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Modern Art Monday Presents: Giorgio De Chirico, The Philosopher’s Conquest

the philosophers conquest photo by gail worley
Photo By Gail

Giorgio de Chirico’s work represents an unexpected form of classicism in early avant-garde painting. The Philosopher’s Conquest  (191314), one of six in a series, combines a Mediterranean cityscape with familiar still-life objects that appear in many of the artists’s paintings, including a classical arcade, a cannon and cannonballs, a clock, chimney and a train. The stage set is an Italian piazza, virtually deserted except for the menacing, shadowy figures outside the edge of the scene. Rendered with a matter-of-fact — though intentionally crude — precision, de Chirico’s paintings seem rife with meaning but are resolutely enigmatic. Indeed, by juxtaposing incongruous objects, he sought to produce a metaphysical art, one that “resembles . . . the restlessness of myth.”

Photographed in The Art Institute, Chicago.

Justice for George Floyd: Mural and Street Art in the East Village

george floyd memorial mural photo by gail worley
Photos By Gail

In the past few weeks, the city streets have become a canvas for protest art spawned in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by the police.  On one of my regular evening walks this week, I spotted this small mural of George’s likeness, bearing the words ‘justice’ and ‘coexist,’ at the corner of First Avenue and East 13th Street. You can see that someone has placed a prayer candle on the sidewalk in front of the mural, but it’s easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention, because the mural sits below eye level.

george floyd memorial mural photo by gail worley

This mural is entitled Justice, and it was painted by New York-based Japanese artist Dragon 76 (@dragon76art). Update: as of July 25th, 2020, this mural has been painted-over as a black background with the word “Coexist” in white.

blm george floyd photo by gail wortley

Everyone should be familiar with the basic facts of how George Floyd died, but it case you aren’t, you can read it in the above photo. This is one of a series of stickers posted along Avenue B with the names and stories of black people who have lost their lives to police brutality and racially motivated violence. It is extremely sobering but also inspiring to join this call for justice.

say their names photo by gail worley
Photographed Outside Fishs Eddy on Broadway Between 19th and 20th Streets

Say Their Names.

blm trash and vaudeville photo by gail worley

In the windows of closed businesses, merchants and residents stand in solitary with our African American neighbors.

blm storefront photo by gail worley

Let us not allow this moment in time to pass without enacting real change, starting within ourselves.

fight the power photo by gail worley

black lives fucking matter photo by gail worley

I found this one in Freeman Alley.

George Floyd’s sacrifice will not be in vein.

george floyd memorial mural photo by gail worley

Rest In Peace.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Red and Pink Rocks and Teeth By Georgia O’Keefe

red and pink rocks and teeth photo by gail worley
Photo By Gail

Georgia O’Keeffe (18871986) was fascinated by the animal bones, weathered and worn, that she found in the desert in New Mexico. In Red and Pink Rocks and Teeth she presented a jawbone alongside two stacked rocks that appear both monumental and indeterminate. The smooth, rounded forms of the red and pinks rocks appear in enigmatic relation to one another, as the red pebble seems to recede from the picture plane even though it must be perched on top of the pink stone. Their abstracted forms and warm colors contrast sharply with the bleached, angular teeth and hard, cracked appearance  of the jawbone and together construct a tromp l’ceil that questions the nature or representation and perception.

Photographed in the Art Institute, Chicago.

Times Are Tough But So Are You

times are tough but so are you photo by gail worley
Photo By Gail

Times Are Tough But So Are You by street artist Captain Eyeliner is a sentiment we can all benefit from being reminded of every day as we move through these challenging times. It will get better.

Spotted on Leonard Street just West of Broadway in Lower Manhattan.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Mikhail (Moisei) Kunin, Art of the Commune

Art of the Commune Photo By Gail Worley
Photo By Gail

A native of Vitebsk, Mikhail Kunin (18971972) received artist training from Yuri (Yehuda) Pen and then attended the People’s Art School from 1919 to 1921, taking classes with Marc Chagall and then Kazimir MalevichKunin painted this still life, with its colorful objects during Chagall’s class. Its title, Art of the Commune (1919), is inscribed on the lower left, along with the Russian words for ‘Futurists’ and ‘Leap into the future.’ Ambitious and involved, Kunin was a member of the School’s student executive committee and its Communist Counsel. Although he studied under Malevich, he continued to work in a figurative style, not hesitating to criticize Suprematism and its practitioners, notably for what he said were their nihilism and their tendency to destroy painterly culture.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

Modern Art Monday Presents: El Lissitzky, Beat the Whites With the Red Wedge

beat the whites with the red wedge photo by gail worley
Photo By Gail

El Lissitzky (18901941) created the poster Beat the Whites With the Red Wedge (191920) in Vitebsk (a city in northeast Belarus, known as the birthplace of Marc Chagall). It is an early example of agitprop (Soviet political propaganda) that uses abstraction. The work was produced during the Russian Civil War (191821) in support of the Red Army and the young Soviet government in their struggle against anti-Bolshevik White forces. In the middle of the composition, a revolutionary red triangle drives into a white circle on a black background. The symbolic significance of these forms — emphasized by the scattered Russian words for wedge, red, beat, and whites — would have been easily understood by the artist’s contemporaries.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

Astronaut On The Bowery

astronaut by bd white photo by gail worley
Planet Earth is Blue, and There’s Nothing I Can Do . . .(Photo By Gail)

Street Artist BD White painted a few of his Astronauts on Bowery just south of East Second Street. This one is my favorite.

Joy of Life Sculpture in Zuccotti Park

joy of life sculpture photo by gail worley
Photos By Gail

Zuccotti Park in the Financial District is perhaps most famous for being ground zero for the Occupy Wall Street movement, but it’s also home to several pieces of monumental public art. For example, behold this bright red, 70-foot-high painted steel installation by sculptor Mark di Suvero, entitled Joie de Vivre (Joy of Life), which went up at the corner of Broadway and Cedar Street in June 2006. The sculpture is comprised of “open-ended tetrahedrons” as described by di Suvero, and was formerly located at the Holland Tunnel rotary.

joy of life sculpture photo by gail worley

joy of life sculpture detail photo by gail worley

Update: I was in the area on July 25th and took a couple of new shots (above and below). You can see the city has put barriers around the sculpture to keep people from congregating in the park.

joy of life sculpture photo by gail worley

Modern Art Monday Presents: Alice Neel, John I. H. Baur

john i h bauer by alice neel photo by gail worley
Photo By Gail

John I. H. Bauer, head of the Brooklyn Museum‘s Department of painting and sculpture from 1936 to 1952, here appears seated in an interior space, perhaps his office. His body, cropped at the head and ankle, fills the frame. Painted in 1974, Alice Neel captured idiosyncrasies such as his slightly rumpled suit, wrinkled face, and veiny hands. One of her guiding principles as a portraitist was, in her words, that “every person is a new universe unique with its own laws.“

Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum.

Pink Thing of The Day: Buff Monster Box Truck!

buff monster box truck photo by gail worley
Photos By Gail

The Covid Life walks have lead me to all sorts of unexpected, magical discoveries! That might have something to do with the fact that I am now regularly exploring streets that, three months ago, I did not know existed. Case in point: Columbia Street. “Where The Fuck is That” you ask? It’s on the LES near Delancey, and walking north it eventually turns into Avenue D. But it was on Columbia Street,  that I saw this box truck idling in front of a grocery store, bearing Buff Monster’s awesome pink tag, along with his signature Mr. Melty character. Sweet.

buff monster box truck detail photo by gail worley