The enormous sandwich and pack of cigarettes in Still Life Number 36 (1964) reflect Tom Wesselmann’s nonhierarchical approach to subject matter and technique. He believed that anything could be art, including the ordinary consumer items that fill our pockets and kitchen cabinets. In 1962, Wesselmann began a series of large-scale still lifes that incorporated fragments of discarded commercial billboards, which he initially scavenged from trash cans but later procured in new, pristine condition directly from advertising agencies. The larger-than-life proportions of the objects in Still Life Number 36 at first seem to celebrate the surfeit of commercial goods in America’s postwar consumer culture. Yet the layers of collage and painted areas bring together incongruent depictions of reality, creating tensions in the composition that Wesselmann described as “reverberation.
Wayne Thiebaud’s interest in investigating the properties of each medium lead him to create a series of works of the same subject using different techniques. In the pictured watercolor of Nine Jelly Apples (1964) he used a wide range of pink and purple hues to suggest the luminous surface of the confection. In the black ink version, he relied instead on the vivid dark and light contrast to emphasize shininess. In the pencil version, however, the exacting precision suggests the brittle surface of hardened sugar.
While living and working in Paris, from 1948 to 1954, Ellsworth Kelly (1923 – 2015) developed an abstract vocabulary of line, form, and color and began is career-long investigation into how figure and ground are perceived in nonrepresentational painting. He became interested in the way that painting engages with the architectural space that it inhabits; rather than attempting to simulate three-dimensional perspective in a composition, he instead considered the wall to be a kind of ‘ground’ and the painting itself a figure on it.
In Orange Green (1964), made the following decade when he was back in New York, he established the figure-ground relationship on the canvas itself through the careful balance of two areas of color: the truncated orange egg-shape is the figure and the bright green color that surrounds it functions as its background.
Irving Penn purchased his first of many twin-lens Rolleiflex cameras in 1938. He acquired this one in 1964 and used it and other similar models for portrait sittings for the next four decades. The camera is topped with a modified Hasselblad chimney viewfinder and mounted on a Tiltall pan/tilt head above a table tripod of the artist’s own design.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
The scale model of Progresslandrefers to the General Electric pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair, whose themes were “Progress through Electric Power” and “The Wonders of Atomic Energy.”
In a brochure from the time, Progresslandis described as “a large graceful building with a curving 200-foot-wide dome, supported by a unique pattern of swirling circular pipes. It is eye-catching by day . . . and dazzlingly colorful by night.”
Video of Colorful, Illuminated Dome
Progresslandfeatured a Walt Disney presentation of electricity’s history and future, as well as actual nuclear fusion first hand. In Richard Rush’s carefully crafted model, made around the time of the fair, we can today appreciate the hope imbued into the temporary architecture, which celebrated a golden era of optimism in technical innovation and scientific exploration.
In 1967, the attraction was moved to Tomorrowland at Disneyland in Anaheim, California as the Carousel of Progress, remaining there until 1973.
Photographed at the Chamber Boutique on 23rd Street, West of 10th Avenue.
It’s always fun to discover a new work by Pop artist /sculptress Marisol (AKA Maria Sol Escobar, born 1930 in Venezuela) when we are out on an art safari. Her pieces, which are like 3D portraits, can be found not only at the Whitney but in the permanent collections of The Met and MOMA as well, and they are instantly recognizable.
Equal parts painting, collage, carving, and assemblage, Women and Dog(1964) was inspired by sources as diverse as its constituent materials. Marisol worked in New York during the emergence of Pop Art in the early 1960s and was one of few women associated with the movement. This sculpture reflects the fascination with everyday life that was fundamental to Pop, and yet its larger-than-life, totemic forms and the multi-faced profiles of the figures belie influences from Pre-Colombian and Native American folk art to analytic Cubism.
The trio of females strolling with a child and a dog seem to suggest Marisol’s interest in social norms and conventions relating to women in society, but the composition is ambiguous. Elements of the women’s clothing are colorfully whimsical, yet they are literally “boxed in” by their garments, and their faces are marked by a deadpan impenetrability. The women, and perhaps the child too, are self-portraits — indeed, a photograph of the artist is applied directly onto the face of one of the figures — suggesting a fluid inhabitation of different female roles and identities.
James Rosenquist’s Volunteer is dated 1964, but, according to Rosenquist, [it was] finished shortly before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
I think one of the coolest things about this painting is the use of fragmented symbols to depict the American life in the mid 20th century. The washing machine in the upper right speaks to a viewer as a symbol of American technological progress. The man in the business suit speaks as a symbol of how the American professional was dressing during this time. The ice cream speaks of American’s desire for “gustatory pleasure” (James Rosenquist. Volunteer. 1964. Art Institute of Chicago).
I like this painting because of how it can be interpreted in many different ways. My interpretation is that the artist is being cynical in this piece, depicting things that Americans were concerned with in the era of the mid 1960s. It is interesting to see how Rosenquist interpreted American culture at the time, symbolizing technological advancements, personal appearance, and personal pleasure being the main concerns of Americans at the time, concerns that are still on the top of the list amongst Americans.
The puzzle pieces with a piece missing are also an important aspect of the work. I found no insight into why they exist on the work, so I formed my own opinions. I believe that the missing puzzle piece is the artist separating himself from the mold of American culture he illustrates in this piece. He wants to break the mold as an artist and not fit in to the stereotype that he has depicted in Volunteer.
Many of Rosenquist’s other works have an underlying cynical message to them. Some depicted war machines, most often airplanes, representing his dislike for the war and global tension happening at that time. From my research, the most cynical and interesting part of the picture is Rosenquist’s image of his own palm which stands out past all of the other images. According the Rosenquist, the palm cynically represents “the hand that volunteers”. I see this being cynical, but at the same time pretty spot on. In my opinion, the artist volunteers his time to all who will view his work and will use it to interpret messages about their life and what they view important in it.
Rosenquist is telling us that modern technology, flashy self appearance, and delicious self indulgence are not bad things in and of themselves, but when put upon a pedestal and made the most important things in our lives, we lose grasp on the true meaning of life. We need to separate ourselves from the mold of society, the mold that tells us that bigger is better, only the good looking make it in life, etc, etc. We need to start living as human beings who help each other no matter what.
Volunteer By James Rosenquist is a very interesting piece of modern art, one that challenges us to use the painting as a mirror, and reflect upon ourselves when we look at it. Seeing how we fit the mold he has characterized, and how we can ultimately break out if it.
— Frank D’Antonio
Photographed By Gail at the Museum of Modern Art in March of 2014 NYC while on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago.
Do you love The Beatles? I sure do. I remember watching the band’s first film, A Hard Day’s Night, for the first time on a black & white TV set tucked way in a family room that we called The Den, and being totally enraptured by The Beatles charming shenanigans and totally amazing songs. I was probably five years old at the time, and by then the film was two years past its 1964 release date. Since that day, I’ve seen A Hard Day’s Night countless times on TV — either broadcast or via recorded media– but I’d never had the chance to see it on a Big Screen until Criterion hosted a press screening last month to promote the upcoming release of the newly restored 50th Anniversary edition of the film. Let me tell you, it is really something special, and sitting there in the dark theater with images of John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr all larger than life, took me right back to being that little five year old girl who was (and still is) just completely nuts about The Beatles.
Directed by the legendary Richard Lester and released amid the initial global frenzy of Beatlemania, A Hard Day’s Night follows the fab four through a fictionalized ‘typical day’ of running from hoards of crazed fans, traveling by train, hanging out in their hotel room, meeting the press, cracking wise, filming a live TV show and, finally, performing for a capacity crowd of those same of hysterical fans who simply will not stop screaming. There are couple fun subplots such as a hilarious running joke about Paul’s Grandfather (Played brilliantly by Wilfrid Brambell, who was actually on 50 years old when he made A Hard Day’s Night) and a sweet interlude where a dejected Ringo runs off to have his own brief misadventure. The film is just fantastic and features a dozen original Beatles songs that still sound better than any pop music released in the past 20 years or more. I could watch it over and over again.
A Hard Day’s Night returns to theaters on July 4th, 2014 (check local listings for showings your area), but this past week saw the release of Criterion Collection’s DVD/Blu-Ray edition of the film, featuring a new 4K digital restoration approved by Richard Lester with three audio options. Up to Criterion’s usual high standards, the package also contains a booklet with an essay by critic Howard Hampton and a number of extras; some of these are vintage documentaries about the film, but two of the best are new: an interview with author Mark Lewisohn tracing The Beatles’ history up to A Hard Day’s Night, and “Anatomy of a Style,” an astute analysis of Lester’s and editor John Jympson’s techniques. This collection is must-own for all Beatles fans.
About the video and audio restoration: Using the latest in digital restoration technology, the Criterion Collection was able to restore A Hard Day’s Night from the 35 mm original camera negative, which, though incomplete, was in excellent condition. The missing material was taken from two original interpositives. The image was scanned in 4K resolution on a Scanity film scanner to retain the character of the film’s original printing stock without any generational loss, and the raw data was carefully treated using a variety of digital tools to remove dirt, scratches, flicker and other damage. The final result was approved by director Richard Lester, and is in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.75:1. Stereo Audio Restoration and 5.1 Surround sound were supervised by sound producer Giles Martin (son of Beatles producer George Martin), with the soundtrack and songs remixed at Abbey Road Studios and Twickenham Studios by Martin and Sam Okell.
I will leave you with some fun A Hard Day’s Night Trivia! Enjoy!
John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the song “A Hard Day’s Night” in one night, basing the title on a Ringo-ism.
The soundtrack to A Hard Day’s Night was the band’s first record not to include any cover songs, and is also the only all-Lennon-McCartney LP in their catalog.
The film was titled Yeah Yeah Yeah in Germany, Tutti per uno (All for One) in Italy, Quatre garçons dans le vent (Four Boys in the Wind) in France, Yeah! Yeah! Tässä tulemme! (Yeah! Yeah! Here We Come!) in Finland, and Os reis do Iê-Iê-Iê (The Kings of Yeah-Yeah-Yeah) in Brazil.
A thirteen-year-old Phil Collins is an extra in the Scala Theatre scene.
Charlotte Rampling is one of the dancers in the nightclub scene, watching her then boyfriend Jeremy Lloyd (also in Help!) trade moves with Ringo on the dance floor.
The characters of Norm and Shake were based on the Beatles’ personal assistant Neil Aspinall (Norm) and road manager Mal Evans (Shake).
During the performance of “Tell Me Why,” director Richard Lester can be seen briefly toward the end of the song, walking by the front of the stage.
The words The Beatles are never spoken throughout the course of the movie.
A Hard Day’s Night competed for two Academy Awards, losing in both categories: best screenplay (Alun Owen) and best adapted score (George Martin). None of The Beatles’ original songs were nominated.
It is no secret that The Beatles were, and are, the greatest band ever in the Universe of all time. That said, I’m down for any exhibit of Beatles’ photographs even if I’ve already seen those same pictures a hundred million billion times. Because, The Beatles! You might think, “Gee wiz Gail, isn’t it hard to keep getting excited about The Beatles 40 years after they broke up?” But the answer would be no, no it is not.
Beatles Four Color Portraits by Robert Whitaker (This Image Courtesy MH Gallery, All Other Photos By Gail)
Thanks to a really excellent plastic surgeon, former Beatle Paul McCartney still looks pretty darn good at 70, but, really, nothing on earth compares to the breathtaking gorgeousness that was Paul when he was in his twenties. Such seriously unchained hotness. It burns my retinas just to look at him. If you also enjoy looking at pictures of The Beatles you can start thanking me now for telling you about an exhibit called Unseen Beatles, which just opened at The Morrison Hotel Gallery loft in Soho. As the title would suggest, these are rare photos of the Fab Four shot by photographers Robert Whitaker and Curt Gunther around 1964. This collection includes live/performance shots, back stage shots, candid shots and portraits of The Beatles both by themselves (or sometimes with fans members of their entourage) and as a group.
A few of my favorites are a large portrait of Ringo reading a copy of 16 Magazine (featuring a Beatles cover story), an interior car shot with Paul making a crazy “O Face” and a shot of John and Ringo with some fans outside what looks like a barn, where Ringo schools everyone on how a cowboy hat is worn. Ringo!
George Harrison with Brian Epstein, John Lennon Imposter in Background
As Emerson Lake & Palmer once said “You Gotta See the Show,” but if you need further encouragement, you can view a series of selected photos from Unseen Beatles (some just for sale but not hung in the exhibit) at This Link.
Unseen Beatles, featuring The Photography of Robert Whitaker and Curt Gunther Will be on Exhibit at the Morrison Hotel Gallery Loft located at 119 Prince Street in SoHo, New York City through the end of Summer, 2012.