Monday, August 21, 2017

NYC Day 65: I Return to The Met Museum in Search of The Arts of Mexico

 Above: A collection of tin-glazed earthenware dating from around 1660 to 1800
With exactly three weeks left of my twelve week New York stay remaining, it was time to shake myself out of my stupor and get back out among it. After all, I can sleep all day every day for a week, once I get back home. I may never return to this amazing city again, and now is not the time to be sleeping the days away. With that refreshed attitude in mind I made my way back to the Metropolitan Museum on Fifth Avenue. I decided to focus my visit on the exhibition, Collecting the Arts of Mexico, on view in the Joyce B. Cowin Gallery (Room 749) on the second floor of the American Wing.

There are two major parts to this small but important exhibition. The first, highlights a number of pieces of Mexican pottery donated by Emily Johnston De Forest and her husband Robert, and includes works by Nicolás Enríquez, and others.

Above: Tin-glazed Basin attributed to Damian Hernandez (active 1607-1670 

Above and detail below: Pair of Jars (17th Century Earthenware)

Collecting The Arts of Mexico: Exhibition Overview
In 1911, Emily Johnston de Forest gave her collection of pottery from Mexico to The Met. Calling it "Mexican maiolica," she highlighted its importance as a North American artistic achievement. De Forest was the daughter of the Museum's first president and, with her husband, Robert, a founder of The American Wing. The De Forests envisioned building a collection of Mexican art, and, even though their ambitions were frustrated at the time, the foundational gift of more than one hundred pieces of pottery anchors The Met's holdings. Today, more than a century later, their vision resonates as the Museum commits to collecting and exhibiting not just the arts of Mexico, but all of Latin America..

Above: One of an identical pair of iron Rowel Spurs, from Mexico or Spain, 1738.

Above and detail below: The Entombment of Christ, 
Ca. 1702, by Juan Rodriguez Juarez (Mexico, 1675-1728)  
The Paintings of Nicolás Enríquez
In 1783, Juan Bautista Echeverría wrote his last will and testament in preparation for the perilous journey from Mexico City to his native Navarre in northern Spain. Echeverría, who had gone to Mexico as a youth in the mid-1750s, returned to Spain nearly thirty years later, having amassed a considerable fortune. Among the prized possessions he took with him was a suite of five paintings on copper by Nicolás Enríquez, who signed each of them "made in Mexico in the year 1773." The set, which was recently acquired by the Museum, is preserved intact, a rare occurrence that illuminates not only the artistic accomplishment of the painter who made them but the spiritual aspirations of the person who owned them.
The paintings were intended for Echeverría's private devotional use and the choice of subject matter is highly personal. Nicolás Enríquez lavished special attention on the painting of Echeverría's namesake, Saint John the Baptist, detailing the crystalline drops of water poured over Christ's head and the gentle current of the river that flows around his submerged feet. Another painting borrows a composition from Rubens to represent the Holy Family as an earthly Trinity.
Above and Detail below: The Virgin of El Camino with St. Fermin and St. Saturnino
By Nicolas Enriquez (Mexico, 1704-1790)

Three of the five paintings depict miraculous images that reflect Echeverría's Spanish roots as well as his extended residence in Mexico. The Virgin of El Camino is especially venerated in Pamplona, the principal city of Navarre. The painting copies a print that was used to solicit funds for the building of a new chapel for the image. Another painting represents the appearance of the Virgin to Saint James atop a stone pillar near the city of Zaragoza. The Virgin of El Pilar is venerated throughout the Spanish world, but in Mexico City the devotion is associated with the convent church known as the Enseñanza, whose founder was, like Echeverría, of Navarrese descent. The third painting depicts the Mexican Virgin of Guadalupe, which is encircled by four scenes that corroborate the divine origin of the image. They record the Virgin Mary's appearances to the Indian Juan Diego at Tepeyac, near Mexico City, and culminate in the revelation of her image, miraculously imprinted on his cloak. Echeverría apparently was not satisfied to own a mere representation of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and he soon shipped it back to Mexico to be touched by the original image, an act certified by an inscription added to the painting in 1789. 
Ronda Kasl (Curator, The American Wing)
Above and detail below: The Virgin of Guadalupe and the Four Apparitions 
Nicolas Enriquez (Mexico, 1704-1790) 

More Information
At The Metropolitan Museum
Now through September 4, 2017
Learn More Here...

I also made a visit to another small but important exhibition, Frederick Remington at The Met, but that's a story for another day.

From the Metropolitan Museum I made way to the Museum of Modern Art to catch a screening of the Alex Proyas movie, Dark City. The film, made in 1998, is part of MoMA's current season of Sci-Fi movies called Future Imperfect: The Uncanny in Science Fiction. The season winds up at the end of the August and features some seventy movies. But that's a story for another day as well.

Museum Memberships $19.15 ($25.15)
AT&T SIM card $17.69 ($23.33)
MTA Pass $30.25 ($39.85)
Accommodation $152.00 ($200.00)
Total Ongoing: US$219.09 (AU$288.33)

Sunday 13, August | Expenses $39.70 ($50.21)
Monday 14, August | Expenses $77.25 ($107.85)
Tuesday 15, August | Expenses $00.00 ($00.00)
Wednesday 16, August | Expenses $49.00 ($61.75)
Thursday 17, August | Expenses $31.72 ($40.10)
Friday 18, August | Expenses $47.53 ($59.95)
Saturday 19, August | Expenses $38.70 ($48.80)
TOTAL: US$283.90 | AU$368.65

Total Expenses Week Nine: US$503.00 (AU$657.00)
*Figures in brackets are Australian dollar amounts

Any questions, comments or suggestions? How about complaints or compliments? Let me know via the comments box below.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

NYC Day 64: Move On. Nothing To See Here, Folks.

A second day in this week, although I did head out to my local supermarket to stock up on grocery items to see me through the next week or so of breakfasts and the occasional evening meal in. Today's expenses are entirely grocery shopping related. Since I need to write about something, I have included my shopping list below. I will almost certainly supplement this shopping expedition with a few other items during the week when my current supply of olives, eggs, and avocados run out.

The most unusual and unexpected item on this list for me is the SPAM. I have a vague recollection of having bought Spam only once before in my life, and I don't think I liked it much at all. So why buy it now? I don't rightly know. It was one of those spur of the moment purchases, and I thought it might be interesting to see whether fried up slices of the stuff with eggs might actually be okay. Oh, c'mon. Where's your sense of adventure? Besides, it's 'Hickory Smoke Flavored' so it can't be all bad, can it? Can it? [No pun intended]

From Wikipedia we learn:
Spam (stylized SPAM) is a brand of canned cooked meat made by Hormel Foods Corporation. It was first introduced in 1937 and gained popularity worldwide after its use during World War II. By 2003, Spam was sold in 41 countries on six continents and trademarked in over 100 countries (except in the Middle East and North Africa). In 2007, the seven billionth can of Spam was sold.
And further:
Hormel claims that the meaning of the name "is known by only a small circle of former Hormel Foods executives", but popular beliefs are that the name is an abbreviation of "spiced ham", "spare meat", or "shoulders of pork and ham". Another popular explanation is that Spam is an acronym standing for "Specially Processed American Meat" or "Specially Processed Army Meat".
The difficulty of delivering fresh meat to the front during World War II saw Spam become a ubiquitous part of the U.S. soldier's diet. It became variously referred to as "ham that didn't pass its physical", "meatloaf without basic training", and "Special Army Meat". Over 150 million pounds of Spam were purchased by the military before the war's end.
Okay. That's more than enough information about SPAM.

Today's shopping list 
Friday 18, August | Expenses $47.53 ($59.95)

Any questions, comments or suggestions? How about complaints or compliments? Let me know via the comments box below.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

NYC Days 61-63: In Which I 'Hit The Wall' and Sleep In Late

Click images to view full-sized
New York: Day 61
Tuesday 15, August | Expenses $00.00
After my late night out at the Bitter End (see previous post), and not getting to bed until well after 2:00AM, I spent today indoors, taking it easy. That's it. 'Nuff said.

Above: Images from the Ettore Sottsass exhibition.
New York: Day 62
Wednesday 16, August | Expenses $49.00 ($61.75)
I seem to be sleeping in more and more these days. Today was no exception, but I went out during the afternoon to the Met Breuer for the first time in several weeks. There is a new exhibition currently underway there, Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical.
A seminal figure in 20th-century design, the Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass (1917–2007) created a vast body of work, the result of an exceptionally productive career that spanned more than six decades. This exhibition reevaluates Sottsass's career in a presentation of key works in a range of media—including architectural drawings, interiors, furniture, machines, ceramics, glass, jewelry, textiles and pattern, painting, and photography. The exhibition presents Sottsass's work in dialogue with ancient and contemporaneous objects that inspired him, as well as his influence on designers working today. These juxtapositions offer new insight into his designs, situating him within a broader design discourse that reveals him as a true design radical.
Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical
Now through October 8, 2017

The Body Politic: Video from The Met Collection presents four works created between 1995 and 2016: David Hammons's Phat Free (1995), Arthur Jafa's Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death (2016), Steve McQueen's Five Easy Pieces (1995), and Mika Rottenberg's NoNoseKnows (2015). Alternately provocative, poignant, and absurdist, all of them explore the relationships among power, performance, and moving images. Here, the role of the camera is paramount. Besides a mediating agent and a framing device, the camera also serves as a witness, representing acts of injustice as well as moments of rebellion.
The Body Politic: Video from The Met Collection
Now through September 3, 2017

From the Breuer, I took first an M3 and then a M55 bus down to the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (at 126 Crosby Stree, Manhattant), where I succumbed to purchasing two more books: Teju Cole's Open City, and a management book called Everything I Know About Business I Learned From The Grateful Dead, by Barry Barnes.

From there I headed off to the Angelika Film Center (at 18 West Houston Street, Manhattan) to see Sofia Coppola's latest film, The Beguiled.

New York: Day 63
Thursday 17, August | Expenses $31.72 ($40.10)
I slept through until 9:30 this morning, and got up thinking I could still do with a few hours sleep. This week has been a slow one for me, and I realize finally that I have 'hit the wall', as long distance runners might say. I am even finding it hard to work up the enthusiasm to write these blog posts. This 'hitting the wall' thing happened to me at around the same point last year, when for a brief time I thought, That's it. I'm over New York City. I could happily leave and never come back.

Of course, by the time I did leave New York, I was already looking forward to my next visit -- little thinking that it would be this year. Now here I am, not exactly over the city, but once again feeling worn out and ready to take a week off from all activities and events. Needless to say, I won't, but I will take it easy this week, and then try and ramp up my energy levels for the final three weeks of my stay.

Today, I returned once again to MoMA, and focused my attention of Pablo Picasso, and an artist I know nothing about Giorgio De Chirico (not that I know anything to speak of about Picasso).

Pablo Picasso: Night Fishing at Antibes, 1939
Picasso, as most people are aware, made his name as a cubist painter, in which his subjects are pulled apart and put together again in fractured, angular pieces. Most art galleries crave these types of paintings and sculptures by Picasso, but few seem to care about his early artistic career when his paintings were executed in a far more traditional style.

Pablo Picasso's Three Women at the Spring, 1921.
The Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris has quite a number of these early works on show, and when I saw them I was surprised by how conventional they were. And how good. But why should I have been surprised? The only reason I can offer is that few people get the chance to see these early works, because the major museums and galleries prefer the cubist Picasso to the conventional one. MoMA is no different to other institutions, but at least the room showing a large number of his works does have a few early pieces that reveal this other side of the artist.

Above (and detail below), Giorgio de Chirico's The Enigma Of A Day, 1914.
Giorgio De Chirico (1888-1978) is described as an Italian, born in Greece, and seems to have been one of the early surrealists. Judging by the works on show at MoMA, he also seems to have had a ''thing' for trains and placing small, isolated figures within huge, towering landscapes.

Above Giorgio de Chirico's Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure), 1914.

I capped off my afternoon at MoMA by attending their screening of Steven Spielberg's 2002 adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story, Minority Report. The film starred Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, the great Max Von Sydow, and the wonderful Samantha Morton.

Late afternoon view of nearby buildings from MoMA 
Any questions, comments or suggestions? How about complaints or compliments? Let me know via the comments box below.

Can I go back to bed now?
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