The Arts Seen in NYC (Joan Miró’s ‘Birth of the World’ Edition)

Well the Missus and I trundled down to the Big Town to go a-museuming this past weekend and say, it was swell.

Having successfully fought our way down a Friday I-95, navigated the obstacle course from the FDR Drive crosstown to 32nd and Fifth, and checked into our surprisingly affordable hotel, we took the subway up to Lincoln Center to catch Voice of My City: Jerome Robbins and New York (through March 30) at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.


Jerome Robbins was an inveterate observer, seeker, and creator. In diaries, drawings, watercolors, paintings, story scenarios, poems—and, especially, in dance—he reimagined the world around him. And New York dominated that world, where he was born one-hundred years ago and where he lived his entire adult life. Ideas of New York have long inspired artists but often the city serves as a backdrop in an artwork rather than the basis for plot, theme, and meaning. Robbins put the city at the center of his artistic imaginings . . . Voice of My City traces Robbins’ life and dances alongside the history of New York, inspiring viewers to see the city as both a muse and a home.

Here’s a virtual tour from Playbill that you should definitely take.



From that exhaustive (but hardly exhausting) exhibit, we headed downtown to the Fashion Institute of Technology, which has mounted Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT (through April 20).

Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT celebrates the 50th anniversary of what Michael Kors calls “the fashion insider’s fashion museum” by bringing back 33 of the most influential exhibitions produced since the first one was staged in 1971. Taken entirely from the museum’s permanent holdings, more than 80 looks are on display. From Fashion and Surrealism to The Corset to A Queer History of Fashion, the exhibitions are known for being “intelligent, innovative, and independent,” says MFIT Director Valerie Steele. “The museum has been in the forefront of fashion curation, with more than 200 fashion exhibitions over the past half century, many accompanied by scholarly books and symposia.”

Representative samples:

Our favorites in the shoe department:

Kicky, no?

As we hoofed it out of FIT, we spotted this across 27th street in FIT’s Art and Design Gallery.

Web writeup:

This special short exhibition, curated by Communication Design Pathways Professor Anne Kong and 42 students in the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design program, features hats from the celebrated collection of the late former FIT dean and professor Nina Kurtis.

The students designed and created individual 360-degree displays featuring a hat from a distinctive time period or fashion trend using visual storytelling to entertain and educate the viewer. The displays incorporate various materials, handmade props, and mannequin parts.

The hats were a hoot, as “Jackie” quite nicely illustrates.

That topped off our evening, and we went on to dinner.

* * * * * * *

Bright and early Saturday morning it was off to the Museum of Modern Art to view Joan Miró: Birth of the World (through June 15).

“You and all my writer friends have given me much help and improved my understanding of many things,” Joan Miró told the French poet Michel Leiris in the summer of 1924, writing from his family’s farm in Montroig, a small village nestled between the mountains and the sea in his native Catalonia. The next year, Miró’s intense engagement with poetry, the creative process, and material experimentation inspired him to paint The Birth of the World.

In this signature work, Miró covered the ground of the oversize canvas by applying paint in an astonishing variety of ways that recall poetic chance procedures. He then added a series of pictographic signs that seem less painted than drawn, transforming the broken syntax, constellated space, and dreamlike imagery of avant-garde poetry into a radiantly imaginative and highly inventive form of painting. He would later describe this work as “a sort of genesis,” and his Surrealist poet friends titled it The Birth of the World.

The exhibit – which is fabulous – also featured this monumental mural.

Interesting backstory: That artwork was commissioned in 1950 for Harvard University’s new Graduate Student Center by Department of Architecture chair Walter Gropius, the founder of Germany’s Bauhaus School in 1919. After Miró delivered it, the mural was hung in the Grad Center . . . over a radiator, which during the next few years started to sort of melt the painting.

So Miró said, hey – send it back and I’ll fix it, but instead he returned a ceramic tile version of the mural (which is still there at Harvard), touched up the mural, and sold it to MoMA for a pretty penny.

Harvard does still have Miró’s original sketch for the mural, though, which you can see in the Harvard Art Museums’ current exhibit, The Bauhaus and Harvard (through July 28).

While we were at MoMA we also stopped by the interesting-but-repetitive exhibit The Value of Good Design (through June 15) and revisited Constantin Brancusi Sculpture (through June 15), which is terrific.

A short Brancusi primer:



From there we headed down to SoHo and the Center for Italian Modern Art to see Metaphysical Masterpieces 1916-1920: Morandi, Sironi, and Carrà (through June 1).

From CIMA’s press release:

The term “metaphysical painting” (pittura metafisica) refers to an artistic style that emerged in Italy during the First World War. Closely associated with [Giorgio] de Chirico, it often featured disquieting images of eerie spaces and enigmatic objects, eliciting a sense of the mysterious. Metaphysical Masterpieces concentrates on rarely seen early works by Giorgio Morandi and important paintings by the lesser- known artists Carlo Carrà and Mario Sironi, offering a richer and more nuanced view of pittura metafisica than previous exhibitions in the United States, creating a vivid portrait of the genre.

Representative samples (Morandi and Sironi):

We were lucky enough to catch a tour with current CIMA Fellow Caterina Caputo, who was wonderfully knowledgeable and informative. The exhibit is excellent and the people couldn’t be lovelier – they even made espresso for us. Molte grazie, @ItalianModArt!

Then we subwayed to the Brooklyn Museum for the much-hyped Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving (through May 12).

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s unique and immediately recognizable style was an integral part of her identity. Kahlo came to define herself through her ethnicity, disability, and politics, all of which were at the heart of her work. Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving is the largest U.S. exhibition in ten years devoted to the iconic painter and the first in the United States to display a collection of her clothing and other personal possessions, which were rediscovered and inventoried in 2004 after being locked away since Kahlo’s death, in 1954.

More video:



There’s lots of clothing, photos, jewelry, and assorted other Fridabilia – but not all that much artwork. The whole exhibit seems more about Kahlo as celebrity/cult figure than anything else. (For a better sense of her as an artist, check out Frida Kahlo and Arte Populaire – through June 16 – at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.)

* * * * * * *

Sunday morning we cruised up Madison Ave with barely a red light for 50 blocks (see our kissin’ cousins at It’s Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town for the traffic light disaster Boston has become), turned onto 84th street, and found a spot likethat right in front of my old grammar school, St. Ignatius Loyola, which is operated by the Sisters of (Parking) Charity.

From there we sashayed up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its new exhibit Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera (ongoing), which begins with a quote from AbEx pioneer Barnett Newman:

“Years ago…we felt the moral crisis of a world in shambles, a world devastated by a great depression and a fierce World War, and it was impossible at that time to paint the kind of painting that we were doing — flowers, reclining nudes, and people playing the cello. At the same time we could not move into the situation of a pure world of unorganized shapes, forms … color … a world of sensation … this was our moral crisis in relation to what to paint. So that we actually began, so to speak, from scratch, as if painting were not only dead but never existed.”

You can see all 61 of the exhibition objects here, but a few highlights will give you a sense of the collection.

Louise Nevelson, Mrs. N’s Palace (1964-77).

Willem de Kooning, Easter Monday (1955-56).

Barnett Newman, Shimmer Bright (1968).

Isamu Noguchi, Kouros (1945).

It’s a total knockout of an exhibit.

We also swung by Atea: Nature and Divinity in Polynesia (through October 27), which is lots of fun, and visited the newly reopened galleries, The Art of Music, a simply stunning array of musical instruments through the ages.

After a costly lunch in the Met cafeteria (where we watched two young women pour two glasses of wine – one red, one white – arrange them just so, and Instagram them to the world at large), we moseyed up to the Neue Galerie for The Self-Portrait, from Schiele to Beckmann (through June 24).

[This] is an unprecedented exhibition that examines works primarily from Austria and Germany made between 1900 and 1945. This groundbreaking show is unique in its examination and focus on works of this period. Approximately 70 self-portraits by more than 30 artists—both well-known figures and others who deserve greater recognition—are united in the presentation . . .

Representative samples:

And on that note it was home again, home again jiggedy-jig.

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WSJ’s Peggy Noodnik Writes Again (Amazon/Big Town Edition)

From our Peggy Noodnik desk

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan filed a totally clueless piece in yesterday’s edition about Amazon’s folding like origami in the face of predictable opposition to its proposed headquarters in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City.

Welcome to New York, Amazon—Now Go Home

A last word on Amazon and New York City. The story’s over but it doesn’t stop hurting. Twenty-five thousand jobs lost, maybe 40,000 when all is said and done, and of all kinds—high-tech, management, white-collar, blue. All the construction, and the signs and symbols of a coming affluence: the streets lit bright, the sidewalks busy, shops and restaurants humming, hiring. The feeling of safety you have when you pass doorways on the street at night and can hear laughter and conversation on the other side.

Is she nuts? graf:

This is not just “a loss,” it is a whole lost world. And it is a watershed event for my town. After Amazon’s withdrawal no major American company will open a new headquarters here for at least a generation.

Not to get technical about it, but Google is planning to do just that, as CNBC’s Elizabeth Schulze reported two months ago.

Google to invest $1 billion in new campus in New York City

Google will invest $1 billion in a new campus in New York City, the company announced on Monday.

The new 1.7 million square foot “Google Hudson Square” campus will include two buildings located at 315 and 345 Hudson Street and an office space situated at nearby 550 Washington Street in Manhattan . . .

And Google is building it with zero state and local subsidies, unlike Amazon’s $3 billion sweetheart deal engineered by blue-in-the-face New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-Andrew Cuomo) and two-faced New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-Bill de Blasio).

Memo to Ms. Noodnik: Do your homework, yeah?

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NYT Fills in Subscriber Blanks With Boston Ads for Crosswords

The New York Times has done two remarkable things over the past five years: 1) shifted from an advertising-driven revenue model to a subscription-based one; and 2) shifted from media outlet largely reliant on print revenues to a majority-digital company.

And it’s almost there, as the Times itself reported earlier this month.

The New York Times Co. Reports $709 Million in Digital Revenue for 2018

The New York Times Company generated more than $709 million in digital revenue last year, growing at a pace that suggests it will meet its stated goal of $800 million in digital sales by the end of 2020.

The results prompted the company to set another lofty target: “To grow our subscription business to more than 10 million subscriptions by 2025,” Mark Thompson, the chief executive, said in a statement announcing the company’s fourth-quarter financial results.

More than 3.3 million people pay for the company’s digital products, including its news, crossword and food apps, a 27 percent jump from 2017. The total number of paid subscriptions for digital and print reached 4.3 million, a high.

Bottom line: 40% of the Times’s revenue now comes from digital dollars, with 50% soon to follow, says Joshua Benton of NiemanLab. He also includes this nifty chart tracking the growth in digital revenues.

Meanwhile, Sara Fischer at Axios offers this equally nifty chart tracking the growth in Times subscribers.

All this is prelude to the new ad campaign the Times has launched, as Fischer reported yesterday.

The New York Times launches new billboard ad campaign

The New York Times is running its first out-of-home marketing campaign for its Crossword puzzle app in Seattle and Boston through the end of March . . .

The Times currently has more than 400,000 Crossword App subscriptions. It says the “mini puzzle” that it’s specifically marketing with this campaign is played by 1.6 million players digitally each month, about a 50% increase over the past three years.

In Boston, “the campaign will be visible across screens and billboards in the T metro trains and station platforms, and on buses and bus shelters.” Because, presumably, the T is so woebegone you need more than one puzzle for your daily commute. (We said that, not Fischer.)

One interesting aspect of the Cooking and Crossword apps is that the Times considers them not content, but product. You can expect to see a lot more of it in the days and weeks to come.

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New York Times Published a Co-bituary of Lee Radziwill

Not to say that this has never happened before, but Sunday was the first time we’d ever seen if (tip o’ the pixel to The Missus).

Robert D. McFadden’s full-page sendoff of Lee Radziwill in Sunday’s New York Times started out in standard form.

Lee Radziwill, Former Princess and Sister of a First Lady, Is Dead at 85

Lee Radziwill, the free-spirited former princess who shared the qualities of wealth, social status and ambition with her older sister, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, but who struggled as an actor, decorator and writer to share her sister’s aura of success, died on Friday at her home in Manhattan. She was 85.

Her daughter, Anna Christina Radziwill, confirmed the death, citing natural causes.

But then came something if not unnatural, at least unusual.

[T]abloids had long romantically linked Mrs. Radziwill and [Aristotle] Onassis, a notorious womanizer.

In a brief telephone interview for this obituary, Mrs. Radziwill scoffed at the notion that she had had an affair with Mr. Onassis, and insisted that she had “no regrets, none at all,” about her relationship with her sister, which was widely reported to have been strained after Mrs. Kennedy married Mr. Onassis.

Wait, what? The Times interviews people for their own obituaries?

Or should we say, co-bituaries?

That’s a new one on us. Regardless, we are definitely not sitting by the phone.

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Bill Belichick Had Dinner Saturday Night with #MarALardass

Forget the upcoming rumpus over who among the New England Patriots will attend a White House celebration of their latest Super Bowl Championship.

Grumpy Lobster Boat Captain Bill Belichick, as Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Gay memorably dubbed him, has already applied for appetizers.

From yesterday’s Politico Playbook.

Two questions:

1) Was Belichick’s significant other, Linda Holliday, also in attendance?

2) Is The Hoodie, who’s been s a member at Mar-a-Lago for at least a year, aware of the new #MarALardass stream on Twitter?

Representative samples:


(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, we in no way endorse fat-shaming Donald Trump on Presidents Day.

Regardless . . .

We report. You deride.

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Dead Blogging ‘Tom Kiefer: El Sueño Americano’ at Fuller Craft

Well the Missus and I trundled down to the Fuller Craft Museum Saturday to catch Tom Kiefer: El Sueño Americano – The American Dream (through July 28) and say, it was . . . heartbreaking.

This powerful body of work features the confiscated belongings of migrants apprehended near a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility in southern Arizona. Images of personal effects deemed “non-essential” or “potentially lethal” by Border Patrol agents evoke the humanity and struggle of the refugees who are willing to risk their lives searching for a better life in America.

Among those non-essentials were water bottles . . .

and personal hygiene products . . .

and family heirlooms . . .

and, most damning, rosary beads.

The exhibit paints a brutal picture of the shameful, morally bankrupt state of our federal government as it blithely blocks those in need seeking safety, security, and – heaven forbid – success in the richest nation in the world.

It’s a shonda.

* * * * * * * 

Also on exhibit at Fuller Craft:

Uneasy Beauty: Discomfort in Contemporary Adornment (through April 21), which brings together “75 examples of contemporary jewelry and costume that demonstrate the immense power of adornment to impact us physically, emotionally, and intellectually.”

Representative samples:

Trigger warning: There are some extremely funky objects in this show.

Don’t miss it.

Ditto for Donna Dodson: Zodiac (through May 19), which “presents acclaimed woodworker Donna Dodson’s two sculptural series referencing animal characters associated with the Chinese and Western zodiacs.”

Representative samples:

It’s a hoot, and along with the other two exhibits, well worth a trundle.

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Latest Penance for U.S. Tobacco Companies: Cig Pack Attacks

As the hardworking staff previously noted, U.S. tobacco companies have been engaged in a federally mandated campaign of self-flagellation for the past year.

[I]n 2006 Federal District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the tobacco companies had deceived the American public about the devastating health effects of smoking, suppressed research, destroyed documents, manipulated the use of nicotine, and distorted the truth about low tar and light cigarettes.

But . . . there could be no financial penalties under the civil racketeering charges the tobacco companies were convicted of, so they were ordered to issue “corrective statements” to inform the public of their decades-long deception.

Those corrective statements took the form of full-page ads like this one that ran monthly in about 50 major-market newspapers.

In addition, for the past year the Big Four had to run this TV spot five times a week during prime time on ABC, NBC, and CBS.


It’s no accident that the spot – with its anemic visuals and robotic voiceover – is about as close to invisible as you can get on a TV screen. Nobody dodges responsibility while seeming to accept it better than the tobacco industry

All told, that was a $31 million slap on the wrist to the Big Four, which definitely did not leave a mark.

(Not to get technical about it, but if you want to reach the smokers of the future, newspapers and broadcast television are not exactly the most effective media vehicles.)

Regardless, now comes the third leg of the stooling on themselves: Corrective statements that are attached to cigarette packs themselves. Folded, the mini-brochures measure about 2″ wide x 3″ deep, and here’s what faces you on the back of the pack.

Unfolded, there’s this.

Once again, could any health warning be more benign? Maybe, but this’ll do until something else comes along.

Then again, as we detailed previously, those pale palliatives are probably the only anti-smoking messages most Americans have seen in the past year, given that state governments, which used to underwrite the bulk of the anti-smoking advertising, have largely decided to take the tobacco money and run . . . almost nothing.

Case in point: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which was once a leader in the public health community’s anti-smoking efforts, devoting as much as $55 million in 2000 to fight tobacco use.

Now, the Department of Public Health spends about $4 million a year toward that end, despite raking in almost $900 million annually in tobacco taxes . . .

Talk about blowing smoke.

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Boston News Media’s Althea Garrison Transgender Copout

Yesterday’s Boston Globe Page One piece said it best.

Michael Levinson’s report also addressed the indefatigable elephant in the room.

Before serving as a state representative from 1993 to 1995, she was outed as transgender when the Boston Herald got hold of a birth certificate that listed her sex as male and her name as A.C.

Though regarded by LGBTQ advocates as the first known transgender person to serve in a legislature, she was mocked by the Herald for her physical appearance and has declined over the years to discuss her gender identity.

It’s totally understandable why Garrison would decline to discuss her gender identity.

But it’s totally mystifying why local media outlets would do the same.

Call the roll:

• Brook Sutherland’s Boston Herald piece yesterday.

Everyone else.

Say what you will, but Garrison’s elevation to the Boston City Council is a historic first.

So how come Boston’s media outlets aren’t treating it that way?

Bad form, you all.

Bad form.

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Dead Blogging ‘TransAtlantic’ at Boston Sculptors Gallery

Well the Missus and I trundled downtown this past Friday to cruise the South End art galleries and say, a lot of what we saw was swell.

We started at Ars Libri, where the Robert Klein Gallery has mounted a exhibit called Distant Memories, Familiar Phantoms featuring works by Samira Alikhanzadeh, most of which were old photographs superimposed on mesh.

Representative samples:



The exhibit reminded us of work by the late David Prifti, a gifted local artist and teacher who left this world too soon.

From his Rice Polak Gallery bio:

Of his photographic assemblages Prifti said, “Through the juxtaposition of images, found objects and ephemera, I create autobiographical associations that become symbolic, conveying a sense of personal history and the passage of time. The reusing of old materials allows me to resurrect them into a new form.”

The Missus and I were lucky enough to once own this piece, which combined a photo of David’s grandmother during her ocean voyage to America with a segment of the picket fence in front of her house after she settled here.



Letting go of that haunting image was one of the toughest decisions we made in our Great Deaccession of 2014, but that’s a tale for another time.

Back in the South End, we next dropped by the Boston Sculptors Gallery, which paid tribute to recently deceased local artist David A. Lang in this delightfully eccentric Flights of Fancy exhibit.

The Boston Sculptors Gallery presents Flights of Fancy, an exhibition of sculpture by the late artist David A. Lang. The show includes Lang’s signature kinetic pieces which, when set off by motion detectors, come to life when closely inspected by viewers. Flights of Fancy explores the whimsical—yet serious— nature of an artist who preferred to describe his efforts as “accidentally profound.”

But the main event at the gallery is Jessica Straus’s TransAtlantic.

Straus’ parents met as a result of her American father’s participation as a soldier in the Normandy invasion and subsequent march into Paris, where he met the artist’s mother, a French student.

For the installation at Boston Sculptors Gallery, the walls and floor will be clad in a room-sized World War II era map. A fleet of airplanes and an ocean liner criss-cross the Atlantic Ocean carrying correspondence between the artist’s American and French families.

The big picture (photos courtesy of the artist).



Fun with maps ‘n’ mail.





Both exhibits are totally immersive, and both run through January 27th.

Totally worth a trundle to the South End.

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Doug Mills Wins the New York Times ‘Year in Pictures’ Bakeoff

One of the cherished holiday traditions here at the Global Worldwide Headquarters is the Counting of the Photographers in the New York Times Year in Pictures, tallying up which shutterbugs made it and how many of their photos are featured.

This year’s edition showcased 33 photographers, only six of whom had more than one photo included. Among them was Adam Ferguson, who got the cover shot.

Ferguson had two photos, as did last year’s bake-off winner Todd Heisler and 2015 winner Tyler Hicks, who shot a heartbreaking portfolio of Amal Hassain, one of the starved-to-death children in the disgraceful neglect of Yemeni refugees.

Tom Brenner was represented by three photos, and Erin Schaff was first runner-up with four, including this one from The March for Our Lives in Washington last winter.

The Year in Pictures leader was Doug Mills, aided by his gig as midterm election shooter. Here he captures Donald Trump at an October rally in Illinois.


We’ll leave it at that.

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