Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cesnola, the Cultural Criminal

Limestone head of a bearded man
Cypriotic, Archaic, early 6th Century B.C.
Said to be from Golgoi

From early bronze age to the end of antiquity
Cyprotic Art

Should I have started my "Live-in" Sessions at the Met chronologically, the Cesnola collection would be the right place to begin. With that I mean, one of the first official collections that the Metropolitan began with.
Luigi Palma di Cesnola 1832-1904

Cesnola was a self-proclaimed General when he was sent as an American consul to the Cyprotic Islands. An opportunist that had been arrested during the war among the States for trying to create mutiny by attempting to lure the regiments troops away to fight under him. 
At first he hated being in Cypros, but then he met the English consul and found out that there was an abundance of ancient relics of Greek, Egyptian, Persian and Arabian heritage buried there. Cesnola quickly turned himself into an archeologist and dealer, and later he was looking for a home for his loot.

A home it found, the New York Historical society had made their intentions clear to establish a museum and art Gallery for the public in Central Park in the 1860's.
By 1872 the Museum opened and in 1873 the collection of Cesnola and also the Blodgett paintings (174 European paintings, only 64 is still in the Metropolitans collection, the rest seen as fakes and copies) opened to the general public. But the building as we know it in Central Park did not "finish" before 1902, since then there has been many extensions and changes. Maybe the reason why the building can be a puzzle to go through sometimes.
With this collection, Cesnola also managed to wiggle himself in to become the first Director of the Metropolitan Museum from 1879 until his death in 1904.

The Cesnola Collection is now considered the most important and comprehensive of Cypriotic Art.

Terracotta flask
Cypriot, Cypro-Geometric III
Black on Red I
Ca. 850-750 B.C.

 Terracotta Jug
Cypriot, Cypro-Archaic II
ca. 600- 480 B.C.

Terracotta trick vase
Cypriot, Cypro-Archaic I
ca. 750-600 B.C.
Said to be from Episkopi

I just had to show you these two vases with female "attributes" Incredible? It feels wonderful to have a quick little giggle while you watch such a serious collection.

Marble anthropoid sarcophagus
Graeco-Phoenician, Classical,
last quarter of the 5th Century B.C.

Simple and few human features, but you still can see it is supposed to be a female sarcophagus with the long locks.

Limestone Herakles
Cypriot, Archaic, ca 530-520 B.C.

Herakles was important to the Cypriotic people, he was the only Greek hero that was accepted by the Gods.

Roman Jewelry
Gold and amethyst earrings and ring
1st century A.D.

This last picture comes out a bit dark so it is hard to see the gorgeous purple amethyst. But, hopefully you can imagine it?

I am reading the book "Rogue Gallery" by Michael Gross right now, a book describing the History of the Metropolitan. Not always to the Metropolitan´s liking. The book is not sold in their shop...

"Cesnola is remembered, if all, as a cultural criminal who looted and pillaged and stole not just objects but an irreplaceable opportunity to learn about the past. On Cyprus, his is considered a rapist who thought his victims lesser beings who didn't appreciate their own culture..." (page 64)

Pretty rough telling about the first Director of our beloved Metropolitan. 

"Behind almost every painting is a fortune
and behind that a sin or a crime"

With this I will leave you to continue reading in "Rouges Gallery" More updates to follow:)

With Love

Monday, November 29, 2010


Summer Letter 

Brice Marden
Letters (2006-2010)
Matthew Marks Gallery

Don´t underestimate Brice Marden, he is supposedly the 4th richest artist in the world.
Right up there after the greatest "Star" Artists that we hear about all the time; Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Murakami. Following Brice Marden you have Julian Schnabel, Anish Kapoor (also a surprise to me) and Jasper Johns. (according to Artinfo).

First Letter

Brice Marden started his career in the 70´s with his monochromatic paintings. He was in high demand and invested his money well. His prices are still strong, and at the opening of "Letters", there were quite  a "buyer looking" crowd that turned up. Were we still using cash I am sure we could have heard the coins clicking...
The younger crowd though seemed less interested and tended to rather mingle in the lobby, on their way out...

Second Letter (Zen Spring)

Letter About Rocks #3, Blue Ground

These enormous 244 x 366 cm (96 x 144 in) Oil on linen paintings were originally inspired by chinese calligraphy from the 11th Century.  

While his MoMA retrospective was still on view, Marden embarked on a round-the-world trip. His first stop was Taipei, where he saw a Sung dynasty poem by Huang T’ing-chien called “Seven-character Verse” at the National Palace Museum.
  - from the press release, Matthew Marks Gallery

Red Ground Letter

The longer I think about these "Letters" the more they grow on me.
In the end the dancing lines feels quite illuminating.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving weekend!

With Love

(The shown here are all inserts.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Flowering Limb


Flowering Limb, 1963

Lee Krasner (1908-1984)
Paintings 1959-1965
Robert Miller Gallery

It is hard to look at Lee Krasner's paintings without the memory of the brilliant Oscar (best supporting actress) performance that Marcia Gay Hayden did in "Pollock" the Movie. I can just picture Lee Krasner being just like that.

Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock

I therefore had to add a picture of the famous couple so I can focus on who she really was.

After the Storm, 1963

 (insert) After the Storm

I get terribly excited about the legendary women in art when I get to see them, sadly there are too few. But, let us at least appreciate the once we can find. I therefore on Thursday jumped at the occasion to go to the opening of one of the few female Abstract Expressionist's show at the Robert Miller Gallery in Chelsea.

This gorgeous large "After the Storm" painting is sort of an association to her terror of thunder as a child and Jackson Pollock's response to his drunken behavior "Think of it as a storm, it will pass."

 (Insert) Moontide, 1961

(Insert) Kufic, 1965

 During this period Lee Krasner was suffering from chronic insomnia, that resulted in these burnt umber, cream and white work.

"I realized that if I was going to work at night, I would have to knock color out altogether, because I wouldn't deal with color except in daylight."

(insert) Messenger, 1959

Seeded, 1960

Pollock's deadly car accident happened in 1956, so these paintings came after his time. Was her "Vigil" a result of this? Like a devotional watching over the dead. Probably, but I still like to see her independent from him. Although, she actually had an important influence on his career and legacy, he still is the one that people tend to remember.

 Vigil, 1960

With the Flowering Limb and the Bird Image Krasner turned back to nature for inspiration. After struggling with a broken wrist she found a way to use her fingertips, she made them move her left hand around in order to paint. These are probably my favorites from this series.

Bird Image, 1963

Marcia Tucker describes her in "A short life of trouble" after she put up a solo show for her in 1970, at the Whitney.

"When I finished placing the paintings, I called her and told her the show was ready for her to look at. She harrumphed and hung up. Twenty minutes later, there she was, wrapped in a fur coat, looking and acting like her Majesty the Queen. She sailed by me without saying hello and marched through the fourth floor as though she were reviewing the troops, hoping to find at least one soldier with scuffed boots or bad posture. I trailed her at a distance, not wanting to be in the line of fire if something displeased her, but she didn't say a word. Forty-five minutes later, I caught up with her as she leaned against the wall in one of the small back galleries. "You know," she was murmuring to herself, "I'm a pretty damn good painter."
(page 105)

With Love

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Overcoat (2004)

Opening 17th of Nov.

Yes, and Charles LeDray he WORKS he really WORKS and impressively so.
Last night, was one of the funniest openings I have been to in a while. Reaching over the 3rd floor of the Whitney, miniature suits, ties, hats and puppets are decorating walls and floors. In glass vitrines there are carved bone miniature sculptures and thousands of glazed ceramic pieces, like tiny vases. Some sections are filled with all white ceramics and others with all black. There are also sections with multiple colors. All of the sculptures, read ALL of them are different from each other and made single handedly by Charles LeDray himself.


Part of 2000 pots

“With his sometimes diminutive, meticulously made objects . . . the New York artist Charles LeDray thinks giant thoughts.”
- New York Times

“you might just think you stumbled onto the set forGulliver’s Travels.”
The Village Voice

Mens suits

We used a little too long time downstairs with our drinks before we ventured upstairs to the exhibit, by that time I think the artist had left, unfortunately. I did meet him once before though, at the Sperone Westwater opening where he was raving about my miniature top hat. I was making jokes with him and thought he worked at the Gallery. What I did not know and discovered later, when I came home was that he is the KING of miniature "EVERYTHING", hats, ties, suits, keys, you name it. Charles LeDray though is a large man, kind looking, like a cute Teddy Bear.

Toy Chest (2005/2006)

The “work” in LeDray’s repetitious title can function as either a noun or verb, reflecting the vast amount of objects, the lengthy and laborious task of creating them, or the basic need to labor in order to survive.
  - Whitney
Come together 1995/1996

If you want to see a fun and enticing exhibit, check out Charles LeDray at the Whitney. I was not allowed to take pictures unfortunately, so these are borrowed. But, the New York Magazine took plenty of me and my gorgeous girlfriends Linda and Alice so maybe you will see us there?

With Love

(Photographs Tom Powel. Courtesy of Sperone Westwater)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another adventure at the Met

Marble Female figure
Cycladic, Final Neolithic,
Ca. 4500-4000 B.C

Greek and Roman Art

This section of the Metropolitan has recently experienced a 15 year renovation. It has a completely different feel then the Egyptian section, it feels more open, like a breath of fresh air. But sometimes that makes it slightly more difficult to stay focused. I decided to go for a guided tour. A guided tour might seem slightly old fashioned at times, but if you want to learn essentials quickly, then it can be quite a treat. After the tour I went back through the immense collection and took pictures of some of the highlights that I wanted to share with you.

Marble Female figure
Cycladic, Final Neolithic,
Ca. 4500-4000 B.C

This is a gorgeous fertility sculpture from the Cyclades. Cyclades is the Greek Island group in the Aegean sea (South-east of the mainland). Interesting the focus on the butt (I adore the idea), nowadays would you say it is breast's or butt's that takes the focus of a fertility symbol?

Marble seated harp player
Cycladic, late Early Cycladic I - Early Cycladic II
ca. 2800 - 2700 B.C.

One of the earliest sculptures of a musician, with perfectly molded arms and hands.

Terracotta vase in the form of a bull´s head
Minoan, Late Minoan II, ca. 1450-1400 B.C.

Minoan Art (Greek) time is represented by gem engraving, metalwork, stoneworking, and pottery, also mostly found in burial sites.
This terracotta vase is a sort of offering device to the Gods. Where it would be filled with liquid and poured out through the animals muzzle.

 Terracotta stirrup jar with octopus
Helladic (Mycenaean) late Helladic IIIC
Ca. 1200-1100 B.C.

Having been overwhelmed with these types of pottery in Greece, that is being copied over and over again. I must admit it is hard to bring out fascination for these again. But the Octopus legs...

Terracotta amphora (jar)
Greek, Attic, red figure, ca 490 B.C.

...And learning about the difficult and intricate makings of these pots, won me over...

Marble Statue of a Kouros (youth)
Greek, Attic, ca. 590-580 B.C.

I ended up in front of one of the earliest marble statues of human figures carved in Attica.

Pair of eyes
Bronze, marble, frit, quartz and obisidian
Probably Greek, 5th Century B.C. or later

Eyes for Greek and Roman statues were usually made separately and put into prepared sockets later.
Quite a haunting pair. (inspiration for Stanley Kubrick's film "A clockwork orange?)

Glass vessels
Eastern Mediterranean, core-formed, Mediterranean Group.
5th Century B.C.

Since I am in a comparative mood, I will continue here with these gorgeous vessels. If you look closely do they remind you of the patterns that the designer Missoni uses? 

Set of bronze armor
Greek, South Italian, Apulian, ca. 330 B.C.

Ancient Armor are at times quite representative of the art form at the time.

Gold Olive wreath
Greek, 4th Century B.C.

Funerary wreath was a popular burial offering. But they could also be worn at festivals and presented as prizes. Both Men and Women would wear gold wreaths in the ancient Greece.

Gold openwork hairnet with medallion
Greek, Ptolemaic, ca. 200 - 150 B.C.

This hairnet is actually quite large, which tells you how long and thick hair (or wigs) the women must have had.

Part of three wall paintings from a reception hall
roman, late Republican, ca. 50-40 B.C.

These probably represented a dynastic marriage. I only have the first panel here, with the probably important lady playing the stringed instrument and the child part of the ruling family.

Wall paintings from a Cubiculum Nocturnum (Bedroom)
Roman, late Republican ca. 50-40 B.C.

The technique here is called the fresco technique, you can see an insert bellow. This specific large wall fresco is among the most complete and important that has survived. The room has been reconstructed to get a more realistic impression, and it does look quite impressive.

 Marble bust of Herodotos (ca. 484-424 B.C.)
Roman, Imperial period, 2nd century A.D.
Copy of a Greek bronze statue of the 1st half of the 4th century B.C.

This is the man best known for being the "Father of History", by the way he described the origins of the Greeco-Persian Wars. Systematically and factually.

Marble funerary altar of Cominia Tyche
Roman, Flavian or Trajanic period, ca A.D. 90-100

This is the front of an altar to honor a woman and her death at 27 years old. She wears a fashionable hairstyle popular among the imperial court in the late Flavian period (A.D. 69-96)

 Couch and footstool with bone carvings and glass inlays
Roman 1st-and 2nd Century A.D.

To make this a representable piece of furniture they have brought together many similar pieces and reconstructed them to this one. You can't see it from this picture, but the couch has very long legs and therefore seem slightly awkward to us today, but nonetheless a beautiful piece.

The Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel
A.D. 300 

This huge mosaic floor was uncovered in 1996, but not lifted from the ground before 2009.
It is exhibited to the public for the first time at the Met. It will only be at the Met until April 2011 so if you want to see it you have to hurry.

Bronze Chariot inlaid with Ivory
Etruscan 2nd quarter of 6th Century B.C.

The Etruscans was from the part of Italy we now know as Tuscany, they were heavily inspired by Greecian art since they had a strong trading relationship. 
I have actually been to one of the Etruscian museums outside of Firenze a long time ago and I remember how in awe I was, but how I wish I remember what the place was called....
This spectacular chariot has a prominent place on top of the mezzanine and with that I leave the Romans and the Greek for today.

Tonight I will move to the Contemporary world and visit the opening of Charles LeDray's opening at the Whitney tonight. On with my Armory and mascara!

With Love

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Carte Blanche Results!

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled #153 Executed in 1985
Edition of 6
Est.: $2,000,000-3,000,000
Sold at: $2,770,500

Phillips de Pury 
Carte Blanche 2010

Yesterday, I wrote about the preview of the Carte Blanche Auction show. I want to clarify that I was not at the evening auction. but that I went on Saturday when everybody was invited to come and view. I am far from having a $1M clearance:). One day I would love to bid, but most likely as a dealer than a buyer, but who knows where life will bring me?

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol
Man in her life, executed in October-November 1962
Est: $40,000,000-50,000,000
Sold at: $63,362,500

It was quite exciting to view the Auction on line as well. I felt like I was holding my breath quite a few times. Andy Warhol was again the big winner, but that does not come as a surprise. An artist that really did surprise was Thomas Schutte, a German Contemporary Artist that I am not so familiar with. But look at the sold price and compare it to the Estimates. 

Thomas Schutte

Thomas Schutte
Grosse Geist No. 16
Executed in 2000
One of three casts 
(one in aluminum, one in steel and one in polished bronze)
Est: $1,000,000-1,500,000
Sold at: 4,114,500

Thomas Schutte
Old Friends
,concieved in 1992, printed in 1993
edition of 3
Est: $350,000-450,000
Sold at: $962,500

Another of the many great successes last night was the Rudolf Stingel. An Italian living and working in New York but being shown at the Neue National Gallery in Berlin this year.

Rudolf Stingel
Rudolf Stingel
Untitled, Painted in 1990
Est: $600,000-800,000
Sold: $2,658,500

The greatest looser of the evening was Jeff Koons, his piece "Prison" at the Carte Blanche Auction and the later Contemporary Auction piece "Caterpillar" passed. I am speculating on that the rather bad reviews regarding his latest show "Made in Heaven" a collection of more pornographic paintings which the Times critic Michael Kimmelman has called:

 “cheap” and Koons “an opportunistic publicity monger whose conflation of himself and his work precipitated the self-destruction that already seems [his] fate.”

Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons
Prison (Venus) painted in 2001
Est: 2,500,000-3,500,000

Jeff Koons
Caterpillar Ladder, 2003
Est: $5,500,000-$7,500,000

Watching the Phillips day sale right now, I am surprised to see that about 3 Andy Warhol pieces, just passed. I guess that is what is so exciting about an Auction, anything can happen!

I will write in the sold pieces for the pictures on yesterdays post now.

Have a fabulous day!
With Love