TIO NYC: More Museum Musings + Chelsea Tables!

To date we have visited The Met, Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Cooper Hewitt, Neue Galerie, Jewish Museum and the Frick Collection with mixed responses. If your time in New York is limited, see “Manet/Degas,” Matisse and Derain in the Fauve show, and early Buddhist art, all at The Met. Don’t miss “Picasso at Fontainebleau,” an eye-dazzler at MOMA, along with the Ed Ruscha, a seminal figure in Left Coast Pop, which is fun. And we loved loved loved the Barcley L. Hendricks portraits at the Frick Collection, the latter show a must.

For details, read on.

And for more about TIO NYC, fall 2023, go here.

Frick Madison, “Barkley L. Hendricks – Portraits at the Frick,” up through January 7, 2024:

Iamge, The Frick Collection

Jacob Lawrence.

Faith Ringgold.

Kara Walker.

Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Romare Beardon.

Kahinde Wiley.

Sam Gilliam .

The names of these artists may or may not have taken up residence in your squash, but they do feature on any list of high-profile Black artists.

And Barkley L. Hendricks?

Nope.

Until now.

And his is a story written (at least in part) in black and white.

Hendricks is the very first artist of color to be given a solo show at  the Frick and a humongo talent who is finally getting his due. In fact, albeit posthumously and seemingly overnight, the artist has become the superstar he always deserved to be, no less at one of his favorite museums and regular hangs: the Frick Collection.

Hendricks., who died in 2017 at age 72, was a painter, photographer and teacher, who spent nearly 40 years as a professor at Connecticut College. Beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, the man revolutionized portraiture through his hyper-realistic, post-modern oils of Black Americans in urban settings

Now in its temporary quarters in the Breuer on Madison Avenue, the Frick gathered 14 of the artists’ monumental portraits in a show that stands alongside its permanent collection with works by Rembrandt, Bronzino, Velázquez, Ingres, Van Eyck and Whistler, whose work is in the room next door. And no accident there: Hendricks is known to have paid at least oblique homage to Whistler’s stylish dispositions of body, clothing and attribute and his larger-than-life images look utterly comfortable hanging out as they do in that rarefied company.

Arguably Hendricks’ paintings channels disparate artistic influences as Dutch Golden Age portraiture, Pop Art and Color Field genres, but ultimately the man created an aesthetic utterly his own.

“…He loved paint and he loved people, both of which put him at odds with the reigning dogmas of the late 1960s.

“That’s when all the cool kids were doing grids and lightbulbs and series of factory-made slabs, and figure painting was considered deader than dead. Somehow, he found a way to marry the period’s deadpan minimalism with his own lush expressivity. His portraits quiver and spark, but they also have an ascetic quality, their depth minimized, colors muted and solid human shapes placed against a plain ground…,” wrote The Financial Times.

This must-see, better-late-than-never show proves that Barcley L. Hendricks is white hot and a cooler than cool artist who, despite his race, chose not to be political or polemical, instead endowing his subjects with a power and dignity that mostly only highfalutin white folks have been historically and consistently afforded over centuries of images on canvas.

For more, read this full reviews in The New York Times.

Jewish Museum, “Mood of the Moment: Gaby Aghion and the House of Chloé,” up through February 2024:

Image courtesy The New York Times

“For only the second time in its almost 120 years, the Jewish Museum is holding a fashion exhibition — and it is the first in New York dedicated to Chloé, the French ready-to-wear brand founded in 1952 by the Egyptian-born designer Gaby Aghion. ‘Mood of the Moment: Gaby Aghion and the House of Chloé’ seeks to rectify both oversights, while introducing its founder, and her connection to her own Jewish identity, to the broader public… ,” wrote Vanessa Friedman and Max Lakin for The New York Times.

Continue reading here.

Many famed designers have occupied the top spot at Chloé, names that are now iconic in the fashion world such as Karl Lagerfeld, who held the creative director role for 25 years during two different periods, also Martine Sitbon, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, and more. But the company’s aesthetic was set by the label’s founder, Aghion.

Starting in 1952, Aghion rejected the stiff, often heavy made-to-measure clothes of the Parisian couturiers of her era for designs that were easier for women to wear, a style that came to be known as luxury prêt-à-porter.

Images, courtesy Vogue.

The show, like the designs of the label’s now-legendary train of designers, is frothy, yes, but also lotsa good , clean, chic fun.

Neue Galerie: “Max Beckmann: The Formative Years,” 1915-1925, through January 15, 2024:

Image, courtesy The Neue.

Max Beckmann was a medical officer during World War I, an experience that traumatized him – “great injury to his soul” – and instigated a drastic shift in his artistic style away from a traditional, academic technique towards a more critically engaged and expressive style of painting.

“Max Beckmann: The Formative Years, 1915-1925,” focuses on that shift that occurred in Beckmann’s work over a crucial decade. The exhibition, which features 100 works, including major paintings, drawings, and significant print portfolios, offers an unprecedented focus on a 10-year period when that shift occurred.

And yes, Beckman’s work is a bold and powerful commentary on the tragic events of the 20th century – therefore underlining the dark headlines of today. Beckman’s work– featuring strange bodily contortions and big bulging eyes – showcases the artist’s inner anguish which clearly lies very close to the surface. He was, by his own admission, repeatedly illustrating life’s “grotesque banality.”

Worth a visit, but not an upper and only ok if you are willing to metabolize more anguish.

Cooper Hewitt,  “A Dark, A Light, A Bright,” work of designer Dorothy Liebes  up at the  Smithsonian satellite through February 4, 2024:

Image courtesy Cooper Hewitt.

“Through her experimental studio practice, Liebes pioneered a new role for the textile designer as a partner to industry. This exhibition will reveal the scope of her impact on the colors and textures of modern fashions and furnishings from the 1930s through the 1960s,” explained co- curator Susan Brown, associate curator and acting head of textiles.

“Liebes had unparalleled influence on what modern design in America meant through her work as a designer, consultant, educator and mentor.We are thrilled to share the full spectrum of her achievements with new audiences and to add her contributions back into the history of 20th-century design,” explained Alexa Griffith Winton, manager of content and curriculum at Cooper Hewitt.

While honoring the impact of Liebes’ long and productive career, the elaborate, colorful, and very blingy installation, which features dozens of textiles, fashion pieces, furniture, documents and photos, left my friends and me feeling, well, meh. No doubt the weaver and designer helped define the look and feel of 20th century luxury, from first-class airline seats to movie backdrops, hotel suites to bathing suits, metallic wallpaper to car upholstery. But we felt the installation was not nearly as compelling as Liebes’ legacy deserves.

Chelsea Tables & Marissa Mulder:

Located at 152 West 26 Street, Chelsea Tables is one of New York’s newest hotspot for intimate dining and music. The venue in the heart of Chelsea features touring performers, as well as emerging artists and is open for breakfast and dinner (very good) seven days a week.

We booked an early show at Chelsea Tables because the evening featured songster Marissa Mulder.

Telluride might remember that name. Mulder performed in town in 2016 under the auspices of the dearly departed Telluride American Songbook Festival.

A native of Syracuse, Mulder moved to New York City in the fall of 2007, going on to become one of the most successful young cabaret/concert singers in the country.

In 2011, Mulder won the coveted MetroStar Talent Award over 60 other singers, judged by a panel of longtime professional singers and critics. She was the winner of the 2013 Julie Wilson and Noel Coward award, presented to her during a performance at Lincoln Center. Her other shows include “All the Way – the songs of Jimmy van Heusen” (“Here’s That Rainy Day,” “Come Fly with Me,” “But Beautiful,” etc.) and “Marilyn in Fragments” – a musical journey of Marilyn Monroe.

In New York City, Mulder has performed at Cafe Carlyle, The Algonquin, 54 Below, Birdland, Carnegie Hall, Joe’s Pub and now, Chelsea Tables. Among her recording, Illusions (a collection of standards, both old and new), and Tom…in his words, featuring the music of Tom Waits.

Just a fews years ago Mulder was a featured guest and singer on NPR’s Piano Jazz hosted by her frequent accompanist, Jon Weber, who remains Mulder’s musical director.

Though we liked the venue, this particular show was not our favorite. Mulder’s set focussed on the music of women songwriters – but almost exclusively their sad songs. “Sad songs make me happy,” she explained. In these troubled times? Really? We enjoyed the stories Mulder told about each writer and her voice remains lovely, but  we would have welcomed a few rays of sunshine to break up the clouds.

“Walk into the main entrance of the Hilton on 26th between 6th and 7th, bear to the right of the elevators, descend the curved stairway and you’ll emerge into the delightfully columned and draped lower level of Chelsea Table + Stage. It’s a high-ceilinged, long and narrow music venue/eatery that delivers splendidly on both…,” wrote Front Row Center.

Totally agree.

Check the schedule. Many of New York’s top cabaret singers are performing at the venue now.

 

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