Month: January 2015

Art in the Comfort of Your Home

Don’t let the predicted NYC “Blizzard 2015” deter you from seeing art. Most museums now have their collections online and with the Google Art Project you can view collections from around the world; create your own personalized gallery; or find artists that you like.

There are also a variety of films and talks you can watch that provide an in-depth look at an artist — their work and their process. Here are some to consider that I’ve really enjoyed.


Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress (You Tube) — documentary that explores Close’s inspiring life story while showcasing his creative and exciting portraits.

Gerhard Richter Painting (Netflix streaming) —  Richter’s creative process juxtaposed with intimate conversations and rare archival material. You can watch Richter create a series of large-scale abstract canvasses, using fat brushes and a large squeegee to apply (and then scrape off) layer after layer of paint.

Waste Land: Vik Muniz (DVD) — Filmed at the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Muniz  photographs a group of “catadores”—self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. In the end, he partners with them to recreate photographic images of themselves out of the collected garbage.

David Hockney: A Bigger Picture (Amazon Prime Instant Video) — Filmed over 3 years it captures David Hockney’s return from California to his native Yorkshire. H is shown painting outside through the seasons and in all weathers.

Ai Wewei: Never Sorry  (Netflix streaming)– a portrait of China’s most famous international artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic.  Ai expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. The movie shows his work and how the Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention.


NYC-ARTS is a program which airs weekly on a local PBS station — Channel 13 or 21 — but can be viewed online as well. Many of the programs focus on exhibits at local museums and feature talks by curators. A recent program featured Paula Zahn in conversation with Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow, the curators of the exhibition “Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection,” which is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

TED Talks

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.  You can search “art” topics on the TED Talks website and find a wide range of talks. I especially enjoyed “Art with wire, sugar, chocolate and string,” a talk by Brazilian artist, Vik Muniz.

Do you have a favorite movie, program or talk about or with an artist? Share the link and I’ll add it to the list.

One-Year Free Membership To NYC Museums

city id

Cost may be a barrier to an art museum membership. But now there’s an opportunity to get a one-year free membership to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Studio Museum of Harlem, El Museo del Barrio, MoMa/PS1 and 28 other New York City cultural institutions.

The New York City Municipal ID, launching this month, will give all ID card holders access to one-year free membership packages at some of the City’s leading cultural institutions. The one-year membership will be comparable to each institution’s standard one-year individual or family membership package, depending on the institution. It will give ID card holders a range of benefits including free admission, and access to special events, and discounts to museum shops.

There has been a rush in applications for the ID causing long waiting times for appointments. However, if you don’t need the ID right away, wait a few weeks, and then apply in order to get your museum membership. The “year” begins when you get the card.

The 33 institutions participating in this effort belong to the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) which is comprised of private nonprofit cultural organizations located on City owned property. Check for specific benefits per institution. See below for a complete list of participating institutions:

1. Bronx County Historical Society
2. Bronx Museum of the Arts
3. New York Botanical Garden
4. Wave Hill
5. Wildlife Conservation Society (includes Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo)

6. Brooklyn Academy of Music
7. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
8. Brooklyn Children’s Museum
9. Brooklyn Museum

10. American Museum of Natural History
11. Carnegie Hall
12. New York City Ballet
13. El Museo del Barrio
14. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
15. Metropolitan Museum of Art
16. Museum of Jewish Heritage
17. Museum of the City of New York
18. New York City Center
19. Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival
20. Studio Museum in Harlem

21. Flushing Town Hall
22. Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning
23. Museum of the Moving Image
24. New York Hall of Science
25. MoMA PS1
26. Queens Botanical Garden
27. Queens Museum
28. Queens Theatre

Staten Island
29. Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
30. Staten Island Children’s Museum
31. Staten Island Historical Society
32. Staten Island Museum
33. Staten Island Zoological Society

Being There Without Being There: Art Exhibitions on Screen

If you live in New York, then you should go see the Matisse Cut-Outs at MoMA. But if you can’t make it to the museum, you can go to the movies to see it, and four other exciting exhibits from museums around the world.

Fathom Events, in association with Arts Alliance and Seventh Art Productions, is bringing five art exhibitions to select U.S. cinemas with “Exhibitions on Screen.”   The first film, “Matisse from MoMA and Tate Modern,” begins on January 13th and is playing locally at Union Square Stadium 14, Empire 25, and Kips Bay 15. The other four exhibitions to be screened are:

Rembrandt from the National Gallery London & Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Vincent van Gogh – A New Way of Seeing from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

Girl with a Pearl Earring and Other Treasures from the Mauritshuis in the Hague

The Impressionists from the Musée de Luxembourg Paris, National Gallery London, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art

(Thanks RDK for the heads-up)


Finding Art in a House of Books


More than one million books were in place when the New York Public Library was officially dedicated on May 23, 1911. The Beaux-Arts designed building was the largest marble structure ever attempted in the United States, according to the NYPL’s website. Today’s main branch, with its imposing lions keeping watch, has become not only a place for reading and research, but a tourist destination as well. However, it’s not often thought of as a place to view art.

The McGraw Rotunda

The McGraw Rotunda

To begin with, there is the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building itself. It was named in 2008 after the Wall Street financier Stephen A. Schwarzman who agreed to jump-start a $1 billion expansion of the library system with a guaranteed $100 million of his own. Besides the majestic outside, the ceilings, hallways and reading rooms are beautiful as well. Start with the third floor McGraw Rotunda where you will find murals by Edward Laning depicting the history of the written word.

Also on the third floor is the Edna Barnes Salomon Room, named in honor of the wife of former NYPL Chairman of the Board Richard Salomon. Though the room is now the home of a new wireless Internet reading and study room,  it contains some of the building’s most important paintings. Many of the artworks belonged to the families of James Lenox and John Jacob Astor and include portraits by Reynolds, Raeburn, Romney, Trumball and Stuart. In addition, to the permanent art found in the library, there are always interesting exhibits .

Print from "Sublime, The Prints of  J.M.W. Turner and Thomas Moran

Print from “Sublime, The Prints of J.M.W. Turner and Thomas Moran

Sublime: The Prints of J.M. W. Turner and Thomas Moran can be found along the hallway on the third floor. Between 1807-1819 Turner published his Liber Studiorum (Book of Studies). It’s a series of landscapes evoking a sense of the “Sublime,” a term philosopher Edmund Burke defined as “whatever is fitted…to excite ideas of pain or danger.” American painter and printmaker, Thomas Moran was inspired by Turner’s work. Shown at different ends of the hall, the exhibition provides an interesting comparison between the “British and American artists’ often complementary and sometimes divergent views of nature,” states the exhibition catalog.

Image from "Public Eye"

Image from “Public Eye”

Public Eye: 175 Years of Sharing Photography can be found on the first floor and is drawn entirely from the Library’s collections. It explores various ways photography has been shared and made public from 1839 to the present. More than 50 photographers are represented including Ed Ruscha, Gary Winogrand, and Thomas Struth. There’s  an interactive piece representing digital traces of life in a twenty-first century city, and a  stereogranimater which allows you to view, create, and share 3D images from the stereograph collections of The New York Public Library and Boston Public Library.

There are many other smaller exhibits on view. Check the library’s website for the full listing