Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Sarah Bernhardt in New York and Paris: A Conversation with Carol Ockman and Beth Gersh-Nesic, Thursday, November 30th at 4 pm on Zoom


Thursday, November 30, 2023
1pm PT / 2pm MT / 3pm CT / 4pm ET
Federation of Alliances Françaises USA

In English

Join us as art historian Beth S. Gersh-Nešić talks to Sarah Bernhardt scholar, Carol Ockman, about the recent exhibit on the famous actress at the Petit Palais in Paris.

Writer, performer, and curator, Carol Ockman is a world-renowned scholar of Sarah Bernhardt. She is co-author of Sarah Bernhardt: The Art of High Drama (2005), whose awarding-winning exhibition and catalog she and Kenneth E. Silver curated and wrote for the Jewish Museum (New York, 2005-06). In addition to lecturing widely on Sarah Bernhardt, she was interviewed as Bernhardt in “Wish You Were Here,” as part of a series inspired by Andy Warhol’s Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century. Her memoir, Sarah Bernhardt’s Handkerchief (in progress), which she wrote and performs as a one-woman show, weaves together close encounters with stardom, her father’s suicide, and the power of objects from the past to mitigate loss.

Ockman has also written extensively on nineteenth-century art (Ingres’s Eroticized Bodies: Retracing the Serpentine Line) and contemporary art and culture, including art criticism and essays on Barbie, the nude, portraiture, and stereotypes. As Curator at Large for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Sarasota, Florida, 2016-2022), she put major works of art in dialogue with living plants, working with horticulturalists to produce six exhibitions on Marc Chagall, Andy Warhol, Paul Gauguin, Salvador Dalí, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith. As writer and performer, Ockman also collaborates with other creatives, in works like Netta Yerushalmy’s Paramodernities (2016-2020), a six-part piece that queries iconic dances from Nijinsky to Cunningham. A long-time teacher at Williams College, Ockman is now Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art Emerita.

Beth S. Gersh-Nešić, Ph.D. is an art historian and the director of the New York Arts Exchange, an arts education service.  She writes about Picasso, Cubism, the French poet/art critic/journalist André Salmon, modernism, and contemporary artists. Her most recent book is Pablo Picasso, André Salmon and Young French Painting, a translation with annotations and an introduction by Jacqueline Gojard, Professor Emeritus, University of Paris III. She is also a staff writer for Bonjour Paris, an online magazine, and a Senior Lecturer at Mercy University. Her article on the Sarah Bernhardt exhibition at Wildenstein Gallery appeared in Women Artists News (Spring 1985).

This event will be on Zoom and is free for all Alliance Française members, AATF members, and invited guests of the presenter or publicist.  Click here to register.  You are a "guest of the lecturer,"

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Thanksgiving Greetings 2023

Charles Ethan Porter, Apples on the Ground, 1878
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Wishing you and your loved ones
a joyous Thanksgiving celebration - 

And all the blessings of the Holiday Season!

With love and tremendous gratitude 
for 20 years of sharing art with you - 


Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, PhD
New York Arts Exchange, LLC

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Fall Greetings and a letter from the heart


Mark Podwal, Jerusalem in My Heart, 2001

Dear friends,

I live with this image of Jerusalem etched by Mark Podwal. It's a rose cradling three religions, growing and thriving from its stem of thorns. It is a metaphor for the region that cradles Israel and Palestine today. What can we say?  There are no words. We feel these thorns. We pray for the survival of the rose. When will the conflict in the Middle East end? This image seems to say that the only way to see this region survive, having experienced its thorny history, is to rise above it, protecting this vision of peaceful coexistence among the main religions, if not all humankind.

I am praying everyday that all sides of the conflict will reach a peaceful agreement and work toward the survival of all who have been dragged into this horror. Their pain and suffering belongs to us all, there and here - as we worry daily for the hostages and the possibility of an all out war among Israel and its neighbors. We pray for peace as soon as possible.

My heart goes out to the mourners, whose lives have been damaged forever because of their losses. My heart goes out to the family members who wait for word from their loved ones in captivity. My heart goes out to the families who are enduring bombs on both sides, the destruction on both sides, the loss of their homes and personal security on both sides. And my heart goes out to those who tried to broker peace in the region, failed, and lived to see this horror. I remember those who died because they tried to make it happen: Anwar Sadat, Yitzak Rabin, and countless others.  

Our population on earth is enduring war, terrorism, gang violence, and personal assaults/assassinations all the time, all over the place. What can we do? 

I have no idea. . . .

Mark Podwal, Jerusalem in My Heart, 2001
original ink drawing; image courtesy of the artist

I often think about what to write for this blog and then it feels trite and inconsequential in the face of the pain of so many others. So, I don't write anything at all.  Art is all I can offer.  Is this enough for you? Does art lift you up out of your sorrow and bring relief, if only for a little while?

After the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the Purchase College class I had begun the week before, Thursday, September 6, 2001, corresponded through email to affirm our mutual decision to carry on. We must continue the class, which met weekly at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  We had to be together, resist fear of public spaces, support art, and support each other as we faced the unknown.  That week, we couldn't even imagine being alive today. We only worried about getting through each day and tomorrow.  

At that time, art helped us persevere because we decided to remain together and enjoy our Thursdays at the Met together. We had each other and we had the treasures in this extraordinary cultural institution guiding us out of the darkness and into the light of historical proof that humankind carries on, producing beauty despite all the setbacks imposed by our fellow humans or Mother Nature herself.

Take care, my dear friends - use art to escape from your sorrows, use art to heal. Take a moment to forget the painful truth of our present world crises as you stand in front of wondrous creativity.  

Later this week, I will post on this blog a calendar of exhibitions that I hope bring you comfort and joy.

With love and hugs,


Monday, September 4, 2023

Best Wishes for Labor Day 2023

Jean-François Millet, Noonday Rest, 1866
Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Vincent van Gogh, Noon, Rest After Work (After Millet), St. Rémy, 1890-91

Best wishes for Labor Day 2023

to you and your family.

With hugs and love,
Beth  and the New York Arts Exchange


Thursday, August 24, 2023

Last Call: Van Gogh's Cypresses, MAD's Paper Dresses and Funky Art, MCNY "Home" - closing August 27


Vincent van Gogh, Cypresses, late June 1889
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dear Friends,

Summer is coming to an end  - at least our sense of "summer" when schools are closed and the days are long. Although Labor Day is over a week away, many museums will close their spectacular Summer Season exhibitions this Sunday, August 27th.

Here are 5 shows you don't want to miss:

Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night,  June 1889
Museum of Modern Art

    Vincent van Gogh, The Little Stream, October 1889
Star Insurance Companies

Van Gogh's Cypresses at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, closing Sunday. Hours on Friday and Saturday from 10-9; Sunday 10-5. You must sign up for the virtual wait line when you arrive. So, don't forget to scan the QR code on the sign next to the Admission Desk. You will use your cell phone. Then you fill in the form online and check your texts for notification. If all this sounds confusing and complication, don't worry.  Ask the Admissions cashier or a MMA guard for help. Also, please brush up on your VVG using Smarthistory and read this wonderful article "The Dark Side of van Gogh's Cypress Trees," on the meaning of cypresses, which Daniel Larkin noted was missing on the text panels - great catch, Mr. Larkin.

(Photos taken by BGN.)

Generation Paper: A Fashion Phenom of the 1960s, Museum of Art and Design, Columbus Circle, NYC. closing on Sunday. A welcome trip down Memory Lane of the 1960s, when clothes designer Mary Quant, hair stylist Vidal Sassoon, and models Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy were all the rage in the fashion world. An absolutely fab exhibition that should have received more publicity. You'll escape into your recollection of Beatles songs, while Swifties groove on Taylor Swift music playing throughout an exhibition of her clothes on the second floor (closing March 24, 2024). Learn about the history of the paper dress and its demise with this video.

Gallery Installations of Funk You Too!  (Photos taken by BGN)

Also at MAD - Funk You Too!  Humor and Irreverence in Ceramic Sculpture, closing on Sunday. Not as exciting as Generation Paper or Craft Front and Center, but worth a giggle or two when you walk through the show. Let me know what you think of it, if you decide to visit.

Gallery Installation of Craft Front and Center  (Photo courtesy of MAD)

Craft Front and Center: Exploring the Permanent Collection, continues through January 14, 2024, and I am so glad it does. I can't wait to return for a longer, more intensely focused visit with these extraordinary artworks. You will find enormous imagination here. I could not select my favorite - I loved each and every piece. A must!

New York Now: Home, The Photography Triennial at the Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Avenue between 103rd and 104th Streets, NYC.  Great photos of our great city that celebrate our diversity and particular aesthetics.

Best wishes for the Labor Day Weekend Holiday,


Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, PhD

Director and owner, New York Arts Exchange, LLC

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Last Call: Karl Lagerfeld and Juan de Pareja at the Met

Karl Lagerfeld, for House of Chanel, 2016-17, inspired by Aubrey Beardsley
Photographed by Beth Gersh-Nesic

Dear friends,

Today is July 16th - National Ice Cream Day - and just about midpoint for our Summer 2023 Art Season. Which exhibitions have you visited so far?  

Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, 
closes July 16h

Have you visited the Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty exhibition at the Met? I hope so.  It closes today at 9 pm, thanks to the special Sunday evening hours added for just this show. Please note that the "virtual line" closes at 7:30 pm. This is a new system that requires scanning a QR square, filling in the form on your cellphone, and then receiving a time slot that allows you to go into the exhibition.  The Admissions Desk will explain this to you as you receive your admission ticket and sticker.  

Just in case you haven't seen the show (or want to relive it), here are the links on the Met's website and with video tour:
Exhibition - Photographs of the clothes
Video Tour (scroll down to see these videos)
Atelier interviews (scroll down to see these videos)

Additional features on the Met's website for the Lagerfeld show:
Wendy A. Grossman's essay on Congolese hats donated by Lilly Daché to the Met and Man Ray's photos of his muse Adrienne Fidelin for Harper's Bazaar, 1937.
(And here is my interview with Wendy A. Grossman about Adrienne Fidelin in Bonjour Paris.)

For a bit of fun, Lagerfeld merch in the Met's shop. The doll in a leather jacket is hilarious.  

Juan de Pareja: Afro-Hispanic Painter, 
closing July 16th

Diego Velázquez, Portrait of Juan de Pareja, 1649-50
Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection

Also closing today, the excellent exhibition of works by and works of the Baroque artist Juan de Pareja: Afro-Hispanic Painter, which will close at 5 pm. The catalogue is $50 or $45 for members. Juan de Pareja's relation to Velázquez has always been a bit murky. The curators make an effort to follow the dots and explain it coherently to you.

Juan de Pareja, The Calling of St. Matthew, 1661
Museo National del Prado, Madrid

To learn more about this exceptional artist and his unusual journey from slave to freedom as an artist, please listen to the podcasts located on the Met's webpage for this exhibition (located here - scroll down).

Van Gogh's Cypresses
closes August 27th

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889
Museum of Modern Art, NYC

By the way, Van Gogh's Cypresses closes at the end of August, so please make a note to visit this exhibition soon. The QR  "virtual waitline" also applies. Ask the Met Admission staff for help in order to reserve your place asap when you receive your admission sticker. The "virtual queue" reservations end at 3:30 pm on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday; at 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday.


Monday, June 12, 2023

Summer Pleasures - Museum Mile on Tuesday, June 13, 6 - pm

It's that time of year - 

Museum Mile, Tuesday, June 13, 6 - 9 pm

Free admission to:

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Juan de Paraja, Lagerfeld, Van Gogh's Cypresses, and more . . . 

Guggenheim Museum: Gego, Sarah Sze, and "Young Picasso in Paris"

Jewish Museum: The Sassoons and After "the Wild": Contemporary Art from the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation Collection

Museum of the City of New York: Centennial Celebration!

Neue Galerie; "Woman in Gold" (The Portrait of Adele Boch-Bauer in context)

Cooper Hewitt: "Give Me A Sign" and "Designing Peace"

El Museo del Barrio: "Something Beautiful: Reframing La Colección"

Africa Center: A musical performance by West African Band Kakande, art-making workshops with iLLUSTRA8 and a first look at the Black Future Newsstand, an interactive installation created by The Black Thought Project and Media 2070.