September 24, 2006

A Field Trip to the Zimmerli

People who live in Manhattan tend to forget that the outer boroughs and suburbs are treasure troves of wonderful art. A perfect example is The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum on the campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The inquisitive New Yorker who ventures across the Hudson River by bus, train or car, will be especially rewarded with the museum's line up of special exhibitions this Fall season.

On right now is a small but very fine show entitled "Technical Detours: The Early Work of Moholy-Nagy Reconsidered". Focusing on the years immediately following World War I, the museum has assembled a strong selection of paintings and graphics by the Hungarian Avant Garde artist, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and his circle. This choice of special exhibition is a natural compliment to the museum's "Riabov Collection of Russian Art" and the "Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union", both exhibited as permanent installations.

Other interesting features currently on view include a look at the small but important graphic arts movement "Letterisme", a display of illustrated books and periodicals in "Word and Image in Late 19th Century Paris", and the charming "By Its Cover: Original Art for Children's Books". Later in November, Francophiles will be treated to "Toulouse-Lautrec and the French Imprint: Fin-de-Siècle Posters in Paris, Brussels and Barcelona".

The Zimmerli has extensive holdings in the graphic arts - primarily French works on paper - and they can put together some pretty impressive shows just by drawing from their own store rooms. For me, the gallery devoted to Japonisme alone was worth the excursion!

September 13, 2006

Beyond Limits :: Sotheby's at Chatsworth

In my house, one of the clearest signs of the start of the new fall season is a sudden proliferation of catalogues in the mail. Not just the L.L. Bean Holiday book, but the onslaught of auction catalogues as the competing houses try to lure bidders back into the sale room.

But today's delivery brought a totally new concept in auction promotion. In a remarkable partnership of public and private enterprise, Sotheby's London has joined with the Duke of Devonshire to provide a unique venue for experiencing outdoor sculpture at its finest. For 2 months, the magnificent gardens of Chatsworth, in Derbyshire, will be the setting for 27 large scale sculptures that are being offered for private sale by the famous auction house.

Talk about contrasts! The historic home and estate of Chatsworth go back at least 450 years, and are the epitome of tradition in the classic English aristocratic style. Think Brideshead. The oldest of the sculptures being exhibited dates only to 1925 with the majority less than 20 years old. Think Frank Geary's Guggenheim in Bilbao. And yet it works. The lavishly illustrated, full color catalogue shows several shots of each of the pieces installed in its temporary location. The juxtaposition of oversized Modern and Contemporary art set against the backgrounds of formal gardens and stately manor is breathtaking.

From the Surrealist elegance of Salvador Dali's bronze "Newton de Gala", 1969/1985, pictured above left, to the ethereal beauty of Antony Gromley's stainless steel "Domain LIII", 2006, perched atop the parapet as seen to the right, this collection is itself a study in contrasts. Mass versus space, color versus light, abstract versus realistic, all together in one gorgeous setting. The public is invited to visit this magnificent sculpture garden comprising works by Aristide Maillol, Jean Dubuffet, Keith Haring, Robert Indiana, and Joan Miro, among others, from now until the end of October when they will be sold and removed to their new homes. I'm sure Chatsworth will never be the same!

Dale Chihuly's "Sunset Boat", 2006, floats serenely on the Canal Pond

September 03, 2006

Best of Summer 2006

Amazingly, it is already the Labor Day weekend and summer is coming to a close. Seems like just yesterday we were anticipating the opening of the Dada Show at the Museum of Modern Art and now it's in its last few days!

In honor of Summer 2006 I'd like to pay tribute to some of the really great exhibitions and events that I had the good fortune to be able to visit and are now, like the season, either over or very nearly so.

The major art event had to be the reuniting of 5 stolen paintings by Gustav Klimt to their rightful owner and the subsequent sale of the magnificent portrait "Adèle Bloch Bauer I" to Mr. Ronald Lauder and the Neue Galerie for the staggering sum of $135 million. Many art lovers stood in line to see exactly what that huge amount of money would buy, and few were disappointed. The latest chapter in the saga is that the sale of the 4 remaining paintings will be handled by Christies either by private treaties or public auction, thereby making this the last opportunity to see these gorgeous works together in one room.

For performance art, the Batsheva Dance Company's visually stunning "Telophaza" was outstanding. New York audiences who experienced the spectacle of "Anaphaza" in 2003 were eagerly awaiting the return of this Israeli troupe to the stage of the State Theatre at Lincoln Center. The creativity, athleticism and wit of the choreography and dancers captivated the audience once again. We can hardly wait till the next time.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented a wonderful exhibition of Portraits by David Hockney. Covering his entire career from the early drawings of his family in England to large scale paintings whose paint was barely dry, this retrospective was as engaging as it was complete. A portrait by David Hockney is a snapshot into a personality and it is no wonder that people beg to sit for him. Although British by birth, Hockney has lived in Los Angeles since 1978 and is now the total embodiment of a California painter.

Other highlights of the season would have to include Dorothy Draper at the Museum of the City of New York, "Little Miss Sunshine" direct from the Sundance Festival to a big screen near you, and the revival of "Jacques Brell is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" at the Zipper Theatre Off-Broadway. Finally, the retirement of Andre Agassi from the world of professional tennis marks the end of an era. Any player who can sustain a career for 21 thrilling years is a superstar, and Andre Agassi was indeed that, both on and off the court.