Month: June 2015

Visit Alice, Emmet and William at the Morgan

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Four new and very different exhibits should entice you to visit the Morgan Library and Museum this summer, including Alice:150 Years of Wonderland, opening this Friday, June 26th. The exhibit will feature the original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which, for the first time in three decades,  will travel from the British Library in London to New York. It will be joined by original drawings and letters, rare editions, vintage photographs, and fascinating objects—many never before exhibited. While this exhibit will surely draw the crowds, there are three other fascinating exhibitions that shouldn’t be missed.

Left: Emmet Gowin (American, b. 1941), Edith in Panama, Flight Inside, 2003. Unique gold toned salt print on Twin Rocker handmade paper. Right: Odilon Redon (French, 1840-1916), The Spider, 1902. Charcoal and black chalk.

Left: Emmet Gowin (American, b. 1941), Edith in Panama, Flight Inside, 2003. Unique gold toned salt print on Twin Rocker handmade paper. Right: Odilon Redon (French, 1840-1916), The Spider, 1902. Charcoal and black chalk.

Hidden Likeness: Photographer Emmet Gowin at the Morgan is the most provocative, and requires a slow viewing to really appreciate its impact. For the exhibition, Gowin (b. 1941) has combined favorites from five decades of his work with objects drawn from the collections of the Morgan. Gowin’s photographs include portraits of his wife, Edith, and their extended family,  landscapes, and aerial views of sites shaped by modern-era catastrophes ranging from volcanic activity to nuclear testing. If you can, I’d recommend taking the free guided tour of the exhibit which is scheduled for Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 2:00pm during July and August.  The exhibit will be on view until September 20th.

Sir Thomas Malory (fl. 1470) Thys noble and joyous book entitled le morte Darthur… Westminster: William Caxton, 31 July 1485

Sir Thomas Malory
(fl. 1470)
Thys noble and joyous book entitled le morte Darthur…
Westminster: William Caxton, 31 July 1485

For something completely different, stop in to see William Caxton and the Birth of English Printing.  This small exhibits celebrates the first books printed in English, beginning in 1474, by William Caxton. He was an English merchant and diplomat, who capitalized on the commercial opportunity offered by  print technology invented by Johann Gutenberg twenty years before. Caxton published key works of English literature, such as Chaucer and Malory, (on display) as well as short religious texts, many of which he translated from French or Latin. The Morgan has the third largest collection of Caxtons in the world. The exhibit is on view until September 25th.

Henri Matisse, Self-Portrait 1945 Conté crayon on wove paper.

Henri Matisse, Self-Portrait
Conté crayon on wove paper.

For a more traditional art exhibit, visit Life Lines: Portrait Drawings From Durer To Picasso, on view through September 8th.  Life Lines includes self-portraits, like one by Henri Matisse, to portraits of family and friends, such as a portrait by Picasso of the actress Marie Derval.  There are formal portraits, commissioned by wealthy families as well as preparatory studies for paintings or sculptures.  If you not only enjoy viewing portraits, but also enjoy creating them, stop by the Morgan on Saturday, July 18th when you can sketch in the gallery.

Frida Kahlo at the NY Botanical Gardens

fk casa azul

Homage to the blue walls of Kahlo’s Casa Azul, Mexico at the NY Botanical Gardens

I confess – I’m not a huge fan of Frida Kahlo’s work. But I developed a new appreciation for her creative spirit after visiting the New York Botanical Gardens exhibit “Frida Kahlo: Art-Garden-Life.”

The exhibition is the first to examine Frida Kahlo’s connection to the beauty and variety of the natural world, as seen by her home and garden as well as her use of plant imagery in her artwork. The exhibit has two parts – the flora and fauna, and the paintings. The first can be found in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory where Kahlo, and her husband Diego Rivera’s,  garden at the Casa Azul in Mexico City, are brought to life.

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There you will see an array of beautiful flowers, cacti, trees and greens, as well as learn more about Kahlo’s connection to the natural world. Standing in the various rooms of the Conservatory makes you feel like you are in a living painting.

Reimaging Kahlo's studio overlooking her garden , NY Botanical Gardens

Kahlo’s in-garden studio, NY Botanical Gardens

The second part of the exhibit can be found in The LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s Art Gallery. Kahlo is perhaps best known for her self-portraits, but she also completed many portraits of others, still lifes, and personal scenes.


Fourteen of her works are on display in the Garden’s Art Gallery. According to NYBG, the paintings were selected for their use of complex and detailed plant imagery and come from museums and private collections in Mexico and the United States.

The exhibit will be open through November 1st. It pays to make a day trip out of your visit because, aside from the exhibit, you can enjoy just walkng around the Gardens. If you go on the weekend, I’d recommend going to the art exhibit towards the end of the day. It’s a small room and so crowd control is necessary. Waiting time to get in during the day can go up to an hour. It’s much faster after 3:00pm.

Al Hirschfeld at the New York Historical Society

Al Hirschfield, Self Portrait

Al Hirschfeld, Self Portrait

A Sunday morning pleasure used to be trying to find the “Ninas” in Al Hirschfeld’s caricatures which appeared in the Sunday New York Times “Arts & Leisures” section. As most people knew, Nina was Hirschfeld’s daughter. But what I learned at the New York Historical Society’s exhibit, “The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld,” was that Hirschfeld never intended to make it a permanent feature of his drawings. He did it for the first few months after Nina’s birth; meant for the amusement of his friends. But when he stopped, people protested; so “Nina” returned and stayed part of the Sunday drawings.

Al Hirschfeld, 2000 Academy Award Nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress, 2001.Colored gels over pen and ink.

Al Hirschfeld, 2000 Academy Award Nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress, 2001.Colored gels over pen and ink.

The exhibition has over 100 original works, with a special emphasis on the New York Times—where Hirschfeld was a contributor for over seven decades. Hirschfeld, who died in 2003 at the age of 100 years,  was known by many as “the Line King,” As you walk through the exhibit, and look closely at his work, you can really appreciate the power of his lines. The exhibit contains classic portraits of Charlie Chaplin, Carol Channing, Ella Fitzgerald, Jane Fonda and Ringo Starr, as well as cast drawings from theatrical productions of Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, and The Glass Menagerie.

If you go, don’t missing seeing the short video of an interview with Hirschfeld. Not only is it interesting to hear him talk about his work, but you also get to see how he creates it.

The exhibit is on view through October 12, 2015.

2015 Museum Mile Festival


This year’s Museum Mile Festival takes place on Tuesday, June 9th from 6-9:00pm. Nine museums from 82nd -105th Street are open late and free to the public. Fifth Avenue will closed to traffic; there’s street entertainment; and it’s a great opportunity to get a taste of art from different institutions. But beware – there can be long lines to get into some of the museums.

Thomas Hart Benton, City Activities With Dancehall

Thomas Hart Benton, City Activities With Dancehall

One of the most popular museums on Museum Mile is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’d recommend entering the museum at the 81st Street entrance — where school groups are directed — it will probably be less crowded. Only part of the museum will be open that night; primarily the new big exhibits like China Through the Looking Glass. These will be pretty crowded so if you can, seek out some smaller exhibits or work from the permanent collection. For example, the Met just reinstalled the ten-panel mural,  America Today, by Thomas Hart Benton.  Benton  painted this mural for New York’s New School for Social Research to hang in the school’s boardroom. It  depicts a sweeping panorama of American life throughout the 1920s. It was on view as a special exhibition but now is permanently installed in gallery 909 in the Modern Wing of the museum.


Making Design, Cooper-Hewitt museum

Making Design, Cooper-Hewitt museum

It’s also a good night to visit a museum that you don’t normally go to. Try Cooper-Hewitt Museum  which wasn’t open when last year’s Museum Mile event took place. One current exhibition to see is  Making Design. It’s the first in a number of exhibitions devoted to showcasing Cooper Hewitt’s extensive collection. It brings together some 360 objects, including furniture, lighting fixtures, tableware, clothing, jewelry, books, and posters, providing an overview of five key elements of design: line, form, texture, pattern, and color (red, for this initial installation).