Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Oddball Magazine

The latest from Oddball featuring my artwork. You can view the poem along with my art at the link below.

https://oddballmagazine.com/2017/05/23/poem-by-cls-ferguson/

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dina Merrill 1923-2017


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Robert Rauschenberg. Among Friends. The Museum Of Modern Art


         Last Thursday during that swift but brutal heat wave I went to a Member’s preview at the Moma to see the glorious Robert Rauschenberg retrospective now holding court and elegantly sprawling in the 4th floor galleries. This is of course the show of the Spring and Summer and I know it will be drawing crowds as well it should, so I’m glad I got to see it before the hoards descend.
               I met him briefly one night at a big art world party and when I was young and having trouble paying my electric bills his foundation came forward and said yes to my desperate application. But that’s not the reason why I love his work, have always loved his work and seeing this beautiful but somewhat Momafied display of his brilliant paintings and combines and sculptures thrilled me as they originally did so many years ago.
            He gave me (this is almost a cliché I know) if not permission then certainly a wink and a nod to make my art the way I wanted to. Oldenburg also did this for me. The show is titled Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends and we are not only presented with his work but also the work scattered here and there of his now famous artist friends. Oh look a Jasper Johns, a Cy Twombly an Andy Warhol that I could have easily done without. 
              But do not be alarmed there are so many of his great pieces on view that I can easily jump up and down with joy and awe and think you will also. The earliest works are small constructions, assemblages and paintings made from things he picked up here and there, on his travels and back in the then gritty and affordable New York City that he will sooner than later turn into massive complicated mixed media works.
              I’m of course talking about his works that he called his red paintings and later these morphed into his classic combines. All these works include bits and pieces of found objects including both 2-D and 3-D things that he attached to the surfaces of the canvases or odd large pieces of wood including doors. This way of working was in the air but he was the one who reached up and grabbed it down to earth. These works are also painterly and expressionistic with their globs of abstract shapes and floating colors but wait is that a goat I see, an eagle, a chair a bed? Unexpected and no doubt shocking to mid fifties and early sixties audiences.
             These are still jolting and yes joyous works but they have been made tamer by their blue chip prices and the frames, ropes and Plexiglas cases and casings that keep them at safe distances from the viewers. Much space is given over to his collaborations with dancers with projected videos on the floors and floating screens and to his performance pieces and experiments with technology.
              The most famous being his work and collaborations with Billy Kluver an almost mythical figure himself who in the Fall of 1966 put together with Rauschenberg “9 Evenings Theatre and Engineering” that mixed theatre and  dance and the latest in optics and technology that is still talked about to this day. In the exhibition it’s presented as a lavish environmental installation taking over one large gallery near a staircase leading up to the 5th floor, which adds a nice visual touch even though it might bring confusion to some.  Theatrics and theatre played an important role in his career and some of his large pieces were used for sets in dance pieces some of which are presented here and reside in modern art history as strong works in themselves. There are no drawings or sketches to speak of, he was not an artist who made drawings, instead he did works that were mostly done via silk-screens and other modes of transferring images to paper, the earliest examples are his delicate large portfolio of 34 prints (drawings) based on Dante’s Inferno in which he used a solvent transfer process that he worked on and off beginning in 1959 until 1961. There are some works that do not work for me, his fabric and cardboard works lack, and I really dislike the huge and ugly “Mud Muse” spewing and gurgling sludge like mud ugh, but the free standing large gray industrial looking sculptures that form the work “Oracle” from 1962 to 1965 is exciting and thrilling to this sculptor. In the final gallery there are many small terrific prints that line the walls and are attached with zippers that recall the old Rauschenberg for me.  Is this the best exhibition of the year? So far it is.
















Friday, May 19, 2017

The Witness For The Prosecution 2016



No this is not your Billy Wilder version but a British tv movie that is based on the original short story that ran for a mere 20pgs. or so. I found it at my library and it will jangle the loose change in your pockets, and make your foot tap nervously, in other words its terrific. Set in the early 20's and lavishly produced and beautifully filmed it is still holds much of the story including the twists and turns but includes some new ones and is also much nastier and darker than the Wilder version. There is no humor and banting here, just plain old nasty and grim. The main characters are also true to the original source and will surprise you in what is left out. Even if you know the outcome and what comes before that outcome you will still be enthralled with it. Most of the cast was unknown to me, all the better but Toby Jones and the wonderful Kim Cattrall are there in this murky misty version. Made by the same people who did the very good Then There Were None a few years back with another top screenplay by Sarah Phelps and smooth direction by Julian Jarrold. This is one to see.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Diary Of Anne Frank 1959













             The other night I made a dvd visit to this film, which I first saw as a 12 year old at its reserved seat engagement at the Palace Theatre on Times Sq.  I was the same age as Anne was when she entered the hiding place and for the first time in my young life I realized how hated I was simply because of who I was. I was a little weary of returning to this gut-wrenching piece of history for a number of reasons. Would it hold up, would it move me as it did that Sunday afternoon at the Palace or would I be bored and disappointed. Happily or miserably I was not disappointed and I would have to give the director George Stevens a big bag of thanks.
        My history with this slice of horror is long having read the “diary” as a young boy in junior high school and even writing a play based on it for a class assignment. Years later when I was in Amsterdam with John we went to the house and it wasn’t the tourist must see attraction that I have been told it has become. We just walked in and we were pretty much alone in this sad place.
                When the film was released there was much hoopla about it, and I knew I would have to see it, and see it I did. It was the big road show picture of the season and if you still couldn’t get tickets for Ben Hur you walked north to the Palace to see “The Diary” as it was referred to sometimes in my childhood circle of friends and family.
                 The film holds up nicely because of the care that went into the production including the beautiful lush black and white photography of William Mellor who won a black and white cinematography Oscar for it. Back then they use to give out Oscars for both black and white and color cinematography, art direction and costume design. Stevens who didn’t want to film it in cinemascope at first finally backed down and because he was such a great technician and film artist he used the ratio brilliantly.
              He did win his case with the studio about not shooting it in color and that was a wise decision on the studio’s part to allow him this, I shudder to think of this misery in De-Luxe color, all flashy and bright. . 
          Stevens was a marvelous director who began his film career in the early days of sound working for the Hal Roach studio and directing many comedy shorts including some for Laurel And Hardy. He went on to a sublime career, winning two director Oscars and making some of the best loved movies of all time including Alice Adams, Swing Time, Gunga Din, Woman Of The Year The More The Merrier, I Remember Mama, A Place In The Sun, Shane, Giant and finally The Diary Of Anne Frank which was his swan song, his final fine film.
             He was also recognized for his films documenting the Normandy landing and the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps (made even more horrible if that’s possible because they are in color) that he saw first hand when he was serving in the army signal corp where he headed up a combat motion picture unit for two of the war years and his witnessing this crime against humanity had a lasting affect on him, no doubt influencing him to make “The Diary”.
              He had a great eye for composition and you can see this in all of his films including “The Diary”. The film is claustrophobic and cramped and this is an amazing accomplishment on his part considering that the film is in cinemascope, his groupings of the occupants of the annex is commanding and accomplished making us feel as if we are also there. He filmed it on a set that was 3 stories high and the long filming and demands put stress on everyone involved including the cast, which deserves some notice here. I should say that I found Millie Perkins to be better than she is given credit for. She is usually attacked and torn down for, her lack of experience, her discomfort, her flat nasal accent, (she was born in New Jersey) and above all her bad acting.
                I thought she was fine, ideally not my Anne but not horrible either. Richard Beymer also is usually attacked for his performance, but again I thought he was fine, the same goes for Diane Baker who was making her film debut. The rest of  the supporting cast has many golden performances notably from Joseph Schildkrautt, Lou Jacobi, Ed Wynn, Gusti Huber and Shelley Winters who won a supporting actress Oscar and donated to the Anne Frank Foundation.  Stevens toyed with the idea of following the Franks and the others into the concentration camp after their capture but vetoed this idea. The 2001 TV movie does continue their story into the camps and is brutal and disturbing. With a lovely score by the great Franz Waxman. 
 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Powers Boothe 1948-2017


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Notebook drawing may 2017


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Michael Parks 1940-1977




 another sad passing to report. And Donald Trump, jefff sessions, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan still walk this earth unfair.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Notebook drawing May 2017


Friday, May 05, 2017

notebook drawing may 2017


Thursday, May 04, 2017

A.R. Penck 1939-2017

Another artist has died, but donald trump still walks this earth. Unfair.






Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Oddball Magazine

has just posted my notebook drawing to go with this poem by Joseph Iraggi.  You can view it at this link


https://oddballmagazine.com/2017/05/03/poem-by-joseph-iraggi/

 

notebook drawing may 2017


Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Some recent and not so recent photographs
















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