Tag Archive | jewish museum

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.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Marc Chagall, Anywhere Out Of The World

anywhere out of the world marc chagall photo by gail worley
Photo By Gail

This painting, entitled Anywhere Out of the World (191519) may be a self portrait. Mark Chagall (18871985) bisected the head of the figure because, as he explained it, it “needed a bank space right there“ to strengthen the composition. The pictorial strategy, which appears in some of his earlier paintings, could be a rendition of the “luftmensch,“ a Yiddish term used to describe a person who is concerned with intellectual pursuits rather than with the practicalities of life. The sideways cityscape adds tension to the scene. The painting’s overall geometrization is reminiscent of El Lissitzky’s Proun paintings — abstract compositions meant to be looked at from various vantage points. 

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Florine Stettheimer, Family Portrait I

family portrait I photo fs by gail worley
Photo By Gail

In Florine Stettheimer’s frequent group portraits, her family and friends are not only clearly identifiable, but represented in attitudes that express their inner selves — an idea with roots in Symbolist painting of the late nineteenth century.  In Family Portrait I (1915), she shares an elegant afternoon outdoors wither sisters and mother. Ettie, at left with a Japanese parasol is turned away, conversing with Carrie, who gazes at the viewer. Florine, too, looks outward, presiding over each bouquet of flowers and a dish of fruit that pays homage to the apples of Paul Cezanne. Their mother, Rosetta, the proper Victorian in black, is reading a novel by Ettie, the family intellectual.

Thick brushwork, deep jewel-tone colors, shallow perspective, and  wealth of surface pattern all suggest Stettheimer’s familiarity with Post-Impressionist painters such as Pierre Bonnard and Paul Gauguin, infused with her own brand of social perceptiveness

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Robert Indiana, Purim: The Four Facets of Esther

Purim: Four Facets of Esther
Photo By Gail

Robert Indiana (19282018) was closely associated with the hard-edged painting and Pop Art movements. Using the formal vocabulary of advertisements, his work often explores the power of words and numbers. In Purim: The Four Facets of Esther II (1967), he represents Stars of David and elements of the Biblical story of Esther, who was Queen of Persia in the fifth century BCE. Esther saved her fellow Jews from destruction, the feat to which Indiana refers in the fourth panel.

The Jewish Museum (where this photo was taken) commissioned this print in an edition of ninety for its annual Purim fundraising ball in 1967.

Eye On Design: Furniture By Marc Camille Chaimowicz

Room By Marc Camille Chaimowicz
All Photos By Gail

Marc Camille Chaimowicz (b. 1947) is a London-based, cross-disciplinary contemporary artist whose works challenge the categorical divisions between art and design. His recent career retrospect at the Jewish Museum (which was the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States) transformed the entire second floor of the former Warburg family mansion from an exhibit showcase into a series of fantasy tableaus pristinely curated with unique and whimsical home furnishings and décor. This room was my favorite. Let’s take a closer look at the pieces that make up this dream-like living room set.

Give and Take Sofa and Rope Vase

Blue Velvet Give and Take Sofa and Pink Glazed Ceramic Rope Vase.

Maquette for Give and Take Sofa

Maquette for Give and Take Sofa

Stainless Steel Magazine Rack

Stainless Steel Magazine Rack with Diamonds Cut Outs

Pink Rope Vase

Rope Vase

Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Your Place or Mine, at the Jewish Museum.

Room 2

Items Shown Left to Right : One Meter Lamp (2016), Glazed Ceramic Rope Vase (2014) Give and Take Velvet Sofa (1994) Stainless Steel Magazine Rack (2014)

Eye On Design: Book Covers By Elaine Lustig Cohen

Trio of Book Covers
All Photos By Gail

Over six decades, Elaine Lustig Cohen (19272016) moved among diverse activities, including art, design, and rare-book dealing. She began her career as a graphic designer in the mid-1950s, extending the vocabulary of European Modernism — Constructivism, Dada, and the Bauhaus —  into an American context for publishers, architects and cultural Institutions.

From 1962 to 1967, she helped shape the Jewish Museum’s intuitional identity, directing the design of catalogues, posters, booklets and other printed material for its progressive exhibition program. At the same time, Lustig Cohen developed a hard-edge style as a painter, with a formal language of solid colors, abstract geometric shapes, and minimally visible brushstrokes, her paintings directly relate to her design work and to the movement called Postpainterly Abstraction. Lustig Cohen’s artistic contributions demonstrate that the lineage of Postpainterly Abstraction should been expanded beyond the fine arts to include postwar graphic design.

Three Book Covers

One of Lustig Cohen’s key projects was the design of book jackets for Meridian Publishers. Drawing on her knowledge modern typography and avant-garde design principles, such as asymmetrical composition dramatic scale, and image montage, Lustig Cohen forged a distinctive graphic voice.

Three Book Jackets

For book jackets, she described her process as one of distillation, in which she would identify the central ideas of the text and render then abstractly with bold lettering, expressive forms, and playfully collaged photographic elements.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Marc Chagall, Cubist Landscape

Cubist Landscape
Photo By Gail

This work, Cubist Landscape (1919) by Marc Chagall (18871985)  illustrates the artist’s relationship to the Suprematist avant-garde at the time. Its disjointed geometrical shapes and use of heterogenous materials to create texture originated in Cubo-Futurism. One of the steps leading to Suprematism according to Kazimir Malevich’s theory of art, this style privileged movement, fragmented forms and bold colors. In the composition, geometric forms overtake a figure carrying an umbrella in front of Vitebsk School — perhaps a stand-in for the artist, protecting himself from the Suprematist storm. To the left of this figure, in a scene typical of Chagall’s shtetls (a small town with a large Jewish populations), a man with a goat makes a faint appearance. The artist repeats this name endlessly across the canvas, humorously illustrating the gulf between his painterly poetics and the stark Suprematist creations of his rival Malevich, who advocated collective art.

Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich: The Russian Avant-Garde in Vitebsk, 1918-1922, On View Through January 6th, 2019, at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Seder By Nicole Eisenman

Seder
Photo By Gail

Nicole Eisenman (b. 1965) paints the human figure — including friends, and literary or historical figures — narrative scenes and allegories. She often touches on the topics of queer identity, feminism, and the complexities of family and friends. Her style is intimate and tender, yet infused with wry humor.  Seder (2010) presents a familiar holiday scene rendered with comic aplomb. The perspective of the viewer (and artist) is from the head of the table, the best vantage point to witness the tensions gathered around the traditional Passover ceremony; children and adults are both attentive and bored, with expressions ranging from grotesque and distorted to charming and affectionate.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Deborah Kass, OY / YO

OY YO
Photos By Gail

Since the 1980s, Deborah Kass has riffed on modern artworks by famous white men to reflect her experience as a Jewish lesbian. Here, Kass remakes Robert Indiana’s LOVE (itself a coded homage to queer male desire) with the twinned words Oy (a Yiddish exclamation of alarm or bother) and Yo.

OY YO

The artist considers herself to be a “total, absolute, 100 percent provincial New Yorker.” This work uses the city’s culturally specific, yet universal lingo to communicate the collective pride and exasperation of living here. Originally conceived as a monumental sculpture, it was installed for limited time in Brooklyn Bridge Park. OY/YO (2017) became an instant New York icon and photo op for tourists and residents of al backgrounds, for whom the pluralist spirit of the double-sided interjection resonated deeply

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan. Note that This Work is Currently On View In Front of The Brooklyn Museum (as of 10/1/18).

Deborah Kass OY YO