December 1, 1989 |
In three short scenes of Artist Descending a Staircase, Tom Stoppard demolishes the pretensions of modern art with fine dispatch. But the rest of his freaky little play is a letdown. It opened last night at the Helen Hayes Theater. Adapting his title from that of Marcel Duchamp's revolutionary nude, Stoppard focuses on the lives of three artists who have taken part in all the fads of the 20th century. They are seen in their old age, played by one set of actors, and in their romantic youth, portrayed by three others.
June 3, 2008 |
In August 2001, the day after her mother died at the age of 97, Anne d'Harnoncourt sat on the stoop of her grand, bohemian stone townhouse in Fitler Square, momentarily at a loss for words. It was a rare silence for d'Harnoncourt, a woman who savored words as if they were chocolate truffles, luxuriating in their sounds and the complexity - or simplicity - of their meaning. I had spent three months that year working on a profile of her, researching her life and observing her among colleagues and students, the museum's staff and wealthy donors, with her husband and the public.
June 7, 1995 |
Richard Torchia's last curatorial effort for Moore College of Art and Design is an exhibition that is long overdue in Philadelphia - a retrospective for city native William Anastasi, a prominent figure in the conceptual art movement of the 1960s. Torchia, curator of Moore's Levy Gallery for eight years, resigned several weeks ago to pursue his own art. He leaves with a flourish; the Anastasi show, which occupies all of the college's gallery spaces, is one of the most significant chapters of his curatorial career.
March 2, 2007 |
Considering the number of major works by Marcel Duchamp that have been on view in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Arensberg Collection since the early 1950s, it's not surprising that his influence is reflected in the work of many of this city's artists. Then again, Duchamp's shadow is sometimes shorter than it seems. Gerald Nichols, a regional artist who has an exhibition of paintings and recent constructions at Arcadia University Art Gallery, looks at first to have a kinship with Duchamp - he uses found objects and leaves them intact, among other things - but his sensibility is actually closer to that of the surrealist Joseph Cornell, who was a fan of Duchamp's art and was, at one time, his assistant (Duchamp likewise admired Cornell's boxes and collages)
May 21, 2003 |
Up the stairs, turning left, right, left, the map of the labyrinthine Philadelphia Museum of Art leads you into a darkened room. Projected on the wall is a profusion of images - some snatched from Bette Davis movies, others from documentaries - while musicians are playing a free-form mixture of jazz, blues, parlor songs and Sousa marches. Around the room are glass cases full of Liberty Bell kitsch - paperweights, chocolates - while the film examines the bell's crack like a doctor preparing for surgery.
July 25, 2008 |
Isn't blue the signature color of summer? Of blueberries, delphiniums, swimming pools, moods, sultry music? It seems as good a reason as any why Larry Becker Contemporary Art decided to organize its summer group show of paintings around that particular hue, in all its infinite variations. But there's more to it, apparently. The exhibition's title, "To Be Looked at ... " was borrowed from the one Marcel Duchamp gave to his enigmatic glass construction, To Be Looked at (from the Other Side of the Glass)
December 22, 1989 |
The artist Man Ray once declared that his goal was "to accuse, bewilder, annoy or to inspire reflection. " He was mistaken by putting in or. There's nothing wrong with annoying and inspiring reflection, or provoking artistic shock and provoking brain activity. He succeeded at both. Man Ray's current exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art shows an artist who rebelled against art as a conventional form of expression. For him, art had very little to do with fitting into established patterns and very much to do with breaking them, turning them upside down, mocking them.
November 5, 2012 |
Though Dove Bradshaw's art is all about chance, change, and indeterminacy, it's no accident that her one-person show at Larry Becker Contemporary Art, "Copper, Silver, Fool's Gold" coincides with "Dancing Around the Bride," the current Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition examining Marcel Duchamp's interactions and exchanges with John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns. The first artist to influence Bradshaw was Duchamp, whose Bicycle Wheel she first saw at the Museum of Modern Art when she was 14. In 1969, while a student at the Boston Museum School of Art, Bradshaw hung a bicycle wheel sideways from the ceiling of her studio as a perch for two live doves that a friend had given her; she then put a Zen archery target on the floor directly beneath the wheel, simultaneously referencing herself, Duchamp, and Johns.
November 5, 2012 |
An exhibition like the current "Dancing Around the Bride" had to happen eventually at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which holds the largest and most important collection anywhere of art by Marcel Duchamp. Its premise is simple, and hardly a surprise encounter, given that its essential truth has been known for decades. Duchamp was one of the most influential artists of the last 100 years. Among those he influenced directly were two important visual artists, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg; a dancer and choreographer, Merce Cunningham; and a composer, John Cage.
April 28, 2000 |
Black and gray never seemed so entrancing as they do in Michael Olszewski's new fabric constructions at Schmidt/Dean Gallery. They may be the colors of melancholy and death, but in his hands they become beguiling and sensuous. Some pieces do feel elegiac, but in a style that's so elegant, restrained and tasteful that it precludes sentimentality or mawkishness. Olszewski's fabric collages are enhanced with various kinds of marks applied with stitching. Particularly with the grays, he orchestrates an impressive variety of moods and effects.