Go out and listen to something…

April 1, 2007

Zhang Zongmei

Filed under: Art, China Tour 2, China — burnett @ 4:00 pm

The highlight of Moganshan Lu was my visit with Zhang Zongmei. � I walked into an unimproved space in which there were photos on the walls and more photos stacked haphazardly around the room. � I was motioned to have a seat at a tea table and was served jasmine tea by a gentleman in his mid 40’s with hair to his waist. � This was Zhang Zongmei, photographer, artist and poet. (more…)

Moganshan Lu Art Galleries

Filed under: Art, China Tour 2, China — burnett @ 3:52 pm

March 30 was a good day to visit 50 Moganshan Lu, a loft space with about 30
art galleries, built into an old factory. � I suspect this space could be
razed any day to build another 90 story skycraping extravaganza, but in the
meantime it is a fascinating destination. � I have no understanding of the
art market, but it did not seem that there were bargains to be had here.
The galleries hosted very fine artists with extraordinary skills.� � (more…)

January 28, 2007

MOCA and Shanghai Museum

Filed under: Art, China Tour 1, China — burnett @ 3:41 pm

The Salmon Skin Suit

The Salmon Skin Suit

Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai has a small but startling collection. My favorites were the enameled oversized dog caricature scuplture, the hyper-realized photo of a house fly and the bearded picture. (more…)

July 20, 2006

Sammlung Essl in Klosterneuburg

Filed under: Art, travel, Vienna — burnett @ 10:15 am

Klosterneuburg, the� suburb of Vienna on the Danube, � is known largely for the Monastery founded in the 12th Century by a bloke named Leopold.� I visited the Stift but was more moved by my visit to the sterile building known as Sammlung Essl, a private modern art collection down the road.� Essl had three main exhibits, including a large show by artists currently active in Leipzig, a remarkable show of the work of Pierre Soulage, and another show that I may discuss later.� Soulage paints in black and supposedly highlights light in this manner.� I just enjoyed looking at the black.� It was on large canvas, thickly textured, and had certain symmetries or displays that made for an intriguing show.�

The Leipzig group was by far the most powerful part of the collection.� About 20 artists are shown, largely very higly developed styles with complex and highly developed craft as well.� However, my favorite was a photographer who did very simple black and white photography in the 50’s in Leipzig.� Evelyn Richter shot some� compelling human images.� PLease have a look at the link, they are great.� The name of the boat below, Traumland, translates to “Dreamland” in English.

July 13, 2006

In Vienna

Filed under: Art, travel, Vienna — burnett @ 1:29 am

Where to begin…the Albertina has a very creative exhibit for the 250th Anniv. of Mozart.� I went through it twice, just to make sure I really understood what they were getting at.� It tried to give the big picture of just what was going on in the 1760’s, and requires a few visits.� His visits with his father to the various European capitals:� Florence, Paris, Vienna, London, are nicely framed with quotes from both Leopold and Wolfgang about their experiences.� Not an easy life, and Leopold did an excellent job trying to manage the phenom’s career.�

� Of course I� walked around, checked out Franziskaner Kirche, Maria am Gestade, which dates from 1200 or so, Stefansdom, now a commercial extravaganza, and walked most of my old streets in the first district.� The building where I lived in Riemergasse now has an elevator.� I was in a 6th floor walk-up at the time.� What was then a porn moviehouse next door is now a jazz club called Porgy and Bess.� Go figure.� After an hour of walking these winding little Gassen, it all came back to me how much I loved this city, and why I stayed for so long in the 70’s.� Most of the restaurants still have that stale tobacco smell.� I did not mind it in 1972, but it now gives everything a dated feel, and certainly does nothing to stimulate the appetite.� Speaking of appetite, my host invited me to one of the local Heuriger’s last eve for a viertel of Gemischter Satz, the house specialty white wine, and a Wiener Schnitzel with potato salad.� Absolutely divine, and the tab came to 24 Euros.� We sat out in the garden under the lindens and chestnut trees with dozens of other customers.� Great place.� This is all in the Mauer neighborhood, near Hietzing.

� A highlight was stopping in at Kleines Cafe on Franziskanerplatz.� When I first arrived in Vienna, I hung out there when it was truly a Kleines Cafe: two circular tables in booths and a bar about 8 feet long.� There was a bartender named Hanno, and they served Ottakringer and white or red wine in 1/8th, 1/4 or liter flasks.� It was the hangout for the communes, and many groups would stop by at some point during the night, just to see ‘wer war da’.� It definitely captured the Bohemian side of Vienna, for better and for worse.

Bratislava

Filed under: Art, music, travel, Vienna — burnett @ 12:47 am

I had the chance to take a run to Bratislava yesterday.� It is only an hour from Vienna by bus.� The architecture is quite similar to Vienna, and the old part of the city is not unlike the 1st district of Vienna.� The main difference is that Bratislava is behind Vienna in terms of renovation and restoration.� This is not a bad thing, since it means that family run shops still exist in the old quarter.� But I am sure that the rent will go up and it will become a haven for high end retailers like Vienna has.� Vienna still has some small businesses in first district, but it is clear that the rent is going way up.� The small bakeries and food vendors have almost all disappeared.� In Bratislava, the communists did a number on the city that the war couldn’t.� They tore down historical buildings or ‘improved’ them.� On the up side, much was not restored, and parts of the city look as they must have looked 100 years ago or more.� It has that old world charm for sure.� In my brief visit, I was struck by the fact that 40 miles from Vienna, the residents generally spoke Slovakian and only Slovakian.� It was somewhat difficult to get around with German and English, and clearly a Slavic language was necessary.� It is hard for me to imagine being so close to a major European capital and being confined to a language spoken only by 5 million people.� But, that’s Europe.� I ducked in to the St. Francis cathedral to hear a concert by the Slovakian Chamber Trio, comprised of the organist, an oboist, violinist and joined by an excellent soprano.� The soprano and organist did 6 arias of Antonin Dvorak which were very original and engaging.�

� A highlight of my excursion was giving the cab driver a 20 Euro tip on a $3 fare instead of 20 kronen.� The kronen would have be about a dollar, and of course the the Euros came to $26.� Wound up back in Vienna with hundreds of Kronen…

March 27, 2006

Grant Wood

Filed under: Art — burnett @ 9:25 am

originally posted March 24, 2006
Grant Wood is now at the Renwick Gallery. I knew nothing about this artist before viewing the show. It’s hard to know where to start…Grant Wood was a highly skilled artist and craftsman. He spent considerable time in Europe as an art student, but eventually wound up back home in Iowa. There he found what he was looking for in his own back yard, as the exhibit texts reveal. In his own back yard were modest folk, corn fields, barns, animals, farm scenes, etc.
The end result is his distinctive style presented with genuine technical mastery. I noted that his career included commercial work and reminded me in an odd way of Andy Warhol and Japanese master Katsushita Hokusai (see below). All three of these gents responded to commissions or actually had jobs working for commercial enterprises. Warhol was an excellent draftsman, and his drawings from the early part of his career are superb.
But back to Grant Wood. His distinctive mannerisms may have spawned an entire genre. Certainly that could be true of “American Gothic”, but also his portrayals of fields, houses and trees, often as though through a wide-angle lens. I would like to study him more, as these stylizations became the norm in cartoon drawings of the mid-century. This style must have come straight from Grant Wood. A must-see exhibit.

Hokusai, Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, & DADA

Filed under: Art — burnett @ 9:23 am

originally posted March 16, 2006
The Japanese artist Katsushita Hokusai rules the roost at the moment in Washington, DC.� Although a great deal of his work (which includes 10,000 pieces) resides at the Freer Collection, little of it sees the light of day, since in fact, the light of day will destroy the paper and ink.� The Sackler Gallery is in the basement and dimly lit, a perfect grotto for the exhibit.� Hokusai lived for 90 years, and was productive for most of his life.� It is gratifying to see a great artist live past 35 so we don’t have to wonder “what if…”� Every ten years or so, he made a dramatic shift, and of course changed his name to help with the transition.� I was intrigued by the fact that his apprenticeship lasted until he was 34 years old, in 1794.� My first visit was yesterday, but intend to revisit often before it closes on May 14.
Other exhibits of note include Cezanne at the West Gallery, DADA at the East, and Toulouse-Lautrec and others at the Phillips Collection.� DADA is the most powerful show, it is huge, and covers the movement by city:� Berlin, Paris, New York, London.� I last saw a DADA show at the Embankment in London back in 1977.� That show was an eye-opener for me, but this one has a very comprehensive feel.� It requires several visits just to get a handle on it.� The movies alone require 45 minutes just to get through them once, and they beg a second viewing.�
Cezanne at the West Gallery was educational for me.� I prefer his early works from the late 1860’s and 70’s.� � An austerity takes over his later more progressive work, and I am losing interest at the moment.� There is a fascinating still life loaded with paint, and the portrait of his father, also with pounds of paint, that interested me the most.
Toulouse and others at the Phillips is a very rich show.� The NY Times thought it had very little to offer, but then the Phillips does not offer huge productions.� There is a great deal of interest in this presentation.

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