17 Sunday Jan 2016
17 Sunday Jan 2016
by Kim Steele
We have celebrated The Boulevardiers raison de’tre for five years now. Founded on the French pre-occupation of strolling and window gazing in Paris, and London, and Rome. This Publisher was struck by a newly found term, found above, which is crudely translated as “window licking.” Now knowing the decorum of the French, I am convinced that they would not apply this term to their promenading in the trendy section, the Marais, of Paris, which is now the center of all that is cool, hip and expensive. The original center of the City, built in the 13th century by the Knights Templar, much has remained, avoiding destruction by City decree in 1964. The Boulevardiers strolled through this section last summer on the way to L’Orangrie and gazed covetously at the many shops, bakeries and patisseries... and could very well appreciate this phrase.
Guest Musing from The Boulevardiers "Muse" Sally Steele:
Never let it be said that the Boulevardiers don't celebrate all who wander in search of inspiration, or in daily observation. A recently published book, The Flâneuse, is a lively tome focusing on the French flâneuse, the feminine of flâneur: defined as a woman who is or who behaves like a flaneur; who is defined as an idle man-about-town.
Author Lauren Elkin: "The portraits I paint here attest that the flâneuse is not merely a female flâneur, but a figure to be reckoned with, and inspired by, all on her own…She is a determined, resourceful individual keenly attuned to the creative potential of the city, and the liberating possibilities of a good walk."
For some time, I have been lamenting whilst walking my town, enviously observing the abundance of hipster bistros and coffee bars populated all day and into the evening by those lucky enough to grab the time to simply sit and watch the world go by. But how oh so boring that would be!
Recently perusing the tales of Diego, the sire of Galapagos tortoises, I smiled having "met" Diego in the Galapagos several years ago. And when reading about the rich arts scene in Milan, funded mostly via the largesse of the fashion houses, my head was full of images of days spent wandering there, not so long ago. As I poured over my travel photos I saw Los Angeles, Lima, and Santiago; New York, Maui and Athens; Venice, Istanbul, and Marseilles; and so many more. I walked for miles in for London, from my favorite museum, The V&A, to Harrod's, to the trendy parts of town with all the big name galleries. Ditto for New York. And Rome, major renovations to ancient and Renaissance sites currently underway, again due to the largesse of the world's fashion leaders. And oh, Paris, strolling in the Tuileries in the drizzle after a glorious morning spent at l'Orangerie. Then there were some standout strolls on La Croisette amidst the excitement of the awards season. I live a fanciful life!
I'm lucky enough to be partner to the ultimate flâneur, who has so graciously guided me into becoming a full-fledged flâneuse.
Here's to women everywhere, and to living a life that takes the good walk, and turns it into the truly great walk.
More reflective of how important this closing was than the claim that, ‘the owners let it go,’ were the results of the auction this week of items from the restaurant. The items went off the hook pricewise. The sign alone, estimated at $5-7,000 sold for $96,000! The ashtrays went for $10,000! (A fifteen-hour marathon auction!) This enthusiasm for artifacts, not only harkens back to the MAD MEN ERA, but also revered to very recently, indicates the longing for a place where the elite and the common folk, albeit New Yorker’s of means, can mingle and gawk at one another in a gorgeous setting. I had my last martini there, last fall.
This Publisher had the fortunate experience to eat there a few times, both with Time Inc. Editors, and with my parents. My Dad exclaimed…"$6.00 for carrots!" once in the POOL ROOM. I did not give it a second thought. I always coveted the chain ball curtains that lined the Grill Room windows to the outside. I intended for years to install them in my home, and even tried to source them at one point unsuccessfully. But the spirit of the restaurant was unique. There was the mention in the Metropolitan Section of the New York Times, of a conversation overheard by the Maître D' on the phone when asked to forward a message to a patron at the bar who was Indian. He inquired, Dot or Feather?
Everything about the place bespoke of power and success. The NY times recently published the seating chart of the patrons. A veritable who’s who of the publishing and financial world of the US. It did shift occasionally over the years since its opening in 1959, from various power brokers and intuitions. A number of the items were reserved for the Metropolitan Museum’s collection. This included the mid-night blue sofas designed by Philip Johnson. Martha Stewart was in attendance. She blurted out that she wished the nickel wine coasters, designed by the infamous architectural critic, Louie Huxtable, to be used at her ‘next’ wedding. A notable Saarinen Tulip table went for $36,000!
There has always been this murky history to the restaurant’s design. The renowned Mies van der Rohe designed the Seagram’s Building for the liquor magnate family, Bronfman. At that time, Philip Johnson was his assistant. Johnson claimed later to be a partner in design which has been disputed, but he was definitely involved in the design of the Four Seasons, which came a few years later.
Mr. Niccolini, the restaurant owner, who used salty language to refer to the building owner, ended the auction carrying a platter of pink cotton candy, a signature desert for the eatery, across the Pool Room upon which various patrons pulled off sections. A patron who flew up from Charleston to pick up ‘whatever’ she could proclaimed, “A place like this won’t happen again!"
Source: New York Times
Italian Fascism finally dies…with the recent death of supporter Licio Gelli. I must say I have a weakness for Fascist architecture. Visiting the Valle de los Caídos ("Valley of the Fallen"), a Catholic basilica and a monumental memorial to the dictator Francisco Franco of Spain shot chills of fear and admiration through my veins. Talk about “reductivism” at its purist, even the most libertarian minded person gasps at this monument. The scoundrel was convicted numerous times for bank fraud and embezzlement but never did hard time, due to his “health” but managed lived till 96 years of age. He personified the glorious phrase only Italians could invent, “dietrologia” which means that the widely held suspicion that behind official government narrative lurks a more sinister explanation.
His political and financial shenanigans set the bar for the unbridled greed that we see on Wall Street today.
The raking light of fall brings out the Flaneur in me, the season of Flanerie. Elaine Sciolino reminds us of the first establishment of this pastime in literature, “Tableau de Paris,” a twelve volume set of observations the gestalt the of ‘street’ in Paris. Half a century later, this sites’ figurehead, Charles Baudelaire, demarked the ‘wander-spectator’ activity as flaneur. “The crowd is his habitat, as is air for the bird or water for the fish” he quoted.
This activity is so important to the French, that Hermes created a pop-up museum on the left bank to honor its significance. The artistic director of the project, Pierre-Alexis Dumas also created an illustrated book on the subject. It’s a small single room structure with four window displays, including from the collection of a past president, Emile Hermes.
To observe yes, to interact no. The sounds, the smells and the visual jewels glistening in the shop windows- draws us to the streets of Paris, or London or our favorite ville, Roma. And of course, the most animated of them all – the people who stroll and sit and observe in the cafes, not the harried New Yorkers who are irritated by strollers in their path. Years ago, I proposed a story for Life Magazine, on the important promenades of the world, but to no avail. Sadly, it is not an American occupation.
Whether I imagined it as a child or I actually saw the magazine HOLIDAY, I knew it was a gem of graphic design and photography. I knew Slims Aarons was a rock star, even when I was a young photographer. Though I was more interested in ‘real’ journalism, I admired the veneer he lay over celebrities and glamour, locales-who did not want to be there? A few art directors changed the face of magazines - the “golden age of magazines”: Alex Brodovitch, Frank Zachary and Roger Black. They produced a short-lived magazine, Portfolio in 1949, regarded as the “definitive graphic magazine” by The New York Times. Zachary died at age 101 yesterday in East Hampton, NY.
Brodovitch changed the thinking on typography, especially for Harper’s Bazaar, that I subscribed to for years just to see his work (overlaying type); Zachary changed the importance of photography in magazines. The weeklies were in full bloom in the 1960's & 70's, Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look, Town and Country and Esquire were employing photographers and giving them extravagant exposure. Zachary assigned the greats: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa and Arnold Newman.
Born to a Croatian immigrant parents (1914), named Frank Zaharija, his father a steel worker in Pittsburgh, Zachary never attended college, he climbed his way up through hard work. He art directed at Holiday (1951-1964) including being managing editor, Town and Country, Modern Photography to which I subscribed as a child, Travel and Leisure.
I think his brilliance is best described by a friend, Owen Edwards, “Like any good anthropologist, he studied this particular tribe, figured out what most interested them and their habits, and found writers [including Faulkner] and photographers who could show their world in the most entertaining way.”
Publisher’s Musings: Dateline Saigon ~ January 26, 2015
As publisher, I have vowed not to include politics. But after visiting the War Remnants Museum here, which brought tears to my eyes, I think my renewal of the power of photography urged me to reflect on this exhibition, which covers the second floor, of heart wrenching imagery. In an era that has eroded the value of images with self-indulging selfies, seeing photos by some of my heroes, Larry Burrows, Robert Capa and Phillip Jones Griffith (whom I met) rocked me to the core. Burrows and Capa died here. Visitors seemed unable to focus on them.
Life Magazine is well represented here with large reproductions. As an Air Force cadet, I was frightened by what I saw. The images contributed to my request for a Conscientious Objector status. It was considered the first ‘live’ coverage of a war. I remember clearly one issue with tiny pictures of the 58,000 men who died. Both the imagery of the devastation of incursions wreaked on the Vietnamese and the impact the war had on the shooters, it was the darkest period of U.S. history. In the name of stopping Communism, our inexcusable use of Agent Orange is illustrated in the museum in unfathomable images. It is the power of this photography that is widely considered to be what initiated President Johnson’s withdrawal from the war. Despite the pain, it was life-affirming to see the power of photography!
This is Picasso's umpteenth fifteen minutes of fame:
His renovated mansion in Paris, Musée Picasso Paris, has just re-opened after an exorbitant five year renovation, ribbon cut by François Hollande himself, but under the dark shadow of the Cultural minister, Korean-born Fleur Pellerin, who declared she has not ‘read’ a book in years and could not name a book of the recently awarded Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Patrick Modiano, France’s fifteenth in the category.
Back on home turf, there are two private gallery showings of his work that rival any museum exhibitions, in fact many of the pieces were loaned from museums. They almost seem to challenge one another, since they are both top tier galleries, The Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea and Pace Gallery, both in New York. The Gagosian is a photograph-based exhibition, titled "Picasso & the camera" curated by an old friend of his, John Richardson, designed by a Las Vegas show designer David Korens. There are many images of his various mistresses, s well as films. Despite his reputation as a misogynist, the museum’s president, Anne Baldassari, denies this but claims he only had difficulty maintaining relationships. I saw the MoMa exhibition in the 1990's of his with a room dedicated to his various wives and mistresses and the progressive horrification of their faces as he lost interest in them. Quite revealing. The Pace exhibition focuses in a different direction. On his enduring relationship with his last wife Jacqueline Roque, until his death, with tender imagery and a loving hand.
As an artist, I cannot help but to admire his vitality and fecundity. I read a memoir of life in the South of France, especially the summer jaunts to the country with the likes of Francoise Gilot. To top off the adoration, the exhibition at the Met of Lauder’s Cubist collection (Interesting Openings below) features many of his paintings from that period.
On every trip to NY, I visit one of my favorite urban spaces, The Grand Central Oyster Bar. Between my passion for oysters and my adoration for Guastavino's tile craft, this is my ideal spot. We traveled to 103rd Street this last trip to enjoy a beautifully illustrated and informative exhibition at The Museum of New York, of his sumptuous tilework throughout New York employed by McKim, Mead and White, and NY City (including the recently uncovered bottom to the Queensborough Bridge, now a Farmer's Market).
Guastavino tile is the "Tile Arch System" patented in the United States in 1885 by Valencian (Spanish) architect and builder Rafael Guastavino (1842–1908). Guastavino vaulting is a technique for constructing robust, self-supporting arches and architectural vaults using interlocking terracotta tiles and layers of mortar to form a thin skin, with the tiles following the curve of the roof as opposed to horizontally (corbelling), or perpendicular to the curve (as in Roman vaulting). This is known as timbrel vaulting, because of supposed likeness to the skin of a timbrel or tambourine. It is also called "Catalan vaulting" and "compression-only thin-tile vaulting".
Guastavino tile is found in some of New York’s most prominent Beaux-Arts landmarks and in major buildings across the United States.
The 166-million-year-old extinct squid relative Belemnoteuthis antiquus had a large, internal shell that likely made it slower than its modern-day, shell-less relations.
Credit: Courtesy of Jonathan Jackson and Zoë Hughes/NHMUK
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences:
The ancestors of octopuses and squid once sported hard shells, but when did they lose their "mobile homes" and become agile, soft-bodied swimmers? A new study finds that this change may have occurred during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
Squishy creatures like squid and octopuses rarely leave behind well-preserved fossils. That has left scientists perplexed over when in the creatures' evolutionary history these cephalopods lost their shells. Researchers have now used a mix of fossil and genetic models to solve the puzzle.
The reason? The loss of shells made the ancient relatives of the modern-day octopus, squid and cuttlefish nimbler, a feature that likely helped these animals catch prey and evade predators, Vinther said.
The heavy shells led to the demise of many cephalopod ancestors, because they couldn't "keep up with the 'new [shell-less] kids on the block,'" Vinther told Live Science.
The researchers made the discovery using a molecular clock technique, which helped them determine when different cephalopod branches sprouted on the family tree.
ALICE NEEL: Painter of Modern Life
March 4 – September 17, 2017
This retrospective of paintings by Alice Neel (1900–1984) – one of North America’s most important female artists, although largely unappreciated during her own lifetime – is the fruit of a collaboration between several European institutions.
The exhibition at the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles places the US painter and her realist brush firmly in the spotlight. Imbued with a powerful psychological dimension, Neel’s portraits bear witness to almost a century of evolution in attitudes towards gender and race, and to radical changes in fashion at the heart of American society. Working in an epoch that declared abstraction the new modernism, Neel would always remain a “painter of modern life” as imagined by Baudelaire, with whom she shared the same vision of modernity and the artist’s role in relation to it.
Hallmarked at once by expressionism and realism, Alice Neel’s oeuvre translates the paradoxical personality of its maker, who wanted to paint individuals from all social classes and create a visual history of her time – a “Human Comedy”. Conceived by Jeremy Lewison, the leading expert on Alice Neel, the exhibition presents more than seventy paintings, including a portrait of Andy Warhol “laid bare” under the artist’s keen gaze.
FONDATION VINCENT VAN GOGH ARLES: FONDATION VINCENT VAN GOGH ARLES
KANDINSKY, NIGHT ERRANT
March 15, 2017 – July 9, 2017
The Mudec pays tribute to Kandinsky Vasilj with an unprecedented exhibition "site-specific", linked to his vocation and founded on the relationship between art and science and the metaphor of the journey as a cognitive adventure. All aspects experienced by the founder of abstract art, which has always shown interest in a scientific approach to reality, for exploration, for the trip as a summary figure of its own existence. In him, the Moscow-born mix the Russians and Germans genes of the parents, and those of his ancestors, from Eastern Siberia.
Born into a cultured family, he follows classical studies and as a child takes piano lessons, cello and design. At university he attended law, but became interested in ethnography passion, in search of the deep roots of their culture. In 1889 living experience decisive passes over a month in the governorate of Vologda, north of Russia, studying the beliefs and criminal law of Komi, and the people of ziriani. Collect and publish folk songs, performing sketches, or outline a Travelogue. In those villages he experienced a revelation: "In their isbas I came across for the first time in this miracle, which later became one of the elements of my work. Here I have learned not to look at the big picture from the outside, but to revolve around it, live in it. When I entered the room, the painting has surrounded me, and I got into it. "
The exhibition - which combines his works from major Russian museums, some never seen before in Italy, in examples of popular culture, which inspired - embraces the long period of the artist's visual imagery training, until 1921, when he moved to Germany to never return to Russia. The goal is to allow the viewer, even with the help of specific multimedia tools, to understand the origin and development of its symbolic code, in a fascinating journey through his visual sources. The visitor will be able to "enter" in his abstract paintings and cover them. Just as he wanted, he wrote , "for years I tried to get that viewers passeggiassero in my paintings: I wanted to force them to forget, to disappear even there."
MUSEO DELLE CULTURE: MUSEO DELLE CULTURE
MANET and MODERN PARIS
March 8 – July 2, 2017
Palazzo Reale in Milan presents the exhibition Manet and Modern Paris (Manet e la Paragi Moderna) with one hundred paintings, drawings and prints by Édouard Manet and his contemporaries coming from the collection of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The exhibition focuses on Manet’s observations of Paris, the city where the artist was born and died (1832-1883). He was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life, and recorded scenes of bars, theatres, parks and avenues, but also of poverty, prostitution and misery. The works by Manet are accompanied by works from contemporaries like Giovanni Boldini, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Henri Fantin-Latour, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Signac and James Tissot.
PALAZZO REALE: PALAZZO REALE
MICHELANGELO & SEBASTIANO
March 15, 2017 – June 25, 2017
Having met in Rome in 1511, as Michelangelo was finishing his decoration of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Sebastiano and he became friends and began collaborating artistically. Their meeting sparked a remarkable 25-year friendship and partnership; yielding outstanding works of art that neither could have created without the other – against a backdrop of war and religious conflict, but also of great intellectual energy and artistic innovation. Central to the exhibition are two of their collaborations: the 'Pietà' for S. Francesco in Viterbo (c.1512–16) and The Raising of Lazarus, painted for the Cathedral of Narbonne in France, and one of the foundational works in the National Gallery Collection. The exhibition also features the exceptional loan of Michelangelo’s 'The Risen Christ' (1514–15) from the Church of S. Vincenzo Martire in Bassano Romano, Italy, and a cutting-edge recreation of the Borgherini Chapel in S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome – decorated by Sebastiano to partial designs by Michelangelo. Comprising paintings, drawings, sculpture, and letters documenting correspondence between the artists, this groundbreaking exhibition presents works of striking force and originality.
NATIONAL GALLERY, LONDON: NATIONAL GALLERY, LONDON
March 11 – May 29, 2017
Presenting a new view of two of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary painters, Matisse/Diebenkorn is the first major exhibition to explore the profound inspiration Richard Diebenkorn (1922–1993) found in the work of Henri Matisse (1869–1954). It brings together 100 extraordinary paintings and drawings—40 by Matisse and 60 by Diebenkorn—that reveal the connections between the two artists in subject, style, color, and technique.
The exhibition unfolds across the arc of Diebenkorn’s career—from early abstractions, through his Bay Area figurative years, to his majestic Ocean Park series—all in direct dialogue with works that he knew and admired by Matisse. Diebenkorn grew up in San Francisco, and first discovered Matisse as a Stanford University art student in the early 1940s. Over the next four decades, he pursued a serious study of the great French modernist’s work, drawing from his example to forge a style entirely his own.
SF MOMA: SF MOMA
AMERICAN WATERCOLOR IN THE AGE OF HOMER and SARGENT
March 1 – May 14, 2017
Although widely practiced in the US before the Civil War, watercolor painting existed at the margins of the professional art world. Considered the domain of amateurs, women, and commercial artists, it drew little interest from the mainstream painters of the mid-1800s.
Watercolor’s reputation changed with the creation of the American Watercolor Society in 1866. Its annual exhibitions soon became the most liberal forum in New York, uniting artists of all ages, styles, and backgrounds. Drawing talent from the ranks of illustrators, who used watercolor on the job, and gaining strength from the Impressionists and landscape artists, who sketched in watercolor outdoors, the movement also welcomed new arts and crafts designers.
The buzz attracted collectors, who sparked the interest of yet more artists. By the early 1880s, every corner of the American art world was represented in the Society’s galleries: avant-garde painters returning from Europe, the old guard learning new tricks, illustrators looking for “fine art” status, and women artists seeking an entrée.
The American watercolor movement created stars like Homer, John La Farge, Thomas Moran, and William Trost Richards, artists who would remain dedicated to the medium for decades. Thomas Eakins, George Inness, and others rode the wave through its peak in the 1880s. Together, their work produced a taste for watercolor among younger artists and eager collectors that would endure through the turn of the century, inspiring a new crop of illustrators such as Maxfield Parrish and Jessie Willcox Smith, decorators from the circle of Louis C. Tiffany, and plein air masters Childe Hassam, Maurice Prendergast, and Sargent.
Thanks to the legacy of Homer, Sargent, and their contemporaries, the next generation—Charles Demuth and Edward Hopper among them—would choose watercolor as a principal medium. Within fifty years, the Modernists would demonstrate that the reputation of watercolor had been rebuilt as a powerful and versatile “American” medium.
PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART: PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
November 30, 2016 – April 24, 2017
The Centre Pompidou will present a major retrospective of the work of American artist Cy Twombly from November 30, 2016 through April 24, 2017, bringing together works from public and private collections around the world.
The comprehensive showcase will be structured around three major cycles – “Nine Discourses on Commodus,” 1963, “Fifty Days at Iliam,” 1978, and “Coronation of Sesostris,” 2000 – and will span the artist’s entire career, from his first works in the early 1950s to his last paintings.
Presented chronologically and featuring some 140 paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures, the exhibition will provide what the Centre Pompidou describes as “a clear picture of an extraordinarily rich body of work which is both intellectual and sensual.”
In addition to emphasizing the importance of series and cycles in Twombly’s practice, through which he reinvented history painting, the exhibition will also highlight the artist’s close relationship with Paris.
CENTRE POMPIDOU: CENTRE POMPIDOU
December 1, 2016 – April 2, 2017
The first US artist to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1963, Robert Rauschenberg blazed a new trail for art in the second half of the twentieth century. This exhibition at Tate Modern will be the first posthumous retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg’s work in the UK, as well as the first comprehensive exhibition in almost twenty years.
Moving between painting, sculpture, photography, print-making, installation and performance, he refused to accept conventional boundaries in art and in life, his quest for innovation fired by his boundless curiosity, enthusiasm for collaboration and passion for travel.
Bringing together a tightly edited selection of key works from different periods, Robert Rauschenberg will provide a long overdue opportunity to discover a remarkably consistent artistic trajectory which steadfastly refused to be straight-jacketed by rules and conventions.
Each chapter of Rauschenberg’s six-decade career will be represented by major works including loans that rarely travel. Among these is a selection of his Combines, hybrids between painting and sculpture, as well as his graphic screenprints which signal Rauschenberg’s early commitment to political activism. These signature bodies of work will be preceded by his early experiments at Black Mountain College, a hotbed for innovation in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and his first collaborations with fellow artists and friends John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns, David Tudor and Cy Twombly. The artist’s work with Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T), an organisation which developed collaboration between artists and engineers in the 1960s, will be explored, showing how he helped to blur the boundaries between the visual arts, dance and science.
In the mid-1960s Rauschenberg left New York for Florida and began to travel extensively across Europe, the Americas and Asia. His Cardboards from the early 1970s, a wry comment on the forces of globalization, and his sumptuous fabric works such as The Jammers, inspired by his visit to the Indian textile centre of Ahmedabad will be included in the show. The epic project Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI), which was completed between 1984 and 1991 taking in China, Cuba and Tibet, will also be on display.
Performance remained a key interest for Rauschenberg as did his interest in pushing the limits of image-making with new materials such as printing on translucent textiles, polished steel or oxydised copper, or with vegetable inks indicating his continued concern for the environment.
TATE MODERN: TATE MODERN