Tag: frank lloyd wright

Books We Love: Peggy Guggenheim, The Shock of the Modern by Francine Prose

Peggy Guggenheim: The Shock of the Modern (2015)

By Francine Prose, Yale University Press, 211 pp.

 

Best-selling author Francine Prose, known for nonfiction titles like Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and Reading Like a Writer, wrote a heartfelt biography of Peggy Guggenheim, influential art collector, and early promoter of Modernism in America. Well-ahead of her time, Peggy developed a taste for the avant-garde and unconventional that followed her throughout the entire life. She altered the course of art history in an unprecedented manner by meticulously pursuing new styles and supporting emerging artists.

Born in New York City in August 1898 to a wealthy family, Peggy Guggenheim developed an interest in art at an early age. Her father, Benjamin Guggenheim, perished on the Titanic in 1912, leaving Peggy with a comfortable inheritance. Her mother Florette Seligman, who came from a prominent banking family, also left Peggy with a considerable inheritance, allowing for a sophisticated, privileged lifestyle.

“A Guggenheim, or a Strauss, or a Seligman was expected to be meticulously well mannered and to avoid anything that might be considered ostentatious or vulgar,” explains Francine Prose in her biography of Peggy Guggenheim (p. 37).

As a child, Peggy traveled frequently to Europe with her mother Florette where they stayed at stylish hotels, and learned about art, French history, British literature, and German opera, explains Prose.

In 1920 Peggy moved back to Europe, “in a frenzy to see great art.” “She knew where every important painting was located and insisted on seeing them all” (p. 60).

From 1922 to 1928 Peggy was married to Laurence Vail, a French-born American playwright, novelist, and painter who belonged to the Dada movement. Peggy’s life, relates Prose, had “periods of intense travel interrupted by interludes during which she established and oversaw large bohemian households in Paris, in London, and in rural beauty spots in England and France” (p. 17).

After her failed marriage with Vail, Peggy engaged in notorious affairs with playwright Samuel Beckett, sculptor Constantin Brancusi, and Surrealist painter Max Ernst, whom she married in 1941 – the marriage would end in divorce five years later.

Peggy’s uncle Solomon Guggenheim, who also was an avid collector of modern art, might have been an inspiration to Peggy: Solomon and his mistress, artist and art advisor Baroness Hilla von Rebay opened The Museum of Non-Objective Painting in New York in 1937 to display Solomon’s growing collection which included works by Kandinsky, Chagall, Picasso, and many others. As the collection kept growing, the effort eventually led to the opening of Guggenheim Museum in 1959 at its current location on Fifth Avenue in a building designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

While in Europe, Peggy opened Guggenheim Jeune gallery in London in 1938, an unfortunate time, as WWII was about to break out the following year. Peggy had traveled to Paris the year before to secure art for the opening show. She had hoped to open the gallery with an exhibition dedicated to Constantin Brancusi, but the Romanian sculptor was out of town at the time, and Peggy turned her attention to Jean Cocteau. Guggenheim Jeune opened in January 1938 with a show dedicated to Cocteau – the gallery would close in August 1939 due to the war outbreak. In fact, Peggy had plans to open an art museum in London in the fall of 1939, when the war broke, and she had to return to New York.

In June 1941 Peggy and her family sailed from Marseille to New York, bringing with them Peggy’s significant collection of modern art which included 150 works by artists such as Kandinsky, Klee, Mondrian, Braque, Miro, Dali, Magritte, Giacometti, Brancusi, and Max Ernst, works that could have not safely remained in Europe. At first, Peggy had hoped that the Louvre Museum in Paris might have sheltered some of the works, but the museum directors considered the art “too modern to merit saving,” as Prose relates.

Back in New York, Peggy opened Art of This Century gallery, which shortly became the city’s cultural center. The gallery functioned from 1942 to 1947, when Peggy returned to Europe. Alexander Calder, Georgia O’Keefe, and Jackson Pollock frequented the space which was at once “a cultural landmark and a tourist attraction” (p. 137). Peggy helped launch Pollock’s career at Art of this Century – the artist showed four times at the gallery during its existence, and drew the attention of art critics such as Robert Coates at the New Yorker, and Clement Greenberg at The Nation.

In 1943 the gallery hosted the first exhibition of collages in the United States. Also, “among the most remarkable aspects of Art of This Century,” writes Prose, “was the unusual amount of attention paid to women artists” (p. 140). She goes on to say: “equally striking is how few of these women – Frida Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois, and Leonora Carrington – went on to develop careers and reputations remotely approaching those of their male contemporaries” (p. 141).

In addition to promoting emergent artists, as Prose relates, the gallery “was used as a background for fashion shoots in Vogue and Glamour, and was the subject of a photo feature in the New York Times Magazine” (p. 138).

In 1946, when Peggy was 48 years old, she published her memoir Out of This Century, which Prose calls “a remarkable document.” “It is hard to think of an important visual artist from the first half of the twentieth century who does not appear in its pages, in the company of an impressive number of celebrated novelists, memoirists, and poets” (p. 11). Several pages are dedicated to Peggy’s “battle to acquire Brancusi’s Bird in Space.”

In 1947 Peggy returned to Europe, and bought Palazzo Vernier dei Leoni in Venice. Her collection was swiftly included in the 24th Venice Biennale in 1948, one of the most prestigious art shows in the world. Afterwards, the collection traveled to Florence, Milan, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Zurich, before returning to Venice in 1951, and being permanently housed at Palazzo Vernier dei Leoni. Among luminaries spending time with Peggy while in Venice, Prose mentions Surrealist painter Marc Chagall, Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, and experimental composer John Cage.

In 1969 Guggenheim Museum in New York showed a large part of Peggy’s collection, which remains one of the most important in the world. To learn more about Peggy Guggenheim Collection, visit https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/site/peggy-guggenheim-collection.

Impressions from the AMR Open Studios Tour 2017

Launched in 2012, AMR Open Studios Tour has grown into a major art destination, forging new and unexpected connections between artists, and their patrons from near and far. Given its success in previous years, in 2017 AMR – Artists Making aRt ™ – Open Studios Tours 2017 expanded to include some 40 artists from Margaretville, Roxbury, Stamford, Delhi, and surrounding areas. The tours took place on two different weekends in July: Saturday and Sunday, July 8 – 9 in Stamford-Delhi art community, and Saturday and Sunday, July 29-30 in Margaretville-Roxbury art community. Both weekends attracted a myriad of visitors, many artists as well as collectors from the Catskills, New York City, and abroad.

AMR 2017. Photo © 2017 Simona David

On the first weekend, watercolorist June Lanigan who, at 91, continues to paint and make collages, showed recent works and discussed what moves her these days. Although Lanigan works in other media as well (i.e., oil, and acrylic), she is most fond of watercolors; and everywhere she goes she brings along a sketchbook to take in the environment. The portrait of a flapper draws my attention in Lanigan’s immense home that she shares with her family while painting in the Catskills. Lanigan is the founder of MURAL Gallery in Hobart, and has had a long connection with the area.

June Lanigan. Photo © 2017 Simona David

Both Lanigan’s daughters Tracy Jacknow and Toni Layden-Rodgers as well as her grandson Jess Zimmerman are painters; each has a distinctive style, and is attracted to different subject matters. Jacknow, for instance, paints abstract and impressionistic like landscapes, while Layden-Rodgers is interested in domestic scenes, still lifes, and portraits, whereas Zimmerman paints bold, urban scenes.

Jess Zimmerman. Photo © 2017 Simona David

Jacknow is married to stained glass artist Barry Jacknow, whose work is inspired by the Art Deco movement, and the work of architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright. Stained glass has had a long tradition in New York going back to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Art Nouveau lamps and decorative objects that became synonym with sophistication. Jacknow sources his stained glass locally in Stamford, and works meticulously to create patterns and contrast colors for most effect.

Barry Jacknow. Photo © 2017 Simona David

My next stop was at Robert Schneider and Susan Goetz’s mansion in Stamford. Husband and wife, Schneider and Goetz had studied at the Art Students League of New York, and also privately with accomplished painters. While Schneider specializes in landscape, Goetz dedicates most of her time to still life and portrait. Her studio is filled with family portraits and domestic scenes signifying opulence and good taste. Goetz was commissioned by West Point’s class of 1931 to paint a series of portraits which included Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bush, and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Goetz comes from a family of artists – her father Richard Goetz, who passed away in 1991, was an accomplished painter as well. A portrait of her mother by famous painter Nelson Shanks illuminates the hallway.

Susan Goetz. Photo © 2017 Simona David

Both Goetz and her husband Schneider were featured in American Artist in November 2007.

Schneider, who is very much fascinated by the Hudson River School of Painting, captures through his plein airs spectacular views of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley as well as the Leatherstocking region where the family has spent a lot of time. Schneider was featured at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown in 2016 in a one man show called “A New York View.”

Robert Schneider. Photo © 2017 Simona David

My last stop that weekend was at Solveig Comer’s ceramics studio in South Kortright. Located in the basement of a former church, the studio has three electric kilns, and lots of fine porcelain for many bowls and cups to come. The artist patiently explains the difference between using an electric kiln versus a gas one, and the differences in output each creates. It is a laborious process, but Comer doesn’t seem to mind.

Solveig Comer. Photo © 2017 Simona David

***

The second weekend was a marathon of exhibits, demonstrations, conversations, and parties centered around Roxbury which had a stellar participation this year with the likes of Adam Cohen and Brian Tolle opening their studios as part of the AMR Tour for the first time.

Roxbury Abbey. Photo © 2017 Simona David

Brian Tolle showed several of his works at Roxbury Abbey including three Levittown style houses made of platinum silicone rubber. Also, visible in his studio was a head sculpture of Benjamin Franklin, as seen by Brian Tolle. In 2016 Tolle exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia as part of “Commander in Chief” art show dedicated to American presidents.

Brian Tolle. Photo © 2017 Simona David

In addition to works by Tolle, Roxbury Abbey also hosted that weekend a group show curated by Ace Ehrlich who brought several artists from the city just for the event, including German artist Thorsten Brinkmann.

Brian Tolle’s Studio. Photo © 2017 Simona David

The youngest participant in the tour was Sophia Maduri, who showed her work at the Grange in Halcottsville, and sold her first drawing right there – the beginning of a career. My book “How Art Is Made: In the Catskills” was also for sale at the Grange, and provided more context for some of the artworks shown during the tour, a symbiotic relationship.

Sophia Maduri. Photo © 2017 Simona David

Also in Roxbury painters Esther De Jong and Michael Guilmet opened their studio for the first time. De Jong showed some of her oil paintings and pencil drawings, while Guilmet displayed two dozen oil paintings in various styles, and depicting various subject matters – winter landscapes, abstract compositions, and lots of portraits, many of those on commission. Recently De Jong and Guilmet curated an exhibition at Orphic Gallery in Roxbury that included some of the best artworks produced in the region from painters like Adam Cohen, Ann Lee Fuller, and Christopher Durham.

Esther De Jong. Photo © 2017 Simona David
Michael Guilmet
Michael Guilmet. Contributed Photo.

Lisbeth Firmin was one of several artists participating in Margaretville area – her studio is located in the Commons Building. This year Firmin showed some of her urban landscape paintings as well as monotypes produced while studying at Scuola Internationale di Grafica in Venice this past spring. Later this month Firmin will lead a one-week drawing workshop at MURAL Gallery in Hobart, designed as an intensive combination of lectures, demonstrations, and studio exercises.

Lisbeth Firmin’s Studio. Photo © 2017 Simona David

AMR Open Studio Tour 2018 will include even more artists and activities to showcase the abundance of artistic endeavors our region is known for.

© 2017 Simona David

 

 

Not to Miss This Weekend: AMR Open Studios Tour Stamford-Delhi 2017

Launched in 2012, AMR Open Studios Tour has grown into a major art destination, forging new and unexpected connections between artists, and their patrons from near and far. Given its success in previous years, in 2017 AMR – Artists Making aRt ™ – Open Studios Tours is expanding to include some 41 artists on a map that spreads from Margaretville and Roxbury to Stamford and Delhi. The tours take place on two different weekends: Saturday and Sunday, July 8 – 9 in Stamford-Delhi art community, and Saturday and Sunday, July 29-30 in Margaretville-Roxbury art community.

This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, July 8–9, from 11 am to 5 pm 18 artists in Stamford, Hobart, South Kortright, and Delhi will open their studios to the public, and show their working spaces, as well as demonstrate some of their techniques. Located in a bucolic scenery, all these studios provide a unique experience for visitors to witness the creation of new works of art, and ask questions that only an intimate space like an artist studio would allow for.

Participating artists include ceramicist Solveig Comer, painters Susan Goetz, Robert Schneider, and Tracy Jacknow, stained glass artist Barry Jacknow, woodwork artist John Virga, as well as Tim Touhey, owner of The Gallery on Main Street in Stamford.

Ceramic Bowls by Solveig Comer. Contributed Photo.

Ceramicist Solveig Comer took art as a minor in college while majoring in mathematics. Her first pieces were more cerebral, and experimental objects rather than functional, but that changed over time. Asked about how mathematics might have influenced her work as a ceramicist, Solveig explained that mathematics does help her think things through and solve visual problems, and also figure out proportions when mixing glaze, and making choices on new decorative pieces. But overall mathematics plays a role more on the business rather than the creative side of her profession. Although Solveig has made all sorts of ceramics throughout her career, in recent years she has chosen to gravitate towards mugs, hence utilitarian art, which sells well. Every year the artist introduces new patterns, and explores new color palettes that enrich her collection.

Solveig’s studio is located at 10986 County Route 18 in South Kortright. This weekend she will be showing side by side earlier, less functional pieces, some of which have never been seen before, and more recent pieces which illustrate the transition towards utilitarian art. It will be interesting to see the artist’s evolution over time, and how her style and interests as a ceramicist have changed. Also at Solveig’s studio visitors will be seeing works by multi-media artist John Virga; John works in woodwork and graphic design, and in his own words “provides classic form and functional goods for the 21st century.” To learn more about Solveig’s studio, visit https://www.mostpreciouspottery.com.

Painter Tracy Jacknow was born in Brooklyn, and raised in Long Island in an artistic family. Growing up in a community of artists, actors, and retired vaudeville performers, she took art at an early age: “It was a childhood of inspiration and creativity,” she remembers. “My early experiences gave me exposure to a world of creative minds and alternative lifestyles.” In college Tracy spent some time in Siena, Italy, and later in life she and her husband Barry Jacknow, who is a stained glass artist, lived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Their time in Mexico left a strong mark on both their artistic careers. Tracy works in various media: watercolor, oil, acrylic, and collage. But in all of them nature is a constant presence – her travels around the world with her family, the colors of the Catskill Mountains, and her own moods have all influenced her work. Although Tracy is in essence an abstract painter, her brushstroke and the use of light are reminiscent of Impressionism. Her website is http://www.tracy-art.com/.

Summer in Sweden by Tracy Jacknow. Contributed Photo.

Painter June Lanigan, Tracy’s mother, founded MURAL Gallery in Stamford in the 1980s; the family has had a long connection with the area – June went to school in Stamford, and later on moved to Long Island. Primarily a landscape painter, June continues to produce works at the age of 91. This weekend she will be showing alongside her daughter Tracy.

Watercolor by June Lanigan. Contributed Photo.

Barry Jacknow, Tracy’s husband, has been working in stained glass since the 1960s. His inspiration comes from the Art Deco movement, and the works of architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright. In fact, this year marks the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birth – events are scheduled throughout the year to honor Wright’s legacy. Barry learned the stained glass art technique in New York City, but refined his style while living in Mexico. He has come to master the technique, but sometimes struggles with his design choices; that’s when his wife Tracy gets involved and helps with the process. Barry will be demonstrating some of his techniques this weekend during the open studios tour. He sums up humorously “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like,” as the saying goes.

Art Deco Inspired Stained Glass by Barry Jacknow. Contributed Photo.

Tracy and Barry’s studios are located at 138 Layden Lane in Stamford.

For maps and more information, visit http://www.amropenstudios.org or www.facebook.com/amropenstudios/. As you drive around this weekend, look for the “OPEN STUDIO” signs and brochures with maps available for pick up at various business sponsors and community supporters.

 

The AMR – Artists Making aRt ™ – Open Studios Tour 2017, sponsored by MURAL Gallery in Stamford and participating artists, is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Decentralization Grant Program, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, administered in Delaware County by the Roxbury Arts Group (RAG), and additional funding from The A. Lindsay & Olive B. O’Connor Foundation.

 

SPONSORED STORY

© 2017 Simona David

 

Four Art Documentaries You Won’t Regret Watching

Re-posted from Short Compositions on Life, Art, PR and More (originally posted on 7.26.2009)

Since it’s summer and vacation time – that period of the year when we feel like accumulating new experiences, seeing and learning new things – I feel like recommending a few documentaries I watched recently and enjoyed a lot.

What I propose today is: “Mark Twain” (2000), “Stravinsky: Once at a Border” (2008), “The Impressionists” (2006) and “Frank Lloyd Wright” (1998).

“Mark Twain,” a 2000 PBS production directed by Ken Burns, is a fabulous depiction of Twain’s extraordinary life and literary legacy, covering Twain’s childhood in Missouri, his years as a journalist in California, and eventually his settling down in Hartford, Connecticut.

One defining moment in Twain’s life was his trip to Europe and the Middle East, initiated in 1867. The trip was funded by a local newspaper, and resulted in a detailed collection of travel stories called “The Innocents Abroad,” published in 1869.

The second part of the documentary focuses on Twain’s masterpiece “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” published in 1884. Writers and scholars discuss at length its significance for the American literature, with all its subtle meanings and underlying premises, as well as the victory of friendship over prejudice. To understand a literary masterpiece it seems quite essential to actually get the historical context in which it was written, as well as its setting and geography.

Overall, Twain is portrayed as the prototypical American, a man who knew financial success during his lifetime as a result of his writings, was interested in science and ventured in business enterprises, had a beautiful family and owned a big house, a man who has seen and done it all.

“Stravinsky: Once at a Border” is a 2008 documentary produced by Studio Kultur and directed by Tony Palmer, a fine compilation of Stravinsky’s most famous pieces and defining moments, both from a personal and artistic perspective. The documentary covers Stravinsky’s upbringing in Saint Petersburg, his encounter with Diaghilev, his years in Switzerland and France, and eventually his arrival to the United States. Interviews with family members, artistic collaborators and friends do reveal the great genius’ personality, how he used to work, and what he loved to do. Interviews with Stravinsky himself are used in the program, and reputable performances of “Les Noces” and “Petroushka” are also included.

“The Impressionists,” a 2006 BBC production, tells the story of Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet and Paul Cezanne, their friendship as well as their animosity and quarrels, and the naissance of a new artistic movement. 1874, a defining moment in art – a group of extremely talented painters, rejected year after year by the Salon – the official academic art show, decided to organize their own, independent event. As it often happens in life, the Impressionists weren’t at once recognized and appreciated for their talent and innovation in art. It took some time for the public to show full appreciation and fall in love with masterpieces such as “Woman with a Parasol” (Monet, 1875), “Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe” (Manet, 1863), or “A Modern Olympia” (Cezanne, 1874).

I will conclude today with “Frank Lloyd Wright,” a 1998 PBS production, again directed by Ken Burns. Family members, architects and astute architecture critics and writers discuss Wright’s masterpieces one by one. From his rising as a young architect in Chicago to the culmination with Guggenheim Museum in New York City, Wright had shown a brilliant mind and a constant determination for what he called “organic architecture,” that is harmony between human habitat and natural environment. Wright was so involved in every project he created, so that he didn’t only design the house, but everything inside it: furniture, windows, doors, tables, chairs, carpets, lamps, and even napkins. Masterpieces such as Taliesen Wisconsin and Taliesen Arizona, Larkin Building (Buffalo, NY), Johnson Wax Building (Wisconsin), Kaufmann House known as Fallingwater (Pennsylvania) and Usonian housing projects are depicted in a way that fully reveals what kind of architect Wright really was, a visionary who liked putting people in places that were both aesthetic and functional, spacious and distinguishable.