Through the Looking Glasss

It’s Fashion Week in New York and again my invitations went astray. Just kidding – I can’t afford what most of the shows are displaying in any case, but it’s always exciting to see collections from inventive new designers or new creative chiefs showing their first collection for a house.

I did see the MET’s China Through the Looking Glass exhibit several times this summer and enjoyed the beauty of the dresses – especially those displayed in close proximity to the Buddhist sculptures as here with Guo Pei’s lotus flower dress. If the show had not been so crowded this room could have served as a place of quiet contemplation.

  
 My favorites were the Gallliano designed Diors in the Astor Court which was transformed into “Moon in the Water,” the Chinese translation of “through the looking glass.”

    
The show was a multimedia extravaganza with film clips chosen by Wong Kar-wai throughout the three floors of the exhibit.  Curator Andrew Bolton designed an experience that was visually rich and extravagant. A fine integration of the art and fashion and the cross currents of East and West influencing and interpreting and misinterpreting each other through centuries of contact from early trade in silks, through the history of opium, the Cultural Revolution and beyond to the present. These are light touches at history, but it is all there and may provoke deeper thoughts about cultural appropiations and uses after leaving the crush of visitors in the galleries.

The title of the exhibit seems apt – a world all topsy turvy and difficult to define – what is dream and what is reality.

 John Tenniel 

Lions and griffins and bees

I’ve been seeing animals all around the city – live ones certainly, but of course many representations of beasts in art, architecture and store windows. Though I love visits to the Central Park Zoo and the Bronx Zoo, there is always the tension between the excitement of seeing the animals up close and the realization of how compromised their lives are in captivity. I know zoological foundations do much to help the wild cousins of the creatures on display, but I can’t help but feel sorrow for the animals in the zoo enclosures. 

Upper East Side lions – there are so many in all the boroughs guarding  people’s homes!

  

  

Not a lion but a young snow leopard at the Central Park Zoo.

  

Griffins are all over the city too – this one in The Metropolitan Museum of Art is from a bronze cauldron. Judging from the griffin’s size the cauldron itself must have been enormous! Many of these, including this one, were from Olympia at the sanctuary dedicated to Zeus. It certainly makes sense that the king of the gods would merit a super sized one. According to Herodotus, a cauldron created for King Kroisos of Lydia could hold 2,700 gallons.

  
And bees – I love bumblebees and try to grow flowers that will entice them to my terrace. I found this fellow in a The Conservatory Garden in Central  Park.

  
And then this large fellow on Fifth Avenue in the Gucci window.

   
 

Not sure those are the types of flowers that would attract him, but as he’s holding a handbag he’d be hard pressed to gather pollen right now in any case!

A Room of One’s Own

It’s been a long time since I read Virginia Woolfe – probably time to dip into her writings again.

Below are images of my favorite period room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If only it was my own room. I adore the soft blue that is so calming mixed with the playful floral motifs and the golden accents framing every panel. The alcove seems the perfect place to read and contemplate and with a small desk on the opposite side for writing. A perfect tiny world!

   
  

This tiny but precious paneling lined boudoir walls were created for Louis-Marie-Augustin, fifth duc d’Aumont (1709 – 1782). The room was in an unfinished townhouse he rented in 1776 that was constructed for the builder Louis-François Trouard (1729 – 1794 ) and designed by Jacques-Ange Gabriel (1698 – 1782) standing in what is now the place de la Concorde in Paris. The interior design was the work of the architect Pierre- Adrien Pâris. Only six years later the hôtel was purchased by François-Félix-Dorothée des Balbes de Berton, comte de Crillon (1748 – 1820) remaining in their family until the early 20th century.

And speaking of hotels, but not the private townhouse type in Paris, this weekend I am staying at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee for my step-sister’s wedding here. Gorgeous painted ceilings and very ornate furnishings throughout the older portion of hotel. Be sure to visit even if just for a look if you’re in downtown Milwaukee.

     

Indonesia and Burma and Restless Dreams as Summer Winds Down

I am fascinated by shadow puppets and marionettes. I started collecting them in while in graduate school with a dream of someday visiting Java, Bali and Burma (Myanmar). That dream is yet unfulfilled but planning has begun and will have to include a trip to Borneo too. 

Javanese wayang klitlik puppet from my own collection.

  

Balinese shadow puppet depicting Api or Fire at the American a Museum of Natural History.

 

Javanese wayang klitlik puppets also at AMNM.

 

My Burmese marionettes.

   

  

 

 

Eggs of many colors and fashionable Fifth Avenue bones

Nature on display in Bergdorf Goodman’s windows – expertly cast North American bird’s eggs and a diverse selection of skeletons are courtesy of Bones Clones, Inc. and featured on their website. 

https://boneclones.com/category/bergdorf-goodman-windows

The windows are the work of Bergdorf’s Senior Director David Hoey and overseen by Linda Fargo, SVP of Fashion and Store Presenation (who grew up in the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield as I did!) and are always imaginative and a fun treat on my way to work – but these are spectacular.       

 Photo @ Ricky Zehavi

  

Photo @ Ricky Zehavi

  

Photo @ Ricky Zehavi

  

Photo @ Ricky Zehavi

  

Photo @ Ricky Zehavi  

    

I see a northern cardinal egg above and below is this gorgeous large male I saw in a Central Park just hanging out on a bench! Wasn’t even frightened off when I got very close to snap his photo.

  Refreshing to see nature in the city as always!    

F is for Falcon and H is for…

I read Helen Macdonald’s excellent “H Is for Hawk” this past winter. An engrossing novel of obsession and grief – one of the best I’ve read recently. What drew me to the book, in addition to the marvelous reviews, was the subject. I had just returned from a wintery trip to Vienna – complete with a blizzard to compete with the ones we’d been experiencing in the Northeast. And then several days after I arrived the Austrian and German television stations reported that Boston had been hit with yet another large snowstorm! Several times over the winter, after I had returned home to New York, I heard people remark “well at least we’re not in Boston!”

But back to falcons and hawks – while at the Neue Burg, which houses the Arms and Armour collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, I came across these Falcon Hoods.

  
And Hawk Hoods

  
I was fascinated and as usually happens, to me at least, once your are aware of a new object, word or topic you meet it again everywhere.

And thus, back in New York I came across this charming portrait at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

  
This Flemish portrait was painted by the artist Wallerant Vaillant, who was born in Lille and died in Amsterdam. It is simply titled “Portrait of a Boy with a Falcon”. But who is this elegantly turned out young aristocrat? I’ve no idea – another “art mystery” as we used to say in school.

I adore birds of prey and we can see many in New York – mostly red-tailed hawks like the famous Pale Male, but peregrines as well as the occasional bald eagle. Plenty for them to eat with a bounty of squirrels and pigeons available in our parks and the high perches we’ve built for ourselves all around Central Park are particularly enticing nesting spots – at least the older buildings. These new all glass towers are useless to our feathered friends – no where to rest or raise a family at One57! But a perfect hawk haven below.

 
Photo by Lincoln Karim posted at http://www.palemale.com

The of Triumph of Fame over Death

Loved this team of elephants pulling the cart

Loved this team of elephants pulling the cart

This South Netherlandish tapestry is on view in Gallery 305 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. What attracted me was the pair of white elephants. The theme is from Petrarch’s I Trionfi (The Triumphs) and Louis XII commissioned a series of tapestries after the work was translated into French. This particular one has been cut down and was from a series most likely created for Bishop Symphorien de Bullioud of Soissons, a man familiar with Italian culture from trips to Milan and Rome.

The figures include Alexander the Great and Charlemagne – both sporting symbols of the French kings including Charlemagne’s fleur-de-lys and Alexander’s scepter. Plato and Aristotle stand with them. And the women being trampled by the elephants? Death. Hope that should I ever meet white elephants that would not be my fate.

Preliminary Notes on Two Recently Discovered Inscriptions from La Corona, Guatemala

Maya Decipherment

by David Stuart (The University of Texas at Austin), Marcello Canuto (Tulane University), Tomás Barrientos Quezada (Universidad del Valle de Guatemala), and Maxime Lamoureax St-Hillaire (Tulane University)

During the 2015 excavation season at La Corona, Guatemala, two new sculpted blocks were recovered in excavations of the site’s main palace overseen by one of the authors, Maxime Lamoueax St-Hilaire. Both blocks are parts of larger compositions that were removed from their original settings and re-set in a masonry wall near the northeast corner of the palace complex. The precise archaeological context of the discovery will be presented separately, and described in detailed at the upcoming SImposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala.

Each stone has been assigned an “Element” designation in accordance with the nomenclature system developed for La Corona’s corpus of sculpture (Stuart et. al. 2015). Each stone seems to be part of a larger panel or sculpted step, so it…

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IPCNY’s 2014 Spring Benefit

IPCNY's 2014 Spring Benefit

Lovely tables all set up inside Cedar Lake in Chelsea on the night of Thursday, May 22nd. The evening honored artist Richard Tuttle, Clifford S. Ackley, the Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Curator of Prints and Drawings, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and David and Evelyn Lasry of Two Palms Gallery. Despite the rain that evening, the rather noisy interior was filled with artists and those involved with printmaking as collectors, critics, gallerists and other supporters. My table included the executive director of the new printmaking studio Guttenberg Arts. They provide the space and time for practicing visual artists to develop their work and expand their reach through artistic collaboration, and the promotion of their work to curators and collectors throughout the Tri-State area. http://www.guttenbergarts.org/ What a marvelous endeavor! And I was fortunate to meet one of the talented artists they support, printmaker, Kirtsten Flaherty that evening.