September 25, 2008

The Last Emperor's Collection

Since 1926 China Institute has endeavored to bridge the gap between East and West with cultural and educational programs designed to promote understanding and appreciation of the Chinese civilization.

One of the Institute's major contributions to the New York art scene is its superb gallery that presents small but fascinating exhibitions on a variety of subjects. Just opened, and on view until December 14th, the Gallery of China Institute presents "The Last Emperor's Collection: Masterpieces of Painting and Calligraphy from the Liaoning Provincial Museum". This exhibition comprises a choice selection of scrolls from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties collected by emperors through the ages. This Imperial Collection had been dispersed by the last emperor, Pu Yi, in the early 20th Century, but since 1949 the Liaoning Provincial Museum has been engaged in an effort to reassemble as many of these treasures as possible.

Now on display are 34 of these wonderful examples of painting and calligraphy that reflect not only the finest works of the genre but the of the history of imperial collecting as well. Ranging from the delicately colored and intricately detailed panorama of "Qingming Festival on the River" to the black and white solitude of "Night Excursion to the Ten Thousand Man Rock" these scrolls differ vastly in technique and effect. The visually stunning "Ten Thousand Year-Old Pine Tree" (seen on the banner at the top of the page) was done by an actual emperor, Emperor Xuanzong, in 1431 as a gift for his mother and is remarkable for the masterful brush strokes depicting the pine needles and branches. More lighthearted is "Peach Blossom Spring", 1554, a gay landscape of color and charm.

One does not need to be an expert in Asian art to appreciate the variety and quality of these pieces. Their pure beauty will amaze you. China Institute is located at 125 East 65th Street in New York City.

September 20, 2008

An Afternoon at The Museum of Modern Art

Monday marks the official end of summer, but in many ways the fall season has already started. Take, for instance, a brand new exhibition that just opened at New York's Museum of Modern Art. "Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night" is a small but charming show with an ambitious mission. Throughout his career, Vincent van Gogh sought to overcome the challenge of using color to represent darkness and subsequently to illuminate the spiritual and poetic nature of the twilight and night hours. This tightly curated selection of superb paintings and drawings focuses the visitor's attention on this particular aspect of van Gogh's remarkable œuvre and clearly demonstrates his preoccupation with color and darkness.

"It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day" quipped the artist in 1888, and indeed paintings such as "The Starry Night Over the Rhône" (left), clearly show how viscerally he reacted to the effects of darkness and light and how magical the night sky becomes on a van Gogh canvas. "Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night" is a timed entry exhibition and is on view until January 5, 2009.

Moving from Impressionism in France to Expressionism in Germany, take a ride on the escalator to the third floor exhibition gallery where "Kirchner and the Berlin Street" is being showcased until November 10. Between 1913-1915, soon after moving to the teaming metropolis of Berlin, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner created a now celebrated series of paintings known at the "Street Scenes". These views of life in the fast lane of a big city are considered Kirchner's finest achievement and this is the most complete collection of works from this series ever assembled.

Described in spiked forms, forceful brushwork, sharp perspectives and discordant colors, female prostitutes take center stage with more mundane urban characteristics like buildings, sidewalks and traffic pushed to the periphery. Kirchner's explosive reaction to the confines of acceptable academic painting and rules of bourgeois society is palpable in works such as "Berlin Street Scene", 1913, (right), and the 6 other oil paintings from the series on display. Also on view is a superb collection of pastels, drawings and woodcut prints that illustrate Kirchner's creative process and his commitment to the theme. Taken together, these works bring to life the decadence, urgency and foreboding atmosphere that prevailed in pre-World War I Berlin and confirm Kirchner's position as a major artist of the Expressionist movement.

If you are still thirsting for more Modern Art, a casual walk through the MoMA's unparalleled permanent collection should fill the bill. From Dada to Pop Art, from Duchamp to Warhol, this museum has it all, and the very best too! Enjoy!

September 16, 2008

Announcing Catalogue Number Three

I am pleased to announce the publication of my third catalogue!

Georgina Kelman :: Works on Paper presents "Catalogue Number Three", a collection of European and American prints, drawings and watercolors from the Victorian Era to the Jazz Age. Fully illustrated in color, this catalogue features a finely edited selection of original works by such artists as Bottini, Chahine, Evenepoel, Grandville, Helleu, Tissot and Whistler. It's an eclectic mix, but one I hope you will enjoy perusing!

For more examples from my inventory, please visit my website at If you would like to know more about the catalogue, you can contact me directly from the site.

It's been a beautiful summer here in New York, but fall is definitely in the air and with it the excitement of a new season and new adventures. I hope you'll check back often as I explore what's new and fun around town. See you soon!

September 05, 2008

Treasures in Pietre Dure at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Since Biblical times, when Moses inscribed the Ten Commandments on two tablets, objects of stone have been associated with importance and power. During the Renaissance, the belief that princely grandeur should be evidenced by luxury and magnificence, both in public and private, was manifested again in works made of stone. It was in 16th Century Italy that the art of pietre dure, literally "hard stones", was developed and its popularity quickly spread throughout the royal courts of Europe.

This summer The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is presenting an outstanding selection of some of the finest examples of these works from imperial households in Florence, Venice, Papal Rome, Paris, The Holy Roman Empire and Russia. There is even an 18th Century commode lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with hardstone mosaic panels by Galleria dei Lavori, Florence, the original grand ducal workshops founded by the Medicis.

Exotic colored stones, such as lapis lazuli, amethyst, malachite, colored marble and rock crystal were transformed into practical and decorative objects such as tabletops, collector's cabinets, clocks, devotional pieces and jewelry boxes with intricately inlaid motifs of flowers and fruit, landscapes and geometric patterns (see "The Barberini Cabinet" above). The imagery is as fine as a Realist painting - some works actually trompe l'œuil in effect. The natural properties of stone ensured the colors did not fade and these antique pieces remain as drop dead gorgeous now as the day they were made.

The Met curators have assembled a breathtaking collection of over 150 pieces showcasing the finest that noble artisans could produce. I promise you, "Art of the Royal Court: Treasures in Pietre Dure from the Palaces of Europe" will not disappoint!