Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Asia Society and Museum

In Manhattan, Uncategorized on July 22, 2009 at 12:17 pm
Galleries in the Asia Society and Museum, Park Ave at 70th Street

Galleries in the Asia Society and Museum, Park Ave at 70th Street

If museums followed global conomic trends, then technically the Asia Society and Museum would be the big powerhouse institution of New York, and it’d probably be lending money to the Met and MoMA. But instead, this gem of a cultural center is one of the best kept secrets on the Upper East Side, probably because it’s not exactly on museum mile (Park Ave at 70th Street).

While the Asia Society itself offers a fascinating array of programming, events, conferences etc., the museum itself offers dazzling exhibitions on the cultural heritages of countries from Afghanistan to Japan. In addition to great special exhibitions, their permanent collection hosts the Rockefeller Collection, one of the foremost collections of Asian art in the U.S., and a fairly new but still impressive contemporary art collection, including works by Nam June Paik and Shilpa Gupta, among others.

Among the exhibitions on view right now is Yang Fudong: Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest. The film is a five part series filmed over 5 years (2003-2007)–it doesn’t have a plot per se, but deals with existential questions of human relationships, existence (duh) and reality. The film received critical praise when viewed at the 2007 Venice Biennale, and this is the first time the full five parts have been screened in a U.S. museum, so take full advantage of this opportunity before it closes on September 13!


Wednesday Nights at MCNY

In Uncategorized on July 18, 2009 at 2:10 pm
The Museum of the City of New York

The Museum of the City of New York

For being New York’s own special museum–I mean, c’mon, it’s the Museum of the City of New York–MCNY doesn’t get as much attention as it should. Tourists from Spain and Germany flock to the Met, MoMA and the likes, but really, those powerhouse institutions feature mostly collections of their own European heritage that us Yanks have acquired over the years. If you want to learn about the material, cultural and artistic legacy of New York, head to the Museum of the City of New York on 5th Ave at 103rd.

MCNY has a pretty fascinating collections of items you won’t find anywhere else–their collection of photographs of New York, dating back pretty much to the birth of the photographic medium, is quite spectacular. They also have impressive collections of decorative arts and fashion specific to New York’s most trend-setting and fashionable collectors from 17th century to the present. And let’s not forget, MCNY’s galleries devoted to a subject that practically defines the New York experience: Broadway, 18th century to present. In addition to their permanent collections, the museum puts on some interesting special exhibitions–currently up is Dutch Seen, a show of Dutch photography in honor of the 400th anniversary of the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam (ok, so maybe the bend the homegrown themes just a wee bit).

One of the very cool things about MCNY is that this past week they kicked off their “Speak Easy” evenings, on Wednesday nights from 6-9 pm in July and August. It’s one of the few museums I know in NYC offering some cool late night event on humpday! Included with the price of admission to see their galleries, you get a free drink and can enjoy Prohibition era music on their gorgeous Fifth Avenue terrace. I have such an affinity for the jazz era–I will definitely be checking it out this summer! See you there.

The Queens Museum takes on the Recession

In Uncategorized on July 10, 2009 at 5:54 pm
Curator Larissa Harris with the "Red Lines" installation on the panorama at the Queens Museum. Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Curator Larissa Harris with the "Red Lines" installation on the panorama at the Queens Museum. Photo courtesy of the New York Times

The Recession has of course been hitting the museum world very hard, but not too many museums are drawing attention to the economic hardships we are all suffering. But artist Damon Rich has made the housing foreclosures the subject of an exhibition at the Queens Museum of Art, called “the Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center.” Using photographs, installation, sculpture, drawings and models, Rich gives a visual narrative to the current economic crisis, as well as the history of economic hardship in America, going back to the depression.

The artist even made use of the museum’s large panorama of the five boroughs to map out the neighborhoods effected by foreclosures in our own backyard.¬†The museum bought about 2,000 of those plastic thingies that come in pizza boxes to keep the cheese from sticking to the box, painted them pink and used them to mark city blocks that have had three or more foreclosures on the block. The visual break down really opens up your eyes to who is getting hit the hardest by the economy: poorer neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens seem to be infested by the pink markers, while in Manhattan, there are a whopping two blocks marked pink.

Some would say art has a social responsibility, and that is exactly what Damon Rich is doing at the Queens Museum. You can learn more about the exhibition, which is open until September 27, by clicking here.

The Frick Collection

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2009 at 12:16 pm
The Frick Collection, Fifth Avenue (at 70th Street), New York

The Frick Collection, Fifth Avenue (at 70th Street), New York

One of the many illustrious mansions on Fifth Avenue is the Frick mansion at 70th street, which houses the extensive collection of Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), a Pittsburgh coke and steel magnate. Upon his death, Frick bequeathed his impressive collection–which includes Old Masters, 17th century Dutch art, Italian Renaissance works, Chinese porcelains, and Eighteen-century furniture and painting–to establish a public gallery. To this day, the Frick is still one of the most outstanding private collections to feature works by such artists as¬† Rembrandt van Rijn, Giovanni Bellini, El Greco, Johannes Vermeer, Francois Boucher, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and J.M.W. Turner, to name a few. Also of note for you art history scholars out there, the Frick also has one of the largest art history libraries in the country, open to scholars affiliated with a credited institution.

In addition to the permanent collection (which is slowly expanding), the museum also puts on special exhibitions: the 2009 summer show is Portraits, Pastels, Prints: Whistler in The Frick Collection (June 2 through August 23). While it seems to be a small show, given Mr. Frick’s good taste, I am sure the Whistlers will be worth seeing.