If your favorite color is blue, like it is mine, then you'll enjoy the exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum called, "Infinite Blue." The exhibition's title hints at the connection between the color blue and the idea of spirituality as written by Russian artist Vasily Kandinsky, "On the Spiritual in Art." Blue is often associated with the heavens and the spiritual because blue is the color of the sky.
The artwork featured in "Infinite Blue" feature every variety of the color blue from ancient times to the present. The exhibit includes a wide range of artwork from the museum's permanent collection of Asian, African, Egyptian, American, Native American, and European art: paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, etc. My understanding is that this exhibit will expand to other areas of the first floor of the museum over time.
My favorite blue is Cobalt Blue. On display were a variety of blue and white ceramics from the Middle East. The use of Cobalt in the Middle East likely inspired the Chinese to use the pigment.
In the artwork below and the detailed close-up, artist Arlene Schechet has created handmade papers from abaca, a plant native to the Phillippines. The Flow Blue series, from which this work derives, is named after a British transfer pottery from the early 19th century. For more more information on the exhibit, use the hashtag #infinitebluebkm.
The museum also had a number of wonderful pieces from Alex Katz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Diego Rivera, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Edgar Degas, and Auguste Rodin. Here are a few paintings on exhibit. Having walked from Manhattan to Brooklyn over the Brookyn Bridge earlier that day, I really appreciated Georgia O'Keefe's painting of the Brooklyn Bridge. I had always thought that most of her artwork was in the same genre of the Ram's Head painting below. Georgia O'Keefe's painting of the Brooklyn Bridge emphasizes the abstract elements of the composition. This painting was one of her last works of art painted in New York before relocating to New Mexico in 1949.
Luce Center for American Art: Visible Storage Study Center:
One of the many wonderful surprises at the Brooklyn Museum was discovering the Visible Storage Study Center. The beautiful display gives you an inside look at how museums work and provides you with a glimpse of the breadth and scope of the Brooklyn Museum's collections. The Visible Storage Study Center contains artwork organized and identified by the accession number assigned by the museum's registrar. Visitors can learn more information about the object by entering an item's identification number on a special web site at computers located throughout the space.
I had the opportunity to see the Marilyn Minter "Pretty/Dirty" exhibit that was on display at the Brooklyn Museum from November 4, 2016 to April 2, 2017. The exhibit featured many over-sized paintings showing seductive and sexual visual statements. The artwork included paintings and videos mostly sexual in nature. The photographs, paints, and videos in one gallery focus on licking, dripping, and devouring mouths. I believe it is a commentary on American culture's inexhaustible appetite for glamour and stimulation. I've included a few photos from the exhibit below.
The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago is the most significant icon of 1970s American feminist art. It took Judy Chicago 5 years to complete the project from 1974 to 1979 with the help of hundreds of collaborators. The Dinner Party represents 1,038 important mythical and historical women, most of whom had been neglected by history. The Dinner Party consists of a series of Entry Banners, Heritage Panels, a Heritage Floor, and a huge ceremonial triangular banquet table measuring 48 feet on each side with a total of 39 place settings. The Dinner Party is housed a the Brooklyn Museum as the central installation of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.
The Table is in the shape of an open equilateral triangle, a symbol of equality. Each place setting represents a woman of great historical significance, either real of mythical. The Heritage Floor beneath the table is comprised of 2,300 porcelain tiles.
The Brooklyn Museum was a fascinating experience. Check out the Museum in you are in the vicinity. You won't be disappointed!
Just recently, on February 14th, I came across an editorial article on Artsy.net by Isaac Kaplan entitled, "Do Francis Picabia's Anti-Semitic Remarks Tarnish his MoMA Retrospective?" After reading the article I learned about Picabia's anti-Jewish feelings (and womanizing behaviors). MoMA's exhibit apparently does address this part of Picabia's character; however, I must have missed this as I walked through the gallery. To answer Kaplan's question personally. I think it does, in fact, tarnish his reputation. I really enjoyed his artwork during my visit to the MoMA. But after learning more about the artist, I can't say that I can admire him. Famous artists are people that I want to look up to and admire. They are people that I want the next generation of artists to look up to. And so, while I can appreciate his artwork at face value and his artistic technique, learning about his anti-Semitic behavior does take him down several notches in my book. Similarly, just like we want our kids to admire our professional sports players, it's hard to have our kids look up to them if they do drugs, treat women badly, are anti-gay, or are anti-Jewish, or discriminate in any way. So, I'm kind of let down after my great experience viewing his work in the gallery. But for this blog article, I will continue to proceed sharing my thoughts on the exhibit as if I hadn't learned of his anti-Semitic feelings and behavior.
Here is the link to the article for your information: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-francis-picabias-anti-semitic-remarks-tarnish-moma-retrospective
As I walked though the gallery rooms, the one thing that struck me the most was how his artistic style changed throughout his lifetime. Picabia was an artist of many genres, and his body of work lacks consistency and categorization. He shifted styles over time. The exhibit highlights his impressionist landscapes, abstract works, paintings, photo-based nudes, etc.
Here are some photos from the exhibit.
These two Picabia paintings shown below reminded me of one of my own paintings that I painted earlier this past year, "Woof Woof! Gotta Get My Bone." All three works utilize black lines in a similar fashion. I should note that my painting was created without ever seeing Picabia's work; I am just noting the coincidence in how we both used these lines in the same fashion.
"Revolutionary Impulse: the Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde" was another wonderful temporary exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art that runs through March 12, 2017. The fact that all the artwork on display comes directly from MOMA's permanent collection, demonstrates how wonderful MOMA is and how impressive their permanent collection is. Of all the artwork on view, there were two artists whose work caught my eye.
The two photos below are from the Russian artist Alexandra Exter. The oil on canvas painting on the left, called "Theatrical Composition" was very intriguing to me. I loved the colors, shapes, and overall composition of the painting. The other smaller works, pictured to the right are six designs from various stage sets like The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and others.
To photograph all the well-know paintings from all the famous artists would be a huge undertaking. So I'm including a small selection of some of my favorite pieces along with some detailed close-up photos from the following artists: Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Henri Matisse, Fernand Leger, Jim Dine, Andy Warhol, Edward Ruscha, Josef Albers, James Rosenquist, Robert Rauschenberg, and Sol LeWitt. I have the close-up photos to show the brushstrokes, the detailed use of color, and a glimpse into what the artist was focused on while painting their masterpiece.
Pablo Picasso's Guitar Sculpture (3 views), and below, "Vase of Flowers" & "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
I highly recommend visiting the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. More information about the museum can be found on their website: www.moma.org.
Part of the Museum's focus is dedicated to the subject of the Jewish Journey, Jewish culture, and Jewish continuity. The main exhibition is about the Jewish experience as it has evolved from ancient times to the present day. The exhibit highlights the question of how Judaism has been able to thrive for thousands of years across the globe, even in challenging times, through Jewish texts and objects.
Jewish texts have been the central factor in the survival and evolution of Jewish continuity. The objects on exhibit such as Torah scrolls, other religious scrolls, and Jewish ritual objects, all reflect the different ways Jews have expressed their sense of what it means to be Jewish throughout history, in various countries, cultures, and religious contexts. The Culture and Continuity exhibit is located on two floors of the museum. There is so much to say about the exhibit, but most of what I will blog about will focus on the visual arts.
After the destruction of the Second Temple, and beginning in the 3rd Century CE, synagogues were often decorated with beautiful mosaic floors and wall frescoes. Jewish symbols included biblical figures, Hebrew writing, the menorah, and the shofar. Below are some photos of one of these mosaic floors, including a detailed/close-up photo. These mosaics reminded me of my signature style of my personal artwork, creating the illusion of mosaic tile using acrylic paint for my paintings.
I was particularly interested in the paintings at the museum, many of which I will highlight in this blog article. Max Weber, who lived from 1881 to 1961, is perhaps one of the most notable artists who portrayed Jewish life in his artwork. Max Weber was born in Russia and emigrated to the the US. Below on the left is a photo of Weber's famous oil on canvas painting, "The Talmudists," painted in New York in 1934. In his early years, he was a great admirer of the artist, Paul Cezanne, and studied art in Paris from 1905-1908. Cezanne's influence can be seen in his earlier works, including the painting, "Still Life with Challah" exhibited at the Jewish Museum. Most of his early works were still lifes and focused on Jewish ritual objects for Shabbat. By 1919, Weber abandoned formal experimentation and turned to Jewish subjects in pursuit of the spiritual.
Marc Chagall was another famous Jewish artist who had work displayed at the Jewish Museum. Chagall had a lifelong fascination with the Bible and much of his artwork expresses his passion for using his artistic expression to convey the imagery of the Bible. A lithograph on paper, "Moses Displays the Ten Commandments" from "The Story of the Exodus", 1966, is shown to the right.
Shown below, this 1986 large acrylic on canvas painting by David Reeb, an Israeli artist, titled "Map of Israel" is one of a series of paintings that incorporated the pre-1967 Israeli border, known as the "Green Line." Reeb was one of the most outspoken Israeli artists of his generation and was preoccupied with the political implications of the map of Israel. The ongoing conflict between Israel and her neighbors and the conflict around national borders is the major theme in his series of paintings. In this painting, Reeb portrays the outline of the realistic map as the main motif on an abstract patterned surface. In the photos below, I've included 3 photos showing some of the incredible detail of this fascinating painting.
Another fascinating exhibit called "You Don't Have to Be Jewish" featured a compilation of television commercials and clips from the museum's National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting, paired with print advertising campaigns, works of art, and more. The exhibit explores material produced for Jewish audiences or with Jewish content and the way religion, ethnicity, and identity play out on American television. The exhibition closed in early February.
Also on exhibit from November 4, 2016 to March 26, 2017 was "Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design." Pierre Chareau was a celebrated French furniture designer, architect, and art collector. The exhibit showcases rare furniture, lighting fixtures, and interiors, and even featured virtual reality glasses to immerse the viewer in the architectural renderings.
One of the most fascinating exhibits that I've seen this past year was "Take Me (I'm Yours)." The exhibit is based on a 1995 exhibit at the Serpentine Gallery in London, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and the artist Christian Boltanski.
In a conventional museum experience, it is the visitor that consumes art by looking at the paintings, sculptures, or photographs on exhibit. Typically, one is not allowed to touch the art, and certainly not allowed to take them home! Take Me (I'm Yours) defies this well-established standard by featuring works by more than 40 artists from different generations and from all over the globe: The goal of the exhibit is to encourage you to not only touch the artwork, but also to take them away with you and keep them for yourself. Some of the things I walked away with were a can of lemon-flavored sparking water, photographs of glamorous women from the 1950s, stencils, temporary tattoos, pins, hard candies, pill capsules, fabric patches, and more!
The exhibition ended in February. I've posted a few photos below. Photos of visitor experiences can be found online using the hashtag: #TakeMeImYoursNYC.
During my visit, I saw a drop-in art workshop underway, where families were creating works of art together inspired by exhibitions currently on view at the Museum. On Sundays, families can participate in studio art sessions, experience a simulated archaeological dig, or experience the museum's exhibitions with a printed Kids Gallery Guide. The Museum hosts family concerts, workshops and vacation week programming, and workshops for kids with disabilities. For more information, visit: TheJewishMuseum.org/Families.
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