drawing the tragedy of war.

Harry R. Hopps (1869-1937)
Destroy This Mad Brute-Enlist, 1917
Colour lithograph


French, early 20th century
The Great Nave: Wounded Soldiers Performing Arms Drill at the End of Their Medical Treatment, 1916
Gelatin silver print

During WWI, Paris’ magnificent Grand Palais, a Beaux-Arts structure that opened in 1900 as an exhibition hall, was repurposed as a temporary military hospital that served injured French soldiers. It held one thousand beds and had two operating rooms, as well as an extensive physical rehabilitation centre where soldiers could recover from their injuries, exercise and practice military drills before returning to the front. 


John Copley (1875-1950)
Recruits, 1915
Lithograph


Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946)
Rockets, 1917
Watercolour, gouache, graphite

Spilliaert served briefly in the Belgian civil guard after the German invasion. A pacifist by nature, he was greatly affected by the violence of war. Here, he depicts a deep blue sky illuminated by the flare of rockets, an image witnessed by both soldiers and civilians in occupied territories. The artist concentrated not on the rockets’ violent potential but on the graceful forms they generate and their resemblance to stars and comets


French, 20th century
After the Victory (Au Lendemain de la Victoire), 1918
Printed by Imprimerie Kapp
Published by Librairie Hachette & Co.
Colour lithograph

Many children lost loved ones to the war and were traumatized by the sounds and sights of combat. Ostensibly, celebrating victory, this book, like much wartime propaganda for children, reflects these dark events. Its interior presents images of rebuilding: each page shows a scene of destruction, but when a flap is raised, it shows the same site restored. 


Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945)
The Parents (Die Eltern), from War (Krieg), 1921-22
Printed by Fritz Voigt, Berlin
Woodcut

Pain,” Kollwitz noted, ”is totally dark.” This raw images portrays the profound grief of parents who, like the artist, lost a child to war. Kollwitz began working in this medium after seeing an exhibition of woodcuts by Ernst Barlach and being inspired by their graphic power; the War series is considered her most important in the technique. Kollwitz spent fifteen years working on a sculpture based on this print. The Grieving Parents, located in the cemetery for German soldiers in western Belgium where her son Peter is buried, is composed of two separate sculptures, showing the parents isolated in their despair.


George Grosz (1893-1959)
Background (Hintergrund), 1928
3 out of 17 photolithographs with printed portfolio


Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945)
Mothers (Muetter), from War (Krieg), 1919
Lithograph

In Mothers, women and children huddle together, their linked bodies forming a solid structure that fills the composition. Kollwitz drew herself in the centre, eyes closed and arms wrapped protectively around her two sons: Hans, the elder, and Peter, who was killed in combat at eighteen.


Images from ”World War I and the Visual Arts”, an exhibition exploring ”the myriad and often contradictory ways in which artists responded to the first modern war”.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

August 6th, 2017

The Fantastic World of Virgil Finlay

In five scratchboard illustrations and one gouache.

In his 35-year career, Virgil Finlay produced over 2,600 illustrations, a remarkable achievement considering his labor-intensive and time-consuming drawing style.

”Instead of the typical pen and ink or carbon pencil drawings produced by most pulp illustrators, Finlay used a unique technique combining scratchboard—in which a clay-covered board is coated with black ink and the artist scratches away white lines from the black using a sharp blade—with intricate pen cross-hatching and an astonishingly painstaking method of creating tones called stipple.

Contrasted with hatching, or crossed lines, stippling is a time-consuming process in which tones are created with hundreds of tiny individual dots, carefully placed and dripped off the end of an ultra-fine dip pen, one dot at time.” [source]Face in the Abyss
Gouache on illustration board
Appeared on the cover of Famous Fantastic Mysteries magazine for ”Face in the Abyss” by A. Merritt, Frank A. Munsey Co., October 1940

”He came out of his coma. We left a sketch pad and pencils by the bed. He did a drawing, he went back into the coma, and died.”– Lail Finlay, Virgil Finlay’s daughter

Three Against the Stars
Scratchboard, pen and ink
Interior illustration in Fantastic Novels Magazine for ”Three Against the Stars”, by Eric North, New Publications, Inc., May 1950


The Lovers
Scratchboard, pen and ink
Appeared in Startling Stories magazine for ”The Lovers” by Philip José Farmer, Better Publications, August 1952

For the first time in science fiction history an Earth man and an alien woman have a sexual love affair in Philip José Farmer’s ”The Lovers”. This was quite groundbreaking yet controversial in 1950s American pop culture; however, it would seem quite tame compared to today’s science fiction books and films.


Woman reclining in lunar landscape, c. 1955
Scratchboard, pen and ink


Conquest of the Moon Pool
Scratchboard, pen and ink
Interior illustration in Fantastic Novels magazine for ”Conquest of the Moon Pool” by A. Merritt, New Publications, September 1948

From ”Conquest of the Moon Pool”:
”… and suddenly there before us stood two figures! One was a girl – a girl whose eyes were golden… whose softly curved lips were red as the royal coral and whose golden-brown hair reached to her knees! And the second was a gigantic frog – a woman frog… six feet high if an inch and with one webbed paw of its short, powerfully muscled forelegs resting upon the white should of the golden-eyed girl!”


Lur the Witch Woman with Her Consorts, Dwellers in the Mirage
Scratchboard, pen and ink
Appeared on the cover of Fantastic Novels for ”Dwellers in the Mirage”, written by A. Merritt, Frank A. Munsey Co., NY, April 1941

”Dwellers in the Mirage” introduction:
”The strangest adventure any man had encountered since time began faced Leif Langdon when he tumbled through that Alaskan mirage into a lost world.”

Adenturer Leif Langdon stumbles upon an uncommonly warm, hidden Arctic valley where he finds and falls in love with Evalie. Also in this valley are the Little People – elfin warriors fighting against Lur the Witch Woman and her demon riders who raid the Little People’s land for sacrifices to Kraken, their dark lord. Tapping into buried memories of another lifetime, Langdon realizes he had a past life as Kraken and as Lur’s lover. So begins Langdon’s inner struggle between his two selves.


All artwork by Virgil Finlay (1914 – 1971), photographed at the Society of Illustrators

August 15th, 2017