In 1962, Alice Neel (1900 – 1984) moved to her final apartment and studio on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Delimited by what was visible through a north-facing window, this scene in 107th and Broadway (1976) excludes the streets below that give the painting its title. Indeed, this absence animates the composition, whose dominant feature is the crisp shadow cast by the cusped moldings and straight edges of Neel’s apartment block on the whitewashed building across the street. The presence of people, too, is discernable only indirectly through the half-opened windows and partially shuttered blinds. Capturing the effects of sharp light on a hot summer day, this window onto the world becomes the occasion for a painterly exploration of color, form and structure.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Alice Neel: People Come First, Which Continues Through August 1st, 2021 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.
Photographed By Gail in the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum
In the mid-to-late 20th century, an atmosphere of innovation and a desire to question the tenets of modernism led some designers to explore a variety of ways in which to shape space. American Architect and Designer Alexander Hayden Girard utilized color and pattern in textiles, particularly in this colorful abstract, or folk art-inspired work for Herman Miller.
Photographed at Albertz Benda Gallery with Robot Cabinet By Ettore Sottsass
By 1970, Japanese Architect and Interior Designer Shiro Kuramata (1934 – 1991) was introducing alternative materials such as acrylic and industrial plate glass into his furniture. Utilizing a newly developed adhesive, Kuramata achieved material and visual minimalism with this Glass Armchair (1976). Flat planes of glass are bonded together along their edges, without mounts or screws, to create a functional chair that seems simultaneously visible and invisible. The transparent form invites users to question notions of materiality, utility and comfort.
In the mid-1970s, after skewering American political, social and cultural; mores with his work, Peter Saul (b. 1934) took aim at the art world. Saul executed a number of parody responses to Willem de Kooning’s Woman and Bicycle (1952-53, shown below). Here, Saul’sWoman With Bicycle (1976) spoofs de Kooning’s contorted female figure with distortions of his own, rendering the face as a grotesque cartoon and crowding the composition with lurid Day-Glo forms that both draw upon and satirize Surrealist and Pop styles. At once homage and attack, this painting challenges art history, even while claiming Saul’s place within it.
This 1976 oil on canvas portrait of artist Jamie Wyeth is one half of a “Portrait Exchange,” which includes a portrait of Warhol done by Wyeth. Warhol’s half of the portrait exchange presents a brooding and handsome young artist, posing as if for a Hollywood head shot or mimicking Wyeth’s own Portrait of John F. Kennedy. The two artists styles could not be more opposite, and yet they each shared a dedicated work ethic.
While Wyeth created many detailed studies of Warhol to compose his panel painting, Warhol prepared by taking numerous Polaroid snapshots of Wyeth — more, he claimed, than for any of his other subjects at the time. Drawn to celebrity and fame, Warhol frequently surrounded himself with young artists for inspiration, and Wyeth’s natural talent and artistic lineage (not to mention, according to Warhol, his “cuteness”) especially appealed to him.
Photographed in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Yes guitarist (also a member of Asia) Steve Howe was born on this day April 8th, in 1947. The band Yes was a passionate favorite of mine growing up in the seventies. In fact, one of the most crazy fun and highly memorable concerts I’ve attended was the co-headlining concert of Yes with Peter Frampton back in the summer of 1976, which took place before a crowd of 55,000 people at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California. Although he does not enjoy the level of continued buzz as, say, a player like Jimmy Page, to give you an idea of his popularity during Yes’s heyday, Steve was voted Best Overall Guitarist in Guitar Player magazine five years in a row from 1977 to 1981. Below, please enjoy a live clip of Steve playing “The Clap” and also the acoustic ballad “Mood For Day” to hear an example of his one-take perfection. Happy Birthday, Steve!
Although Freddie Mercury gets to steal a lot of the Birthday thunder for September 5th, today is also the birthday of the great Al Stewart, who was born on this day in 1945. The video above is from a 1976 performance on the British TV show, The Old Grey Whistle Test, by Stewart and his band of the title cut from the album Year of The Cat, a phenomenal song from one of the best albums of the seventies. Enjoy, and Happy Birthday, Al!