Saturday, February 28, 2015

Alice Neel. Drawings and Watercolors 1927-1978 David Zwirner Gallery on until April 18th

This is a splendid show that was especially moving and surprising for me. What I loved the most, the best of all were her small color and black and white drawings and watercolors from the 20's, 30's that line the walls in the upper gallery and that I've never seen before. Neel's life is the stuff of legends and she is generally held in high regard by many for her intense and penetrating portraits. There are also some larger drawings and portraits (mainly in black and white)  from  the 70's but for me they pale next to these intense and touching little gems of family and friends done when she was young. To be honest I was not a big fan of hers as a person, I found her difficult to be around, pushy, argumentative and self involved. Once at a Whitney opening she baited a well known realist painter for no reason I could see, and the painter bit back hard. I also was once at a small dinner party with her and Louise Bourgeois (way before Louise was famous) and Alice dominated the conversation. At one point she asked me what I did and when I told her I was an artist, she turned away and continued her monologue while me and Louise sat quietly by. That said I think she was a wonderful artist, and this show is a great testament to her art and her life.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Oddball Magazine

Oddball Magazine has just posted this photo of mine along with a poem by Frances Donovan…/…/25/poem-by-frances-donovan/

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Birthday Notebook Drawing

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Ira Joel Haber.

Going through my stuff for my archives at Kent State I came across this transcript. In 1974 I went with John Perreault to visit H.C. Westermann and his wife the painter Joanna Beale at their home in Conn. John was interviewing him for a piece he was going to write about him and had a tape recorder running. I was thrilled to meet them, and for me to be sitting in their kitchen eating sandwiches with Cliff as his friends called him and his wonderful wife Joanna was a great experience. To say that I adored him the minute I met him would be an understatement and for a while until his untimely death we were friends. This is a transcript that still thrills me, as Cliff realized who I was. The piece he is talking about was Box With House and Six Trees from 1970 and is in the neue gallery, the ludwig collection in Aachen germany

H.C. Westermann: Gee, I wish I was familiar with your work, Ira. Do you work in wood?

Ira joel Haber:  I work in miniatures. Landscapes...small.

H.C. Westermann: Wait a minute! Wait a minute!

Joanna Beale: The Whitney Annual

H.C. Westermann: Hey wait a minute. You did that little piece I bet. Didn’t you with the houses? Oh that was my favorite piece in that show.

Ira Joel Haber: Really?

H.C. Westermann: Yeah, And  wondered who in the hell had done it. Because when you said your name, it sort of rang a bell. That’s a beautiful fucking piece. It was buildings?

Ira Joel Haber: Yeah

H.C. Westermann: Tinythe scale was very small. That’s a beautiful piece.

Ira Joel Haber: Thank you

H.C. Westermann: That really grabbed me by the balls, didn’t it?

Joanna Beale: It was very beautiful.

H.C. Westerman: That little piece of his was...Did you see it John?

John Perreault: Oh, sure

Ira Joel Haber: He knows my work.

H.C. Westermann: That’s a gorgeous piece. I wondered who the hell did it at the time I thought, Jesus Christ. It really knocked me out. It really did. It really got to me. It really felt good, as soon as I looked at it. I remember that piece. I really mean it. It was just beautiful...It’s a real pleasure meeting you. I wondered about that piece a lot of times since then. I wondered who made it.

Nov. 10th 1974
Transcript of a tape

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Noguchi and Nevelson

The Pace Gallery in Chelsea has two museum quality shows on now. Louise Nevelson (this closes soon) and the newly opened Noguchi show. Both artists are among my favorites, both are theatrical and both come out of Cubism and you can see their influences clearly and at the same time you can see the influence they have had on the many artists who followed them. The works of both are tactile and subtle in their use of colors. Noguchi was more commercial creating his famous line of lights and coffee tables both are well represented here.  I never met Noguchi but I did meet Nevelson once in the early 70's when I was lucky enough to go to a party at her Spring Street Building which was like walking into one of her black sculptures. She really did wear fur eyelashes and she was towering and impressive for sure. The party was elegant lots of famous artists were there including Johns, Oldenburg, Rauschenberg, and Kurt Vonnegut. I was too shy to speak to them. Nevelson was so sure of herself that she served a buffet of Delicatessen. This is a great chance to see the work of two major artists of the 20th Century.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Notebook drawing February 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Kent State University Archives

My papers from early on to 1981 are housed in special collections at Kent State University library. I'm delighted to have them there, and I've recently started to update the archive by going through my stuff to send off to them. Its partly sad, grim and fun doing this, and today I came across a handmade birthday card I made for my mother in 1969 and will eventually send it off to library. Its in amazing condition, still in its original envelope (6 cents postage stamp).

Axolotl Magazine

Axolotl Magazine has just posted this recent notebook drawing of mine in their latest issue. You can view the magazine at this link.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lesley Gore 1946-2015. This hurts

louis Jourdan 1921-2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Notebook Drawing February 2015

Mungbeing Magazine

ira joel haber. Mungbeing Magazine has just posted their final issue. I have 4 pages of teenage drawings (the dates are wrong) included. This is my 10th and final appearance with the magazine.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Learn To Read. A Surviving History of Printed Matter

I wish this was a more interesting show than it was (It closes today so you won't be able to see it even if you wanted to) But I really can do without 100's of framed letters, press releases and minutes of meetings fill many of the walls and make for some boring wallpaper. To be far there is also much visual material, posters, multiples, prints and of course books that fills and overflows the gallery spaces. There was also some artists and small collectives doing on site publishing in a large room but they seemed to me uninviting and not very interested in being one on one with the public. I always enjoy a visit to their current bookstore, but glad to see that they will be moving to larger quarters in the near future.

The Left Front. Radical Art In the "Red Decade," 1929-1940

As usual with the Grey Art Gallery this is a very good beautifully installed historical show of art from the left front 1929-1940. The work of course comes with messages and propaganda, which is to be expected, but much of the work was visually complelling and dramatic. There was also some good footage from 37 & 38 of the May Davy parade on 5th ave that was fascinating on several levels.  The show is comprised mostly  of drawings and etchings along with some paintings and ephemera. Many of the artists were new to me, but there were also work by Reginald Marsh, Stuart Davis, Rockwell Kent and others. Also there is a very nice large free16pg. giveway catalog that has short essays covering the very left organizations that flourished during this period in New York. This show will be up until April.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Notebook drawing February 2015

Gone Girl 2014

         The word on this film early last fall was good. It was to open the New York Film Festival and the stars of the film Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were featured on the cover of the influential and well respected magazine Film Comment, and sight unseen was being touted as a strong contender for a slew of Oscars. But what happened? Last month’s nominations gave the film only one nod for Pike’s thrilling and superb performance.
              I saw the film the other night and I found it to be a compelling thriller with globs of horror thrown in for good measure. I must be careful here not to give anything anyway because the film is a twisty ride on a very narrow road. The plot concerns a marriage, the husband and wife are played by Ben Affleck (who disproves the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote that there are no 2nd acts in American lives, indeed Affleck proves that there might even be a 3rd act) and Rosamund Pike who are about to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary when upon returning home from a visit to a small bar he owns with his twin sister in the small run down Missouri town of his childhood finds that there appears to have been a break in and his wife is missing. I can say that their marriage is a mess without giving away much.
               The couple find themselves in this small dull and dismal place after living a rich and on the town life in Manhattan where they were both writers but have lost their jobs and have returned to his hometown so they can lick their wounds and Affleck can take care of his terminally ill mother. Like many films of this ilk there are some mighty big holes and improbable threads weaving its way through the story and one should not look too closely at the worn and thin fabric.
             The rest of the film follows the course of the inquiry and search for Pike with lots of flashbacks and along the way the director David Fincher dissects marriage and families, the media, celebrity, small town life, justice both poetic and legal and the damage that having, wanting and needing money can do. Based on the big best selling novel by Gillian Flynn who also did the tight screenplay and directed by Fincher who basically is a “B” director in “A” clothing and who has made some pretty good films like “Zodiac” and “Seven” that fit securely in the noir and thriller genre.
              Fincher is a throwback to the great noir directors of the 40’s and early 50’s like Billy Wilder, Anthony Mann and others and to those great pulp writers like James Cain, Raymond Chandler and Cornell Woolrich (William Irish). One can easily imagine Barbara Stanwyck, Fred McMurray, John Garfield and Lana Turner slinking,  sashaying  and slashing their way through these meaty roles of husband and wife.
                    The plot is thick, steamy and grim with sharp edges (think of paper cuts) and with dangerous turns and curves that kept me entertained (a terrible adjective I know  to use for such a nasty film) and guessing for its nearly 2 ½ running time. And indeed some may do some running out of their living rooms when a scene that would put a smile on Sweeny Todd’s face comes on. With a good and unexpected supporting cast including Tyler Perry as a Johnny Cochran type lawyer (“I get a one hundred and fifty thousand dollar retainer”) Neil Patrick Harris as a foolish former suitor of Pike’s and Kim Dicken’s as the tough suspicious detective. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mr. Turner 2014

I finally caught up with Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh’s beautiful, difficult and demanding film about the great 19th century landscape and visionary painter Joseph Mallord William Turner. The film is richly textured, detailed and colored and is anchored by a superb performance by the great British actor Timothy Spall who was drastically overlooked by the Oscars. In fact I have problems with the Oscars sad history of overlooking movies about artists not only in the acting categories but also in the best picture nods. The last actors (to my knowledge) who were nominated for playing artists goes way back to 1956 when both Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn was nominated for playing Van Gogh and Gauguin in “Lust For Life” with Quinn actually winning for supporting actor. I am shocked over this oversight and slight and I might boycott the Oscars this year over this grave injustice. But of course I jest. 
                   This is not a film for everyone, it’s long and to some it might seem that it’s from another planet, after all this is England is the mid 1800’s, when the long reign of Queen Victoria was just beginning.  I think that most artists will find it engrossing and highly entertaining as Leigh shows us the life and times of this great artist. Turner was not an easy man to like, he was at times mean, crude and horrible to women, using them as if they were props in a still life painting to be tossed out when finished with them. 
                   But he was if we are to believe the film loyal and deeply committed to some. This is shown in the early scenes between him and his father who is devoted to his son and oversees his home and studio to the point of ordering his painting supplies and canvas which we see in a marvelous scene (one of many such marvelous scenes).
               There are also many wonderful performances by women including Dorothy Atkinson as Turner’s sad shuffling hunched over homely and ultimately heartbreaking loyal housekeeper who also serves as a sexual release for him when he’s in the mood, the great Ruth Sheen as his ex-mistress and mother of his children who in a few scenes huffs and puffs at him in angry spurts, Leslie Manville (another favorite of mine) as the Scottish scientist Mary Somerville and Marion Bailey as the warm widow Sophia Booth who runs a boarding house in a costal town where Turner anonymously stays when on painting trips  and who becomes Turner’s loving and supportive companion during his last years. Leigh is brilliant when directing and writing for actresses and you can see this in spades in Mr. Turner and is one of the reasons among many why I consider him one of the great directors working today.
             There is much to relish in this gorgeous film besides the great performances, there are individual scenes that glow in dim candle light, in rich and lavish drawing rooms of the wealthy, the superb art directed studio and private viewing room of Turner’s, the large exhibition spaces of the royal academy and the dingy everyday rooms of a brothel and boarding house. And then of course there are the outdoor scenes. Landscapes and seascapes that Turner cherished and painted which are rendered by the great cinematographer Dick Pope that brought audible gasps of pleasure from the audience I saw it with. One of the ten best films of 2014.  

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Lizabeth Scott-1922-2015

Friday, February 06, 2015

Postcard February 2015. collage, paint and wax on blank postcard

Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Average Platypus

I was invited by Bradford Kessler to contribute to his publication The Average Platypus which I of course did. I must say I have never given much thought to the platypus but here is what I came up with. I highly recommend that you take a look at the entire issue at this link as it will give you something to smile about today. A total delight.
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