Saturday, June 8, 2024

Last Call: Beatrix Potter at the Morgan Library and Museum, closing June 9th




at the Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, NYC
Closing on Sunday, June 9th at 5 pm.


It is my sad duty to remind you that the enchanting Beatrix Potter exhibition at The Morgan will close tomorrow at 5 pm, when the museum closes its door for the day.  Please don't just hop, Peter Rabbit fans, but run to this incomparable opportunity to see Ms. Potter's exquisite botanical and fairytale drawings and watercolors.  She was an extraordinarily gifted artist and entrepreneur.  Learn about the first author who knew how to market her books and her brand.

Click on this link to watch the video.  And this link link to learn more about her life.

Bon weekend,
Beth

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

Frontispiece: The Tailor Mouse, c. 1902, Tate MuseumTate Museum



Lady Mouse in a Mob Hat, c. 1902 Tate Museum



The Mice at Work: Threading the Needle, c. 1902, Tate Museum

 

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Last Call - Ruby Silvious at Hammond Museum until June 9th -


Ruby Silvious:Waste Not 

Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Gardens

28 Deveau Road

North Salem, NY 10560

914-669-5033

info@hammondmuseum.org

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm

General Admission:
Adults $12  
Seniors (65+) $8
Students with ID $8

Veterans $8
Children 5 and under Free
Members Free



The incomparably talented artist Ruby Silvious serves up another extraordinary exhibition of delightful confections that dazzle our eyes as well as engage our minds.  Her "canvas" are often the thoughtlessly discarded: teabags, nutshells, eggshells, cashier tapes, and so much more. In this particular show we feast our eyes on kimonos and wall-hangings made of teabags. Notice, in the detail below, her fine stitching as well as painting. It's a tour de force of imagination applied to the almost unimaginable. Moreover, all these works of art sing out with beauty. The drawings, the colors and the forms remind us of how pleasurable looking at art can really be, especially in the lovely, tranquil environment provided by Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Gardens.



The weather is perfect this weekend and next.  So don't hesitate and don't delay.

Ruby Silvious Waste Not closes next Sunday, June 9th at 5 pm.


NB: Ruby Silvious' workshop on Sunday, June 2nd has ready been sold out. I don't know if you can take a peek at the artist's and students' work, but I'll give it a try.

 

Meanwhile, below you will find a few photos of her installations . . . .


Bon Weekend,

Beth


Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, PhD

Director/Owner, New York Arts Exchange, LLC



















 

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Happy Spring Holidays!

 

Charles Ethan Porter, Mountain Laurel, 1888


Wishing you and your family peace and joy this holiday season:


Happy Easter!

Blessings for Ramadan!

A Zissen Pesach!


With love,
Beth and the New York Arts Exchange








Friday, March 8, 2024

Happy International Women's Day!

 





Wishing you a joyous celebration of 
International Women's Day!

With love,
Beth and the New York Arts Exchange





Saturday, February 17, 2024

Last Call: Picasso in Fontainebleau, closing today Feb 17 for general public, Feb. 19 for MoMA members

Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881–1973
Three Musicians, Fontainebleau, summer 1921
Oil on canvas
6' 7" x 7' 3 3/4" (200.7 x 222.9 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund
©2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

From July to September in 1921, Picasso rented a villa for himself, his Russian ballerina wife Olga Khokhlova, and their five-month-old son Paul Joseph (“Paolo”) in the charming village Fontainebleau, about 35 miles from Paris, best known for its glorious, eclectic château, dating back to the 12th century. In the adjacent garage, fitted out as a studio, Picasso created four gigantic masterpieces: Three Musicians (two versions painted simultaneously) and Three Women at the Spring (two versions, one painting and one red-chalk drawing). These 6-foot works towered over 5 foot-4 inch Picasso in this narrow space, generating an enigmatic puzzle for future Picasso scholars: What can we glean from Picasso’s eclecticism during this summer in Fontainebleau?

Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881–1973
Three Musicians, 1921
Oil on canvas
80 1/2 × 74 1/8" (204.5 × 188.3 cm)
The Philadelphia Museum of Art. A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1952©2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York


Willing to take on the challenge and contribution to Picasso 1973-2023: The Fiftieth Anniversary, New York’s Museum of Modern Art brought these four significant works together for the first time since they left Picasso’s Fontainebleau studio in 1921. Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture Anne Umland and her assistants Alexandra Morrison and Francesca Ferrari examined the works diligently, and then had them installed with other Picasso works completed at the same time in order to study this pivotal period in this artist’s very long and extraordinarily productive career. Their query is: What was Picasso thinking?  We have, on the one hand, his late Cubist style for Three Musicians and, on the other, his “Ingres-esque” classical style for the Three Women at a Spring. What should we take away from this disparate combination?


Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881–1973
Three Women at the Spring, Fontainebleau, summer 1921
Oil on canvas
6' 8 1/4" x 68 1/2" (203.9 x 174 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Allan D. Emil
©2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York


First, let’s consider the brilliant exhibition Picasso in Fontainebleau. We enter into a huge gallery where we see numerous works of art produced within the few years leading up to the summer of 1921. Several come from the Museum of Modern Art’s collection, owner of Picasso’s greatest creations, most notably, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907). Then we walk through a small, narrow gallery that features ghostly reproductions painted on the walls giving us a feeling for the dimensions inside Picasso’s studio-garage, 20 x 10 feet. From there we emerge into a very large gallery which displays the two versions of the late Cubist Three Musicians (from MoMA and from the Philadelphia Museum of Art), facing each other on opposite walls, and the two versions of his classical Three Women at the Spring, which face each other as well. The musicians are male and the women at the spring are – well, you know. 


Installation view of Picasso in Fontainebleau, Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 8, 2023-February 17, 2024. Photo: Jonanthan Dorato


It’s an intriguing ensemble of characters. The musicians seem lighthearted as they entertain us with their silent concerts. They belong to the traveling burlesque Commedia dell’Art tradition, dating back to the Italian Renaissance. Their masked faces peep out at us, eager to attract our attention. Their bodies are flat interlocking planes of solid colors: bright white, orangy red, pale green, dark blues, gray, and light brown hues against a chocolate brown background in the New York version and grassy patterned green background in the Philadelphia version. All six figures seem to exude a bit of rambunctiousness. The push-pull of the colors that share parts of their interconnected bodies produces a rhythmic quality. These guys are rockin’. The Pierrots are tooting away on clarinets or Spanish tenoras. The New York Harlequin strums a guitar, while the New York monk sings. The Philadelphia Harlequin pauses from fiddling his violin, bow in his left hand, as his neighbor, the other monk, holds his cup in his right hand and the concertina on his lap with the left. In this MoMA room they are showing off their manly skills to impress six scantily-dress ladies preoccupied with drawing water from a spout.


Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881–1973
Three Women at the Spring, 1921
Red chalk on canvas
78 3/4 × 63 3/8" (200 × 161 cm)
Musée National Picasso-Paris. Dation Pablo Picasso
©2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

 

None of the Women seem to be listening to these hardworking Musicians. They are lost in conversation, too absorbed in their task and themselves to pay attention to anyone else, including us, their audience.  In comparison to Three Musicians, Picasso’s Three Women at a Spring imposes a somber note among the jazzy razzle-dazzle of their male companions. Quiet and contained within their earthy umber background, these colossal bodies, dressed in grayish-white chitons, seem more like 5th century BC Greek columns than lithe ancient Greek sculptures from the same era. They are zoftig and majestic, similar to figures in 17th century French Classicist Nicolas Poussin’s Et in Arcadia Ego, which Picasso must have studied in the Louvre. Picasso’s 20th century version of classical female figures whisper while their male counterparts, six Musicians in this gallery, bray. The women own their space with timeless, monumental stability: salt of the earth, instead of fearsome femme fatales. The musicians seem to represent an ephemeral reality, the fairytale land of theatrical performance.

 


Nicolas Poussin, Et in Arcadia Ego, second version, 1628, Musée du Louvre.
Source : Wikipedia. Public Domain


In short, we register an agon here between the flimsy “cubiçant” guys and the substantial “classical” gals reunited in this physical space but perpetually at odds with each other psychologically as they act out two different modes of human interaction. They're Picasso's Kens and Barbies - the Great Divide between the sexes. Nothing has changed since these huge canvases left Picasso’s Fontainebleau garage over a century ago. The four groups of only men or women still huddle on the sidelines during this Big Dance of life.


Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881–1973
Studies, 1920-1922
Oil on canvas
39 3/8 × 31 7/8" (100 × 81 cm)
Musée National Picasso–Paris. Dation Pablo Picasso
©2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

 

Also, these works offer some insight into Picasso’s incipient midlife crisis, caught between his old bohemian life with his Montmartre bodies and his new embourgeoisement with demanding wife Olga and irresistibly adorable Paolo. The late great art historian Theodore Reff interpreted the tres amigos as a wistful backward glance toward Picasso’s early days in Paris when Picasso’s Gang met every day in Montmartre or Montparnasse. This analysis sounds quite convincing since Picasso would turn 40 in October, a significant age for most, usually a time to reevaluate past accomplishments and worry about the ultimate retirement in the not-too-distant future. Death, by the way, is definitely present in Three Musicians. Here’s the scoop on that interpretation.


Installation view of Picasso in Fontainebleau, Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 8, 2023-February 17, 2024. Photo: Jonanthan Dorato


In both versions of  Three Musicians we see Harlequin (a ne’er do well ladies man), Pierrot (a sad-sack clown), and a monk. Theodore Reff believed each character alluded to Picasso and two members of his famous entourage: Picasso as his alter-ego Harlequin, the poet/novelist/critic Guillaume Apollinaire as Pierrot, and poet/critic/artist Max Jacob as the monk. In the MoMA version we see parts of a dog under Pierrot’s chair on the extreme left. This Anubis-like creature symbolizes death. Apollinaire died from “Spanish Flu” on November 9, 1918. That summer of 1921, Max Jacob retreated to a Benedictine monastery in St. Benoit-sur-Loire, hence the brown triangle (“hood”) atop a brown rectangle with depicted rope belt in the Philadelphia version and without a belt in the MoMA version. 


Installation view of Picasso in Fontainebleau, Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 8, 2023-February 17, 2024. Photo: Jonanthan Dorato.

Other things to notice: Pierrot wears his signature white clown outfit and Harlequin wears his signature diamond pattern jumpsuit. Significantly, the colors for this Harlequin’s pattern are red, black, and green, the colors of the Spanish flag, which reference Picasso’s nationality. Also in both works the figures wear masks and the clothes are reminiscence of the costumes and sets Picasso designed for the Ballets Russe production of Pulcinello in 1920. We imagine these figures are performing on stage as we stand in the front row.  We also notice that in the Philadelphia version Pierrot’s clarinet contains a human profile, perhaps a direct reference to Apollinaire.



Cover photo of Annie Cohen-Solal’s book
 

Annie Cohen-Solal’s book and exhibition A Foreigner Called Picasso  points out that Picasso’s identification with Harlequin references his sense of alienation. Harlequin is a stock character in Commedia dell’Arte, whose antics come from the position of an outsider, perhaps a drifter. He causes trouble with his mischievous schemes. He may be The Fool in the Tarot card deck. His character seduces Pierrot’s wife, Columbina, behind Pierrot’s back, which adds sexiness to Harlequin’s attributes, and melancholy to Pierrot’s. No doubt Picasso identified with this flattering aspect of Harlequin, the irrepressible tombeur (ladies’ man). 


Installation view of Picasso in Fontainebleau, Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 8, 2023-February 17, 2024. Photo: Jonanthan Dorato


Picasso’s late Cubist vocabulary continues the artist’s collage aided planar vocabulary developed during the so-called Synthetic Period of Cubism (1912-14) and connects these paintings to his studio in the Bateau Lavoir, where he created his harlequin paintings during his Rose Period (1905-1906) and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in 1907, the masterpiece that introduced his future Cubist planarity, passage, and geometricity.  From my perspective, Three Musicians, painted together in one studio, might represent his Parisian tertulia, who shared his jokes and pranks, which he performed in his Synthetic Cubist’ collages. These visual and linguistic puns were decoded for us in Elizabeth Cowling and Emily Braun’s illuminating exhibition Cubism and the Trompe l’Oeil Tradition, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, another contribution to the Picasso 1973-2023: Fiftieth Anniversary celebration.

 

Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881–1973
The Spring, 1921
Oil on canvas
25 3/16 × 35 7/16" (64 × 90 cm)
Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Gift of Grace and Philip Sandblom
©2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

  


Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, La Source (The Spring), 1850
Source: Wikipedia. Public Domain 


Three Women at the Spring, on the other hand, continues Picasso’s neoclassical “Ingres Period” with its emphasis on sculptural expression. This exploration of volumetric forms seems to chisel out the face, body, massive hands, columnar pleats, and blocks of stone arranged around the standing and sitting figures. We can see the same classical robustness in Picasso’s Studies (1920-1922) and other portraits of his ballerina wife Olga Khoklova, whom he married on July 12, 1918.  


Installation view of Picasso in Fontainebleau, Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 8, 2023-February 17, 2024. Photo: Jonanthan Dorato

 

Picasso’s pivot to a mannered classicism began in 1914 with his unfinished (?) painting, The Painter and the Model. The following year he delicately drew in pencil several Ingres-esque portraits of his friends and dealers, including Apollinaire and Max Jacob. He hadn’t abandoned Cubism, he simply added to his arsenal of visual expressions that seemed appropriate for his state of mind and spirit (son esprit).  In 1915, his eerily smiling Cubist Harlequin, also in MoMA’s collection and included in this exhibition, seems to mark his transition from a life with his beloved Eva Gouel (his muse during the Cubist years) and without. She died in December 1915. This period of her illness (cancer or tuberculosis) caused this normally resilient artist much anxiety (described his letter to Gertrude Stein at the time).

 

Installation view of Picasso in Fontainebleau, Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 8, 2023-February 17, 2024. Photo: Jonanthan Dorato


In a 1923 interview Picasso explained: “If an artist varies his mode of expression this only means that he has changed his manner of thinking, and in changing, it might be for the better or for the worse. The several manners I have used in my art must not be considered an evolution, or as steps toward an unknown ideal of painting.  All I have ever made was made for the present and with the hope that it always remains in the present.” (Picasso on Art, edited by Dore Ashton, Da Capo Press, 1972, p. 5)

 



Installation view of Picasso in Fontainebleau, Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 8, 2023-February 17, 2024. Photo: Jonanthan Dorato

Anne Umland observed: “these four imposing works lie at the heart of Picasso in Fontainebleau, which delves into a strikingly contradiction-filled moment when Picasso seemed intent on demonstrating how in his art, and in his conception of the tradition of painting more broadly, classicism and cubism, the academy and the avant-garde, the historical past and the contemporary present, were dialectically related and inexorably linked.”


Olga Khokhlova in Picasso’s studio, Montrouge, Spring 1918.
Photographer: Pablo Picasso (?) or Emil Delatang(?)


This phrase “dialectically related and inexorably linked” holds the key to our appreciation of this extraordinary artistic endeavor.  Rarely, if ever, do we see an artist work simultaneously in two distinctly different and contradictory styles, one flat and the other in illusory three-dimensions. Picasso clearly mastered each style at this point in his career but had also reached a crossroads that needed processing before achieving some resolution. When Marie-Thérèse Walter entered his life in January 1927, Picasso seemed to have found his synthesis, allegedly motivated by this blonde, athletic teenager. That may or may not be true, but we can’t help notice Picasso changed his style and dog (according to Dora Maar) every time he changed his mistress. The next Picasso period blends his Cubist criteria with his curvaceous figurative classicism to form his signature “Surrealist” style, perhaps his most iconic visual expression when we think of the word “Picasso” as a noun, an adjective, and a brand.

The conundrum of Picasso’s four Fontainebleau masterpieces created side-by-side in his modest garage-studio may have met its match in MoMA’s ambitious exhibition.  Or, it may remain elusive, as much of Picasso’s work continues to be. Although fifty years have passed since Picasso’s death on April 8, 1973 and 122 years have passed since Picasso’s first exhibition at Ambroise Vollard’s gallery on the rue Lafitte in June 1901, the protean complexity of Picasso never ceases to challenge and amaze. He was, and remains, one of greatest artists who graced this planet. And we have not heard the last word on his Fontainebleau period, nor any other period, guaranteed.

***

For more information about MoMA’s Three Women at a Spring, please watch this video, and their Three Musicians, please watch this video.  Both videos recount the histories of paintings as physical objects. Fascinating!

The catalogue for Picasso in Fontainebleau, featuring 15 essays, 239 color illustrations is available through MoMA and other booksellers online.



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Saturday, February 10, 2024

Last Call - Picasso at Gagosian, closing today!


Photograph by Beth S. Gersh-Nesic
Pablo Picasso, Harlequin, 1901, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Pablo Picasso, Yo - Self-Portrait, 1901, Museum of Modern Art
Pablo Picasso, Head of a Fool, 1905, Private Collection

 
A Foreigner Called Picasso
Gagosian Gallery
522 West 21st Street

Curated by Annie Cohen-Solal and Vérane Tasseau

Closing February 10th

For more information, please visit the website:

Available online