Tag Archives: Life

The Stein Salon Was The First Museum of Modern Art

2 Nov

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By JAMES R. MELLOW

“I always wanted to be historical,” Gertrude Stein announced shortly before her death, “from almost a baby on, I felt that way about it. . .” And, for the better part of her life, she was. In the beginning, in the early nineteen-hundreds, she shared the honors with her brother Leo. The Stein ménage in Paris (a ménage à trois consisting of Gertrude, Leo, and Gertrude’s lifetime companion Alice B. Toklas) was a Mecca for the modern- minded. The principal attraction was the collection of Cézanne oils and watercolors, the early pictures by Matisse and Picasso, the paintings by Renoir, Manet, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec, which she and Leo had had the funds and the foresight to buy. The walls of their atelier were hung to the ceiling with now-famous paintings, the double doors of the dining room were lined with Picasso sketches. In the early decades of the century, hundreds of visitors flocked to the display of vanguard art: many came to scoff, but several went away converted. It was a brilliant scene–and a historic one. For all intents and purposes, Leo and Gertrude Stein had inaugurated, at 27 Rue de Fleurus, the first museum of modern art.

The remains of the pioneer collection–a cache of 38 paintings, drawings and collages by Pablo Picasso and nine works by his colleague, the Cubist painter Juan Gris–are in the process of being sold by the heirs of the Stein estate for a reported $6.5-million. The buyer has not yet been announced, but it is believed that a trustee–or a syndicate of trustees–of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, has been actively engaged in the secret negotiations. Although spokesmen for the museum have refused to comment, the names most often mentioned in connection with the sale are William S. Paley, president of the museum; David and Nelson Rockefeller, chairman and member of the board, respectively; and John Hay Whitney, the board’s vice chairman. The disposition of the collection after the sale is not known, but it is expected that the museum will mount an exhibition that will bring together the purchased works and many of the major paintings once owned by the Steins that have since passed into other private and public collections. The exhibition would be fitting–and perhaps final–tribute to a salon that made history. Viewers in the United States would have an opportunity not only to see the once- controversial pictures, but to catch a glimpse of the Stein salon as it existed during its most brilliant period.

On a typical Saturday evening, 60 years ago, one would have found Gertrude Stein at her post in the atelier, garbed in brown corduroy, sitting in a high-backed Renaissance chair, her legs dangling, next to the big cast-iron stove that heated the chilly room. A few feet away, one could hear Leo expounding to a group of visitors, his views on modern art. Among the crowd of Hungarian painters, French intellectuals, English aristocrats and German students, one might pick out the figures of Picasso and his mistress, Fernande Olivier (Picasso looking like an intense young bootblack; Fernande, almond-eyed and attractive). The man with the reddish beard and spectacles, looking like a German professor, would be Matisse. Next to him might be the poet Guillaume Apollinaire and his clinging friend, the painter Marie Laurencin. The tall figure would be that of Georges Braque, whose superior stature among the smaller cubists made him the official hanger- of-pictures in the atelier. In the American contingent, the familiars would be the painters Patrick Henry Bruce and Alfred Maurer, both of them early advocates of the modernist vision and both, at the same time, followers of Matisse. It was Alfred, as Gertrude recalled, who held up lighted matches so visitors could see that the Cézannes were, indeed, finished paintings because they were framed.

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Read also about Salon de Fleurus

Second House

27 May

richard prince house

SECOND HOUSE is perfectly camouflaged in its surroundings—at first glance, it appears to be an utterly ordinary single story ranch house. Yet when approaching it from the long hillside driveway, the overgrown grass strategically obscures the identity of who or what lies within. Like so many other domestic buildings in the area, SECOND HOUSE looks kind of decrepit or unfinished (passersby must wonder: did the owner run out of money and abandon construction?). Its façade is missing—only a thin, silvery skin made of insulation panels covers the exterior. An abandoned 1973 Dodge Barracuda is parked out back, quietly rusting in the tall grass; an inside-out tire planter adorns the completely unlandscaped front yard. The inside seems as unfinished as the outside. The walls and ceilings are partially painted, leaving the spackled drywall joints visible in many spots. Plywood sheets cover the floors. Exposed fluorescent tubes provide an even, cold light in the five rooms of the house. While the rawness of the interior décor suggests an uninhabited space, SECOND HOUSE is far from empty. The objects and images sheltered within its walls mirror the landscape outside: it’s pure Americana (that has been “stolen,” cropped, and edited by Richard Prince).

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More links:

Richard Prince’s page

Parket 72 – 2005

Guggenheim Museum to acquire RICHARD PRINCE’S SECOND HOUSE, 2005

Lightning Devastates Guggenheim-Acquired “Second House” by Richard Prince

Quote 18 Feb

“The artist’s home and studio were stacked with his artworks, cast-off items, including three broken refrigerators with the doors still attached. A separate storage room was piled to the ceiling with jumbled junk, more artworks, damaged electrical cords and worn-out clothing.” More

Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

3 Jan

Frances Glessner Lee (1878–1962), a New England socialite and heiress, dedicated her life to the advancement of forensic medicine and scientific crime detection. The seeds of her interest began when her brother’s college classmate, George Burgess Magrath (1870–1938), vacationed with the Glessner family at their summer home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Magrath, then a medical student, went on to teach legal medicine at Harvard and to become the chief medical examiner of Suffolk County (Boston). In 1931 Mrs. Lee helped to establish the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard, the only such program then in existence in North America. From that time on, she became a tireless advocate for forensic science. In 1934 she presented the department with a collection of books and manuscripts, which became the Magrath Library of Legal Medicine, and in 1936 endowed the department with a gift of $250,000 (adjusted for inflation, the equivalent of $3,367,000 in 2005 dollars).

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Mrs. Frances Glessner Lee at work on the Nutshell Collection, 1940s-1950s, 
Glessner House Museum, Chicago, Illinois
In 1943, Mrs. Lee was appointed captain in the New Hampshire State Police, the first woman in the United States to hold such a position. Around the same time, she began work on the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death—a series of eighteen miniature crime-scene dioramas for student analysis. The Nutshells allowed Mrs. Lee to combine her lifelong love of dolls, dollhouses, and models with her passion for forensic medicine. She originally presented them to the Harvard Department of Legal Medicine; later they came into the possession of the Maryland Chief Medical Examiner’s Office. Erle Stanley Gardner, the writer best known for creating the Perry Mason mysteries, and Mrs. Lee’s close friend, wrote that “A person studying these models can learn more about circumstantial evidence in an hour than he could learn in months of abstract study.”

Mark Dion

22 May

Scala Naturae, 1994 by Mark Dion

Concrete Jungle: A Pop Media Investigation of Death And Survival in Urban Ecosystems, 1996 by Mark Dion, New York: Juno Books

Masumiyet Müzesi is open to public!

6 May

‘When we lose people we love, we should never disturb their souls, whether living or dead. Instead. we should find consolation in an object that reminds you of them, something…I don’t know…even an earring’
Orhan PamukThe Museum of Innocence

The Museum of Innocence is both a novel by Orhan Pamuk and a museum he has set up. From the very beginnings of the project, since the 1990s, Pamuk has conceived of novel and museum together. The novel, which is about love, is set between 1974 and the early ’00s, and describes life in Istanbul between 1950 and 2000 through memories and flashbacks centred around two families – one wealthy, the other lower middle class. The museum presents what the novel’s characters used, wore, heard, saw, collected and dreamed of, all meticulously arranged in boxes and display cabinets. It is not essential to have read the book in order to enjoy the museum, just as it is not necessary to have visited the museum in order to fully enjoy the book. But those who have read the novel will better grasp the many connotations of the museum, and those who have visited the museum will discover many nuances they had missed when reading the book. The novel was published in 2008, the museum opens in Spring 2012.

See the prevoius post:  The museum that was written down 

Museum site

Cornell’s Wonderland

6 May

Joseph Cornell was not a sculptor, a draftsman, or a painter. This internationally renowned modern artist never had professional training. He was first and foremost a collector. He loved to scour old book shops and secondhand stores of new York looking for souvenirs, theatrical memorabilia, old prints and photographs, music scores, and French literature. 

Joseph Cornell was born on Christmas Eve 1903. He was the oldest of four children born to Helen and Joseph Cornell. He had two sisters, Betty and Helen, and a brother, Robert. Cornell grew up in a grand house in Nyack, New York, a picturesque Victorian town on the Hudson River. Cornell’s parents shared their love of music, ballet, and literature with their children. Evenings were spent around the piano, or listening to music on the family Victrola. Trips to New York meant vaudeville shows in Times Square or magic acts at the Hippodrome. His father often returned from his job in Manhattan with new sheet music, silver charms, or a pocket full of candy. But Cornell’s childhood was not without sadness. His brother, born with cerebral palsy, was confined to a wheelchair. Joseph, who was extremely attached to Robert, became his principal caretaker.

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