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Posts Tagged ‘Alice Neel’

Embrace Your Inner Airport, and Other News

October 6, 2016 | by

Bjorn Krogstad, Figure in Airfield, 1983.

  • The airport is more than a place—it’s a state of mind. If you’re still wracked with anxiety and frustration whenever you head to JFK, be advised that the whole world is essentially an airport at this point, and it’s up to you to make peace with the essence of airportness. Christopher Schaberg writes, “Airportness transcends airports themselves. It has to do not so much with surface-level features such as sloping hallways and undulating rooflines but a host of more disparate effects that make air travel something humans can internalize and learn to live with. Airportness is how flight becomes natural to us, expected and accepted: contrails in the sky, layovers between flights … Airportness is all around us, exceeding not only airports but also air travel itself, perhaps even becoming a kind of proxy for what it means to be American. Airportness shifts from the derogatory to the sacrosanct, sliding from protected spaces to abject places.”
  • You might’ve held off on reading Kierkegaard because you assume that, like most philosophical writing, his books are stiff, boring clumps of logical premises shouted at you by a dead white man. But you’re wrong. They’re unlike any other philosophical writing before or since. Will Rees explains, “John Updike famously argued that Kierkegaard’s works owe much to the art of novel-writing. After all, they are written by and about fictional characters whose worldviews they attempt to occupy from within. In a way that would please the contemporary teacher of creative writing, Kierkegaard does not tell—he shows. But we mustn’t get carried away; we do Kierkegaard a disservice if we simply appreciate his books. By departing from the normal philosophical form, they arguably tighten rather than slacken the demand on our attention, because arguments are present, but one must search for them, and often they reside in what Kierkegaard’s characters do not or cannot say—in the implicit gaps in their imperfect world views.” 

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June 29, 2016 | by

Intimisms,” a new group exhibition at James Cohan Gallery, looks at the legacy of the Intimists, a group of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century artists—Jean-Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard among them—remembered for the rich closeness and empathy of their portraiture. The French writer and critic Camille Mauclair defined intimism as “psychologic poetry in painting … a revelation of the soul through the things painted, the magnetic suggestion of what lies behind them through the description of the outer appearance, the intimate meaning of the spectacles of life … the daily tragedy and mystery of ordinary existence, and the latent poetry in things.” The artists in this exhibition aim to further that tradition.

Gahee Park, Night Talk, 2016, oil on canvas, 85" x 65".

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Alice Neel’s Brothers Karamazov

February 24, 2015 | by


Alice Neel, Untitled (Karamazov, His Three Sons, and the Servant Gregory), ca. 1938, 14 ¼” x 10”. © The Estate of Alice Neel. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London.

Alice Neel, who died in 1984, is remembered best as a portraitist—her paintings present friends, lovers, and other intimates with an astonishing, often forbidding guilelessness. Your average Neel portrait is penetrating, flip, scary, and more than a little funny, depending on how long you’re willing to hold its subject’s gaze. Neel’s people all look to be plodding through the Stations of the Cross with a kind of decadent resignation—this is the world we live in, and oh well. “Alice loved a wretch,” her daughter-in-law told the Guardian in 2004. “She loved the wretch in the hero and the hero in the wretch. She saw that in all of us, I think.”

When Neel wasn’t painting, she was sketching. Alice Neel: Drawings and Watercolors, a new book with a corresponding exhibition, collects this interstitial work, some of it polished and some hauntingly restive. “There is an essential melancholy to Neel’s work,” Jeremy Lewison writes in the book’s opening essay. “She presents a world of hardship, of tenement buildings and shared bathing facilities, of underprivileged and underclass immigrants, of humanity weighed down by the burdens of living in the harsh metropolitan environment, of human loss and tragedy.”

All of which makes her a natural candidate to reckon with the Russian classics, those icons of gloom. Read More »

A Week in Culture: Jonathan Lippincott, Designer

January 12, 2011 | by


I have decided to resurrect my “walking to work” photo project. I was a reluctant New Yorker when I first moved to the city in the early 1990s, but immediately loved being able to walk everywhere. I would take long walks on the weekends, in part to learn my way around the city, and in part to get out of my squalid apartment. There was so much to see! One of the things that always struck me was the sheer quantity of stone carving on so many of the buildings. The combination of great craftsmanship and brute strength required to carve all these ornaments is remarkable, and all around Manhattan there are gargoyles and goddesses to rival any in Paris or Rome. And while all these cities have remarkable troves of artwork in their museums, walking down the street provides endless sights of beauties as well—these architectural details are another facet of the city’s public art. The photos this week are all taken between 34th and 14th, on Madison or Fifth Avenue. You have to look up (and watch your step when you do). Most street-level spaces on these avenues are stores or restaurants with little detail. For the most part, the detailing becomes more elaborate further up. I should probably remember why this is the case from my art history classes; maybe it was simply to celebrate the colossal height of these buildings. (Click the images to enlarge.)

9:30 A.M. Arrive at the office to find a sample of the box set of Elizabeth Bishop’s Poems and Prose, which I designed (it's coming out in February). To my delight and great relief, it looks marvelous. The color is an excellent match to the jacket of Bishop’s The Complete Poems, from 1969, which was the inspiration for the design of the new box and books. Nice way to start the new year. Spend the morning going through endless e-mail and other post-vacation office tidying. Finish work on the interior design for the Vargas Llosa Nobel lecture, due out ASAP.

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