Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ettore Sottsass at the Met Breuer

Saw this colorful and boisterous exhibition yesterday at the Met Breuer and can easily tell you to go and see it. I've know Sottsass designs and objects since the early 70's and this show is a great opportunity for those who are not familiar with his stuff which I think is a large group to get to know it.
Probably he is best known for his connection to the Memphis design group and its wild ideas on design both functional and far out. The show is colorful and fun because his work make great use of color, form, design and outrageous notions about what is design and who gives a fuck. The work is loony and loopy cartoony and animated.
His most famous object is probably the Olivetti manual typewritter from 1968, all bright red and glowing, and its here on display, but I was always more intrigued by his furniture and ceramics and glass works many of which are also on display.
They are beautiful, fanciful and tactile I really had a hard time not touching them, rubbing my hands across their beautiful surfaces. Also on display and this is where my problems with not only this show but with this current "in" curatorial idea of presenting objects and such that the artist did not do, but which they (the curators) think deserve and need to be seen along aside the artist's work and serve for them (the curators) as a teachable moment.
These moments are starting to drive me nuts, so in this show there are many many examples of other artist's work, some known and some anonymous going back to nearly prehistoric times, this is after all the Met, and they have the stuff to pull out of their storage bins. So we get some great work by Joseph Hoffmann (how about the Met just give him a show of his own) some marvelous Hopi kachinas (who doesn't like kachinas) and wonderful pieces of antiquity from Egypt and India all placed along side Sottsass's pieces, that just confuse and for some like me simply annoy. .
I mean do we really need some minor Lichtenstein works on paper? or oh no not another tired old Frank Stella painting. And really what does the Donald Judd piece teach me about Italian design? This is not only a practice at the Met, Its all over the place you can see it at the Moma, The Whitney and at practically every museum in the city. Leave me alone, I don't need you curators telling me why this artist relates to that artist, and also why is it necessary to call every show and artist seminal.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Oddball Magazine

notebook drawing Aug. 2017

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Anselm Kiefer: Transition from Cool To Warm

I did see one gallery exhibition this summer, making a special trip to the outer edges of Chelsea to see the Anselm Kiefer show. Presented by Gagosian Gallery this is a very impressive display of Kiefer's paintings, watercolors and books. Landscapes that are almost as big as the actual outdoors these are the pieces that I liked the best, all craggy and textured, big huge really with great use of materials and textures. These are great works. The other works that pulled me in were the many large books presented like caged animals or tombstones in large vitrines they are also marvelous for his use of materials and surfaces, there's a lot of stuff in these books that I would love to touch and look at. Beautiful but threatening the way I like my art to be. The many watercolors are the weakest works here for me, sure they're pretty but they are also rather empty and vapid, almost kitschy, erotic for some, boring for others. Still this is a show to be seen, even though I know many don't like his stuff, but I do. Also pick up a copy or two of the nice free large 16pg. color catalog that has an interview with Kiefer. The show has been extended until September, and the gallery is nice and cool.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Summer No. 8. August 2017

Barbara Cook 1927-2017

Monday, August 07, 2017

Ty Hardin 1930-2017

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? 1962

I watched this again for maybe the 4th or 5th time the other night, but this time a friend who had never seen it joined me for this freak fest from the deep bowels of 1962 Hollywood. He didn’t care for it much. His taste runs to schlock grade Z horror and sci-fi films, the lousier the better, and he made me sit through a viewing of the 1957 “I Was A Teenage Werewolf “ a favorite of mine from my adolescence I will admit. Actually the double bill wasn’t as far fetched as it might seem. Both are about outcasts and both use actual L.A. locations and both are campy and low. So much has been written about, Baby Jane, this camp treasure from the day it opened without much fanfare in 62 to now because of the recent popular tv movie Feud.
I saw it for the first time from the balcony of my neighborhood RKO theatre one friday night. I was 15 and what I most remember besides the movie are the group of young Brooklyn smart ass lesbians who sat behind me and my friends and made witty and snarky comments some of which I still remember, I laughed my self silly over their remarks, but at the time I of course had no idea of their sexual orientation, that came to me many years later.
The film was a big hit and a huge money maker which surprised everyone especially those connected with the making of it. Who would want to see a movie that starred two old has been movie stars, well evidently many did. I of course knew who Davis and Crawford were and connected with them as they skidded and slipped among the palm trees of L.A. causing havoc and despair.
The film was directed by Robert Aldrich who had a good career making B’s and sometimes A’s but mostly B’s and this was his ticket to ride among the big leagues, the major players. The story is seeped in Hollywood lore and gore that adds to the fun, and yes the film is fun but it’s also sad and grim.
The film is about two sisters one who seems good, and one who seems bad. One had a big Hollywood career in the 30’s until a terrible accident ended her career; the other sister was a child star in vaudeville (the time lines are a little murky) but was a flop when she tried the movies. Here Aldrich mixes in real clips from early films of both stars that help to add to the texture and reality of the story.
After the terrible accident they both retired to their gothic falling apart mansion and Baby Jane now grotesque and cuckoo is forced to take care of Blanche who is stuck in a wheel chair because of the accident. Jane is a bitch and is very mean to Blanche and tortures her mentally and even sometimes physically and lucky for Blanche there is a kind African American care giver who tries to protect her from Jane and pays dearly for her loyalty. Also in the picture is the young Victor Buono as a user and sham who lives with his mother and who answers a help wanted ad that Jane takes out to find someone who can help her with her comeback into show biz.
Buono who got an Oscar nomination (so did Davis) is an overweight moma’s boy who slouches, schleps, sweats and plots to get some money out of Davis for his false encouragement on her comeback as Davis pathetically sings to him the overhanging tune in the film “I’m writing a letter to Daddy.”
As I said it is a freak show a grotesque dark comedy of human errors played in a Grand Guignol fashion but in sunny and blank L.A. Also in the cast is the wonderful Marjorie Bennett as Victor’s sleazy mom, Anna Lee as a nosey neighbor and B.D. Merrill as her daughter who in real life was Bette’s daughter who took a cleaver to her in a tell all book. The film has good set design especially the house interiors that pretty much drips all over the place and Norma Koch won an Oscar for her costumes for a black and white film. The music by the light Frank DeVol is overdone and Mickey Mouse and intrudes and almost ruins the film, but the high contrast cinematography is done by the veteran and terrific Ernest Haller who knows how to light and darken the cast. The film had a huge effect on Hollywood and spawned many lesser campy spin offs and toss offs, and gave Davis and Crawford a boost to their dead careers, at least for a while.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

notebook drawing august 2017

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

last notebook drawing of July 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Sam Shepard 1943-2017

Fuck shit piss

Maybe 15 years ago I was waiting for a friend on the upper west side to go see a movie, and he walked by. I looked at him of course but didn't say anything, Good morning he said to me and walked on. Another great loss today. And donald trump still walks this earth. Unfair.

Jeanne Moreau 1928-2017

My heart and soul are broken, and probably will never completely heal over this tremendous loss. My close friends know how much I adored this great actress. I am very sad.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Heli 2013

A vivid and brutal depiction of the Mexican drug problem with all that goes with it. Set in a rural part of the country the film is directed by the young filmmaker Amat Escalante who won the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. Amat is certainly talented with a sure hand and a vivid eye for telling a story no matter how unpleasant that story might be.
The film is simple. A family comprised of a young man Heli of the title his wife, young child, young sister and father live together in poverty in a dry, barren and raw part of Mexico. Both Heli and his father work in a bright, shinny and noisy auto factory that is a long way from their house which is barely a shack and Escalante fills it with details and reality.
Heli is trying to hold things together, his marriage is falling apart and his sister Estela who is all of 12 has taken up with a 17 year old wise guy who is training with the federal police and is pressuring her to go all the way with him. The father is passive so all of the problems of their world is on Heli’s young shoulders and things take a terrible turn when Beto the boyfriend steals some cocaine, that is the property of a drug cartel who has members in the army and also probably in the corrupt police force.
Beto hides the drugs on the roof of Heli’s house in a water canister where Heli finds it when he goes up to the roof to try to restore the water that has stopped running in the shower and destroys the coke. Not smart on either one of their parts and the 2nd half of the film is rough and tense and unbearable.
This film bleeds and it chewed me up and spit me out all over my apartment. It disturbed me and I will warn you that it is not for everyone, hell I don’t even know if it’s for anyone. There is a scene of torture that takes place in a home where young boys watch video games and a mother cooks in the kitchen that is probably one of the most brutal scenes I have ever witnessed in a film, and this sequence alone is enough to make anyone thinking of seeing it to think twice.
That said it is also a touching and moving film of hope and faith under the most dire of situations that made me say thank you for the modest, creative and mostly peaceful life that I lead. I know this might sound crazy to say but it is also a beautiful film to look at, with rich colors and textures. Also the young cast is superb especially Armando Espitia who plays Heli and Andrea Vergara who plays his young sister. See at your own risk and don’t blame me for your nightmares.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Summer No. 7. The last one of July 2017

Friday, July 28, 2017

Japanese Bamboo Art & Irving. The Met Museum

Saw this stunning show today at the Met, which thrilled me in spite of the muggy weather. Beautifully installed in the roomy Asian wing where you can get away from the crowds and just relish the beauty of these works of art. Here we have objects that are magical and amazing and made from bamboo that is twisted and gently turned. Most of the pieces were made to be useful to hold things, to display flowers, to carry and set on tables in sublime rooms. As a sculptor these really interested me in their colors and intricate designs and forms. I loved this show so think about going. I wish I had better thoughts on the Irving Penn show that is coming to an end in a day or so. Installed in a cramped way in small galleries, some one kinder might say intimately installed but I was uncomfortable surrounded by all the admiring crowds hemming and hawing and snap snap snapping those goddamn smart phone photos of the photos. These images were originally done for magazines and that's how they should be seen not on walls entombed in a museum that more and more is actually turning into a fashion magazine. They're pretty yes, and all those photos of famous people, isn't that so and so, why yes it is Mary. And was it even possible to take a bad photo of Picasso or Duchamp? I doubt it. Sorry Irving but I'm just not into pretty photos of pretty women wearing nice clothes that were expensive even back in the 50's, these are not my kind of photos, I was bored by them, they all looked the same, they didn't make me want to rush back home and make art, or even take photos. Pretty pretty. You have a day left to see this show.
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