20 December 2018

I realize that..

..it is getting to be late in the calendar year and I have yet to compile quotations about mediocrities in this space.  My most sincere apologies.

Nothing is as approved as mediocrity, the majority has established it and it fixes its fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way.
-Blaise Pascal

Only mediocrity can be trusted to be always at its best.
-Max Beerbohm

Most of our pocket wisdom is conceived for the use of mediocre people, to discourage them from ambitious attempts, and generally console them in their mediocrity.
-Robert Louis Stevenson

The middlebrow is the man, or woman, of middlebred intelligence who ambles and saunters now on this side of the hedge, now on that, in pursuit of no single object, neither art itself nor life itself, but both mixed indistinguishably, and rather nastily, with money, fame, power, or prestige.
-Virginia Woolf

Perseverance, n. A lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success.
- Ambrose Bierce

Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.
-Oscar Wilde

Mediocrity is not allowed to poets, either by the gods or man. -Horace

There are certain things in which mediocrity is intolerable: poetry, music, painting, public eloquence. What torture it is to hear a frigid speech being pompously declaimed, or second-rate verse spoken with all a bad poet's bombast!
-Jean de la Bruyere

Mediocrity is now, as formerly, dangerous, commonly fatal, to the poet; but among even the successful writers of prose, those who rise sensibly above it are the very rarest exceptions.
-William E. Gladstone

In the dark room a cloud of yellow dust flew from beneath the tool like a scatter of sparks from under the hooves of a galloping horse. The twin wheels turned and hummed. Binet was smiling, his chin down, his nostrils distended. He seemed lost in the kind of happiness which, as a rule, accompanies only those mediocre occupations that tickle the intelligence with easy difficulties, and satisfy it with a sense of achievement beyond which there is nothing left for dreams to feed on.

08 November 2018

What's up for a few hours, v. MCMLXVII

“Up” in this case means the ol’ theatrical run, as ‘streaming’ is one Francis Scott Key gerund I don’t do, and as I’m in no position to determine whether I gleam or not, I feel compelled to reflect on two screenings of The Other Side of the Wind while it alights a cinema-house I am aware of.. ..specifically to rebut two notions I’m reading in articles (1) that it’s not a masterpiece that belongs with his top half dozen (Kane, Ambersons, Touch of Evil, Lady from Shanghai, Falstaff, The Trial) (2) that it’s intended as a dismissive parody of Antonioni. First of all, Welles wouldn’t set a film he valued as highly next door to the exploding Zabriskie Point house for a fleeting improv parody of someone he had little respect for.

Since Antonioni’s classic work came in the 60s people can forget that he was three years’ older than Welles. That Welles’ 1967 nod (the same year he started filming Other Side) “According to a young American critic, one of the great discoveries of our age is the value of boredom as an artistic subject. If that is so, Antonioni deserves to be counted as a pioneer and founding father” is followed by “His movies are perfect backgrounds for fashion models” is likely due to Blow-Up coming out the previous year. David Hemmings’ fashion photography in Blow-Up enables the petty London alpha behaviour of the protagonists’ worldly assimilation (in the city where Antonioni said the photographers lived, though the script wasn't originally set in London) as well as the relationship to the infinite and eros, while Hemmings' ‘neo-realist’ photos represented Antonioni’s film roots both stylistically and geographically. Neo-realism was what the Italian anti-fascist directors adhered to after WW2, referenced in Zabriskie Point when the romantic pairing settles into the titular landscape:

Daria: (toking) What do you mean, reality trip? Oh, yeah, they can’t imagine things. Were you in that group? Why didn’t you get out?
Mark: I wasn’t really in the group. I just couldn’t stand their bullshit talk. Really bored the hell out out of me.

Of course alongside Antonioni the would-be architect (Sandro jealously tipping over the architecture student’s inkwell in in L’Avventura, exploding the house of the Southwestern gated community developer in Zabriskie Point) and Antonioni the painter (Blow-up and L’Avventura) is the would-be neo-realist, a maze Hemmings follows in Blow-Up along with mystery genre structure, most effectively developed in The Passenger. What Antonioni hadn’t enacted yet - he would do so later in Identification of a Woman - was the filmmaker, and I think Welles thought that was his opening to go further - to take Antonioni’s “Eros is Sick” theme closer to the bone, while filming his and his girlfriend’s whimsical erotic fancies. The film within a film is also not, in my view, getting the respect it deserves - it comes off as parody at times out of aesthetic necessity, but Welles made a Wellsian erotic film that delivers on that branding. It also sets up the drama of the film, which involves the directors sadistic relation to the lead male actor. This, and the scenes in the screening room with the would-be investor/ producer clearly reference Godard’s Le Mepris, which also had come out recently (+ the car of Le Mepris and L'Eclisse). Imagine Welles watching that film after all his problems with producers - where it is the screenwriter rather than the actor being emasculated - a theme Welles took up 15 years earlier in The Lady from Shanghai. . “Eros is Sick” came from the essay Ideas and Facts which was published when L’Avventura was being booed at Cannes: “What do you think this eroticism that has invaded literature and the performing arts is? ..a symptom.. Of the illness the emotions are suffering. We would not be erotic, that is, the sick men of Eros, if Eros himself were in good health. And when I say in good health, I mean just that, adequate to man’s conditions and needs,” a statement of a 1960 Italian man’s painterly taste for allegory. Antonioni's late 60s early 70s films in English relish and utilize the escape from Italian censorship, living vicariously through his male leads filled with his own subconscious impulses, even as Britain becomes the conjugal home Nicholson leaves in The Passenger.

As with Antonioni’s best work, the first viewing of Other Side is a ‘meet and greet’ orientation session, and though the scenes on the set involve improvisation, each line functionally advances the character study.

12 October 2018

by the logic of the previous post I should upload from Jerry's Madrid years for Fiesta Nacional de España..

08 October 2018

Jerry González 1949-2018

Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day, even if that's Ponce de León in the painting..

27 September 2018

08 September 2018

"In this space odyssey (of the ruling classes' representation of progress) it is obvious that the present is being erased, with increasing force, and the contempt for the past is constantly growing... a society that embarks on such comic book futurism disconnects itself from its problems, and that nothing could be more convenient for its rulers than the projection of their people onto the backdrop of the future, where everything enters a context as Utopian as it is harmless." (Marta Traba, 1974)

07 September 2018

range co
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me an

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tar: the sun
rise which yo
u lend

31 August 2018

Holy _______ ___ the new Criterion restoration of Memories of Underdevelopment is out.. trying to get stuff done here but can't help watching it over and over.  If you haven't read my Top 15 films on this blog then it never existed, just the Top 16.  It would seem to encompass René Depestre's entire film career, in which he plays himself with a few lines.  The oceanic government says there might be thunder here soon, so I suppose it's the right weather for watching it, tho I did enjoy those two or three cold nights, for to simmer my large cauldron of Korean soup.

End of September: the restoration of L'Atalante.

27 July 2018

What's up for eight more days, v. 𐌣𐌚⊕

The Birth of the Goddess Anwulili, 2016

Chioma Ebinama's first public exhibition at this March's Spring/ Break fair, the series Rituals for a New Direction, left a strong impression on its witnesses, with her dutiful curator Raphael Guilbert holding forth throughout the proceedings to explain the North Jersey product born of Nigerian immigrants' feminist reworkings of Igbo narratives rendered masterfully in ink and watercolors.  As with Wifredo Lam, liberties are taken with divine iconography through intuition rather than scholarship, as Claude Carnuschi writes "(Lam) presents his art as genuine reflection of unconscious processes rather than a deliberate imitation of African forms."  Lam, though, eschewed both narrative and ritual, both cornerstones of Ebinama's process.  It is unclear to what extent Rituals was a riposte to patriarchal tendencies in Igbo tradition such as the Ofu, the symbol of the male governance of the household.  The antagonist in Rituals is the male Efu while the protagonist is the heroine Anwulili - Anwuli is an Igbo girl’s name meaning ‘joy.’  In 1964's Arrow of God by Igbo novelist Chinua Achebe, Ezeulu is the high priest of the regional god Ulu until British colonists convince the village to convert to Christianity. The Yoruban concept of àjé, signifying the power of the feminine, recurs in Rituals by way of Louise Bourgeois' influence in her depiction of the menstrual cycle.  She also drew inspiration for Rituals from Mesoamerican codices, notably in a narrative fragment which suggests at first glance the Bayeux tapestry.

Peter Probst writes "(In) Yoruba aesthetics.. the mastery of the 'inner eye' is what distinguishes the artist. Using it, he/she is able to perceive not only the outer form of the object, but also its inner essence, virtue, or character (iwa).. Children's 'inner eyes' are considered to be purer than those of adults, and that is why their experiences are said to be often more intense and colorful," similar to Max Ernst's view "If you close your eyes and you look into your inner world, and I believe the best way to do is to have one eye closed and to look inside, and this is the inner eye, and with your other eye you have it fixed on reality, what is going on in the world." The Birth of the Goddess Anwulili from Rituals reminded me of Ernst when I first saw it, but as with Ernst the bird headed figure comes from African art, likely from a wooden ritual Senufo hornbill from the Ivory Coast displayed at the Met.  The current show (250 Broome, 11-7, extended to August 4) derives itself attentively from emotional content with watercolors best seen in person - white dots on figures signify wishes, memories, or growths, spikes coming from heads reference protective nails in Congolese ritual sculpture.

Two Hauser & Werth shows are ending July 28: Among the three floors of the Pearlstein Collection at 22nd Street I predictably enjoyed the first, featuring three original exquisite corpses and, astonishingly, Breton's January 1919 collage letter to Jacques Vaché, sent the month Vaché killed himself, including a Max Jacob-attributed 'humor is indulgent irony,' references to Aragon, Lautréamont, Rimbaud and Jarry, and poetry of Apollinaire's after Vaché had, a month after Apollinaire succumbed to the Spanish flu, softened his position from 'the great reservations' about him for 'making art too knowingly, for patching up a bit of romanticism with telephone wires, and of being blind to dynamos.'  On 69th St, amid the Basque Eduardo Chillada's many sculptures and the worthwhile authorized one hour video bio, his ink works on paper remind me of Miró's Constellations as they seem to depict ripples in the water, as he would cut school during thunderstorms to sit under a rock and watch the sea.

Eduardo Chillada, Sin Titulo, 1957

New works by Manuel Mendive debut this week in the borough museum serving the Danish settlement of Jonas Bronck, soon to be legislated with much acknowledgement by Alexandria the Great.

Para ser rumbero tienes que amor de gente
y tener el alma tan clara como el sol de oriente
tu tienes que ser sincero para tocar la rumba, ay Dios!

Of Chelsea's group shows, Greene Naftali's 1st floor show to the left of 508 26th features Hervé Télémaque and Helen Marten.

16 July 2018

one l
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h i
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of a

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08 July 2018

04 July 2018

Happy 4th

25 June 2018

speaking of Italian bands, the bass player for Caboto which broke up in 2007 put some of his perfs up.

With both Acquaragia Drom and them I prefer the first album, and in fact my favorite opera is Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, the first opera that's still being regularly performed, in keeping with my view that genres decline when they develop templates and conventions.

24 June 2018

"(Roberto) Saviano said he had witnessed members of some of southern Italy's most notorious mafia families attending Salvini's rallies, and accused Salvini of ignoring organized crime's stranglehold on the south in favour of stirring up resentment against immigrants."

20 June 2018

What's up for four more days..

"The whole, as-yet-unformed modern myth rests at its origins on two bodies of work that are almost indistinguishable, by Alberto Savinio and his brother, Giorgio de Chirico" Breton wrote in the Anthologie de l'humour noir which quoted Savinio's explanation of metaphysical painting "Unlike the days in which abstraction reigned supreme, our age tries to draw the complete metaphysical elements out of matter itself (things). The metaphysical idea would pass from the state of abstraction to that of the senses." Friday and Saturday of this week are the only remaining days to see Savinio at CIMA, which had previously presented de Chirico.

Prometheus, 1929

Salvinio's familial and archetypal imagery prompted Breton to redeliberate on Freud: "In these two brothers, humor surges from their intermittent but very acute awareness of their own repression." "Prometheus" (above) is commonly viewed as a deconstruction of masculinity perhaps reflecting on, though he was in Paris at the time, Mussolini's recent establishment of supreme authority. Immanuel Kant in 1755: “There is such a thing as right taste in natural science, which knows how to distinguish the wild extravagances of unbridled curiosity from cautious judgements of reasonable credibility. From the Prometheus of recent times Mr. Franklin, who wanted to disarm the thunder, down to the man who wants to extinguish the fire in the workshop of Vulcanus, all these endeavors result in the humiliating reminder that Man never can be anything more than a man” was Mary Shelley's inspiration to subtitle Frankenstein "The Modern Prometheus," the name Kant gave to his essay.


One theoretical riposte to Savinio's Metaphysical aesthetic is from Bruce Chatwin: "Authoritarian societies love images because they reinforce the chain of command at all levels of the hierarchy. But an abstract art of pure form and color, if it is serious and not merely decorative, mocks the pretensions of secular power because it transcends the limits of this world and attempts to penetrate a hidden world of universal law." Pace bills, up til August, “a return to Michal Rovner’s unique, abstracted language” but if there is a hierarchy depicted in her videos of the multitudes at a distance it is that of the human world over nature. "Mordechai Omer notes that Israeli artists who are successful abroad are always the object of unpleasant criticism here. Aside from that, (Rovner's) engagement in political subjects related to Israel infuriates artists who work and show here, as if it were a superficial and irrelevant invasion of an area that is no longer hers." Also from Israel, the denizen Melanie Daniels (537b West 23rd til June 23) quickly names Daniel Richter and Doig as her primary influences when asked: “Daniel Richter: he’s the best living painter as far as I’m concerned. I can look at as his works for hours and they just keep unfolding.” I pretty much agree with this as I have looked at Richters for hours but I don’t try to decide between him and Clemente. Daniel and Peter’s visual techniques are here applied to caricatures of utopian societies. 

Tali Keren
But clearly the impetus for the Piri’ Miri Muli’ Nations in Focus feature of the previous paragraph is Jerusalem-born Tali Keren’s installation at the Goethe Institut’s 38 Ludlow gallery, which uses drone technology to illuminate the rejected great seal of America designed by Kant’s Prometheus, Mr. Benjamin Franklin, depicting Moses parting the Red Sea in Exodus.  Keren is a portraitist of Christian Zionism, about which Anita Schapira wrote in Israel a History “It was the Protestants who discovered the Bible and extolled its importance in educating the younger generation. Even the idea of the Jews returning to their ancient homeland as the first step to world redemption seems to have originated among a specific group of evangelical English Protestants that flourished in England in the 1840s; they passed this notion on to Jewish circles.”  Keren traces the movement to the translation of the King James Bible into English in the 16th Century. Kovel briefly mentions several cultural examples predating Herzl’s campaign including George Eliot’s 1876 novel Daniel Deronda.


In American culture, especially since 2003, the rationalizations for war differ based on the audience, and diplomatic, electoral and media discourses maintain the pretense of a War on Terror that is not a war of religion.  I stated this to Keren and she said she’s been watching Fox News nonstop and the wars are commonly referred to as religious. Included in the back room are three audio recordings, including the testimony of Brandon Bryant, a rural American that took a drone operator job and later testified that his colleagues learned their craft on video games, that many of them believed devoutly in Christian Zionism, and that the use of drones to kill unknown people in foreign countries was indiscriminate.  In her video New Jerusalem, she produced a chamber piece performed for Jerusalem’s mayor and city council in which the cantor sings a libretto made up of the classified 1967 plan to maintain a Jewish majority for the planned capitol. As with her use of propaganda in the Great Seal and a US-Israeli national anthem for which the audience was made to stand, she reveals the dominant ideology that is hiding in plain sight.

Also ending Saturday downtown are two short Eugenio Dittborn films in the basement of 47 Walker along with new Polke-influenced paintings of his (above), characteristically air mailed to the host gallery.

13 June 2018

What's up for four more days..

Chichiriviche, 1960/2014
Up til this Saturday at Henrique Faria (35 e 67th, 4th fl): Alfredo Cortina's photographs of his wife, the Venezuelan poet and playwright Elizabeth Schön, who wrote in 2003 of "un sentimiento reflexivo-intuitivo, llega mucho más allá que el simple hecho del ver" ("a reflective-intuitive feeling goes far beyond the simple fact of seeing"), "como propone Rilke: '…dulcemente debo desprenderme de la apariencia…' Solamente desprendiéndonos de ella, nos acercamos más a ese silencio absoluto que existe y al que no podemos atrapar" ("..as Rilke proposes: '..sweetly I must detach myself from appearance..' Only by detaching ourselves from it, do we get closer to that absolute silence that exists and that we can not entrap..")

Sin título, 1965/2014

A shot from 1957 depicts Carlos Puche photographing her in a rural doorway..

Sin título, 1957/2014

.. and while the past obscurity of this series makes it presumably impossible for Jeff Wall to have seen this in the 70s, it is not without its similarities to "Picture for Women" - not only is the male photographer on the right and the female subject on the left..

Picture for Women, 1979

..but in both shots there are two vertical lines between the figures - one (the side of the house) isolating the photographer and the other extending from the left shoulder of the subject.  The foregrounding of the figures is inverted but since one is a mirror image that doesn't really count.

Also ending Saturday on 24th St are twelve 5'x7' paintings by Terry Winters at no. 523 and a pedagogical and sculptural offering at no. 531 by Oscar Tuazon referencing Steve and Holly Baer's solar powered home which uses water for heating and cooling, along with Winona's Water School (below) honoring two-time Ralph Nader running mate and Native American activist Winona LaDuke.  Two of Tuazon's structures inspired by the Baers will be installed within anti-pipeline protest sites in Minnesota.

10 June 2018

One cannot be judicious about the obit function of a blog fwiw.. for Kovel I re-read about 3-4 of his books after he passed and couldn't find an ideal quote out of context, thinking I would do Robert Parry first as after a great career he'd become in his last months perhaps the US's most important journalist, but I don't have any of his books and his web articles mostly don't strive for crystallizing aphorisms (he died back in January), then after the second day of multiple shootings at the Gaza demonstrations I thought I could find that book of Kovel's under a pile and there it was. Piri' Miri Muli' readers know you don't have to die or comment publicly on the Middle East to be mentioned on my blog, but

I'm struck by the outpouring of gratitude for Bourdain by Mexicans, who will have in a few months an elected anti-corruption president with a majority of the country's support while the gringos have a military junta run by a sexist ethnic supremacist billionaire that mysteriously outperformed exit polls in battleground states. One of AMLO's least remarkable moments was hiring Giuliani as a consultant for Distrito Federal, so perhaps a future leaked transcript will tell us if "Rudy es Rudy" is indeed a diplomatic icebreaker this fall.  I recall Bourdain's plebeian critique of vegetarianism, of which my longest attempt was spoiled by a trip down south. A fellow New Jerseyan I was also thinking the other day of blogging that I had discovered putting pork rolls (down here we don't say Taylor) in the George Foreman grill, not finding another mention of that preparation online, in addition to my breakthrough of Dan Dan Scrapple Noodles using Spicy King brand Dan Dan sauce which contains those peppercorns, best enjoyed in these environs at Flushing's Golden Shopping Mall, that couldn't be imported to the US til 2005, but my cholesterol is high and ..

16 May 2018

Joel Kovel 1936-2018

"The elements of bad conscience are played out across various dimensions, especially that of guilt, the feelings of which become intolerable to the degree it is fed by archaic streams of hatred and revenge. The resulting feelings become projected and turn into the blaming of others - whether these be expropriated Palestinians or critics of Israel, who become either antisemites or that curious entity, the 'self-hating Jew.'.. The rising of the Jewish state transformed a normally harsh conscience into a full-blown bad conscience.. Thus what is 'bad' about the bad conscience is the walling off within, the splitting introduced by the irreconcilability of a collective will whose guiding principle had once been ethical superiority and is now shaped by an aggressive, militarized and vindictive state.

"It is an essential feature of bad conscience to drive toward greater transgression. We have observed that recognition of common humanity and acceptance of moral responsibility leads to reconciliation and forgiveness. However, the bad conscience of Zionism moves in the opposite direction, to join the cycle of violence that stains human history.."

- Overcoming Zionism, 2007, 158-159

05 May 2018

What's up for two more days, v. Ж

Also if you haven't seen the Mitchell/ Riopelle show at the Art Gallery of Ontario, get to Toronto by early Sunday afternoon to allot it proper consideration. "At a party thrown by Hedda and Saul.. Riopelle made his overture to her in a raucous Quebecois accent: 'Tonight I will teach you how to fuck. Tomorrow I will teach you how to paint.' Surely Joan wore her mischievous little cat grin thirty-seven years later when she bragged to his biographer, Hélène de Billy, 'I impressed him because I was Wasp.'" (Patricia Albers, from Joan Mitchell, Lady Painter)

Joan Mitchell, Girolata, 1964

Last weekend was my first visit to that museum since the Peter Doig show four years ago, and seeing the Canadian painters contemporaneous to Bonnard who applied his methods to the Northern wilderness strongly reinforced the impression I got then - how Doig was the bridge between them and those that have emulated his figurative palette.

14 April 2018

me d
e vér

é ave
c do

nald e
t bor

on o
f t
he fi


11 April 2018






07 April 2018

This is my first post since Bolton was picked but I'm full of hope someone will read our chief the mainstream backlash and perhaps explain Fox's selection process for TV analysts enabling a Scaramucci-speed 'you're fired' or at least the codes will confuse him after a two-person meeting, not inclined to hysteria here in the suburban 'first world' I cite here cultural events of perceived proximity, as when Radha Sadasivam died I couldn’t pass up that vocal duo with her stepmom M. S. Subbulakshmi, who'd just checked out of the hospital, and her granddaughter is singing tomorrow a few necks north of me on a bucolic single carriageway named after a neck, in an ashram where it seems everyone they book is a master to be reckoned with..

I am predictably allotting spare hours in the near future to search for online CT perfs

for uploading and looking for notebooks where I wrote down quotes of his, but the bassist Buell Niedinger who checked out nine days before, opened this in closer intervals with him.

10 March 2018

What's up for two more days (Armory week edition)

I’ve never regarded an Armory as must see (1912 excluded) and that continues but I enjoyed it and there is much to detain the visitor in the more crowded weekend hours.  I saw Art Basel Miami last December for the first time and though I was unfortunately a bit rushed for both, it took me exactly half the time to see all the booths at Armory (1:45 vs. 3:30).  Pier 94 has a slow security check queue which gives incentive to see all that in one shot - starting at Pier 92 and taking one’s time there is not a bad idea. The Insights series in the back of 92 has a lot of classics, including the Arte Povera offerings of London’s Repetto and Gary Nader, who keeps a gallery in Miami only for the moment.  Here Nader devotes his booth exclusively to major works by Matta, Lam, and late Picasso, which I predictably relished while looking intently for his more contemporary holdings of artists I would enjoy at his New York address.  I honestly don’t know why the city of Miami has not been more helpful to him in his quest to build a museum there but that is a major loss for the city, known otherwise for a paucity of permanent collections.  In the Insights section in the back of 94, Lyles & King presents four large scale paintings by Miami’s self-taught Farley Aguilar, born in Nicaragua, ‘with the paint still drying,’ depicting flag-waving Floridians and sewing circles in his uniquely haunting style.

I hope to blog more about current gallery shows but I should note that if you have any chance to see Luisa Rabbia's five paintings at Peter Blum's Little Italy address before April 7 ('Birth,' 'Death,' - one of my favorite paintings of recent years - and three lingams; 'Love,' part of the series, just showed in Reggio Emilia) do so, as no reproduction can do justice to them.

04 March 2018

What's up for one more crowded day (ADAA Art Show edition)

It was crowded today but my plans to go Friday were grounded by wind patterns.

Mary-Anne Martin always coughs up some luminous Leonora Carringtons and this time there's an ample selection of her 1940 Down Below sketches which employ, in at least two instances each: the frottage method and anthropomorphic figures with bird heads, suggesting her emotional connection to Max Ernst on the heels of their traumatic separation.  Later I'm not aware of her use of frottage and her vision becomes more individualistic.  Wearing masks and removing them is a recurring theme of the drawings.

Salon 94 has portraits and works on paper of Ibraham el-Salahi, on the more realist side of his production. The small scale works on paper, which portray Sudanese city life, are a highlight, but the oils here aren't as compelling to me as his more Surrealist work which I've never seen in person.  Two galleries have major Joseph Cornells and Philly's Locks Gallery tops in this category. Peter Blum presents a selection of Chris Marker's series from North Korea in 1957.  Altman Siegel has paintings by Liam Everett.

This blog has no scoop on when and where the Moving Pictures fair is this year nor, it seems, does any other online publication or their website.  My email is listed somewhere if you have a tip.

10 February 2018

What's up for another week

Susan Meiselas' photo of a photo of slain Sandinista guerrilla Arien Siu, Jinotepe, 1978

At Washington Square's 80WSE, "Dream of Solentiname" (til Feb 17) was put together without the cooperation of the Nicaraguan government, which had wrested its Ministry of Culture from the administration of Solentiname Island’s priest, the poet Ernesto Cardenal, in 1988 after eleven years in favor of Rosario Murillo, El Presidente Ortega’s wife.  This past year, Ortega’s corrupt judiciary handed down an $800,000 judgement against Cardenal, now 93.  Former Frieze curator Nicola Lees, now director of the newly expanded galleries, sees the show challenging the growing materialism of the art world, as the first room harkens back to the joint statements against Reagan’s Contra War signed by luminaries of the visual arts, which unintentionally highlight how Obama and company have pacified fashionable gringo dissidents while fixing elections in Honduras, Brazil, and Haiti.  Rooms feature architectural panels from Marcos Aguelo’s reconstruction of Solentiname's church, Susan Meiselas’ photography of the revolution, and the wildlife sculptures of Cardenal, whose belief in the ecology of the revolution has been betrayed by Nicaragua’s proposed canal, but the highlight of the show is a room of  liberation theology oil panels by various artists likening the battles of the Sandinista revolution to Christ’s passion.

In the basement of the Grey next door til March 31 is a collection of Baya gouaches from the Maight collections, the family that sponsored her when she moved from Algeria to the South of France. The Grey owns a few ceramics from Picasso’s Vallauris period, and the occasion of Baya befriending him while living there is a propitious excuse for showing them here. Despite the show's subtitle 'Woman of Algiers,' there is no known connection between Baya and Picasso's appropriations of the Delacroix painting. In the “What Andre Breton said” department (pdf): “I speak, not like so many others to deplore an end but to promote a beginning, and over this beginning Baya is queen. The beginning of an age of emancipation and concord, radically severed from what came before and one of whose principal levers is, for man, the systematic and always greater impregnation of nature. The primer of this age is in Charles Fourier, the brand new motor has just been supplied by Malcolm de Chazal. But the rocket heralding it, I propose we call it Baya.”

Miguel Abeu's two Chinatown galleries feature til March 11 "Collage(s) de France," Jean-Luc Godard's dioramas for a 2006 show at the Pompidieu that was truncated due to the auteur’s conflict with the institution. What remains is what he describes as an ‘archeology’ of the cinema, which arrives at that synthesis through the construction of dollhouses of Godard’s consciousness, rewarding repeated visits from Godard enthusiasts.  The dollhouses are at Abreu’s 88 Eldridge outpost along with projected screenings of some harder to find Godard projects, while other materials and screenings of features on a TV can be found at its Orchard St location. On the 5th floor of 88 Eldridge til March 18, David Lewis has the best Thornton Dial selection I've seen (pdf).   33 Orchard has more Indian tantra works, some signed by contemporary artists and other anonymous, from various collectors.

Leon Golub at the Met Breuer til May 27 is sanitized of any historical specificity: at one point a card describes a series of portraits of Brazilian military junta leader Ernesto Geisel “as aged and wizened."  In the second to last year of Geisel’s administration, he responded to a legislative loss by dismissing congress under the A1-5 laws and ensuring the elections would be won by the junta supported by the CIA, while continuing to open the economy to US investment, a history their description card omits while attributing Golub’s likeness of Geisel to “the social construction of authority and masculinity.”  In the Thomas Cole show, the Met curators relish Cole’s cartoon lampooning a Luddite leader and rather ridiculously speculate that the fires in The Course of Empire: Destruction may relate to Luddite fires, when there is direct source material tying the series to Byron’s anti-war poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, wherein he broke with other Romantics in its denunciation of the Napoleonic Wars, a poem which had already provided the inspiration for Turner’s The Field of Waterloo.

Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1836

Their are, though, a half dozen loans of major Turners from British museums here til May 13.  Joseph Cornell’s Homage to Juan Gris til April 15 is well worth seeing as it literally shows both sides of his works and some that are not shown at their host museums due to being considered unfinished or minor. The industry of presuming to read Cornell’s mind is in full throttle and there are some stated cultural associations I don’t agree with here.  Some works are from the Bergman collection at Art Institute of Chicago, to whom Cornell said ‘you have too many of my works’ at which time Bergman turned to third party sources.  The second best Cornell collection is in New Orleans due to a gift by the Cornell foundation.  Michelangelo (through Sunday Feb 12) has quite a lot of drawings, including many from the Ashmolean in Oxford, many that are once-in-a-lifetime views, though it helps to share his taste for the male anatomy. About the Met price hike, institutional elitism prevents museums from developing a process for deaccessioning works that seeks the input of scholars and the community.  The public would get a list of works that have no chance of ever being exhibited and can have their complaints about specific works mediated by a museum employee and an external advisor.  In the case of the Met, $20 million of their two billion dollar endowment could give them four years to devise such a system. Common sense.  Met President Weiss hails from American university administration, often a contest determining who can position themselves to dictate terms to others and is willing to raise the prices.  Then you have museums like Fisk and La Salle announcing without public input they are going to sell the crown jewels pending litigation. Obviously if a museum president deceptively cites statistics to the public about their voluntary contributions he should be immediately removed from his office and return to being a mediocre Medieval art professor. PAFA made Sundays free during its Norman Lewis retrospective and the place was full of black Philadelphians. The Met has sent the opposite signal to low income North Jersey residents and their more contemporary exhibitions suffer from this privileged insularity ‘in this room, Hockney presents us with two monumental portraits of the curator.’

While de Chirico “sought correction in the ancient world of his childhood in Greece,” the Greek Philadelphian Thomas Chimes went from Neoclassicism and religion to immersion into Artaud and Jarry in the mid-60s, and the resulting metal boxes and panel paintings can be seen in a small retrospective at Philly’s own Washington Square for another week.  Fellow Artaudian Baselitz has a selection at Werner for another fortnight.

28 January 2018



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26 January 2018

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19 January 2018



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18 January 2018

Audrey Chen and Phil Minton in Philly tomorrow night..


13 January 2018

Sunny Murray 1936-2017

Radha Viswanathan 1934-2018