Taubman Collection at Sotheby’s

There are just four more days to view the incredible art collection of the late A. Alfred Taubman before the Sotheby’s auction on November 4/5. Encompassing more than 500 works, the collection spans antiquity to contemporary art which Mr. Taubman collected over six decades. There are 123 items for bid in the Modern and Contemporary auction and 77 in the Masterworks auction.

Egon Schiele works

Egon Schiele works

Taubman’s collection includes 24 pieces by Egon Schiele, which alone could form the basis of a museum exhibition. Additionally there are pieces by Balthus, Degas, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Rothko, and Van Gogh among countless others.


Vincent van Gogh, PAYSAGE SOUS UN CIEL MOUVEMENTÉ (oil on canvas)

The Taubman collection can be found on the 10th floor of Sotheby’s and shares the space with another impressive collection that’s up for  auction this week as well. The Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale contains 47 works of art, many from the collection of Louis & Evelyn Franck.

Sotheby’s, on 72nd and York Avenue, is open from 10:00am-5:00pm. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to see great works of art in a highly accessible setting.

Art Galleries of the Lower East Side map map

If you are a NYC art lover then chances are you’ve been to the galleries in Chelsea. Less popular, and not as well known, are the galleries on the Lower East Side.  The art you’ll find there is very contemporary; sometimes edgy; and often just recently completed. A reason to visit may be tied to a specific show. But even more fun is to head down there and just wander in and out of galleries. You’ll be surprised at the unusual and interesting art you’ll uncover. Start by just walking up and down Orchard Street.

Jean Kawecki

Jean Kawecki, The Past Is Always Present


One gallery I dropped into was The 155 Project. A group show called A Conversation in Approaches featured eight artists working in a variety of media. Among them was 89 year old Jean Kawecki, who creates large scale, evocative sculptures from found stone and found wood combined with other natural materials such as bones, coral and bark, Many of the pieces are carved from one continuous found object. Says Kawecki, “Nature provides my medium.  I spend a lot of time wandering through the woods, the quarry or the stone yard. There, I find an abundance of form, color and texture that I can use to express my responses to the many aspects of the human scene.”

Campbell la Pun, Kreme Glaze, Aerosol on Panle

Campbell la Pun, Kreme Glaze, Aerosol on Panel

The Krause Gallery offered a completely different art experience. Campbell La Pun – “Excess Fumes” features 15 aerosol can “portraits” with brand images like Hermes, Nike, Pringles and Lucky Strike.  La Pun, a Melbourne-born, Tokyo-based artist, uses pop culture for much of his work. The show, on view until December 1st, is reminiscent of works by Andy Warhol.

At the Denny Gallery I saw Emily Noelle Lambert’s colorful abstractions  which were engaging and full of energy. The exhibition features paintings and sculptures  that are “in dialogue with each other, exploring dimensional and pictorial space,” according to the gallery notes. Lambert’s sculptures are made mostly from found or discarded wood, foam, steel, and other objects. This exhibit is on until December 1st.

Ofri Cnaani: Wrong Tools

front window

It’s hard to categorize Wrong Tools, the  Ofri Cnanni show at the Andrea Meislin Gallery. The exhibit includes a participatory performance piece as well as a series of cyanotypes —  a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print.


My "reading"

My “reading”

The Cnnani performance is like a spiritual “reading.” It “expands on the idea of visuality, visibility and vulnerability in the image-saturated digital culture, highlighting fundamental paradoxes of the media era,” according to the exhibition notes.

For my reading, I selected two items from a collection of objects in Cnnani’s window “office.” Then I chose a Tarot card – mine read “unlimited,” and contributed a personal item — a red pen. Cnanni added other objects and composed my “reading.” You could watch her on a large screen projected in the gallery and outside. A photo copy was printed and signed, providing a very personal involvement with the artist and her art.

Ofri Cnaani Blue Print (OC real and fake hands) #1, 2015 Cyanotype

Ofri Cnaani
Blue Print (OC real and fake hands) #1, 2015

Also on view at the gallery are a series of cyanotypes Cnnani created using real and fake hands, as well as other objects. This form of “photography” is typically used by engineers as a simple and low-cost process to produce blueprints. In Cnani’s hands, the photos created are reminiscent of Matisse’s blue cut-outs

The title of the show — Wrong Tools — underscores Cnaani’s working methods. She deliberately misuses technologies, and chooses low-tech, imprecise techniques to create distinct visual stories.

Cnnani, an Israeli born artist and educator, has had solo exhibitions and performances around the world including:  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, PS1/MoMA, The Fisher Museum of Art in L.A., and the Haifa Museum of Art in Israel. Wrong Tools will be on view through October 24.


Art To See Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend is a last chance to see some major exhibitions around the city. If you haven’t seen these yet, then now’s the time:

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art – China Through the Looking Glass (closes 9/7). The museum will stay open until midnight, Friday (9/5) and Saturday (9/6) nights.

At MoMA – Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series

At the Guggenheim – Story Lines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim (closes 9/9)

At the Neue Gallerie – Gustav Klimt and Adele Bloch-Bauer: The Woman in Gold

At the Morgan Library and Museum — Life Lines: Portrait Drawings From Durer to Picasso  The Morgan, not normally open on Mondays, will be open on Labor Day. The exhibit closes September 8th.

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit in New York City

Labor Day weekend is also a great time to check out The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit. It takes place over two weekends: Sept. 5, 6, and 7, and Sept. 12 and 13. The event showcases fine arts and crafts from around the New York metropolitan area, the nation and the world. This isn’t a street fair but rather a sidewalk art exhibition. It runs from University Place, starting at East 13th Street, and continues south along the east side of Washington Square Park to West 3rd Street.  The southern end of the show encompasses Schwartz Plaza between NYU’s Shimkin Hall and Bobst Library.

Jacob Lawrence: A Visual Story Teller

There are many reasons to visit the new Whitney Museum including enjoying the art in the spacious and inviting galleries; the Renzo Piano architecture; and the views from the 7th and 8th floor terraces.  But what I was not expecting was to see Jacob Lawrence’s War Series.  Lawrence (1917-2000) was an Africa-American painter known for his depiction of African-American life. He’s best known for his narrative collections that he painted in story format using blacks and browns juxtaposed with vivid colors.

Lawrence served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II.  The fourteen panel War Series describes his first-hand  “sense of regimentation, community, and displacement” that he experienced during his service.  The “story” alternates between vertical and horizontal formats, literal and abstract depictions; and individuals and groups. The series supports Lawrence’s belief that one cannot “tell a story in a single painting.”

I’m not sure I would have examined these as closely had I not experienced Lawrence’s equally compelling Migration Series on view at  the MoMA. Created in 1941, The Migration Series tells the story of the Great Migration, the multi-decade mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North that started around 1915. The series is comprised of 60 small tempera paintings with text captions that read like a children’s story book. The color palettes in the two series are very similar, but the text in the Migration Series is much more evocative. It’s the first time all 60 panels have been shown together.

The Migration Series is only on view until September 7th while The War Series is, for now, in one of the Whitney’s permanent galleries.

The Summer of Van Gogh

Paintings by Vincent Van Gogh were the first works of art to really have an impact on me. I loved his use of color and the feeling of constant movement that his lines evoked. This summer there was an opportunity to delve deeper into Van Gogh’s work with two shows — one very small and one large, both closing soon. The first is Irises and Roses at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (closes August 16). Painted on the eve of his departure from the asylum at Saint-Rémy, the group includes two paintings — an Irises and a Roses — from the Metropolitan Museum’s permanent collection, and one each from the National Gallery of Art in DC and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The exhibition reunites the four paintings for the first time since the artist’s death.  It opened 125 years to the week that Van Gogh announced to his brother Theo, on May 11 and 13, 1890, that he was working on these “large bouquets,” according to the Met. The paintings are beautiful but they no longer carry the original colors that Van Gogh selected when painting them. To learn more about this, and other details behind the paintings, you must watch the terrific videos on the wall opposite the paintings.

A much larger Van Gogh exhibit can be seen at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.  Van Gogh and Nature (on view through September 13) contains fifty works including iconic paintings such as A Wheatfield, with Cypresses (1889, National Gallery, London), The Olive Trees (1889, The Museum of Modern Art, New York), and The Sower (1888, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo). As the Clark describes it, the exhibition focuses on Van Gogh  as a “thoughtful and meticulous student of nature who found solace and personal fulfillment in studying and enjoying the natural world.” What I found surprising about some of these paintings was the use of  a different color palette than one expects with Van Gogh’s works.

If you’re a Van Gogh lover like me, you can also see 15 additional works by Van Gogh in the permanent collection at the Met. Additionally, the Moma and the Guggenheim also have a few Van Goghs on view.

The Frick: Go for “Flaming June,” Stay for the Collection

Frederic Leighton (1830–1896), Flaming June, ca. 1895. Oil on canvas

Frederic Leighton (1830–1896), Flaming June, ca. 1895. Oil on canvas

As you walk through the Frick Collection’s Garden Court, towards the Oval Room, you immediately see in the distance, the bright orange color of Frederic Leighton’s stunning “Flaming June.” The closer you get, the more striking it becomes. Not only because of the intrinsic qualities of the painting itself  — the color, the lines, the abandonment — but also because it is unlike anything else at the Frick.

Garden Court at The Frick Collection

Garden Court at The Frick Collection

Built in 1913, the house was designed to accommodate paintings and other art objects collected by Henry Clay Frick, the Pittsburgh coke and steel industrialist.  The intention was to one day leave the house, and Frick’s art collection, to the public. After Mrs. Frick’s death in 1931, family and trustees of The Frick Collection began the transformation of the Fifth Avenue residence into a museum. Additions were made to the original house, including two galleries (the Oval Room and East Gallery), a combination lecture hall and music room, and the enclosed Garden Court, originally the location of the home’s driveway. It opened to the pubic in December 1935.

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The permanent collection began with one hundred thirty-seven paintings and also included sculpture, decorative arts, drawings, and prints. Today, The Frick houses a permanent collection of more than 1,100 works of art from the Renaissance to the late nineteenth century. Artists represented in the Collection include Rembrandt, El Greco,Vermeer, Gainsborough, Turner, and Whistler. While the later acquisitions are able to be loaned to other museums, Frick stipulated that his original collection could only be viewed in his original home. My favorite room was the West Gallery where there are several JMW Turner harbor paintings and iconic Vermeers and Rembrandts.

Leighton’s Flaming June is on view through September 6th. The Frick is open everyday but Monday.

Vik Muniz Petri Dishes

Petri_Ass27I’m always on the look-out for art in unexpected places. But even I was surprised to catch sight of work by one of my favorite contemporary artists, Vik Muniz, in the window of a fancy porcelain shop.

Brazilian artist Muniz is best known for his use of unusual, often everyday materials, to create large scale photographic pieces. Materials he has used  include: garbage found at the world’s largest dump in Rio de Janeiro; chocolate, dust, diamonds, sugar; and other photographs. The dishes on display in the window of the Bernardaud store on 59th and Park Avenue, along with Muniz’s photo, look nothing like his previous work but the link to the “everyday” is still there. These pieces were inspired  by colorful strains of Paenibacillus andSalmonella (the causes of food poisoning, typhoid fever, and bacteremia) that are seen by scientists in petri dishes.

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Muniz collaborated on this project with Tal Danino, a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is researching ways to program bacteria for different uses, such as detecting and treating cancer. According to a interview with Danino, “Vic said let’s make some real plates out of bacteria.” The images that fill the porcelain plates began as ten-centimeter-wide petri dishes, each filled with translucent, nutrient-infused agar, and dotted with a drop of bacteria in the center.

There’s a limited edition (2500) of  six-set dinner plates which can be purchased through Bernardaud for $550.


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.