Sunday, May 25, 2014

Licorice and a Cherry

This time - Adolph Gottlieb - His Imaginary Dessert and His Spangly Dress.

"$165.  ($1,344) Adolph Gottlieb.  "Imaginary Landcape" " red and black water color.  This strong painting is by a well-known American who lives in New York and whose work has been exhibited all over this country, and in India, Japan, and Europe.  Charcoal grey mat and grey wood frame, done by Gottlieb, himself.  22 1/2 x 18 1/2.  The New Gallery."

First, this looks pretty familiar because it is one of many Imaginary Landscapes.  This one I imagine to be a Spanish castle in the snow, especially when it's on its side.

Adolph is a sort of friend of a friend of Reading Vintage Vogues - we just missed him in the September issue, as he was off touring when his AbEx pals sat for a portrait with Irving Penn.  Extremely devoted readers will remember seeing the following photo at least eight times:

But we'll see this one even more - the Gottlieb looks just as nice on its side, even more Spanish castley.  (This looks fine in iPhoto, but it collapses on the way to the Desktop. Repeatedly.)

If "Imaginary Landscape" were an oil painting, and not a watercolor, we'd have good down payment on a house around here.    It's a school night - no time to search beyond the first few search pages for good sales figures - I've seen $9,000 on eBay, but also $1,500.  My wild, wild guess would be that this was still a bargain, even at what amounted to $1,300.

I saw a lot of Gottliebs at the AbExRedux exhibition, so feel we've already "done" him.  Here is a rather staid chronology of his life by the Gottlieb foundation - dropped out of high school, worked his way to Paris, drew incessantly and went to museums every day, met Barnett Newman, hung out with Mark Rothko. . . I don't have time to get permission to use the photo of my favorite painting - "Dry Cactus," which I read as "Dead Octopus" as it scrolled by.  I liked it better as an octopus.

The New Gallery - nothing pops out, except it was at 601 Madison Avenue.

We're running into our friend The Guggenheim everywhere these days - have a nice Eatograph at the Venice branch.

This seems naked without a movie. . . or a dress.

Oh, great and mighty Internet!  I asked and you gave -

This came from a very nice, but brief fashion blog called The Strutting Peacock, whose author found it on what I think is a Tumblr site.   If you have found yourself here, then you should hurry over there, where there are so many pairings that I couldn't find Gottlieb, but found several Barnett Newmans, who lends himself well to simple shifts.  Thanks, Georgina M of Polyvore.

Next - maybe a break from art. Why not?  Next - swimsuits!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Just Can't Break Up With My Blog

This week:  Trying to remember how to do this. . .

We left off last July, barely into a dense forest of art history.  Why?  Some reasons - new Mac and new iPhotos kind of confusing; overwhelmed myself trying to make a perfect Twitter account; the normal problems of life; and, very important, no more alternate work schedule.  (Still bitter about that.) But I just can't break up with my blog.  I miss it.  I miss the joy of discovering forgotten things.  And having a sort of reason for poking around and tracking people down.  Every time I come across the year 1959, I think of my poor blog.   Every now and then I check in on  the Twitter account (very tightly curated - RVV follows only and every person on entity appearing in this issue) and am amazed at how alive it all is.  Silly, but vibrant.  Bubbling along, with recent Tweets from the Jamaica Tourist Board about an upcoming regatta, Elizabeth Arden about spring lipstick colors; the Guggenheim with a very witty post on Bike to Work Day. . . Deep down, I feel that social media, or this "social media stuff", doesn't really exist, or shouldn't really exist, or should be thoroughly ignored. . . yet here I still am.

Some digital house cleaning:  The Movies Page will be moving to WordPress pretty soon.  Twitter will be the repository for all of the 1959 references that keep popping up.  And take a look at "Blogs I Follow" on the sidebar.  All still going strong and well worthwhile.

So:  here goes.

"$200.00.  ($1,630.00 in 2014).  African Mask. Monumental in its effect, this high patina wooden mask, from the Dan tribe of the Ivory Coast, now part of Liberia, was worn by a woman.  Female masks have round eye holes; male, horizontal ones.  4 3/8" x 8 1/2".  Mathias Komor."

When I'm not blogging this page, I barely take any of it in.  As I write, though, I ask myself:  What can I find out about the Dan tribe?  Why are the eye shapes different for men and women, and are they really?  Is the gallery still around?  The curiosity is visceral - I feel it in my fingers as I write.  So, this is why I do it.

The Dan - There are informative videos about the masks of the Dan on YouTube.  But here is a dance from some time between 1958 and 1960, according to the YouTube info.

Here is a map of the Dan (or Gio) region stolen from a Christian missionary website that includes prayer points so that the Dan can be converted from their animist beliefs.  I do not approve.

Here is a very similar mask in the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Round eyes, so should be a mask worn by a woman, but this one seems to have a beard.  I admit I have trouble warming up to most of what is often described as "ethnic art."  I feel I have very little in common with anyone who ever wore it.   All I can do is acknowledge the distance, which is kind of intriguing in itself.  

OK - how much does a Dan mask cost today?

This one sold for $62,000.00 at Christies in Paris in 2004.  That was the highest on this list of auction results.  Based on the examples, I would guess that a good Dan mask would cost from $5,000 to $10,000.  

The gallery that sold the mask in the magazine in 1959?  Mathias Komor was an expert in Asian art, who had a gallery from 1941 until 1984 at Madison Avenue and 71st Street.

One reason why I don't do this.  Two hours!  But I have seen the Snake Girls Dance, and have begun to recognize living people in these masks, especially this one:

who could be starring in a French rap video.

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