NoteWorthy Shows- November, 2016

Things are reaching a fever pitch in the Galleries as the year end approaches, with nary a Black Friday Gallery sale in sight, allowing me to sleep in this year. Still, there was plenty to see and be Thankful for, along with the usual smattering of turkeys, but let’s get right to dessert, shall we? As in October, here’s my list, in no particular order, of what I found NoteWorthy in November. Once again, each one of these deserves a longer, in depth piece that I’m not going to have time to do, but I would be remiss in not mentioning them at all. November, also, marked the end of the world as we know it, so…

The world looks different…Brian Dettmer’s “Western Civilizations 3,” 2016. A “Book Sculpture.” More below.

“Faberge from the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation Collection” @ The Met- Will the artist in modern history who is a greater craftsman than Carl Faberge please stand up and make yourself known to me? Thank you. While I’m waiting on that, this is the first show of the work of Faberge in New York since 2004. As small as one of the details on his timeless (and priceless) masterpieces, this show in a hallway at The Met is easy to miss (countless thousands do just that as they wait in line for the elevator to the roof, right in front of this very show). Ms Gray began collecting Faberge in 1933, when prices for his work were cheaper than they will ever be again. Money aside, Faberge combines the equally rare gifts of ingenuity, vision, craftsmanship and delight in works that are a century old but have lost none of their grace, beauty or charm. Scheduled to end on November 27, this show has been extended until 2021, giving you plenty of time to see it.

“Imperial Lillies of the Fields Basket,” 1896, Yellow & green gold, silver, nephrite, pearl, rose-cut diamond. This is considered THE most important Faberge piece in the USA. It was presented to the wife of Czar Nicholas at her visit to the Pan-Russian Exposition in 1896. This is only 7 1/2  x 8 1/2 inches!

“Imperial Napoleonic Egg,” 1912, gold, enamel, rose-cut diamond, platinum, ivory, gouache, velvet, silk. One of the infamous “Faberge Eggs,” this was presented by the Czar to his wife for Easter, 1912. Designed to commemorate the 100th Anniv of victory over Napoleon. This is 4 5/8 inches tall! The inside is solid gold, and holds…

a six-panel screen depicting paintings of six regiments she was an honorary colonel in.

Description in next photo. Click any photo in this Blog to see it larger.

“Imperial Caucasus Egg,” for Easter, 1893. This is 3 1/2 inches high!

Easy to miss, this is the whole show!

“Joan Mitchell: Drawing Into Painting” @ Cheim Reade- Yet another good sized show of an Abstract Expressionist, “second generation” this time, and the most renowned female (Lee Krasner may be gaining on her) AbEx painter, right down the street from the blockbuster “Mark Rothko: Dark Passage” Show, it makes the perfect before or after bookend to it. I owned a Joan Mitchell print until a few years ago, so I lived with the energy and lyricism her work is known for. Looking around, her work is in most major museums, though it’s been 12 years since an American museum gave her a show. So, it’s been left to Cheim & Read to fill the gaps, and they’ve mounted Joan Mitchell shows every two years, or so, going back to the late 1990’s. This one does make for fascinating pairing with the Rothko show- they couldn’t be more different, while sharing what the scholars call Abstract Expressionism, I’ve heard some of the Artists, including Philip Guston, say they prefer the term “New York School.”

“UNTITLED,” 1958, oil on canvas

“LA GRANDE VALLEE XVI POUR IVA,” 1983, oil on canvas

“UNTITLED,” 1982. oil on canvas

“Man Ray: Continued and Noticed” @ Francis Naumann- It’s been too long between Man Ray shows. Readers already know my fondness for Man Ray. Francis Naumann Gallery opened 15 years ago with a Man Ray show, so they revisited him for this anniversary show and they did it in style. Man Ray was so prolific, and so prolifically diverse he can be hard to “sum up” in a gallery show, but this one was an out and out winner, a must see, especially for anyone who thinks of Ray as “only” a ground breaking photographer. While featuring a wonderful selection of his photos, portraits and “Ray-o-grams,” it also included his drawing, painting, sculpture, writing, and even no less than 2 Ray designed chess sets.

“Paletteable,” 1969

The great Man (Ray). Self-Portrait, 1948. A card under speaks of his concerns in his early work- “1) a defiance of artistic convention replaced by steadfast commitment to absolute freedom in the arts.” That says it all.

…and seen again. “Autoportrait,” 1917/70, Screen print on plexiglass. Really? Hmmm…

…and again. “Self Portrait,” 1914

Yes, that’s one of the chess sets Man Ray designed to the left of the chair.

“Lampshade,” center, surrounded by an astounding range of creativity.

“Philip Guston: Laughter in the Dark, Drawings from 1971  & 1975” @ Hauser & Wirth- There was no more auspiciously timed show than this one which not only brings us the 73 drawings Philip Guston selected for his “Poor Richard” series but 100 additional drawings that didn’t make the cut and 3 wonderful paintings that are related or have relevance to them. Opening exactly 4 months after Hauser’s last Guston show, it would be very very hard to find work more different than those in seen in “Philip Guston Painter, 1957-67,” which I wrote about here, perhaps the “darkest” of his career, in many ways. Though the show’s title refers to the presence of “laughter” here, make no mistake it is more than tinged with darkness, especially because viewing them now, we know how things turned out for Nixon. These were dark times for the country, and many of these drawings were Guston’s “at the moment” reaction to unfolding events. Even before Watergate, the Nixon Presidency was not without a sizable opposition, for more reasons than the seemingly endless war in Vietnam. Everything about Nixon rubbed many people the wrong way, and provided a brilliant Artist ample fodder for “political satire” of the highest order. Most interestingly, for me, these are works in which Guston turns his focus outwards for, perhaps, the only time in his post 1940’s career. “Poor Richard” was published in 2001 and is still in print. You can see it here.

The 73 drawings that Guston selected for “Poor Richard” are shown, here (and below), together.

Title Page. Guston Depicts Nixon with VP Spiro Agnew (triangular skull), Attorney General John Mitchell (with his pipe) and Advisor Henry Kissenger (as glasses) as the cast of characters

Guston’s series begins with young Richard Nixon.

“Jeff Elrod: This Brutal World” @ Luhring Augustine- Chelsea & Brooklyn Galleries. It pains me not to write a longer piece on this. Jeff Elrod has been at the cusp of reinventing painting by combining digital drawing and computers with the end result of that stage outputted to canvas.where it may, or may not be combined with analog, old fashioned painting (at least those on display here). Dealing with blurriness from my recent eye treatment, my initial reaction was, “Hmmmm…If I close my right eye, my good eye, this is how the world looks to me these days.” But, I was drawn back repeatedly, even compelled to make the (unheard of for me) trip to Brooklyn to see the Bushwick segment of this show. In both locations, the effect was the same- I couldn’t get them out of my mind. They’re like something you see when you’re not really looking, or when you’re not fully awake after dreaming, or about to fall asleep…My initial reaction was “This looks easy to do on a computer. Take a photo, blur the heck out of part of it in Photoshop. Add a layer of a frenzied drawing and output to canvas. Then, I remember people say the same thing about Pollock and Rothko, yet no one else has done them. Some works remind me of passages of Monet, some of Yves Tanguay. But not really. They weren’t created like those were and so they don’t look like anything else. Mr. Elrod’s work commands some fancy prices. Ah well…They’re much too big for my place, anyways. If there’s a “cutting edge” in painting in 2016, Jeff Elrod’s work is the closest I’ve seen to being on it. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where this is going.

“Auto-Focus,” 2016 UV Ink on Canvas 9064 inches. Mystifyingly alluring.

“Rubber-Miro,” 2015 Acrylic and UV Ink on canvas. His uniquely shaped canvases give the work a different feel from most square/rectangular paintings.

“Rake-Adaptable,” 2016 UV Ink on FIscher canvas. The ghost of Robert Motherwell? “Haunting” is a word his work brings to my mind most often.

“Under The Skin,” 2016 UV Ink on canvas, 108 x 84 inches.

“Plume,” 2016 as seen in Bushwick, Brooklyn. 16 1/4 feet long by 9 1/2 feet tall.

After countless visits, I began to “see” “Jeff Elrods” everywhere I went. Like here-

Life Mirrors Art.

Honorable Mention- “Brian Dettmer: Dodo Data Dada” @ P.P.O.W. Mr. Dettmer creates “Book Sculptures,” something new to me. As far as I can tell, he takes a scalpel to a book, or books, and carves away all but what he wants to remain. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

“Funk and Wag,” 2016. As in, the whole encyclopedia.

“Ew Ass,” 2016

PostScript.- And meanwhile, over at Gagosian, Richard Serra’s MASSIVE “Every Which Way,” 2015, all 16 slabs of it was coming down, making way for the next show there…

Richard Serra, “Every Which Way,” 2015 @ Gagosian

*-Soundtrack for this Post is “It’s The End Of The World (As We Know It)” by Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, Peter Buck and Bill Berry of R.E.M. and published by Warner/Chappell Music, Inc and Universal Music Publishing Group, from their 1987 album “Document.”

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Stuart Davis- The King of Swing

Try it yourself.

Walk into your local Art Museum and look for Stuart Davis. I bet they own at least one, and I also bet it’s on display. I’m making this wager based on my experience that every American Museum I’ve been to, including many smaller ones, owns at least one work by Stuart Davis, and that work seems to always be on view1. This is a testament to his wide, and ongoing, appeal. Stuart Davis’ Art still has a contemporary look and feel to it. Maybe that’s because so many Artists who have come after him, like much of “Pop Art,” have been influenced by him. Somehow, Davis is also an Artist who is rarely given a show. The last big one I know of was “Stuart Davis: American Painter” at The Met in 1991. It’s left me with years of longing to see more than one or two of his works at a time, so I was very excited when I heard about “Stuart Davis: In Full Swing,” June 10-September 25 at the Whitney.

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It turns out to have been worth the wait. With 75 works ranging from 1923 until his final work left unfinished on his easel the night he died in 1964, we get to see much, if not all, of his accomplishment. The 1991 Met show featured 175 works, 31 before the earliest work in this show. While I’m a bit disappointed the show is missing the first decade of his work, (the title “Stuart Davis: In Full Swing” refers to his career being in full swing during the period of his work displayed), what’s included has been marvelously hung adding much insight into Davis’ process and development.

Davis' seminal 4 "Egg Beater" Paintings, 19__, rarely united

Davis’ seminal 4 “Egg Beater” Paintings, 1927-28, rarely united.

…I nailed an electric fan, a rubber glove and an eggbeater to a table and used it as my exclusive subject matter for a year.” Egg Beater No. 4," 1928

Breakthrough. “I nailed an electric fan, a rubber glove and an eggbeater to a table and used it as my exclusive subject matter for a year.2” Egg Beater No. 4,” 1928

Beyond this, it’s simply gorgeous to behold. Davis, the colorist, is  something not often  spoken about, and for me, is under-appreciated. His work needs to be seen in person, where his color makes a vibrant, stunning, often shocking first impression- even in 2016. Looking closer, it becomes apparent that though he uses relatively few colors and repeats them from piece to piece he is a master of color schemes. Has any American Artist used Yellows or Oranges the way Davis has?

"Cliche," 1955

“Cliche,” 1955

Having come out of the end of the era of  “Ashcan School,” Davis’s early work, often depicting street scenes of the greater New York area, shared their darker palette. Here and there he’d inject very bright passages of color, as in “Bleecker Street,” 1912. Soon, they would dominate as the influence of the Europeans, the Cubists 3, and Joan Miro took hold, his palette brightened. Matisse was also an early influence, and  even in the 1950s, Davis’ work features shapes that echo those found in Matisse’s late Cut-Outs.

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“Midi,” 1954

The title “Stuart Davis: In Full Swing” is a double entendre, also referring to his love of Jazz- “swing” being the most popular form of the music in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Stuart Davis loved Jazz. As I wrote not all that long ago upon accidentally discovering where he lived for 20 years in Greenwich Village, it was, coincidentally or not, around the corner from some of the greatest jazz clubs in the world4.

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The plaque outside Davis’ home of 20 years where he created works that have “come home” to the nearby Whitney.

Looking at his work, it’s clear that he “gets” what it’s like to play Jazz, what goes on in the mind of the musician or singer, and it comes out of his hands, like it does for musicians, too.

Davis In Full Swing. "Swing Landscape," 1937

In Full Swing. “Swing Landscape,” 1938, over 14 feet long, the largest work here, originally intended for a Brooklyn Apartment Building.

Walking around, I spent quite a bit of time trying to associate Davis’ work with specific Jazz Artists. While I found there were many who came to mind for specific works, I came to feel that Davis’ work was ahead of it’s time, musically, as well as visually/Artistically. His shapes seem to anticipate the angular developments of Musicians like Thelonious Monk and Andrew Hill. Standing in front of a work like “Swing Landscape,” 1938, an endlessly fascinating blend of nautical visual motifs in a riot of color, the feeling is like listening to a great Big Band. Take Duke Ellington’s or Count Basie’s classic Big Bands that were chock full of unique soloists. each one with a recognizable solo voice. When Lester Young soloed on Tenor Sax for Basie, there was no doubt who was playing. Same for Johnny Hodges, “Tricky” Sam Nanton, Ben Webster, or Bubber Miley with Duke, not to mention Duke and the Count, themselves. Looking at “Swing Landscape,” is like hearing a big band to me, a band comprised of unique voices (colors on shapes), each playing their own part, but still a part of the whole. There is an overriding feeling of joy, and life. But, there were other works that looked to me more like the music of non-swing Masters Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and even early Ornette Coleman. Though I mixed them in, and many others, I found myself repeatedly returning to Duke Ellington, one of the greatest composers of the century, in any style of music, who also continually pushed and evolved his style, taking the Big Band to many other places musically, like Davis did with Cubism, as the soundtrack for my visits.

Stuart Davis with Duke Ellington, 1943, from the show's catalog.

Let’s talk about Jazz. Stuart Davis with Duke Ellington at a Davis show, 1943, from this show’s catalog.

Also like a Jazz Artist, Davis returned again and again to earlier compositions and “riffed” on them, as Patricia Hills said 5. Davis re-interpreted his earlier compositions the way Jazz Artists reinterpret standards- using his original theme as a jumping off point to create something entirely new.

Progress in the Process. All 3 of these works are based on the center work from 192_. Left, 195_ and 19__, right

Riffin’ on a Theme. All 3 of these works are based on “Landscape, Goucester,” center, as follows.

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“Landscape, Goucester,” 1922…

"Colonial Cubism," 1954

Became this- “Colonial Cubism,” 1954

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And then, this- “Memo, #2,” 1956

In terms of Jazz in Art, I can’t think of another Artist who has a similar effect on me. Other Artists listened to Jazz, during the same time and later, but Stuart Davis’ work looks like Jazz to me. I get that feeling from isolated works by other Artists, especially that of Romare Bearden, who Davis told to visualize the relationships between jazz and art in 1940, though his works are primarily collages, not paintings, but Davis’s whole body of work, with rare exception, gives me that feeling6.

Blue Note. "The Woodshed," 1969, collage by Romare Bearden. The "Woodshed," or "Shed" is where musicians hone their craft.

Blue Note. “The Woodshed,” 1969, collage by Romare Bearden, at The Met Breuer.. The “Woodshed,” or “Shed” is where musicians hone their craft.

Yet, there’s more going on here than Jazz.

Revolutionizing the still life. “Super Table,” 1924. For me, the earliest masterpiece in this show.

We watch Davis breaking through and coming into his own in works like “Super Table,” 1924, and the “Egg Beater” series of 1927-28, which were revolutionary takes on the Cubist “still life,” that proved to be the jumping off points for all his future work that would see him develop his own approach to Cubism, becoming one of the very few outside of the inventors of the style to do so. While he built upon the influences of others, he was very influenced by place and environment as well. His 1928 trip to Paris crops up again and again in his later work. His summers along the water in Gloucester, Mass supplied a life long reservoir of nautical imagery, as did, NYC, while Jazz provided inspiration. Products appear in Davis’ work, possibly evolving out of the still life works of the Cubists, but quickly becoming his own. He then takes words, first seen in ads and on products, and uses them in new ways, sometimes referencing the “hip” jargon of the time, sometimes cryptically, that only he really understands.

"Odol," 1924, a bottle of mouthwash, presaging Warhol by 35 years.

“Odol,” 1924, a bottle of mouthwash, presaging Warhol by 35 years.

A walk through the show reveals that Pop Art, and a number of it’s leading lights were creating work that featured elements Stuart Davis began using way back in the 1920’s. In fact, after seeing it, you may never look at Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns or James Rosenquist quite the same again. Beyond his use of products, his use of words is something that many Artists since Davis, right up to Ed Ruscha, Jenny Holzer and Wayne White, have continued, some basing their entire Artistic output on them. While his influence is huge, it’s also interesting to me how different his work is from the work of the other Abstract Artists of his time, especially the Abstract Expressionists, who were then working right around him every day in NYC and it’s suburbs. Philip Guston speaks of knowing him 7. What about Jackson Pollock, (who was born, lived and work, then died during the time Davis was alive)? Did Davis know him? It would seem to me they must have met, especially since they both worked for the WPA (Works Progress Administration). It’s hard to imagine two more different Abstract Artists.

The end. "Fin," 1962-64, as it was left on his easel when he died.

The end. “Fin,” 1962-64, as it was left on his easel when he died. The yellow-ish lines are masking tape Davis used as guides.

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“Arboretum by Flashbulb,” 1942

It must also be mentioned that Mrs. Gertrude V. Whitney was a substantial, and early, supporter of Davis, in a number of ways, both financially (buying his Art and advancing him funds) and through the Whitney Studio Club, the precursor of the Whitney Museum, where he got his “big break,” 8 with a 2 week retrospective exhibit in December, 1926. 90 years later, Davis returns to the latest incarnation of the Whitney Museum, a few minutes walk from where he once lived, something of a “champion” of American 20th Century Art, himself. His influence is ongoing. His achievement is still being considered. Yet? All in Stuart Davis’ Legacy is not painted in the bright colors he used so masterfully in his work.

"Little Giant Still Life," 1950, a box of "Champion" matches

“Little Giant Still Life,” 1950, a box of “Champion” matches.

While the joy, beauty and insights this show provides will stay with me for a very long time, it’s impossible not to also be reminded of the fact that 90 works by Stuart Davis were discovered to have been “looted” 9 from the Artist’s Estate by Laurence Salander of Salander-O’Reilly Gallery, the long time dealer for Stuart Davis’ Estate, in 2007. The court ruled that Salander owes Earl Davis and the Estate $114.9 million dollars, but being as Salander is behind bars on Riker’s Island no one knows if and when any of that money will be repaid. As bad as that is, perhaps even more tragically, to this day, I’m not sure that all of Davis’ works have been accounted for. The case led to the creation of new laws pertaining to Artist/Gallery dealings. That is the saddest part of what is otherwise the great and ongoing influence that is the legacy of Stuart Davis, one of America’s greatest, and most influential, Artists.

Even his beautiful signature, boldly featured in many of his works, has the peaks and valleys, the ebbs and flow, of a Jazz solo.

*-Soundtrack for this Post is “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” by Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, the title of which appears on Davis’ painting “Tropes de Teens,” 1956.

This Post was created by Kenn Sava for nighthawknyc.com
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  1. I’m not wagering “anything” on this, so if you find one that doesn’t have a Stuart Davis, write me and let me know and I’ll send this Post to them to hopefully influence their future purchases!
  2. Stuart Davis “Autobiography” in “Stuart Davis” edited by Diane Kelder, P.26
  3. Davis, 21, was the youngest artist to be included in the legendary Armory Show of 1913, the first modern art show in America, which marked the arrival of Cubism in New York.
  4. His parents had lived in the Hotel Chelsea, 11 blocks north.
  5. “Stuart Davis,” by Patricia Hills, P. 19
  6. I am only talking about Artists who were/are Painters first, so I am leaving out Musician/Artists like Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Tony Bennett, Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, et al..
  7. Guston “Collected Writings” P.40
  8. according to Patricia Hills “Stuart Davis” P.73
  9. Artnews April 18, 2014

Does Humor Belong In Art? Ask Wayne Whiter

In 1986 the great Frank Zappa released an album who’s title asked “Does Humour Belong In Music?” The same year Wayne White was working as set designer, puppet creator & operator on the ground breaking, now classic, avant-garde TV show, “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse,” for which he won 3 Emmy Awards. Not content with that, 1986 also saw him win a Billboard Magazine award for best Art Direction for Peter Gabriel’s music video “Big Time.” He followed that up with an MTV Music Video Award for designing the Smashing Pumpkins video “Tonight, Tonight” in 1996. Oh, and then there was this. Note the sailboat painting-

21 years later I caught up with what he’s doing now over at his show, “I”m Having A Dialogue With The Universe And You’re Just Sitting There,” at the Joshua Liner Gallery, in the shadow of the new Zaha Hadid Building still going up on West 28th street. (They’ve added her name in very large letters at the very top, looking not unlike one of Wayne White’s “Word Paintings,” though it’s temporary…I assume.) As for Wayne White, he’s moved on from Pee-Wee to this-

3 Works in Wayne's custom hand holders.

Wayne White’s “set-like” installation for 3 of his “Word Paintings.”

The endless sailboat is now the endless covered wagon above on the left, below, and is joined by a series of Wayne’s “Word Paintings,” which consists of words and phrases he paints on top of old lithographs he finds in thrift stores, and one sculpture.

"I'm Having A Dialogue With the Universe And You're Just Sitting There," 2016

“I’M HAVING A DIALOGUE WITH THE UNIVERSE AND YOU’RE JUST SITTING THERE,” 2016

It turns out that all the while (actually, most of his life) Wayne White has been drawing incessantly, as can be seen in the 400 page monograph edited by designer Todd Oldham entitled, “Wayne White: Maybe Now I’ll Get The Respect I So Richly Deserve.” But even this only covers some of his creative work. Yet, he is clear on what he wants to accomplish.

“My mission is to bring humor into fine Art. I’m not talking about coy art world funny. I’m talking about real world, Richard Pryor funny. Humor is our most sacred quality. Without it, we are dead,” he says.

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“HAD IT GOIN ON BUT LOST IT THEN GOT IT BACK THEN FUCKED UP AND LOST IT,” 2016

"DEMAGOGUE," 2016

“DEMAGOGUE,” 2016

Is this Art? Hmmmm….Time will tell. There is a history of “word art” in museums, from Stuart Davis through Jasper Johns, Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger.

Ed Ruscha's "OOF," 1962, at Moma, one of the most beloved works in Western Art at the NighthawkNYC Offices (It's an inside joke.)

Ed Ruscha’s “OOF,” 1962, at Moma, a favorite here at the NighthawkNYC Offices.

There is the whole question about the ethics of taking someone else’s art and painting over it, though Mr. White only paints on lithographs, not paintings, so he’s not defacing a one of a kind, like Hans-Peter Feldman, who happened to have a show right around the corner, does. There is recent precedent for this in Ai Weiwei’s “Coca-Cola” painted on an antique Chinese Urn, among others, but I am not an intellectual property lawyer.

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I find it ironic that he did the Art Direction for Gabriel’s Big Time…

whose lyrics now seem prophetic-

“The place where I come from is a small town
They think so small, they use small words
But not me, I’m smarter than that,
I worked it out
I’ll be stretching my mouth to let those big words come right out”*

Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, his life changed when he discovered the underground comics of Art Spiegelman and R. Crumb. He hunted down Spiegelman and took his cartooning class at the School of Visual Arts. After graduating, Pee-Wee, and the music videos, a studio accident led to his putting words on found art, and his “Word Paintings” were born. Over a decade later, they are becoming iconic- most of those on view are sold, some for as much as $25,000.00. But, they are only one side of the man’s talent. I yearn to see a more complete showing of his range- his more abstract Word Paintings, as well as his other paintings which are not based on found lithographs, his sculpture, his puppets, and on and on. The breath of his talent is both mind-bending and mind-opening.

Mr. White is, also, quite a self-promoter, which he accomplishes with both southern charm and his trusty banjo in hand. There is no better sample of, or introduction to him, than this-

And? If you want to see more of him, there’s a new documentary on him called “Beauty Is Embarrassing,” that was a hit at the festivals and is now out on DVD.

Also of note is the installation- a set design, itself. Along with the “art holders,” White has collaborated with a Brooklyn company to create his own “Waynetopia” wall paper, which in installed in the back half of the show. You can buy it for 11.00 the square foot.

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The rear half of the show features White’s “Waynetopia” wallpaper, available at $11. the sq foot, and a windmill word sculpture.

Side view of one of White's Art Holders.

Side view of one of White’s Art Holders. LOVE the painted faux shadow lines on the wall..

High above the show are his initials, as he signs his patintgs.

High above the show are his initials, as he signs his paintings.

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Oh! And lest I forget- If you don’t have a spare $20,000. laying around for a painting, you can always head over to the wonderful Fishs Eddy who have collaborated with him on a collection of serving trays. Yes, serving trays. At popular prices. I guess with a couple of hooks you could hang one on your wall, and take a trip around the world with the savings. (I’ve got my eye on the “Luv Hurtz” tray myself, though “Beauty Is Embarassin’!” is a close second.)

Wayne White Serving Trays in collaboration with Fishs Eddy, NYC

Wayne White Serving Trays in collaboration with Fishs Eddy, NYC, seen in their Broadway store.

While I prefer his edgier work (surprise, surprise), Wayne White is so prolific, he’s like the weather in Miami- If you don’t like it now, wait 15 minutes- it’ll change. Meaning, he’s almost certainly got something in his oeuvre to wow you. He has begun to get shows where he’s been able to bring all of his talents to bear, (like “BIG LICK BOOM,” an installation at the Taubman Museum,Roanoke,VA. in 2012). He is yet another of the generation of Artists who have come up influenced as much by  R. Crumb’s “Zap” and Art Spiegelman’s “Raw” as by Raphael. Yet, I’ll give him this- Wayne White is, perhaps, funnier than Speigelman or Crumb (though both, assuredly, have many moments of their own, I don’t think humor is their primary goal.) Time will tell what Wayne White’s ultimate “goal” is. For now, he’s building a following and breaking barriers. It will be interesting to see where he takes things.

"THOSE GUYS ARE PUSSIES, 2016. I can see this hanging on some exec's wall.

“THOSE GUYS ARE PUSSIES, 2016. I can see this hanging on some exec’s wall.

WE WERE IN AWE OF HIS WORK BUT HE WAS A GIANT ASSHOLE, 2016

WE WERE IN AWE OF HIS WORK BUT HE WAS A GIANT ASSHOLE, 2016

As I left Joshua Liner, I came away thinking that it’s not often an Artist goes to such lengths to install a show, especially one that is only up for exactly one month. The work designing and creating this installation must have taken much much longer. As much as the work on display, I was impressed by what that says. It really was like walking around in a “Wayne White World.” It’s unique, wonderfully well thought out, and, ummmm, what’s that word I’m looking for? Oh yeah….FUN!

*-Soundtrack for this Post is “Big Time” by Peter Gabriel, from “So,” and published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, LLC.

This Post was created by Kenn Sava for nighthawknyc.com
Please send comments, thoughts, feedback or propositions to denizen at nighthawknyc.com.
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If You Ever Missed A Show At Moma? You’ve Just Been Reborn!

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“If I had my life to live over
I’d do the same things again
I’d still want to roam
Near the place we called home
Where my happiness would never end”*

This, today, from MoMA-

“THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART LAUNCHES A COMPREHENSIVE ONLINE EXHIBITION HISTORY BEGINNING WITH ITS FOUNDING IN 1929

Installation Photographs, Archival Documents, and Catalogues of Exhibitions Now Available to Students, Researchers, Artists, Curators, and the Public

NEW YORK, September 15, 2016—The Museum of Modern Art announces the release of an extensive digital archive accessible to historians, students, artists, and anyone concerned with modern and contemporary art: a comprehensive account of the Museum’s exhibitions from its founding, in 1929, to today. This new digital archive, which will continue to grow as materials become available, is now accessible on MoMA’s website, at moma.org/history.

Providing an unparalleled history of the Museum’s presentation of modern and contemporary art on a widely available platform, the project features over 3,500 exhibitions, illustrated by primary documents such as installation photographs, press releases, checklists, and catalogues, as well as lists of included artists. By making these unique resources available at no charge, the exhibition history digital archive directly aligns with the Museum’s mission of encouraging an ever-deeper understanding of modern and contemporary art and fostering scholarship.

“The Museum of Modern Art has played a crucial role in the development of an audience for modern and contemporary art for nearly 90 years,” said MoMA Director Glenn D. Lowry. “In making these materials freely available, we hope not only to foster and enable scholarship, but also to encourage a wider interest in this important chapter of art history that the Museum represents.”

The exhibition history project was initiated and overseen by Michelle Elligott, Chief of Archives, and Fiona Romeo, Director of Digital Content and Strategy, The Museum of Modern Art. Over the course of the last two-and-a-half years, three MoMA archivists integrated over 22,000 folders of exhibition records dating from 1929 to 1989 from its registrar and curatorial departments, performed preservation measures, vetted the contents, and created detailed descriptions of the records for each exhibition.

The digital archive can be freely searched, or browsed in a more structured way by time period or exhibition type. Each entry includes a list of all known artists featured in the exhibition. Artist pages likewise list all of the exhibitions that have included that artist, along with any of their works in MoMA’s collection online. The index of artists participating in Museum exhibitions now includes more than 20,000 unique names.”


I almost fell over when I saw this. Now? You can revisit every show in the history of MoMA. Unprecedented! I’ve lost my day looking through this site. It’s absolutely unbelievable! Having the chance to FINALLY “see” shows I missed and only heard about, and shows I saw (like the 1980 Picasso Retrospective, possibly the greatest Art show ever), again, is just a dream come true! Here’s a sample, from Moma’s very first show titled “Cezanne, Gaugin, Seurat, Van Gogh,” in 1929!

Mom'a First Show! Installation view of the exhibition Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh, on view November 7, 1929 through December 7, 1929 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York. Photographer: Peter Juley

MoMA’s First Show! Installation view of the exhibition Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh, on view November 7, 1929 through December 7, 1929 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York. Photographer: Peter Juley

To this point, Art shows have only lived on, after their closing, through exhibition catalogs and what’s been written or posted about them.

No more!

Here’s a chance to see how the show was hung, what works were grouped together or hung next to each other. Just Wow!

And? You can download catalogs, too!

Now? Of course I’m hoping The Met shocks me with something similar, and every other Museum in the world follows Moma’s groundbreaking example!

Don’t wait. Do not pass “Go.” Go here, now!

*-Soundtrack for this Post is “If I Had My LIfe to Live Over,” by Larry Vincent, Moe Jaffe and Henry H. Tobias, and performed by Doris Day.

Please send comments, thoughts, feedback or propositions to denizen at nighthawknyc.com.
Click the white box on the upper right, for the archives, to search, or to subscribe.
This Post was created by Kenn Sava for www.nighthawknyc.com

How Can You “Love” An Artist You Don’t Know?

Sounds crazy, right? Maybe it is.

Yet, it’s something I hear said all the time- “I love van Gogh.”  Or Monet, da Vinci, Beethoven, The Beatles, Frida Kahlo, David Bowie or Prince. Obviously I do it more than my fair share, too. For those of us who say such things, those people are real to us in the impact they have on our lives.

“I don’t care if I’m not in fashion
I will follow you, I will follow you”*

Unlike “internet friends,” this is a phenomena that has gone on for hundreds of years, though it feels like it’s been increasing since the middle of the 20th Century. The Arts touch people deeply. People connect to Artists (Note- when I say “Artists” or “Art” in this piece I am referring to all the creative Arts) they most likely don’t know, will never meet, and possibly lived, and died, hundreds of years ago. Sometimes, almost nothing is even known about them.

“But I wait, I’m sinkin’ in my skin
And I wait, my heart is wearin’ thin”*

Why?

It’s happened to me quite a bit in my life. Maybe a hundred times. Maybe more. Sometimes it happens in a moment, I’ve called the experience “seeing The Light.” I’ll be in a show, minding my own business, and then all of a sudden, CLICK, and everything has changed. Suddenly, I “get it.”

“Cause Im looking for somethin’ beautiful.”*

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And then it happened. Little did I know that when I crossed that line of light on the second floor at The Met Breuer on April 14, “The Light” would literally go on, and 20th Century Art would never be the same for me again. (Recreated)

It can also happen listening to music, reading a book, seeing a play. Maybe, it’s happened to you? One thing about going to The Met(TM) so often these past 14 years is that I’ve “gotten used” to experiencing it. It’s one of the reasons I now go and see any show they have up, regardless of whether I know anything about the Artist or not. (Try it yourself. There’s usually upwards of 25 shows going on at any one time. Oh? And if none of them do it for you? There’s always the permanent collection of over 2 MILLION items. Maybe something there will.) Over and over I’ll discover an Artist I’ve never even heard of, most recently, Nasreen Mohamedi, and find myself completely captivated by him or, in this case, her.

Over the course of my dozen visits to her show, I often find myself alone in a gallery. Just me and her work. I’m not alone with her, of course, but with a “real” part of her (I feel). Still, I know this is NOTHING like what it would have been like to have been in a room with her, looking at her work, watching her work, or simply talking. Yet? Her work has captivated me to the point that I’ve written about her twice in 2 months (in addition to a dozen trips to her Retrospective.)

She passed away in 1990. Like 90% of people who say they “love” such and such artist, I didn’t know Nasreen Mohamedi, or most of the other artists on my list, which is coming. All I “know” about her and her life comes from reading the one monograph currently in print about her. Yet, her work cuts right through me like an x-ray, the prefect greeting card, the perfect gift, or hearing just the right word from a loved one does.

“And you say, Look up, look up, look all around you
Can’t you see the love that surrounds
The very soul of you?

Something in me almost breaks”*

How is this possible? Those people KNOW me, and I know them.

It’s also happened with the other Artists on my list, which includes Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, Elvis Costello, Frank Lloyd Wright, Morrissey, Michelangelo, Brahms, Leonardo, J.S. Bach, Charlie Chaplin, Rembrandt, R. Crumb, Bjork, Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, Glenn Gould, John Coltrane, Shakespeare, Bela Bartok, Jimi Hendrix, Stanley Kubrick, Morton Feldman, and Richard Estes, among others1.

What’s your list look like?

I ask myself- What do they have in common…besides talent?

‘You stick your soul out risk it all
Your fearless beauty breaks your fall
Something in me knows there’s something more

And it’s so close I wanna run”*

They lived at different times over the past 500 years or so. They weren’t all the same sex, the same race, the same ethnicity, religion, or nationality. I’ve never even been to the places most of them lived or worked. I don’t know the challenges they faced on a daily basis, what they ate, if they worked out, and so much more. Some of them, like Shakespeare, have left people wondering if they even actually existed. Others, like Leonardo, Michelangelo and Bob Dylan are clouded in mystery in spite of being extraordinarily well documented during their lives. Oh well. We have their work, or what has survived of it. That says quite a bit in itself. Most people who have lived these past 500 years are gone without a trace.

Some say Music is the universal language. It’s certainly one. Most of us have seen that first hand. But I also have painters, sculptors, architects, film actors and directors on my list. That tells me that Art cuts across medium and method. It takes an intensely creative vision, along with a unique talent- and both of those things need to be backed up with an unstoppable drive.

I guess that in the end, it goes back to being human, the one thing I have in common (the ONLY thing), with everyone on that list. Though? Some of them seem “super human” to me. Frank Lloyd Wright, for example, not only designed incredible buildings like the “Imperial Hotel,”  “Midway Gardens,” two buildings I would have given anything to see, and “Fallingwater,” he insisted on designing ALL the glass for the windows, ALL the furniture, AND, ALL, the dishes inside of them. How is that possible?

Because they are able to put in to a song, a poem, a building, a sculpture, a movie, a book, a photograph, or a painting or drawing things that we may know, things we may have experienced, things we may think but can’t express, things we can’t put into words (sometimes, neither do they), and in doing so, they help us to feel not as isolated among the billions living and billions now not. If an Artist from 500 or 2,000 years ago can express something you’re feeling or going through right now? There’s some comfort to be taken in that. Something to be learned from it, too.

The human condition is universal. It’s existed since Man/Garden of Eden Day 1, as seen up on the Sistine’s Ceiling done much more recently, and not a heck of a lot about it has changed since the Garden of Eden, or the Renaissance.

When people weren’t able to “Yahoo” something to look it up? They looked elsewhere for their answers. When something happened to them- good or bad, they, too, wanted ways to celebrate ir or mourn it. A few put it down in some way. On a wall, on papyrus, on a stone, on all means of other materials, including paper, canvas, marble, vinyl and celluloid. The message was more than the medium. That message has been communicating across days, weeks, months, centuries, epochs and continents.

Time Machine? Peter Blume's "Light of the World," 1932 Whitney Museum

Time Machine- Artist’s Conception? Peter Blume’s “Light of the World,” 1932, Whitney Museum

People spend their time fantasizing about “Time Machines.” Why? We are the future for all those who have passed. We know what the world is like when they could only wonder. Like “George” in H.G. Wells’ classic “Time Machine,” who always kept the Key to his Machine handy, we have the “Key” to Time Travel right now. Art from the past can take you back there anytime you look at it/experience it. As I said, the human condition is universal and not much about it has changed- what’s happening to you/us now? More than likely? It’s happened before. We have “Time Machines” right now that can show this to us any time we want.

"Too Much Is Never Enough," the motto of the NYC I love. Art/Culture is the main (only?) reason to live here, IMHO. Moma's Elevator April, 2016

“Time Machine” on West 54rd Street. Moma’s Elevator April, 2016

Millions of people “get this” possibly without even being fully aware of it happening. They connect. People look or hear and are touched, changed, moved, transformed. Don’t take my word for it, check yourself when you experience it next time. That’s why it forges such a strong connection in so many people. It touched them in a place deep inside, one of the most magical, and human, experiences in life. It’s intimate. If you happen to check the creation date, you may be surprised that someone in the past felt this, too, and can express it so that you “get it” now. That’s the magic element to great “Art”- it speaks to people over time. It begins with communicating. Some Art continues to speak across time. Some does not. In the end, it’s date of creation is secondary. You’ve been touched. I’ve been touched. Something remains inside.

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenhim, NYC. Wright intended visitors take the Elevator/”Time Machiine” (inside the bump seen at the center) to the top and walk down the ramp, something every regime running the Museum since seems to have forgotten. No, that’s not his design for the glass dome- his were all circles.

I’m not alone in this. Neither are you.

Consider this- Over 50,000,000 people went to the top 10 most visited Museums in 2015. That’s ONLY the top 10 out of the thousands of Museums in the world (and includes only one of NYC’s “Big 4.”) For comparison, Major League Baseball, the most attended sports league in the world, drew 73.7 million in 2014. No other sport drew even 25 million- world wide! The top FOUR Museums combined top them by themselves! Yet? Art NEVER makes either the front or the back pages of newspapers (unless someone steals something or pays a record price for something), sports “news” appears on every newscast (Did you ever wonder WHY both of these are true- WORLD WIDE?2), sports appear on countless cable & TV channels 24/7/365.

Art is important, in my opinion, for a few reasons- One, being the best of it ranks with man’s greatest achievements in any field. It’s been created by the widest range of humanity one can imagine, people both scholars, or “uneducated” or “self-taught,” geniuses and commoners. By members of both sexes, all races, creeds, and on and on, and so, stands as, perhaps, our most complete testament of the human experience. Another is that Art continues to speak to so many people in so many ways, no matter how much things “change.”

The greatest music club in the world, IMHO- NYC's Village Vanguard. Inside you are in the same space most of the greats in Jazz history performed.

The greatest music club in the world, IMHO- NYC’s Village Vanguard. Inside this physical “Time Machine,” you are in the same space where many of the greats in Jazz history made History.

I guess for me, if an Artist “speaks” to me, I try and learn more about him or her. At least I want to see more of their work and see if it speaks to me as well. Perhaps I’m seeking something of a kindred spirit. Perhaps I’m seeking answers. Interestingly, for me, I notice that Artists I loved as a teenager still speak to me. Do yours?

I feel that looking at, or experiencing, Art is a selfish experience. The Artist does all the giving. The viewer (listener, reader or concert goer) does all the “getting.” I say that even while acknowledging that many Artists say they “create for themselves,” and that it can take some “work” on the recipient’s part to understand what is being presented. Yet, it’s not a one way street.

Worlds within Worlds. The eastern half of the 1st Floor of The Strand Bookstore.

Worlds within Worlds. The eastern half of the 1st of 4 floors of The Strand Bookstore. A “Time Machine” if ever there was one.

Though many of these Artists may have passed away, they live on through their work. People respond to it for many reasons- perhaps as many as there are viewers, listeners or readers of it. They come out in droves to see it. 661,500 people who weren’t me (out of the total of 611,509) attended “Savage Beauty,” TM’s show devoted to the work of the brilliant Fashion Designer Alexander McQueen in 2011, a year after he passed away, tragically, at age 40. And  yes, quite a few left feeling they “loved” him or his work. The show was then reinstalled at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, where over 3,500 a day visited it. This is one show, one example. The results are similar for individuals attending any show, big or small, hearing any record, seeing any show, book or film. Some don’t get it, some hate it, and some like it, even Love it.

The "manual" elevator at the "New" Whitney Museum seen in 2015 shortly after it's opening.

The “manual” Elevator/”Time Machine” at the “New” Whitney Museum seen in 2015 shortly after it’s grand opening. It won’t look this new long.

One result- Many Artists are loved more now than they were when they were alive!

Think about that for a minute.

That is unspeakably S A D.

“Love,” Nighthawk? L.O.V.E.? The same Love that Shakespeare’s Romeo speaks of for Juliet? “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!”(Act 1, Sc 5).  The same Love that most of the other Artists you name probably wouldn’t feel for you? (“He jests at scars that never felt a wound.” R&J Act 2, Sc2)

Something is amiss in the State of Art.

Well? I said it wasn’t a “one way street.” Many recipients of Art respond with real feeling for the Artists, though it may not always be as intense as “Beatlemania” was. I’m not telling those people what they were feeling wasn’t real.

I wonder how it would it feel to Vincent van Gogh if he were alive now? He’d be one of the biggest “stars” (whatever that “means”) in the world, mobbed anywhere he went. For someone as isolated as he was, it might well be too much for him, or any one, to bear. How would Nasreen Mohamedi, who also never sold a work, feel walking into her show right now?

The Met Breuer's "Time Machine"/elevator, May, 2016

The Met Breuer’s Elevator/”Time Machine,” May, 2016, Nasreen? 2nd Floor. Art/Culture is the main (only?) reason to live in NYC, IMHO.

All of this makes me wonder, yet again, about the incredible amount of attention being paid to, not to mention the even more incredible prices paid for, unproven Contemporary Art. With all due respect to John Waters book, “Contemporary Art Hates You,” my question is- “Do people LOVE Contemporary Art, and if so, who’s?” Looking at show attendance lists, I’m not surprised to see Ai Weiwei’s name near the top, along with Jeff Koons, Nobuyoshi Araki, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Banksy in there as well. I, too, am taken with Ai, as a fellow New Yorker, as an Activist and as an Artist. I wrote about his work when his Passport was finally returned last year. While I admire him tremendously, and from everything I’ve seen, he seems like a very likable, even lovable guy. I wonder, however, how many people “Love” his work. Even if this isn’t the point of it, I don’t think this is splitting hairs. It’s easy for me, or others, to chalk the incredibly high prices paid at auction or in galleries for Contemporary Art to the few with excess cash looking for an “investment,” but for the mainstream Art lover to connect with them, as they do with whoever is on their lists, is something I wonder about. Much of what I see in galleries, (by others not named here), is downright hard to “Love.” I’d settle for “liking” it.

Is it "Art?" Or, just broken? Michael Brown @ Mike Weiss Gallery, 2016

Do you love me? Michael Brown recreates broken glass in steel @ Mike Weiss Gallery, 2016. One man’s junk is another man’s Art.

The last time something like this happened, Andy Warhol led a group of artists that got labelled “Pop,” and some of them, including Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist, continued to innovate and speak to people, and so became established Artists, displayed in countless Museums, and also, loved. It will be interesting to see if that happens again. THAT is what some people are betting hundreds of millions of dollars on. Maybe they should have put that money into making their own “Time Machine.” Because?

Time will tell. We shall see.

“But I wait, I’m sinkin’ in my skin
And I wait, my heart is wearin’ thin
Cause I’m looking for something beautiful”*

One thing I can say right now- With all the attention that’s being given to Contemporary Art these days, which is rare historically (usually, it has had to prove itself over time to gain acceptance), and the level of it unprecedented, I hope some of that will trickle over to the other “Contemporary ArtS” that could sure use some- Writers, Musicians, Dramatists, Actors, Independent Filmmakers & Documentarians, among them, where there are many worthy Artists (I’m especially thinking of Artists who are in the middle or mature stages of important careers, to start with, like Jazz Artists Craig Taborn or Kamasi Washington, playwright Athol Fugard, composers John Adams and David Byrne, singer/songwriters Tom Waits and Tracy Bonham, (who’s song, “Something Beautiful,” is the Soundtrack for this Post), and Graphic Novelists Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware 3) who could sure use some attention and support.

Maybe even some Love.

“And I pray for it to come right in
There’ll come a day, my heart is wearin’ thin
When I fall upon something beautiful
Something beautiful, something meaningful

Something beautiful, something meaningful”*

I’ve written far too many “R.I.P.” pieces already this year. Let’s not wait till it’s too late. Use the Key to your own Time Machine right now and experience them. You have the rare power of being able to make time stand still.

No “Machine” can ever give that to you. Only being alive can.

*-The Soundtrack for this Post is “Something Beautiful” by Tracy Bonham from her 2005 album, “Blink The Brightest,” seen here in this very rare TV-with-Rabbit-Ear-Antenna to VHS dub-

Written by Tracy, Marc Copely and Greg Wells and published by Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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  1. Of these, I was blessed with encountering Jaco Pastorius in person a number of times over the last 10 years of his life, I met Elvis Costello twice, and I met Richard Estes once.
  2. Morrissey asks this very question in “List of the Lost.
  3. I’ve met Mr. Ware a few times as well.

…And Here’s How It Looked Monday Evening

I told you someone was going to be busy!

Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Please send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com

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I Hate The Grammys.

What a pathetic joke they’ve been for over 50 years. No, they don’t get an award for that.

First- they have nothing to do with “Music.” “Aural entertainment?,” perhaps. I’m guessing but I bet at least 75% of the most important records made since the Grammys began have gone overlooked. Then, what’s really the deal with these “awards?”

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“Gold” record be damned. Art’s “award” is timelessness. The word “Grammy” is worthless to me, but, when I see “Blue Note” on a record, there’s a better chance it’s a classic, like this one by Sonny Clark, his debut, from 1957. There was no “Best New Artist” Grammy in 1957, saving Mr. Clark from losing it.

Let’s start with an easy one…”Best New Artist.” Define that. What the hell do you mean? Best Artist to be Born this year? Best Artist who never stepped into a recording studio before this year? Does that include home studios? Best Artist 1 Million people finally heard of (though they’ve been out there making music for years)? Maybe I’m being facetious. Or, is it Best New Artist To Make The Most People Some Money, So Keep It Coming Cause Our Livelihoods Depend On It?

Looking at the list of winners and nominees, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the latter. For the life of me, I don’t see how some of them could have ever been picked otherwise. Who the heck knows who’s going to be any good in 5 years? 10 years? Let alone 50 years? Anyone hear from prior winners Paula Cole, LeAnn Rimes, Hootie & The Blowfish, or Vacated lately? Jody Watley, Christopher Cross, Debby Boone or A Taste of Honey? How’s that working out for you? Not to mention Milli Vanilli. Oops.

I didn’t watch the show tonite, but I heard that Lady GaGa was going to do a tribute to David Bowie. I find this a wonderful, and poignant idea. Coincidentally, neither were even nominated for Best New Artist! Yes, without Bowie, there’s no Lady GaGa, but it reinforces, for me, one thing I love about Bowie- he’s an “outsider,” here at the Grammys, too. It’s also a reminder that really good music lasts & continues to speak to people. No “awards” necessary. Will 2015’s?

Musically? I think we might be ready to consider naming the “Best New Artist of 1960” now. That is if you want to actually consider what music has been written and created in the interim by an artist who was new then. So, yes, 1960 is about long enough ago. Unfortunately, among the group consisting of 1960 B.N.A. Grammy winner, Bobby Darin, or the nominees (Edd Byrnes, Johnny Restivo, Mark Murphy, or Mavis Rivers), only Mark Murphy made a substantial body of music over the last 55 years, as far as I know. 1 Ummm…Isn’t that what matters? Who the nominees “should” have been would take quite a bit of research (if you have any suggestions, let me know. Wayne Shorter, who’s solo debut “Introducing Wayne Shorter” was released in August, 1960, though he’d been recording before that, would be on my list), and, to my way of thinking, it should include all genres of music, not just “popular” music. As fun as this might be to consider, as I said, I don’t believe in comparing Artists or creative works with each other.

Ok. They’re not going to choose it like this, but see how ridiculous this is however you look at “Best New Artist,” regardless of whatever the stated “criteria” are?

While you’re at it? Take “Best (fill in Award title here).” What the hell does “Best” mean? And? How do you decide who “makes the cut” and gets nominated? Apparently, more comparing…based on…? It doesn’t matter.

Regardless of what they say their criteria are- How can you possibly compare Artist A to Artist B, (or even Record A to Record B), in any form of music? 2

YOU CAN’T!

J.S. Bach is, and will always be, Great. But, so are Jimi Hendrix, Mozart, Miles Davis, The Beatles, Stravinsky, Duke Ellington, Bob Marley, Karlheinz Stockhausen, The Who and Louis Armstrong, among many others. No “award” can change that. No “award” made them that. Their talent did. Artists stand by themselves, beyond category and beyond comparison to anyone else. 3

Why is this so hard to understand? All you need to do is listen.

To do that? Everyone else need to shut up.

Starting with the Grammys and the other music awards. These “awards” are pointless…stupid…they mean nothing, except for those that stand to make money on them. Even some good live performances doesn’t make the show watchable when you know it’s all an attempt at trying to brain wash the masses into thinking THIS is what they should listen to not because it’s any good musically, but because they want your money. It’s nothing but commercialism at it’s worst. It has NOTHING to do with Music.

Don’t fall for it! They’ll play anything over and over and over and over until they brainwash you into liking it. But? As another great artist, Gil Scot-Heron, says-

“You still got the on and off switch to the radio in your hand
You ain’t got to listen to nothing you don’t want to
Those things are still within  your power.”*


Everyone is entitled to make up their own minds and like, even love, what they like. Hopefully, they’ll like it enough to want to learn more about it and in the process maybe even discover other Artists, or even other genres of music they may also like. I’ve made my own mind up over many years of doing just that- by listening, performing music, producing it and working with and learning from musicians in different genres. A few lessons learned-

NO ONE can tell you what you should like.

And?

NO ONE can tell you what the “Best” of anything is. It’s only their opinion. Or, worse? It’s their way of paying back someone who made them money, (which makes their opinion worthless in my opinion).

They should probably rename the Grammys the “Most Selling Record Of The Year”…”Most Selling R&B Artist Of The Year,” etc., etc., Or? “Record That Made The Most People Some Money Of The Year,” because that’s the only way they can give awards that make any sense.

I have no desire to hear any of those.

I Love Music.

This is an expansion of Item #4B from my previous Post, “Ten Things Wrong In The Arts.”

(With apologies to my friend, and Grammy Award winner, Ben. You’ve always been tops in my book, I don’t know why it took them so long to appreciate you.)

*Soundtrack for this post is “The On/Off Switch(Interlude)” by Gil Scott-Heron from his final album, “Nothing New,” which I predict will be listened to long after most of this year’s winners are forgotten.

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This Post was created by Kenn Sava for www.nighthawknyc.com

  1. Thanks for the reminder, Dave.
  2. Yes, a new blues recording may sound “better” thanks to technological improvements than a 1930’s one microphone recording by Robert Johnson in a hotel room, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about musically comparing.
  3. I have NO problem with any Artist enjoying any award they are given. As I said previously, Artists get so little support or acknowledgement in America, ANY has got to feel great.

Words To Live By From Man Ray

 

“The conscious individual striving to experience all the sensations of life is forced by his physical and temporal limits to receive them in a more concentrated form. This concentration of life is offered by the expressive arts.”

Man Ray, “No. 6 The Conscious Individual” November, 1915 from “Writings On Art”, P.20 Published by Getty Research Institute

One of the most unique Artists in history, Man Ray is one of those people who seems to continually appear…as one of the most revolutionary photographers ever, a painter (his first love), a sculptor, a graphic artist, and on and on…and also as a writer. He’s in all the major museums, but rarely gets a show of his own. I’ve always admired his work, and continually been surprised by it, and his accomplishment (as in “That’s a Man Ray, too?”) Having published a fascinating autobiography, perfectly titled “Self Portrait,” which drips with both insight and intrigue, now comes a collection of his writings about art. It’s a book that even rewards random reading- almost every page has a fascinating example of his one of a kind mind.

I think they make wonderful meditations…

Soundtrack for this post is, what else? “Man Ray,” by the Futureheads from their 2004 self-titled album.

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10 Things Wrong In The Arts

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Things are somewhat different in Europe. “The Practioners of the Visual Arts” by Cornelius Cort, 1578, currently on view in a superb print show at The Met.

In homage to the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Orson Welles, I thought I’d borrow an idea of his from “Citizen Kane” where Kane publishes his “Manifesto” on the first page of “The Inquirer,” in the form of my own ”Top 10 List.” This one is about things that have bothered me for quite some time. Though it’s not a “Manifesto,” per se, it does contain some of my core beliefs. By way of introduction, here are the lyrics for this Post’s Soundtrack, which just happens to be called “Manifesto,” by Roxy Music-

“I am for a life around the corner
That takes you by surprise
That comes leaves all you need
And more besides

Or nothing to the man who wants tomorrow
There’s one in every town
A crazy guy, hed rather die
Than be tied down

I am for the man who drives the hammer
To rock you till the grave
His power drill shocks
A million miles away

I am for the revolution’s coming
I don’t know where she’s been
For those who dare because it’s there
I know I’ve seen

Now and then I’ve suffered imperfection
I’ve studied marble flaws
And faces drawn pale and worn
By many tears

I am that I am from out of nowhere
To fight without a cause
Roots strain against the grain
With brute force you’d better

Hold out when you’re in doubt
Question what you see
And when you find an answer
Bring it home to me”*

10 Things Wrong In The Arts 1

10- General Admission prices of more than $15. for any Museum, and Memberships costing more than 75./year. I believe higher prices are short sighted- for the institution, even financially. Also, a related thought- New ways must be found to bring Art to (more) people for less, or free. 2

9- The lack of support (public and private) for Artists in America- financially, and beyond.

8- The lack of outlets for the exposure of Art/Artists in America.

7A- The lack of Arts education in grades K-12. And…

7B -Then inflating the value of formal higher Arts education 3 – It’s no guarantee. There are just as many great Artists who went to school as those who did not.

6- The absurdity of the amount of money spent on unproven contemporary art. Talk about a “bubble!” Look out below!

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Thanks for the sign, or someone might be trying to get $100,000 for it.

5- Architecture by committee. Just look around New York, or any other American City (Not to say it’s all that better anywhere else).

4A- “Halls of Fame” – ALL of them. Open a Museum instead. And…

4B- Comparative Award Shows – Oscars4, Grammies…ALL of them, too. Qualitatively comparing creative people/Artists is ABSURD! It’s not possible. Stop the insanity now!

3- The lack of auction resale “royalties” for living artists. In an age where auction houses now get commissions from BOTH buyers & sellers, while artists get 0%, this just isn’t right 5.

2- Categorizing Artists with a one word “style” which they are then stuck with forevermore. And, by extension, lumping Artists into a one word stylistic group. Call them an “Artist” and leave it at that. What one word would you like to define you? Besides “Person?”

1- The “dumbing down” of American “culture.” In the 1960’s, the best popular music was among the best music of any genre of music being created in the world. Now? It’s almost impossible to say that about any art form. It feels like there is almost no interest in quality in American culture and those who are interested in it are left to find it on their own somewhat miraculously. Everything is second to “popularity,” which is usually meaningless in terms of something actually being “good.” Yes, millions of people can be wrong…repeatedly. There needs to be Arts Eduction & Appreciation for Adults, many of whom, like myself, grew up without any Arts Education in school (see the last part of #10). The past is prologue for the future, especially for Artists, who are influenced by it, as well as for the general public to learn about and appreciate it. If we fail to remember and appreciate what has been created before, we have little chance to build something greater any time soon, and we stand to lose our very culture- some of the greatest things Americans have achieved.

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Titus Kaphar @ Jack Shainman, February, 2015

Each is a topic unto itself. The list is admittedly local not global, probably because I never leave Manhattan.

*-As I said, the Soundtrack for this Post is “Manifesto” by Bryan Ferry & Phil Manzanera from the Roxy Music Album with the same name. Published by Universal Music Publishing Group.

Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Please send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com.

  1. By “Arts” and “Artist” I mean all the Arts and all Artists- not only the visual Arts & visual Artists.
  2. Gallery shows are free for self-serving purposes, and are decidedly hit or miss in terms of Artistic “worth.” Regardless, they, alone, aren’t going to provide a working knowledge of Art History or American Culture. In the other Arts, free events are, generally, more entertainment oriented. Yes, ticket scalping is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, but I think that may be more a legal matter.
  3. Unless you need to learn a specific technical skill.
  4.  Remember- Charlie Chaplin, Hitchcock, Fellini, Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman or Stanley Kubrick, among others, never won an Oscar for Best Director! I rest my case.
  5. Exactly how this might work I don’t know, but the time for the dialogue to this end is overdue.

Art Shows, 2015 – Who Keeps Your Flame?

“But when you’re gone,
Who remembers your name?
Who keeps your flame?”*

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January, 2015. Goya @The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Neither snow, nor 5 hours on a train kept the Nighthawk from the Front Door of Great Art. Click any image for full size.

Since I don’t believe in comparing creative work or creative people, AND I believe that “awards” for “Best” whatever among the Arts (and Sports) are absurd 1, I thought I’d do a “List In No Particular Order” of 2015 Art Shows I saw (some opened in 2014) that may or may not have closed for good, but still continue to open doors in my mind, and that’s more important than any award I could bestow.

“Oh can I show you what I’m proudest of?”*

“Goya: Order and Disorder” (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. No photos permitted.) AND “Goya:Los Caprichos” (National Arts Club, Gramercy Park, NYC)- Two concurrent, excellent shows, 250 miles apart, one huge, the other “small” showing two views of  Goya- one all encompassing, filling the whole lower level of the MFA, one narrowly focused on a rare, complete set of his landmark 80 print, “Los Caprichos,”(once owned by Robert Henri, who reappears below) combined to show the enduring power, importance, relevance and eternal influence of the Spanish Master. Many saw the former, far fewer saw the latter, tucked away in a dining? lecture? room on the second floor of the NAC (Behind hundreds of chairs on one of my visits!). An artist of nightmares, both surreal and all-too-real, the likes of which perhaps only Bosch can equal, who can then turn around and paint with the utmost lyricism, Goya was all about what it is to be human. Take your pick- portraits, historical pieces, landscapes, the otherworldly or the underworldly, children, tapestries, or his graphic works that hold their own with dare-I-say-Rembrandt, he’ll blow your mind.

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Goya/MFA on the show’s elevator entrance, overlooking Dale Chihuly’s Tree.

Remember My Name. Goya’s Self Portrait casts his all-seeing eye on us 215 years later.

“The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” from “The Caprichos.” So? Stay up!

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Neither blizzard, nor the furniture(!), kept the Nighthawk from seeing all of Goya’s incredible “Los Caprichos” at the National Arts Club, but I think they tried to.

“Richard Pousette-Dart” (Pace 510 West 25th, Chelsea)- I walked in and was completely captivated by “abstract” Art the way I haven’t been since the Mark Rothko Show at the “Old” Whitney in 1998, which was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. (That’s not comparing.) Don’t be fooled by the apparent geometric simplicity, there is an astounding subtlety to these works that at once feel microscopically considered, often freely rendered, yet globally cohesive. Pousette-Dart had a number of styles, and this show represented one, geometric style, from the 1970’s in both large oils and smaller drawings. For any of those who think that Abstract Expressionism is “easy” to do, go ahead and try creating one of these, the largest is almost 8 foot square, and then see if it has the “Presence” of Dart’s. The amount of work that went into each piece belies their seemingly “simple” composition, is matched by an extraordinary primacy of order, and second only to their transcendent impact. Here, we see Richard Pousette-Dart as the great, “under known” abstract artist. While Pollock & Rothko have grown larger in stature, Pousette -Dart’s name deserves to be right there with theirs. There is only one word to describe this show’s effect- Magical.

Then? There’s never a chair around when you want one. Pousette-Dart @Pace- “Presence, Circle of Night,” 1975-6, center, “Black Circle Time”, 1980, left and “White Circle Time,” 1980, 90″ square each.

“Imploding Black,” 1975, six feet square. Transcendent,

Detail.

“Cerchio di Dante,” 1986, six foot square

Detail of the left side.

“Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control
Who lives
Who dies
Who tells your story?”*

“Richard Estes: Painting New York City” (Museum of Art & Design, NYC)- My favorite contemporary artist, and one of the greatest living realists, FINALLY gets an NYC Museum show, and it was worth the wait. A virtual time capsule of NYC from the mid 1960’s to 2015’s astounding “Corner Cafe,” showing the 83 year old Master is still at the height of his considerable power. Oh…Do NOT call him a “photorealist” in my presence! Estes shows us the world we live in as we do not see it, (more on this soon) and so follows in the footsteps of Edward Hopper and Charles Sheeler in advancing American realism while, perhaps, being the first to include the abstraction that is also a part of the real world. A misunderstood painter, in my eyes, who is only just beginning to be really seen, finally.

“Horn & Hardart Automat” 1967. Not since Hopper has a work spoken to me of life in the City like this does.

“Columbus Circle, Maine Monument” 1989. 500 years ago, or 100, they came by ship. Now? They come by bus. Frozen in time, side by side.

“Times Square”, 2004. Nothing captures the experience of the place better than this, though Robert Rauschenberg is capable of giving me a similar feeling (See below).

“I try to make sense of your thousands of pages of writings
You really do write like you’re running out of time.”*

“Picasso: Sculpture” (MoMA)- If he had never done anything besides paint, Picasso would be considered among the all time Masters. But, noooooooooooo… Picasso was, perhaps, the most unique genius in (known) art history in that his genius was among the most restless. He almost never stopped creating, and he never stopped seeking new outlets for his creative vision. Consider- PICASSO HAD NO TRAINING AS A SCULPTOR! NONE. Yet, that didn’t stop him from becoming, perhaps, THE most revolutionary sculptor up to his time. There is so much great work to see in this show, I don’t even know where to start talking about it. “Picasso: Sculpture” shows us the naked face of endlessly creative genius the like the world has never seen. I’ll sum it up by saying virtually all of it is wonderfully selected, though some of the Cubist works here don’t stand up to his paintings, in my opinion, and wonder- When will we see his like, again? The “other” takeaway, for me, is- Oh…MoMA. I miss you. About as much as I miss your “old” building.

Standing “Figure” in Wire, 1928. Unprecedented. Astounding.

“Sylvette,” 1954. “I see you slightly folded…in steel, my dear.” Picasso must have said.

“America Is Hard To See” (Whitney Museum)- I’m saving my thoughts on the “New Whitney” Building, but the opening show in the new place was a wonderful “Welcome Back” to one of the first 3 of NYC”s Big Four Museums and a reminder of it’s world class (and first anywhere) collection of American Art. My personal highlight? The first floor gallery featuring a selection of Hopper Drawings done at the Whitney Studio which predated the Museum, and the absolutely mesmerizing portrait of Museum founder, the indomitable Mrs. Gertrude V. Whitney (also an overlooked sculptor) that looked out at Gansevoort Street, and for my money? SHOULD HAVE BEEN LEFT RIGHT THERE- PERMANENTLY! It wasn’t.

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Frozen in time. Mrs Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney looks out on the new home of the collection she started.

Mrs. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney by Robert Henri, 1917, with her “Study for the Head of her Titanic Memorial” from 1922, right. Yes. She was a sculptor, too.

Before the First Whitney Museum opened in 1931, there was the Whitney Studio Club, where artists came to draw from the model. See that guy to the left of center rear with the light shining on his bald head? That’s Edward Hopper, a regular. That’s why his estate was left to The Whitney. Litho by Mabel Dwight, 1931.

America is hard to change. Excellent, rarely seen, works by Grant Wood, “Study for Breaking the Prairie” 1939,…

…And Kara Walker, “A Means To An End,” 1995, struck me as serendipitous.

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America: Seen everywhere. Inside- Rothko’s “Four Darks in Red, 1958, Pollock’s “Number 27,” 1950, Chamberlain “Jim,” 1962 & Guston’s “Dial,” 1956…

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…And, Outside- sculpture from one of the countless roof decks.

“And I’m still not trough I ask myself,
what would you do if you had more time
The Lord, in his kindness
He gives me what you always wanted
He gives me more time.”*

I end this section honoring two endlessly creative American “painters,” featured in very very good shows. Like Richard Estes, these two artists also put that “more” time of a long life to superb use. Yes, despite evidence to the contrary, they both consider themselves to be painters. To me, the “lessons” of their lives, how they were able to survive following their star in this country for so long, may prove to be as important as their considerable artistic legacies.

Robert Rauschenberg- Anagrams, Arcadian Retreats, Anagrams:A Pun” (Pace 534 West 25th, Chelsea)- Presaging Photoshop, the late, great Mr. Rauchenberg continues to speak to our times though he, unfortunately, left us almost 7 years ago. Light years ahead of his times, throughout his life, “Anagrams…,” a show of Mr. Rauschenberg’s final development, shows that once again, his work will look “contemporary” for years to come, and more amazingly, I think it will be as relevant as what anyone else is doing at the moment! As I just said, he represents something of an American miracle- an artist who was able to spend virtually his entire life creating EXACTLY what he wanted to, answering to no one but himself. That sure must seem miraculous to today’s American artists. Interestingly, like Mr. Estes, the works here are based on Mr. Rauschenberg’s own photography, to very different results. Unlike Mr. Estes, Mr. Rauschenberg’s are directly transferred to the piece, though with such skill and subtlety they have the effect of melting into the others they’re surrounded by. A surprisingly fresh, visually rich, often beautiful show who’s spell will call me a few more times before it ends on January 16. And then, I will miss it, but it will have changed the way I see the world, like Richard Estes has.

Rauschenberg @ PACE. I just loved this show.

“Frank Stella” (Whitney)- An art mover’s nightmare of a show, the Artist’s helpful hand notated directional markings seen on some of the pieces notwithstanding, it must have been hard for Mr Stella, himself, to narrow his 50-some year career down to one floor at the New Whitney, handsomely displayed in the still-new space. With only one Moby Dick piece in sight, the take away for me is that here is a Triumphant overview of another rare American artist who continues to explore and evolve, fickle times and the “harpoons” of even more fickle critics & collectors be damned. Mr. Stella has devoted his career to the eternal pursuit of finding new possibilities, “new spacial complexities” 2, for the Art Form of painting. Some of these sure look like sculpture, but I’ll bow to what he says on one of the show’s signs- “Q- You still call these paintings? A- Yes. They are, in fact, paintings.” Remarkably, as he closes in on 80 this May 12, Mr. Stella continues to “start over,” as Richard Meier says on the audio guide, eternally following his muse, breaking painting out of 2 dimensions, to lord-only-knows-where-next. In this show’s case? The Journey IS The Destination. Mr. Stella strikes me as a master conceptualist with an endless font of making the unlikely, and especially the unthought-of, real. Forget this show’s afterthought of a catalog, for me, his value, “message” and influence lie in the sheer physical experience of his work- they simply must be seen, and often, walked around like sculpture to be fully appreciated. Who else “paints” like this? If you go, and you should, check out the great quotes from Mr. Stella on the wall signage- “What you see is what you see.” And then some. What I saw was a show to fire your creativity, and inspire you to see new possibilities in anything, if there ever was one. You still have a few days left to see it before it closes after February 7. Then, the art movers get to pack it up and move it out. I would pay to watch that.

50+ years of “starting over.”

“Toto, We’re Not On Canvas, Anymore.” Stella Busts Painting Out.

“Um..A Little Higher On The Right?”

And lest I forget…

 

 

Cubism (The Met No photos permitted.)- TM is on a mission to shore up it’s Modern & Contemporary Art holdings, as we will soon see at The Met, Breuer, but this show featuring works of a promised gift goes a very long way to solidifying TM’s Cubists holdings, and then some. So many strong works by the Masters of Cubism, Picasso, Braque, the underrated Juan Gris, and Leger abound, they made me wonder where TM is going to install them all when they finally get them!

Madame Cezanne (TM No photos permitted.)- Portraits are not the first thing most think of when they think of Cezanne. Many think of his groundbreaking landscapes and genius with color, but this show of his, no doubt long-suffering wife, says as much about this under known muse as it does about Cezanne. The hours she spent posing for him reminds me of “The Man in The Blue Shirt,” by Martin Gayford about sitting for Lucian Freud. The show is a striking look at another side of this master of impressionism, and gives us rare opportunities to see 4 versions of a painting reunited, and Cezanne’s actual sketchbooks. A rare treat for the lover of Impressionism, portraiture and great Art.

China Through The Looking Glass” (TM)- Except for Picasso: Sculpture and Goya’s Los Caprichos, the above shows are painting shows, my true love, but CTTLG is in a category all it’s own. ANY show that can get TM to stay open till Midnight has to make the Nighthawk’s list. After setting the bar high with “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” TM’s Costume Institute topped themselves with a spectacle that the 800,000 who saw it will remember almost as long, and which will prove quite a challenge for 2016’s “manus x machina,” or MxM, as I’m calling it to equal, let alone top. I predicted 1 Million will attend it, so GO EARLY (or don’t say I didn’t warn you) & Stay tuned!

“Francis Bacon- Late Paintings” – (Gagosian No photos permitted.) – with one work, a triptych selling for 142 million, I can’t fathom how much 28 are worth, but here was a chance to see that many in one show, focused on the seemingly contemplative, other-worldly “late” Bacon,

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especially after seeing the following (Rembrandt show) on the same day, which brought to mind subtle, fascinating convergences- self-portraits, multiple views, or states, for Rembrandt, diptychs & triptychs for Bacon, among them.

“Rembrandt’s Changing Impressions” (Columbia U.)- In lieu of the “big one” I missed (see below), this was a closer-to-home chance to see 50 or so prints by the Master and a rare chance to see various “states” (versions) of works side by side. A bit light on the most well known of Rembrandt’s etchings, but very worth 4 visits none the less.

Not a triptych. Rembrandt creates 3 masterpieces from one composition.

Chuck Close Recent Paintings” (Pace 534, Chelsea)- I met Mr. Close, briefly, but in spite of the fact that he is one of the greatest portraitists of the 2nd half of the 20th Century+, I know he won’t remember my face. He has Prosopagnosia. He’s ALSO paralyzed and in a wheel chair. I never cease to be absolutely astounded at what he achieves and what new ground he breaks. Already a Master before his brain aneurysm, which would have stopped 99.5% of anyone not named Chuck Close, he’s gone on to create ever new works that continue his life long exploration of his famous “grid technique.” These works add even new elements- new palettes, a new approach to focus and depth of field, and more.

Linda & Mary McCartney “(Gagosian Books)- If they had taken down all the title cards, removed the iconic shots among Linda’s, and you walked in without knowing which work was by who- Linda McCartney, or her and Paul’s daughter, Mary, you’d never know. That’s how amazingly symbiotic the eyes of the two photographers are. They see as one. Walking out, and I say this with nothing but respect, it really felt like Linda had never passed away. That her work continues. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

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The daughter reflects well on her famous mother.

 

George Caleb Bingham” (TM)- The year’s “sleeper” pick. I don’t know if he ever met Mark Twain, but if Mr. T. ever wanted an artist to illustrate “Huck” or “Tom Sawyer?” G.C.B. would get my vote. His work captured what it was to live on the River the way only Twain, himself, has, and makes a contribution to laying the ground work towards defining a truly “American” style of painting, and by the Mid-Nineteenth Century? It was about time! TM’s show reveals him to be something of a predecessor for that other great American 19th C. portraitist, Thomas Eakins, but with a style and a power of his own that still holds up.

“Araki” (Anton Kern, NYC)- He lost his wife…he gets prostate cancer…he says he no longer has sex…Nothing stops the indefatigable, legendary Araki. Don’t let the “casual” taping of the photos to the wall fool you- I found this show striking, poignant, meditative and moving. The images flowed one to the next, sometimes in harmony, sometimes in dissonance, but all of them speak with that sense that only Araki has. Some will say he’s a misogynist. I’m not a woman but I disagree. I see beauty and poetry in his shots of women. Reading some of the press materials on hand, I was struck by his comment that he had sex with most of his models. I couldn’t help wonder- Does that include Bjork? Live long, and much health, Araki.

 

Also lingering in my mind, tormenting me with what I missed, are the ones that got away-

“Late Rembrandt” (Rikjsmuseum, Amsterdam)- I agonized about going. For months. Like I agonize about Frank Gehry at LACMA right now! (Hello, Sponsorship?)

Bjork” (Moma)- Sold out when I went. Bad reviews be damned, I love Bjork.

Overall, it was a good, but not great year. Still, these 17 shows had real staying power and lasting influence. I’m grateful that in NYC, we still have so much to see. As I said a few posts back, I live in mortal fear of missing a great show- Like all those I missed this year because I never knew about them, and still don’t.

As I look back on 2015, the Idea of great Art is what lingers in the mind, inspires, even instructs. The experience, talent and creativity of a great Artist speaks to the highest & best of mankind, in ways the rest of us can, perhaps, relate to, learn from, and even aspire to. As Mr. Pousette-Dart cosmically said-

 

In these times of so much senseless hatred, violence and the worst of human kind on display, we need this more than ever.

*Soundtrack for this post is “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells  Your Story?” from the 2015 album I listened to the most, “Hamilton– Original Broadway Cast Recording,” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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This Post was created by Kenn Sava for www.nighthawknyc.com

  1. Remember- Charlie Chaplin, Hitchcock, Fellini, Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman or Stanley Kubrick, among others, never won an Oscar for Best Director! I rest my case.
  2. as is said on the audio tour, #508