a little of this and a little of that

These are notes from an unusual week.  41 east 57 street is a beautiful art deco building that houses a number of galleries.  The galleries have decided to have their openings on the same day of the month.  This Wednesday, my first stop was the Gitterman Gallery exhibition of photographer, Jean-Pierre Sudre (1921-1997).  Some people might not call Sudre’s photographs photographs.  He experimented with creating crystals on glass plates that he used as negatives.  This process is called “Mordancage.” The resulting photographs are these beautiful abstractions

“It should be mandatory viewing for the new school of young photographers investigating the pleasures of the darkroom”.  The New Yorker

The next show at the Howard Greenberg Gallery:  Sir Don McCullin, another photographer known as a photojournalist or a conflict photographer.

Protester Cuban Missile Crisis, Whitehall, London, 1962 Don McCullin

Cyprus: 1964. Nevcihan Olusum after she learns her husband had been killed defending Gaziveren. Don McCullin

“I wanted my images to contaminate your thoughts – because they contaminated mine.” Don McCullin

Simone de Beauvoir in her studio, rue Schoelcher 12bis, Montparnasse, Paris, March 1986. Bettina Flitner, National Museum of Women in the Arts

The following day I went to Albertine to listen to conversation between Kate Kirkpatrick, author of Becoming Beauvoir: A Life and Judith Thurman, staff writer for The New Yorker.  If someone had asked me about the last time I thought about Simone de Beauvoir, my answer would have been over 30 years ago.  I believe my mother’s french reading group read parts of The Second Sex.  Kirkpatrick argued that Beauvoir was a hostage of the myth of the couple: Beauvoir and Sartre.  Her image was frozen “in amber” and full of misconceptions.  Beauvoir was all about becoming a person, the ability to make a life that you want.  She asked the question what is your vision for your life?
Friday I went to New York Botanical Garden to a symposium: Roberto Burle Marx:  Innovation and Activism.  Three speakers: Bruno Carvalho, Co-Director of the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative, Gareth Doherty, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Director of the Master in Landscape Architecture Program, Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Luisa Valle, Doctoral Candidate in Art History, City University, New York.  From their credentials, the expectation was a very interesting presentation.  However, instead all three talks were self-referential ivory “Tower of Babel” babble.  Luckily the day was saved by walking through the excellent exhibition at NYBG “Brazilian Modern:  The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx (closes September 29, 2019).  If only these scholars had paid attention to Burle Marx’s own words.

“Gardens are works of art, and have to be treated as such.” Roberto Burle Marx

“Consider how each plant, possessing its own particular color, is enriched with meaning when juxtaposed with another plant. In nature these relationships are not happenstane… Roberto Burle Marx

“The important thing is to observe beauty in chromatic relationships.” Roberto Burle Marx

“One may think of a plant as a brush stroke, as a single stitch of embroidery; but one must never forget that it is a living thing.” Roberto Burle Marx

“Nature is a complete symphony, in which the elements are all intimately related – size, form, color, scent, movement, etc…It is…an organization endowed with an immense dose of spontaneous activity, possessing its own modus vivendi with the world around it.” Roberto Burle Marx

“A plant is a form, a color, a texture, a scent, a living being with needs and preferences with a personality of its own.” Roberto Burle Marx




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