Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Monday, March 27, 2017
Nocturnal Animals 2016
Oy Oy Land. If you can get through the opening credits of very obese naked older women dancing by themselves then you might be ready for the rest of this film. The director fashion designer Tom Ford in his second feature films these sad and grotesque dancers up close and in slow motion and it is painful to watch. It seems unending and confusing. Just what are we watching, Is it a spiky send up of Marina Abramovic’s tacky use of beautiful naked men and women in some of her performance pieces, a carnival sideshow of lost everything or a burlesque act from hell. Well it turns out to be an opening night performance piece at a flashy spiffy art gallery owned by Amy Adams it sets us up nicely for what is to follow. Or does it?
Adams is in a second marriage to Armie Hammond (such a nice looking young man) but is unhappy and dulled by it. They live in a typical L.A. style glass house on the top of the city that is open to the spectacle of lights, action, cameras, but are really closed off from it. The house is filled with your usual blue to light blue chip art, (Is that a Jeff Koons? Is that a Damien Hurst? But Amy does not like being an art dealer and she doesn’t even like the art that she sells for big bucks.
She mopes around the house and the gallery but she’s not really there. She’s glazed and shinny like the art she pushes, and Ford uses Adams one of our most likeable and cuddly movie stars against her grain. She’s removed from her life and this state of sleepwalking she’s in also removes us from her and her life situation.
Ok I admit it I was hooked. What’s not to like it has art, glitz, fashion, L.A. Amy and Armie and Jake Gyllenhaal along with generous side dishes of the grotesque. We really don’t see much of this city, Ford keeps us at a distance from this place of make believe, glamour and shit, and its a good move on his part. The plot starts to move and gets twisty and ugly when Amy gets a surprise manuscript from her first husband an author played by Jake Gyllenhaal (such a nice looking young man) of his novel titled “Nocturnal Animals” which is dedicated to her.
The story within the story starts up and it’s a very nasty tale for sure. Violent, ugly, disturbing and full of sorrow, revenge and death. Amy can only read so much of it at one time and who can blame her as it is clearly based on her marriage to Jake. Fiction mixes with fact as a family of 3, mother, young daughter and father set off on a road trip in deep dark Texas and meet up with the three horsemen of the Apocalypse. That’s all I’m saying about the plot, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who will want to see it. The look of the film is sharp and saturated with deep colors and as I said disturbing situations and action overflow. The cast is very good. Michael Shannon (is it my imagination or was he in every film released last year) plays a sheriff with a big problem and was Oscar nominated for it. Laura Linney pops up in a small bit as Amy’s very nasty and bitchy mother, and no one plays bitchy better than Linney. But hey listen this is not a film for everyone, so viewer beware, and don’t blame me for your nightmares or daymares. God knows our reality is nightmarish enough.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Oddball the final one from January I hope
Oddball from January
Oddball Magazine March 2017
American Folk Art Museum
Righ now there are two magnificent exhibitions on view at one of my favorite museums in New York.
Eugen Gabritschevsky who was born to an affluent family in Russia in 1893 and went on to study the natural sciences with a special interest in insects before he lost his mind in 1931 and spent his long life in a psychiatric hospital in Germany where he made hundreds of wonderful intricate beautiful drawings, gouaches and watercolors incorporating his varied interests in the sciences. These are jaw dropping works, intimate and intricate with flights into his mind where he brings back worlds of fantasy and theatricality to share with us. His use of color, line and design and his use of this materials are very sophisticated and unique. Check out his wall of bird drawings. I loved his work and there is so much pleasure in this show to be had that I almost cried.
As if this wasn't enough take a gander at the show up the stairs at the equally amazing array of about 55 paintings by the Italian Carlo Zinelli who was born in 1916 to a peasant family who also had a hard knock life.Finally after a bad turn in the Spanish Civil War he had breakdowns and was committed to a psychiatric hospital in 1947 where he spent his life making these remarkable paintings and drawings in bright colors and intricate line work many of which incorporate writings. To describe the sheer beauty and exuberance of these works is pointless you have to see them in person. Many of the drawings and paintings have images on both sides and they are nicely installed so we can become verso with them. Both shows were curated by the great Valerie Rousseau who might very well be my favorite curator in the city. This is outsider art on the highest and most sophisticated level, moving and inspiring these shows made me glow all the way back to Brooklyn. These two great exhibitions are up until August and if you are limited in time and energy these should be at the top of your must see lists. Fuck the Whitney Biannual these shows are the real thing and admission is free.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Marsden Hartley's Maine at Met Breuer
This is the other great show now on view at the Met Breuer that I think you will really love and if you get a chance hurry up to 77th st. Hartley oh Marsden so troubled yet so wonderful and a big influence on me the minute I saw his paintings as a teenager. This show focuses on his landscapes and seascapes from early in his career to his twilight years but there are also several of his bold homoerotic gorgeous paintings of hunky heroic looking young men who caught more than just his eye.
Also hanging is his famous portrait of Albert Pinkham Ryder who was a big influence on him. Included also are quite a few of Hartley’s drawings and examples of other artist’s works besides Ryder who also played a role in his development as an artist , including Cézanne, Japanese printmakers Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai, and Winslow Homer.
This is a “trend” of late in Museum scholarship and installation especially at the Met, which I can do without even though I love all the artists pushed into the sidebars of the show. This practice tends to be confusing, didactic and unnecessary. Hartley's paintings are rugged and lush with beautiful strong colors, shapes and outlines and I especially love his clouds and his waves crashing against rocks and coastlines. His trees are also wonderful as is his mountains and lakes. In the 90’s I took a trip to Hartford Connecticut to see a large retro of his at the Wadsworth Atheneum which was breathtaking and breathtaking and I would welcome a full scale retro of his work here in the city but until that happens this lovely array of his landscapes will do. I suggest that you avoid this place on the weekend as it is proving to be very popular especially with the elders of the city, the ladies who lunch and the tourists. See it during the week if possible. I’m including my review of a bio of him that I wrote in 2010 to end out this piece.
”Just finished reading Marsden Hartley The Biography Of An American Artist by Townsend Ludington, and I wish I could recommend it, but I really can’t. I found it too dry and dead. I mean Hartley lived during the most interesting and exciting times of the Twentieth Century but the author to my mind doesn’t capture the spirit or color of the period. I also would have liked to know more about his sexuality, and I don’t mean in a prurient way. I don’t know if the author is gay or not, but he pretty much sidesteps Hartley’s homosexuality. Of course it’s there but it almost as if Hartley wasn’t gay. He also misses opportunities to discuss his friendships with other gay artists, Demuth is mentioned but then he’s dead and gone. To be fair he does touch on some of Hartley’s unpleasant traits including his dance with Nazism and his anti-Semitism “He did not agree with the nazis policies toward the Jews, but he thought they had some right to want to purify their nation and he half sympathized with their charge that the Jews had over stepped their privileges. “If (the Nazis) must have them out of politics, out of art, out of banking, that is their business.” He also wanted very much to meet Hitler. Needless to say this information about one of my favorite artists is troubling. The author also leaves a dull and flat impression of the spirit of the times in New York, Paris and Berlin, I would have liked more details and color, and also Ludington’s portraits of all the famous and exciting artists and writers of the period that Hartley knew are gray. There was a lot of pain and suffering in his life, poverty, neglect, hostility to the art world, gee sounds familiar, and the time that he destroyed over 100 of his paintings because he could not afford the storage fee was heartbreaking, and he died just when his extraordinary work was getting the attention and rewards that they so deserved.”
Monday, March 20, 2017
Marisa Merz at the Met Breuer.
Right now at the Met Breuer are two everlasting exhibitions that everyone who loves art should see. The 2nd floor holds an array of about 100 sculptures, drawings and paintings by the Italian artist Marisa Merz who is 90 years old, but makes things like a 23 year old. This is a ravishing show of odd pieces done in the Art Povera style, the Italian art movement that had its big nod in the 60's and 70's here but mostly abroad. Merz was married to Mario a leader of the pack, who didn't do much to help his wife get the attention she deserved. I mean I never heard of this wonderful artist. Well better 90 than never, and let's clap our hands together for this strong artist finally getting her due. The show consists of mostly sculptures that hang, lean and stand all over the place and are made of all sorts of interesting throw away kind of materials like copper wire, wood, sex, cardboard, tin sheets and some nice heads made of unfired clay. The colors are mostly muted but there is plenty of vividness and electricity here especially in her drawings and paintings of heads of women. There are also imaginative uses of collage and assemblage which really got my juices going, and I really liked her delicate handling of wire that are also strong and dangerous looking. And check out her very terrific large hanging pieces of tin sheets that look like figures wearing flowery spring dresses that are the first things that greet you when you get off the elevator from the 3rd floor where there is a great Marsden Hartley show that while breathtaking but way too crowded. This show was uncrowded and pleasurable and also breathtaking.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Friday, March 17, 2017
Thursday, March 16, 2017
The Crawl Space