Postcard from New York: Part II

I’d previously visited the Whitney at its former location but it was finally time to visit its latest one.

The Whitney Museum building with the High Line park in front of it

As the pre-eminent institution devoted to art of the United States, the Whitney Museum of American Art presents the full range of 20th century and contemporary American art, with a special focus on works by living artists. The Whitney is dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting American art and its collection is arguably the finest 20th century American art in the world. The Museum’s flagship exhibition, the Biennial, is the country’s leading survey of the most recent developments in American art.

The building was designed by architect Renzo Piano and is situated between the High Line and the Hudson River. This building vastly increases the Museum’s exhibition and programming space, providing the most expansive view ever of its collection of modern and contemporary American art. It also has a rather nice bar and restaurant with excellent views of its neighbourhood.

How it all began

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the museum’s namesake and founder, was a well-regarded sculptor and serious art collector. As a patron of the arts, she began acquiring art in 1905, and had already achieved some success with the Whitney Studio and Whitney Studio Club, New York–based exhibition spaces she operated from 1914 to 1928 to promote the works of avant garde and unrecognized American artists. Whitney favoured the radical art of the American artists of the Ashcan School such as John French Sloan, George Luks, and Everett Shinn, as well as others such as Edward Hopper, Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, and Max Weber.

Whitney collected nearly 700 works of American art. In 1929, she offered to donate over 500 to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but the museum declined the gift. This, along with the apparent preference for European modernism at the recently opened Museum of Modern Art, led Whitney to start her own museum – as you would! – exclusively for American art, in 1929.

Whitney Library archives from 1928 reveal that during this time, the Studio Club used the gallery space of Wilhelmina Weber Furlong of the Art Students League to exhibit traveling shows featuring modernist work. The Whitney was founded in 1930 at 8 West 8th Street which had been the location of the Studio Club. The new museum opened in 1931. Whitney’s assistant Force became the museum’s first director, and under her guidance, it concentrated on displaying the works of new and contemporary American artists.

In 1954, the museum left its original location and moved to a small structure on 54th Street connected to and behind the Museum of Modern Art on 53rd Street. In 1958, a fire on MOMA’s second floor forced the evacuation of paintings and staff on MOMA’s upper floors to the Whitney. <

AD Classics: Whitney Museum / Marcel Breuer | ArchDaily

Subsequently, the Whitney began seeking a site for a larger building. In 1966, it settled at the southeast corner of Madison Avenue and 75th Street on the Upper East Side. The building, planned and built 1963–1966 by Marcel Breuer and Hamilton P. Smith in a distinctively modern style, is easily distinguished from the neighbouring townhouses by its staircase façade made of granite stones and its trapezoidal windows.

The institution grappled with space problems for decades and resorted to opening  satellite spaces around New York and in the lobbies of major US corporates. Meanwhile,  the institution attempted to expand its landmark building in 1978, commissioning UK architects Derek Walker and Norman Foster to design a tall tower alongside it, the first of several proposals from leading architects, but each time, the effort was abandoned, because of the cost, the design, or both.

The Whitney finally developed a new main building, designed by Renzo Piano, in the West Village and Meatpacking District in lower Manhattan. The new museum, which opened in 2015, at the intersection of Gansevoort and Washington Street, was built on a previously city-owned site and marks the southern entrance to the High Line park.

The new open and expansive structure spans 19,000 sq m (190,000 sq ft) and eight stories that include the city’s largest column-free art gallery spaces. Two of the floors are fully devoted to the museum’s permanent collection.

The original 600 works in the permanent collection grew to about 1,300 with the opening of the second building in 1954. This number grew to around 2,000 following its move to the Breuer building on Madison Avenue in 1966. It began collecting photography in 1991. Today, spanning the late 19th century to the present, the collection contains more than 25,000 artworks by upwards of 3,500 artists.

Every two years, the museum hosts the Whitney Biennial, which we were fortunate to view. It’s an international art show which displays many lesser-known artists new to the American art scene.

The 2022 Whitney Biennial Artist List By the Numbers – ARTnews.com

In the past, it has displayed works by many notable artists including some unconventional works. Unfortunately, due to the nature of these works, many are difficult to photograph.

10 highlights at the 2022 Whitney Biennial in NYC

Wordless Wednesday #131

Wednesday is devoted to photos from Australia taken on one of my many #adventuresdownunder.

Postcard from New York: Part I

A friend of ours has successfully dabbled in paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat so when we saw there was a new exhibition, Jean-Michael Basquiat: King Pleasure©, assembled by his family which reveals the creative evolution of the artist, we booked tickets.

The popular mythology surrounding Basquiat’s journey, from couch-hopping graffiti artist to the centre of New York’s surging 1980s art scene, was cemented tragically by his death in 1988 at the age of 27 from a drug overdose.

This exhibition shows another aspect of the Basquiat narrative. It proves that his talent was not just prodigious but also recognised and even cultivated by the people closest to him early on.

The show was assembled by his younger sisters, Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux, who are co-administrators of his estate, along with their stepmother, Nora Fitzpatrick. More than 200 paintings and drawings from their private collection are on view – many previously unseen – alongside a selection of photographs, personal artifacts, and multimedia presentations, including full-scale re-creations of the Basquiat family living and dining rooms. It’s also the first exhibition overseen by the Basquiat family.

King Pleasure© covers the course of Basquiat’s storied career and short life as well as offering a personal reflection on his legacy through the eyes of his siblings. By revealing an unprecedented window into his formative years, the show also aims to upend the long-standing racial stereotypes that have frequently clouded his work and reveal the central role that his Puerto Rican and Haitian heritage and relationship with his Black family played in nurturing his creativity.

I hadn’t appreciated that Basquiat was so prolific. It is estimated that he left behind nearly 2,000 completed works at the time of his death. By then, he was already an established presence in the booming art market of the 1980s, having created a corpus of paintings, drawings, and other works that drew upon influences like jazz and history and bridged two dominant aesthetic movements of the era, neo-expressionism and hip-hop.

Despite the apparent ubiquity of Basquiat’s work, interest in it remains at an all-time high. In 2018, a career-spanning retrospective filled four floors of the Frank Gehry–designed Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. The following year, there were the back-to-back exhibitions at the Brant Foundation and the Guggenheim in New York. Plus one at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and another at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

How it all began

jean michel basquiat, 1983

Born in 1960 to Matilde Andrades, who was of Puerto Rican descent, and Gerard Basquiat, an accountant from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jean-Michel spent his early years in a middle-class environment largely in Brooklyn. He left home at 17 and, with his high school friend Al Diaz, he began to spray graffiti art throughout downtown Manhattan with the tag SAMO©.

Basquiat seldom spoke about his childhood in interviews though he did credit his mother for nurturing his interest in art. She took him frequently on trips to the various museums in NYC.  She also introduced him to the medical textbook Gray’s Anatomy, which she gave him when he was eight and hospitalised after being struck by a car while playing in the street.

Throughout his life, he constantly returned to Gray’s Anatomy as source material, naming his band after it and using it in 1982 as inspiration for his first portfolio of prints, titled Anatomy.

Jean-Michel was not only a multilingual adolescent, fluent in English, French, and Spanish, he also grew up surrounded by his father’s extensive record collection, heavy on jazz and bebop. The exhibition delves into the deep and complex nature of his relationship with his family and how he was shaped by their sense of his identity.

Basquiat left home at 17 and, with his high school friend Al Diaz, he began to spray graffiti art throughout downtown Manhattan with the tag SAMO©. By the time he was 20, he’d started a post-punk band and starred as a fictionalised version of himself in the indie film Downtown 81. He had also begun painting postcards, which he sold on the street, eventually turning to canvases. Fast-forward four years and he was one of the biggest art stars of the ’80s.

At his peak, Basquiat was still an outlier. Even though he achieved a level of fame and fortune unknown to any Black artist before him, he felt rejected by critics and cultural institutions alike.

However, Basquiat did put his experience of racism and everyday vulnerability as a young Black man in America front and centre in his work. He was deeply affected by the death of Michael Stewart, a 25-year-old Black graffiti artist who fell into a coma after he was forcibly restrained by police following his arrest in a New York City subway station.

You could tell how important it was to Basquiat by the way he constantly referred to it in his work. All the aggression that most Black people experience weighed heavily on him. He also repeatedly ruminated on Black artists, particularly jazz musicians,  and athletes in his work.

It was an interesting and unexpected glimpse into Basquiat’s life and works.

Musical Monday: Japan

I’m still mining the list of artists I’ve seen more than once. I’m returning to the short-lived Japan, last featured in Song Lyric Sunday #15.

This time I’m looking at what the band did post-break up. All the members went on to work on other projects, with varying degrees of success. After his collaborations with Sakamoto, David Sylvian’s first solo album Brilliant Trees reached No. 4 in the UK Albums Chart in 1984, spawning the UK top 20 single Red Guitar.

Meanwhile, Mick Karn had become a sought-after session musician and worked with artists such as Gary Numan, Kate Bush, and Joan Armatrading. He also had a top 40 hit After a Fashion with Midge Ure in 1983, and collaborated with Peter Murphy of Bauhaus as the duo Dalis Car, releasing an album in 1984.

Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri worked together as the Dolphin Brothers and simply as Jansen & Barbieri and Rob Dean went on to work with Gary Numan and Sinead O’Connor.

In September 1989, Sylvian, Karn, Jansen and Barbieri reunited under the moniker Rain Tree Crow. They released an eponymously titled album in April 1991, which was well-received by music critics and reached the UK top 25. However, once again, the band dissolved following creative frictions between Sylvian and the other members.

In 1993 Jansen, Barbieri and Karn created Medium Productions as a means to release their own music with other collaborating artists, without big record label compromise. Fifteen CDs of largely instrumental music were produced over a 10 year period. Medium Productions folded in 2004 as the founders became more involved in other projects. The entire MP catalog has since been re-released on the Voiceprint Music label.

In 2003, Virgin Records re-issued remastered editions of Gentlemen Take Polaroids, Tin Drum and Oil on Canvas. BMG followed suit next year, and re-issued Adolescent Sex, Obscure Alternatives, Quiet Life and Assemblage. All of these re-releases came in the digipak format, collecting many bonus tracks.

The only member of the band who has continued to record is David Sylvian who’s collaborated with a number of different artists over the years in a variety of genres.

 

 

 

French Fancies: Cafés Richard

No my beloved (sadly) does not have his own coffee company though we do joke about it whenever we’re served some café Richard.

Although Paris is most famous for its monuments, the city’s cafés are part and parcel of its history and rich scenery.

Cafés Richard is a traditional French-style coffee roaster. Evolving from the Maison Richard founded in 1892, it has remained a family business throughout the years. Pierre Richard runs the business today with his two children, Anne and Arnaud, inspiring the confidence of its 20,000 clients, thus firmly holding onto its position as leader in France’s HoReCa (hotels, restaurants and cafés) market, despite increasing competition.

Cafés Richard has also been applauded for its wonderful range of classic and herbal teas.

How it all began

The story of Maison Richard begins with its founder, Auguste Fayel. Its creation dates back to the day in 1892 when Pierre Fayel, a distant cousin of Henri Richard, became the owner of a wine and spirits warehouse at 11, rue des Cailloux in Clichy, France.

In 1938, Henri Richard bought up the family business that he joined as a young employee in 1920, from his cousin Auguste Fayel when he was 40 years old. As wine rather than spirits became more popular in bars, Henri worked more closely with his younger brother, Georges, who was based in Algeria where he ran a trading business for wines as well as several vineyards.

The Clichy warehouses were enlarged in order to implement assembly lines for bottling the wines. At present the wineries can hold 30,000 hl and new holding warehouses have been opened in the East of Paris, in Bercy.

Cafés Richard : Origine, Méthode de Torréfaction, Gamme de Capsules - Coffee-Webstore

André Richard, Henri’s oldest son, joined the company and created the coffee roasting business in Asnières. In 1964, Pierre Richard, his brother, joined the company after finishing his studies and developed the coffee business in Paris. In 1970 he took over the Cafés Ladoux from his father-in-law, Julien Ladoux. He then established the company’s coffee roasting operation in Gennevilliers. In the 1980s the company expanded its operations to the provinces, starting with the opening of a roasting facility in Tours.Today, Cafés Richard covers the entire national territory thanks to its regional agencies.

Ten years later, Arnaud Richard and Anne Richard Bellanger joined the company and five years later the company’s HQ and roasting facilities were totally renovated, bringing in cutting edge coffee roasters and packaging processes, all while maintaining respect for the spirit of French tradition inherent in artisanal industries.

In 2000 Comptoirs Richard shops (Cafés Richard gourmet retail boutiques) were established. There are a total of eight shops in Paris. With its commitment to the quality of its products and to the knowledge sharing of its coffee experts, Cafés Richard has become a certified training organisation with the Académie du Café.

Further innovations were to follow with the creation of an export department serving distributors around the globe.

More recently, the inauguration of new premises for the Académie du Café, in a beautiful space equipped with Barista stalls, tasting rooms and a laboratory. Along with all this, the UniversiThé opened in the same location and is devoted to teas and herbal infusions.

In addition to its collection of exclusive blends and pure origin coffees, its classic and herbal teas, Cafés Richard provides chocolates, sugars and other sweet treats and accompaniment products, making the company a truly one-stop partner!

All images courtesy of Comptoirs Richard

Silent Sunday #110

It’s Sunday and today’s photo is from ma belle France.

The Musette: Another chickpea salad

This is one of those recipes that I make regularly because it’s bright, fresh, clean, and crunchy……. it really hits a lot of notes. Plus, it’s filled with loads of plant-based protein,  light on fat and heavy on flavour. It can sit in the fridge for a day or two and in fact may even be better on day two. It also travels well, so ideal for a picnic. I don’t usually do recipes just in cups but this time it works just fine.

Ingredients (serves 6)

Dressing:

  • 1 cup plant-based yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped coriander (cilantro) 
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped salad onions (scallions)
  • 1 organic lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 fat cloves confit garlic
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup cucumbers, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup chopped salad onions (scallions)
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup cubed vegan feta
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds

Method

Green Goddess Dressing Recipe - Platings + Pairings

1.Let’s start with the dressing. In a blender mix together all of the ingredients and blend on high until smooth. Pour into a clean container. We will use about 240ml (1 cup) of the dressing and the rest can be stored in the fridge for up to 10 days.

2. Next, in a large bowl mix together all the salad ingredients: chickpeas, cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon zest, feta, pumpkin seeds, black pepper and salt. Pour over the dressing and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately or store in the fridge!
3. As always, feel free to make substitutions, additions and deletions based on your tastes.

One from the Vaults: Nightmare scenario – my beloved retires!

Today I’m revisiting a post from 2017. If there’s one thing that’s come out of the various lockdowns, it’s the knowledge that I will survive my beloved’s retirement. He ceased working 24/7 at the end of March and now works 5-6 days per month on projects he greatly enjoys. However………………….

One of my biggest fears has always been what will happen when my beloved retires? Despite being happily married for more years than I like to own up to, he’s travelled a lot on business throughout our marriage. This has meant we’ve spent limited albeit quality time together. Consequently, I’m not used to having him underfoot all the time but now the clock is ticking down.

This year has shown how we might muddle along in the future. Firstly, we were on vacation in Australia the whole month of January. I say “on vacation” but given we can work anywhere that has WiFi, we both spent some time working too. However, we had a truly blissful time throughout the lengthy holiday. February was typically busy as my beloved geared up for a major dental exhibition which is held in Germany every two years. Then he broke his leg!

What followed, I hope and pray, wasn’t totally indicative of our future life together as retirees. I waited on him hand and foot for the best part of three months. Even now he has a tendency to expect me to leap up from my chair to fetch him something. I’m not slow to remind him he has two fully functioning legs and he can fetch it himself. I even remind him that he promised me he’d be more helpful around the house. We all know how that turned out.

He’s back travelling again on business but being unable to travel rather focused his mind and now he appreciates that it’s not always necessary to leap into a plane and jet off somewhere. He’ll shortly be heading off to China for a quick but necessary trip which is sadly cutting short our time at the Vuelta a Espana. In the meantime, we’ve been spending plenty of quality time together and I have to admit, it hasn’t been all bad.

On the plus side have been lazy meals (prepared by me) eaten outside on the balcony where we’ve talked about anything and everything. Great communication is definitely one of the cornerstones of the longevity of our relationship. We’ve enjoyed a few week-ends away watching sport – a shared passion from the start of our relationship. In contrast, we’ve had plenty of days companionably working away in the office where we sit either side of a massive desk. A few shared projects where I do the donkey work and he takes the glory – plus ça change. Early morning cycle rides, where we’re both rediscovering our cycling legs.

On the downside, not so much. Maybe all those years of training have finally licked him into shape. I know he’s never going to be anything other than high-maintenance but this summer he’s refrained from losing too much and making too much mess. I really can’t expect any more! So, whenever it happens, I think I’m going to be able to manage just so long as we never have to share a bathroom.

Thursday doors #163

Here are a few more doors from our most recent trip to the East Coast.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Dan’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Postcard from the Shore

We spent a total of 10 days at The Shore, kicking off with Cape May over the Memorial Day weekend followed by six days at Long Branch which gave us an insight into the Shore’s various areas.

Cape May

Cape May was named for Dutch captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, who explored and chartered the area from 1611 to 1614. Considered the US’s Oldest Seashore Resort, it’s located at the southern tip of the Cape May Peninsula in New Jersey and is designated a National Historic Landmark due to its concentration of delightful Victorian buildings.

Cape May might be the second-largest fishing port on the East Coast but tourism, including ecotourism, dominates the area.

File:Cape May NJ map.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

We stayed in a small hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and enjoyed a few days of decompression after all the sightseeing in Philadelphia and Washington. It was a good place to recharge our batteries.

We spent our days cycling around the area, enjoying all the beautiful historical properties, feasting on the local shellfish, admiring its flora and fauna, and just chillin’. We drove around the coast to Wildwood one morning and very quickly drove back – way too commercial for us! Although Cape May was busy, it was good to see the resort thriving after, no doubt, a difficult period during the pandemic.

Three nights was just enough to be able to enjoy everything Cape May had to offer before we drove to Long Branch via the scenic route, by way of the spit which runs from Beach Haven to Lake Como. We hadn’t appreciated just how much water frontage there is along the shore.

Jersey Shore Illustrated Map – LOST DOG Art & Frame

Long Branch

While Long Branch wouldn’t necessarily have been our choice of place too stay – bit too Club 18-30 – it was an ideal location for my husband’s business trip. Again, we stayed in a hotel overlooking the Atlantic and, having located a nearby branch of Barnes & Noble, I was happy to wander, read and chill while he worked.

Fortunately, he wasn’t working all the time and we spent time out on the water with colleagues, pottered around the more picturesque and historic towns, such as Red Bank, and attended a day-long BBQ at a marvellous waterside property in Mantoloking where our entire 200m (2,000 sq ft) flat would have happily fitted into their family room.

By the way, Red Bank, on the Navesink River and just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean, is the Garden State’s own Greenwich Village, filled with trendy stores, coffee shops, a vibrant arts scene and eclectic cuisine.

Back in the 1800s Long Branch was a premier Jersey Shore resort destination which fell into disrepair in late 20th century as suburban shopping malls siphoned customers from local businesses. To cap it all, a 1987 fire destroyed its amusement pier.

The city began its comeback with new investments in the 1990s, and rebuilt the boardwalk after it was all but destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Now it’s lined with lots of new condos. And the pier that burned in 1987 has become Pier Village, an upscale mixed-use development but the town sadly lacks a historic heart. Its popularity is no doubt due to its proximity to NYC, just 80km (50 miles) away.

We didn’t see any notable Jersey Shore inhabitants though we did pass service stations named after Jon Bon Jovi and Frank Sinatra. No doubt The Boss has one too.