Sunday, January 30, 2011

Augusta Savage

Born Augusta Fells in 1892 in Green Cove Springs, Florida, Augusta Savage was one of the luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance. She was the first black to gain acceptance in the National Association of Painters and Sculptors. She espoused social and political causes and brought about the realization of many opportunities for black artists and the Harlem community at large. She was adored in the Harlem community both as a talented artist and dedicated teacher. Keep reading... black history pages

Saturday, January 29, 2011

La Mamma

Charles Aznavour
Pierre-Auguste Renoir ~ The Artist's Mother, 1860
Ils sont venus
Ils sont tous là
Dès qu'ils ont entendu ce cri
Elle va mourir, la mamma
Ils sont venus
Ils sont tous là
Même ceux du sud de l'Italie
Y'a même Giorgio, le fils maudit
Avec des présents plein les bras
Tous les enfants jouent en silence
Autour du lit ou sur le carreau
Mais leurs jeux n'ont pas d'importance
C'est un peu leurs derniers cadeaux
A la mamma

On la réchauffe de baisers
On lui remonte ses oreillers
Elle va mourir, la mamma
Sainte Marie pleine de grâces
Dont la statue est sur la place
Bien sûr vous lui tendez les bras
En lui chantant Ave Maria
Ave Maria
Y'a tant d'amour, de souvenirs
Autour de toi, toi la mamma
Y'a tant de larmes et de sourires
A travers toi, toi la mamma

Et tous les hommes ont eu si chaud
Sur les chemins de grand soleil
Elle va mourir, la mamma
Qu'ils boivent frais le vin nouveau
Le bon vin de la bonne treille
Tandis que s'entrassent pêle-mêle
Sur les bancs, foulards et chapeaux
C'est drôle on ne se sent pas triste
Près du grand lit et de l'affection
Y'a même un oncle guitariste
Qui joue en faisant attention
A la mamma

Et les femmes se souvenant
Des chansons tristes des veillées
Elle va mourir, la mamma
Tout doucement, les yeux fermés
Chantent comme on berce un enfant
Aprés une bonne journée
Pour qu'il sourie en s'endormant
Ave Maria
Y'a tant d'amour, de souvenirs
Autour de toi, toi la mamma
Y'a tant de larmes et de sourires
A travers toi, toi la mamma
Que jamais, jamais, jamais
Tu nous quitteras...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Le Sourire de Voltaire

Jean-Antoine Houdon
"Ni un grand poète, ni un grand philosophe. Un grand représentant de tout."  Victor Hugo

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


"Charade," starring Carry Grant and Audrey Hepburn and with music composed and conducted by Henry Mancini, should be as potent a box-office draw as has come along in a good spell, and the resultant sound track album and single (with chorale backing) should do equally well, just cashing in on the film's popularity.  This is not giving the music - which is excellent - its proper due.

The score is imaginative, fresh, hauntingly melodic, and does much to build the mood of the flick.  Main emphasis, however, is bound to be on the strange combination of chilling mystery and comic suspense that "Charade" manages to convey.

The film contains four murders - all dramatically illustrated with proper amounts of blood and grimaces of the corpses.  But in between, it's filled with laughs (if this anomaly is conceivable).  So tastefully is everything blended together, that one gets to the end of the picture scared stiff, but chuckling out of the corner of his mouth.  Carry Grant is his usually charming self, Miss Hepburn the coy coquette, the set is European and the plot involved with spies, counterspies, Secret Service, OSS and a liberal sprinkling of French gendarmes.  It's a delightful - if unnerving -  two hours, done in glorious color, and the end result is a solid plus for the motion picture, recording and other lively arts.

Nick Biro
Billboard [Dec 14, 1963]

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

George Condo: Mental States

The Cloudmaker, 1984
on view at the New Museum from January 26 through May 8, 2011

Text by Ralph Rugoff, Laura Hoptman, Will Self, David Means, and Salman Rushdie.
Painter and sculptor George Condo (born 1957) has inhabited a broad swath of cultural contexts over his three-decade career, from the early-1980s East Village scene to a collaboration with William Burroughs to making album cover art for Phish and, most recently, Kanye West. Early in his career, Condo was friendly with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring and briefly worked at Andy Warhol's Factory. Having been included in the Whitney Biennial in 1987, by 2010 he was once again judged so original that a bronze sculpture of his was placed in that year's Biennial. Condo's loose, imaginative approach to portraiture has distinguished him throughout the decades: "There was a time when I realized that the central focal point of portraiture did not have to be representational in any way," he said in 1992. "You don't need to paint the body to show the truth about a character. All you need is the head and the hands." George Condo: Mental States surveys the artist's career from 1982 to the present day, focusing on his portrait paintings but also including a selection of sculptural busts made in materials such as gold and bronze. Organized by theme, and including 100 images of artworks in addition to writings by Will Self, David Means, Ralph Rugoff and Laura Hoptman, this volume explores Condo's relationship to art history, popular culture and contemporary society.

This catalogue is publish in conjunction with the exhibition, "George Condo: Mental States."

A Mind Where Picasso Meets Looney Tunes By HOLLAND COTTER

The American artist George Condo made a splash in New York in the early 1980s with a line of surrealist-style figure paintings. It was tasty, erudite stuff, freaky but classy, a Mixmaster version of old master, with a big glop of Pop tossed in. Then he went to Europe, found an avid audience and stayed for a decade, mostly in Paris. To the New York art world, myopic and memoryless, he might have moved to Mars. 

In 1995 he resettled in Manhattan, and has been there since, producing at high volume and exhibiting prominently without generating the kind of main-stage mojo that has made a younger artist like John Currin — who is hugely indebted to Mr. Condo’s example — a star. 

But now, finally, and with minimum fanfare, he’s having his first institutional career survey here. It’s titled “George Condo: Mental States.” It’s at the New Museum. And it’s sensational. 

It demonstrates, among other things, what anyone who has tracked his career already knows. He’s the missing link, or one of them (Carroll Dunham is another), between an older tradition of fiercely loony American figure painting — Willem de Kooning’s grinning women, Philip Guston’s ground-meat guys, Jim Nutt’s cubist cuties, anything by Peter Saul — and the recent and updated resurgence of that tradition in the work of Mr. Currin, Glenn Brown, Nicole Eisenman, Dana Schutz and others. 

Not that Mr. Condo — born in 1957 in New Hampshire — requires historical positioning to justify a survey. One glance at the installation of about 50 of his mainly fictional portraits on the New Museum’s fourth floor tells you otherwise. Some of the paintings are stronger and stranger than others. But covering a long wall up to the ceiling, with no two images alike, they add up to a tour de force of stylistic multitasking and figurative variety. 

Your first instinct is to spot sources for those styles and figures: Picasso, Arcimboldo, Cookie Monster, Goya, Looney Tunes. But you only go so far with this because Mr. Condo isn’t much into wholesale appropriation. He’s interested in invention. Everything is pretty much straight from his brain. 

The earliest picture in the show, “The Madonna,” dates from 1982 and gives a basic sense of how Mr. Condo works. He painted his subject, a Renaissance staple, straightforwardly, then did something funny to it. He scraped some paint away so that the face became blurred and slightly separated from the head, like a slipping mask. This subtle effect turned a historically and ideologically loaded subject into contemporary caprice, though without taking the history and ideas away. They’re here, but detached, like the Madonna’s face. 

Even after being messed around with, she looks fairly normal, which cannot be said of most of the figures surrounding her. These include other quasi-religious images — Mr. Condo grew up as a Roman Catholic — including a Mary Magdalene with bared breasts and sticking-out rodent ears. Taken as an icon it’s deeply bizarre, yet it doesn’t feel entirely irreverent, which makes it even odder. 

Various gods of art history get their due and take their licks. The 1994 “Memories of Rembrandt” borrows the tawny palette of that Dutch artist’s late self-portraits but reduces his facial features to a juicy stew of eyeballs and chunks of flesh. Throughout the show pieces of Picasso are everywhere, puzzled together, piled up like kindling, broken up, gnawed on, inserted wherever there’s room. Mr. Condo clearly can’t get enough of him. 

News photographs of public personalities have served as models for portraits, and occasionally he leaves these people looking more or less like themselves, as he did a few years back in a series of 15 portraits of Elizabeth II of Britain. One of these images at the New Museum, “The Insane Queen,” is, in its zany way, almost respectful of her. Others — the queen with a detachable chin, a clown smile, a carrot stuck through her head — are not, and landed Mr. Condo in hot water when he brought them to the Tate Modern. 

A few paintings, and several gilded bronze heads in the show, are named for characters — “The Barber,” “The Butler,” “The Alcoholic” — in Mr. Condo’s private mythology of cultural types. And then there are portraits that are just mysterious hallucinations, floating free and unrooted. 

In “Red Antipodular Portrait” a bug-eyed creature stares out apprehensively from behind cascades of scarlet fur. A kind of Bichon Maltese-Yosemite Sam hybrid, it exists in a one-species universe, unconnected to art or life or history. Yet it gives the impression of having feelings, so it evokes a complicated response: amusement with a tug of empathy. Isn’t empathy going too far? Isn’t this picture just a cartoon? Within the world of Mr. Condo’s portraits, nothing is “just” anything.
The exhibition continues on the museum’s third floor with groups of nonportrait paintings in which the content tends to be at least obliquely topical and emotions forcefully projected. Much of the work dates from after 9/11; some of it alludes to recent Wall Street scandals. The prevailing mood shifts between confused sadness and suppressed anger.
In a small gallery labeled “Melancholia” male-and-female couples with tiny batlike faces, like the pair in “The Stockbroker,” pose in embattled silence. A black-suited executive stands beneath a suspended carrot, once a lure, now a sword of Damocles. Jesus appears. Child size, dwarfed by darkness, he’s a little mound of raw matter with rodent teeth, startled eyes and flowers — or maybe thorns — laced through his stringy hair. 

The adjoining gallery, with the theme of “Manic Society,” has the opposite kind of energy, clamorous and violent. Copulating lovers snarl like beasts; a priest with a Francis Bacon mouth lets out a scream. In an extraordinary painting called “Uncle Joe” a hirsute man with a demonic smile relaxes with a cigarette and a bottle of wine on a patch of grass, unaware that he’s at the edge of a precipice. 

In its third and last room a show of many surprises concludes with yet another one: a sampling of the abstract painting that Mr. Condo has been doing almost since he career began. His version of abstraction bears the same relationship to the traditional nonobjective thing as his portraits do to conventional portraiture. It’s different, but if it’s interesting, who cares?
“Dancing to Miles” and “Internal Constellation” look, from a distance, like exercises in nuanced color and tone. But as you come closer, intricate, all-over networks of imagery come into focus: popping eyes, open mouths, breasts, hands, heads, all recognizable from the portraits. The patterns are so detailed and attention demanding as to be exhausting. Two paintings from 2010 with larger, cubistic forms are easier to see, but they’re too Picassoid for comfort. They smudge a fine line between emulation and imitation, always a danger for artists who have a naturally ventriloqual grasp of styles. 

The miracle is that Mr. Condo doesn’t succumb to imitation more often, or doesn’t in this survey, which has been scrupulously selected and edited by Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery in London, and Laura Hoptman, a former senior curator at the New Museum and now at the Museum of Modern Art. They are also responsible for a superlative installation, one that demonstrates, for the first time, that there are ways to exhibit painting effectively in this museum’s high, tight, object-squelching spaces. 

But much of that effectiveness can be attributed to the artist they’re dealing with. Mr. Condo is not a producer of single precious items consistent in style and long in the making. If that’s what you want from painting, he’ll disappoint you. He’s an artist of variety, plentitude and multiformity. He needs to be seen in an environment that presents him not as a virtuoso soloist but as the master of the massed chorale, and that’s what Mr. Rugoff and Ms. Hoptman have done. 
January 27, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

in Van Gogh's Shoes

   ... From the dark opening of the worn inside of the shoes the toilsome tread of the worker stares forth. In the stiffly 
   rugged heaviness of the shoes there is the accumulated tenacity of her slow trudge through the far-spreading 
   ever-uniform furrows of the field swept by a raw wind. On the leather lie the dampness and richness of the soil. 
   Under the soles slides the loneliness of the field-path as evening falls... Martin Heidegger, The Origin of the Work of Art

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sander & Räderscheidt

August Sander ~ Anton Räderscheidt, 1927
Anton Räderscheidt ~ Still life with Tulips, 1926

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Composition VIII

Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky, 1923


Blue, Blue got up, got up and fell.
Sharp, Thin whistled and shoved, but didn't get through.
From every corner came a humming.
FatBrown got stuck - it seemed for all eternity.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . It seemed. It seemed.
You must open your arms wider.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wider. Wider.
And you must cover your face with red cloth.
And maybe it hasn't shifted yet at all: it's just that you've shifted.
White leap after white leap.
And after this white leap another white leap.
And in this white leap a white leap. In every white leap a white leap.
But that's not good at all, that you don't see the gloom: in the gloom is

. . . . . . . where it is.
That's where everything begins. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
With a. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crash. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Klänge [1912]

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kate the Great

 Katharine Hepburn was one of RKO-photographer Ernest Bachrach's favorite subjects

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Deux Chevaux

La Citroën 2CV, un phénomène ! 

Suite à un embouteillage de charrettes paysannes au milieu d'un petit village, Pierre Jules BOULANGER - surnommé PJB - se rend compte que l'automobile n'est pas encore accessible pour toutes les catégories de classes sociales...

De là lui vient une idée : " Il faut créer une voiture pour le peuple... simple, sans trop de confort, pouvant prendre à son bord quelques personnes et leurs marchandises, utilisable sur tout type de terrain... mais surtout économique ". 

read more here... 4 roues sous 1 parapluie

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chez Mondrian

André Kertész ~ A Corner of Mondrian's Studio
Mondrian ~ Anemones dans un Vase, ca. 1906

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Gerda Taro (1910-1937) was a pioneering photojournalist whose brief career consisted almost exclusively of dramatic photographs from the front lines of the Spanish Civil War. Her photographs were widely reproduced in the French leftist press, and incorporated the dynamic camera angles of New Vision photography as well as a physical and emotional closeness to her subject. Taro worked alongside Robert Capa, who was her photographic as well as romantic partner, and the two collaborated closely. While covering the crucial battle of Brunete in July 1937, Taro was struck by a tank and killed. Taro's photographs are a striking but little-known record of this important moment in the history of war photography. 

International Center of Photography
A woman in Barcelona training for the Republican militia, 1936

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mrs T.

George Wesley Bellows
Mrs. T. in Cream Silk # 1, 1919-1923
Mrs T. in Wine Silk, 1919

George Wesley Bellows was born in Columbus, Ohio, August 11, 1881, the son of George and Anna (Smith) Bellows. He was a descendant of Benjamin Bellows who migrated from England in 1631 and founded Bellows Falls, Vermont. His father was an architect and builder in Columbus. The son attended Ohio State University, being graduated from there in 1904, and at the same time was a pupil at the Columbus Art School. Later, he studied under Maratta in Chicago. In 1904, he came to New York to study drawing and painting under Robert Henri. In 1906, he opened a studio in New York and began by exhibiting three portraits in that year. In 1908, he exhib1ted his first landscape in the National Academy of Design. It was awarded the second Hallgarten Prize. He became an Associate of the National Academy of Design the next year, at the age of twenty-seven, the youngest man ever to be elected an Associate. When twenty-seven, he became an instructor in life and composition classes at the Art Students' League—in 1910. In 1913, he was elected a National Academician. Meantime, the museums had begun to buy his works. One of his pictures went to the Metropolitan, another to the Pennsylvania Academy. Prizes and medals were awarded to him with increasing frequency...

Academy notes, Volumes 15-19 By Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Albright Art Gallery (Buffalo, N.Y.)

Google books

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

George & Martha

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966 
Adapted by Ernest Lehman  from the play by Edward Albee, 1962
directed by Mike Nichols
with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The mastery of Keith Haring

Untitled, 1982

My contribution to the world is my ability to draw. I will draw as much as I can for as many people as I can for as long as I can.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tête et Coquille

Jean Arp, 1933

"I fell so in love with it that I asked to take it in my hands. The instant I felt it, I wanted to own it."  Peggy Guggenheim

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Marie Antoinette's laptop

Secrétaire de voyage ayant appartenu à Marie-Antoinette [Musée National du Château de Versailles]
Galerie Perrin

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Gustave Caillebotte, 1892

Chapitre XV

Il m'a été donné, au lendemain de la mort de Gustave Caillebotte, de faire le rapide voyage d'Argenteuil et d'entrer dans cette maison où tout disait encore la présence vivante de la veille, à croire que le maître du logis allait rentrer, parcourir les pièces, s'asseoir, causer, reprendre ce livre à la page de la lecture commencée, travailler à cette toile encore fraîche sur le chevalet.

Mais ce n'est que l'illusion tenace et mensongère de la vie continuée. La Mort silencieuse et invisible a fait son œuvre, a arrêté subitement les pas, la voix, le geste, clos l'existence de l'homme. Tout est aujourd'hui semblable à ce qui était hier, hormis que l'habitant n'est plus là. Il est entré, il est sorti, et rien n'est changé du décor de son existence. La maison a la môme gaieté, entre les champs et la Seine, en face d'Argenteuil. Les bateaux se balancent sur l'eau soyeuse. Tout est doré par le soleil du nouveau printemps. Dans le jardin, au long des plates-bandes, dans les clairières du bois minuscule, dans les interstices des pierres qui forment un piédestal rocheux à la serre, partout, la verdure déplie ses bourgeons, les fleurettes brillent comme des yeux enfantins, des pousses vivaces trouent la terre. Tout ce petit monde végétal étiqueté, choyé, adoré par Caillebotte, est exact au rendezvous qui lui avait été donné. « Vous verrez mon jardin au printemps », disait-il à ses amis, au dernier dîner des Impressionnistes. Le printemps est venu, le jardin se pare pour l'éternelle fête. Un chien triste parcourt les allées.

C'est la monotone et banale histoire de l'homme. « Quand la maison est bâtie, la Mort entre », dit le proverbe arabe. L'homme qui regarde cela et constate la loi du sort peut prendre la mesure exacte de ses préoccupations, de ses ambitions, de sa frénésie de succès, de sa course à la fortune ou à la gloire. Voilà le but : tous le connaissent et sont sûrs de le toucher. Si cette certitude, au moins, pouvait nous apprendre à tous à bien vivre.

Caillebotte a bien vécu.

Il a aimé l'eau qui passe et qui bruit, les voiles blanches qui s'envolent aux tournants des rivières, qui palpitent sur la mer.

Il a aimé les fleurs qui colorent et parfument l'atniosphère, il a été le sage amateur de jardins. Relisez le discours de Lamartine aux jardiniers, le poète parcourant les théogonies, les religions, la fable, l'histoire, cherchant quelle idée l'homme a pu se faire du bonheur et trouvant « que l'imagination humaine n'a pu rêver, dans tous les paradis qu'elle s'est créés, quelque chose de mieux qu'un jardin terrestre ou céleste, des eaux, des ombrages, des fleurs, des fruits, des gazons, des arbres, un ciel propice, des astres sereins, une terre fertile, une intelligence secrète, une amitié réciproque, pour ainsi parler, entre l'homme et le sol... » Caillebotte avait en lui cette sympathie pour la vie universelle, et c'est un des traits caractéristiques du groupe d'artistes auquel il appartenait.

Enfin, il a aimé l'art, — qui concentre les sensations de l'homme, qui crée une durée pour notre vie fugitive, qui perpétue notre joie de vision, l'enivrement de notre esprit.
D'abord, par son apport personnel, — par des paysages, par des observations de mouvements humains, tels que le travail des Raboteurs de parquets, la flânerie, finement, joliment mise en œuvre, des Peintres en bâtiment, Caillebotte avait vite marqué sa place d'observateur pictural de l'existence moderne. Parmi ces hommes ardents, animés de foi artiste, qui avaient constitué un groupement indépendant, il s'inscrivit, manifesta ses sympathies, se mit au travail avec une patience que n'eu ne lassait. On se souvient de ses débuts, de ces Raboteurs de parquets, qui excitèrent les railleries par leur perspective, je crois, mais où il fallut bien reconnaître les qualités d'un observateur dans le modelé des torses et la vérité des mouvements. Depuis, Caillebotte s'était appliqué à l'étude des mêmes perspectives dans des intérieurs de chambres, et il avait obtenu de curieux et parfois bizarres effets de raccourcis et de proportions. Seulement, où l'on croyait à une tactique et à un désir d'étonner, il y avait ingénuité et désir de vrai.

Pour moi, le sens dans lequel le peintre a le mieux marqué son effort, c'est dans la série de paysages des rues de Paris, parfois vus d'un balcon : des avenues larges, des voies droites, de hautes maisons alignées, des maisons qui forment caps aux carrefours et qui ont vraiment, dans l'atmosphère de la ville, la beauté massive de hautes falaises. Là, il y eut non seulement recherche, mais trouvaille et originalité, et le commencement de quelque chose qui pourra bien être continué.

Ce ne fut pas la seule manière, pour Caillebotte, de participer à ces belles luttes. Il vint aider, de tout le secours de son activité et de sa bonne humeur, ceux qui étaient alors fort maltraités, comme l'on sait. Il fut, pour ces contestés, celui qui réunit, qui réconforte, qui aide. Louer des salles, organiser les expositions, les ventes, donner sans cesse de sa personne et de sa bourse, ce fut le rôle qu'il prit et que nul de ses amis n'a oublié. Aucun ne pourra oublier ce bon vouloir, cette activité. Le témoignage que tous lui rendent, c'est qu'il fut un compagnon vraiment rare, d'une abnégation absolue, pensant aux autres avant de penser à lui, — s'il pensait à lui. Sans cesse, il fut tel qu'il était aux dîners mensuels impressionnistes: la cordialité même, avec une verve rustique, et de bons emballements d'honnête homme.

Et il est arrivé que sa mort est venue affirmer pour tous la tendresse de son affection, la véracité de son témoignage, par ce testament qui a rendu sa collection publique, qui donne à tous les toiles réunies par le généreux artiste.

Ces dispositions testamentaires de Caillebotte étaient nettes, sans phrases, comme il fut lui-même. Libellées en 1876, à l'époque de bataille ardente, aux jours difficiles, e'ies prévoyaient un mauvais accueil et spécifiaient bien que ces toiles n'étaient pas pour être roulées, mises dans les greniers des musées nationaux ou dispersées en province : si le don n'était pas reçu comme il devait l'être, il n'y avait qu'à attendre des jours meilleurs. Ces dispositions sont restées les mêmes, affirmées dans un codicille. Mais le temps de 1876 est passé : depuis dix-huit ans, l'art injurié a été mis en honneur, et c'est avec reconnaissance que le legs de Caillebotte a été reçu. Il donne au Luxembourg ce qui lui manquait, il inscrit aux murailles mal pourvues du musée un sérieux commencement d'histoire, il fait succéder logiquement la période de ces vingt-cinq dernières années à la période de i83o à 1860. Le Luxembourg, où quelques toiles significatives sont entrées depuis quelques années, achève, par Caillebotte, de mériter son enseigne de musée des artistes vivants.
 Gustave Geffroy ~ La vie artistique [Troisième série], 1892

Monday, January 3, 2011

Home is where the heart is


For two years in the 1960s, Bruce Davidson photographed one block in East Harlem. He went back day after day, standing on sidewalks, knocking on doors, asking permission to photograph a face, a child, a room, a family...

Davidson's strobe doesn't dispel the gloom or glamorize the ruin of the apartments, alleyways, storefronts, and rubble-strewn lots where people stopped to pose for him, but the rapport he established allows those people to surrender to the camera with their humanity intact. --Vince Aletti

Like the people who live on the block, I love and hate it and I keep going back. --Bruce Davidson 

Bruce Davidson: East 100th Street