Nov. 9–Nov. 29, 2011 • Volume 3, Issue 18
Approaching Barnett Newman Page 8 The CityArts interview: Rose Kuo Page 19 New York’s Review of Culture • CityArtsNYC.com
Prankster von Trier Returns Page 20
Why West Side Story Still Matters craftartdesignfashion
“New York’s most inspiring new art event!”
THE JAVITS CENTER
NYC from the artists’ studios
TWO SHOWS ONE ADMISSION | NOVEMBER 18•19•20 SEE INSIDE AND BACK COVERS FOR SHOW DETAILS
NYC from the artists’ studios
Steven Paul Riddle | Booth H36
Woodrow Nash Booth 104
ARTISTS Kimberly Willcox Booth 138
TWO SHOWS ONE ADMISSION
THE JAVITS CENTER NOVEMBER 18•19•20 Presented by
An American Craftsman Galleries
Mel Smothers | Booth 35
Isabelle Posillico Booth 167
Jeffrey Weiss | Booth 194 Axiom Glass | Booth 202 Robert Harman | Booth 180 SHOW HOURS Fri Nov 18 2pm-7pm Sat Nov 19 10am-7pm Sun Nov 20 10am-4pm
2 CityArts | November 9–November 29, 2011
Want to see more!
Turn to the inside and outside back covers of this magazine and visit www.AmericanArtMarketingNYC.com for discount coupon
ADMISSION Adult $16.00 Seniors $14.00 Students $ 8.00 Children under 10 FREE
Going, Going Auctions Page 7
To the Curb Officer Krupke gets appropriated Page 13 Dance as Narrative (and More) Jerome Robbins’ moving synthesis Page 14 Street Signs Bass turned art into icon Page 14 Utopian Variations Diana Ross and Pet Shop Boys go west Page 15 A Landmark Soundtrack Page 16 Robbins’ Road to Hollywood Page 18
the cityarts interview
Visions of Force and Watercolor Revelations by Matthiasdottir and Rickert Page 4 Between Lines and Drips Pollock family secrets Page 6 In Stitches Lubelski weaves and shocks Page 6 Approaching Barnett Newman Radical master goes wild Page 8 AUCTIONS
M-M-M Good! Maazel, Masur and Mehta return to Philharmonic Page 10 WEST SIDE STORY
Why West Side Story Still Matters Page 12
Rose Kuo Page 19 Film
Beam Me Down Lars Take shelter from Melancholia Page 20 Playing Footsie Another remake stumbles Page 21
EDITOR Armond White firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGING EDITOR Mark Peikert email@example.com
ASSISTANT EDITOR Deb Sperling SENIOR ART CRITIC Lance Esplund SENIOR MUSIC CRITIC Jay Nordlinger
SENIOR DANCE CRITIC Joel Lobenthal CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Caroline Birenbaum, John Demetry, Valerie Gladstone, John Goodrich, Amanda Gordon, Ben Kessler, Howard Mandel, Maureen Mullarkey, Mario Naves, Gregory Solman, Melissa Stern, Nicholas Wells
DESIGN/PRODUCTION PRODUCTION/creative director Ed Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org advertising design Quarn Corley
PUBLISHER Kate Walsh email@example.com advertising consultant Adele Mary Grossman firstname.lastname@example.org
Account Executives Ceil Ainsworth, Mike Suscavage
MANHATTAN MEDIA PRESIDENT/CEO Tom Allon email@example.com CFO/COO Joanne Harras firstname.lastname@example.org Group Publisher Alex Schweitzer email@example.com NEWSPAPER GROUP PUBLISHER Gerry Gavin firstname.lastname@example.org
The Strauss Symphony of America Alexander Steinitz, conductor (Vienna) Rebecca Nelsen, soprano (Vienna) Thomas Sigwald, tenor (Vienna) Dancers from
director of interaCtive markeTing & digital strategy Jay Gissen email@example.com
Vienna Imperial Ballet
Controller Shawn Scott
Sunday, Jan. 1–2:30 pm
Accounts Manager Kathy Pollyea
WWW.CITYARTSNYC.COM Send all press releases to firstname.lastname@example.org CityArts is a division of Manhattan Media, publishers of New York Family magazine, AVENUE magazine, Our Town, West Side Spirit, Our Town Downtown, City Hall, Chelsea Clinton News, The Westsider and The Blackboard Awards. © 2011 Manhattan Media, LLC | 79 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10016 212.268.8600 | FAX: 212.268.0577 | www.manhattanmedia.com
TICKETS: (212) 721 6500 Info: 1 800 545 7807
lincolncenter.org Produced by Attila Glatz Concerts
November 9–November 29, 2011 | CityArts 3
Visions of Force and Watercolor Revelations by Matthiasdottir and Rickert
La Galeria, Boricua College Manhattan Campus: Phyllis Sanfiorenzo: “Home Grown Premonitions.” Opens Nov. 18, 3755 Broadway, phyllis-sanfiorenzo.com. Lyons Wier Gallery: Laura Ortiz Vega: “Cosmograffitti.” Opens Nov. 17. Cayce Zavaglia: “Multiple Stitches.” Opens Nov. 17, 542 W. 24th St., 212-242-6220, lyonswiergallery.com.
By John Goodrich
uppose there was a kind of universal life force innate to all of painting— a force unique to the medium that continuously animated and characterized its subjects and was, moreover, accessible to artist and layman alike. Actually, something like this exists, and it has quite a pedigree. This force is the power of line and color to endow rhythmic import, and it’s what distinguishes the great from the merely good: Raphael from his student Giulio Romano, Rembrandt from his student Nicolaes Maes and so on. Moreover, it’s what encourages us, even in a time enamored of the contextual and interdisciplinary, to hold out hope for painting as an independent art. Few recent painters have employed this force more honestly and resonantly than Louisa Matthiasdottir (1917–2000), the Icelandic-born painter and onetime Hans Hofmann student whose paintings currently grace the walls of Tibor de Nagy. The bright, blocked-in colors and picturesque scenery in these nine medium to large canvases, which span nearly two decades, appeal on the level of craft. But their unique power lies elsewhere. A remarkable sense of color charges every object with the weight of descending light; at the same time, her drawing orchestrates these impulses. In the 4-foot-wide “Icelandic Village,” 1991, sunlight cleaves a building into facets of brilliantly warm white and luxuriantly deep ultramarine blue. A dozen other elements build steadily toward this event, among them the retiring mauve-brown of a foreground roof and the quiet shimmer of an ochre road, interrupted once by the dash of an inky-blue shadow. As a result, the building faces us momentously from the mid-distance, far larger than the few square inches of canvas area it actually occupies. The most poignant aspect of these paintings is the way each element finds its rhythmic destiny. One sees this in the largest work here, “Maine Landscape,” 1976, in which some 20 tree trunks pace out its 9-foot width. Arcing to contain a section of space or inexorably slicing the canvas’ height, sometimes pairing off in angular dances, the tree trunks advance across its width. Countering them in measured sequences are tiers of sunlit and shadowed greens. Beyond one layer of
Francis M. Naumann Fine Art: “The Paintings of Walter Pach.” Opens Nov. 11, 24 W. 57th St., Ste. 305, 212-582-3201, francisnaumann.com.
Mike Weiss Gallery: Kaoruko: “Aromako.” Opens Nov. 17, 520 W. 24th St., 212-691-6899, mikeweissgallery.com. Sundaram Tagore Gallery: “Written Images: Contemporary Calligraphy from the Middle East.” Opens Nov. 10, 547 W. 27th St., 212-677-4520, sundaramtagore.com. Last Chance Exhibits George Billis Gallery: Elizabeth O’Reilly. Ends Nov. 12, 521 W. 26th St., B1, 212-645-2621, georgebillis.com. Barbara Mathes Gallery: Enrico Castellani. Ends Nov. 12, 22 E. 80th St., 212-570-4190, barbaramathesgallery.com. Helac Fine Art: Liv Mette Larsen: “Scrap Metal New York Paintings.” Ends Nov. 11, 547 W. 27th St., Ste. 207, 646-543 5222, helacfineart.com. Louisa Matthiasdottir, “White and Black Sheep, Red House,” 1990, oil on canvas, 48 x 52 inches. Courtesy Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.
horizontals, within a distant atrium of trunks, a tiny, brilliantly red figure holds and again we have the sense of space made mobile and elastic—that is, alive—in the service of an intelligent, cohering vision. This is gutsy painting. Matthiasdottir doesn’t do concepts, but most likely gallerygoers won’t feel deprived. “Maine Landscape” locates verticals so concretely and poetically that it makes Barnett Newman seem almost a clinician. Nor are her paintings merely lyrical. To my eye, this same large canvas wrestles with the one of the chief paradoxes of painting—the contradictions between linear arabesque and sifting depths of color—more muscularly than your typical Miró. Suppose painting were a major, independent art form, with powers utterly different from those of illustration, philosophy and sociology. Matthiasdottir makes you believe.
Louisa Matthiasdottir: Large Paintings Through Dec. 3, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 724 5th Ave., 212-262-5050, www.tibordenagy.com.
atercolor is unsurpassed as a medium of descriptive effects. The flooding of color through a wet wash echoes the flow of actual light; the receptive paper seems to absorb and reflect the artist’s every thought and enthusiasm.
4 CityArts | November 9–November 29, 2011
With its resistance to correction, though, it’s also an exceptionally challenging medium. This makes Paul’s Rickert’s Marking, Bucks County show of seven recent watercolors at Fischbach all the more impressive. Installed in the gallery’s smaller room, these works are hardly cutting-edge material— they depict realistically detailed landscapes of Bucks County—but they beautifully capture the atmosphere of snow-covered fields warmed by late afternoon light. Shadows of trees stretching away from the viewer melt lusciously into the distance, while skies blend from azure to pale rose at the horizon. What better example of the possibilities of wetinto-wet technique? In one very horizontal work, the artist neatly captures the loneliness of a telephone pole against bands of bright snow and deep blue shadow. These are stirring scenes, though occasionally amidst the suffusing light I found myself wanting to be shaken, not stirred. Consequently, my own favorite moments were the slightly obtuse ones: the obdurate shadow dividing the façade of a stone building or the crisp silhouette of a mound of snow interrupting broad shadows beyond. Happily, the artist takes time to serve these up, too.
Paul Rickert: Marking, Bucks County Through Nov. 12, Fischbach Gallery, 210 11th Ave., 212-759-2345, www.fischbachgallery.com.
Lombard-Freid Projects: Jacob Feige: “From the Bellona Museum of Natural History.” Ends Nov. 21, 518 W. 19th St., 212-967-8040, lombard-freid.com. Lyons Wier Gallery: Martin Wittfooth: “The Passions.” Ends Nov. 12, 542 W. 24th St., 212242-6220, lyonswiergallery.com. Art Events An American Craftsman Presents: Two Art Fairs: American Crafts Show NYC: From the Artist’s Studios and Contemporary Art Fair NYC. Both at Jacob Javits Center, 11th Ave. and 39th St., Manhattan. Nov. 18, 19 & 20, anamericancraftsman.com. BAM 2011 Next Wave Festival: The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) celebrates its 150th anniversary with this 29th annual music, dance & theater festival, featuring performances from The Kronos Quartet, Taiwan’s Cloud Gate Dance Theater & many others. Ends Dec. 18, BAM.org. Chelsea Art Gallery Tour: Enjoy a guided tour of this week’s top 7 gallery exhibits in the world’s center for contemporary art. Nov. 12, 526 W. 26th St., 212-946-1548, nygallerytours.com; 1, $20. Little Feast: This one-night-only multimedia performance event brings together 5 emerging local artists, including one 4th grader & his band of robotic musical puppets. Nov. 20, Cameo Art Gallery, 93 N. 6th St., Brooklyn, (enter through Lovin’ Cup Cafe), 646-326-3988, tinyscissors.com/littlefeast; 7, $7. Lower East Side Art Gallery Tour: Enjoy a guided tour of this week’s top 7 gallery exhibits in the downtown center for contemporary art. Nov. 26, 196 Bowery, 212-946-1548, nygallerytours. com; 1, $20.
LIGHT BULB ARMOND WHITE
n 1961, Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless landed in the United States, as did Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura, and world culture was never the same. But the Academy Awards and critics’ prizes that year went to West Side Story—still a more popular film than either Godard’s or Antonioni’s. Now, 50 years later, West Side Story remains a cultural touchstone, one of those rare, unifying art events especially unique in our decentralized, fractious era. This issue of CityArts recognizes the phenomenon of a cultural touchstone for the good reason that we can benefit from being reminded of how art can bring people together. West Side Story’s synthesis of all of the arts is detailed in our 360-degree perspectives: Jazz critic Howard Mandel considers the soundtrack; dance critic Joel Lobenthal reflects on the show’s choreography; John Demetry traces the underappreciated sociological reach of the climactic song “Somewhere”; Ben Kessler finds surprising contemporary relevance in the oft-noted but usually shallowly perceived “Gee, Officer Krupke”; and Judy Myers connects the film’s kinetics to an astonishing aesthetic breakthrough. A cultural touchstone like this makes our
appreciation of the other arts (Barnett Newman’s abstractions by Jim Long, Loren Maazel’s conducting by Jay Nordlinger) freshly relevant. The arts come together in our souls and in our culture—when it functions humanely, an infrequent act to which West Side Story attests. There will be 50th anniversary theatrical showings of the film by the Fathom organization and a newly released Blu-ray version to help us recall how even a work of popular art can sustain our highest values without shortchanging our humanity. Criticizing West Side Story’s big-budget Hollywoodization is common but unhelpful; it’s best to recognize its place in the fine arts traditions that go from Shakespeare to ballet to Rebel Without a Cause to Michael Jackson‘s “Beat It” music video. All this because it is indeed a cultural touchstone—something Titanic, Rent, Pulp Fiction and countless other passing art fads cannot claim. About the cover: Art director Ed Johnson ingeniously salutes West Side Story’s historic urban graphics through Saul Bass’ contribution to modern iconography. Advertising could become art in the Pop era, a fundamental precept of the high/low dynamic. It brings thinking back.
GETAWAY DESIGNER AND BUILDER OF UPSTATE COTTAGES $250,000 - $425,000 - LAND INCLUDED WOODSTOCK, SAUGERTIES, & SULLIVAN COUNTY
Why Let the Billionaires Have all the Fun?
Whatever your philanthropic passions, The New York Community Trust can help you design your own Giving Pledge. Set up a charitable fund with us and get the exper t advice and suppor t the billionaires get. Contact us today for our free booklet. You’ll be inspired by what you can accomplish. Call Jane Wilton at ( 212) 686–0010 x 379, e-mail email@example.com, or visit nycommunitytrust.org. November 9–November 29, 2011 | CityArts 5
Between Lines and Drips Pollock family secrets in letters By Valerie Gladstone
ith his much publicized personal life and groundbreaking technique, Jackson Pollock could be dubbed the Vincent van Gogh of 20th century art. Charismatic and tormented, he seized the public’s imagination as the embodiment of the tortured artist. But while his reputation might have been well earned, he also had a full and interesting life before the drip paintings, his tempestuous marriage to painter Lee Krasner and his rampant alcoholism. The Jason McCoy Gallery fills in some blanks with its excellent exhibition American Letters 1927–1947: Jackson Pollock & Family, in collaboration with the Charles Pollock Archives in Paris. The show’s wellchosen paintings, sculpture and works on paper, many of them by Pollock’s brother Charles and artists he admired—like Thomas Hart Benton—family photographs and previously unpublished letters provide a fascinating glimpse of the artist before fame and depression overtook him. The letters cover the personal correspondence between the five Pollock brothers, their parents and wives. Through the observations of the correspondents and the works’ subjects, we not only gain insight into the individuals but an era devastated by the Great Depression and World War II. “To this day, we know little about where Pollock came from and what his personal, historical and emotional realities were during his formative years,” said Stephanie Simmons, director of the Jason McCoy
In Stitches Lubelski weaves and shocks By Melissa Stern Having seen Nava Lubelski’s last show several years ago at LMAK Projects, I was interested to see what the intrepid stitching artist was up to this time around. Her current exhibition, descriptively titled Roomful, is, in fact, a roomful of her work! Using both hand and machine sewing techniques, Lubelski roams the artistic
Gallery. “This exhibition explores the chapter preceding this era, drawing inspiration and information from the letters.” Born in 1912 in Cody, Wyo., into a large family that traveled widely throughout his youth, Pollock, the youngest child, greatly benefited from the love and protection of his mother and four older brothers. Fragile and emotionally unstable from childhood, he relied heavily on their support and guidance. The letters reveal him as a young man uncertain in his direction and overwhelmed by the demands of becoming an artist. But as he studied at the Art Students League in New York with Benton and others, Pollock pushed himself, and soon a passion for making art overtook him. It’s illuminating to see Pollock’s works alongside those of his heroes, like Benton, Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. Orozco’s powerful “The Unemployed” shows men, faces set, bowed by their circumstances, and Benton’s untitled painting of a heavy-limbed, abstract figure looks like a Henry Moore sculpture. Pollock may not have worked in their styles but he Jackson Pollock “Untitled,” 1944, watercolor, gouache, india ink and sgraffito on paper mounted on blue paper, 10 3/8 x approached art with a similar force10 9/16 inches. Private collection, New York. fulness and sense of immediacy. His eldest brother Charles, who was ity as his son. come. Thanks to this exhibit, we now know For anyone who has only seen Pollock’s a little more about how he got there. supposed to have become the famous artist in the family but never achieved Pol- later paintings, it comes as a revelation to lock’s reputation, is also well represented see his vibrant seascape from 1934, which American Letters 1927–1947: Jackson here. His untitled portrait of their father, surges with movement, as do the six etch- Pollock & Family who died young, is especially touching. ings from 1944-45. They give some indica- Through Dec. 16, Jason McCoy Gallery, 41 E. 57th The father’s face betrays the same sensitiv- tion of the outpouring that would soon St., 11th Fl., 212-319-1996, www.jasonmccoyinc.com.
map—one piece is an appropriated pink electric blanket with its wiring ripped out and rearranged on the blanket’s surface. Another is a grouping called “Cotton Scraps,” stitched loosely together and to the walls of the gallery, forming a kind of selfconscious spider web of thread and fabric. Whether with high-tech digital sewing machine, commercial sewing production or the humble needle and thread, Lubelski seems intent on investigating the various possibilities of this craft. This includes a disconcerting act of betrayal in Roomful’s exhibition: According to the gallery
6 CityArts | November 9–November 29, 2011
director, an unidentified elderly woman, a former art student with no living relatives, entrusted her beloved art school portfolio of drawings to Lubelski, who promptly shredded them and made them into rolled paper sausages arranged on the vintage portfolio. In a show seemingly focused on thread and binding together, this is a kind of celebration of an act of betrayal and destruction. The most successful pieces in the show are the two that hearken back to Lubelski’s previous work. Painstakingly hand-stitched details on painted canvas are an interesting
synthesis of a traditional craft and contemporary painting. In “Pop-Up,” she has created a double-layered canvas, the weaving between the two layers contrasting surface and depth. “Flurries” plays with the idea of a flurry of stitching combined with a flurry of paint. From paint to thread, Lubelski’s transitions show an artist’s rich exploration of media.
Roomful Through Dec. 11, LMAK Projects, 139 Eldridge St., 212-255-9707, www.lmakprojects.com.
Going, Going Auctions By Caroline Birenbaum
GRAPHO Bonhams’ Nov. 16 sale, A Gentleman’s Library, offers just about everything you
Continued on page 9
“Necessary, liberating, intoxicatingly pleasurable” —New York Times
RediscoveR the islamic WoRld intRoducing neW galleRies foR the aRt of the aR ab lands, tuRkey, iR an, centR al asia, and lateR south asia now open
Publication: city arts Insertion date: november 9, 2011 4c
Rediscover the Islamic World
Clockwise from top right (details): Rosette bearing the names and titles of Shah Jahan, folio from the Emperors’ Album, ca. 1645, India, Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955; Length of fabric, ca. 1565–80, Turkey, probably Istanbul, Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1952; Glazed ceramic zilij wall panel, produced by Moroccan craftsmen for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011; and Habiballah of Sava, Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds) of Farid al-Din ’Attar, Iran, Isfahan, ca. 1600, Fletcher Fund, 1963. All works from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
met.org/pvIqES MET-0087-Islamic_CityArts_7.341x8.5(1.16)_Nov9_v3.indd 1
4:25 PM November 9–November 29, 201111/3/11 | CityArts 7
7.341 x 8.5 nP
RITMO Latin America takes the stage the week of Nov. 14 with works by internationally known modern artists such as painter and sculptor Fernando Botero and kinetic artist Jesus Rafael Soto, along with many less familiar to me, piquing my interest to learn more about the field. Phillips de Pury Latin American Art, Nov. 14 & 15, previews Nov. 11–14, www.phillipsdepury. com; Christie’s Latin American Paintings, Nov. 15 & 16, previews Nov. 12–15, www. christies.com; Sotheby’s Latin American Art, Nov. 16 & 17, previews Nov. 12–16, www.sothebys.com.
some unusual pieces such as an early semi-abstract cityscape, “Blighted Area,” 1955, by Wayne Thiebaud; Roy Lichtenstein’s “Moonscape,” 1965, color screenprint on blue Rowlux plastic; and Keith
CONTEMPO Sotheby’s holds its Contemporary Art sale the evening of Nov. 9 and the morning and afternoon of Nov. 10. The previews close at noon Nov., so if you hurry, you can see four paintings by Clyfford Still from the estate of his widow, being sold by the city and county of Denver to benefit the new Still Museum that will open there later this month, alongside many other fine works. Preview Nov. 9 until noon, www.sothebys.com. Swann’s annual auction of Rare & Important Travel Posters on Nov. 11 covers the world by boat, train, automobile and plane, from beaches to ski slopes, and includes very rare posters for Montauk Beach via Pennsylvania Railroad circa 1929, a General Motors auto show at the Hotel Astor, N.Y., 1929, and Eastern Airlines to the New York World’s Fair, 1939, as well as a broadside advertising third-class tickets on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, 1911. Previews Nov. 9–11 at noon, www.swanngalleries.com. Rago, well known for modern design, has expanded its repertoire. If you’re in the vicinity of Lambertville, N.J., check out the Nov. 12 sales, a mixed bag of paintings, drawings, photos and sculptures. The 19th & 20th Century American & European Art morning session is highlighted by a 1946 tempera, “Girls in the Street,” by Reginald Marsh, and a lovely, uncharacteristic watercolor of a nude woman by Paul Cadmus. The afternoon session of Postwar & Contemporary Art contains such unexpected works as a 1981 painting by New Orleans artist Ida Kohlmeyer and a selection of silicone and mixed media busts by Canadian sculptor Evan Penny. Previews through Nov. 11, www.ragoarts.com.
Swann offers American Art the morning of Nov. 17, including two major oil paintings from the 1960s by Robert Gwathmey never before at auction, and Contemporary Art that afternoon, with
Haring’s “Art Attack on AIDS,” a unique screenprint with hand coloring in yellow gouache, 1988. Previews Nov. 12–16, www. swanngalleries.com.
Approaching Barnett Newman
Chelsea Art Museum: “Perceptions of Promise: Biotechnology, Society & Art.” Nov. 10–19. 556 W. 22nd St., 212-255-0719, chelseaartmuseum.org.
Radical master goes wild By Jim Long
MoMA PS1: “Clifford Owens: Anthology.” Opens Nov. 13, 718-784-2084, momaps1.org.
he exceptional installation at Craig F. Starr Gallery and its Upper East Side atmosphere might not immediately signal Barnett Newman’s lifelong commitment to anarchist politics (a philosophy he shared with artists as varied as Signac, Courbet, Pissaro and Bellows), but it shines forth in the radical approach of his work. This group of six early Newman paintings shows a severing of a connection to the past in order to forge direct contact with the present. Yet without apparent contradiction, unlike his hipper, younger colleagues, Newman was unabashedly passionate about painting and the exalted, even revelatory subject matter he felt his vanguard form embraced. It is this that separates him from Minimalism, although he is often regarded as its originator. The intimate scale of the Starr Gallery brings the eye right up close to the canvas, where Newman wished his ideal viewer to be, allowing viewers to experience the work at the painter’s distance. Newman emptied his work of any echoes of naturalistic reference, denied “composition” and eliminated geometry, leaving only a physical field of paint, bisected or trisected by “zips”—narrow, band-like vertical planes. Measurements are specific and integral to appreciating his radical approach to drawing as a way of creating scale. The result achieves a sensation of direct experience: of time, place and the gravity of the human predicament. Newman realized his breakthrough painting, “Onement I,” in 1948 and painted little else that year as he considered the possibilities of the form he had discovered. The following year was a productive one, and the exhibition gives us “Untitled 3,” a narrow vertical rectangle consisting of a light bar of cadmium red on the left side against a field of dark red on the right. This painting, like all of Newman’s, is solid and self-evident in its simplicity. Smudged touches of off-white worked into the right edge of the light red create a unified plane. Across the room is its companion, “Untitled 1,” 1950, a more complex, taller vertical, considered the first of a group of extremely narrow 1950 works exemplified by “The Wild” (not in the exhibition),
Bard Graduate Center: “Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones” featuring more than 250 historic and couture hats. Through April 15, 2012. Plus, “Knoll Textiles 1945-2010.” BGC 18 W. 86th St., bgc.bard.edu.
Museum of Modern Art: “Diego Rivera: Murals for the Museum of Modern Art.” Opens Nov. 13, 11 W. 53rd St., 212-708-9400, moma.org. New York Historical Society: “Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn.” Opens Nov. 11. “Making American Taste: Narrative Art for a New Democracy.” Opens Nov. 11. “Freedom Now: Photographs by Platon.” Opens Nov. 11. “Beauties of the Gilded Age: Peter Marié’s Miniatures of Society Women.” Opens Nov. 11. “The Robert H. & Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History.” Opens Nov. 11. “Urban Visions: Views of American Cities from the New York Historical Society Collection.” Opens Nov. 11. “Treasures of Shearith Israel.” Opens Nov. 11. “A New York Hannukah.” Opens Nov. 25. “It Happened Here: The Invention of Santa Claus.” Opens Nov. 25. 170 Central Park West, 212-873-3400, nyhistory.org.
Barnett Newman, “Treble,” 1960, Oil on exposed canvas, 20-1⁄4 x 6-3⁄4 inches which resulted from deep discussions with his friend, the artist Tony Smith, about the significance of the idea of wildness. Nearby and employing a similar dark red field is “Galaxy,” a painting containing complicated numerical relationships, but most visually interesting in its somber, close-valued roughness. The idea of doubling the vertical zips may have first appeared in this work. Newman’s use of earth reds, ochres and umbers not only
8 CityArts | November 9–November 29, 2011
Barnett Newman, “Untitled 3, 1949,” 1949, Oil on canvas, 23-1⁄2 x 6-1⁄4 inches, reflects the earth mounds and tribal arts that fascinated him but also results from the planar rather than spatial issues his work addresses. Red holds the plane visually, neither advancing nor receding. “By Twos,” 1949, also features a double zip. Newman regarded this as the invention of “shaped” painting—the stretcher bars are fully 2 inches deep, emphasizing its physical as well as visual properties. “Treble,” 1960, appears black but is an
extremely dark green. The pair of evenly spaced zips of unprepared canvas push the economy of Newman’s imagery to a radical, nearly graphic elegance. In an unpainted niche at the base of the central column Newman’s initials and date appear like the skull of Adam in crucifixion scenes, reminding us that he was continuing work on his series “The Stations of the Cross.” “Outcry,” 1958, was the beginning of this series. More an act of destruction and salvation than any of his works, the viewer can see traces of a painted-over work connected to the “Wild” group. Its tall, planklike presence is extremely suggestive of the vertical upright of a crucifix, and fuses a violence of image and voice in a powerfully expressive totality. Despite the aura of tragedy, the artist displays a grim humor: the viewer can find signature and date only by risking being discovered kneeling in front of the painting. One doesn’t so much look at a Newman work as approach it cautiously with the expectation that preconceptions may be firmly overturned. For many viewers, there will always be the conviction that there is “nothing there.” The thing to do while this splendid exhibition is on view is to go and see for oneself.
Barnett Newman Through Dec. 17, Craig F. Starr Gallery, 5 E. 73rd St., 212-570-1739, www.starr-art.com.
Auctions Continued from page 7 need to furnish a spacious room except bookcases and books, aside from a few bound sets: models of all sorts, lamps, occasional chairs, timepieces, decorative paintings, snazzy Bakelite table radios, smoking and drinking paraphernalia and some nifty traveling cases and picnic sets to mount on your running board. Previews Nov. 12–15, www.bonhams.com. Written, printed, and illustrated words to fill your library are the focus of several upcoming auctions. Christie’s very strong Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts sale Nov. 15 includes John James Audubon’s granddaughter’s copy of the first octavo edition of Birds of America, being sold to benefit the acquisitions fund of the Speed Art Museum, among other printed treasures. The manuscript Americana offerings are especially notable, particularly a monumental Revolutionary War ink and watercolor map from 1780 and correspondence from Thomas Jefferson to publisher Matthew Carey waiving copyright on his Manual of Parliamentary Practice. Previews Nov. 11–14, www.christies.com. Swann couples Printed & Manuscript Americana with Ocean Liner memorabilia in a twosession auction Dec. 1. Highlights include a 1789 edition of the Gazette of the United States with the first newspaper printing of the Bill of Rights as submitted to the states for ratification and an April 1776 Connecticut edition of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. Disaster ships dominate in the afternoon, including a fine Titanic deck plan. Previews Nov. 28–30, www. swanngalleries.com. Sotheby’s Dec. 1 sale of American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture will include four paintings by Catlin from the Benjamin O’Fallon Collection being sold to benefit the Field Museum in Chicago, works from the estate of Helen Marx and a spectacular Marsden Hartley still life. Previews Nov. 26–30, www.sothebys.com.
Christie’s: Books & Manuscripts, Nov. 15, 10 a.m. Latin American Paintings, Nov. 15 & 16. Fine & Rare Wines, Nov. 19, 10 a.m. Country House Elegance: An Architectural Vision, Nov. 21, 2. 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe including Oriental Carpets, Nov. 22, 10 a.m. & 2, 20 Rockefeller Plz., www.christies.com. Doyle New York: Jewelry, Watches, Silverware & Coins, Nov. 15 & 16. American Furniture & Decorative Arts including Paintings & Prints, Nov. 17, 10 a.m. 175 E. 87th St., www.doylenewyork.com. ROGALLERY.com: Fine art buyers & sellers in online live art auctions, www.rogallery.com. iGavel: Online auctions of fine art, antiques & collectibles from a network of independent sources, www.igavelauctions.com.
GRANT WINNERS EXHIBITION 2011 November 7 – 23, 2011 FREE and Open to Public
Closed Nov. 10, 5–8PM
PHYLLIS HARRIMAN MASON GALLERY The Art Students League of New York 215 West 57th Street 212 - 247-4510 www.theartstudentsleague.org firstname.lastname@example.org
Cast iron Mickey Mouse carousel figure by Henri de Vos, 1927, at auction at Poster Auctions International on Nov. 13. Estimate $25,000 to $30,000.
Furniture-All Styles Art from Many Eras Folk Art • Textiles Americana • Asian Kitchen & Kitsch Art Deco • Garden Silver • Ceramics Industrial Design All Kinds of Jewelry Vintage Fashions Lamps & Lighting Handbags • Books Autographs Modern • Bakelite Collectibles Outsider Art Upcycled Arts & Much More
THE PIER ANTIQUES SHOW Where decorators, designers & collectors find the unique, the strange, and the beautiful.
ALL GREEN & ALL RECYCLED!
19 & 20
PIER 94 - NYC
Photo courtesy Poster Auctions International.
12th Avenue @ 55th Street
BENEFIT The Alumni and Friends of LaGuardia High School present a benefit contemporary art auction, Nov. 9 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Vincent Astor Gallery, Library of Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th streets). Tickets and information are available at www.alumniandfriends.org or 212-595-1301. Catalog and advance bidding are at www.doylenewyork.com.
New York style icons, IN ONE BUILDING the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas and Sat. & Sun. 10-6 • Admission $15 author/illustrator 500 Dealers selling Art, Furniture, TIFFANY AND WAY BEYOND... Joana Avillez will be Jewelry & Objects plus Fashion Alley YOU’LL FIND IT AT THE PIER SHOW! & The NY Fall Autograph Show signing the new book, Life Dressing - Sat. 1-3 Details @ stellashows.com • 973-808-5015 POP CULTURE APPRAISALS - $5
FROM TEA TOWELS TO
www.stellashows.com November 9–November 29, 2011 | CityArts 9
Cd Release Concert Of
Succession Of Images
Played live by
Pianist And Composer
Featuring Works By Chopin, Prokofiev And A World Premiere By Paul Morin
Tuesday, November 29
Saint Peter’s Church 619 Lexington Avenue, New York, Ny 10022 On The Corner Of 54th Street And Lexington Avenue
Free Admission www.paulbmorin.com
Lorin Maazel with the New York Philharmonic.
enoteca & trattoria
M-M-M Good! Maazel, Masur and Mehta Return to Philharmonic By Jay Nordlinger
In the heart of the Upper West Side ‘Cesca serves equal portions of elegance and relaxed ambiance. A “very fine, though unrelentingly rustic” authentic dining experience borne of its founders’ Italian heritage. Executive Chef Kevin Garcia presents simple yet extraordinary fare and owner and Italian-wine expert Anthony Mazzola has put together an incomparable list of Italian wines.
164 West 75th St. at Amsterdam Avenue New York, NY 10023
10 CityArts | November 9–November 29, 2011
mong the New York Philharmonic’s guest conductors this season are three of the orchestra’s former music directors: Zubin Mehta, who was here from 1978 to 1991; his successor, Kurt Masur, who served until 2002; and his successor, Lorin Maazel, who served until 2009. Please note that, three times in a row, we had a music director with a twosyllable name beginning with M. Maazel was the first to return this season, seeming as fit as ever at 81. When he left the Philharmonic, he said he would never again have a permanent job with an orchestra. Next season, he begins at the Munich Philharmonic. Never say never. By the way, Maazel’s father, Lincoln, a singer and actor, died in 2009 at 106. The son conducted two programs with the Philharmonic, the first consisting of Mozart and Debussy. I remember in 2006, when everyone was celebrating the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. We had Mozart coming out of our ears. Maazel programmed the last three symphonies with the Philharmonic. I was rather dreading that concert. Maazel did so well, I wish he had gone on to conduct three more. On a Saturday night last month, he did well with the Symphony No. 38 too. There
were a few Maazelisms, such as some questionable ritards, but overall this was intelligent, correct, vibrant Mozart. He followed the symphony with Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp—which prompts me to recall: Last summer, I did a public interview of Trevor Pinnock at the Salzburg Festival. He was conducting this concerto, among other works. I asked, “Do you agree with those who maintain that this is a rather weak piece?” Yes, he said, “but it would be hard not to love that slow movement, wouldn’t it?” Although Maazel and his soloists— Robert Langevin and Nancy Allen, the principal flute and principal harp of the Philharmonic—were more than adequate in the piece, it remains so dull, I wanted to put a bullet through my head. A Mozart idolater like me is entitled to say that. The Debussy pieces on the second half of the program were Jeux and Ibéria. In the first, Maazel was precise, urbane and suave. In Ibéria, he added some of his patented jazz. Under his baton, the music managed to be red-blooded while retaining its French reserve and sheen. Six days later, on a Friday morning, I heard Maazel in an all-Strauss program. It began with An Alpine Symphony—which was spectacular as it should be. Maazel judged it superbly, in a thousand different ways. He ended his program with Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, which had all its jokes, and more. The previous Sunday
Music & Opera Alice Tully Hall: The Juilliard Chamber Orchestra plays works by Stravinsky, Copland & Mozart. Nov. 21, 70 Lincoln Center Plz., 212-7697406, juilliard.edu; 8, free with advance tickets. The Church of the Epiphany: Organist Larry J. Long performs in “From Lübeck to Leipzig: Organ Masterworks of JS Bach & His Contemporaries.” Nov. 13, 1393 York Ave., 212-866-0468, salonsanctuary.org; 4, $25. The Church of St. Ignatius of Antioch: Choral ensemble Polyhymnia performs in “My Soul Doth Magnify: 200 years of the Canticle of Our Lady,” featuring the music of Dufay, Fayrfax & others. Nov. 12, 552 West End Ave., 917838-4636, polyhymnia-nyc.org; 8 (pre-concert lecture at 7), $25.
Zubin Mehta with the New York Philharmonic.
Symphony Space: The Society for Universal Sacred Music presents its 5th Festival of Universal Sacred Music. The day-long event features jazz, gospel, Indian classical, Israeli music, Bach, Brahms, Britten & more. Nov. 12, 2537 Broadway, 212-864-5400, symphonyspace.org; 2, free.
Photos by Chris Lee
afternoon, I had heard Fabio Luisi conduct the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in Till. It was essentially without jokes. (No joke.) A week after Maazel’s Friday-morning concert, I heard Masur conduct the Philharmonic. He is 84 now, much thinner than he was. Also, he is slow of foot, and trembling of hand. Still, he has his musical wisdom, and he knows how to communicate with an orchestra. He can get more with a few gestures than others can get with full-body flailings. He began his concert with Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. I was thinking, “When did he first hear this piece?” Probably the early or mid-1930s. His account of the symphony was moving and profound. It reminded me of the Bruno Walter recording I grew up on. His main work was a Shostakovich symphony, No. 13, “Babi Yar.” Masur has made something of a specialty of this piece: The Philharmonic has played it in only three different seasons, and Masur has conducted all of them. Each time, his soloist has been Sergei Leiferkus, the Russian baritone. Leiferkus is 65 now, but it’s hard to
Juilliard Joseph W. Polisi, President
Thurs, Nov 10 at 8 Paul Hall at Juilliard
Pleasure is the Law
Elaine Douvas, Oboe Nadine Asin, Flute Darrett Adkins, Cello Steven Beck, Harpsichord/Piano HURNI´K, HAYDN, DRING, TELEMANN, CARTER FREE tickets at box office Daniel Saidenberg Faculty Recital
Although Maazel and his soloists—Robert Langevin and Nancy Allen, the principal flute and principal harp of the Philharmonic— were more than adequate in the piece, it remains so dull, I wanted to put a bullet through my head. A Mozart idolater like me is entitled to say that.
Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts
Brian Zeger, Artistic Director
Thurs, Fri, Sat Nov 10 – 12 at 8 Willson Theater at Juilliard
Beyond The Machine eVirtuosos
believe: He proved his familiar self, erect in bearing and conscientious in execution. As for Masur, he made the symphony speak as it should—let it speak, I should say. He did not try to do all that much. He knows that the drama is contained in the score. Both conductor and singer trusted the power of the notes and words to do the job. Masur made me appreciate the work more than I ever have—the “Babi Yar” symphony is great, as well as brave. Masur is great too, and so is Maazel. When they are on, hardly anyone else can touch them. I heard Masur many times from the mid-1970s to the mid1980s, and I thought he was all right—nothing special. But, in my opinion, he grew into something very special indeed. Sometimes age is an advantage. Didn’t we used to know that, before the current mania for youth in conducting? Zubin Mehta will come to New York in January to conduct Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1968, along with the words “The Baton Is Passed to Youth.” The youth is now 75, and we’ll see how he does.
Edward Bilous, Director Juilliard Music Technology Center FREE; standby lines form at 7
Sat, Nov 12 at 3 Alice Tully Hall
Ton Koopman Conducts
CPE BACH, TELEMANN, JS BACH, HAYDN FREE; standby lines form at 7 Juilliard Historical Performance
Tues, Nov 15 at 8 Paul Hall
Juilliard Jazz Ensembles
Jackie’s Bag: The Music of Jackie McLean FREE; standby lines form at 7
Mon, Nov 28 at 8 Alice Tully Hall
Juilliard String Quartet
Joseph Lin, Ronald Copes, Violins Samuel Rhodes, Viola Joel Krosnick, Cello HAYDN, MARTINO, BEETHOVEN Introducing new first violinist Joseph Lin FREE tickets at box office 11/14 Daniel Saidenberg Faculty Recital
! N E N O IT L I M M KO BY SIR PETER M A X W E L L D AV IES
A TIMELY TALE OF STUDENT ACTIVISM DAVID POUNTNEY, Librettist and Director ANNE MANSON, Conductor
JUILLIARD OPERA with JUILLIARD ORCHESTRA Carolyn Choa, Choreography Robert Innes Hopkins, Sets and Costumes James Farncombe, Lighting Puppetry, Blind Summit Theatre, Mark Down A co-commission of Juilliard and the Royal Academy of Music
2 N, NOV 20 AT • & 18 AT 8 SU 16 V O N I, WED & FR
Peter Jay Sharp Theater At Juilliard • 155 West 65th Street
Tickets $30 at juilliard.edu/FellowStudents CenterCharge (212) 721-6500 Juilliard Box Office 155 West 65 St, M-F, 11a-6p 1/2-priced for students, seniors, TDF only at Box Office
Thurs, Dec 1 at 8 Alice Tully Hall
Michèle Losier MEZZO-SOPRANO
NEW YORK RECITAL DEBUT Winner of the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Award Brian Zeger, Piano ALL-FRENCH PROGRAM Songs by Franck, Massenet, Bizet, Duparc, Ravel, Poulenc, Satie, Weill Tickets $30, $15 at Alice Tully Hall Box Office CenterCharge (212) 721-6500 • lincolncenter.org 1/2-priced for student, seniors, TDF only at the Tully Box Office
J U I L L I A R D 155 W. 65th St. • Box Office M-F, 11AM-6PM • (212) 769-7406
November 9–November 29, 2011 | CityArts 11
12 CityArts | November 9â€“November 29, 2011
Why West Side Story Still Matters By Armond White
A cultural touchstone means more than just a movie, play, symphony or ballet. West Side Story is all of that, but its status as a cultural touchstone is unparalleled. Since the musical play’s 1957 debut and screen transfer in the early 1960s—guaranteeing it worldwide prominence—no other single work in the performing arts canon has proved as effective or more popular. This doesn’t mean that the 1961 film—currently being celebrated with 50th anniversary theatrical screenings across the country and a deluxe DVD release—is a great work of art. Fact is, West Side Story’s phenomenon is defined by how it transcends mere notions of quality. It may be the ultimate ecstatic proof of art culture’s unending high/low tension. What else in recent modern culture has brought the popular audience into the experience of high art? West Side Story’s
pedigree proves its cultural triumph: Starting as a update of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, it became a Broadway show express-
ing the vaunting ambitions of Jewish American theatrical artists composer Leonard Bernstein, playwright Arthur Laurents, choreographer Jerome Robbins and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Then Hollywood increased the show’s impact exponentially; the modernized tale of social change— racial and ethnic rivalries and adolescent unrest—dramatized the still-perplexing circumstances of urban tumult. Based on legend, West Side Story itself became legendary as successive generations were attracted by and felt attached to its characters and its vision of American per-
To the Curb Officer Krupke gets appropriated By Ben Kessler When baby boomer comedian Larry David incorporated “Gee, Officer Krupke” into a 2009 episode of his TV show Curb Your Enthusiasm, he showed more than his age. David’s “Krupke” renaissance exposed how juvenile delinquency has gone upscale during the five decades following the release of the movie of West Side Story. The song “Gee, Officer Krupke” pits showbiz against all of the other liberal institutions of post-World War II America. Like improvising comedians working out a performance, the street-corner hoodlums of West Side Story adopt the attitudes and viewpoints of middle-class
authority’s mouthpieces (the helping professions) regarding the “social disease” of juvenile delinquency. The kids know that Krupke, the beat cop they see nightly, is just the figurehead for a system that is, despite its complexity, united with him in cluelessness and impotence—so they end the song with a curse too prosaic even to be profane: “Gee, Officer Krupke, krup you!” “Krupke” epitomizes how Jewish sophisticates Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim fused empathy with social critique. In Curb Your Enthusiasm, David is
delighted to come across a uniformed cop named Krupke (who doesn’t know from West Side Story) and grabs the chance to explain “krup you” his way: “They wanted to say ‘Fuck you,’ but in the ’50s on Broadway, Sondheim couldn’t.” Does David consider his HBO prerogative to work blue the fulfillment of previous generations’ vulgar showbiz dreams? Later in the episode, he drives around L.A. while rousingly singing his new favorite song as if it were a personal anthem. The joke is funny, its point unmistakable: David’s narcissistic, almost autistic
plexities. What began in a bourgeois-established institution became a lively myth for the restless but unempowered. It went from being a middle-class alternative to rock ‘n’ roll to—somehow—an inarguably authentic expression of the rock ‘n’ roll ethos. Not effete or middle-aged (“Catch the moon/ One-handed catch” from “Tonight” separates virtuoso songwriting from sissies), West Side Story is the genuine American article. Generations respond to it across ethnic lines because its class yearnings as much as its star-crossed love story are common and irresistible. Until someone makes a singing, dancing version of The Godfather or a successful musical adaptation of Gone With the Wind, nothing else in our culture can match West Side Story. Whether it is a good movie is irrelevant. The fact that it works splendidly (due to the felicities and power of that great, great score) is incontestable.
disregard for others, which gives Curb its bite, also makes him TV’s oldest, wealthiest juvenile delinquent. The less funny undercurrent of this “Krupke” rendition, however, suggests that David has updated the song’s defiant defensiveness to suit his privileged circumstances. David’s “Krupke” indicates the extent of our cultural descent since 1961, echoing social critic Christopher Lasch’s whiteflight insights in the book The Revolt of the Elites (1994). It helps explain why even Sondheim eventually lost the common touch. Over time, those middle-class authorities mocked in Sondheim’s lyrics responded with their own imitation of delinquency: upwardly mobile fecklessness, with cluelessness intact. And David was right. In 2009: The combination of elitism and delinquency should provoke us to profanity. It’s unworthy of the complexity contained in Sondheim and Bernstein’s perfect (not timid) “krup you.”
November 9–November 29, 2011 | CityArts 13
Bard Graduate Center Gallery presents
Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones in the Main Gallery through April 14, 2012
American Christmas Cards, 1900–1960 in the Focus Gallery through December 31, 2011
Hats: A Field Guide Gallery Talk with milliner Melinda Wax Thursday, November 10, 6 pm
Hats-in-Progress: A Study Day with milliners Gretchen Fenston and Rodney Keenan Friday, November 11, 10 am–4:30 pm
The Surrealist Hat
Lecture by fashion curator Dilys Blum Thursday, November 17, 6 pm
Women Designers and Greeting Cards of the Arts and Crafts Movement
Lecture by historian Anne Stewart O’Donnell Thursday, December 1, 6 pm
For complete information and tickets please visit bgc.bard.edu or e-mail email@example.com
“With Every Christmas Card I Write” Concert of American Holiday Songs, 1900–1960
with Robert Osborne, Katie Geissinger, and Richard Gordon Sunday, December 11, 2 pm
The Hatmaker’s Muse: A Conversation with New York Milliners
Lola Ehrlich, Albertus Swanepoel, and Patricia Underwood. Moderated by costume and textiles curator Phyllis Magidson Thursday, December 15, 6 pm Stephen Jones for Christian Dior Haute Couture. ‘Olga Sherer inspirée par Gruau’ Hat. Autumn/ Winter 2007/2008. ©Christopher Moore/ Catwalking.
Gallery Hours Tuesday through Sunday from 11 am–5 pm Thursday from 11 am–8 pm The Main Gallery and Focus Gallery are both located at 18 West 86th Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, in New York City.
Dance as Narrative (and More) Jerome Robbins’ moving synthesis By Judith GelmAn Myers
erome Robbins was fired halfway through shooting West Side Story, but he still won two Academy Awards for his work on the film—one for directing, which he shared with Robert Wise, and an honorary award “for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.” Robbins (like many others) thought little of the prize, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that he won it for an enormous achievement. In West Side Story, he created a new paradigm wherein the traditional theatrical modalities—language, dance and music—do not remain discrete entities but rather coalesce into an entirely new form of storytelling. From its inception, ballet has harnessed the power of dance to tell a story. However, dance in musical theater remained largely decorative until ballet giants George Balanchine and Agnes de Mille transformed Broadway by giving dance the same function as speech: to further plot and reveal character. In West Side Story, Robbins took it even
Street Signs Bass turned art into icon By Ed Johnson
lesley heller workspace October 26 - November 27, 2011
Gallery 1: Tom Kotik: Tone Gallery 2: Headcase John Dilg, Laurel Farrin, John Haskell, Ray Johnson (1927-1995), Jane Kent, Alex O’Neal, Julia Schwadron, Jonathan Seliger, James Siena, David Storey, Trevor Winkfield, Katarina Wong
Tom Kotik Ampeg, 2011 MDF, paint, felt 60” x 26” x 3”
54 Orchard Street New York NY 10002 (212) 410-6120 • firstname.lastname@example.org
14 CityArts | November 9–November 29, 2011
o talk about West Side Story’s logo is to talk about Saul Bass. Steven Spielberg called him one of the best filmmakers of our time. His work as a graphic designer—Bass designed the original logos for United Airlines and AT&T, among many others—still stands as some of the best “commercial art” of our time. And, of course, his memorable illustrations in support of films such as Spartacus and Vertigo grace the walls of movie lovers everywhere. The poster for the film version of West Side Story features many of the traits that would come to define Bass’ work. A simple red, white and black color scheme. An image, rendered in its most basic form, of dancing figures on a fire escape. Clear typography that not only communicates the obvious (the name of the movie) but also acts as subtle illustration, suggesting skyscrapers and gritty urbanity, letters
further. He transformed plot and character into movement, so even spoken scenes, like Anita’s contretemps with Maria after Tony has killed Bernardo, feel as if they’re in motion. Correspondingly, scenes that feel danced—the “Tonight” sequence leading up to the tragic showdown under the highway—are in fact not danced at all; they are, though not mundanely, “walked.” A similar phenomenon can be seen in Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a film in which all of the dialogue is sung. Like West Side Story, Umbrellas blurs the distinction between language and other storytelling modalities. In these two works of art, there is no distinction between the spoken word and the musical fact of song or dance. Though it’s possible to categorize Umbrellas as an opera and West Side Story as a ballet incorporating spoken text, doing so would miss the point of both works: Going way beyond being greater than the sum of their parts, they are films in which every part evolves into a new aspect of a new whole, whereby story becomes action becomes dance becomes character becomes song becomes voice becomes motion becomes story.
tightly spaced and jammed into each other like so many hastily constructed buildings. The image is at once evocative, mysterious and completely obvious. And that’s why it works. It’s effective commercially because it’s effective artistically. Too much of modern graphic design is only one or the other. As moviemaking grew as an art form over the 20th century, the attendant design that went along with it—the marketing—also matured. And not for the better. At this point, the vast majority of film posters consist of making the faces of pretty people really big. Now, the best posters are generally “teasers” released a year or two in advance of major movies that are forced into simplicity by the constraints of production. For the last several years, Internet design blogs have been awash in fan-made art for TV shows and movies. Much of it owes a debt directly to Saul Bass and his West Side Story evocative/obvious aesthetic. Which is curious. When consumers feel deprived enough to start marketing the things they buy to themselves, it might be time to rethink how movies are designed. They’re so pretty (and empty) we can hardly believe they’re real.
Utopian Variations Diana Ross and Pet Shop Boys go west By John Demetry
ver the past 50 years, the utopian hope of West Side Story’s “Somewhere” evolved from its BroadwayHollywood romantic origins to the political (Diana Ross & The Supremes) to the analytical (Pet Shop Boys). As the musical’s star-crossed lovers—white ethnic Tony and Puerto Rican Maria—recognize the racial tensions and urban gang violence keeping them apart, Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) answer this realization with the dream of “Somewhere.” The back-and-forth of a duet (“We’ll find a new way of living/ We’ll find a new way of forgiving”) expresses the formation of an ideal. Then, the two-part harmony makes that ideal The Supremes. tantalizingly, tragically felt: “Hold my hand and we’re halfway there.” Motown and The Supremes’ variations on “Somewhere” changed its context from story to history (the Civil Rights Movement). Prior to Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, Ross performed “Somewhere” with The Supremes at her side. Their harmonies stand in for the support of the beloved community. Ross’ vocalizations on the word “somewhere” expand the abstract into an appeal for achieving the actual. Motown realized the song’s activist potential. The spoken interlude, unique to Motown’s rendition, communicates King’s dream and ideology of non-violent protest in poetic terms: “Let our efforts be as determined as that of a little stream/ That saunters down the hillside/ Seeking its level/ Only to become/ A huge river/ Destined to the sea/ Yes...” After King’s death, The Supremes performed “Somewhere” on Motown’s 1968 TCB (Taking Care of Business) network television special with an updated interlude: “Let our efforts be as determined as that of Dr. Martin Luther King...” This replaced the metaphoric with the overtly
(righteously) political acknowledgement of racism. The program features Ross spotlighted alone in the dark. Her dress shimmers as she stands atop a stage raised like a starburst. The staging conveys a desire for transcendence. In 1997, the Pet Shop Boys’ “Somewhere” took audiences behind the scenes to the ideological context of pop and theatricality. “It tends to smell, because of the homeless.” This is how a stage manager describes a backstage doorway to the famed Savoy Theatre (home of Gilbert and Sullivan) in the music video for the Pet Shop Boys cover of “Somewhere.” In the video, directed by Annie Griffin as a backstage documentary of the PSB Savoy Somewhere concert residency, this line acts as a vocal cue marking the PSB switch-up from the song’s Br o a d w a y- s t y l e orchestral intro to their own disco update. Through this shift—and through Neil Tennant’s iconic vocal signification of gay experience— PSB transformed the song into an antihomophobia anthem. However, the video provides another level of cultural critique. PSB’s humane irony recognizes the musical theater, pop concerts and dance clubs as safe havens— the mythic “somewhere”—for fellow brothers in the struggle (the video highlights black male dancers in the rehearsals). The homeless man outside the door evokes the casualties of the fantasy industry. PSB’s variations on “Somewhere” (in song, video and on stage) exposed the racial, sexual and class politics resident in the commerce of art and entertainment. The Supremes’ expression of faith and the Pet Shop Boys’ sub-cult ingenuity testify to the struggles that haunt our leisure and challenge the comfortable classes with utopian imagination.
John Demetry tracks pop’s evolution in the years following 9/11 in his book The Community of Desire: Selected Critical Writings (2001–2007) available at www.lulu.com.
NEW YORK CITY CENTER & JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER PRESENT AN ENCORES! SPECIAL EVENT
A R SA L I S ON M YNT W h ts p o t. with us nig TRA fa m o ost HES m C s ’ R a eric R O t Am NTE CE rs a a N e y OL n’s INC gto llin T L E A e Z k Du JAZ ting b ra e l Ce
CONCEIVED BY JACK VIERTEL
SELEC TED TEX TS BY L ANGSTON HUGHES MUSIC DIREC TION BY WYNTON MARSALIS NYCIT YCENTER.ORG JALC.ORG
DIREC TED AND CHOREOGR APHED BY W A R R E N C A R LY L E
CITYTIX 212-581-1212 BOX OFFICE 131 W 55th Street (btw 6th and 7th)
November 9–November 29, 2011 | CityArts 15
A Landmark Soundtrack How West Side Story’s score became basic American vocabulary By Howard Mandel
or West Side Story, the score’s the thing. Even a first exposure to the 1957 original Broadway cast album or the 1961 Academy Award-winning movie soundtrack reveals this music to be the peak of the golden, pre-rock age of American song. Leonard Bernstein’s melodies are immediately catchy and unforgettable, yet on further listening are ever more complex and interconnected. Stephen Sondheim’s hard, sharp, wry yet openhearted lyrics are the perfect match. The story’s drama—love denied, à la Shakespeare—gains emotion
and context from the indissoluble fusion of words and tunes. Dance, thanks to the daring Jerome Robbins, springs from and reiterates the songs’ jagged, jazzy rhythms. Characters are defined by their tunes, moods are crystallized, incidents foretold. The effect is immediate and modern, though today we recognize the sounds as from a distant time, another place. There’s no big beat, ear candy or overt production. People sing without winking about how people in real life don’t sing. But remember—or imagine—leaving Broadway’s Winter Garden in ’57 or a movie palace anywhere in ’61, melodies and snatches of lyrics from “The Jet Song,” “Something’s Coming,” “Maria,”
Continued on page 17
Manhattan School of Music Upcoming Events NOV 18 / FRI / 7:30 PM
NOV 20 / SUN / 2:30 PM
OPERA SCENES: OF LOVE AND LOSS Christian Capocaccia, Conductor Richard Gammon, Director
Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater Dona D. Vaughn, Artistic Director
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Israel Gursky, Conductor Dona D. Vaughn, Director
DECEMBER 7, 9, & 11 Borden Auditorium
DEC 7 & 9 / WED & FRI / 7:30 PM DEC 11 / SUN / 2:30 PM $20 Adults | $12 Seniors & Students
OPERA PREVIEW DEC 7 / WED / 6 PM Greenfield Hall
Gordon Ostrowski, Assistant Dean of Opera Studies and Production FREE
122ND STREET AT BROADWAY | 917 493 4428 | WWW.MSMNYC.EDU © 2011 Manhattan School of Music. Program and artists subject to change.
16 CityArts | November 9–November 29, 2011
Manhattan School of Music
$10 Adults | $5 Seniors and Students
“Tonight,” “America,” “Cool,” “I Feel Pret- finger-snapping Russ “Riff” Tamblyn. My ty,” “Somewhere,” “Gee, Officer Krupke” brothers, friends and I acted out the tragic or “A Boy Like That” resounding with the role of Tony, all innocent expectation, raising voices with synconoise and speech of the pated emphasis, “I street. Such tense, tough, don’t know/ What it vernacular compressions is/But it is/Coming of narrative were new on my way.” We hissed stage and screen. like the Jets, “Boy, Frankness in song was boy, crazy boy, play known in the blues, cloaked it cool, boy,” though in R&B, circled in rockabilly we might not have and countrypolitan, alluded understood the truth to by Sinatra and had some of the mob appeal precedence in earlier musicaptured in Sondcals including Showboat, heim’s couplet “Little South Pacific, Pal Joey and boy, you’re a man/ Guys and Dolls. But the barely repressed angst of Though just a kid then, Little man, you’re a king.” West Side Story and its sudand a clumsy one at We tried out den flare-ups into murderthat, I recall being incongruous flaous violence were the stuff moves of opera, not Broadway or inspired by the pent-up menco Hollywood. energy of Bernstein’s in imitation of the sharp-suited Though just a kid then, and a clumsy one at that, instrumental prologue. Sharks and took on the tongue-rolling I recall being inspired by the pent-up energy of Bernstein’s instru- accent of Anita satirizing “Amer-EEE-kah.” mental prologue set in the gang-dominated We might have even draped ourselves playground to try to float while walking like in flimsy drag and pranced around, ask-
ing, “Who’s that pretty girl in the mirror, there?/ Who can that attractive girl be?/ Such a pretty face/ Such a pretty dress/ Such a pretty smile/ Such a pretty me!” The sheer lyricism Bernstein tapped for the love songs “Maria” and “Tonight” were impossible for us kids to spoof, and since then we’ve rarely encountered such outright idealism regarding romance (compare “Maria” to “Wild Thing,” “Tonight” to “Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night”). The movie’s purely instrumental episodes—the playground prologue, the dance in the gym, the rumble under the highway— were electrically exciting and remain so in the “Symphonic Dances” Bernstein forged from them for concert performance. Yet his dissonant intervals, slashing interjections, driving counterpoint and luminous, deceptively simple lines have generally resisted others’ interpretations—the jazz versions by Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Stan Kenton, Sarah Vaughan, André Previn, Dave Grusin and Buddy Rich add little to the originals. I think the West Side Story score fails in the resolution. Neither “One Hand, One Heart” nor “Somewhere” heal the Jets-Sharks feud or master the work’s underlying themes of miscegenation and assimilation. But all of
Borden Auditorium at Manhattan School of Music: The MSM Jazz Orchestra celebrates the 50th anniversary of the film version of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” with jazz arrangements of the award-winning score. Nov. 11, 120 Claremont Ave., 917-493-4428, msmnyc. edu; 7:30, $10. The Moldy Fig Jazz Club: Wade Barnes & The Bottom Line Ensemble perform. Every Mon., 178 Stanton St., moldyfigjazzclub.com; 8, $5. Rose Theater: Pablo Ziegler, Pipi Piazzolla, Paquito D’Rivera, Pablo Aslan & others perform the music of Astor Piazzolla. Nov. 11–12, Broadway at 60th St., 212-721-6500, jalc.org; 8 (with preconcert discussion at 7), $10+. these songs, from their moment of emergence, have made undeniable claims on our consciousness. When America heard West Side Story, the play’s way of expressing conflict, anticipation, romantic awe, flirtation, sarcasm, bravado and hope became our own, which is why, more than 50 years after its debut, it is continuously revisited in high school and community productions, in ads and jingles, as shorthand for states of being. The sentiments of West Side Story’s music reflected or became basic American vocabulary. There’s not much like it anymore, but this music is with us still.
Reach Howard Mandel at email@example.com.
If you tear down a world, what do you build? If the thing you were born to be is ripped away, what do you become?
RIchaRD II ∧ By William Shakespeare ∧ Directed by J.R. Sullivan
Now Playing through December 24, 2011 NYCityCenter.org
Honored with a 2011 Drama Desk Award www.pearltheatre.org NC 37 by Gerrit Greve (Corbis Images)
CityTix 212.581.1212 | STAGE II 131 West 55th Street (btwn 6th and 7th) The Pearl is supported in part by
November 9–November 29, 2011 | CityArts 17
Ballet Next: The newly launched company, founded by Michele Wiles of ABT & Charles Askegard of New York City Ballet, gives its premiere performance, featuring new works & classics by Balanchine & Petipa. Nov. 21, The Joyce Theater, 175 8th Ave., 212-242-0800, joyce.org; 7:30, $50+.
The Jets jetee in West Side Story
La MaMa E.T.C: 9 dancers & over 20 marionette puppets share the stage in this production of Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre’s “Golem.” Nov. 17–Dec. 4, Ellen Stewart Theatre, 66 E. 4th St., (212) 475-7710, www. lamama.org; $25. Laura Peterson’s “Wooden”: Audience members are guided through various environments that mimic the natural world in this design-oriented dance installation that marks the culmination of Peterson’s residency at HERE. End Nov. 12, 145 6th Ave., 212-352-3101, here.org; 8:30, $20. Miro Magloire’s New Chamber Ballet: The company presents a program of world premieres set to the music of John Cage, Michael Nyman, Dvorak & others. Nov. 18 & 19, City Center Studio 5, 130 W. 56th St., 5th Fl., 212-868-4444, newchamberballet.com; 8, $25. Raw Metal Dance Company: The Australian troupe fuses funk, tap, rock, acrobatics & beat-boxing in “Untapped.” Nov. 11–27, The New Victory Theater, 209 W. 42nd St., 646-223-3010, newvictory.org.
Robbins’ Road to Hollywood The ultimately disappointing journey of Jerome Robbins from Broadway to soundstage By Joel Lobenthal
erome Robbins, director and choreographer as well as primary conceptualist behind Broadway’s West Side Story in 1957, knew that filming it in 1960 was going to be problematic. He was more than aware of how easily his brainchild could devolve into cinematic cliché. The film’s producers hired Robbins as codirector with Robert Wise only because he exercised legal prerogatives that could not be contested. Robbins worked on the musical numbers, which are the highlights of the film. Once the dancing starts, we no longer worry about the possible incongruity of inner-city strife emerging out of a long tradition of musical comedy and operetta; we simply move to a zone of skill that doesn’t have to answer to or for anything. But Robbins wasn’t content to stay within the boundaries assigned to him. He had ideas about aspects of the filmmaking, so much so that he was fired before his work was done.
More input from Robbins might have been a good idea. Seen today, the movie suffers from the bloat of Hollywood hyperrealism as well as airless soundstage giganticism. It is art-directed to within an inch of credibility, and not at the highest level of imaginative sensibility, an approach worlds away from the distilled, peeledaway Broadway sets of Oliver Smith. Surprisingly, however, the juxtaposition of the location exteriors does not jar with the high stylization of much of the choreography. It’s when we get into the back lot and built sets that the transference of Romeo and Juliet to urban battleground shows a certain strain. Where the performers are concerned, the film is less than it might have been due to Hollywood’s then-and-forever preoccupation with photogenic marketability. Both Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert, Broadway’s Maria and Tony, were still barely 30 but were too old by Hollywood standards to convincingly transfer their roles to the screen. But there is more musical and emotional magic in their Ed Sullivan Show rendition of “Tonight” than what transpires between Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer’s (singing voices dubbed) screen time.
18 CityArts | November 9–November 29, 2011
Robbins had been thinking about West Side Story for almost 15 years, even before his first professionally produced ballet, 1944’s Fancy Free. West Side Story was not the first time that the Broadway musical had addressed tragedy and social consciousness, nor was it the first modernization of Shakespeare. But incontrovertible evidence of how different and innovative it was is the protracted difficulty its creators had in finding a producer. By the time production work began in early 1957, Robbins was undergoing a period of wrenching transition and emotional vulnerability. In the summer of 1956, New York City Ballet ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq’s marriage to NYCB founder and principal choreographer George Balanchine was ending. Le Clercq had married him in 1952 after having had some kind of love relationship with the bisexual Robbins. She had become Robbins’ preferred interpreter in the company as well as the ideal instrument for Balanchine’s work. Now she and Robbins were apparently resuming their relationship. But while on tour in Copenhagen with NYCB in October, she was stricken with
polio—Le Clercq never walked or danced again. She and Robbins were in constant communication, however, during the months of West Side Story. He realized that without her there he did not want to go back to NYCB, though he finally began creating ballets for the company again in 1969, by which time he had renounced the commercial theater. On the way to the screen, West Side Story lost the “Somewhere” ballet, one of the biggest pieces of the original dance quotient, but the long, uninterrupted dance numbers that are preserved maintain Robbins’ insistence on movement as equal partner with music and words. The swirling skirts, hips and shoulders of the women and the slinky, hopped-up staccato of the tough guys all give the movie an instantaneously recognizable imprint. Robbins’ fusion of jazz, ballet and flamenco organizes the film, giving it a platform of motival patterning. His choreography maintains the degree of intricacy needed to lend variety while maintaining maximum accessibility. Dance here can tell the story or more truly enlarge and comment upon the story. In West Side Story, it’s a pleasure to see dance confidently asserts its place without ever stepping out of place.
Read more by Joel Lobenthal at Lobenthal.com.
THE CITYARTS INTERVIEW
nder the agile leadership of Rose Kuo, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual New York Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, Rendezvous with French Cinema, and its many smaller programs in between provide platforms for gifted filmmakers and give NYC cinephiles viewing opportunities unequaled at local multiplexes. Kuo, who joined the Society in 2010 after heading Los Angeles’ AFI Fest and the Santa Fe Film Festival, led this year’s NYFF’s impressive lineup and debuted two cinemas, a coffee bar and an amphitheater for video art and panel discussions, all housed in the new Elinor Bunin Munroe Center. Kuo brings to the Society a lifetime of experience advocating for art cinema, a filmmaker’s knack for shepherding diverse, sometimes conflicting talents toward harmonious collaboration, and perhaps even a few welcome rays of sunny Californian perspective. [Elena Oumano]
It’s as if you’re a heroine who rescues beleaguered film organizations and restores them to greater glory. What is your recipe for success? My background as a filmmaker, where teamwork in everything is helpful. And I originally attended film festivals bringing films. That helps me understand what the experience should be and the possible pitfalls. All film festivals and organizations are trying to do the same thing—advance art cinema, lay the groundwork for future filmmakers and provide a forum for audiences and filmmakers to exchange ideas. That helps me remember the priorities of what we’re trying to do in support of filmmakers. Most of these organizations have very talented people on staff. Not-for-profit film exhibition attracts people who are passionate about films and cinephiles who want to be here and preserve this art form. It’s not so much recreating anything here as much as helping people do their best work. The art cinema world is one of very slim margins, and the people in this part of filmmaking are doing it out of passion for the art form. The people here love what they do and they want to do it well.
So it’s about giving them the tools and providing support. It’s as simple as that. You also advocate for the film viewer with the free programs the Society provides. Do you plan to expand that? This year, all our amphitheater talks were free. Growing up in the Midwest, in Kansas, I didn’t have much access to foreign films. I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and David Kimball ran the Williams Center Theater in a mall, which, in those days, was a way station where a film in transit to another theater was held for 24 hours, not shown but shipped back out. So he would get these prints and call a dozen friends: “OK, I’ve got so-and-so.” The theater would be shut down, and we’d pop popcorn and watch films from midnight until 3 a.m. In the late ’80s, I lived in Paris and went to the MK2 Theaters at the Georges Pompidou Center every weekend—so often that the theater staff recognized me and, after a few months, I didn’t have to pay. I remember their benevolence. That was part of my film education, as well as the Film Center at the Art Institute of Chicago (now the Gene Siskel Film Center), when Richard Peña ran it. I still remember a Romanian film series he put on and a black-and-white film called Chained Justice [dir. Dan Pita]. People understood that I loved seeing films when I couldn’t afford to see everything but they shared these roots with me. I want to do that for someone else. Do you want to liaise with schools? We started collaborating with the Bronx’s Ghetto Film School. We’re reaching out to another school. Rather than starting from scratch building a new program, programs have been started by people who are much better and more knowledgeable about film education and a lot of great ones are in place. We thought that along with our mission we could offer support. Richard Peña [who ends 23 years as the Society’s program director at the conclusion of 2012’s 50th NYFF] is going to head our new educational initiative. During NYFF this year, we introduced new programs for younger audiences, including a restoration of Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush with the New York Philharmonic live, performing Timothy Brock’s
adaptation of Chaplin’s 1942 sound version. Even if you’d seen that film a dozen times, viewing it on a big screen in Alice Tully Hall was stunning, and several hundred kids were laughing, practically falling out of their chairs. We’re really talking about developing visual literacy, especially for silent and foreign films because audiences are now resistant to subtitles. We partnered with Gkids, which produced the Children’s International Film Festival here. They insisted we show a subtitled film, and we found younger audiences surrender to the film image, even not understanding every detail. Can we talk about the differences between New York and Los Angeles? What I love about Los Angeles is everybody loves movies—from the dry cleaning
person to the gas station attendant. Everybody dreams and wishes they were working in the industry. It’s a city of dreamers, so everybody is open to the possibility of something unimaginable happening to them. I love that energy. New York embraces international cinema, and for what we do there is no other town, except maybe Paris, another city of film watchers and lovers. Everybody here doesn’t want to work in the industry, but they love watching movies. They love the performing arts; they embrace them and are extremely knowledgeable. New Yorkers want to be the first to know about something and embrace it. There is no other place in the U.S. quite like New York for art cinema, for showing the most obscure works and introducing brand new talent.
November 9–November 29, 2011 | CityArts 19
Beam Me Down, Lars Take Shelter from Melancholia By Armond White
ars von Trier’s new prank Melancholia collides with Amerindie Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter. Both films are about facing Armageddon, but it’s hard to prefer the attitude of either. Nichols (who made the surprisingly timely, heartfelt Shotgun Stories) charts the pulse of American dissatisfaction to a remarkable, recognizable degree. But von Trier’s Eurotrash decadence is so insistently pessimistic that this time his phoniness is almost captivating—it feels less annoying than Nichols’ sincerity. Make no mistake: Melancholia is not at all enjoyable—its title is especially unfunny because it’s meant to be a joke. A planet on course to crash into Earth is named Melancholia to match the depressed mood of a young bride (Kirsten Dunst) and her jealous, paranoid sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who are stuck on palatial, Marienbad-like grounds somewhere in Europe. In Take Shelter, Ohio miner Curtis (Michael Shannon) suffers a nervous breakdown when he envisions storms and weather changes as signs of catastrophe, disrupting his work and family life. There’s an unavoidable political dimension to Nichols’ fear, as there was in Shotgun Stories; his sense of terror seems to arise from a post-9/11 social dissatisfaction that most filmmakers, repeating blue state attitudes, don’t even think about. The paranoia in Take Shelter goes way beyond the mainstream media’s Hurricane Katrina apologetics. Something worse is coming, Nichols suggests, and it’s not just in Curtis’ head. (A church social freak-out turns him into a millennial prophet.) Given Curtis’ workplace distractions and income expenditures, the coming catastrophe is vaguely social, perhaps tied to the current recession. Yet Nichols has no sense of metaphor (and thankfully lacks a political pundit’s shamelessness). Instead, his one-track realism—which felt powerful and inevitably tragic and cathartic in Shotgun Stories—becomes agitated and overwrought, especially when the naturalistic performances by Shannon, Jessica Chastain as
Kirsten Dunst in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. his wife and Shea Whigham as a trusting coworker are put into exaggerated, horrormovie contexts. The mounting fear doesn’t gain credibility—it just seems as if Curtis has beamed up to the planet Melancholia. But in von Trier’s perverse wedding party, a pathologically fickle bride, Justine (Dunst), offends her guests and cheats on her husband (Alexander Skarsgård), then indulges her sister and brother-in-law’s (Kiefer Sutherland) fears of the apocalypse. This allows von Trier to mock his own Dogme peers (1999’s The Celebration) while pointedly offering an anti-humanist retort to Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married. It’s a hostile gesture that confirms that Demme’s life-force comedy had indeed uncovered the foundation of contemporary social anxiety and agape and so must be rebutted. In von Trier’s smash-the-planet, chopdown-Malick’s-Tree-of-Life mode, he touches upon modern skepticism as well as age-old Christian anxieties to no perceiv-
20 CityArts | November 9–November 29, 2011
able purpose other than to deride them. Art mockery is this prankster’s stock-in-trade. Von Trier, who is not untalented, makes pretty pictures of waste, dejection, hopelessness and entropy, first with a pre-credit montage of mysterious, frightening prophecies staged in slow-motion dioramas. These images are strikingly aestheticized but banal tableaux, the kind typically seen in music videos—which the audience then has to sit through again in von Trier’s dragged out, aimless narrative. Melancholia’s glossy, stylized, repetitive slickness contrasts Nichols’ straightforward blue-collar anxiety. Von Trier’s joke is making the fantastic meet the mundane, but Nichols doesn’t go for jokes. He suffers with his Middle American characters, partaking of their eschatological neuroses. Von Trier and Nichols both dispense with a spiritual or religious explanation for their end-times visions, they simply wait for the end of the world; one with a sick grin, the other with a no more helpful sense of destiny.
How does one take shelter from Melancholia? Maybe by watching more substantive and stimulating movies like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Colombiana and Attack the Block. Unfortunately, the art house pretense that got von Trier’s Melancholia into the New York Film Festival isn’t so different from the indie nihilism that Nichols succumbs to in Take Shelter. Both fail similarly: von Trier exploits the what’s-it that’s got Nichols aggrieved, and each film is a modern demonstration of secular panic in the face of the ineffable. Curtis’ obsession with building a storm shelter recalls the mania that gripped Richard Dreyfuss’s Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. One of that film’s many rich levels suggested that Neary’s unknowable drive also came from a great, inexplicable inspiration—essentially an artistic impulse. In the end, von Trier’s bride and Nichols’ grunt are not artists or believers; they’re just fashionably doomed.
Playing Footsie Another remake stumbles By Gregory Solman The new Footloose settles for a nearly scene-by-scene narrative retelling and at times a frame-by-frame recreation of the dance sequences from the original. Only the ugly new narrow-mindedness against the South and straw man arguments against the growing menace of Presbyterian totalitarians have been revised to reinforce modern prejudice. Nonetheless, some missing dance moments at the movie’s end stand out. In 1984, with Hollywood already playing catch-up to the music video culture beginning to hustle into popular consciousness, old-school Brooklynite director Herb Ross (to whom the remake is dedicated) used the delayed gratification of the prom dance finale to survey contemporary dance moves, introducing some never-before seen ringers in the movie: a remarkably boneless robot dancer; a Latino-coded, suspendered, Russian-influenced gymnastic kicker; a whirling blond throwing
her heavy chest around; and line dancing belatedly influenced by Travolta in Urban Cowboy. Still, none of the dancing carried the thrill of Ross’ Pennies from Heaven (1980), when both Steve Martin and Christopher Walken demonstrated Depressionera dance styles with élan and nerve. Despite casting leads with professional dance backgrounds—the Sal Mineocoifed Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough as Ren and Ariel—new Footloose director Craig Brewer repeats the largely editorial trickery of Kevin Bacon’s angry abandoned warehouse dance (which holds some blame for Billy Elliot), reduces Ariel to strip-pole churning and midriff display and truncates the final scene even further, to the point where viewers may well feel they’ve seen nothing new—as indeed they have not. A half-century after West Side Story, movies leave the impression that if dance is not dead, it shuffles like a zombie—and not one from “Thriller.” In the new Footloose, Ariel’s deflowering by a car-racing cad comes before Ren’s influence on her and the remarkably unfettered under-
Kenny Wormald in Footloose. ground Gomorrah of Bomont, Ga. The symbolic fertility rite essence of dance has been displaced from pre- to post-seduction, with Ren lecturing Ariel on the trap of empty sex as rebellion, after which “the sweat’s gonna dry and you’re still going to feel like shit.” Now, shall we dance? In movies like last year’s Step Up 3D, moves bear little relation to the modernized step dancing of Southern college folk tradition. Instead, it’s more of the same: robot/mime (which modern choreographers still use to express the dehumanization of us Metropolis automatons), dusty Michael Jackson moves (lead dancer Adam Sevani even looks like Harpo Marx meets
M.J. through Michael Cera) and an almost impossibly abnormal hip-hop athleticism, head spins and chest bumps invoking the aggressive black street gestures that traverse African masculinity to the martial arts mat. During these solo muscular displays, women are practically irrelevant except as spectators. Even when equal time forces their turn on the floor, they come off as wan imitators, girls throwing footballs. This makes movie dance seem, irony of ironies, as chauvinistic as the tribal rites in Once Were Warriors, as antisocial as striptease. And thus does dance divorce romance.
INVENTORY SALE Pens at 30% off
Great savings on Aurora, Sensa, Pelikan, Cross, Waterman and more! Shop online at www.jasonoffice.com
212-279-7455 • 800-875-7455 Monday-Friday 7am-6pm 140 West 31st Street between 6th & 7th Aves November 9–November 29, 2011 | CityArts 21
TWO SHOWS ONE ADMISSION | THE JAVITS CENTER | NOVEMBER 18•19•20 2011
The Gift of Art
NYC from the artists’ studios
At the Contemporary Art Fair NYC & American Craft Show NYC
How artists can utilize the web to build an audience, gain new collectors and explore social media to involve potential collectors in their creative process. Also Live Painting. Natasha Wescoat Speaker & Demo
and the Midwest and honed our expertise at our American When art fair and craft show producers like us select Craftsman Galleries—three in Manhattan and one each our exhibitors, we pick the most compelling, creative, in Savannah, Ga. and Stockgifted artists and artisans from the thoubridge, Mass. sands we see every year to enchant and In these pages, we’ve shown entice visitors. We look for exceptional the work of only a few of the work, execution, perspective and flair. 200 exhibitors you will see the We do the job ourselves. That’s because weekend before Thanksgivwe share with you a passion for art and aring. We can hardly wait for you tistic endeavors–painting, sculpture, and to experience what we have photography as well as fine crafts such as in store at the Javits Center. furniture, fashion, jewelry, glass and ceAlong with the excitement of ramics. Just like you, we feel delight and the hunt for wonderful objects excitement with a discovery. Long ago we and art you’ll have the chance tired of mind-numbing artwork, trite decoraRICHARD & JOANNA ROTHBARD to hear artists speak about tive elements, ordinary fashion and jewelry. We’ve nurtured and supported arts and crafts for both over esoteric and practical subjects. Some will paint on the spot, and others will conduct demonstrations. 30 years through shows in NYC, the Berkshires, Florida
visit www.AmericanArtMarketingNYC.com for discount coupon MEMORIES OF EVERYDAY | “Growing up in Senegal, life and art shared the same space. I fill my canvases with intense and basic colors, crisply painted shapes, and meticulous detail. I work without conventional representational techniques. I paint straightforward narratives, stories of my journey and memories of everyday experiences.” Michel Delgado Booth 103
ETHICAL ART “My work is a study in contrasts. Iron with high karat gold. Contemporary yet primal. Earthy and elegant. Simple while bold. Black and gold. The heavens and the earth. Personal but universal. The work is created in the most conscientious and low tech manner possible utilizing 95% recycled post-consumer metals and conflict free stones, with minimal carbon footprints. Few toxic solutions are used, and they are neutralized before safe disposal.” Chris Nelson Booth 169
22 CityArts | November 9–November 29, 2011
Noted West Coast graffiti artist “Shen” is rated as one of the top airbrush artists in the country. She speaks about how artists can market themselves in new, fun and creative ways. Also Live Painting. Shen| Speaker & Demo
“My animals are sculptures with attitudes that respect the clay and the looks of the creatures themselves.” Patricia Simons | Demo DREAM REALITY | “I want to visually articulate what is around us all the time but we do not see or notice until we are reminded. My work often emphasizes the unreachable: Less than reality, more than a dream. Trying to find the meeting place where dreams overlap with reality and individual experiences surface. It‘s about diving into imagination and being comfortable with wherever you end up.” Ashley Benton | Booth H51
Prescription for Pleasure Art is a natural anti depressant--brilliant pigments--creamy textures--sensual curves. There’s no denying its power to stir our senses. The American Craft Show NYC and Contemporary Art Fair NYC, unlike any other NYC art event, achieve the ambiance of a timeless festival. Enter a multimedia event that celebrates all forms of creativity. Even the concept is distinctive: two individual shows that coexist within the same setting, one art, and the other crafts. This elevates the art of browsing into a true interactive adventure. Amidst the isles, you’ll discover art-in-action with special events and lectures. Fine art aficionados, perusing the isles for an addition to their collections, are just as at ease as shoppers seeking a one-of-a-kind handcrafted keepsake–a holiday gift that will be cherished forever. Absorb the beauty. Allow it to transform your day. Whether it’s a neo realist oil portrait from an underground Parisian painter, a copper figurative by a local sculptor, or stained glass panel from a brilliant young craftsman, you’ll find your niche here. We believe there’s more to art and craft than meets the eye. Instead of merely shopping, discover what inspired your fantastic find, straight from the artisan whose hands shaped it. From all over the world, artists have gathered, not simply to display their works, but also to bring voices to the forces behind their visions. Art is a necessity. It’s essential to wellbeing. That’s why we’ve created an environment for hundreds of artists and crafts-people to show their works, and flourish. So go ahead, give yourself an art-break. Engage your sense of wonder. Discover what moves you. But most of all—soak up all the great positive energy—Art is the best medicine!
THE UNMADE BED PROJECT |“Following an accident in my studio, I was relegated to bed and thus began an incredible study of our relationship with the bed in all its visual, literary and narrative forms. More than a third of our life is spent in bed, yet rarely has it been examined through a multi-faceted work of art.” Leah Poller | Booth 110 PRESENTED BY
An American Craftsman Galleries Manhattan at Times Square Hotel 790 7th Avenue & 52nd Street Gallery 55 150 W 55th Street Madison Avenue 941 Madison Ave (by the Whitney Museum)
TWO SHOWS ONE ADMISSION | THE JAVITS CENTER | NOVEMBER 18•19•20 2011
REPURPOSING THE PAST | With so much being thrown away, how can one use reclaimed refuse, (i.e. cheap raw materials), to make something useful and pleasing to the eye? A barn-studio in rural Ohio, deep in the heart of Amish country is where over 100 designs from re-claimed oak barrels are made and 50 plus designs from found metal objects, like piano harps, big chains, giant gears and huge sawblades. Chris Deffenbaugh | Booth 149
PHOTO: JERRY JOSEPHBERG
We spoke with figurative sculptor, Bob Clyatt, about what makes him tick creatively. The result: an inside peek into an artist’s life in action.
Donald McCoy, Jr. Booth 134 www.donmccoyjewelry.com
What made you choose sculpture? | I think sculpture picks you, not the other way around. One day I was helping my son on a school project, making a clay minotaur, and it was like a buzzing noise in my ears just took over as I was wetting and shaping the clay–couldn’t stop. At that point I started eight years of formal studies, with the best figurative sculpture teachers I could find. Lots of anatomy studies along the way, too. What do you enjoy most about the medium? | You have to be part handyman, part craftsman and part artist. I am on my feet, moving around, at the workbench, working on the piece itself, firing and glazing, gluing or welding. At the end I have a piece, which exists in the same space we live in–a real thing in the world, which conveys ideas and emotions. How does the clay feel in your hands? | It has different moods–sometimes smoother–sometimes drier. Clay is earth, millions of years old, holding it and working with it somehow connects me to something ancient.
Valerie Bunnell Booth 199 www.valeriebunnell.com
Your pieces have an unusual crackled look. How is that done? | After a clay piece dries it’s ready for its first firing, in an electric kiln, and then comes glazing. I mix my own glazes and usually fire the pieces a second time in the raku kiln, a gas-fired kiln. I take the pieces out, red-hot, using Kevlar gloves, leather jacket and a facemask. Then I place them into a canister with leaves, sticks and natural materials and clamp a lid on top. As the piece cools in the smoky can, the carbon is sucked into the piece forming the cracks and deposits, which give the raku-fired figures their distinctive look. Walk us through your process. | Often I work out a new pose with my model. I think a lot about freedom and restrictions. My work and life seem preoccupied with trying to get a glimpse back to something lost or forgotten–like trying to remember a dream upon waking. How does inspiration hit you? | Each piece needs to relate to the ideas that inform and inspire my work on multiple levels. It should look interesting, feel and resonate in an attention-grabbing way, and also nestle into the back of the mind with a grain of something that keeps you thinking. Bob Clyatt | Booth 102
SEE WHAT LAST YEAR’S VISITORS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE CRAFT SHOW AND ART FAIR 2010! “Oh my, was I suprised and impressed. I spent a lot.” –RAE SIROTTA “I came with friends, we spent four hours shopping and loved it all.” –SUSAN KRAMER “I was so thrilled with the work at this show after being completely disappointed at the One of A Kind Show.” –DENISE STERN “A classy, funky, high quality event.” –MELINDA JONES “One of the most interesting and fun shows I have been to. Fabulous quality and work I have never seen before. ” –JADE GAROZZO
Lady-Syll Designs www.ladysyll.net
“My wife said she wanted to go. I made the trip, it was worth it. We found and bought some great work” –JOSEPH RUBIN “So much going on, it was fun. I bought beautiful pottery .” –LYNN BABCOCK
David & Kimberly Lotton Booth 181 www.lotton.com November 9–November 29, 2011 | CityArts 23
NYC from the artists’ studios
TWO SHOWS ONE ADMISSION THE JAVITS CENTER NOVEMBER 18•19•20
Scheduled Events at the Contemporary Art Fair NYC & American Craft Show NYC FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20
KEYNOTE SPEAKER George J.E. Sakkal: ”Duchampian Postmodern Art Theory is False” 3 pm
SPEAKER Mel Smothers: “Dear Andy” 11:45 am
SPEAKER Natasha Wescoat “Creation and Online Curation” 4:15 pm DANCE Jennifer Muller/The Works: World-renowned contemporary dance company combines dance/theater ONLY and visual arts. 5:00 pm-ONLY SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19 SPEAKER Jennifer Bakalar: “Beyond Arts and Crafts: The new DIY” 12 noon
Janis Cutler Gear Booth 20 www.naturesnestpottery.com
SPEAKER David Pollack: “Immersion Art” 12:30 pm KEYNOTE SPEAKER George J.E. Sakkal: ”Duchampian Postmodern Art Theory is False” 2 pm ON-GOING DEMONSTRATIONS The Great Nude Sketching: Grab a pad and pencil and start to draw. You need not be an artist, just have FUN!
SPEAKER Jerelyn Hanrahan: “Process to Product” 1:00 pm
Patricia Simons: Clay sculpture hand building
SPEAKER Shen: “Envision!!!” 2 pm
Shen: Live Painting
KEYNOTE SPEAKER George J.E. Sakkal: ”Duchampian Postmodern Art Theory is False” 3 pm
Jennifer Bakalar: Live Painting
ADMISSION Adult $16.00 Seniors $14.00 Students $8.00 Children under 10 FREE
Bob Clyatt www.clyattsculpture.com 24 CityArts | November 9–November 29, 2011
Natasha Wescoat: Live Painting
Nick Rosato: Woodturning
For more show details visit
AmericanArtMarketingNYC.com Presented by
An American Craftsman Galleries
SHOW HOURS Fri Nov 18 2pm-7pm Sat Nov 19 10am-7pm Sun Nov 20 10am-4pm
Chris Nelson, Goldsmith www.urban-armour.com
Marsha Fleisher www.loominus.com
Published on Nov 9, 2011
The November 9, 2011 issue of cityArts. CityArts, published twice a month (20 times a year) is an essential voice on the best to see, hear...