Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fashion, Art and Culture Meet

With jewelry designer extraordinaire and cultural philanthropist Ann Ziff. 
I was very happy recently to go with my nephew Aaron to Ann Ziff's jewelry store on Madison Avenue for a party celebrating a new book – Diller, Scofidio + Renfro: Lincoln Center Inside Out. You may remember Ann Ziff on the blog - she is a wonderful jewelry designer and was in the news when she donated $30 million to the Metropolitan Opera.

Ann's jewelry collection is called Tamsen Z, and her Tamsen Z store on Madison is a polished jewel box where Ann offers her beautiful, artistic designs which combine unusual colors and textures and gems. "I make every piece myself by hand," she told me. "It's my own little sweat shop." At the party, she was wearing glittery platform shoes, a hot pink silk blouse, and layers of her own golden necklaces inspired by faraway places. On her wrist twinkled a stack of thin jeweled bracelets. "If one is good, twenty one is better," she cracked.

As a major supporter of the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center, Ann was celebrating the new book by the design firm Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, who rose to renown when they created the wonderful High Line park. Now they have breathed new life into Lincoln Center with a ten year renovation which has greatly improved the campus which many saw as an unsuccessful example of brutalist 60's architecture. Coincidentally, TD and I had just seen a very interesting documentary on PBS about how Diller, Scofidio + Renfro merge art and architecture.  "They have changed the mood of Lincoln Center," Ann Ziff said to me. "They have made it very inviting and turned it into something beautiful. It's just genius what they did. I don't know anyone else who could have done it."

In the back of the store, Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio and Charles Renfro where greeting friends and signing their book about Lincoln Center. I had the chance to meet and talk with Elizabeth. "At Lincoln Center, we wanted to bring the vitality of the concert halls out into the public, and turn it inside out," she told me. They certainly successfully did that by designing a new plaza, refurbishing Alice Tully Hall,  transforming the West 65th Street block, and more (don't miss the new restaurant with the green grass lawn on top of it).

Elizabeth told me that one of the most sensitive and controversial aspects of the project was renovating the iconic fountain at the center of the plaza. But her firm did a beautiful job, installing new nozzles and lighting, and replacing the circular perimeter with a polished granite surface that seems to float in the air. I took this picture of the fountain when we went to the Metropolitan Opera in January.

On the way out of Tamsen Z, I looked up and noticed the store's light fixtures. They are miniature versions of the huge crystal chandeliers at the Metropolitan Opera house which famously ascend before a performance begins. I love a New York City party that rolls up style, art, and culture in one event.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Trip to the Frick to See Drawings and Prints from the Clark

A view into the Garden Court of the Frick (click on photos for a larger view)
I recently visited the Frick Collection, the perennial New York City favorite on the upper east side, in order to see a current exhibition called The Impressionist Line from Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec: Drawings and Prints from the Clark. Readers of this blog probably know that the Frick Collection was created by Henry Clay Frick, the turn-of-the-century American industrialist, financier and art patron.

His home on Fifth Avenue was built in 1912-1914, and when he passed away in 1919 the house became a museum filled with his old master paintings and French furniture, which we enjoy today. The Frick offers an elegant, Edwardian trip back in time at the corner of 70th and 5th. I hadn't been in a while, so I took a spin through.

Eight canvases painted by Francois Boucher line the walls of this salon. The romantic canvases originally were installed in Mrs. Frick's boudoir upstairs.

Painted panels by Fragonard decorate the walls of the drawing room. The large, poetic panels picture the different stages of love.

In 2011, an outdoor walkway was enclosed with glass to create the new Portico Gallery. Currently, it houses an exhibition of important clocks and watches.

The West Gallery was where Mr. Frick displayed many of the paintings he collected. In his time, paintings were hung on top of each other, salon-style.

The peaceful Garden Court was originally an exterior courtyard. It was covered with glass when the house was converted into a museum. 

In the smaller gallery downstairs, a visitor now finds The Impressionist Line from Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec: Drawings and Prints from the Clark. The Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in Williamstown, Mass., has a great collection of nineteenth century French art, and 58 of its works have traveled to the Frick with this exhibit which was organized by curators Jay A. Clarke from the Clark and Colin B. Bailey and Susan Grace Galassi from the Frick. Emphasising spontaneity and expressiveness over a polished finish, these drawings and prints capture contemporary life in nineteenth century France. 
A busy Paris street by Pissarro -

Camille Pissarro (1830–1903)
Boulevard de Rochechouart, 1880
Pastel on beige wove paper
23 9/16 x 28 15/16 inches
© Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1996.5

Bathers by Cezanne -

Paul Cézanne (1839–1906)
The Bathers: Large Plate, 1898
Lithograph printed in black, green, yellow-green, orange, gray, blue, and purple-blue on cream laid paper
19 x 24 13/16 inches
© Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1962.26

An entertainer by Toulouse-Lautrec -

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901)
The Seated Clowness (Miss Cha-U-Kao), from Elles, 1896
Lithograph printed in green-black, black-brown, yellow, red, and blue on cream wove paper
20 11/16 x 15 13/16 inches
© Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1962.108

Boating by Morisot -

Berthe Morisot (1841–1895)
Before a Yacht, 1875
Watercolor over graphite on cream wove paper
8 1/8 x 10 9/16 inches
© Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.1964

I am right now reading Rosamond Bernier's memoir Some of My Lives, where I learned that Berthe Morisot married Eduard Manet's brother Eugene Manet, and they had a daughter, Julie Manet. Did you know that? This Morisot watercolor also reminded me of the Morisot paintings now on view at the Impressionism and fashion exhibit currently mounted up the street at the Met. This drawings and prints show at the Frick, up until June 16th, dovetails nicely with the Impressionism and fashion show at the Met. Go!