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Saturday, April 1, 2017

new york gatherings

In New York, my goodness! these days, but always these days...

Right now, at the end of March, although I admit it sounds like April Fool's Day, a film project is having actors walk around  lower New York with mirrors as large cubes on their head. Alas,  the people inside tend to  fog up their mirrors if they sigh or yawn. As one of the actors points out, "we're all a reflection of each other' -- and this takes another step in the selfie argument - I have been thinking of autobiographies as selfies, about as narcissistic as memoirs can get ...

And so last night, we were privileged to be at one of those wonderful dinners given by Magda Salvesen, art and garden historian and, with Diane Cousineau, the author of Artists' Estates: Reputations in Trust and the manager of her late husband's estate, Jon Schueler's paintings, and his writing, which she has gathered in The Sound of Sleat: a Painter's Life. . (About these paintings of Northern Scotland, there is much to be said and a book is being prepared. Some of us went to the Isle of Skye this last summer to speak about Mallaig and Schueler, how grand and how gallic! ) These dinners exemplify that kind of gathering I am dealing with, as the substantial and mental nourishment of these creative communities. 

At this dinner, I was speaking with Irving Sandler, author of The Triumph of American Art and more and more, who has written two memoirs whose titles are based on someone's writing about his being a "balayeur" so his memoirs are about "sweeper-up" and "swept up" -- nice, nice.  I was telling  him that the great historian Linda Nochlin  had entrusted me with her poems, and that some of them are coming out in the beloved Brooklyn Rail in May. (Why is it such fun to talk with people in the art world? and I surely do not mean about prices, those soaring things, but just in general. Even the gossip is intriguing...)

In line with that, the play at 59 E 59 Theater called Beneath the Gavel, written and directed by Mara Lieberman and the Bated Breath Theatre Company,  which we just attended, was about those prices, about the auctioneering process, and contained -- as a play within a play -- a participatory well-meaning if clumsy performance of an auction in which you were given play money to bid, and more play money rained from the ceiling for you to raise your paddle and move toward the auctioneer with your play money -- which could, at one point-- be merged with someone else's money to make up a substantial bid. Now it depends how you feel about not visual art, but performance. Had I thought of it, I'd have loved to mention it to Alasdair Nichol last night, at Magda's dinner, since he owns Freeman's Auction House in Philadelphia, the oldest auction house in the country. Next time, I always hope there is a next time, at Magda's. These gathering places (like my sometime forthcoming book on something about Modernist Gatherings: Tables and Moments)  always stir up your feeling of wanting to go home and write or paint or dance or compose something...

The Gavel play was quite like another play we saw the same place about Rudolf Bauer, the sort of sub-Kandinsky to whose paintings the Guggenheim was supposed to devote space, and about the Yasmina Reza play Art which I actually loved... and on and on. All this gets written up in the New York Times, of course, and is as riveting as the controversy about whether or not white playwrights and actors should deal with the tragedies of African-Americans:  here come Kenny Goldsmith and his The Body of Michael Brown...  --  Whatever side you come down on, the reading about it is generally something you do not want to miss.

We are going to the last performance of Chess Match no. 5 tonight, based on quotations from John Cage  and Marcel Duchamp arranged by Jocelyn Clarke , says Elisabeth Vincentelli in the Theater Review in the New York Times of Thursday, March 30, "into an exploration of the artistic process that tries to mirror the subject's own experimental practice." Can't wait to see how this will turn into a trilogy with Sam Beckett doing his thing...

Which reminds me, before I stop ongoing about this dinner, that Tom Cousineau, who is about to go lecture in Bucharest about René Girard (my former teacher at Bryn Mawr) , Thomas Bernhard (author of the magnificently disturbing The Loser, about Glenn Gould -- he is definitely not the loser in this work), and Mircea Eliade...and that Tom often deals with Beckett and with Cioran, with whom I used to walk in Paris and in Dieppe...

And tomorrow, to the matinee of Prokofieff's Romeo and Juliet as a ballet presented by the Joffrey...How I love New York in the spring (and fall and summer and winter) .

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

snow and projects!

How lovely to be inside with snow outside, and getting back to thinking about my current project:
Modernist Gatherings: art and text, with 35 places I am now thinking about: art and writers' colonies and occasional meetings or then repeated ones, and today thinking Gloucester and Monhegan Island, new additions, mostly I get stuck on and in St. Ives and so on...Stuckness is ok!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Oh my gosh I refond r\Rory Stewart,
absolutely héroïcomiques and what a faire, see him in New York Review
best of the scots!!!
bikes, miles, aventures, has wit, and that smile!
my father was always called Rory, like this! aventurers one and all
I tried to write this on my Facebook pages, but am clearly not up to facebook's stringent whateverness

Thursday, March 2, 2017


and so Matthew, head guy, front man, of Nada Surf, and my very own beloved son, is for the moment  in Brooklyn with Emily Bidwell, his lovely and adored-by-us-all wife, waiting for a work visa, so she can work at ETSY in the UK, because Matthew is at the moment based in Cambridge, and that is NOT the Boston one... His son, now 12, is in Cambridge and Matthew and Emily also.

So we were treated, myself and Emily's mom, to a tour of the gorgeous new Brooklyn Etsy, just fantastic... And we go tôt see Alex Wright, our friend from as long as Matthew has been alive, son of my always best friend...It felt like a sort of working haven, with conférence rooms and lounge places, and you could take your computer to any floor and have coffee and do your work and preojects  alone or with others ... I guess this is the way I would envision academia if I could set it up, with places and time to speak with students and friends -- the same thing, actually -- and colleagues, ditto... I wasn't just dreaming, I was thinking, why not?

Piers 92 and 94

My and everyone's goodness!, the Art Show on the  piers! this was pier 92 and pier 94, and enormous in every way! So I went with Michele Cone, friend from always, also went to Bryn Mawr, also writes on art, but she is a réal art historian, and I a happy interloper
So there on the piers, was everyone you ever knew in the world of art,  and Michele knows -- in her élégant way-- just about everyone, what a joy to attend something so IMMENSE with someone you love,  and you can just wander from place to place... I loved most the group from St. Ives, with a lovely John Wells (many years ago, when I was there in St. Ives with our beloved friends Ann Aslan and Clive Blackmore, I had exactly enough to purchase, for my NY ait, a small and lovely John Wells, .horizontally-shaped, like this one at Pier 92.

 I had not seen his picture until today, in a major catalogue of the gallery exhibition him, and ah, of course, exactly the kind of face I would have  -- why say "would have," let's just say, did -- fall in love with. Red Grooms, who lives with his gorgeons wife, the daugher of a totally staggeringly beautiful  woman I met, of course,  with Raymond Mason so many years ago , friends of Yves Bonnefoy, in Paris or London or somewhere -- anyway, Red loved also this piece of art, and we talked about Arthur Dove: I HAVE SELDOM HAD A CHANCE TO TALK WITH ANYONE ABOUT ARTHUR DOVE! --  and also, to the left of the John Wells, was a Ben Nicholson, instnatly recognizable among millions of simple , well, "simple" works.

If I were starting all over, indeed I might, if I could have the over the years developed expertise, write on American art and pietro. But you would have to do it well, and not just from enthusiasm, the way I write and I guess live... I loved teaching, and yes, it was always about poetic-type students, like Maggie Nelson, who OF COURSE won a MacArthur award, and that kind of excited poetic reaching-after intellect, like a récent friend-student, JoJo Karlin, like that...

and Red Grooms and Michele like that also -- many years ago, in the Tate, I think, I found a sort of reproduction of a Nicholson which instantly  purchased, and have hanging, and regard with affection. And then , a centuries-old hand, which I found in Bangkok, there with my husband Boyce, and have in the not much daylight, on a table by the window, in case any light makes its way in, which it does from, say, 12:35 to about 3:15 in the winter months.. .

let me end this, then, with affection, for our friends and the works of art we care about, not for the commercial aspect, but for the réal thing, apologies and actually, hommage to Tom Stoppard also,

How fortunate I  have been!

Monday, February 20, 2017

new york news

about to post what I wrote for the Oxford Magazine, assuming that is ok, no one who reads this would read that, methinks

Funny thing: when you retire, exactly what everyone had been telling me would happen, happens. Now it is not really that I don't believe my friends, but it is rather astonishing to my easily astonished self that what occurs is just that. So here is some of it.

I have been, of course, because you continue to do what you love to do, writing for the Brooklyn Rail, and seeing many shows in Chelsea in order to write about them (you see, you write, you keep on)... so a piece for the February issue on the avant-garde of the  Russian Revolution at MOMA, and another on a book of paintings and poetry by Sarah Plimpton called The Noise of Rain. And then a much worked-over  piece for PORTER, which seems to be a journal of global reach, about Dora the shadow of her rather famous boyfriend. But let me say now what we been doing in this enormous city, apart from my going to the three-day meeting of art historians from all over, and so exciting it was, in the Hilton Hotel, about how,  in this GHASTLY political age right now and here (let alone Brexit, which, since I have also a British passport, is horrific to me), about how and what to write about art and teach about writing and art, and so on.

My husband and I went a very timely (but everything is right now) play about Kunstler, a brave lawyer in times of duress, but then what is not that?
and are watching Victoria, of course, the way all Americans watched Downton Abbey and before that, Upstairs Downstairs and the Jewel in the Crown. Even those of us who do NOT have British passports (I am actually of Scottish descent, from the Isle of Skye) watch with fascination everything from the BBC and such. And yes, I have been reading biographies of Kenneth Clark, 2 of them in fact...And going to presentations of Meghan Marshall's recent life of Elizabeth Bishop, A Miracle for Breakfast, the most recent one with Rosanna Warren, great translator, writer, and biographer. And friend.

Everything, especially, like everyone I know, anything Shakespeare like. So we went way out to Brooklyn to sit in a sort of prison and see The Tempest, straight from the Donmar Playhouse, with Harriett Walters, and had just seen, at the Frick Museum, a Marivaux play perfectly adapted to the rooms of Fragonard and so on. And tomorrow, we go again out to Brooklyn, now that the magnificent 2nd avenue subway is subwaying, to see an HD performance (sold completely out in Manhattan proper) of Rysalka the opera. My daughter and I had done that once before, for a triple bill, including Phaedra (with Isabelle Huppert, who is always doing everything), and I had gone with Susan Barile to see a performance of Thomas Bernhard's The Loser, about Glenn Gould, how not?  and years ago, in a former life, to see the nine-hour (yes) Mahabharata, and then later, for some Thomas Adès, on and on...

So we are fortunate, in New York to have Brooklyn!

I was about to forget the most amazing Max Beckmann exhibition, at the Met Museum, in which a glorious group of self-portraits introduces this extraordinary painter, celebrating sixty-six years after he died of a heart attack on the way to see an exhibition of his own paintings, including one in a blue jacket -- this one, and the one the Met had  de-accessioned, to the scandal of the art world --  and there is on show even the painting on which he was working, in New York, the very day before he died. It is one of those exhibitions you go back to see innumerable times, with various persons, and this was my umpteenth visit...Particularly interesting to me are his paintings of cafés (the dreadful and dread-filled one in Amsterdam when he knows Mussolini is about to be doing his stuff) , and the ones of hotel lobbies in Manhattan and the St.Regis bar, with all those reflecting mirrors, going deeper and deeper into reflections of all sorts, and someone falling, and elsewhere, someone hanging from the ceiling...

and upstairs is Hercule Seghers, a pre-surrealist if there ever was one, with the entire oeuvre imported from the Rijksmuseum, in the subtlest colors of printing imaginable, each in various hues, each and all so fragile and so wraught, with unimaginable landscapes which indeed stretch our own imagination -- we could have stayed there for hours, but better, I always think, to return with fresh eyes...

Downstairs, in the Lehman wing, is a truly fascinating display of various posters and prints and sources related to Seurat's Parade, the Circus Side-Show, where you might well concentrate on one thing: say, the trombonist standing the way he does, or the onlookers' heads turned to the left, or the gaslights, or the marks of his conté crayon... I well remember dwelling on Chahut, Seurat's odd and revelatory rendering of La Goulue dancing, of the conductor's baton pointing to the lack of underwear, and how one could go on for ages about that, and -- at this point, I feel I  have gone on just about too long. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

So exciting, scary, and réal, yes, réal! never mind that they (who ever is they?) are or is putting an accent over my e in everything I wirte, seems odd, because I DO write in English also..
but the (get back to exciting) thing is this now started project on art colonies and cafés and tables and all that, gathering places, all over Europe, first for US peintres and writers and then others -- for my book with Reaktion, I love just beginning
am doing a surréalism anthology for New Directions, now I LOVE working with New Directions, one of my first beloved publishers

I just sent out a Tweet (do I link to my tweets, don't know how, can learn, should have asked Ruth Franklin the other day  -- it is like your MIND is often not in the same PLACE as your body but then that has always been true

ah, IF I could write fiction - I tried on one sabbatical, about the library of Cambridge where I was living just after, or was it during, my divorce, but quelle not interesting histoire it was being

bac, to read The Art of Rivalry, am living it