Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Guggenheim

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum situated at 1071 Fifth Avenue and 89th St in Manhattan's Upper East Side is the last major work of world-renown architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and a favourite destination for John and I whenever we visit New York City.
Opened in 1959, the building with its distinctive exterior and spiral ramp interior is one of the wonders of contemporary North American architecture. We've seen any number of inspiring retrospectives of major contemporary world artists like Mario Merz and Louise Bourgeios in this beautiful space. This last visit it was a show called Chaos and Classicism, Art in France, Italy and Germany, 1918-1936. A fascinating show on until January 11th, 2011.
During this last visit, I tried to capture some of the lesser known architectural features of the building like this seating and porch area beside an upper balcony
and the internal view at the same point down on the cafeteria area below. Some critics have complained that the structure competes too much with the artwork displayed but for us it just adds another reason not to miss a visit to the recently renovated building and museum.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday at the Met

For Bill and I there is no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in New York than at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Sometimes the galleries are full of people.
Sometimes they are quiet.
Sometimes romantic. The Path Through the Irises by Claude Monet, 1814-1817
The Storm and Springtime by Pierre-Auguste Cot, 1880 and 1873

We love the European Paintings galleries on the second floor. So many masterpieces!
Seated Peasant, Paul Cezanne, ca. 1892-96
Still Life with Apples and Pears, Paul Cezanne, 1891-92
Reclining Nude 2, Henri Matisse, 1927

Met Highlights

Any display of sculpture on the rooftop garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art must compete with the terrific skyline that surrounds Central Park.
When John and I visited in October, Doug and Mike Starn's Big Bambú, a constantly growing nest of bamboo poles and access ramps was being featured on the roof. It reminded me of Dagwood Bumstead's hair.
Quite a contrast to the intimate works of art displayed in the Romanesque galleries or the monumental works in the Oceania galleries.
The Rockefeller Foundation Oceania gallery is a fairly new addition to the Met. It's beautifully lit and airy, housing great objects from the South Pacific.
The gallery leads into the Greek and Roman Sculpture court.
This is the latest use of this courtyard. I remember when it was the Museum Restaurant with a fountain in the centre.
I think the natural light is much better suited to showing off beautiful sculptures like this Roman Portrait of a Young Aristocrat.
And all the better when the seating places living and marble figures together. Could this young man with his lightning bolt be a modern messenger of the gods?
It's a perfect space for displaying Aphrodite's lovely buttocks. Everybody looks good in the diffused light.
The extensive collection of Greek and Roman pieces in the surrounding rooms includes this Attic Greek kouros. 
Then, a doorway off a gallery of gorgeous Greek vases leads to a special exhibition of Joan Miró's wonderful series of paintings inspired by Dutch interior paintings of the 17th century. A wander through the Met is always an adventure.

Friday, November 26, 2010

European Sculpture Court

After wandering the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a few hours, John and I always look forward to a visit to the Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court.
It's a beautifully lit, tall courtyard filled with sculpture like the Maillol nude to the left here and Rodin's Burgers of Calais to the  right and plenty of seating to rest your weary feet.
Besides the beautiful sculptures like Antoine Bourdelle's The Archer pictured here, there's always great people watching to enjoy while you relax.
The space is favoured by young art students sketching the artwork. A perfect, free place to take a break when visiting the Met's immense collections.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sunday in the Park

On our last day in New York last October, John took this picture of the beautiful, pastoral landscape of Cedar Hill in Central Park speckled with sunbathers and picnicers. The Park was designed by 19th century master landscapers, Frank Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.
As we passed the Boat House and Lake, I took this scene of rowers below the twin towers of the San Remo apartments.
Here is the Lake and its rowboats.
A jewel of Central Park is the Bathseda Fountain beside the Lake on the Mall.
The Angel of the Waters (1868), sculpted by Emma Stebbins, stands atop the fountain, blessing the waters.
Nearby the Sheep Meadow was full of Sunday loungers. 
Eventually our crossing of the park took us past this underpass and into Columbus Circle at the south-east end of the Park. Beloved by New Yorkers, the Park is always worth a leisurely saunter.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Rainy Day in St Catharines

We spent the day with Bill's mom, Reta, in St Catharines yesterday.
The rain made for a very romantic walk to the Heritage Restaurant for dinner.

National Museum of the American Indian, NYC

One of John and my favourite museums in New York City is the National Museum  of the American Indian based in the Old US Customs House at Bowling Green. There are always selections from their permanent collection on view like these Plains Indian bone playing cards.
But the larger part of any visit is to the changing displays of Contemporary Art (we saw a fabulous show of Annie Pootoogook's drawings last visit) and themed exhibitions from their permanent collection. The stunning exhibit this time was A Song for the Horse Nation featuring objects related to the relationship of the Plains Indians to the horse. This exhibition is on until July 7, 2011.
Here is a Lakota beaded hide coat, ca. 1890. of cut beads, metal buttons, cotton cloth, hide, and sinew inspired by a White calvary military jacket.
The details of the jacket are gorgeous.
Here we see a Siha Sapa (Black Foot) Lakota cloth dress, ca. 1890. South Dakota, made of muslin, denim, wool cloth, pigment and cotton thread. A dress like this would have been worn by the wife or sister of a great warrior.
All the decorative drawings are incredible like these captured horses.
Again, who can resist this Cheyenne River Lakota shield cover, ca. 1880s, South Dakota, combining pigment, hide and rawhide? What a classy parade item!
We also loved this Tsitsistas/So'taeo'o (Cheyenne) shirt, ca. 1865. Montana, incorporating porcupine quills, pony beads, hair locks, horsehair, pigment, hide and sinew. This is a detail of the shirt which would have been worn only by esteemed warriors, spiritual leaders, and diplomats.
Or how about this Chaticksi (Pawnee) coat belonging to Love Wolf, ca. 1910. Oklahoma. It's made of hair locks, sweetgrass, seed beads, feathers, horn, porcupine quills, pigment, wool cloth, cotton cloth, hide and sinew. We love the beaded name plate.
We'll finish with this detail of a Central Plains (possibly Oto or Potawatomi) beaded cloth coat, ca. 1895 (detail). Oklahoma, made of silver coins, seed beads, wool cloth, ribbon and thread. We hope we've tempted you to visit this awe-inspiring museum on your next visit to New York.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lower Manhattan

John and I always visit the wonderful Museum of the American Indian when we visit New York City. It's situated at the farthest point south on Manhattan in the old US Customs Building facing Bowling Green, the first public park in the old city.
On a lovely sunny morning we caught the #20 bus down 7th Avenue to Battery Park and got off to stroll the Battery Park Promenade along the Hudson and enjoy the view of the Statue of Liberty in the distance.
We'd never noticed Jim Dine's sculpture The Cat and the Ape along the promenade before. Charming and surreal.
After visiting the museum we wandered north up Broadway to Trinity Church and its churchyard. The present building was built in 1846 but the original church was established earlier and burnt down in 1776 but the original cemetery and still stands.
It's the last resting space of a number of prominent early New Yorkers like Robert  Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat, some Revolutionary leaders and early members of the wealthy Astor family.
Some gravestones are too old and worn to identify for whom they were erected.
The graveyard is a ghostly memorial to early New Yorkers situated just a block away from that infamous, modern memorial, Ground Zero.
The grid patterns of Upper Manhattan converge into the winding, crowded streets in this compact, early part of the city. Here 6th Avenue joins itself to West Broadway.
We wandered up to Soho along West Broadway through the Tribeca neighbourhood. So much change and history in such a small area.