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MY ARTEXPO NEW YORK EXHIBITION UPDATE

The International annual exhibition ArtExpo will show my work from April 21th to 24th. The painting, Bill Cunningham Corner, oil on canvas 40×54 inch, is my tribute to Bill Cunningham. After accidentally meeting and talking to him last year, I was inspired to paint his picture. His death shortly after we met, gave me urgency to proceed with the project.

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Despite all the glamour he was surrounded with, his fortunate family upbringing and even a short stint at Harvard on full scholarship, he clearly avoided any publicity and shied away from any attention on himself. Despite many celebrity acquaintances and his open status, did he hide behind his camera and zoomed in only on people that were as unique as he was through his lens? Was he a manifestation of the New Yorkers’ special type of loneliness, which makes being alone particularly melancholic, amongst so many people, but also is so common today that it has been normalised in our society?

 

My ARTEXPO New York Exhibition

The International annual exhibition ArtExpo will show my work from April 21th to 24th. The painting, Bill Cunningham Corner, oil on canvas 40×54 inch, is my tribute to Bill Cunningham. After accidentally meeting and talking to him last year, I was inspired to paint his picture. His death shortly after we met, gave me urgency to proceed with the project.

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Here is what I learned about Bill Cunningham and my personal thoughts about his life.

A Very Public Enigma, Bill Cunningham

 

Most New Yorkers would say that they know who Bill Cunningham was. Local residents regularly bumped into him when walking their dogs or rushing to get their morning or lunch coffee fix on the corner of 5th Avenue and 57th Street, where he took snapshots of uniquely dressed people for decades. There is now a formal petition to officially name the spot in his honor, to become the Bill Cunningham Corner. Others will have read his fascinating columns in The New York Times. A former avant-garde milliner, he gave up his successful hat design business to dedicate himself to fashion writing and photography, and rubbed shoulders with high-profile celebrities in the fashion world and beyond.

 

But what do we know about him really? A notoriously shy and intelligent introvert, Bill Cunningham has never shared any information about his personal life yet as the first editor to cover gay events in the press. Despite all the glamour he was surrounded with, his fortunate family upbringing and even a short stint at Harvard on full scholarship, he clearly avoided any publicity and shied away from any attention on himself. Despite many celebrity acquaintances and his open status, did he hide behind his camera and zoomed in only on people that were as unique as he was through his lens? Was he a manifestation of the New Yorkers’ special type of loneliness, which makes being alone particularly melancholic, amongst so many people, but also is so common today that it has been normalised in our society?

 

After all, our knowledge of Bill can be summarised in a few standard labels that we have mostly picked up from a 2011 documentary made about him, Bill Cunningham New York: A fashion-obsessed bachelor editor for the Times, revered by the fashion community, with his own signature style of black sneakers, khaki pants and blue jacket, always on a bike despite famously losing over twenty bikes in various accidents and to bike thieves, living in a tiny apartment in the Carnegie Hall building. He sounds like so many other New Yorkers. But his identity as we know is not shaped by anything personal, specific, and deep. In spite of representing such a cliché, what makes him Bill Cunningham is his visionary pioneering of street fashion blogging, during nearly thirty years. His idea of taking quick snapshots on the streets of clothes he perceived as unique worn by people and posting them on his column differs from modern photo blogs only by the use of technology.

 

What is interesting about this is how his work de-personalizes the person wearing the clothes and turns it into a mannequin that demonstrates clothes, as Cunningham was very rarely interested in people for their own sake and fascinated by their unique styles. He famously took photos of Greta Garbo’s coat without being interested in her celebrity in the slightest, or ignored Catherine Deneuve ‘because she wasn’t wearing anything interesting’. At the same time, Cunningham pioneered the paper’s coverage of the then unspoken-about gay community, thus making the visible people invisible, and invisible people visible through his art. Like many other celebrities, his own public profile appears to be very visible as we all feel we know him through his work and the documentary about him. Yet if you are trying to find something personal about him, something that gives you insight into his heart and mind, you suddenly realize that the man behind the camera lens on the Bill Cunningham Corner with a bike waiting for him is a very public enigma which makes you reflect on how public identities get constructed, promoted, and naturalized in today’s society.

 

This painting is a tribute to the incognito public enigma, Bill Cunningham, who came to New York at the age of 19 and left New York forever in June 2016, dying of complications of a stroke at the age of 87. Reflected here as we think we know him, he stands for the ability of media to create powerful public identities and construct celebrity of people even despite their will. The current online petition to name his regular photography spot after him is the most recent example of imposing celebrity on people whose whole life proves that they desired to remain anonymous. One has to question, is the society creating our identities, rather than us presenting our identities in the society? The jury is out.

 

Finally, the Whitney’s Biennial is Here!

An article in the March 9, 2017 Arts section of the New York Times by reporter Jason Farago, discussed the fascinating upcoming exhibition at the Whitney Museum, which runs from March 17 through June 17. The show is overseen by two relatively young curators, which adds a hip flair to the Biennial this time. They worked closely together and have chosen 63 artists’ works scaled down from over 100 in past Biennials.

The Whitney’s Biennial took three years to develop. The last Biennial took place in 2014. However, with the move to 99 Gansevoort Street near the High Line, the exhibition took longer to mount this time.

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As it is expected from the Biennial, economic themes are very much in evidence. Moreover, portraits of immigrants, both legal and illegal, by the Mexican born artist Aliza Nisenbaum are presented and no doubt will attract much attention.

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Aliza Nisenbaum, La Talaverita, Sunday Morning New York Times, 2016. Oil on linen

 

Prominently displayed and already awakening curiosity are large red laminated glass boxes by the artist Larry Bell

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Larry Bell, Pacific Red, 2016. Laminated glass

Artists of all ages will be represented, including the 87 year old Jo Baer

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Jo Baer, Dusk, 2012. Oil on canvas

It appears that a great deal of effort was expended to mount the exhibition. I hope to visit the Whitney in coming weeks with Paul and on our way there, to get some nice views and a little exercise on the High Line.

To find more about exhibition please visit the Museum website:

The Latest On Controversial and Provocative Damien Hirst

An article in the New York Times on February 22nd by Robin Pogrebin discussed Damien Hirst’s upcoming exhibitions in Venice opening April 9. Hirst who was born in 1965 is one of the group called Young British Artists and became very popular in the 1990’s. His work commanded very impressive prices at his peak. A diamond encrusted skull sold for $100 million dollars.

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For the Love of God, 2012

 

But at various times, he has flooded the art market with masses of artwork that diluted his prices. He had an exhibition that depressed his prices on the day that Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy.

Some of his collectors feel he has turned against them by flooding the market with his works. In 2008 he went behind the back of his galleries, Larry Gagosian in New York and White Cube in London and offered masses of works through Sotheby’s. This end-around ended up depressing the market for his work and owners of his works were upset. He is reputed to be worth $350 million dollars, so he doesn’t have to worry about money. One of his problems is that he is so prolific that the art market is unsure how much is behind the curtain, so to speak. In 2012 he took over all 11 of Gagosian’s galleries to offer a retrospective of his spot paintings.

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Mikey, 2012 Paintings, Houshold gloss on canvas

 

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Isovanillin, 2012 Woodcut print on paper

The Venice exhibitions will be at two locations owned by the French billionaire, Francois Pinault, who also owns Christie’s auction house. Mr. Pinault owns a number of Hirst artworks and there is speculation that he might be sponsoring the exhibitions to increase the value of his holdings. The art world will be watching to see how the reaction to Mr. Hirst’s will either revive or deflate his standing. It appears that controversy adds to the excitement in the art world.

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Virgin Mother, 2006 Sculpture, Bronze

 

 

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Away from the Flock, 1994 Formaldehyde

 

 

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The Miraculous Journey (2005-2013)

This sculpture was installed in Doha, Qatar. The baby is 46-foot tall anatomicly correct boy and is placed in front of Sidra Medical and Research Center devoted to women’s and children’s health.

To read more please visit

Art Fraud Comes to Closure

A chapter in a remarkable art fraud came to an end this week, when a dealer from Long Island was sentenced to time served. She could have been sentenced to over 15 years in prison, but will only be subject to 3 years of supervision with the first 3 months of home detention. The fraud involved over $80 million dollars and brought down the venerable art dealer, Knoedler&Co.

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The dealer, Glafira Rosales, who is 60, was able to keep the scheme alive for over 15 years. The fake works were painted by a Chinese immigrant who was adept at copying various styles of artists such as Jackson Pollack, Willem De Kooning and Mark Rothko. The copier, Pei-Shen Qian, has since fled to China as has Ms. Rosales’ former boyfriend, Jose Diaz, who fled to Spain. Mr. Diaz’ extradition has been stymied.

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Pei-Shen Qian said he was “stunned’ so many people were fooled by his work
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Clyfford fake painting
To read more visit Roanoke News website:

The fraud came to light when Domenico De Sole, the former chairman of Gucci and present chairman of Sotheby’s sued Knoedler over his purchase of a fake Mark Rothko painting that he had purchased for over $8 million.

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The lenient sentence was granted on the basis that Mr. Diaz was the mastermind of the fraud and he physically abused Ms. Rosales. On the surface one can wonder if she got off lightly.

To read more visit New York Times website:

The Oldest Art Club in New York

Salmagundi Club in New York is opened to all artists and it hosts exhibitions of paintings of new members every year and few times a year for members. The club’s membership consists of artists and art patrons. It was founded as the Salmagundi Sketch Club in an artist’s studio in 1871, by artists who were not yet accepted into polite New York society, but were well behaved despite a somewhat bohemian lifestyle.

In 1917 the Club purchased a lovely brownstone at 47 Fifth Avenue at 12th street in New York City.

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Last week we visited the Salmagundi Club to see an exhibition of paintings by new members. The invitation came from my fellow artist Chrissanth Greene-Gross. We met interesting artists there like Dorothy Lorenze, Todd Casey and others.

Members are primarily from the city and surrounding suburbs. Some notable individuals have been granted honorary membership such as Winston Churchill.

To read more visit club website

Francis Picabia works on view at the Museum of Modern Art

In reading New York Magazine, I noticed an advertisement for an exhibition of Francis Picabia at the Museum of Modern Art through March 19th 2017. It piqued my interest in learning more about this artist.

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Picabia (1879-1953), the great modern artist, was born in Paris to a Cuban father and French mother. He worked across various mediums and styles and was involved in many groups from Cubism and Surrealism to Impressionism to become one of the leaders of the Dada movement. Picabia traveled to New York in 1915 where Alfred Stieglitz, the photographer and gallery owner, exhibited his works. He was instrumental to popularizing the art of the European Avant-garde in the United States. His work was inspired by Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Rene Magritte and others.

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Aello,1930 Oil on canvas
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Bank at Poissy, 1906-07. Oil on canvas
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Edtaonisl (Ecclesiastic),1913. Oil and metallic paint on canvas

While living in the South of France during the World War II, he created paintings of nude female images. It was a new aesthetic direction which he copied from commercial illustrations. Some of them, such as La brune et la blonde, make reference to the tradition of the classical nude in painters like Courbet and Ingres.

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Clinq femmes, 1942.Oil on paper mounted on canvas

 

 

 

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La brune et la blonde, 1941-42. Oil on canvas

 

Picabia’s famously said: “If you want to have clean ideas, change them like shirts”. His career as a whole challenges familiar narratives of the Avant-garde. It seems like an interesting exhibition to turn up at.

To find out more about the exhibition, click here to visit the museum’s website

 

 

 

Talent versus Hard Work

Recently I had a conversation with my friend about what it takes to produce a work of art. We, as artists, are striving on a journey that gets us to the point making something a viewer will admire.

My statement was, that not so many people are talented such as Einstein, Michelangelo, Donatello, Brunelleschi and masses of others.

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Sandro Botticelli The Birth Of Venus 
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Leonardo da Vinci Portrait of Ginevra Benci

The natural talent exists, I agree. However, the verdict of someone being naturally talented is often skewed. For example in reality, the talent can carry you so far, the rest is hard work.

I also believe in passion. Passion makes us strive for excellence.

My views are based on my experience; I’d love to hear yours.

Death of Max Beckmann.

Before Thanksgiving we were able to visit German painter Max Beckmann exhibition at the Met.

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In front of Portrait of Irma Simon, Oil on canvas

It is covering his time in St. Louise and New York City before his death in 1950. He suffered a fatal heart attack on his way from his apartment on the West side to exhibition of his Selfportrait in Blue Jacket at the Met. His bold brush strokes covey so much meaning. You can feel his vitality and love of life. He painted over 60 self portraits and there were 7 or 8 hanging. The portraits of his second wife, Quappa, were lovingly done.

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Quappy in Gray, 1948 Oil on canvas

 

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Paul in front of Self-Portrait with White Hat, 1926 Oil on canvas
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Another Self-Portrait in Blue Jacket, 1950

The exhibition is on untill February 20, 2017

 

To reed more, visit museum web

 

Follower of Caravaggio

On Friday evening we had dinner with Andrew Lattimore and his wife Donna, in Cold Spring. It is about an hour drive north from Bronxville. Andrew, my painting instructor, is always interesting, and  thought provoking and the dinner at Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill was enjoyable. Also the wine list was quite extensive.

After discussing the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s current exhibitions with Andrew and Donna we decided to go late Saturday afternoon. Maybe because it was later there were big crowds.

Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632), French artist, took Carravaggio’s use of live models even to a higher level of realism. His naturalistic paintings of dramatic events and deep humanity of his figures are quite captivating. He had his stable of models, including himself, that reappeared in numerous canvasses. Majority of his paintings are in private collections, it is why it was fascinating to see them in one place. Valentin is little known, because his career was short-lived-he died at age 41-and his works are so rare.

To read more visit museum website

 

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Me and Paul 🙂
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Saint Mathew, ca. 1624-26 Oil on canvas
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Fortune -Teller, ca. 1615-16 Oil on canvas
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This particular painting of Saint John the Baptist struck me with simplicity of the light and dark values and the light flowing drapery around the body. What a Master!