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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 Maar.in 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. 

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