Picasso’s Picassos

Pablo Picasso Marie-Thérèse, face et profil, 1931 Oil and charcoal on canvas

Pablo Picasso
Marie-Thérèse, face et profil, 1931
Oil and charcoal on canvas

These aren’t my favorites, but the paintings in Picasso’s Picassos offer a unique glimpse into Picasso’s personal life. On view at the Gagosian Gallery on the Upper Eastside, the exhibit features works from the collection of Maya Ruiz-Picasso,and organized by Diana Widmaier Picasso.

Pablo Picasso Maya à la poupée et au cheval, 1938 Oil on canvas

Pablo Picasso
Maya à la poupée et au cheval, 1938
Oil on canvas

Maya Ruiz-Picasso is the daughter of Pablo Picasso and Marie-Thérèse Walter. Her personal collection is the part of the legacy Picasso left when he died in 1973. The work on view at the gallery is drawn from the period between 1931 and 1971, and includes several portraits of Marie-Thérèse Walter and a well-known portrait of Maya as a child.

The exhibition was initially going to close at the end of January but has been extended to February 18th.

Marisa Merz, Living Sculpture, 1966 Strips of aluminum

Marisa Merz, Living Sculpture, 1966
Strips of aluminum

If you go, be sure to also visit Marisa Merz: The Sky is a Great Space on view at the Met Breuer, across the street. The exhibition is the first major retrospective in the United States of works by this Italian painter, sculptor, and installation artist, the sole female protagonist of the Arte Povera movement.

The Power of Charcoal at The Drawing Center

Olga Chernysheva,

Olga Chernysheva, charcoal on paper, 2015

The Drawing Center, located on Wooster Street in SOHO, is a great place to see art. Though it’s mainly a two-room gallery, the space is large and the works on view are very accessible. Cecily Brown: Rehearsal is the main exhibit and is the artist’s first solo museum show in New York, and the first exhibition dedicated to her drawings. The large, colorful acrylic and watercolor works are engaging and imaginative. But it was the smaller exhibit, in the back room of the gallery, that really captured my attention.

Olga Chernysheva, Untitled (Forbidden),Charcoal and collage on paper (2016)

Olga Chernysheva, Untitled (Forbidden),Charcoal and collage on paper (2016)

The exhibit, Olga Chernysheva: Vague Accent is a series of drawings the Moscow-based artist made during a month-long visit to New York in November 2015. Each drawing is done in charcoal and captures an everyday scene Chernysheva observed while she was on her visit. The simple lines convey so much. Yet each feel as if the artist just took out her sketch pad as she was roaming through the city or looking out her window. The artist described her drawings as works that “show things that are already visible…things not asking to be looked at.”

Olga Chernysheva

Olga Chernysheva

Just one contained a hint of color which was quite impactful and made you feel like you wanted to see more of those hints in other drawings.

Both exhibits are only on view through December 18th.

Alma Thomas: Studio Museum of Harlem

Alma Thomas, Wind, Sunshine, and Flowers (1968), acrylic on canvas, (71 3/4 x 51 7/8 in.)

Alma Thomas, Wind, Sunshine, and Flowers (1968), acrylic on canvas, (71 3/4 x 51 7/8 in.)

As you walk into the main gallery space at the Studio Museum of Harlem you are immediately struck by the large color paintings in the middle of the gallery. Although this isn’t the beginning of the Alma Thomas exhibit, it’s the most impactful work in the show.

Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas

Thomas (1891-1978), began her artistic career after retiring as a school teacher at the age of 69. Not only was her age remarkable, but she succeeded as an African-American woman within Washington D.C.’s largely white and male artistic community. What’s so engaging about the large, mostly acrylic paintings, are both her color choices and the negative spaces between the shapes.

Alma Thomas March on Washington, 1964 Acrylic on canvas, 31 × 39 in.

Alma Thomas
March on Washington, 1964
Acrylic on canvas, 31 × 39 in.

The exhibition features works from every period in her career, including rarely exhibited watercolors and early abstractions, as well as her signature canvases drawn from a variety of private and public collections. The exhibit is on view through October 30th. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday (when it is free).

“Visual Storage” at the Met

When I first became a Visitor Services volunteer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art I was taken on a tour of the museum. It was the beginning of my training to learn about the museum so I could help visitors find their way around. The day was mostly a blur, but the one place I never forgot, and return to over and over again, is the Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art. Commonly known as the Visual Storage area, these rows upon rows of objects represent American fine art and decorative art objects that are not currently on view in the Museum galleries and period rooms.

Hennry R. Luce Center, Met Museum

Hennry R. Luce Center, Met Museum

Objects are arranged by material (oil paintings, sculpture, furniture and woodwork, glass, ceramics, and metalwork) and within these categories are organized by form and chronology. Not only are the individual objects beautiful to look at but the spectacle of the volume of objects is beautiful too.

Henry R. Luce Center, Met Museum

Henry R. Luce Center, Met Museum

The Luce Center is located on the mezzanine level of the American Wing. Very few people find their way there so it’s very quiet and I find it very peaceful. There are computer displays at the end of each row so you can look up any of the objects you see. This is necessary because the objects don’t have the usual information cards next to them.

Next time you are at the Met, be sure to investigate the The Luce Center.

Eva Hesse



She died at age 34. Yet during her short lifetime Eva Hesse made a lasting impact on the art world. I had little familiarity with Hesse, having seen but one sculpture at MoMA.


I learned about this fascinating woman, and her work, from the documentary Eva Hess R Film By Marcie Begleiter.

Sent by their parents on a Kindertransport, Hesse, aged two, and her older sister Helen, left their native Germany during the rise of Nazism. They were later joined by their parents, eventually settling in New York. Hesse was schooled in American abstract painting and commercial design practices. She originally pursued a career in commercial textile design, but eventually her practice as an expressionist painter led her to increasingly experiment with industrial and every-day, or “found” materials, such as rope, string, wire, rubber, and fiberglass. While she’s best known for her sculptures, Hesse also painted and created “combos.” Some of her artwork can be seen now at the Met Breuer, MoMA, the Drawing Center and the Jewish Museum.

The movie is playing at the Film Forum through May 10th and it’s really worth seeing.

Bringing Community Art to the Subways

mosaic 3

Waiting for the subway to come can be a dreary experience. So it was a pleasant surprise to find a series of colorful ceramic street scenes lining the walls of the 86th Street Number One train station. Though I’ve been at this station before, I’ve never noticed the art work, and they’ve graced the subway walls since 1989!

The mosaics are a result of a collaboration between muralist and public artist Nitza Tufiño, and 17 young people, most of whom were part of Grosvenor Neighborhood House’s school equivalency and educational program. Carrying 35-millimeter cameras, the team went into area streets to photograph important historic sites and interviewed members of the community.

mosaic 2

A New York Times article, written on the 20th anniversary of the installation, described how the photographs became the ceramic squares. The negatives of the best scenes were made into slides, and the images projected onto a wall, where they were traced onto paper. These drawings were transferred in reverse onto 23-by-30-inch linoleum sheets that were then stamped onto large sheets of clay. The large clay images were cut into pieces small enough to fit into kilns and fired, then painted with colored glaze, put back together like puzzle pieces, then finally mounted onto large frames. They ultimately created 40 ceramic tiles based on their work.  All can be seen on the uptown and downtown sides of the station.

mosaic 1

Art work, like the mosaics in the 86th Street station, appear all over the subway system. As the MTA rehabilitates subway and commuter rail stations through its Capital Program, it uses a portion of the funds to commission permanent works of art. MTA Arts and Design taps into both well-established and emerging artists to  create works using the materials of the transit system — mosaic, ceramic tile, bronze, steel and glass. For the soon-to-be-open Second Avenue subway line, the MTA has commissioned well-known artists to create distinctive subway art, including Chuck Close and Vik Muniz.

So as you travel underground, look around; you may find art to brighten up your trip.


Art From Scandinavia


Situated among the office buildings and hotels on Park Avenue is the Scandinavia House, the leading center for Nordic culture in the United States. It’s the home of the American-Scandinavian Foundation with a gift shop and a restaurant serving foods from the region. But more interestingly, it’s one of the few places in New York City to see art from Scandinavia.

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On view now through February 27 is Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi from SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark.  Hammershøi  was a Danish painter who lived from 1864-1916. His work focused on four main areas —landscapes, unpopulated urban cityscapes, portraits, and spare, sunlight-infused interiors. Some of the portraits are reminiscent of John Singer Sargent. Others evoke the landscapes of the impressionists. The gallery is small and intimate so you can really focus on the paintings.


Master Drawings New York Week


If you are a fan of drawings — as a viewer or a collector — then you can’t miss The tenth annual MASTER DRAWINGS NEW YORK show which will take place January 23 through January 30 at 30 leading art galleries on the Upper East Side.

The concept for the event originated in 2006 as a way to draw upon and reinforce the presence of collectors and museum officials during the January art-buying events, like the “Old Master” auctions and The Winter Antiques Show. But now MASTER DRAWINGS NEW YORK has become an important event in its own right, attracting  influential dealers from around the world.

Exhibitors at galleries from East 63rd-East 86th Streets will showcase important pencil, pen and ink, chalk and charcoal drawings, as well as oil on paper sketches and watercolors by artists from the 16th to 21st centuries.  Each exhibition is hosted by an expert specialist and many works on offer are newly discovered or have not been seen on the market in decades, if at all, according to the event catalog.

New exhibitors this year include:

Allan Stone Projects — with an exhibition entitled “Process and Presence: Mastery in Drawing” and includes figurative, landscape, still life and abstract works by prominent artists such as Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Wayne Thiebaud, Franz Kline, and Gaston Lachaise.

Kraushaar Galleries — featuring works by Marsden Hartley as well as Dorothy Dehner, among several important American artists.

Découvert Fine Art gallery of Rockport, MA — with an exhibition entitled “The Feminine Observed, 16th to 20th century, and New Acquisitions.”

Westbeth Annual 2015

show poster

The Westbeth Annual 2015 is a curated exhibition featuring 62 emerging and established artists who make the Westbeth Artists’ Housing  their home. The complex of 13 buildings, formerly the site of Bell Laboratories, was conceived in the 1960’s as a partial solution to the acute need to provide affordable housing and studios for artists and their families. It became one of the first examples  of industrial buildings being reused for artistic and residential purposes.

Westbeth Building on the corner of Bethune Street

Westbeth Building on the corner of Bethune Street

In addition to its residential component, Westbeth also contains large and small commercial spaces, performance and rehearsal spaces and artists studios both individual and communal, such as the Westbeth Sculptors’ Studio and the Westbeth Graphics Studio.

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The 2015 Westbeth Annual features an eclectic group of art from paintings and drawings to photography and sculpture. It’s an opportunity to see work from both well-known artists and those who are still trying to make a name for themselves. Many of the pieces are for sale.  Westbeth is not too far from the Whitney Museum and the neighborhood is charming. The exhibit is on view until January 2nd and the gallery is open Wednesday – Sunday from 1pm – 6pm. It’s closed Christmas weekend and New Years Day.

The Power of the Line

Two exhibits, as different as night and day, bring to life the power of a line. The first is Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions at the Morgan Library and Museum.

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Martin Puryear is a living American sculptor who works primarily in wood and bronze creating elegant pieces that have subtle impact. This exhibition is the first to highlight the important role that drawing plays in his practice. Featuring about 70 works, the exhibition explores the evolution of Puryear’s ideas across different media. Most of the drawings come from the artist’s collection and have never been exhibited before. His drawings, but even more so his sculptures, use simple shapes and lines that have depth and volume.

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The second exhibit brings to light the exquisite drawings of Renaissance artist, Andrea del Sarto, and can be found at the Frick Museum. Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action has nearly fifty drawings — red and black chalk figures, expressive heads, and compositional studies — and three related paintings that explore the important role of drawing in Andrea del Sarto’s paintings. “By showing drawings with their completed paintings and by bringing together works that relate to specific commissions, the exhibition sheds new light on the artist’s creative process,” according to the exhibition notes. The works on display provide insights into the artistic process and serve, almost as a masters class, in drawing.

Both exhibits are on view through January 10, 2016.