A tour de force of Willem de Kooning’s gestural style, Easter Monday (1955-56) bristles with energy. Angled forms and lines collide, overlap and penetrate one another, while transferred newsprint, particularly visible at the bottom and top right, enforces a tenuous, grid-like structure. The work appears to be in simultaneous processes of creation and destruction, a perpetual state of both realization and erasure that finds some analogy in the continuous growth and decay of nature.
Named for the day on which de Kooning completed it in 1956, Easter Monday is the largest of ten monumental works that he exhibited that spring. Critic Thomas Hess likened the group to “abstract urban landscapes,” and Easter Monday does seem to reference the whirling pace and gritty detritus of the modern city.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera currently on extended view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
The catalyst for Andy Warhol’s transformation from commercial to fine artist was a 1961 display window that he created for the Bonwit Teller Department Store at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street. The window displayed five of Warhol’s newest paintings as a backdrop to mannequins wearing Bonwit’s fashions. Representing Warhol’s first foray into what would become Pop Art, these paintings depicted commercial imagery from ads and comics, overlaid with gestural drips and blotches of Abstract Expressionism. The Bonwit window introduced Warhol’s characteristic practice of elevating pop culture into fine art that he continued to explore for the rest of his career.
Photographed as part of the Gay Gotham Exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.
While George Tooker’s paintings typically convey the artist’s passionate desire for social harmony and justice, Government Bureau (1956) represents a darker, more pessimistic dimension of his art.
The work takes the viewer inside a cold, starkly lit interior filled with anonymous bodies and cubicles. Eerily, the circular windows in the cubical walls reveal nothing but the tired, sad eyes of government employees staring blankly. The scene’s unsettling remoteness is accentuated by Tooker’s fine and detailed technique, rooted in the Italian Renaissance egg-tempera painting.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Designed George Nelson™ and Irving Harper in 1956, the playful Marshmallow sofa is a landmark of Midcentury modern design that’s still turning heads and making people smile. The 18, round cushions can be all the same color or in multiple colors for the right look in a private office, lobby, lounge, living room or den.
Manufactured by Herman Miller, this design is currently on sale for $3,314.00 (with Free Shipping!) at This Link.
The Marshmallow Sofa in this post was photographed on display as part of Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City, Manhattan, NY.
Former Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook was born on this day, July 20th, in 1956. Paul currently plays in the band Manraze with guitarist Phil Collen from Def Leppard and bassist Simon Laffy from Girl (Phil’s old glam band). Their new CD, punkfunkrootsrock will be released on August 2, 2011. Happy Birthday, Paul!
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) singer for the Sex Pistols and Public Image was born on this day, January 31st, in 1956. My friend Rey once told me a story of how he, as a journalist, had attempted to conduct an interview with Lydon during the days of Public Image. It didn’t go so well. Each time Rey asked a question, rather than answer, Lydon would just repeat that question back to him in a mocking voice. Rey told me that he got up and left the room several times in an attempt to terminate the interview, but the publicist insisted he continue and promised that Lydon would behave from then on. Eventually he gave up and wrote the article about what an asshole John Lydon was. Because Rey is awesome. I love that story. Happy Birthday, John!
Glen Matlock, bassist for the Sex Pistols, was born on this day, August 27th, in 1956. The Sex Pistols, including Matlock, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. Favorite Sex Pistols Songs: “I Wanna Be Me,” “Pretty Vacant,” “Silly Thing.”
Ramones’ Drummer Marky Ramone (born Marc Bell) was born on this day, July 15th, in 1956. Coincidentally, Ian Curtis of Joy Division was also born on this date in 1956. Curtis passed away quite tragically on May 18, 1980, having committed suicide by hanging himself. Johnny Thunders (born John Genzale) of The New YorkDolls and The Heartbreakers was born on this date in 1952. He died of a drug overdose (though some say it was murder) on April 23, 1991. It’s always sad to lose someone so charismatic and talented in their prime. Let us all take a few minutes (at least) today to celebrate the lives and music of these three influential musicians.
Green Would Call This One of His “Princess Dianna” Pictures
Scritti Politti vocalist, songwriter and brain trust, Green Gartside (born Paul Julian Strohmeyer) was born on this day, June 22nd, in 1956. Green has been the one constant in a band that’s forever bringing in new musicians for each recording. My favorite Scritti Politti song is the brooding and atmospheric “Skank Bloc Bologna” (released 1978) from before Green changed their sound and went all dance pop. The photo you see above hangs on a wall in my apartment and is inscribed, “To Gail with Love and Thanks, From Green.” Read my truly fabulous interview with Green from 2000 at This Link.