Ivan Karp: An Eye for Talent

by Kim Steele

Ivan Karp Polaroids, photographs by Andy Warhol

 

Wearing sunglasses indoors is a pretense. Except if you are Ivan Karp. He paired this affectation, which he pulled off with aplomb, with an unlit cigar clenched in his teeth all day long. Ivan Karp lorded over one of the most prestigious and long lasting galleries in New York, situated in SoHo before it became chic, in the early 1970’s where only Paula Cooper had a gallery as well. There was a sign on the front of the all black cast iron façade below the name: OK Harris, that stated, “Founded in 1492.”  Karp chose the fictitious OK Harris name as it “sounded like the name of an American riverboat gambler.” His irony informed his choice of artists as well.

 

NEW YORK CITY – FEBRUARY 1970: Art dealer and Director of OK Harris Gallery Ivan Karp poses with OK Harris artists in front of OK Harris Gallery in Soho, New York City, New York (starting second from left is artist Duane Hanson, Mrs. Marilyn Karp, and gallerist Ivan Karp), photograph by David Gahr/Getty Images

 

At his new gallery, Karp was the first to show then unexhibited Duane Hanson and Robert Betchtle, and the supreme photo realist, Mark Goings (said to influence the wave of extreme realism photographers Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky, but this is a stretch for this writer) who influenced me significantly, and with whom I showed in one of my two shows at OK Harris.

 

Leo Castelli, Ivan Karp, Andy Wahol in 1966, photograph by Sam Falk, The New York Times

 

 

Karp had been the gallery director at the most powerful gallery in the U.S. for ten years, Leo Castelli Gallery, really the granddad of post-Modern art movement.  It is widely acknowledged that he introduced Leo, as was noted in the seminal profile of Leo in The New Yorker, in 1980, to the most influential artists in the U.S. of the last century: Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, and Roy Lichtenstein. Several of these artists lived in the same walk-up tenement, near Wall Street, across from the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

Ivan Karp with work by Andy Warhol

 

Ivan was revered by both collectors and artists. He exuded a confidence and clarity that was renowned. West Broadway began to populate with galleries in the 1970’s, with the renowned 420 Building, which housed both Castelli and his wife Illeana Sonnobend (whom he had divorced by this time), and an another powerful figure in the art world, Charles Cowles. Peter Schjeldahl wrote in The New Yorker in 2010, “The Times did run a piece that year, which probed Castelli’s handling of his thoroughbred stable: Johns, Rauschenberg, Twombly, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rosenquist, Oldenburg, Kelly, Stella, Judd, Flavin, Morris, Nauman, Serra, Ruscha, et al. It reported that he gave special consideration to favored collectors and might refuse to sell anything significant to others, and that he cultivated a network of cooperating galleries in other cities, which showed works by his artists and split the commissions on sales with him. No scandal there.” Castelli was “da mahn!” The important critic Clement Greenberg had paved the way, introducing Castelli to the earlier generation of artists, including Klee, Mondrian, Gorky, Pollack and Kandinsky.

 

Ivan Karp with Andy Warhol

 

Ivan Karp to Leo Castelli: “We should discover a genius! It’s been two weeks since we last discovered a genius!” Castelli, who held on to his artists, paid them regular stipends, on a scale unheard of in America, whether their work sold or not. This harkens back to the Renaissance times of sponsoring an house artist. I was offered an exhibition at Castelli by his print curator, Marvin Hiefferman. I turned down the offer because there was not promise of an exhibition, a grave mistake on my part. Both Castelli & Karp had an undeniable artistic eye. Karp was an appreciator of art on many levels. Later in his career, he opened a cigar store next door to the galley on West Broadway, and collected antiques for his store in New Mexico, where he had a summer home.

 

Ivan Karp in cigar shop, New York City

 

 

 

Karp (who had converted his gallery storage room into smoking room/cigar shop called OK Cigars) also had a unique business rescuing architectural artifacts from demolition buildings around New York. He quietly began a museum in a small town in upstate New York, Charlotteville, west of Albany, named the Anonymous Arts Museum (formerly the Anonymous Arts Recovery Society). He called himself a “rubble rouser.” Ivan drove around in his beat up Jeep, starting in the 1950’s, and cajoled site managers with a tip to rescues architectural artifacts from being demolished. Mayor Lindsay gave him a letter of ‘permission’ to show if he were stopped by police that allowed him to save the ornamentation before being smashed willy-nilly. A cease and desist type of notice. Mrs. Marilyn Karp stated that then, “they were not saving anything of the Pre-World War I buildings.” The museum is open three hours each week, from noon to 3PM on Sundays.

 

 

Arriving as a naïve artist, though having had several shows in my hometown of Seattle, and the last one at the most prestigious, FOSTER/WHITE GALLERY, I was seeking exposure in New York. I had two acquaintances at OK Harris Gallery in SoHo, one from high school, Carol Ann who worked there. As they say, it’s not what you know but who…I ventured into the gallery with an appointment to see Ivan Karp. There he was in his full regalia-cigar and sunglasses. I was intimidated. I brought in the biggies-forty inch square silver prints of my industrial landscapes from the West Coast which I printed on the floor of my studio in Seattle, in large trays I made myself. He was taken with them as I laid them out on the floor of the cavernous multi-roomed gallery. After some discussion, he offered me a show. I was so moved by this opportunity, I screamed outside the gallery on the street. This was a validation of my statues as an artist. I was overwhelmed with joy – it was so difficult and even much more so now, to get a show at a major gallery in New York…Ivan Karp gave me two shows.

This was a springboard for me to enter major collections in the U.S. First was the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  I had the honor to meet with the renowned John Szarkowski, the Director of the Department of Photography. He chose to purchase, a very different status than a ‘gift’ from the artist, a large industrial print from my American Industrial series. I was in seventh heaven, and upon receiving the check copied and framed it! Szarkowski exhibited it in 1985 in an exhibition titled “Big Pictures.” I had arrived.

 

Ivan Karp (behind Andy Warhol) universe: Gerard Malanga, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Leo Castelli

 

 

Larry Sultan: Close to Home

by Kim Steele

Den, Santa Clarita / 2002, photograph by Larry Sultan

A thoroughly California product, Larry Sultan mined the Golden State’s sensibility for most of his career. After a degree in Political Science, he pursued a graduate degree at the San Francisco Art Institute.  He was immediately drawn to the conceptual dimension of picture taking and joined forces with a fellow conceptualist, Mike Mandel.  They collaborated for many years.

Untitled Evidence / 1977, photograph by Larry Sultan

Sultan’s first body of work was titled Evidence.  These were photos from corporate and government archives, which functioned as a representation of what appeared important to these institutions, but were banal in nature.  He took the concept further by combining the images with curious text on billboards in the Los Angeles area.  These were intended to prompt the viewer/driver in this case, to stop and ponder the juxtaposition of image and message. The New York Times characterized these images as a “watershed in the history of photography.”

Oranges on Fire / 1975, photograph by Larry Sultan

Sultan wove in and out of the prevailing sensibilities of picture making for forty years.  He influenced many photographers as a teacher at both the San Francisco Art Institute, and the California College of the Arts where he became the Department Chair.  He taught for most of his career, while exhibiting and creating books. His work sticks close to home, both physically and conceptually. He was raised in the San Fernando Valley, near LA.  One of his most influential series was on assignment for Maxim Magazine, to shoot the middle class homes that were employed as sets for the porn industry.  These are powerful images.  They create multiple layers of meaning and references while holding the titillating sexual element at bay.  They are nuanced with Americana and middle class icons, with only tangential elements of the porn industry.  Certainly no direct sexual activity, just the banal matter of waiting and ‘passing the time’ in these ordinary environments are the subject here.

The Valley series. Haskell Avenue / 1998, photograph by Larry Sultan

After this assignment, which took Sultan within a stones throw of his high school, he began a book on this subject titled The Valley. In San Francisco at Casemore Kirkeby, through June 10, 2017, and exhibited for the first time ever, is a series Sultan made on a subsequent 2003 assignment for Wallpaper magazine to photograph a line of modern furniture.  There is a tongue in cheek mood in these vivid colored prints. Sultan placed the modern furniture in mise-en-scène (gallery’s release term), but added a touch of the context elements used in pornography, e.g. handcuffs, heels, etc. The images are rich with entendre.  The rough and ready side of the industry is not so apparent here as in his Valley series.  Before this series he photographed his parents in their home.  This effort resulted in one of Sultan’s most memorable images of his parents, titled Pictures from Home. These are truly touching and emotional laden images. They are a bit reminiscent of Avedon’s images of his dying father.

My Mother Posing for Me/ 1984, photograph by Larry Sultan

The eighties introduced a new genre in photography, the constructed image.  Beforehand there was an effort to explore the outside world with a notion of veracity. Cindy Sherman was the leader of the movement. Not staged, but ‘constructed.’  This approach to image-making relies on the mythologies of subjects, whether it be Hollywood or pornography. Sultan is well versed in visual mythology and it is evident in his various images. Another series, Homeland (2006–2009), further explored the intersection between a longing for home and fulfillment against the promise of suburban life by staging day laborers in domestic dramas.  They have always appeared over-arched to this reviewer and do not ring true. These images do not connect directly with the struggles of the immigrant labors but more the rift between them and their employers. Possibly workers standing on the streets outside U-Haul would ring a more honest note?

Canal District San Raphael, CA., photograph by Larry Sultan

At San Francisco MOMA now is a contemporaneous exhibition, titled Larry Sultan: Here and Home, through July 23rd.  “As an artist, Larry Sultan was one of the great thinkers of photography in all of its facets,” said Clément Chéroux, senior curator of photography at SF MOMA. “He had the unique power and insight to transform certain forms of functional photography into art.”  Sultan’s four main bodies of work are represented here:  Evidence, Pictures from Home, The Valley and Homeland. His collaborator, Mike Mandel, will be showing at the Museum following this show, from May 20th through August 20, 2017.  Mandel introduced influences in Sultan from other constructs in photography, such as, Robert Cumming, a conceptualist whom I interviewed in the 1970’s, and admire, and the renowned Ed Ruscha; as well as the outsider, Robert Heineken.  A provocative body of work.

Sharon Wild, Vallery series, photograph by Larry Sultan

 

Ohachimeguri (literally, “going around the bowl”)

by Sally Steele

Kawazu’s flowers bloom a month earlier than those in the rest of Japan, this photo is from the week of February 27, 2017

2017…is a making me long for places I’ve been. A walk on our local path through the neighborhood park on a drizzly day, yet under a bursting cherry tree, made the dense clouds of 2017 disperse. Last weekend we saw the Japanese Photography show at SF MOMA. Last December, we were lucky enough to catch a pop-up show at PACE Art + Technology from the futuristic Japanese design collaborative teamLab called Living Digital Space and Future Parks. The large-scale installation was a multi-room environment spanning 20,000ft² and showcasing 20 digital works.

teamLab: Work from the Living Digital Space and Future Parks show at PACE Art + Technology

All of my imagined paths lead to Hokusai, in my eyes the master of serenity, and Katsushika Hokusai leads…to Mt. Fuji. Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (image below) (富嶽三十六景, Fugaku Sanjūrokkei) is a ukiyo-e series of large, color wood-block prints Hokusai created both as a response to a domestic travel boom and as part of a personal obsession with Mount Fuji.

Dragon approaching Mt Fuji; Katsushika Hokusai

Birds and Beasts, ca. 1837, Katsushika Hokusai

 

 

 

 

Katsushikahokusai.org: Hokusai had a long career, but he produced most of his important work after age 60. His most popular work is the ukiyo-e series, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, which was created between 1826 and 1833. It actually consists of 46 prints (10 of them added after publication). In addition, he is responsible for the 1834 One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji (富嶽百景 Fugaku Hyakkei), a work which, “is generally considered the masterpiece among his landscape picture books.” His ukiyo-e transformed the art form from a style of portraiture focused on the courtesans and actors popular during the Edo Period in Japan’s cities, into a much broader style of art that focused on landscapes, plants, and animals.

 

 

In the postscript to this work, Hokusai writes: “From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie.”

Monet at Giverny in his dining room decorated with his collection of
Japanese woodblock prints

 

 

Sometimes called the “Father of Modernsim,” Hokusai’s brilliant influence spoke loudly, Monet owned 23 Hokusai prints.

The structure and the colors of this print inspired Monet for a canvas of the Grainstack series; Katsushika Hokusai, Mount Fuji

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beautiful, symmetrical shape of the stratovolcano Mount Fuji …

Mount Fuji, Japanese Fuji-san, also spelled Fujisan, also called Fujiyama or Fuji no Yama, is the highest mountain in Japan. It rises to 12,388 feet (3,776 metres) near the Pacific Ocean coast in Yamanashi and Shizuoka ken (prefectures) of central Honshu, about 60 miles (100 km) west of the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area. It is a volcano that has been dormant since its last eruption, in 1707, but is still generally classified as active by geologists. The mountain is the major feature of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park (1936), and it is at the centre of a UNESCO World Heritage site designated in 2013.

The origin of the mountain’s name is uncertain. It first appears as Fuji no Yama in Hitachi no kuni fudoki (713 A.D.), an early government record. Among multiple theories about the source of the name is that it is derived from an Ainu term meaning “fire,” coupled with san, the Japanese word for “mountain.” The Chinese ideograms (kanji) now used to write Fuji connote more of a sense of good fortune or well being.

One famous fujitale is the 10th-century novel Taketori Monogatari. It tells the story of a mysterious baby found in the forest by a bamboo cutter. Having no children of their own, the bamboo cutter and his wife take in the strange baby girl and name her “Princess Kaguya.” The girl grows up in just three months, and her beauty attracts many suitors, including the emperor. However, Kaguya does not choose any of them and eventually flies off to her home, the Moon. Although she forsakes Earth, she does leave the emperor a few parting gifts, including the elixir of life. But the emperor is heartbroken at losing Kaguya and doesn’t wish to live forever without her. He orders that all the gifts, including the elixir, be burned on the mountain closest to the Moon. According to the story, that mountain is then named Mount Fuji, or the “Mountain of Immortality,” because it is the home of the elixir of life.

Some research dates the volcano being formed in 286 B.C., by an earthquake. The truth is somewhat more complex. The age of Fuji is disputed, believed to have formed during the past 2.6 million years on a base dating from up to 65 million years ago; the first eruptions and the first peaks probably occurred some 600,000 years ago. The present-day mountain is a composite of three successive volcanoes: at the bottom is Komitake, which was surmounted by Ko Fuji (“Old Fuji”) and, finally, by the most recent, Shin Fuji (“New Fuji”). Over the millennia, the lava and other ejecta from Ko Fuji covered most of Komitake, although the top of the latter’s cone continued to protrude from the slope of Ko Fuji. Shin Fuji probably first became active about 10,000 years ago and has continued ever since to smolder, or erupt occasionally. In the process it has filled in the slopes of its two predecessors and added the summit zone, producing the mountain’s now nearly perfect tapered form.

You can view Mt. Fuji in all it’s changing forms, fujicam style, live, here:

Mt. Fuji Live Camera view

Legend has it that the first person to climb Mount Fuji was an anonymous monk in 663 A.D. Up until the Meiji era in the late 19th century, only men were allowed to climb to the summit. Others say the first westerner to climb Mount Fuji was Sir Rutherford Alcock, in September 1860; and seven years later, the first western woman, Fanny Parkes, ascended to the peak. Each year, more than 100,000 people attempt to climb to the top of Mount Fuji, making it the most popular mountain in the world for climbing. No small wonders…from cherry blossoms in San Francisco and in Kawazu…to the equanimity of Hokusai…around the bowl of Mt. Fuji…spring harbingers to all Boulevardiers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Tale of Two Museums: Mexico City

by Richard Neill

Soumaya Museum, Mexico City, photograph by Richard Neill

On a recent end of year art pilgrimage to Mexico City, we set our sights on a visit to the Museo Soumaya in the city’s Nuevo Polanco neighborhood. The museum, which opened in 2011, houses the private collection of one of the world’s richest men, billionaire Carlos Slim, who built his fortune in telecommunications and now controls Mexico’s largest conglomerate. Slim has described the collection as a gift to his country and a tribute to his deceased wife, Soumaya Domit; some critics have dismissed it as a monument to the billionaire. It’s an eclectic collection to be sure, but also a diverse and immense one, holding some 66,000 works from 30 centuries. Most noteworthy are the collections of sculptures from Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica, modern Mexican art, and European old masters and modern masters such as Rodin and Salvador Dali.

Diego Rivera mural, photograph by Richard Neill

The design of the new building to house the collection was a family affair too: it’s architect, Fernando Romero is Slim’s son-in-law. Some critics complain of it’s attention getting design; it’s certainly nothing if not ambitious. Many first time visitors to the Soumaya are duly impressed. After all, the museum is one big shiny object. Reflections off it’s silver skin (made of 14,000 hexagonal mirrored steel tiles) flashed through the window of our Uber as we rolled along the broad avenue to the entrance. Up close the building, a rotated rhomboid design resembling an hourglass, towered high above me. As I climbed dozens of broad terraced steps to arrive at the plaza entrance, the building suddenly took on a more human scale. Hundreds of people came and went inside a soaring atrium lobby, featuring numerous murals, including the final one by Mexican modernist Diego Rivera, as well as a bronze cast of Rodin’s The Thinker. Together they offered visitors a taste of the smorgasbord of art filling the six gallery floors above.

Soumaya Lobby, photograph by Richard Neill

 

 

 

Making my way up the grand marble staircase off the lobby felt like the beginning of a long journey, and it was, not only through space (impressive galleries) but also time (centuries of art-making). One entire gallery is devoted to Impressionism, highlighting works by Monet and Renoir; another displays  religious art and is filled with endless artworks and historical relics depicting saints and virgins. The collections unfold from floor to floor, all superbly displayed and organized, but becoming a bit predictable. There were also a few nice surprises along the way though, such as a temporary exhibit about the city of  Venice, as portrayed by artists over the centuries. It was an interesting palate cleanser of a show: a deep dive into one of the most artistic cities in the old world here in the largest metropolis in the new world.

Hours later I emerged on the top floor, where Slim’s collection of Rodin and Dali is on display in an immense rotunda softly lit by skylights from above.

To wander among so many works by Rodin (the largest collection in the world) and his contemporaries in such a setting was the highlight of my art experience at the Soumaya, but as I made my way back down to the ground floor, I realized that the building is really the star of the show. It’s a spectacular architectural statement by any measure, a point made clear to me as I crossed the plaza, craning my head upwards trying to take it all in from different vantage points.

Museo Jumex, photograph by Richard Neill

It turned out the best view was just a short walk away, from the neighboring Museo Jumex (built in 2013), which houses the collection of another wealthy Mexican collector, Eugenio López Alonso, heir to the the Grupo Jumex fruit juice fortune. It’s a perfect counterpoint to the encyclopedic nature of the Soumaya: an institution clearly focused on bringing contemporary art from around the world to Mexican audiences. With more than 2700 artworks, the Jumex has the largest contemporary art collection in Latin American, featuring international artists like Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Dan Flavin, Louise Bourgeois, Cy Twombly, and Gabriel Orozco.

The architecture of the Jumex is strikingly different from the nearby Soumaya as well. The David Chipperfield-designed building appears highly symmetrical, with a jagged skylight roof. But below it features a rich textured exterior and gallery spaces designed to house exhibitions by major contemporary artists.

Sculpture by Canadian artist collective General Idea, photograph by Richard Neill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the day I visited, large, multi-colored, pill-shaped balloon sculptures floated above the massive entrance to the Jumex–the work of Canadian artist collective General Idea. Their super-sized pills blowing in the light breeze gave just a hint at the irreverent, multi-media quality of their retrospective which filled one entire floor of the museum.

Retrospective exhibit by General Idea, photo by Richard Neill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even more striking was the large exhibition by Walid Raad, the Lebanese born, New York-based media artist, with installations and artwork focus on historical conflicts and the civil wars in Lebanon.

Work by Wallid Raad, photograph by Richard Neill

Although I’d seen this impressive show last year at New York’s MOMA, the installation at the Jumex was even better: the high ceiling galleries gave his architecture-scale work the context they need.

Gallery at Jumex, photograph by Richard Neill

Other details set the building apart: the modest bookstore with it’s inlaid marble floors; even the ground floor cafe has a striking up to the moment design of wood and glass. A final bonus of my visit to the Jumex appeared as I stepped outside onto one of the exterior balconies. There, directly across the plaza was a perfectly framed view of the Soumaya at just the right distance, revealing it’s contorted monolithic architecture in all of it’s shining glory. Point-counterpoint.

 

 

 

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Philip Guston: Laughter in the Dark, New York

January 9, 2017

In this current milieu of political upheaval and rancor, these acerbic drawings of Guston’s strike a poignant cord with the American public.  These drawings were executed in Guston’s studio in Woodstock, New York, collaborating with the writer and friend, Philip Roth who had just completed a similar critical series of essays, titled ‘Our Gang.’ As […]

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ART BASEL Miami Beach 2016

December 10, 2016

As a neophyte, going to the largest art fair in the world now, was an eye opening experience.   It requires preparation, stamina and fortitude. I had the advantage of traveling with seasoned veterans who had visited there six times and who run a company, art-collecting.com. There are numerous venues scattered around the Miami area, ranging […]

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Danny Lyon: A Cult Figure

November 15, 2016

There is an aspect of my encounters with young photographers that seek rebellion and adventure – it comes with the territory. Danny Lyon personifies this dynamic. I had the honor of participating in a workshop he taught in the seventies and was very moved by his conviction to the medium, and his irreverence as well. […]

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Five Years of The Boulevardiers and the beautiful things along the way…

October 2, 2016

The goal of The Boulevardiers is to bring art to life in the context of culture and design.  Sometimes it has been humorous, sometimes very sober.  But the guiding force has been our view of beauty and how it sustains life.  There have been many assaults on art over the years, from many fronts.  Recent […]

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Greek Game of Thrones — Acrocorinth Castle

September 16, 2016

Who could resist the temptation whilst in ancient Greece to visit a mysterious site, the Temple of Aphrodite, at Acrocorinth, marked only with a lone column, where legend reveals that more than 1000 sacred prostitutes associated with the temple. Acrocorinth is the acropolis (the upper or higher town) of ancient Corinth. When The Boulevardiers arrived […]

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Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Landscape Designer Brillante

August 14, 2016

Photograph © Leonardo Finotti.

There was much trepidation as the 2016 Olympics approached; everything from security, Zika, to running water and accommodations. Several stories appeared in The New York Times about assaults, and robbery. As the date approached, the Torch Bearer was stoned and ridiculed because of all the offenses to the citizens of Brazil — the displacement of […]

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Advil on a silver platter…

July 31, 2016

One of the joys of life these days, and I know I am ultra-privileged, is that my life offers me the opportunity for international travel, with my learned and adventurous spouse, and, oh!, the places we go! I’m in London and Paris each year, and I’m determined to go to a Fashion Week show. The […]

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Josef Sudek – a passionate man: Jeu de Paume

July 10, 2016

Rarely does a photographer look so inward to create his or her images. In the many years I have viewed photography, I have not been so emotionally moved by the sentiments of a series of images depicting the inner sanctum of a visual artist. The range is extreme here in this retrospective: well hung and […]

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The World is my Oyster ~ artist Ahmed Alrashid

June 26, 2016

  The ‘Global Village’ is a clique. But in the world of design, be it architecture, graphic or product design – it is a global market. Jordan tennis shoes come to mind. Working from the Middle East, based in Kuwait and traveling to Dubai, Ahmed Alrashid, has struck a note that resonates throughout the world, […]

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Gem in the Desert, Museum of Islamic Art ~ Doha, Qatar

April 30, 2016

Approaching the cubistic building along a path of luscious palm trees, I knew there was something special inside this Museum. In my travels across the Mid-East, there was an alarming dearth of cultural artifacts. The National Museum in Kuwait City was appalling, and impossible to find, as well. The excuses for cultural artifacts were dark […]

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Saved by Ivana…

March 12, 2016

  From our Boulevardier & Publisher, Kim Steele: I shot a portrait once a week for Time magazine, Business section, in the 1980’s, and hit all the major players, including The Don. Trump was the most difficult, made me wait for hours, hurried me, until Ivana came in and said, “The reason you don’t like […]

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Biggest Scam in the Art World in a Century: Greed shows it’s teeth

March 4, 2016

  Forgery is not an offense under the law of Scotland, but here in the U.S. it has caused quite a stir. The distinguished Knoedler Gallery in Manhattan has shuttered it doors after one hundred and fifty years. Knoedler dates its origin to 1846, when French dealers Goupil & Cie opened a branch in New York, as […]

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Coralie Bickford-Smith — A Love Story

February 12, 2016

        The Boulevardiers have a new friend, Coralie Bickford-Smith ~ the book designer.  When you read about Coralie and her magnificent work, if you don’t know Coralie yet, you will be envious of our friendship. Don’t despair, it’s ok to fall in love, read on…!     In Coralie’s words from her […]

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DAVID IRELAND – San Francisco’s Most Famous Art Home

January 17, 2016

  The first time I had the honor to walk into the home at 500 Capp Street of the renowned artist in 2001, about whom I knew very little, I realized it was a special place. I was introduced by the Director of Crown Point Press, Valerie Wade, a friend of Ireland. Ireland was elderly […]

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Albertopoulis…the V&A…and an “extremely capacious handbag”

December 25, 2015

  Happy & Beautiful Holidays to all our Boulevardiers & Readers…thank you for another inspiring year!   The Boulevardiers recently did London, from top to bottom, Shakespeare to the Houses of Parliament, to Bond Street & Saville Row, to museums, many, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, which is really one of the wonders of […]

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MICHAEL HEIZER: The man who moves mountains

October 27, 2015

  THE MOST PROMINENT EARTH SCULPTOR IN THE WORLD, Michael Heizer has experienced a resurgence in his work, as evidenced by his recent exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in New York this summer, which The Boulevardiers had the pleasure of viewing. As a neophyte in art reviewing, just awarded my NEA grant as an ‘emerging critic,’ […]

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When in Milan … Expo 2015

September 19, 2015

The Boulevardiers have been to EXPO 2015. We were impressed, surprised, entertained, humbled, underwhelmed, treated to a world-class press tour of the Switzerland pavillion, in awe of the Korea pavilion, left with big thoughts, and big questions. Sustainability, the ifs ands and buts are resoundingly evident at EXPO 2015, more here. Does this drive all […]

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Flaming June, and other Pre-Raphaelites

July 19, 2015

“PAINT the leaves as they grow! If you can paint one leaf, you can paint the world.” John Ruskin The Guardian, Friday, May 1, 2015: A remarkable study for Flaming June, one of the best known of all Pre-Raphaelite paintings, has been discovered hanging discreetly behind a bedroom door in an English country mansion. I […]

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John Heartfield…Abandoned in a field by his parents as a child…

May 29, 2015

  “I lost my parents in 1899 and thereafter lived as an orphan with different families.”   John Heartfield managed to rise to a distinguished career as a graphic designer after a very challenging childhood, founding a publishing house, Malik-Verlag in 1917, with the renowned artist George Grosz, one of this publisher’s favorite artists.  Both […]

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Emancipation & Esteem

May 27, 2015

65th Annual SF Juneteenth Celebration Commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation “The Journey Continues” Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in June 1865, and more […]

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Save the date: May 9th, 2015 ~ Fondazione Prada

May 8, 2015

On May 9th Fondazione Prada, Largo Isarco 3, Milano, will be open to the public from 10 am to 9pm.     Once a former distillery, in the industrial south section of Milan–8,900 square meters, it is now the home of the biggest, and arguably, this city’s most exciting contemporary art space. The new location […]

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In the Studio: Photographs

April 11, 2015

  An ambitious exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue, curated by Peter Galassi, rustles up many issues. As Roberta Smith quoted in the New York Times: “…trophy-curators. Clout is definitely on display here, contributing to that heady combination of overt excellence and subtle vulgarity that may be something of a Gagosian specialty.” The […]

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“I would rather sleep in a bathroom than in another hotel.” Billy Wilder

March 8, 2015

    Just In Case The Raphael is Booked                                                      …by Jerry Bowles                                                                         There is nothing quite as deliciously self-indulgent or decadent as a great hotel. Hemingway wasn’t whistling Dixie when he said “Whenever I dream of afterlife in Heaven, the action always takes place at the Paris Ritz.” Papa loved the […]

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William Randolph Hearst ~ Boulevardier of the Year

January 18, 2015

~~~~~~     WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, your readers might like it. ~WRH   One of the most telling descriptions, for better or worse, is the fact that his Senator father, George Hearst, willed his entire fortune upon his death in 1895 to his wife, Phoebe, stating that his […]

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How to be Successful in the Arts 101… Shear Madness

December 31, 2014

    “I’ll never forget my first words in the theatre. Peanuts. Popcorn.” Henny Youngman     What happens when 2 actors from upstate New York decide to pursue their dreams, buy the rights to a murder-mystery written in German, by Swiss playwright Paul Portner for $50,000, turn it into a comedy, and spend another […]

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Boulevardiering — the verb

December 12, 2014

  The Boulevardiers are proud of and bemused by the mileage and velocity we are encouraging via our use of the term Boulevardiering (our Twitter name). We are Boulevardiers, indeed Chesterfieldian, flâneurs, fops, walking-stick nuts, so are most of our friends, and garnering that curiosity and energy is the reason we started this publication over […]

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Arnold Newman – Master Class in Portraiture

November 25, 2014

Photography of Photographers   Portraiture is about revelations.  Either for the subject or the artist.  So often in painting, El Greco, or Singer Sargent – exemplified by his most famous portrait, Madam X, the subject is somewhat incidental, especially out of the cultural context of the era.  But in photography, the subject is paramount.  Some […]

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The Era of AREA ~ New York’s most revered club

October 31, 2014

In 1983 a nightclub opened in Manhattan unlike any before it. Minimally named “AREA,” the club would set a new precedent not only in the nightlife world, but also in the art world. More precisely, during its relatively short reign from 1983-1987, AREA represented a heady commingling of these two worlds. While its chronological precedent […]

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“Nothing should be noticed.”

October 12, 2014

“I don’t know what I’ve done that has made people so interested in me, more than anyone else.” Imagine being Bunny Mellon. From Listerine heiress, to Paul Mellon’s wife, to designer of the White House Rose Garden, to age 103 and upon her death 1000+ items from her collection donated to the National Gallery of […]

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Elwood Smith – Today’s Dagwood

September 28, 2014

    Elwood H. Smith is an illustrator who speaks a language that appeals to various strata of readers.  I can remember my father laughing out loud at the comics. I have read The New York Times for thirty-five years, and they deign to include the ‘comics’ for it’s low brow aesthetic.  That is fine […]

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Italy: Non abbastanza monete nella fontana…

September 11, 2014

  Non abbastanza monete nella fontana…not enough coins in the fountain! Italy has the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, currently 75. In a country which bleeds culture, history is an irreplaceable natural resource. We have seen first-hand that Italy is crumbling. To the rescue come some legendary names in fashion […]

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Portrait of a Photographer as a Young Man

August 26, 2014

  ANSEL ADAMS FORMATIVE YEARS     Born at the turn of the century, Adams grew up in the hinterlands of dunes and beaches of the City of San Francisco.  Descending from Maine stock, originally from Northern Ireland, the Adams Family created a niche in the physical and social scene of San Francisco.  Ansel could […]

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Comic CONsciousness

August 10, 2014

“The great thing about the comics industry is that it’s driven by passion …it isn’t driven by money.” Royden Lepp, graphic novelist, The New York Times, 7/28/14 The New York Times: Armed Animals Don’t Invent Themselves ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Character Creators Fight for Cash and Credit “Like millions of moviegoers over the weekend, Bill […]

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Good Days and Bad Hair Days

July 29, 2014

  I never knew that April 30th is National Hairstyle Appreciation Day … but that’s another day and a different story. I’ve been thinking about hair, and styles, and reminiscing. The options are numerous, and hysterical, and just plain ridiculous. Some are so bad, they’ve morphed to good, great or even legendary (in their own […]

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