In addition to seeing the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid we also stopped by the 13th century Qutb Minar complex of buildings. This red sandstone minaret rises approximately 238 feet and was once used as a clock tower. Before a fatal accident in 1981 you could climb the stairs to the top but now you just wander around the remains of the other buildings in the complex and admire the tower. More
Bernini, Sculpting in Clay and Matisse, In Search of True Painting feature two artists who worked roughly 300 years apart but were foremost in their time and mediums. Both exhibitions focus on the artist’s process. In the case of Bernini before he created larger than life marble sculptures of saints and angels he needed to understand the technical aspects of his work. For Matisse he was searching for an answer to what exactly “true painting” was to him.
Currently on view at The Met is a small, focused exhibition African Art, New York & the Avant-Garde. The photo above best describes what the show aims to do: put you in the home and atmosphere of the art patrons who were bold enough to collect African art juxtaposing it with Modern and Contemporary art just after the New York Armory show in 1913. There are approximately 40 masks and sculptures from West and Central Africa along with photos, paintings, drawings and sculpture by Charles Sheeler, Alfred Stieglitz, Constantin Brancusi, Francis Picabia, Diego Rivera, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, among others.
I wish that everyone would go see it, especially a nasty man who came into the gallery (full disclosure: I work in an art gallery that specializes in antique tribal art from Africa and Oceania) and told me that all the masks and figures look the same and there is no way that Picasso or Matisse were influenced by African art. I cited Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907, as an example but he refused to believe me. The Museum of Modern Art who owns the painting even states on the gallery label next to the painting:
“Picasso drew on sources as diverse as Iberian sculpture, African tribal masks, and El Greco’s painting to make this startling composition.”
Needless to say the man walked out of the gallery unconvinced and I felt a little sad for him because there are so many things in the world that are influenced and tied to each other, as disparate as they seem, if he would only open his mind a bit. Anyhoo. More
Currently on view at the Museum of Arts and Design is a small exhibition of Doris Duke’s Shangri La. It features architectural drawings, photos, furniture, jewelry and decorative objects from her impressive home in Honolulu which she called Shangri La. Duke was left a sizable fortune at the age of 13 when her father died in 1925. What does one do with a multi-million dollar inheritance? Why travel, collect art and do charitable work naturally.
During her honeymoon in 1935 with her husband James H.R. Cromwell they traveled through the Middle East and South Asia. The artistic traditions of the Islamic cultures in Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Lebanon, India and other countries fascinated her. Before returning to the U.S. they stopped in Hawaii and it was there that Duke decided to build a new home rather than in Palm Beach, Florida. This new home would become a museum to her newfound passion of collecting decorative Islamic works which continued for the next 60 years.
There is an architectural model of Shangri La in the exhibition and although it is small in scale the majesty of the compound is clear. Perched on the coast of the Pacific Ocean Duke was thoughtful in the design and construction of Shangri La allowing the natural landscape and artwork be the focus. A photo of the dining room reveals Duke’s eclectic taste as it mimics the inside of a tent with exquisite textiles and a slightly ostentatious chandelier.
Although there is a smattering of objects on view there are excellent examples of craftsmanship that you could not find today such as a door with about a hundred rectangular niches covered in tiny ivory tiles, or wooden chests with mother of pearl or ivory inlay. Duke had a fine taste for jewelry from Mughal India my favorite piece being a late 17th century ruby, diamond and enameled gold bracelet. The rubies form the petals of 3 vertical rows of flowers which completely circled the wrist in 7 rows when closed. That’s 21 ruby petal flowers with diamond centers and a few diamond leaves! I certainly hope Duke wore that while sitting on the lanai or maybe gardening.
I hope to make it to Duke’s Shangri La one day.
The Museum of Arts and Design is home to a good restaurant with a fine view of Central Park, Robert. They serve brunch, lunch, fabulous cocktails (if you like tangy go for the Marseilles Mule or the Emma Rose for sweet) and dinner. You can ask for a table next to the window but call well in advance. As we sat there eating it was amusing to watch other people being shown to their table away from the window and see how well the hostess handled their request for a better view. If you happen to use the bathroom be sure to go to the one at the end of the hall as it has floor to ceiling windows looking down onto West 58th Street. There are metal ball bearing curtains of a sort so no one from the office building across the way will see you. More
And he was a clever guy who made iconic art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, has a new exhibition dedicated to him, “Regarding Warhol. Sixty Artists, Fifty Years.” I went to a preview last Saturday (I’m an individual member and one of the benefits is previewing certain exhibitions. It also takes the pressure off from trying to see everything in the museum at once. With my membership I feel like I can see one exhibition and leave because I can always go back. Even if you’re not a member the admission is suggested).
When you enter the exhibition you see the explanatory wall text to your right and two Self-Portraits, 1967, from the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. They’re hung side by side, no frames (if you click on the exhibition link above you’ll see them). Warhol’s face fills the 72-inch square canvas as he stares at you in a contemplative pose, his index finger resting on the corner of his mouth and middle finger approximately over his Cupid’s bow. The portrait on the left is dominated by red, Warhol’s face in yellow, with some strips of orange on the left and right edges and a touch of dusty blue in his hair. The complementary colors of other portrait with navy dominant, Warhol’s face in orange, with teal green strips on the left and right edges and mustard green hair create an impressive entrance. You think, “Wow. This is going to be a show.” Unfortunately it underwhelmed with too much material. More