Opening Reception for “No gate, no lock, 
no bolt”: The Dobkin Family Collection of Feminist History

A few pictures from last night's reception...!

 

“No gate, no lock, 
no bolt”: The Dobkin Family Collection of Feminist History is now open through Saturday, October 24, 2015. For more information, visit the exhibition page

Posted in Art, Design, Literature on October 15 2015

“No gate, no lock, 
no bolt”: The Dobkin Family Collection of Feminist History

 

Posted in Art, Design, Literature on October 14 2015

“Downtown Decade” Opening Reception

A few photographs from last night's opening reception...!

For more information about the "Downtown Decade" exhibition and to view the catalog, click here

Posted in Art, Design, Literature, Photography on September 16 2015

Alberto Giacometti, Baseball Commissioner

We were reminded this past weekend—once again—that baseball season starts in less than a month, with pitchers and catchers reporting to their respective teams the third week of February. This in turn reminded us of a piece written by a friend of the gallery, journalist Gary Hill, which humorously conflates Alberto Giacometti with the late Bart Giamatti—at that time the newly named commissioner of baseball—and points out several reasons why Giacometti was the ideal person for the job. Gary has graciously allowed us to excerpt it here. So for art lovers, baseball fans, and all those who never thought the twain would meet, we present “Commissioner”:

I was riding the Flushing line toward Shea; an eternal return of sorts. It was winter and I was not actually going to the big blue stadium, but my thoughts turned—in the way that for some of us they always do—to baseball: specifically, the official designation of Alberto Giacometti as Commissioner.

As my train screeched and groaned out of Grand Central, I reflected that just a few years ago a Commissioner Giacometti would have seemed as unlikely as a World Series home run by Tom Lawless, himself a virtual eponym. But it is axiomatic that in this “crazy” game anything can—and does—happen.

Some of us had long dreamed of such a Commissioner, we who drink deeply of this majestic game even while basking attentively among, but perhaps not of, the sunny rows of partisans, worshippers, and boo-ers, the fair-weather holiday-makers and the children in caps.

But Giacometti's accession was no dream, no magic, no “hidden ball trick.” Hindsight is 20/20 (sometimes), but the oeuvre of the national pastime’s new “Über-alles” now looks like a doctored resume, so appropriate is it. From Ball Suspended (both a study of rhythms of form/motion and a “sign” of masculinity) to Nine Figures (no DH, of course), his record—you could look it up—points toward the fields that “Jocko,” as the headline writers surely will tab him, now rules.Ball Suspended (left) and Nine Figures (right)

Certainly, more recent milestones—Giacometti’s studies in “discipline,” his rethinking of gesture and “discernible stop”—must weigh heaviest in considering his coming Commissionership. But, I reminded myself as the No. 7 roared on (and, by the way, what memories that number stirs), Giacometti's earlier, preparatory works cannot be forgotten:

The Palace at 4 A.M.: a complex meditation on home and women, stadiums and seagulls. In The Meanings of Modern Art—a book now as essential to the fan as the Jamesian Abstract,  Boswell’s Life, or the baseball “bible”—Russell calls this matchstick construction “haunting for its uncanny mingling of practicality and the dream”—surely the stuff of which Commissioners are made.

Man Pointing: Ruth famously “calling” a home run; Giacometti, reinventing the idea of likeness, finds the 70-1/2-inch-high, whiplash-thin essence of the pigeon-toed barrel of a slugger.

(This photograph on display in the gallery)

City Square: a crossed-up infield, with the corners charging in while up the middle a confused convergence around a runner; urban distances in disarray.

No More Play: experiments with options of motion and the terrain, the surface itself (long before Astroturf), but insisting always on the human factor. Again Russell, on Play: “In the midst of this were human figures that were left stranded at the end of the game, with nowhere to go.” Russell incidentally sees Giacometti's existentialism as “the belief that in all human enterprises the odds are stacked against us and that all we can do is to play a losing game as lucidly as possible”—clearly the Boston view. Russell adds that “Ever since he had read Nietzsche and Schopenhauer at the age of 12, he had been familiar with the tragic sense of human destiny.” But he inexplicably makes no mention of Fenway, Snodgrass, or Dent.

In a recent conversation with Giacometti, although by mutual unspoken agreement we did not discuss baseball or sculpture, I sensed—perhaps I was encouraged to sense —a painfully earned new openness. “Yes,” he said in response to one question. “Yes,” he replied to another, and “I think so,” he agreed to a third.
 
The Giacometti in all of us tends toward reductiveness to that anguished nerve, that never-ending gut-check of the soul. But we also need that voice that says “Yes.” “Yes.” “I think so.”

Posted in Art, Literature, Photography on January 22 2015

Alberto Giacometti and Samuel Beckett: Navigating the Influences of Paris

        

        Above: Samuel Beckett and Alberto Giacometti in 1961

 

Alberto Giacometti, much like his contemporaries Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, cannot be defined by one aesthetic, and Giacometti has been referred to alternatively as a Surrealist, a Freudian, and an Existentialist, among other things. As a young artist in Paris in the 1930s, Giacometti lived and worked around numerous notable characters, including the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. Despite not being French, both artists had chosen to make Paris their home, and quickly became both close friends and trusted allies, engaging one another in continuous conversations on art and representation, and together navigating the many opportunities Paris had to offer, eventually becoming essential members of the city’s vibrant Left Bank intellectual and artistic community.

One segment of that sphere was the French Surrealists, led by André Breton. Although both Beckett and Giacometti had associations with the group, neither artist fully committed himself to its precepts. Beckett gained early prominence as a writer by helping the Surrealists translate their writings into English, and managed to retain their favor for the majority of his life. Giacometti’s experience, however, was more turbulent. After spending several years working under the Surrealists’ strict abstract guidelines, Giacometti returned to working with naturalistic themes, particularly the human form, an action considered treasonous by Breton; in retaliation, he expelled Giacometti from the Surrealists in 1935.

Another member of Giacometti and Beckett’s shared circle was the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre,whose explorations of existentialism exerted a great deal of influence on both artists’ works, in particular Beckett’s best-known play, Waiting for Godot, which premiered in 1953. The play is also significant for another reason: it was the impetus for Giacometti and Beckett’s most memorable artistic collaboration.

                                  

Above: Giacometti and Beckett pictured with the tree created for the 1961 production of Waiting for Godot

 

Beckett was unhappy with the play’s original set design, in particular its central tree, and commissioned Giacometti to create a new version for a 1961 production. Beckett imagined the process would be a straightforward one for his friend, but Giacometti instead labored over the design. Finally, though, Giacometti created a work that not only satisfied both his and Beckett’s demanding standards, but also elevated the setting of the play itself. As such, it serves as a fitting symbol of both the power of their intellectual union and their long, fruitful personal alliance.

In recognition of their friendship, first editions of Waiting for Godot, Endgame, and Fin de Partie are on display in “Matter/Giacometti”. 

Posted in Art, Literature on January 20 2015

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