Follow by Email

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) .
Post a Comment