Picasso Black & White, Via Quadronno and Argo

Yesterday was activity filled.  The itinerary was ambitious but doable.

First there were Milanese paninis at Via Quadronno.  These aren’t the grilled pressed paninis.  Yes the bread is toasted but they’re not flattened out.  There are salads, cold and warm small plates, entrees and other sandwiches but I’ve only ever had the Milanese paninis and espresso.  The other distinguishing factor is the crazy combos of meats and cheeses they contain.  It’s best to go with a friend so you can order more than one and share, more options!

The three we had:

Non Ti Scordar di Me— our award-winning specialty: speck, brie, paté

Cervino— cured wild boar filet, brie, goat & fontina cheeses, romaine, herbs

Lo Spazzino–young roast pork, rucola, provolone, red onion & caper sauce

If you tell them you’re sharing they will cut them in half and taper how quickly they come out so they won’t be cold and all piled on your table.  There are 21 different paninis and a few vegetarian ones.  I’ve tried some of the others but the 3 I mentioned are my favorites.

It can get pretty crowded during the weekday lunch but with some patience you will taste some delicious things and see an interesting slice of the Upper East Side.

Lunch provided a good base to take on the crowds at the Guggenheim where the “Picasso Black and White” exhibition is on until January 23, 2013.

Bust of a Woman, Arms Raised (Buste de femme, les bras levés), 1922. Courtesy Guggenheim Museum, New York

If you want to follow the exhibition chronologically start at the bottom of the ramp and work your way up.  If the order of things isn’t important, take the elevator to the top floor and bring your roller skates.  Okay the security guards would probably stop you from rolling down the ramps, so if you get caught it wasn’t my idea!

There are 118 works to see, 38 have never been in the U.S. and 5 never in public.  It is a lovely show with masterpieces here and there.  It seemed like all the major periods or works in his oeuvre from 1904 to 1971 were represented: the Blue and Rose periods; the sturdy figurative portraits like the Bust of a Woman, above; Cubism; Surrealism; sociopolitical paintings and works inspired by Goya and Velázquez.

Picasso is one of my favorite artists.  I know I’m not alone in that regard but he was amazing.  Part of my admiration stems from my knowledge of his prints.  In addition to paintings, drawings, sculpture, and collages, Picasso made over 2000 prints which include etchings, lithographs and linocuts.  Most of these works are in black and white so the Guggenheim show was not as revelatory to me but it was still powerful.  Printmaking is sometimes forgotten as a viable art medium but it gives insight into an artist’s work.   To artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Miró it was a technical challenge to create works without color.  So much can be communicated in a line or the right shading or different tones of grey, black and white that color is not necessary, and Picasso demonstrated this in his prints as well as in the works in this exhibition.

The Milliner’s Workshop (Atelier de la modiste), 1926. Courtesy Guggenheim Museum, New York

The women in his life are apparent as there are portraits of Olga, Marie-Thérèse, Dora Maar, possibly Françoise, Jacqueline and a few other models.  His interest in African art echoes in a few works reminiscent of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.  And even though he spent the majority of his life in France, Picasso pays respect to the great Spanish artists that came before him: El Greco, José de Ribera, Francisco de Zurbarán, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco de Goya, in the use of a black and grey palette, and in the depiction of war and its effects on the Spanish people.

There were plenty of works that I would be happy to own, but until then I was happy to have the chance to see them.

After Picasso we dashed off to see “Argo.”

It was entertaining.  Lots of people are upset with the historical accuracy of the ending.  Well, it’s not a documentary.  It’s a retelling of an event in history as seen through the eyes of a certain group of people.  Yes the ending makes you tense, but I think that was the point.

Alan Arkin has the best line of the movie, “Argo-f***-yourself!”  He and John Goodman were the highlights of the movie for me.  Oh and it must be good to be Ben Affleck because you can get almost anyone to be in your movie–yeah Tate Donovan (The OC!), or maybe everyone wants to be in a Ben Affleck movie nowadays especially when George Clooney is a producer?  I was hoping for a scene where they all have makeovers so they go unrecognized by the Revolutionary Guard but I guess that would be in the Cher Horowitz interpretation of the events.

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