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    Long Wharf Theater: Where, exactly, is ‘Our Town’?

    Geary Danihy

    Don Parks (Dr. Gibbs) in Long Wharf Theater production of ‘Out Town.’ All photos: Charles Erickson

    Well, based on the themes Thornton Wilder wove into his 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, it can be anywhere, for no matter what town or hamlet you visit there will be stories of love and loss, youth and old age, friendship, courtship, marriage and despair, plus, if you step back for a moment, the sense that life goes by too fast and it is only after all has passed that you realize what you have missed, the small moments you do not recognize as containing the essence of what it means to be alive. xxxxxx (more…)

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    London’s Tate Modern Highlights Malevich’s ‘Black Square’

    Jennifer Francis

    Kazimir Malevich, Black Square (1913). © State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

    “Up until now there were no attempts at painting as such, without any attribute of real life…Painting was the aesthetic side of a thing, but never was original and an end in itself.”    ~Kazimir Malevich

    A gloriously, insightful and refreshingly revelatory exhibition, presenting the work of Russian artist Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935), has been the subject of a major exhibition, Malevich: Revolutionary of Russian Art, at Tate Modern, London. It is an expansive retrospective, charting his entire artistic career and presenting the first opportunity to see many of his iconic paintings, such as the infamous Black Square. When this work was first created in 1915, a very big year for Malevich as well as the course of modern art, it scandalised audiences due to rejection of the conventions of pictorialism. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Domaine de Chantilly, France, with Mystery of Fra Angelico Renaissance Masterpiece

    Mary Skinner

    Fra Angelico, ‘Saint Romuald forbidden to enter the convent of Camaldules of the Emperor Otton III, charged with adultery’ Collection, The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium

    The Domaine de Chantilly in France is honoring the prized collections of the Condé Museum with a special exhibition of 14th and 15th century Italian paintings. The exhibit, Fra Angelico, Botticelli…Rediscovered Masterpieces will be on view from September 8, 2014 to January 4, 2015. One of the highlights of the exhibition is the reunion of five of the six paintings that comprise the Fra Angelico Thebaïde (‘solitary retreat’).

    But, one is still missing… xxxxxx (more…)

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    Peabody Essex Museum’s Calder Sculpture: Poetic Whimsy in Form and Motion

    Mark Favermann

    ‘Little Face,’ 1962, Sheet metal, wire, and paint. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Joseph B. and Ann S. Koepfli Trust in honor of museum’s 40th anniversary, M.2011.139

    Calder 20140389_8411Calder 20140389_8411“The underlying sense of form in my work has been the system of the Universe…that is a rather large model to work from.” ~Alexander Calder, 1951

    A natural reaction in the form of a smile, either external or internal, occurs whenever anyone encounters a piece of art by Alexander Calder. His sculptural forms are that pleasurably visceral.

    Creatively original, he set modern sculpture apart from abstract painting and figurative sculpture. He invented the sculptural forms of the mobile and the stabile.

    For decades his sculpture has been called wonderfully whimsical, delicately balanced and visually in-motion. But the works of Alexander Calder (1898-1976) are much, much more. Currently, in a superb exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), in Salem, Massachusetts, 40 of Calder’s signature sculptures celebrate this 20th Century abstract form-giver master. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Understanding “Black Film”: Fresh Perspective on the Human Condition

    Nancy Kempf

    Chadwick Boseman (as James Brown), in ‘Get On Up.’

    The popularity of Get On Up, on the heels of the awards sweep for12 Years a Slave, and the number of recent films exploring the black experience, might have us asking what accounts for the wave of “black films” since 2000? Whatever it is, the number per year has escalated, perhaps simply because the number of influential African-Americans in Hollywood has grown. According to the New York Film Academy, ten of the top 100 films in 2013 were black films compared with six in 2012 and four in 2011. At the same time, in the early 2000s, black actors played 15% of roles in film and TV, while today that number is 13%. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Picasso’s Woman: Study in Symbolism and Manifest Desire

    Martin Ries

    Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (c. 1907). Museum of Modern Art, NY

    “Au fond il n’y a que l’amour” [At bottom there is only love].  ~Pablo Picasso  

    “The facts show that it was the heart—albeit the heart of an artist—that dictated Picasso’s actions.”                   ~Olivier Widmaier Picasso

    When Pablo Picasso was in his early twenties, poverty-stricken and living in his studio in Montmartre, he sold his drawings for as little as twenty francs. In 1906, at 25, he painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon; four years later, married and a father, Picasso was relatively free from money worries. However it wasn’t until the autumn of 1923 that Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was finally sold. From age 38 he was wealthy. The Wall Street Crash of October 1929 had little effect on the artist (then 48), and the following spring he bought the Château de Boisgeloup near Paris as Europe fell into an economic depression. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Editor’s Letter: October, 2014

    Richard Friswell

    harvard sackler museum artes fine arts magazine 5“Beauty excites the sensitive soul to tears.” ~Edgar Allan Poe

    Left: ‘Anatomy of the Bones of the Human Body,’ artist unknown, German, late 15th c. Staatliche Sammlung München

    Wheels of Fortune


    ‘Past is Prologue’ is an aphorism that may thoughtlessly roll off the tongue. But, except in the broadest historical sense of the term, we don’t give much thought to its implications in daily life. I ran across an amusing story in an unlikely place (an antique automobile club newsletter) that fascinated me, in light of this old adage. With another time-worn phrase in mind—‘necessity being the mother of invention’—I thought it would be fun to share this functional design story with readers: xxxxxx (more…)

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    Modernism and the American Idiom: A Conversation with Film-maker, Michael Maglaras

    Richard Friswell

    www/artesmagazine.com“No author, without a trial, can conceive of the difficulty of writing a romance about [America] where there is no shadow, no antiquity, no mystery, no picturesque and gloomy wrong, nor anything but a commonplace prosperity, in broad and simple daylight, as is the case with my dear happy land. It will be very long time, I trust, before romance-writers may find congenial and easily handled themes, either in the annals of our stalwart republic, or in any characteristic and probable events of our individual lives. Romance and poetry, ivy, lichens, and wall-flowers, need ruin to make them grow.” *(see end note citing above image)

    ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Preface to The Marble Faun, 1859

    And “ruin” would indeed follow on the heels of Hawthorne’s ebullient claim about the idylls of mid-19th century American life. The trajectory of history would soon have the nation embroiled in a civil war, pitting brother against brother on the battlefield, and facing off former military school classmates in a deadly pursuit, where nothing less than the future of the country and its moral integrity were at stake. (more…)

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    Architecture as Privilege: the Rarified World of Private Clubs

    Maia Dickinson

    The following research was inspired by an architectural project with which the firm of William Green Architecture is currently engaged. This project spurred research on historical private clubs in New York City, which then naturally expanded to span from their historical roots to their place in modern society.

    The Origin of the Private Club


    A men’s gathering, 18th century print

    Private clubs have been a fixture of urban society for nearly two centuries, first in England and later in the United States. The motivation to form clubs derives from basic human desires: sociability; belonging to a larger entity; the comfortable safety net of being judged by a wider pool of friends and associations, rather than only one’s self. They are also arguably practical. Etymologically, “Club” derives from “cleave” – splitting the costs to reap the benefits of privilege [1]. The sensibility increases when clubs form around a common interest, as they are often wont to do. Members pool their resources, from financial to social, and their experiences, to create a hotbed of cultural production and consumption. xxxxxx (more…)

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    How to Watch a Movie: Salvation in a Darkened Room

    Nancy Kempf

    Hunger Games 2012

    “Cinema is truth 24 frames per second.” ~Jean-Luc Godard

    People like to talk about movies but few discuss film. Same with books. People talk about Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey but few know how to get under the skin of literature because people rarely approach narrative other than superficially.

    If we accept cinema as literature — and I do — we are obliged to approach film through a critical lens rather than simplistically through linear plot: This happened, then this happened, then this happened; or through shallow emotional responses: That was so sad/funny/cool/scary.

    Nothing is inherently wrong with going to the movies, or reading, for fun, but it’s like a diet of Wonder Bread, deceivingly named being devoid of wonder and lacking even meager nourishment. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Stratford Festival with ‘Antony & Cleopatra’: Lacking Dramatic Force

    Herbert Simpson

    Yanna McIntosh as Cleopatra and Geraint Wyn Davies as Mark Antony in ‘Antony and Cleopatra.’ All photos by David Hou.

    Stratford’s latest Antony and Cleopatra is their usual first rate reading of a Shakespearean classic with a cast of superbly trained classical actors and an elegant looking production. But I was still less than thrilled by the experience; and, in fact, I’m beginning to think that despite all its great moments and beloved dialogue, I just don’t like the play. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Editor’s Letter: September, 2014

    Richard Friswell

    www/artesmagazine.com“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”   ~Jonathan Swift


    Left: Circus mural depicting the visual arts (c. late 19th c.) Private collection

    The ‘Art’ of Film

    You may not have noticed, but ARTES, a magazine dedicated for the last six years to covering the visual arts—in various iterations—has branched out to include theater and film as a primary editorial category. Inclusion of film in the arts is an empowering gesture, as the increasingly-diverse creative community always benefits from public exposure and thoughtful critique. And with video performance genre becoming more a part of contemporary arts scene—both in museums and other public venues—it seems appropriate to offer a vital forum, like ARTES, for review and debate of this important, time-honored medium. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Rates of Exchange: the Detroit Institute of Arts as Gift

    Stephen Kobasa

    Henri Matisse, ‘Coffee,’ 1916. Oil on canvas. Bequest of Robert H. Tannahill.

    “An urban society needs two institutions to deal with non-functional objects: the sanitation department and the museum.”  ~ S. Dillon Ripley, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution (1964-84)

    Detroit is currently renowned for its vanishing. Only its debts have any substance. And its museum.

    It cannot be entirely a surprise, then, that the holdings of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) have been considered as salable assets, the returns from which could be used to pay off the billions of dollars owed by the local government to an imposing list of creditors. Since the collection belongs to the city, it is a uniquely public institution, unlike many other major museums which function as independent corporations. The irony is that public ownership makes it vulnerable as the consequence of a municipal economic disaster. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, and Deborah Butterfield’s Horses

    Deborah Anne Krieger

    ‘New Sculptures,’ by Deborah Butterfield, at Chicago’s Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, with ‘Cascade,’ 2014, cast bronze, 37 x 121 x 65″ in foreground

     Deborah Butterfield’s New Sculptures collection, was recently on display at Chicago’s Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, displaying the sheer power of her craft and artistry, while investigating how life and art—as well as interior and exterior spaces—can intersect.

    The sculptor, Deborah Butterfield, is best known for her metal (often bronze,) larger-than-life sculptures of horses that simulate driftwood. Butterfield’s process includes creating an armature of metal, then carefully fitting selected pieces of wood in just the right spot on the armature. She then casts each piece of wood in bronze and attaches the resulting form to the armature, carefully painting each portion to resemble wood, in color and in texture. xxxxxx (more…)

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    ‘Marjorie Prime’ at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum

    Edward Rubin

    With the population aging – think baby boomers, as well as their parents and grandparents—Alzheimer, dementia, and loss of memory, if you push aside the daily barrage of updates on Ebola, ISIS, terrorism, and the many wars being fought around the world, are among the hottest of the hot button topics around. xxxxxx

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    Westport Country Playhouse with ‘Intimate Apparel’: Our Humanity Center Stage

    Geary Danihy

     The Westport Country Playhouse is currently boarding a lovely production of Lynn Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel,” sensitively directed by Mary B. Robinson. This touching, engaging, funny play about a black seamstress living in New York City in 1905, inspired by the life of Nottage’s great-grandmother, speaks to many issues without resorting to diatribe or shrillness. It »more

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    Yale Center for British Art: Two Photographers Find Grace in the Living and Dead

    Stephen Kobasa

    Here is the surprise: a pure and unexpected delight in having an expectation shattered. It was with an unquestioned confidence that I walked into this exhibition knowing which of the two photographers would matter most to me. But I was wrong.   And I needed only one image to realize this. xxxxxx

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    Exploring African Identity: An Interview with Photographer, Namsa Leuba

    Emese Krunak-Hajagos

    Namsa Leuba’s photographic series, Ya Kala Ben, was part of this year’s Haute Africa, Knokke-Heist, Belgium, March-July 9, 2014, and the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Material Self: Performing the Other Within, at Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), Toronto, in May, 2014. Toronto-based writer, Emese Krunak-Hajagos, interviewed the artist to learn more about her use of photography »more

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