Renwick Rocks!

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man

Exhibition at Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery is ongoing through January 21, 2019. For more info: https://americanart.si.edu/ exhibitions/burning-man

Ren Truth is Beauty Marco Cochrabe

“Truth is Beauty”  by Marco Conchrane

Pushing the outer limits of their own space, the Renwick Gallery brings the boundless creativity of Burning Man from Black Rock, Nevada, to the conservative confines of Washington, DC.

Since the first sybaritic spectacle in 1986, the dry lakebed outside Reno has been home to phantasmagoric sculptures, whimsical mechanical devices, and radical art. Minus the sex, drugs, and rock and roll, the Renwick indulges our curiosity in this countercultural contemporary art scene both in the museum and out into the neighborhood. Pick up a map at the museum to find six street art installations nearby, including the giant Grizzly Bear (photo below) made of pennies. Read more ›

Massena Museum in Nice, France

 

Massena MuseumMassena Museum, Nice, France

http://www.nice.fr/fr/culture/musees-et-galeries/musee-massena-le-musee 

Housed in a stately, 19th century villa on the promenade des Anglais overlooking the Mediterranean, the Massena Museum —the façades and roofs of which are classified by French Historic Monument Association—offers visitors a viewing of Empire Age salons and furnishings, tranquil English-style Gardens, and temporary exhibits, such as its current photography exhibit, Jean Gilletta et la Cote d’Azur, paysages et reportages, 1870-1930.

 

As the primary and inexhaustible landscape photographer of the Riveria, Gilletta documented its art and culture, commercialism, and tourism. According to Gilletta’s great nephew, “…nothing escaped his lens,” as he captured a time in flux, casting that lens on the modest and humble as well as the privileged. On construction sites, railways, and bridges. On market vendors, washerwomen, presidents and princes. He recorded rural life and the high life of Nice and Monaco among other sites. From fashionable spa towns, olive groves, and snow-covered mountain peaks to the 1887 earthquake, he was an exemplary reporter and witness for his times.

A 19th century Cartier-Bresson, Gillette preserved those times–forever gone or transformed–through at least 10,000 photos as he tooled around the Cote d’Azur on his three-wheeled, motorized bike—an example of which is on exhibit. In addition to snapping photos, he was also a prolific publisher of postcards and books.

Massena Museum Cut out photo 2The delightful exhibit opens with head cutouts of peasants of the day. Go ahead, stick your head though the opening slot and journey back in time. (I did; Noel was less enthusiastic.) The guards will take your photos. The balance of the exhibit holds numerous original photo prints of people at play and work along the seaside and in the country. The photographs are small and require time and close-up inspection, but to get a sense of the larger exhibit, the designers have created life-size impressions projected on the walls in each room recreating the ambience in which Gilletta worked. In addition to the photos, there’s a three-wheeled, motorized bike that Gilletta tooled around the Cote d’Azur setting his sights on images to snap. A large box camera he used is also on view.

The show recalls an insouciant time along the Cote d’Azur through five principle themes: Nice the resort capital of France, Nissa la Bella (Nice the Beautiful–the city’s unofficial anthem. Listen on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15oZvZtsYYw), By the Mountains and the Valleys, Under the Azure along the Coast, and The News in Pictures.

The exhibit closes March 5, 2018.

The Museum’s permanent collection displays the history of Nice from the 19th century up to the end of 1930s. Highlights include Napoléon’s death mask and Josephine’s tiara with its glittery gemstones, gold, and pearls.

Massena Museum view from window

Practical Info

http://www.nice.fr/fr/culture/musees-et-galeries/musee-massena-le-musee

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11-6, winter; 10-6, summer.

Closed Tuesdays and certain holidays

Tickets: 6 Euros or buy a 7-day pass for 20 Euros (Access to all 12 municipal museums and galleries for 7 days in Nice)

Location: 65, rue de France (ticket entrance)

Henry James and American Painting

Henry James and American Painting Exhibition at The Morgan Library, NYC

On View through Sept 10, 2017

http://www.themorgan.org/exhibitions/henry-james

Henry James (photogravure above in 1906 and painting of him in 1862) equated the art of the writer with that of the artist, declaring he saw no difference in their acts of creation. In The Art of Fiction, he wrote, “… the honour of one is the honour of another.” Fascinated with the visual arts, James often explored the artistic process, inspiration, and influence of art in his novels.

I thought I’d run in, glance at the Morgan Library exhibit for a half hour and be on my way, but I lingered for two hours. So engaged was I that I read the accompanying wall text—a rarity for me when many museum labels are often, in my humble opinion, a bullshit attempt to be erudite but are frequently just obtuse. Instead, I found myself absorbed in the text, laughing aloud at entertaining stories and James’ numerous observations about his artistic circle of friends such as James McNeill Whistler, John La Farge, and John Singer Sargent among others. Many of his friends were players in James’ novels, and their lives were fodder for his plots. Much of this is clearly evident in images and text selected.

Early in his career, James himself attempted to paint, but–determined to avoid mediocrity–opted instead to write painterly novels, clearly an inspiration to the co-curators, Declan Kiely, head of the Morgan’s Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts, and novelist Colm Tóibín. They collected an enticing selection of artwork–paintings, drawings, watercolors, sculptures, photographs, as well as the written word–books, manuscripts, and letters from museums and private collections in the United States, Great Britain, and Ireland. They have assembled vivid stories of artistic connectivity. It’s an inspired exhibit.

To read more, check out the NYTimes review: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/arts/design/henry-james-a-poohbah-who-painted-with-words.html?mcubz=3&_r=0

 

Venetian Women in Palazzo Rezzonico

Venetian Women in Palazzo Rezzonico by John Singer Sargent, c 1880

 

A Venetian Interior by John SInger Sargent 1880

A Venetian Interior by John Singer Sargent 1880

An Interior in Venice 1898 John Singer Sargent

An Interior in Venice by John Singer Sargent 1898

Mrs. Edward Darley Boit JSS 1887

Mrs. Edward Darley Boit by John Singer Sargent, 1887

Petersen Auto Museum

Petersen Museum for Car Buffs and Others

Even if you’re not an auto aficionado (I’m not), one can surely find an element of oohs and ahs when visiting The Peterson Auto Museum in LA. Hard to miss the building itself: Like a crazy layer cake interspersed with red and metallic icing, the façade is wrapped in a spiraling whirl of metalwork resembling a car grill. Inside, even the stairwell appears as a vortex of chrome.

1981 Delorean Time Machine, Back to the Future

I was fascinated with the history of former celebrity-owned cars (Steve McQueen’s is there), futurist visions of transport with aircraft-inspired styling, and film vehicles such as the Winged Warrior 1989 Batmobile, Herbie the Love Bug, and the Delorean DMC12 Time Machine driven in “Back to the Future.”

Holy SideCar, Batman! Yes, TV’s 1966 Yamaha YDS-3 BatCycle is here, too. But, most of all, I loved the shiny chrome colors rarely available on current cars: metal lime green, eggplant purple, and orange ice to name a few. Polished to a high sheen, cars new and old glittered and gleamed. Three floors full.

On view are antique machines that weren’t much more than an engine on a plank of wood and four wheels, grand luxury sedans of 20s 30s, and the wonderful excesses of the 50s with magnificent color and elongated tail fins. See tiny cars without any soul built in Japan and copied by Americans.

The history of the auto is unveiled bearing witness to a technologically changed world at a price almost anyone can afford, thanks to Henry Ford’s everyman car. Most clearly present at the museum is America’s love affair with being on the road in a car of choice.

Stairwell

Interior

Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design

Above image from the New York Times A rendering of the virtual reality rendition of the Maison de Verre. CreditDiller Scofidio + Renfro

Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design, On view at the Jewish Museum in NYC, November 4, 2016 – March 26, 2017.

Having toured the actual Maison de Verre (Glass House) in Paris, I was curious to see how the exhibit could possibly compare to the ingenious interior design and workings of this 1932 home. But in using virtual reality and clever silhouette images, the exhibit is as innovative as the house was. Chareau combined industrial glass, wrought iron, and precious woods in highly original and daring ways and fine craftsmanship. Many actual furniture pieces and lighting are in the exhibit, but the other surprise was learning that Pierre Chareau and his wife Dollie were patrons of the arts. Several works by Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Amedeo Modigliani, Jacques Lipchitz, and Max Ernst are on view as well. Read more ›

Fake?

Fake?

It seems an apt description of our recent presidential election, but, in fact, it’s the title of a fun exhibit at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. On view are forgeries, fakes, and deliberate deceptions in art, archaeology, religion, literature, fashion, commercial products, and documents. (fake Modigliani heads of women below)

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Read more ›

Fernell Franco Cali Clair-Obscur

Fernell Franco, Série Billares, 1985© Fernell Franco, Courtesy of Fundación Fernell Franco Cali / Toluca Fine Art, Paris

The recent exhibition at the The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain  sheds well-deserved light on the experimental Colombian photographer Fernell Franco (1942-2006) who lived and worked in Cali, Colombia.

Cali Clair-Obscur (French for chiaroscuro) is an apt title as Franco delves into the seedy side of Cali life in shades of light and dark, images he shot between 1970 and 1996. Gathered into ten different series, Franco created a film noir photo fusion of urban scenes. Read more ›

Irving Penn Beyond Beauty

Last few days to see Irving Penn Beyond Beauty at Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, on exhibit through Sunday, March 20, in Washington, DC. This retrospective—the first in 20 years—is indeed a surprising treat beyond beauty. Known primarily for his stunning black and white photography in Vogue Magazine, Irving Penn transformed fashion photography in the mid 20th century.

A star photographer in his own right, he also created famous portraits of artistic and literary celebrities such as Salvador Dalí, Le Corbusier, Joan Miró, and André Malraux. But, in addition, he gave inventive life to rural southern scenes and ordinary objects—rubbish, cigarette butts, and a cracked egg among others—framing images in creative ways. And that is the unexpected delight in this show beyond beauty and fashion. Read more ›

Noah Purifoy Exhibit at LACMA

Jazzy and fun as well as thought provoking, Noah Purifoy’s junk assemblages at LACMA in LA give new meaning to recycled art and design.

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The Last Supper(1988) above

Purifoy (1917-2004), an African-American artist born in Alabama, is best known for his outdoor sculptural installations in Joshua Tree, California, using found objects such as bicycles, beer barrels, and bowling balls among other throwaways. His fabulous, fantastical junkyard is in the Mohave Desert http://noahpurifoy.com/joshua_tree/joshua_tree.html, but you can see some of his re-purposed creations from there as well as smaller pieces in LA at LACMA now until January 3, 2016. http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/noah-purifoy-junk-dada

Taking a page from Marcel Duchamp, Purifoy’s Dada influenced assemblages convey an urban sensibility and social perspective. His 66 Signs of Neon was an idea born from the Watts race riots of 1965 using burnt debris from the streets. His Strange Fruit references Billy Holliday’s song about lynching and social injustice. Perhaps in light of the recent racial conflicts with the police, these constructions have even more resonance today. But simply making art seems to have been as important as being a social activist. Like the jazz he embraced, his works flow with humor and commentary with abstract elements that form a whole, as evidenced in Rags and Old Iron I (After Nina Simone).

When his creations are meant to convey a social message, there’s movement and thought behind each work. From a distance Purifoy’s sense of color and design is exquisite; then upon close inspection there’s humor in his creative use of found objects. To see the clever make up of each assemblage is to appreciate old junk anew—as part of the human experience.

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#art #Visit LA #Found objects

Walking in the Rain in LA and Other Exhibits at LACMA

Walking in the Rain in LA and other exhibits at LACMA

Sold out for several weeks forward, the Rain Room—an art/technology installation at LACMA—is the hottest
ticket in LA. I scored two tickets for a timed entry Monday afternoon last
minute by using a special museum card I have. The card also gave me a discount
so I paid only $15 per ticket. Normal
entry is the astronomical price of $25/head. Visitors, this is a rip-off.

Never mind the irony of using 528 gallons of water
(recycled, of course) during the California draught, the exhibit is meant to
have you contemplate the affect of technology on mankind. One might ask, “Is it
art?”

The idea is to walk through a downpour
that stops as you take baby steps—VERY slowly as the guards constantly remind
you—through the Rain Room. Eh voila, mirabile-dictu, the rain stops pouring
directly on you though it continues to rain all around you. Anyone who has ever
walked with an umbrella has pretty much experienced the same thing. The Rain
Room Sensors actually detect your presence and stop the rain.

Warning: The sensors detect light-colored
clothes better than dark. Warning #2: Occasionally, the technology
fails–surprise!–i.e., the rain pours down on you,  doesn’t stop, and has to be reset. This
happened to us and we waited about 15 minutes for the reset so we could walk
five minutes through the Rain Room. Sorry to bum out anyone who thought it
ingenious or disappoint anyone planning to go.

My take: Save your money and time and
go to the exhibit at LACMA called Noah
Purifoy Junk Dada
. This one is excellent and fun.  There’s also an extensive Frank Gehry exhibit
with his workroom models for major projects around the world. More on both of
these another day

http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/noah-purifoy-junk-dada

http://www.lacma.org/gehry#landing

http://www.lacma.org/rainroom#landing

#visit LA #art