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 published, 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 and 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.
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 of 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 theatrical 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 Rubinstein (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):
• 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 wartime 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 illusionism 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 Hortense 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.