Newspapers welcome insightful articles about local art shows. Thus I have ended up writing for The New York Times, such local papers as New York Family, Denver Post, Steamboat Pilot and many more. Just scroll down to pick those that interest you. Visit this site again as I will continue to add articles.
HUMOR IN MUSEUMS? – HAVE YOU EVER LISTENED TO THE COMMENTS?
Picasso as 2 on L.I. See Him special to the Sunday New York Times
While waiting at the Museum of Modem Art’s special entrance to the Picasso show a woman lamented to her friend, “This line moves slower than the Long Island Railroad.” Having been brought up in Woodmere, my ears perked up. Like a homing pigeon, I moved closer.
I became so intrigued by my landsleute’s ensuing remarks that without realizing what I was doing I paced myself all through the museum with them. It was only later when I thought about the show that I recognized that almost as thought-provoking as the Picasso paintings were some of these two women’s reactions to his art pieces. Their comments in a sense represented what I had always liked about the Long Island people I had known: they did not take themselves too seriously.
One of the women, dressed in a cheerful pink cotton dress, observed Picasso’s Cubist paintings and exclaimed: “My God, they look like my daughter’s room. With Picasso it’s a nose here, a foot there. With her it’s a tissue here, a dirty sock there. Maybe I am suppressing her creativity?”
Her friend, a woman with long sculptured red nails, answered her: “His Cubism disturbs my sense of organization, my sense of neatness and all I am familiar with.”
A stranger who had overheard said, “No, no, Cubism is like a puzzle that someone can take apart and then integrate all the parts into a total unit.” He disappeared again into the moving crowd.
We were now standing in front of “The Swimmer” (l929).
“You know that’s really how I feel – all pink and going in all different directions -when I float in the ocean at our beach club,” said the one who had described her daughter’s room. “You can feel the current pulling her.”
Her friend with the long fingernails, and whose name I had learned was Sally, looked at her and said, “Well, my friend the psychiatrist would have a few comments about that one. All of Picasso’s women are odd. Do you think Picasso was a latent homosexual? Hated his mother? Had a twisted mind? Just look at the way he painted women. He doesn’t even give them fingernails,” and she pointed with one of her long, sculptured fingernails to “The Swimmer.”
“Don’t say that,” her friend in the pink dress countered. “He expressed his soul. He saw and felt strongly. Sometimes he felt joy and sometimes anger and sometimes hate. You can’t judge him only by the women he painted during one period of his life.
Don’t forget all the other things he did – still lives, animals and that famous fish skeleton. The moral about that fish is that you should look a little more closely at your garbage.”
And so it went, all through the show, Sally liked his early paintings. She pointed out, “It’si interesting to see how he developed – look at those sexy acts he painted. He doesn’t leave out a detail. He was only 19 years old.” A young woman appeared from nowhere and said in a scolding tone, “He had the making of a dirty old man then already.” She too disappeared with the moving crowd.
The woman in the pink dress was moved by “Guernica” (1937), depicting the horrors and anguish of war. “At least he showed suffering, which was more than some of his contemporaries did. I think he really cared for human beings.”
As they left the museum four hours later to catch their train home, I heard one of them say, “Between his paint brushes and all his women he was a very busy man.”
Her friend answered, “I wonder how he would have portrayed the Long Island Expressway or Penn Station during the rush hour?”
The other replied, ”Probably as it deserved to be portrayed – as incomprehensible Cubism.”
Moma’s Moment In The Sun
Edith Lynn Beer
Art lovers in New York City and many foreign visitors are impatiently awaiting Saturday’s opening of New York’s rebuilt Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA. The lines are expected to go around the block.
The 2½ -year, $425 million renovation – part of an $858 million capital campaign – has added almost 300,000 square feet, created a whole new look and feel to the galleries at the museum that houses the world’s premier collection of modern and contemporary art.
Saturday also will be the museum’s 75th anniversary since it opened in 1929 on the 12th floor in the Heckscher Building on Fifth Avenue. A few years later it leased a small townhouse from John D. Rockefeller Jr. on 53rd Street, its present site. In the ensuing years, after rebuilding and acquiring more space, the museum swelled in size and stature.
The renovation aimed to give its properties cohesion and its treasures an appropriate home. The museum closed in spring 2002 and opened a temporary museum in Queens while the massive renovation took place.
Yoshio Taniguchi, the Japanese architect who designed the six-story renovation, wanted to create “an ideal environment for art and people through the imaginative and disciplined use of light, materials, and space.” He worked for eight years on the idea of a new MoMA, listening to curators and studying what would make people comfortable.
“The primary objective in the design of a museum is to create an ideal environment for the interaction of people and art.”
The ruling principle in this new museum is light, light and more light. There are skylights everywhere. As a rule, museums avoid including windows in their galleries to protect the art. At the new MoMA, the galleries not only offer wall cutouts to the neighboring exhibitions above and below but have tinted windows looking onto the city. Taniguchi explains, “I approached the project as if it were an urban design – a city within a city.”
As it was in the old building, the new entrance to MoMA is a street-level panorama. The main floor connects 53rd and 54th streets, providing two main entrances. Nearly double the capacity of the former building – from 378,000 square feet to 630,000 square feet – the museum was enlarged mainly in the north and westerly direction, taking the space once occupied by the Dorset hotel and other, smaller properties.
Before the renovation, only 10 percent of the permanent collection was on display with little space devoted to contemporary art. Now with more space and ceilings 22 feet high, MoMA will have the privilege of focusing on not only masterpieces but also on newer work of any size.
The MoMA entrance features a majestic 150-foot atrium that serves as a central point through which visitors can access all the galleries, the garden, its movie theaters and restaurants. The second floor, displaying the mammoth Broken Obelisk by Barnett Newman, feels like a floating cube from where a visitor can look up to a skylight or down to the atrium. The north section of each subsequent floor is divided into two divisions connected by a bridge affording views down onto other exhibitions and into the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. The garden has been restored to its larger 1953 design by Philip Johnson. (It was reduced in 1984, when the Cesar Pelli Museum Tower was erected.) The glass wall permits visitors in the garden to look into the museum at the exhibitions.
To the east of the garden is the Education and Research building complementing in stature and style the main building. Benches are placed strategically everywhere so that the visitor can choose moments of silence.
“We were reminded of Taniguchi’s goal: to create an environment rather than simply making a building,” said Terrence Riley, chief curator of architecture and design. “Now, Taniguchi’s vision for the museum will extend form the spoon in your hand or the bench upon which you sit to the light-filled space around you.”
The second floor offers space for moving-image and sound works. “A First Look,” the inaugural exhibition that runs until February, includes film and video works from the collection by Andy Warhol and contemporary artists including Heike Baranowsky, Rodney Graham, Li Yongbin and Eve Sussman. At the entrance to the exhibition, Hollis Frampton’s “Lemon” (1969), trembling and in vivid color, is projected on the wall, a radical departure from the traditional still-lifes and portraits. Other sections on the second floor are devoted to the display of contemporary art.
The third floor hosts the temporary exhibitions and galleries for architecture and design, prints and photography. The fourth and fifth floor will house the museum’s peerless late-19th and 20th century art. Here, some of the masterpieces such as Picasso’s “Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon,” have been cleaned and restored. The sixth floor is reserved for temporary exhibitions.
The second and fifth floors have espresso bars for those in need of a quick fix, and The Modern restaurant, designed by Richard Gluckman and run by Chef Gabriel Kreuther (formerly of Alsace), and the more casual establishment called simply Bar Room. All the eating areas have large windows with more spectacular views.
The MoMA Design and Book Store is on the first floor, and on the second floor overlooking the lobby is a serious bookstore with a reader-friendly section providing comfortable chairs.
special to New York Family
Monet And The Mediterranean: The Perfect Winter Excursion
by Edith Lynn Beer
We have all been reading about the important exhibition, Monet and the Mediterranean, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Monet is a joyful painter, one who delights all ages. For this very reason, the trip to the museum is a perfect family jaunt. And, yes it is possible to get last minute tickets to the Monet show by calling the museum directly. The museum claims that it is less crowded on Saturday evening when it stays open until 9 PM. It is an ideal place to let the youngsters – and parents and friends – have a Saturday night out.
Before we enter this well arranged exhibit there is a huge map of the French-Italian Riviera pin pointing the year and the places where he painted: Bordighera 1884, Venice 1908, and Antibes (known today as Cap d’Antibes) 1888.
Each town inspired the artist to use different colors. As one stands in the room adorned with his Antibes paintings, a charming small round room, the viewer is bathed in the beautiful pink colors. The section showing his work done in Venice envelops us with strong purples and shimmering whites and yellow. Children young enough to love picture books will want to notice the colors, see how many shades they can name and be inspired by the combination of colors. Older youngsters will discover period architecture – some palazzos, dramatic bridges crossing the romantic canals of Venice, distant villas and other ancient buildings nestling into the hills. In other towns he concentrates mostly on nature. Rarely do we spot figures. The nature has that semi- tropical feel: groves of olive trees, wispy palm trees, dramatic snow capped mountains reflected in cerulean water. In Bordighera and Antibes Monet began to work in what has become known as his “serial procedure,” in which he executes more than one picture of a subject from a similar vantage point, but the size or finish may be different. In others the weather, time of day, the condition of the sea or his very own mood might have changed. Monet’s touch has its own dominant character which emphasizes the Riviera’s uniqueness and makes us feel after spending a few hours with his painting that we too have taken a short trip abroad. One hates leaving the exhibit. It’s like going home after an all too short vacation.
The museum as if understanding that one does need a rest from touring has opened the chic Café Monet which the older youngsters and their friends will like. A wide range of Mediterranean-inspired salads, sandwiches, soups, desserts and beverages are available. For those who like to wander there are several gift shops with beautiful postcards and other Monet-inspired memorabilia stratigically nearby. The youngest in the family will be engrossed by the remarkable museum shop toys and books. It might be wise to give each child spending money.
One should allow a few minutes for the main entrance of the museum. There are approximately twenty video panels . Each panel turns to reveal another component of a Monet painting, blending well with the other panels. A gentle background of music by Debussy, a contemporary of Monet, accompanies each panel as it turns.
“Viewing Matisse With Your Child.” special to New York Family
by Edith Lynn Beer
At what age should you start taking your children to art shows? Amelia Arenas who is Program Design/Teaching Specialist in the Department of Education at the Museum of Modern Art <New York City> says, “Age five is not too young.”
The present exhibition at the Moma, Henri Matisse – a Retrospective, is a show children can relate to. Matisse himself exclaimed that painting opened for him “a kind of paradise.” Children can see his “ideal life” reflected in his paintings of rich domestic interiors such as a big busy goldfish bowl or a window revealing a lively seaside.
Matisse, whose life spanned from 1869 to 1954, was a painter who was always reinventing himself. He is primarily known for his use of bold color covering broad, flat areas and for his detailed flagrant decorative patterns.
The final section of the show which exhibits Matisse’s cut out shapes of pre-painted colored paper promises perhaps the most excitement for a child. Matisse himself had said that by cutting into colored paper with scissors, “instead of drawing an outline and filling in the color – I am drawing directly with color.”
The retrospective at the Moma is divided into seven sections and encompasses over 400 paintings requiring the space of two floors. The audio tour, available at the entrance, lasts 45 minutes and guides you to the most representative works in each section.
Ms. Arenas says that parents who take children to the museum have an opportunity to talk on a level outside of their daily lives. Watching a child interpret an art work helps the listening parent to understand the mind of the child. Ms. Arenas explains, “Our level of communication around works of art is very different from our mundane way of communicating. Specifically we tend to talk in conceptual terms. We rarely describe. A work of art has an objective view and once we get a child to describe, we activate a latent vocabulary.” Children like to say what they see rather than to be told wahte they should see. Instead of giving a child facts about the artists such as when he was born, what he accomplished, one should play guessing games such as: “What do you think Matisse was trying to point out?” “How many people do you see in his painting?” “Who do you think these people are?” “What is your favorite color in this painting?”
Children learn on their own and the experience is a monitor for how they will react to future art shows. Children are receptive to the mysticism and the adventure of art.