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art

De Stijl Got It: President Obama Visits Mondrian Works in The Hague

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Smile and say “neo-plasticism”! President Obama, Gemeentemuseum director Benno Tempel, Mayor of The Hague Jozias van Aartsen, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte with Mondrian’s Victory Boogie Woogie. (Photo courtesy Gemeentemuseum Den Haag)

As the HQ of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court (among other globe-spanning, peace-making organizations), The Hague is known more for tribunals and arbitration than as a hotbed of art and design, but the Dutch city—the third largest in the Netherlands—is quite the trove of masterpieces and exquisite museums, and boasts a city hall designed by Richard Meier (and don’t even get us started on Scheveningen!). Those visiting this week for the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit got a taste of the North Sea city’s charms. President Obama found time between defcon-themed discussions to pop into the Art Deco-style home of Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, which owns the largest collection of work by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, and took in the museum’s “Mondrian & De Stijl” exhibition. Joined by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Gemeentemuseum director Benno Tempel, and mayor of The Hague Jozias van Aartsen, Obama admired Mondrian’s final painting, Victory Boogie Woogie (1944), and, according to the museum, declared it “fabulous.”

Different Strokes: Lichtenstein Sculptures Bound for Parrish Art Museum

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It was during a break in a college art history course discussion of Saussurean signifiers that we got to chatting up the dashing head teaching fellow, then in lukewarm pursuit of his Ph.D. After some good-natured banter about the arbitrariness of the sign, we ventured into more rational territory: “So, what are you writing your thesis about?” The color swiftly drained from his face and he stared at the ground before mumbling words that were only later discernible as “the sculptures of Roy Lichtenstein.” Everything turned out for the best, and the TF in question is now an associate professor at a leading research university, but to this day we can’t pass one of the Pop artist’s fiberglass houses or aluminum brushstrokes without feeling slightly queasy.

If anything can undo that association it’s the Parrish Art Museum. Next week the museum’s stunning new(ish) Herzog & de Meuron-designed home in Water Mill, New York will get its first long-term, outdoor installation in Lichtenstein’s Tokyo Brushtroke I & II (1994), part of a series of sculptures constructed mainly in the 1990s. The soaring, two-piece sculpture, made of painted and fabricated aluminum, tops out at 33 feet, taller than the museum itself: a monolevel extruded barn-as-studio made both rugged and stealth by cloudy concrete walls and a white corrugated metal roof. A temporary loan from collectors Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman, Tokyo Brushtroke I & II will sit (in a cement brace) near Montauk Highway, acting as a colorful signpost of sorts for the Parrish.

Snuff Bottles and Moon Jars! Five Must-See Asia Week New York Exhibits

Writer Nancy Lazarus heads to the Far East without leaving Manhattan as she takes in the sixth annual Asia Week and offers up five highlights.

Kaneko Toru Blue Rust #1 2009
Kaneko Toru’s Blue Rust #1 (2009) is on view during Asia Week at Lesley Kehoe Galleries.

Spring marks the arrival of Asia Week New York. The nine-day event (March 14-22), a marathon of 47 gallery shows and 19 auction sales, along with museum exhibitions and special events, offers the opportunity to admire a wealth of ancient and modern treasures. We’ve picked five exhibits where the themes, settings, timeless works, contemporary pieces, or unique techniques reward close looking. They’re listed by location, starting in midtown.

Lesley Kehoe Galleries (Melbourne, Australia-based gallery specializing in Japanese art; has Asia Week gallery space in Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street, 5th floor)
The Transcendent Spirit, a special Asia Week exhibit, highlights works of seven Japanese artists. Owner Lesley Kehoe believes “there’s not another culture with the patience and self-discipline to master these complex techniques.” Mitsuo Shoji creates paintings, calligraphy, and objects. He’s inspired by Buddhist chanting and fascinated with fire, using traditional Japanese foils to fire canvases. Kaneko Toru and Kidera Yuko specialize in metalworks. Yoku hammers flat metal sheets to create spirited female forms of dance and song. Toru uses copper oxide and enameled metals to craft colorful tin-plated decorative vessels with exotic textures.

Ralph M. Chait Galleries (specializes in Chinese art; 730 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street, Crown Building, 12th floor)
For Asia Week, the oldest U.S. firm dealing in Chinese art is focusing on porcelain, silver sculpture, root carvings, and a collection of 20 snuff bottles dating from the 18th-20th centuries. Though miniature in size, the bottles were quite eye-catching, especially given the variety of animal and botanical motifs, shapes, and design types. Some were inlaid, while others were carved, painted, or embellished. Among the gemstones were lapis, jasper, jade, rhodonite, and moss agate. A stopper in a matching or contrasting color sat atop each bottle.
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Olafur Eliasson Visits MIT

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If Cambridge seems a little brighter today, it’s because Olafur Eliasson is in town. The artist will be at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) through Friday to accept the 2014 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts. In addition to collecting a check for $100,000, taking part in public programs, and attending a gala (hosted by the likes of diplomats from Denmark, Iceland and Germany; Agnes Gund; and Anne Hawley, director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum), Eliasson is taking part in a residency that focuses on his art and social business enterprise Little Sun, a portable, solar powered lamp that he calls “a work of art that works in life.” He’ll be on campus to discuss sustainable development, community engagement, design, product engineering, and social entrepreneurship in developing economies, and, in a lecture today at 5:00 p.m., “Holding hands with the sun.”
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The Treachery of Sneakers: Opening Ceremony Prints Magritte Paintings on Vans

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As part of their year-long exploration and celebration of all things Belgian, the surrealist gang at Opening Ceremony is plastering the reality-bending works of fresh-from-his-MoMA-restrospective artist René Magritte on instantly collectible goods. First up in this partnership with the Magritte Foundation: Vans. The five sneaker styles, priced at $135 each (a bargain for a Magritte!), include kicked-up canvas versions of Magritte’s Ladder of Fire (1939), The Blow to the Heart (1952), and, for lovers of his bowler-hatted men of mystery, The King’s Museum (1966). The sneakers are available for pre-order through Monday, March 17.

Tea Time with Geoff McFetridge

While Americans pound coffee and gobble sleeves of Milanos, those in more civilized—if less productive—nations know the restorative power of a pause that involves a fresh cup of tea. Bigelow Tea joined Los Angeles-based artist and designer Geoff McFetridge for tea time and captured the creative magic that can happen in the couple of minutes it takes to to steep a cup of tea. The contemplative short, directed by Bucky Fukumoto, is part of Bigelow’s “While You Were Steeping” series.

Quote of Note | John Richardson

1919“It helps to know that the pitchers in his still lifes are almost always the ones with the spout sticking up like a phallus. And the fruit dish: a few soft peaches are the breasts. When you crack the codes, you understand that they are pictures about his love of a woman, his desire, his anger, his disdain. And you understand why his pictures that only show a pitcher and fruit dish can be so sexy and also so unbelievably sad. And then he turned everything over again and suddenly he was the very fruit dish himself. This is one of the greatest challenges when writing about Picasso, because for much of what one writes about him, the exact opposite is also true. A person with such an extreme personality, with such extraordinary hypersensitivity, with so many contradictions—that kind of person usually ends up in the nuthouse.”

-Picasso biographer John Richardson, interviewed by Cornelius Tittel in 032c

Getty Follows ‘Open Content’ Program with Virtual Library

getty library

The J. Paul Getty Trust is serious about sharing. The institution, which encompasses the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation, is following its “Open Content” program that set free some 5,000 high-resolution digital images for use, modification, and publishing with a virtual library. Translation: 45 years of art books for free. Among the 250 (and counting) of the Getty’s backlist titles now available to read online or download as PDFs are the 2004 catalogue of the first-ever exhibition of Cézanne’s watercolor still lifes (“a moving examination of this most subtle and luminous of mediums and genres,” according to Getty President and CEO James Cuno), the definitive English translation of Otto Wagner’s Modern Architecture, and books on globe-spanning conservation projects. We suggest igniting your winter reading list with Kevin Salatino‘s Incendiary Art: The Representation of Fireworks in Early Modern Europe.

City as Canvas: MCNY Explores Origins of Graffiti Art

Once upon a time, before Banksy murals were making the covers of auction catalogues, what many today know as street art was viewed as urban blight. Martin Wong saw creativity ripe for collecting. A new exhibition brings together works from his trove and traces the evolution of the New York graffiti art movement. We tagged writer Nancy Lazarus to take a sneak peek.

Untitled by Zephyr, 1984, MCNY
Pictured above, an untitled 1984 work by Zephyr, a key figure in the transition of the writing movement from trains to canvas. The below portrait of artist and collector Martin Wong was taken in 1985 by Peter Bellamy. (All images courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York)

Martin Wong by Peter Bellamy, 1985, MCNY“Street art has become the biggest art movement the world has seen,” said Sandra Fabara, the graffiti artist known as Lady Pink. She was one of the few female artists involved in the street scene of Manhattan’s Lower East Side during the 1970s and 1980s. That’s where Martin Wong, an avid collector, befriended and mentored a group of fellow graffiti artists.

“He was passionate, not just a patron,” said Christopher Ellis, aka Daze, one of many members of the group who paid tribute to the late Wong on Monday at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY), which today opened an exhibition of works from Wong’s pioneering collection. On view through August 24, “City as Canvas: Graffiti from the Martin Wong Collection” consists of nearly half of the 300 mixed media pieces that Wong donated to the museum in 1994, five years before he died of AIDS. Sean Corcoran, MCNY’s curator of prints and photographs, curated the show, and the artists helped to identify many of the pieces in the exhibition.
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Friday Photo: In the Studio with Robert Rauschenberg

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François Halard, Robert Rauschenberg Portrait #2, 1998. (Image courtesy Demisch Danant)

The puckish Robert Rauschenberg at work and play in his studio in Captiva Island, Florida. Blurred geometry at Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre. The crumbling grandeur of the Villa Noailles. Pleated pottery arrayed in Cy Twombly’s bedroom. These are some of the dreamy spaces, people, and places captured over the past two decades by François Halard, the subject of a career-spanning exhibition that opens Saturday at New York’s Demisch Danant gallery. Many of the works in “François Halard: Architecture” have never before been published or exhibited—don’t miss the Polaroids, including the mind-blowing dolce vita view from Twombly’s studio in Southern Italy.

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