“Link”

October 7, 2018

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In the Flatiron Plaza, by Jorge Palacios.  Bigger image here.

The Noguchi Museum in Queens is featuring Palacios’ work right now.  The “Red Cube,” one of Noguchi’s most famous public sculptures is not, of course, a cube.

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Jorge Palacios

September 8, 2018

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We take a break now from our finger gazing to talk about Jorge Palacios, a sculptor in wood who is now being shown at the Noguchi Museum, a favorite spot of mine.  I read about his big piece, Link, in the Flatiron Plaza, and went to see it.

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When I got there on a beautiful day like the one in the images above, there was a man scrubbing the piece clean.

I talked to him a bit in halting English and my halting Spanish.  He remarked that the piece gets lots of scuff marks from people’s shoes!  I asked him if it is hollow, it is, and if I could bang on it, I did.  When I got home, I did some reading about the artist and the exhibit at the Noguchi and it seemed to me that the guy looked a little like the  artist, didn’t he?  He was a lot more friendly than his picture makes him seem!

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Yesterday, I went to the Noguchi to see the exhibit of his work, including this one:

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Wandering about the exhibit, examining the installations and putting in more lights, was the same “workman” I’d seen cleaning the piece in Manhattan.  It dawned on me that this unassuming man was the artist, and I had a pleasant chat with him – I reminded him of our previous encounter.  An amusing bit of serendipity, and I had him sign a copy of a monograph that I bought in the museum shop.  🙂

When I was leaving the museum, I chatted with the admissions person about my encounters, and he chuckled:  “Yes, he’s a very hands-on type of guy.”


Lightning Strikes Twice!

July 15, 2018

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This painting is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the “Painted in Mexico” exhibition that originated in Los Angeles.  Jesus displays his “carnal” heart – a very popular object of veneration at this time – while a personification of the Church uses the Eucharist to send a beam of light to illuminate a bible.  I like how the beam is not reflected from the pages, but is instead transformed into jagged lightning bolts that strike dead the enemies of the church (and the Jesuits, who supported the cult of the sacred heart against its opposition.)

The image of Jesus is a direct adaptation of this earlier, less complex picture.

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The sacred heart, representations of which originated in the middle ages, was at first shown iconographically, i.e. as a stylized heart shape, but eventually become anatomically correct.  Not quite clear on whether this is a bleeding heart…

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Up on the roof, there is a different, more ironic sort of veneration going on.A70A693E-A4E8-446D-9FA5-564D485B6FAC

 


Originals

January 26, 2013

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The Grolier Club in Manhattan is an old society of bibliophiles that occupies a remodeled townhouse in midtown.  I don’t know what their daily business is, but they put on some wonderful free exhibits, including one on Wunderkammers that closes soon.

These ‘rooms of wonder’ were the forerunners of our museums, particularly museums of natural history, and the exhibit documents their place in the Europe of the Enlightenment.  It also includes two color volumes from the catalog of Albertus Seba’s collection, perhaps the most magnificent such publication.  I have a copy of the one-volume Taschen full-size facsimile of the book, and it is a favorite of mine:  I never tire of paging through it.  The alligator below is from the facsimile; the original is on display at the Grolier.  Always wonderful to see the real thing.

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By chance, a second, upstairs exhibit began the day I was there, and it illustrated the history of microscopy, mostly with printed matter, but a few antique microscopes were also on display.  There was a beautiful copy of Robert Hooke’s seminal publication on display, opened to his most famous illustration, a large-scale drawing of a flea.  I have a copy of the book as a high quality Adobe PDF which has the advantage of letting me page through it in its entirety.  What a shock of recognition and revelation this book must have been to the fortunate few who read it in the 17th century!

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Another one bites the dust…

October 5, 2012

This woman’s son was shot by police when they pulled him over  after he allegedly cut them off on a NYC highway.  Everyone in the car, including an off-duty police officer, was unarmed.  The NYPD has offered no explanation for why the officer fired the fatal bullet.

This sort of thing seems to happen a lot in NYC, and the victims are usually black or Hispanic.

The two police trucks forced Mr. Polanco to stop after one truck went in front of the Honda while the second truck maneuvered behind. After the car stopped, along a median of the busy highway, two officers approached the car, a sergeant at the driver’s side and the detective at the passenger’s side where the windows were open, the police said.

Ms. Deferrari later told the police that she had heard the officers order those inside the car to show their hands. In an interview, she said that Mr. Polanco had no time to comply and that, in that instant, the detective, Hassan Hamdy, 39, fired the shot. Ms. Deferrari said she believed the shooting was the result of a case of police road rage.

No weapons were found inside Mr. Polanco’s car, the police said.

Complete newspaper article here.  Does shooting someone like this count as police ‘brutality’ I wonder..?


NYPD, Eight Years After…

October 2, 2012

I discussed the appalling actions of the New York Police Department at the Republican National Convention in 2004 in an earlier post, much earlier…  Today, the Times reports that a judge ruled the behavior of the police illegal.  Oh…not all of it.  They were within their rights to fingerprint the people they arrested, a fact that their spokesman trumpeted loudly.  Only problem is that the arrests themselves were illegal.


Consumer Vortex – Lower Broadway

August 15, 2011

A quick subway trip uptown to indulge my preoccupation with shoes and whatnot  (I’m heading out for a ten-day vacation abroad, and I want my feet, the man-earth interface, properly shod) and I find myself debouching from the R-Train right on Lower Broadway, across from one of my favorite NYC buildings!  It’s called the Little Singer Building to distinguish it from the skyscraper, for a while, the world’s highest, that is no longer with us.  A blast from the past of consumer culture, right out of Paris:  the curving Art Nouveau ironwork brings to mind Galeries Lafayette, the great 19th century department store.  (More on the buildings here and here.)

Walking around the area puts one in the center of the tourist, chi-chi, consumer maelström, and it can be overwhelming, but I soldier on.  As I put on my own consumer hat, I chuckle at the thought of my current reading, a fabulous study of the origins and nature of consumer culture.  The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism is a rich and complex analysis that takes off from Weber and ends up at the mall.  The author disposes of the simplistic explanations of consumerism – instinct, manipulation by élite conspiracy, or variations on Veblenesque emulation – and locates the origins of our culture in the latter 18th century (Not much controversy there, think Josiah Wedgewood and his factory, embodying Adam Smith’s dicta on the division of labor.  The two were friends, and Darwin later married into the family.  So many cultural cross-currents at that point in time and space!) and links the ‘spirit’ of our consumerist age to the mutations of protestant theology and the cult of sentimentality.  His argument is brilliant – not sure if I’m convinced yet, but his approach to the questions is the best I have ever come across.

The book is not for casual reading as it is assumes a wide knowledge of 18th century European, especially British, culture, and it makes a very involved and dense argument about religion and culture.  I will try to post a summary of it once I have finished it and digested it somewhat.  Meanwhile, I consume, calm in the knowledge that I must be of my Age, even if I repudiate its values in many ways.  “I shop, therefore I am,” may not apply to me, but shop I must.