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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Picasso Saturday

We have finally gotten some nice spring weather! Yesterday was a perfect chance to get out and enjoy it. I slept in a bit and then went for a jog before showering to meet my friend Julie at Grey Dog in Chelsea.

(Side note: the recommendation of Grey Dog came from my friend Kate, a West Village resident who happens to be on assignment in Hong Kong this year. So, while it's a bummer that we aren't here at the same time -- we haven't seen each other since we studied in Spain together -- she armed me with a list of her favorite restaurants.)

Julie and I hadn't seen each other since we graduated from Duke, but she is actually a double-alum and was in my sister's MBA class at Fuqua. It was great fun to catch up, and we both loved our food (breakfast quesadilla for me, omlette for her). After brunch, I noticed Loehman's was nearby, so I popped in there and then bought a lemon Italian ice for my short walk home.

I took a little rest and then headed back to Chelsea for some culture, courtesy of New York magazine. When I told my friend Elyse I was moving to NYC, she sent the following advice:
Go buy, and then subscribe to New York magazine RIGHT NOW! First of all, all the editorials are great, so you will love the read, but they talk about everything that is important to locals and you will be on the same page as everyone by the time you get there after a few issues. So when you meet people and they go on and on about the newest exibit at some obscure gallery in Brooklyn, you will already know about it.  

Funny enough, before I could subscribe on my own, some darling gals from the office got me a subscription! The magazine arrives at the beginning of each week, and it's lovely to have a reason to be excited it's Monday. This week's issue featured an exhibit at the Gagosian Gallery: Picasso and Marie-Therese: L'Amour Fou. (That title translates to "Crazy Love," but the gallery didn't bother to translate it or any other French titles.)

Marie-Therese was Picasso's mistress and muse from 1927 to 1937, and the exhibit is co-curated by their granddaughter. The press release for the exhibit calls Marie-Therese "the primary inspiration for Picasso's most daring aesthetic experiments" in that decade, "with her statuesque  body and strong, pure profile, [she] fueled his imagination with a luminous dream of youth."
In short, I loved it! First of all, the gallery was quite large; the exhibit covered at least four or five sizeable rooms. Even better, the exhibit was free. There was a line outside, but it moved quickly, and I passed the time by eavesdropping on the group of men in front of me. ("I haven't seen you since we were in Rio!" one man exclaimed to the other.)

One of my favorite works was Deux Femmes Enlacees, sort of an erotic hodgepodge of hands, boobs, faces, fingers and toes all over the place.
There were a few pieces of sculpture, one of which reminded me of both an angel and a warrior, depending on where I was standing. Are those eyes or boobs? Is that a mouth or a derriere? Another one of my favorites was Le Baiser. Like many of the pieces, it was from a private collection, and I cannot find an image of it online. (Note that Picasso had many works with that name, but this one involved two angry triangle-shaped tongues and two rows of ferocious teeth. It was really sharp and angular and raw.)

The last room of the exhibit featured a wall with a long excerpt from a letter written by Picasso to Marie-Therese in 1936. On another wall was a flickering black and white video of the muse herself. Having seen her image in so many paintings, it was surreal to see her turn her head to the right just for a second and catch a brief flicker of that hard, angular profile carried throughout the exhibit.
Since there are so many galleries in Chelsea, I thought I might as well make it a two-fer, so I was pleased to see my trusty magazine had also encouraged visitors to visit a show called "Addicted to Highs and Lows" at the Bortolami gallery just one block south. 

Curator Richard Aldrich looks at painting as a realm on which to speculate, a site of experimentation, and a psycho-physical map with coordinates to unexpected and unknown territories. Our advice: open your mind and don't scoff; through 4/30

What luck! I'd catch it on its last day. Open mind? Don't scoff? Sign me up! 

Oh, good heavens. I wanted to like this. Really, I did. But what do you make of an exhibit that includes an Untitled mixed media work that seems to be a display of rocks and tiny little mouse heads? 
Or this pot that greets you as you enter. "Is that cauldron part of the exhibit, or is it lunch?" I wondered. "Is the gallery manager charging his cell phone, or is that art?" I referenced the photocopied exhibit guide to learn more.

Entitled Convox Dialer Double Distance of a Shining Path, the pot included "recalled powdered milk, abolished math, antidepressants, palm tree essence, shaved sea lice, ground Teva rubber dust, Korean thermal clay, steeped Swatch watch, aluminum pot, cell phone signal jammer and electric burner." I peered inside but could see only the palm, not the Swatch or other sundries.

Another highlight/lowlight was a "work" (and I use that term lightly) that was simply black oil on linen stapled to a 10.5 x 9 inch stretcher. I wanted not to be a scoffer, really I did, but it just wasn't happening.

Down the street by the stairs that lead up to the High Line, a crowd was gathered around a man in a booth with a stuffed coyote beside him. He had a few "exhibits" and two tiny chairs for kids to sit and watch his demonstrations. It was a delightful diversion!
Evening entertainment consisted of Mexican food with my new friend Dana, her friend Ben and his friend Darren. (I can't remember if I wrote about dinner with her and some friends last Saturday night; her cousin and I are neighbors in Charlotte). We went to Dos Caminos, where we sat outside to enjoy the nice weather. I had some very tasty smoked brisket enchiladas. The boys treated, which was sweet of them. From there, we went to Pastis for more drinks. A very fun evening, but I am paying the price today!


Dee Stephens said...

We are paying the price today too. A little too much fun.
That is bizzaro about those exhibits in there with the art? Weird.
Looks like you're having so much fun!

Elyse {Pretty. Happy. Busy.} said...

Yay! You got a subscription! I knew you would love it! I would have been a little less run-on-sentence-y if I knew I was going to be quoted. Lol Random art exhibits can be such a mixed bag.... The gamble either pays off big, or totally bombs. Rare Picasso- I'm totally jealous! -elyse

sherry said...

Art is in the eye of the beholder? Looks like you behold Picasso (as most do) as "weird but classic and inspiring thought" but the other gallery more "weird and inspiring a sense of wonder." (as in wondering what? why? and why bother?) I love my NYC adventures through your eyes. Looking forward to more.