• D.C.’s Smithsonian with David Levinthal Photos: “American Myth & Memory”

    Elaine A. King

    The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s exhibition “American Myth & Memory, curated by Joanna Marsh features the uncanny fictional photographs by American photographer David Levinthal.  Born in San Francisco, California, in 1949 he was shaped by the United States ‘Golden Age’ of television and the proliferation of commercial advertising during the prosperous economy of the 1950s and 1960s. 

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  • New York’s Playwrights Horizons: ‘A Strange Loop’—Revealing!

    Edward Rubin

    In the past year or three there have been a healthy number of beautifully  crafted, wonderfully acted, and solidly produced black-centric plays both on Broadway and Off that have examined from every conceivable angle – historically, sociologically, and psychologically – what it means to be black in the United Sates, both past and present.

    To joggle my mind as well as yours New York theatres have hosted Father Come Home From The Wars, Choir Boy, The House That Will Not Stand, Fabulation, The Color Purple, An Octoroon, American Son, Daddy, The Secret Life of Bees, The Slave Play (previewing on Broadway this coming September), and the still running The Rolling Stone, and Pulitzer Prize winning Fairview. Most all were favorably reviewed.  However, not since A Strange Loop which is currently running thru July 28th at Playwrights Horizons have we come across a many faceted in your face gay male character like Usher (the extremely talented Larry Owens) who spares no detail, however raw, intimate, personal, scatological and sordid–and it is all of those and more–in the telling and showing of his life.

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  • New York’s Laura Pels Theatre: ‘Toni Stone’ Knocks It Out of the Ballpark

    Edward Rubin

    April Matthis, as Toni Stone (1921-1996) the first woman to play professional baseball in the Negro League, is knocking it out of the ballpark every night at the Laura Pels Theatre through August 11, 2019.The play, lightly based on Martha Ackmann’s book “Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone,” is overwhelmingly inspirational, deeply humane, and totally moving.With Toni Stone, the bases are loaded with the crème de la crème of the theatrical world – from Lydia R. Diamond’s poetically crafted play to Tony Award-winning director Pam MacKinnon’s direction and the inventive choreography by Camille A. Brown – all of whose finely calibrated work radiate a deeply ingrained brilliance.

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  • Celebrating Fame in Black and White: Alfred Eisenstaedt and LIFE Magazine

    Amy Henderson

    Alfred Eisenstaedt was one of the four original photographers Henry Luce hired to launch LIFE Magazine in 1936. Born in Poland in 1898, Eisenstaedt became a professional photographer in the 1920s and ‘30s, working for the Associated Press to document the transformation of Europe. With the rise of Hitler, he immigrated to the United States in 1935, and would work for LIFE Magazine from its inception until its final publication in 1972. More than 90 of his photographs were LIFE covers, and over 2,500 of his photo essays were published by the magazine.

    The November 5, 1965 LIFE featured Eisenstaedt’s elaborate photo essay on businesswoman/socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post, an occasion that has now inspired the Hillwood Museum to organize an exhibition centered both on that article and on Eisenstaedt’s work at LIFE–Mid-Century Master: The Photography of Alfred Eisenstaedt.   

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  • Sins of the Father

    Stephen Bank

    THE MINUTE I SAW HIM IN THE WAITING ROOM I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy case. Stefan was wearing sunglasses; he was slow to put down his magazine. Trudging several paces behind me, he hesitated at the threshold of my office, where he insisted that I choose which chair he should sit in. He waited to be interviewed.

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  • Editor’s Letter, June 2019: Towards a Critical Insurgency

    Will Fenstermaker

    Editor’s Note: Recently, a number of young art critics were asked to discuss the particular challenges contemporary art writers face, including student debt, material precariousness, an oversaturated job market, a general lack of editorial attention or guidance, the prevalence of online publishing, and more. Panelists presented in partnership with the School of Visual Arts (SVA), their BFA in Visual & Critical Studies and MFA in Art Writing. Among the presenters was, Will Fenstermaker, an editor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and an associate editor at the Brooklyn Rail. His comments at that New York City event, presented here as a Guest Editorial, consider what possibilities exist for art criticism in our moment.

    A few weeks ago, we were given prompts for our opening remarks. One was the question, “Do you think there is a crisis in the field of art criticism?” I first learned that criticism was in crisis when I was enrolled at the MFA Art Criticism & Writing program at SVA (School of Visual Arts) in New York City.

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  • Washington’s Freer Gallery with Whistler’s Watercolors: a Rare Look

    Amy Henderson

    Gilded Age industrialist Charles Lang Freer met artist James McNeill Whistler in London in 1890. Whistler was an American expatriate artist who had reinvented himself in the previous decade after suffering a serious fallout with his chief patron, Frederick Leyland, over Whistler’s resplendent but over-the-top design for Leyland’s “Peacock Room.”

    The Peacock Room, designed by James McNeill Whistler for shipping magnate Frederick Leyland in 1876
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  • Geva Theatre Center’s ‘The Royale’: A Simple but Stunning Production

    Herbert Simpson

    Virtually all of our leading contemporary repertory theaters now include non-traditional experimental techniques in staging not only original new work but also – even especially – to perform and reconsider revivals of historic classics. Canada’s great Stratford Festival now regularly gives us Shakespeare revivals with actors playing characters of the opposite sex, six or seven actors performing plays written to have a cast of more than 30 characters, and realistic people and animals played by puppets. Understandably, their audiences are sharply divided in response.

    Stratford’s recent very popular and admired version of Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors” not only presented the required characters of the two sets of twin-brother masters and servants who confuse everyone they meet about which twin brother is which, but also cast women as male twins and men as women in most of the main roles. The multiple mix-ups got much amused approval; but I thought them to be just wrong and not confusing enough to have fooled Helen Keller. But I have to admit that my local theater is currently turning abstraction into a knockout punch.

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  • Book Review: Walter Gropius, Visionary Founder of the Bauhaus

    Mark Favermann

    Award-winning author and critic Fiona MacCarthy is out to change wrong-headed perceptions of Walter Gropius in her biography. And she succeeds.

    His first (and angry) wife Alma Mahler, also Gustav’s first wife, described Walter Gropius bitterly and unflatteringly in her memoir on their combative marriage. Evelyn Waugh satires him in his novel Decline and Fall as the stiff and doctrinaire Otto Silenus. In his book Bauhaus to Our House, author Tom Wolfe uses him as a human swizzle stick in a sour cocktail raised to modernist architecture as little more than soulless functionalism. Frank Lloyd Wright admirers championed the latter’s “nature” inspired approach to design over Gropius’ purely rational and functional use of glass and steel. For them, Wright was warmly organic; Gropius was dismissed as all angles, coolly geometric. Over the years, he was often described by architectural critics and historians as humorless. However, in truth, though certainly ‘Germanic courtly’ in demeanor, Gropius could be quite charismatic and socially adroit.

    Thankfully, award-winning author and critic Fiona MacCarthy is out to change wrong-headed perceptions in her biography. And she succeeds in challenging too long held notions that Gropius, the founder of Bauhaus, one of the fathers of modern architecture, was austere, cold, and withdrawn. Rather than giving us a portrait of a mechanical architectural rationalist, she underscores Gropius’ humanity, and how that inspired his visionary philosophy as well as the consummate aesthetic courage he showed in through an extremely volatile, even dangerous, political age.

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  • AIPAD’s NYC Photography Show: ‘Eight Photographs Out Of Thousands’

    Edward Rubin

    Earlier this month (April 4-7), the Association of International Photography Art Dealers, widely known as AIPAD, celebrated its 39th edition of The Photography Show.  Situated at Pier 94 on the Hudson River in New York City it featured nearly 100 fine art photography galleries and project spaces from around the world. Also on premises were numerous talks, and some two dozen plus booths populated by book dealers, publishers, and photography related organizations.

    Roughly speaking, 57% of the galleries represented came from the US, with the majority from New York City (29) and California (13). Twenty galleries came from Europe (France 7, London 6), 2 from Asia, 2 from South America, and one – the Stephen Bulger Gallery from Toronto, Canada.  I specifically mention Bulger, as I have seen a number of wonderful exhibitions there, and I have long loved the city of Toronto.  

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