15/11/2012 § 2 Comments
Very excited that the retrospective George Bellows, the first comprehensive examination of the great American realist painter’s career in nearly fifty years, opened today at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Perhaps best known for his depictions of boxers and early 20th century New York, Bellows has long been a favorite of mine. I’ve included here some of the iconic works on display (which you can click through to appreciate in greater detail), but I am most looking forward to making new discoveries in his oeuvre, particularly in the area of lithography.
Of the nearly 120 works on display at the exhibition, approximately a third are devoted to scenes of New York. Some, like the Cliff Dwellers (1913) below, offer insight into tenement life in Lower Manhattan with rich detail — did you notice the street car on its way to Vesey Street? Bellows was a member of the Ashcan School, a realistic artistic movement in direct response to American Impressionism and its celebration of light. Darker in tone and unafraid of dealing with the harsh realities of poverty and the unsavory characters of urban life, Ashcan School art challenges the viewer with its journalistic pursuit of truth. Fittingly, Bellows’ canvas Up the Hudson (1908) holds the distinction of being the first Ashcan painting acquired by the Metropolitan, in 1911. The artist was only 29 at the time, making him one of the youngest artists represented in the museum’s collection.
30/04/2012 § 1 Comment
New York is a vertical city, and its skyscrapers are climbing ever higher (case in point, just today my next-door neighbor One World Trade claimed the title of tallest building in New York). All that height, especially in the canyons of the Financial District or parts of Midtown, can feel a bit oppressive at times to someone like me, who grew up in one of the most horizontal cities in the world. For comparison’s sake I could give you some facts and figures about square mileage and population — essentially: LA is larger, while NYC is more populous — but nowhere is this “horizontal-ness” illustrated better than from the observation pavilions of the Getty Center.
Known for its impressive views from the Pacific to Downtown, the Getty Center is one of the best places to take in the urban sprawl that is Los Angeles (if it happens to be a clear day). Designed by Richard Meier, the Center also houses a large portion of the Getty art collection and has been the setting for a marriage proposal or two…thousand.
Familiar vistas aside, I also made the trip to the Center to catch the Herb Ritts retrospective, L.A. Style. Best known for his black and white portraits of celebrities and fashion editorials, equally impressive are Ritts’ nudes and his exploration of the concept of gender. A compact exhibition, complete with large-scale prints, vintage magazines and a screening of his music videos (e.g., Janet Jackson’s Love Will Never Do (Without You), Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game), L.A. Style is an excellent collection of some Ritts’ most iconic images, taken in the 1980s and 90s.
Herb Ritts: L.A. Style at the Getty Center
April 3 – August 26, 2012
The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Open Tuesday – Sunday
04/01/2012 § 2 Comments
Can you believe that Babar, the beloved king of the elephants from the popular children’s books written by Jean de Brunhoff and his son Laurent, is turning 80 this year? In his honor, Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris has put together a lovely exhibition of books, sketches, toys and memorabilia, drawing from great museums and private collections around the world, showing Babar’s journey throughout the years.
Growing up, Babar was one of my very favorite stories, and I strongly believe it is the source of my small obsession with elephants. I especially love the simplicity of the watercolor illustrations by Jean de Brunhoff, from the little pom pom on cousin Arthur’s beret to the wrinkles of the older elephants. It was even better to find out that Babar was originally a bedtime story told by Cécile de Brunhoff, mother to Laurent (who was five at the time) and wife to Jean, a painter, in 1930. Jean, at the request of his sons, turned the story into an illustrated album that was then published by his uncle’s publishing house in 1931 as Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant (Story of Babar), to great acclaim. Jean went on to write six more Babar books before his untimely death in 1937, with son Laurent continuing the tradition after WWII. Laurent has since added more than thirty books.
A lovely interview with Laurent about Babar, his family and his own writing.
New York’s own Morgan Library — one of my favorite places in the city — has also contributed to the exhibition in Paris, and for good reason. In their collection they have the Jean’s original maquette (or first draft) of Histoire de Babar, which you can view online here with commentary and comparison to the published work.
The exhibit runs through September 2012, and I have very high hopes I will be able to make it to Paris in time to catch it. If you go before I do, please give Babar my regards.
Les Arts Décoratifs
107 rue de Rivoli