Two uniformed guards recently stopped Michal Rovner as she tried to enter the third-floor galleries at the Whitney Museum of American Art. "We're sorry, ma'am," Rovner said she was told, "the galleries are closed." To get through security, the diminutive Israeli-born artist simply looked up. Taped to the wall (in expectation of an upcoming exhibition) was a sign bearing her name.
The bustling, light-drenched lobby of the JCC in Manhattan may seem an unlikely departure point for a discussion of the darker side of glamour. But beginning this week, the herd of strollers parked in the corner will share the space with "Dangerous Beauty," the inaugural exhibition in the JCC's Laurie Tisch Sussman Gallery.
The Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, is an austere space for ecumenical meditation. One of the oil town's most famous landmarks, its walls are adorned with 14 monumental paintings by the Russian-born artist Mark Rothko, rendered in his definitive style of floating patches of color: in this case, black, deep brown and purple. The art patron Dominique de Menil, who commissioned the space and its somber paintings, reportedly said the works evoke "the mystery of the cosmos, the tragic mystery of our perishable condition, [and] the silence of god, the unbearable silence of God."
The lineup for New York's newest blockbuster art exhibition begins this week as lucky ticket holders for "Matisse Picasso" make their way to the Museum of Modern Art's temporary digs in Long Island City. The retrospective exhibition promises to reward long waits in chilly winds with works that shaped modern art and a thrilling tale of one of the most creative rivalries in art history. Elsewhere in Queens, a different kind of thrill awaits viewers in an exhibition that offers a glimpse of art's future.
The gavel came down on impressive auctions of Judaica last month, including the record-setting sale of a rare biblical commentary dated 1457.
That Italian manuscript of writings by Solomon Ben Issac, the 11th-century French rabbi and commentator known as Rashi, eventually sold to a private buyer who phoned in the winning bid of $434,000. The Dec. 17 sale represented the highest price ever achieved by the auction house, Kestenbaum & Company, for a single lot.
When history touched Yonia Fain's life, it hit with gale force. For 30 years he was "dragged by the storm of events over half a world," the Brooklyn-based painter and Yiddish poet once wrote.
Between 1923 (when a 9-year-old Fain and his family fled Bolshevik Russia, and 1953) when he settled in New York City: Fain outran Nazi troops in Poland, was imprisoned by the Soviets, escaped to Japan, was deported to China and eventually made his way to safety and artistic success in Mexico.
Museum Mile — the stretch of Fifth Avenue from 82nd Street to 104th — offers an intriguing paradox this fall. The Jewish Museum, at the corner of 92nd Street, is presenting a retrospective of works by a Jewish painter who eschewed Jewish imagery in his embrace of the universal. A few blocks south, the National Academy of Design exhibits the work of a painter who rejected Judaism, but uses explicitly Jewish symbols as expressions of spiritual transcendence.
Judaism can come in the most unexpected of packages. At first glance, a nearly seven-foot-tall painting of a single thick black stripe running vertically across a black canvas signifies nothing but itself: a profound meditation on color and form. Yet Barnett Newman titled his 1949 painting "Abraham," after his father, who had died two years earlier, and the Jewish patriarch.
Hoping to stir up a little debate on a somewhat taboo topic, art critic Max Kozloff has mounted a historical exhibition of street photography that dares to define a Jewish aesthetic. "New York: Capital of Photography," at The Jewish Museum through September, argues that there're two kinds of New York photography: Jewish and gentile.
"It's totally provocative," Kozloff says, chuckling to himself during an interview at the press opening.