Tag Archives: Writing

The Stein Salon Was The First Museum of Modern Art

2 Nov

carl-mydans-author-gertrude-stein-sitting-with-alice-b-toklas-at-a-villa

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.

Continue reading

Read also about Salon de Fleurus

Fulton Ryder

27 May

Richard-Prince-with-the-new-Dan-Colen-book-from-Fulton-Ryder

Enigmatic New York publisher and private bookshop Fulton Ryder — founded by artist Richard Prince — has been captivating us with their Tumblr snapshots of rare and fascinating cultural fragments. We wanted to take a closer look at their collection of books, manuscripts, and counterculture collectibles, and they were kind enough to allow us a peek. More

The Book Lovers

24 Jan

EFA-02

The Book Lovers is a long term project about novels written by visual artists. It is divided into the following installments: a collection of novels, a parallel online database, a series of exhibitions, a performance program, and a symposium. The collection includes a total of around 140 titles, and it has been acquired by m hka, Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp, Belgium.

The show at EFA Project Space New York

January 25 – March 9, 2013

Marcel Duchamp’s studio

3 Jul

Henri Pierre Roché, Marcel Duchamp’s Studio, c. 1916-18. Courtesy Jean-Jacques Lebel.

Elena Filipovic / A Museum That is Not

One could say that everything begins and ends in Marcel Duchamp’s studio. His first New York studio is perhaps best known from a series of small and grainy photos, some of them out of focus. They were taken sometime between 1916 and 1918 by a certain Henri-Pierre Roché, a good friend of Duchamp. Roché was a writer, not a professional photographer, clearly. He was the same guy who would go on to write Jules et Jim, arguably a far better novel than these are photographs. But their aesthetic quality was not really what mattered. Duchamp was attached to those little pictures. He kept them and went back to them years later, working on them and then leaving them out for us like his laundry in the picture. Or like clues in a detective novel.

There isn’t a single photograph among them that shows his studio (which was also his home, in this case) cleaned up. Duchamp’s drawers are open, his shoes and pillows are strewn across the floor, dust has collected in the corners. The supposed cold conceptualist, the guy who epilated his entire body because he seemed not to like the unkemptness of body hair (and requested that his partner at the time consider doing the same), the artist of the industrially produced readymades—lives in a pigsty.1 This is not the first nor will it be the last of many Duchampian paradoxes. Still, Duchamp’s sense of housekeeping and the dust that he bred in his apartment is not so much my point as is his arrangement of objects. While he might live with a mess, everything also has its place. The small photographs reveal that the shiny porcelain urinal on view is not in the bathroom (although there might be another one there), or even tucked in a corner—it’s hung over a doorway. The disorder of the room might appear careless, except that a urinal simply doesn’t get up there by accident. Duchamp’s snow shovel is not casually leaning against a wall waiting for use—it is suspended from the ceiling. And his coatrack lies inconveniently and ridiculously in the middle of the room, nailed to the floor. Selected objects in chosen positions.

 Remember, this is sometime around 1917, several years after the artist first started to bring everyday objects into his studio. Back then, he had a Paris atelier, which his sister cleaned up when the artist moved to New York, throwing the first readymades into a dustbin, where she innocently thought they belonged…

More

The Order of Things

13 Jun

The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (French: Les Mots et les choses: Une archéologie des sciences humaines) is a 1966 book by Michel Foucault. Foucault endeavours to excavate the origins of the human sciences, particularly but not exclusively psychology and sociology. The book opens with an extended discussion of Diego Velázquez’s painting Las Meninas and its complex arrangement of sightlines, hiddenness, and appearance. Then it develops its central claim: that all periods of history have possessed certain underlying conditions of truth that constituted what was acceptable as, for example, scientific discourse. Foucault argues that these conditions of discourse have changed over time, from one period’s episteme to another. Jean Piaget, in Structuralism, compared Foucault’s episteme to Thomas Kuhn’s notion of a paradigm. Foucault demonstrates the parallelisms in the development of three fields: linguistics, biology, and economics. Foucault’s critique has been influential in the field of cultural history. The various shifts in consciousness that he points out in the first chapters of the book have led several scholars, such as Theodore Porter, to scrutinize the bases for knowledge in our present day as well as to critique the projection of modern categories of knowledge onto subjects that remain intrinsically unintelligible, in spite of historical knowledge. The Order of Things brought Foucault to prominence as an intellectual figure in France. A review by Jean-Paul Sartre attacked Foucault as “the last barricade of the bourgeoisie”. Foucault responded, “Poor bourgeoisie; If they needed me as a ‘barricade’, then they had already lost power!”

When one defines “order” as a sorting of priorities, it becomes beautifully clear as to what Foucault is doing here. With virtuoso showmanship, he weaves an intensely complex history of thought. He dips into literature, art, economics and even biology in The Order of Things, possibly one of the most significant, yet most overlooked, works of the twentieth century. Eclipsed by his later work on power and discourse, nonetheless it was The Order of Things that established Foucault’s reputation as an intellectual giant. Pirouetting around the outer edge of language, Foucault unsettles the surface of literary writing. In describing the limitations of our usual taxonomies, he opens the door onto a whole new system of thought, one ripe with what he calls “exotic charm.” Intellectual pyrotechnics from the master of critical thinking, this book is crucial reading for those who wish to gain insight into that odd beast called Postmodernism, and a must for any fan of Foucault.

Things (introducing a new category)

13 Jun

Lee Lozano

Martin Heidegger ( (1889–1976)) is famous for his early analysis of tools, and equally famous for his later reflections on technology. This might suggest an easy literal reading of these themes in his work along the following lines: ‘Heidegger began his career fascinated by low-tech hardware such as hammers and drills, but later took an interest in advanced devices such as hydroelectric dams’. But such a literal interpretation would miss the point, since neither Heidegger’s tool analysis nor his views on technology are limited to a narrow range of specific kinds of entities. When he speaks of ‘tools’, his analysis holds for trees and monkeys no less than for hammers; when he speaks of ‘technology’, he has little to tell us about specific high-tech instruments. In both cases he is more concerned with a general ontology than with a theory of tools or technology. Hence, this article will focus on the basic ontological background of Heidegger’s reflection on these themes; there is more to say about his ontology of things than about his relatively sparse discussions of technology per se.

The tool analysis is probably Heidegger’s most important contribution to philosophy, and contains his other breakthroughs in germinal form. The tool analysis was first published in 1927 in his masterwork Being and Time (Heidegger, 1962) but dates back to his 1919 lecture course during the so-called Freiburg War Emergency Semester (see Heidegger, 2000). Thus, the occasional claims that Heidegger stole the tool analysis from Edmund Husserl’s unpublished works of the early 1920s result from a flawed chronology and can be dismissed without further comment.1 In fact, the tool analysis marks Heidegger’s definitive break with Husserl, not a plagiarism of his teacher.

Read article

About Martin Heidegger

About Lee Lozano

More about Seth Siegelaub collection

12 Jun

Headdress Exhibition at Raven Row, London 

Prevoius post about Seth Sigelaub