The Arts Seen in NYC (Picasso Everywhere! Edition)

Well the Missus and I trundled down to the Big Town for the weekend and, say, it was swell. (Not to mention All Pablo All the Time.)

Here, in roughly chronological order, is some of what we caught.


• Picasso & the Camera at the Gagosian Gallery (Chelsea) through January 3, 2015

This exhibit, curated by Picasso biographer/friend John Richardson, is a stunning display that “explores how Picasso used photography not only as a source of inspiration, but as an integral part of his studio practice.”

Spanning sixty years, this show, which includes many photographs taken by Picasso but never before seen or 0704e19eff1cb3c2a52d72db5772eedcpublished, as well as related paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, and films, [provides] an unprecedented survey of his unique relationship with the camera. David Korins, acclaimed scenic and production designer for stage and screen, has transformed the 21st Street gallery with an innovative exhibition design that seamlessly incorporates the vast array of archival materials with Picasso’s own works in a variety of media.

Of course, it never hurts when Man Ray takes your home movies for you.

• Picasso & Jacqueline: The Evolution of Style at Pace Gallery (Chelsea) through January 10, 2015

Yeah, this exhibit tries hard, but it’s a bit, well, domesticated compared to Gagosian’s photyricon.

From the website:

New York—Opening on October 31, 2014, the Pace Gallery in New York presents Picasso & Jacqueline: The Evolution of Style, featuring nearly 140 works by Pablo Picasso created in the last two decades of his life while living with his muse, and later, wife, Jacqueline Roque. With many works from the Picasso family 58928_PICASSOand Jacqueline Roque’s estate on view to the public for the first time, plus loans from private collections and major museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris, this exhibition is the first to examine Picasso’s late transformation in style, as seen exclusively through the portraits of Jacqueline, his last and perhaps greatest love. Picasso & Jacqueline features painting, sculpture, works on paper, and ceramics, all depicting Jacqueline in a myriad of ways—from odalisque to bride—that would immortalize her arresting beauty.

And . . . kind of meh.

To be fair, Pace would get another shot – at its midtown gallery – the next day.

• A Delicate Balance at the John Golden Theatre through February 22, 2015.

On the one hand, before I say anything about the current Broadway production of “A Delicate Balance,” I should mention that the Missus and I saw the vaunted 1996 production of the Edward Albee play described here by legendary New York Times theater critic Vincent Canby.

As staged by Gerald Gutierrez and acted by a splendid cast headed by Rosemary Harris, Elaine Stritch and George Grizzard, “A Delicate Balance” is now revealed to be almost as ferocious and funny as — and far more humane than — “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” It makes “Three Tall Women,” Mr. Albee’s 1994 Pulitzer winner, look as bland and unthreatening as a Saturday night dinner at your average upper-middle-class country club.

On the other hand, I should also mention that neither of us remembers all that much about the play itself, except that Rosemary Harris was a lot better than the current production’s Glenn Close (who flubbed about a dozen lines). Ditto George Grizzard vs. John Lithgow (who did a lot of scenery-chewing in the denouement). And Elaine Stritch – well, someone should have invoked the mercy rule for Lindsay Duncan’s performance.

Current Times theater critic Ben Brantley agrees with us (or vice versa – we read his Friday review after we saw the play).

(Grace note: Broadway went dark at 7:45 to honor the legendary Mike Nichols. Everyone in line outside the theaters applauded.)



• Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at the Museum of Modern Art through February 8, 2015.

A knockout.

From the website:

In the late 1940s, Henri Matisse turned almost exclusively to cut paper as his primary medium, and scissors as his chief implement, introducing a radically new operation that came to be called a cut-out. Matisse would cut painted sheets into forms 111498of varying shapes and sizes—from the vegetal to the abstract—which he then arranged into lively compositions, striking for their play with color and contrast, their exploitation of decorative strategies, and their economy of means. Initially, these compositions were of modest size but, over time, their scale grew along with Matisse’s ambitions for them, expanding into mural or room-size works. A brilliant final chapter in Matisse’s long career, the cut-outs reflect both a renewed commitment to form and color and an inventiveness directed to the status of the work of art, whether as a unique object, environment, ornament, or a hybrid of all of these.

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs is a groundbreaking reassessment of this important body of work. The largest and most extensive presentation of the cut-outs ever mounted, the exhibition includes approximately 100 cut-outs—borrowed from public and private collections around the globe—along with a selection of related drawings, prints, illustrated books, stained glass, and textiles. The last time New York audiences were treated to an in-depth look at the cut-outs was in 1961.

Recommended reading: Jed Perl’s review in the New Republic.

Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor at MOMA through January 18, 2015

From the website:

The Heart Is Not a Metaphor is the first large-scale survey of Robert Gober’s career to take place in the United States. Gober (American, b. 1954) rose to prominence in the mid-1980s and was quickly acknowledged as one of the most significant artists of his generation. Early in his career he made deceptively simple sculptures of everyday objects—beginning with sinks before moving on to domestic furniture such as playpens, beds, and doors. In the 1990s, his practice evolved from single works to 107553theatrical room-sized environments. Featuring loans from institutions and private collections in North America and Europe, along with selections from the artist’s collection, the exhibition includes around 130 works across several mediums, including individual sculptures and immersive sculptural environments and a distinctive body of drawings, prints, and photographs. The loosely chronological presentation traces the development of this remarkable body of work, highlighting themes and motifs that emerged in the early 1980s and continue to inform Gober’s work today.

I’m not smart enough to understand this stuff, but others seem to like it.

• The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters at MOMA through March 22, 2015

The little guy is always in style.

• Jean Dubuffet: Soul of the Underground at MOMA through April 5, 2015

Dubuffet is a hoot. The one we wanted to take home (Carrot Nose):




Sadly, we don’t have umpteen million dollars.

Picasso & Jacqueline: The Evolution of Style at Pace Gallery (Midtown) through January 10, 2015

The prints and drawings in this other Pace exhibition are more interesting than the paintings in Chelsea. (Over all, Picasso was kinder to Jacqueline than to his many galpals. See especially: Dora Maar). But not especially compelling.

From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945-1952 at the Jewish Museum through February 1, 2015


Helena Rubenstein: Beauty Is Power at the Jewish Museum through March 22, 2015

Man, she was a corker.

This is the first exhibition to explore the ideas, innovations, and influence of the legendary cosmetics entrepreneur Helena 2014_rubinstein_portraitgallery_heroRubinstein (1872 – 1965). Madame (as she was universally known) helped break down the status quo of taste by blurring boundaries between commerce, art, fashion, beauty, and design. Through 200 objects Beauty Is Power reveals how Rubinstein’s unique style and pioneering approaches to business challenged conservative taste and heralded a modern notion of beauty, democratized and accessible to all.

Best story: Madame wanted a particular Manhattan apartment but was told Jewish tenants were not welcome. So she bought the building.


• MARISOL: Sculptures and Works on Paper at El Museo del Barrio through January 10, 2015

From the website:

The exhibition represents the artist’s first solo show in a New York museum, features 30 works by the artist, and is the first retrospective to include Marisol’s work on paper in conjunction with her sculptures. The exhibition reestablishes Marisol as a major figure in postwar American art, fosters a broader understanding of her work, and positions it within a larger historical context. The various phases of Marisol’s career are explored, beginning with her early carvings, cast metal works, terracottas, large, complex sculptures, and a broad selection of works on paper.

Our favorite (René Magritte):




Picasso Alert!





Mac Conner: A New York Life at the Museum of the City of New York through January 19, 2015

From the website:

McCauley (‘Mac’) Conner (born 1913) grew up admiring Norman Rockwell magazine covers in his father’s general store. He arrived in New York as a young man to work on Mac_Conner_herowartime Navy publications and stayed on to make a career in the city’s vibrant publishing industry. The exhibition presents Conner’s hand-painted illustrations for advertising campaigns and women’s magazines like Redbook and McCall’s, made during the years after World War II when commercial artists helped to redefine American style and culture.

And check out this interview with the 100-year-old artist.



Indian Ink at the Laura Pels Theatre through November 30

This Roundabout Theatre Company production of Tom Stoppard’s play was compelling from start to finish. Rosemary Harris was, as always, superb (and she remembered all her lines, unlike a certain much younger actress we won’t name again). And Romola Garai (of BBC’s The Hour) was luminous as her 30-year-ago sister, a poet who drifted to India and became planted there.

(Also deserving mention is Firdous Bamji in a thoroughly winning turn as an Indian artist. But really, the entire cast was terrific.)



Just a splendid night of theater.



On the way out of town, we swung by The Met for a few parting gifts.

Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through February 16, 2015

This exhibit will make your head explode for one of two reasons.

1) It features 81 different Cubist works;

2) They all belong to one guy.

Cubism, the most influential art movement of the early twentieth century, still resonates today. It destroyed traditional DP304529_msillusionism in painting and radically changed the way we see the world. The Leonard A. Lauder Collection, unsurpassed in its holdings of Cubist art, is now a promised gift to the Museum. On the occasion of this exhibition, the Collection is being shown in public for the first time—eighty-one paintings, collages, drawings, and sculpture by the four preeminent Cubist artists: Georges Braque (French, 1882–1963), Juan Gris (Spanish, 1887–1927), Fernand Léger (French, 1881–1955), and Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973).

It’s really quite stunning.

(Requested reading: If anyone can tell me what Julian Bell is talking about in his New York Review of Books piece on the exhibit, I’d very much appreciate it. Cheers.)

Madame Cézanne at The Met through March 15, 2015

This is the kind of thing The Met does better than virtually any other institution.

This exhibition of paintings, drawings, and watercolors by Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906) traces his lifelong attachment to MadameCezanne_WebAssets_POSTER_1106142Hortense Fiquet (French, 1850–1922), his wife, the mother of his only son, and his most painted model. Featuring twenty-four of the artist’s twenty-nine known portraits of Hortense, including Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory (1891) and Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress (1888–90), both from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection, the exhibition explores the profound impact she had on Cézanne’s portrait practice.

Twenty-four out of twenty-nine – nice batting average. The Missus and I agreed that the two Met portraits are the best of the lot.

Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire at The Met through February 1, 2015


• Making Pottery Art: The Robert A. Ellison Jr. Collection of French Ceramics (ca. 1880–1910) at The Met through March 15, 2015

Some very nice work here, and the longest exhibition title ever.

After that, it was home again, home again, jiggety jig.

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Quote o’ the Day (Military-Industrial Complex Edition)

From Ted R. Bromund’s Weekly Standard piece on the Yankee Air Museum at Ford’s former Willow Run plant in Michigan:

At its peak in 1944, Willow Run produced a B-24 Liberator bomber every 55 minutes, for a wartime production run of 8,685 planes.

We didn’t call the U.S. the Arsenal of Democracy for nothing.

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A Jason Gay Ol’ Time (Rob Gronkowski Edition)

As the hardworking staff has repeatedly noted, Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Gay gets New England sports like few others.

His latest:

Gronk, Football’s Bouncy Castle


Most delightful renaissance in the NFL right now? Easy.


As in Gronk, Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots tight end, Bill Belichick’s human bouncy castle. Six-foot-6, 265 pounds, galloping straight at you in the open field like a pony who just broke loose at a children’s birthday party.

Tackle him if you can. Better advice: Hide under a picnic table.

Best advice: Read the whole piece.

Our favorite part:

People love the Gronk’s, well…Gronkness. Gronkowski shows up for every NFL game looking like they let him out of school early for a pool party. Brady this week referred to Gronkowski’s “positive enthusiasm,” but that’s blandly selling it short—Gronk enthusiasm is the kind of big-eyed enthusiasm that’s reserved for sneaking all of the principal’s office furniture out onto the 50-yard line, or making it to 8 a.m. in Vegas. (”Hilarious too-muchness” is how Grantland’s Wesley Morris once described it.) Part of me would love very much to drive across the country in a bus with Gronk. The other part of me would jump out as we were pulling out of the driveway.

Us? We want to drive cross-country with Jason Gay.

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The Grey Lady Goes All the (Native) Way

All the signs of the Times were there.

From NiemanLab six weeks ago:

Native advertising is growing at The New York Times

Capital New York give us a look at The New York Times’ native advertising business in a profile of Meredith Kopit Levien, its executive vice president for advertising, and it appears to be growing. Since launching earlier this year, it’s struck deals with 32 different brands — from Netflix to Thomson Reuters — to create ads that cost from $25,000 to more than $200,000 just to create.

And the Times’ in-house content studio, T Brand Studio, is up to a staff of 16 — up from nine when my colleague Justin Ellis wrote about the Times’ approach native advertising in June.

And those madcap T Brandniks have been plenty busy creating online stealth advertising like this Googlepitch:




Now comes this, via Digiday.

The NY Times runs its first print native ad

The New York Times has been producing increasingly elaborate native ads online, and now it has gone a step further by extending the format to print for the first time.

The ad, for Shell, is set to appear in print and online Wednesday, and it’s a far cry from the advertorials of days past. First, the size: The print component is an eight-page section that’s wrapped around home-delivered copies. (In the case of newsstand copies, the ad wraps the business section.) The top sheet is opaque vellum, for extra effect. The print creative extends the Web version, with infographics that show the urbanization of the world’s population. In what the Times called “icing on the cake,” the print ads are enhanced by augmented reality, so that people using the Blippar app can initiate a video by holding their phone over the page.

Representative samples . . .

Read the rest at Sneak Adtack.

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Round Midnight at the Global Worldwide Headquarters (‘Extravagant’ Anita O’Day Edition)

The hardworking staff has always had a thing for the great Anita O’Day. (She chose that stage name because it was pig Latin for “dough,” which is what she wanted to make.)

And lately we’ve been hitting Replay on her version (with Stan Getz on tenor) of Man with a Horn.



Of course, that leads us inexorably to her classic, extravagant hat performance at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival (via – ! – RoundMidnightTV).



Granted, Anita could never displace any of the Big Four (Ella, Sarah, Billie, Dinah).

But to us, anyway, she’s definitely the Big Fifth.

Campaign Outsider Bonus Track:

A WGBH radio commentary I did on O’Day back in the day.

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Dead Blogging ‘The Real Thing’ at Calderwood Pavilion

Well the Missus and I trundled down to the South End to catch the Bad Habit Productions production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing and, say, it was real swell.

Campaign Outsider Flashback

We saw the Broadway production 30 years ago with this cast:


Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 1.06.28 AM


Full disclosure: Neither of us remembered a thing about the play itself.

But, encouraged by Terry Byrne’s Boston Globe review, we revisited “The Real Thing” and thoroughly enjoyed the local production (through November 23).

In addition to great music and smart staging, the production directed by A. Nora Long featured terrific performances by the whole cast, especially Bob Mussett’s Henry and Courtland Jones’ Annie.

The set-up:



The final product is just as rollicking.

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Dead Blogging ‘Horace and Agnes’ at the Griffin Museum

Well the Missus and I trundled out to Winchester yesterday to catch Horace and Agnes: A Love Story at the Griffin Museum of Photography and, say, it was swell.

Because Horace and Agnes were there!




The happy couple are a collaboration of photographer Asia Kepka and writer Lynn Dowling.

And they’re a hoot.

From the Griffin Museum website:

It was a hot summer day when Horace and Agnes: A Love Story came to life. A casual meeting with friends, an accordion, a red 071413-Accordion-drft-prnt-420x280couch, a squirrel and a horse mask spurred on a photo shoot. The resulting narrative has blossomed into over 100 photographs of Horace and Agnes Groomsby and their friends accompanied by text . . .

“Horace and Agnes met through random circumstance and their love for each other is literally blind,” says Asia Kepka. “They exemplify a fairy tale of what it would be like to fall in love with the right person…just because.”

You really should go see it (through December 14).

Just because.

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Round Midnight at the Global Worldwide Headquarters (Legendary ‘Arthur’ Edition)

After our Waterloo Sunset interlude the other day, the hardwaxing (nostalgic) staff couldn’t get the Kinks out of our mind’s ear. Especially their greatest album, Arthur.

From AllMusic:

Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) extends the British-oriented themes of Village Green Preservation Society, telling the story of a London man’s decision to move to Australia during the aftermath of World War II. It’s a detailed and loving song cycle, capturing the minutiae of suburban life, the numbing effect of bureaucracy, and the horrors of war. On paper, Arthur sounds like a pretentious mess, but Ray Davies’ lyrics and insights have rarely been so graceful or deftly executed, and the music is remarkable.

Such as this getaway tune:



Or this getaway-even-farther one:



But this is the one that gets us the most.



Granted, Ray Davies is no Rupert Brooke or Wilfred Owen. But damn, his stuff was good.

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Dead Blogging the New Harvard Art Museums

Well the Missus and I trundled over to Cambridge the other day for a preview of the newly renovated/reinvigorated Harvard Art Museums (Fogg Museum+Arthur M. Sackler Museum+Busch-Reisinger Museum under one – controversial! – roof) and, say, it was swell.

First, the controversy.

From ARTnews:

The museum stands just outside Harvard Yard, the group of quadrangles composing the historic core of the university founded in 1636. Looking from the Yard toward [starchitect Renzo] Piano’s renovated building, one can clearly see a modern glass pyramid rising from behind the Fogg’s traditional brick front. The crystalline peak signals the museum’s openness to the new, topping the central courtyard and allowing natural light to reach much of interior.

Right next door stands the bold gray Carpenter Center, looking like “two elephants copulating,” according to an often-repeated Harvard jab. When Le Corbusier’s building opened in 1963, New York Times architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable wrote that it “violates the street and scandalizes the neighborhood” but “manages to make everything around it look stolid and stale.”

Uh-huh. Turns out the copulating has turned to violating.

Now—and somewhat ironically—Piano’s structure is causing its own, more muted scandal, with some architectural experts voicing indignation that the revamped Fogg pays insufficient deference to Le Corbusier’s legacy. There’s particular ire over Piano’s link with a celebrated ramp of curving concrete that Le Corbusier designed to intersect and draw visitors into his 10_14_NW_Harvard_4building. Piano has extended the northeastern end of the ramp with a gray granite-encased segment so that it connects the Carpenter Center with the art-museum complex. Thus, Piano and Le Corbusier’s designs directly abut each other in a manner that has set architectural feathers flying.

“This was a crime against humanity,” says Princeton University architectural historian Beatriz Colomina—not known for understatement—about Piano’s treatment of Le Corbusier’s structure. “It’s such a mythical building and it is being destroyed by somebody who is a good architect. ”

A crime against humanity? Really? Get a grip, Beatriz.

For plebes like us, the new consolidated museum looks great.

In addition to all our favorites from the Fogg and the Busch-Reisinger, the museum features new exhibits like Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals.

This new presentation of Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals features innovative, noninvasive digital projection as a conservation approach. The exhibition returns this mural series to public view and scholarship while also encouraging study and debate of the technology.

The technique employs a camera-projector system that includes custom-made software developed and applied by a team of art historians, conservation scientists, conservators, and scientists Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 1.03.33 AMat the Harvard Art Museums and the MIT Media Lab. The digital projection technology restores the appearance of the murals’ original rich colors, which had faded while on display in the 1960s and ’70s in a penthouse dining room of Harvard University’s Holyoke Center (now the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center), the space for which they were commissioned. Deemed unsuitable for exhibition, the murals entered storage in 1979 and since then have rarely been seen by the public.

But now they can be.

The new museum opens to the public this Sunday. Get there whenever you can.

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Round Midnight at the Global Worldwide Headquarters (Waterloo Sunset Edition)

Twice in the past week the hardworking staff has been in local establishments – The Ludlow Shop in Copley Place and Panera on Huntington Avenue – that played a song we haven’t heard in – what? – at least a dozen years.



Yeah yeah – kinda sweet for the Kinks, isn’t it?

And kinda melancholy too. (Fun Songfacts to know and tell here.)

But maybe you like this 1973 live version better.



Then again, perhaps you prefer Ray Davies’ choir-infused Glastonbury 2010 performance.



Yeah. Us too.

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