When the British born Malcolm Rogers took over the Museum of Fine Arts in 1994 it had a $4.5 million annual deficit and was generally moribund. It was better than he found it when he departed in 2015. He left a bricks and mortar legacy of The American Wing designed by Lord Norman Foster. Under a mantra of One Museum, however, he dismantled the traditional departments, fired renowned curators, or forced them to leave. He created a structure of mega departments staffed by cooperative curators. The current director, Matthew Teitelbaum, inherited a debt of $140 million and is tasked with mending curatorial fences.
The Al Hirschfeld Foundation is proud to announce the first in a series of online exhibitions exploring the work of one of the most iconic artists of the last century. On May 11, the Foundation will open a special exhibition for these times: "SOCIALLY DISTANT THEATER: The Solo Show As Seen By Hirschfeld", a collection of 25 drawings, paintings, collages, and prints documenting a half century of one person shows. This special digital exhibit will be online for six weeks through June 20.
A Woman Seated by a Window with a Child in the Doorway
By: Allen Hirsch - May 07th, 2020
I look to a painting on my wall by the 17th century Dutch painter, Pieter de Hooch. It is a domestic scene of a mother calmly peeling turnips in a corner while a child enters the threshold carrying a flask and a plate, smiling down at a little dog looking up in anticipation. I am relieved.
Leon Botstein, the polymath conductor, has taken on a delightful series, Sight & Sound, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. With The Now Orchestra (TON) he offers a musical program which is related to a current exhibit at the Museum.
Representative works from the Rubell Family collection are on view at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. This is the 10th anniversary presentation of 30 Americans which has travelled the country, but have been seen only once before in the eastern United States. The Barnes presentation is striking. The art even more so.
Separately at Jewish Settlement houses Jack Levine and Hyman Bloom studied drawing with Harold Zimmerman. In 1929, when Levine was 14, they were instructed at the Fogg Art Museum by Harvard professor, Denman Ross. By the late 1930s, with Karl Zerbe, they gained national attention as Boston Expressionists. After a lapse of decades, through February, Bloom is featured in "Hyman Bloom Matters of Life and Death." The MFA has never given Levine the time of day. In 1986, while making a film with David and Nancy Sutherland, I interviewed Levine.
On Site Opera revived what one hopes will become an annual production of Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. In choosing settings for familiar and unfamiliar operas, On Site adds an intriguing dimension to the form. With Amahl, the location in the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen returns the opera to its original meaning.
The Museum of Fine Arts last featured Boston Expressionist Hyman Bloom in a 1959 group show. The current exhibition Hyman Bloom Matters of Life and Death, curated by Erica E. Hirshler, attempts to make up for that lapse. The focus on cadaver paintings and drawings is bold and spectacular. The work is ghastly with haunting beauty. On a national level it is among the year's best museum exhibitions.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has mounted its first sound-based installation. British artist Oliver Beer selected 32 vessels from the Museum's vast collection. They form a 32 note chromatic scale which can performed on an electronic keyboard. The exhibit was a feast for eyes and ears.
During a recent road trip we visited museums in Montreal, Ottowa and Toronto. We noted different strategies to intergate First Nations artists into special exhibitions and permanent collection galleries. A third of the exhibition space of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto features First Nations artists. With an unfavorable comparison only a handful of American museums have a commitment to feature Native American art and culture.
Top Young Musicians under Leon Botstein Reveal Webern and Feldman
By: Susan Hall - May 28th, 2019
The Orchestra Now (TON) is brave. In taking on two of the seminal composers of modern music, they tackled the presentation of developing ideas about sound as music, to which the 20th century composers have added new dimensions. Some composers took the sounds out of time. Anton Webern often composed suggesting different tempi measure to measure. While Morton Feldman did not go as far as John Cage, inviting musical artists to perform whatever, whenever, he often suspended his work out of time.
In a complex reconfiguration of permanent collections of Canadian museums there is a mandate for integration of First Nations work with galleries of post war abstraction. While change is welcome and necessary, for now, the juxtapositions are complex and disorienting. There is more contrast than confluence.
Julia Bullock is a young soprano who is designing a career to her personal specifications. Peter Sellars was attracted to her voice and performance after a Julliard college appearance as the young Vixen in Leoš Janá?ek’s Cunning Little Vixen. He lured her to Teatro Real in Madrid to perform in Henry Purcell’s “The Indian Queen.” She has performed in his work in San Francisco, and this summer took on the role of Kitty in “Dr. Atomic” at the Santa Fe Opera. She is now Artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Organized with the Louvre Museum in Paris, where it appeared with more works, the Met show presents some 150 paintings, prints and drawings in a dozen large galleries. Major works did not travel to New York resulting in an inadequate view of a major 19th century artist. It remains on view through January 6.
Former MIT/CAVS Fellow, Ellen Kozak, and composer Scott D. Miller are presenting a 4-Channel Video Installation at the Hudson River Museum until September 9. The summer exhibition also includes monumental abstract drawings by Christine Hiebert as well as museum owned etchings that are titled: Donald Judd: Variations on a Theme.
The MIT Museum's current exhibitions include: 'Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies,' until January 31st, 2019 and 'Gyorgy Kepes Photographs II, MIT Years 1946-1985,' until July 15, 2018. This article also highlights the Museum's party in late April, where more than 150 people celebrated with the CAVS community. As always, photographs of artwork and people make words visible and more memorable.
Gyorgy Kepes opened in 1967 the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT and it was officially inaugurated in 1968. An ardent proponent of collaborations between the arts, sciences and technology MIT was the right place to start such a Center. Since then, a number of museums, organizations and academic centers with similar mandates are flourishing in North America and Europe. Here's just an overview of work that was created at CAVS during 40 years of its existence. The program Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) has taken on the mantle at MIT of interdisciplinary work in the 21st Century.
While described as a retrospective in eight galleries with just 60 paintings, 21 portrait drawings and five of his ground-breaking “Joiner” photo collages the David Hockney exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a bit of a tease. Now 80 when Hockney depicted homosexuality during the 1960s it was still illegal in Great Britain. He left for the laid back lifesyle of LA in 1964 and now commutes between continents. The exhibition is on view through February 25.
With just 43 works Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed at Met Breuer through February 4 provides a small but succinct view of his work. He was a prolific artist, creating approximately 1,750 paintings, 18,000 prints, and 4,500 watercolors, in addition to sculpture, graphic art, theater design, and photography. More than half of the works on view were part of Munch's personal collection and remained with him throughout his life.
The motive was not to miss a once- in-a-lifetime exhibition Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman & Designer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It remains on view through February 12. In addition to visiting museums by day we enjoyed four nights on Broadway. During the Big Chill we avoided threeh our holiday lines at the Met. There was easy access and a good selection for half price TKTS in Times Square.
Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960) founded the Shelburne Museum which has 150,000 objects and 39 buildings on 45 acres. Her father Henry Osborne Havemeyer was known as The Sugar King. With his wife Louisne they created a vast collection donating 2,000 objects, including French Impressionist masterpieces, to the Met. Electra married polo champion James Watson Webb II of the Vanderbilt family. Well before the controversies of the Berkshire Museum, in 1996, the Shelburne Museum sold $30 million of its art to pay expenses. During the winter just five buildings are open. We viewed two special exhibitions in the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education which opened in 2013. It was a lively and intriguing experience.
The Metropolitan Museum uses it galleries and collections to present events. The Shanghai Opera's production of Farewell My Concubine, based on a 3rd century BC story, fit perfectly in the Chinese Courtyard modelled on the Ming Dynasty Garden of the Master of the Fishing Nets.
This summer the Clark Art Institute features four special exhibitions Picasso Encounters, an exhibition of prints with a few key paintings, as well as Orchestrating Elegance; Alma Tadema and the Marquand Music Room and two focused on prints and paintings by Helen Frankenthaler. The museum launched its expansion with a spate of blockbusters but is now moving into a new era with less hoopla under its reserved and scholarly French-born director Olivier Meslay.
Five Boston museum directors have signed a letter of concern over reports that the National Endowment for the Arts is under threat of being abolished, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Under the conservative agenda of the Trump adminsitration this is an attack on the arts in America. Guarding the Trumps in NY, DC and Palm Beach for a week is on a par with endowment support.