Sunday, February 17, 2019

Mexico City

On day eight of our trip we traveled from Malinalko to our last stop, Mexico City. Our bus took us directly to the home of Luis Ramiro Barragán (1902-1988) the renowned Mexican Modernist architect.  Unfortunately, one had to take the guided tour, which so often defeats its own goals.  We were fed the party line like, “the architect knew how to create wonderful corners.”  Some rooms had reproductions of famous artists’ works which we were told were original to the house.  It seemed strange for an architect who was successful at a time when works by artists such as Rouault were not that expensive. For reasons I cannot explain they put in special exhibitions.  Only the curator would be able to explain the choices of these large and intrusive works by local artists inserted in the rooms. If the house had been kept clean without clutter as it must have meant to be one could have better appreciated the innovative architect who had built it.

Mexicans have their main meal at lunch, so again we were taken to  a well-known restaurant, for a pre-ordered multi-course menu.  I guess some people travel to eat but these heavy lunches, for me, made the rest of the day more difficult as we did not take the traditional siesta.   Instead we continued on our own to the museum built around the incredible Diego Rivera mural “Sunday in the Alameda Park”, where he depicted himself as a child surrounded by figures from Mexican history. We had seen before, but it was certainly worth another visit.  Below another detail from the mural.

We had also been to the Franz Mayer museum the year before but went with the group the next day. The masterpiece of this remarkable decorative arts collection is the great biombo (screen) showing the Conquest of Mexico by the Spanish on the recto and Mexico City (not shown) on the verso.

On our second day in the capital we started out at the Cathedral with an additional guide who is one of the foremost historians in the field, Dr. Clara Bargellini.  Unfortunately, there was a Mass, so we could not see the high altar or visit the sacristy.  We had also seen these on our last trip, but I would have thought they would have known that it was open every day, for certain hours, only  in the afternoon.  The good news was that Dr. Bargellini and one of our group Donna Pierce Smith, scholar and long-time curator at the Denver Museum, took us instead to some churches we would not have otherwise seen.  In Santo Domingo we got into the sacristy where there is a major work by Christóbal de Villalpando, an artist I wrote of in  my last Missive.   The extremely large painting is placed in such a small space to that I can only show you a detail.

We went on to The Church of the Lady of the Pillar, an 18th century convent church, fascinating, in that the nuns had to worship  behind screens.  Here is an image of the Church interior with its main altar. Above the side altars  you can see the screens that shielded the nuns from view.

Our 10th day of the trip was occupied by an excursion to Xochimilco,  a one-hour bus ride (1 ½ hours on the way back as Mexico City traffic makes L.A. seem empty). At the lake which is all that remains of the water that surrounded the Aztec city, we boarded a narrow barge propelled by a strong boatman steering from the rear.  There was a table with guacamole, chips and other foods down the center of the boat. We were lead beyond the tourist area by  an entrepreneurial farmer who is renewing  the traditions on the  islands formed for the agriculture that fed Mexico City.  We debarked briefly to see some of his plantings.  On the way back on the lake we passed a Mariachi band, past its prime, that wished to come along side to serenade us and be compensated for their labor, but we declined.

The next day after a visit to  the National Museum of Art  with the group we  broke away to see an exhibition of the Mexican photographer, Graciela Iturbide (b. 1942) held on two floors of the Banamex Culture Palace. One of her teachers at university was Manuel Álvarez Bravo and she even traveled with him for a year.  She is an unbelievably versatile artist. I think that her photographs of people are her strongest suit but her still life images  also capture unexpected slices of life, like the string of dead pheasants tied to a bike leaning against a wall.  When we returned home, we saw that “The Week” magazine had published as its Exhibit of the Week a “Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico” which is on view on at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  In its review The New York Times published her photo of “Our Lady of the Iguanas” which I am showing here, as well as my favorite photo depicting three women which was also in the Banamex show.

The last stop on our culture tour of Mexico City was the famous National Museum of Anthropology. I had not been here before and was eager to go after  our visit to the Amparo Museum’s Pre-Columbian collection in Puebla (which I wrote about last week).  It is so large that I would advise several visits. The exhibits are divided into sections according to the cultures in different parts of the country and there are many monumental show stopping objects.  A theme that seemed to be repeated in different periods was the Acrobat.  The one illustrated is a vase from Tlatilco, Mexico from the period called Middle Preclassic (2500-250 BCE).   Whatever you think of taking archeological objects from their original sites you have to be impressed with the material they have assembled under one roof in this museum.

Let us just end on a farewell note with an evening view from the air.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Plethora of Doctors & Scholars

We have been on a quest for the last three years to learn more about Mexico.  2 years ago I wrote about the Yucatán and Chiapas.  Last year it was an intensive on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. This time we are off on a group tour to Puebla,  Malinalco, and Mexico City.  On this tour there is an Audiologist, a Neurologist, a neck and head Surgeon  and an Oncologist.  The latter, is clearly also a scholar of Pre-Columbian art.  The rest of the scholarly side, includes a museum director, curator, tour organizer, and 2 retired curators with great art historical knowledge and then the rest of us!  We were 24 in total.

Traveling in a group on a bus requires a great deal of organization such as getting the right bags on the bus and to the rooms at the next destination.  The image below is much of our luggage ready to go on our bus.  The organizer is Rosa Carlson of Journey’s International who has arranged trips for the Denver Art Museum and the Spanish Colonial Museum plus a number of other groups and individuals during the past 30 years.

Our first stop was in Puebla, a surprisingly large city whose sprawl reminded me a bit of London but that is where the comparison ends.  As is so often the case a major site was the incredible Cathedral in the center of town completed in 1649. They did not allow photography even though it is a major tourist site where there is an incredible hustle and bustle all day long.  For me, the major attraction was the central cupola painted by Cristobal Villalpando (? – 1714).  I could not resist taking a photo and the big light in the center is daylight.

Across the street from the Cathedral was an amazing Historical Library dating from 1772.   To my surprise scholars are still allowed to use the original old books and are not forced to use microfiche or the modern equivalent.  Here is an image of the engraving plate possibly from the date of founding and it has not changed.  Then my image today.

The Baroque Museum in Puebla had a few serious pieces but much of it was pure propaganda including copies of  famous sculptures from various museums around the world.  The Governor who visited regularly made suggestions along the way with a serious interest in getting this town on the map.  There was one very important exception.  There was an exhibition of works by the above mentioned Villalpando, which in my estimation brought this experience from a C+ to an A+!  Here are 2 of my favorites.  “The Virgin of the Apocalypse and St. Michael, Archangel” and “The Deluge”.  I hope these images can convey some of the innovation that this artist realized.

On our bus tours it was incredible to see the live volcano belching smoke as we drove past.  We understand that the people living close to it hear it as well.  It does not sound relaxing to me! We visited some archeological sites but they were above my walking abilities, one that I am sorry I missed had these incredible murals.  I did see some of the vivid reproductions in the on site museum and the originals were far more faded but here is one of the images that my wife took of the personage who chose those who would be sacrificed.

I have seen pre-Columbian objects in museums before but never as many and as different as we did at the Museo Amparo, it was one of the first times I could get excited about this field and wanted to learn more.  At the beginning of the installation was a large Mayan work dating from 600-900 A.D.  It was a backrest for a throne with a sovereign, courtesan and a deity in the center.  A sculpture which truly surprised me was a voluptuous woman, obviously a symbol of fertility, who, to accentuate the point, was anatomically correct under her skirt as well.  You might have to enlarge the detail but the idea itself is quite amazing considering it was made over 2,000 years ago on the west coast of Mexico in Galisco.

I am so in awe of this work that I cannot resist one more.  A head with 2 faces which though it is quite different makes me think of the North West Coast Native American transformation masks. It is, however, the god of spring and therefore a young face (or two!) from the Gulf coast of Vera Cruz.

Malinalko did not work out so well since the 16th century Augustinian Monastery  with monochromatic frescoes done by indigenous artists  was closed due to earthquake damage but they did open one doorway for us.  The local museum was also closed because of a holiday but our leader phoned the director and managed to get them to open just for our group!  Here an image of the monastery and part of one of the Frescos.

Now on to Mexico City…

Sunday, February 3, 2019

“The Grand Gallery” Revisited

From October 19, 1974 to January 5, 1975 something unheard-of occurred at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  Art dealers had an exhibition with works of art that were actually on the market … but nothing was for sale. The show was called “The Grand Gallery”.

La Confédération Internationale des Négotiants en Oeuvres d’Art (the international Confederation of Dealers in Works of Art, C.I.N.O.A., for short consisted at that time of about 3,000 dealers from 12 countries represented by 15 art associations.  C.I.N. O.A. had done exhibitions in museums before, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris and the Americans wanted one closer to home. 

It is a long story but, in the end, by instruction from the director of the Museum, Thomas Hoving, I became the sole representative of the art dealers and Penelope Hunter, who would eventually become my wife, became the representative for the Metropolitan.  She had to take each work of art submitted by the individual dealers to the curator in charge of that area to have it vetted for authenticity.  Obviously, the dealers wanted to put their best foot forward and I do not remember anything in the end being rejected.

Still there was criticism of having dealers exhibit at the museum and it was assumed the works exhibited were not of museum quality.  In order to cover their bets the Met inserted a small exhibition of works acquired through the gallery of the late Ernest and Joseph Brummer. We joked that they were saying “Tthe only good dealer is a dead dealer”.  During the last four plus decades I have seen more and more of the works of art in The Grand Gallery exhibition acquired by museums and I thought it would be fun to research some of these pieces.

I will start with a work of art that ended up in the permanent collection at the Met.  It is a bronze by the Renaissance artist Giovanni Francesco Susini.  His Sleeping Hermaphrodite dated 1639 was presented in The Grand Gallery by the London dealer, William Redford.  He sold it to the philanthropist Claus von Bulow who gave it, together with his wife, to the Met in 1977.  I wonder if the Met curator of European sculpture had her eye on it when it was exhibited in the C.I.N.O.A. show.

I am proud to say that the three  works of art submitted to the exhibition by my gallery, Rosenberg & Stiebel, have all ended up in museums.  I will just mention one here.  It is a Astronomical Longcase clock with a armillary sphere on top.  It was attributed to the master cabinet maker Jean-Pierre Latz and was created circa 1745.  The provenance of Baron Gustave de Rothschild is a nice touch as well.  Though it did not have all its original works as serious clock collectors want,  this was purchased from us  for the cabinetry and gilt bronzes of its case by the J. Paul Getty Museum.

One of the foremost French artists from the end of the eighteenth century is Marie Louise Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun.  Galerie Heim in Paris lent her Portrait of Prince Henry Lubomirski as a Genius of Fame, 1789.  As art history progresses it is now known as , “Prince Henryk Lubomirski as Love of Glory”.  When it was exhibited again at the Met in a monographic show of the artist, “The Grand Gallery” had been dropped from its exhibition history, conveniently forgotten in the prejudice against art dealers.

Hirschl & Adler, dealers well known for their American historical art lent a wonderful still-life called “After the Hunt”.  It is signed WM Harnett Munchen, 1883.  Harnett was born in Ireland in 1848 but his parents soon moved to the States and he became a U.S. citizen in 1868.  From 1881 until early 1885 he lived in Munich where he painted this still life.  After having passed through private collection(s) it has found its way into the Huntington Library in Pasadena.

I am going to end with a painting that has not gone to a museum.  Andrea Mantegna’s “Christ’s Descent into Limbo” from 1492.  When this painting arrived in this country for the exhibition from the firm of P.& D. Colnaghi of London, it was quite the sensation since it had a declared value of over one million dollars.  In 1974 this was  a very high value particularly for a work that was actually on the market.  Later it went into the private collection of Barbara Piasecka Johnson, who was from Poland where she had studied art history and then married Seward Johnson one of the founders of Johnson & Johnson.  She lent the Mantegna to the Frick Collection from 2000 to 2002 with the hope that they would buy it. When they did not, it was put up for auction in London where it brought £17,600 million over 28 million dollars, going to an unidentified purchaser..   There had been speculation that the painting had been cut down and just last year the curator Giovanni Valagussa from the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, Italy discovered that a painting formerly attributed to the school of Mantegna was the missing part. The two were recently shown together at the National Gallery, London.

There were over 300 works of art in “The Grand Gallery” in many media from Europe, America, China and Africa .  It would be fun to trace more of them and maybe I will.  For now, the catalog is still available on line for those who wish to do their own sleuthing.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Visions of The Hispanic World, Part 2

The Albuquerque Art Museum opened Part 2 of “Visions of the Hispanic World” aka “Treasures from the Hispanic Society & from the Hispanic Museum & Library”, a month after the main exhibition.  It covers the period from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th.   It is much smaller than Part 1 which continues and is the reason to come from near and far.  To find out about Part 1 see my earlier Missive (click here).

If you are a fan of Spanish Art and love Goya and Sorollo be sure not to miss Part 2 which is installed in a gallery in a different part of the museum.    They have kept one of the Hispanic Society’s most famous paintings for this section, the portrait of The Duchess of Alba  (1762-1802) by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828).  When she posed for Goya in 1797, the Duchess was 35 years old and just widowed. It is said that Goya was besotted with her and the rest is speculation.  In this life-sized portrait “Sólo Goya” (only Goya) is written in the sand at her feet.  Note her rings where one says “Alba” and the other “Goya”.  The artist kept the picture in his studio, and it was sold by his son in 1836 for the collection of King Louis-Phillipe of France.

Hung next to the Duchess is a painting of Manuel Lapeña done 2 years later in 1799.  As it matches in size and format, it makes an interesting comparison to the previous picture but looks far less competent.  Maybe the artist was suggesting his feelings about his sitter in showing the laundry line behind the soldiers in the background!  I would further guess that one of the artists in Goya’s studio might have worked on the project.

There is also a group of Goya drawings including one that appealed to my salacious taste called “Tuti li Mundi” where the young lady is lying on the floor so she can get a proper view of the young man’s torn trousers as he is watching a peep show! Although in the catalog the title is interpreted as “All the World is a Peep Show”.  I would translate it as, “For all the world to see”.

Ramon Casas I Carbó. (1866-1932) had a fascination with the modern world and illustrated this through a set of 25 tiles.  We are looking at a work of art from 1903 which shows us how far we had come in a little over a century.  The first doctors’ scale (spring scale) (tile at lower center) was invented in England in 1770 and was patented around 1840.  So probably only came into popular use near the end of the nineteenth century.  The hot water boiler for the outdoor shower (tile lower left) might have been a boon then, but I don’t think we would be too happy with it today.  On the other hand, the scale has not changed that much.

The 14 canvas panorama representing the provinces of Spain done between 1911 and 1919 by Joaquin Sorollo (1863-1923) is one of the most astounding works in the Hispanic Society in New York.  Sorollo was a special favorite of Archer Huntington, founder and patron of the museum who commissioned the series which is still in its original installation. Huntington acquired quite a number of paintings by the artist and three are in the exhibit in Albuquerque.  I have picked here what I believe to be the least well known of these famous pictures as well as the fact that it represents Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). From this painting we learn as well that Tiffany, besides being a painter and designer famed for his art glass, was quite the “dandy”.

I think I will finish by the most bizarre of the works in this show.  It is by Miguel Viladrich Villá (1887-1956).  This painting is from 1910 and is titled “My Funeral” need I say more.  This stark exceptional panel painting was one of 34 works purchased by Huntington from the self-taught artist in 1926. The head on the ground is the artist’s …

Both parts of the exhibition will be on view through March 31, 2019

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Old Man Looking Backward - Bob Haozous

An exhibition currently at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian titled “Old Man Looking Backward” is devoted to Bob Hazous (b. 1943). Son of the sculptor, Allan Houser (!914-1994). Haozous was born in Los Angeles, but spent much time in Apache, Oklahoma where his father’s Chiricahua Apache tribe was headquartered.  His parents taught at the Intermountain Indian School in Logan, Utah and Haozous studied at Utah State University and before enlisting in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.  After four years serving on board the USS Frank Knox, he attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and earned a BFA in sculpture.

Although he is best known for his large outdoor sculpture (see his 1991 piece “Border Crossing”) he is also known for his jewelry, drawing, painting and print making.  His sculpture too, ranges through various media including steel, stone, aluminum and wood.  In fact, a couple of years ago we were on our way to Taos for my wife’s shoulder surgery when we stopped at the Rancho de Taos (a church made famous through photography, particularly an image by Ansel Adams).  There we found a small antiques shop where we saw what reminded us of an Italian Comedia del Arte mask in wood signed by Hazous.  After acquiring it, we decided to get in touch with the artist we had already admired to find out more about our piece.

I believe quoting part of his response might help to understand the artist.  “I created the mask sometime in the late 1980’s.  I carve wood when the weather is restricting my outdoors work time.  Sometimes the challenge of working in wood and creating something ‘different’ drives my imagination.  I clearly remember making the mask, probably looked at as a humorous piece by some, but to me it represented an aesthetic and compositional challenge, probably inspired by the eyeglass frame.”  The latter was part of the “junk” he acquires for possible future use.

Artists don’t always share all their work with the public.  Some only let go of enough so that they can feed their families and then most are in the middle somewhere.  Until recently, Bob Haozous did not wish to share the monoprints he made, and they remain NFS (not for sale). There is, however a rare chance to see these personal recollections in the Wheelwright exhibition.  In a film he did with Rose Simpson, whose work occupies the museum’s main gallery, he shares his critiques of contemporary American values and advocates for nature-oriented definition of indigenous identity. One of his big concerns is that Native American art has just become decoration for the Anglo home and lost its story.  As stated in the introduction to the exhibition he creates art to encourage dialogue that addresses “the profound problems [and] complex people we are today.”

In the film he is fashioning brass knuckles and if he made a fist and hit you with them you would have dollar sign marks embedded in your skin.  He says it is only partly a joke because he has a point to make.  The space where the video is shown is dominated by his large sculpture called, “Good Indian”, 2018, clearly done for the show.  It is a huge mouse trap with its a spread of one-dollar bills on the base and the words Good and Indian encircling the word “Trap”. Before I went back to the museum to check the title, I would have written that the title was “Good Indian Trap” because that is precisely what the artist means.

 Money may be a trap for Indian artists, but I would venture it is no different for Anglos.  They/we get caught keeping score by how much we make.  Coincidently, I just read a quote by the country singer Johnny Cash, “Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world except money.”  How true is that?!

Every time I went back to see the exhibition, I became more aware of how angry the artist is.  It is not so much in the images themselves as in the verbiage within the images.  In Haozous’ depictions of himself, and there are several in the show, there are no words, just images of melancholy.  In the signature work, “Old Man Looking Backward”, I would guess that the planes and puffs of smoke above are reminiscences of his experiences on the destroyer during the Vietnam War watching the planes above and the bombs being dropped.

One might think the artist is recalling beautiful women of his youth in the striking blonde “Pocahontas”, which is literally front and center in the exhibition, but then you start to focus on the angry worlds on the piece..  The fact that it was created in 2017 makes one think of the Trump era and his hateful dubbing of Senator Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas.

In this image titled “Invisible Indian”, which is both humorous and significant, I believe that Haozous is commenting not only on how many different art movements have come and gone during his life time, he is also making fun of how we try to pigeonhole artists into categories.  He believes that the artist, and particularly the Native American artist, should be delivering a more important message as to their histories and struggles.

We might as well end with a boom … actually “Boom” 2016, is the title of the image of another voluptuous woman, probably intended to grab our attention, so that we notice the words in the piece that vividly describe the horrors of the Vietnam war.  Not everything we look back on is happily nostalgic, sometimes it is just tragic.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Inuit Games

Whenever we visit my son, Dan, in Traverse City, I make a point of visiting the Dennos Museum at Northwestern Michigan College.  There often are interesting loan exhibitions but I am drawn to the galleries devoted to the museum’s Inuit Collections which consist of mostly sculpture and prints.

The Dennos has built a serious Inuit Collection and there is always work by Inuit artists on view. The Inuit live in the Canadian Arctic and used to be known as Eskimos. When we were at the museum this time there was a show within the installation of prints showing Inuit Games appropriately called, “Game On”. 

Why do we play games?  Naturally, it is because we enjoy them, and they are challenging.  Outdoor games are also good for your health, barring injury, but there is a more important reason for the Inuit.  They live in the very harsh arctic climate and need to be in excellent shape to survive.

Let’s begin with a game that is not necessarily played outside.  This lithograph from the Museum’s own collection is called “The Wishing Bone Game”,1987, by Andrew Qappik.  Games often have different rules depending on their origins.  Here three teens use small pointed seal bones to construct a diagram of an igloo with food stashes.  Depending how the bones land one player can take bones from the other’s stash and the one who loses all their bones first loses the game.

A stone cut and stencil print by Napachie Pootoogook is simply called “Eskimo Family Playing Ball”, 1961.  The artist is illustrating one of many ball games the Inuit created or adapted over generations.  This game is a modification of Lacrosse, invented by aboriginal peoples south of the Arctic Circle.  Players use a sealskin racket to catch and throw a small, stuffed ball made from animal skin.  I think we might call the game racket ball but note that here the players may use two rackets simultaneously.

Some games are more difficult than others and can become harder as the game goes on. So it is with hi-kick ball.  In this stonecut and stencil print, “High Kick”, 1984,  the artists Agnes Nanogak Goose and Harry Egutak collaborated to show the game at its zenith.  The idea is that the players try to kick a ball from a standing or lying position.  Each time one succeeds the ball is raised a bit higher.  Unfortunately, I could not find the image I saw at one time where ladies are gathered in a second story window raising the ball and clearly giggling as they dangle the ball out the window just out of reach of the players!

As usual, I like to keep the best, or maybe in this case the worst for close to the end.  I don’t know of similar games in the world today.  This is the ear pull and its close cousin the cheek pull.  This print of the former is by A. Karpik & Josea Maniapik, 1979.  The traditional Inuit game tests the competitors' ability to endure pain.  In some circles, American Football might be thought to fall into this category!  In the ear pull, two competitors kneel or sit facing each other, their legs straddled and interlocked. A two-foot-long loop of string, similar to a thick, waxed dental floss, is looped behind their ears, connecting right ear to right ear, or left to left. The competitors then pull upon the opposing ear using their own ear until the cord comes free or one player quits from the pain. The game has been omitted from some Arctic sports competitions due to safety concerns and the squeamishness of spectators; the event can cause bleeding and competitors sometimes require stitches.  When will we follow suit re football and boxing?

You have probably heard the saying, “don’t send a hungry man grocery shopping.”  He is bound to buy food he doesn’t need and shouldn’t eat.  Same goes for a writer with much of a blank page.  I want to illustrate another print I wish to share. Though it doesn’t depict a game, it will end us on a happier note.  The stencil print by Mabel Nigiyok and her children, Lucy and Louie, called “Asking for Help,” 1994, illustrates the life lesson that no one succeeds on their own without help.  You can see a dancer singing and drumming surrounded by spirit figures , including a man, carried in the clouds by a bird ,and a dancing bear whose power is suggested by by his paw prints scattered throughout. Deducing that the airborne man is a shaman, a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits and having the ability to heal, my interpretation is that even a shaman needs help sometimes.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

David Kutz

To start the year, I am going to write about a friend, David Kutz, who works in one of my favorite fields of art, photography. We read about outsider artists who are often defined as self-taught but David has received a serious education in his field and used it well.

He holds BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York (and it is no coincidence that George Eastman House and the Kodak Company, aka Kodak, were situated there as well) and an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts with a Merit Scholarship. In addition, David Kutz made, in what to my mind, is a brilliant move by taking the Executive education program at Harvard’s business school.  So often I have seen that artists do not realize that an understanding of business is vital to their success. 

Moving to New York City fresh out of college in 1974 he went to work at the newly-founded International Center of Photography which has become a very important exhibition space for the field.  After a couple of years there he became an independent photo journalist with assignments from, Life, Look and Time Magazines as well as the “Old Lady “herself, The New York Times.

When my wife, Penelope, was a curator at the Metropolitan Museum she was asked to come up with a short video for a project that the Getty was funding.  Since she did not want to make a typical stodgy art historical documentary, she asked to work with the sort of filmmaker who worked for MTV (she did not want to make a typical stodgy art historical video) and she found David Kutz. They came up with an exciting concept about a fire in the studio of André Charles Boulle, cabinetmaker to Louis XIV.

Unfortunately, their film project was not chosen by the judges (probably too popular for the 1970’s).  Meanwhile, Penelope came to work on exhibitions and research at Rosenberg & Stiebel and in 1989 our gallery, wanted to celebrate its 50 years in the United States with a video about our history.  Of course, we turned to David Kutz. The result was a great success.   David focused on some of our better-known clients including a major investment banker, a member of the French Rothschild family, a couple of museum directors, a curator and private clients giving different perspectives on the art business.  If you want to learn more about the project you can click here to watch the 24-minute video.

David went on to even more important films like one for the US General Services Administration about the discovery of “The African Burial Ground” in lower Manhattan which is today a National Monument.  Another was a collaboration between the International Center of Photography and the United Nations.  It is a short (3 minutes) but very effective video about climate change with Sebastiao Salgado, a Brazilian social documentary photographer and a photojournalist.

In 2013 David decided to concentrate on digital still photography as an art form.  In recent years he has written on and lectured about photography but more importantly he has participated in a number of group-shows as well as solo exhibitions of his work. 

He writes, “I am now actively engaged in making work and continuing my research into geography, urban planning, travel and globalization.  I am an active member of Soho Photo Gallery, a cooperative gallery in New York City, the International Panorama Council, and volunteer with my local arts organization: Arts Gowanus.” 

David travels a lot and he took this image in the Town Square, Ericira, Portugal.  I love the way you see down a number of streets and the Café Central is in the middle and the light and dark side of the street comes down the center of the image ... click on the images to get their full effect.

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They say the Brooklyn Palisade offers a great view of Manhattan, which reminds me of a realtor in New York who tried to sell us an apartment by pointing out the historic building we could see out of the window, saying, “if you lived in the historic building you would have to look at this place!”  Here David shows us a closeup of what the Brooklyn Palisade from Manhattan.

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Currently David is in a solo exhibition at the Soho Photo Gallery called, “Cultural Landscapes” through February 3.   The Soho Gallery is artist-run and was founded in 1971.  His works in the show demonstrate how he has found a way to immerse the viewer in the scenes he captures.  For those technically inclined:  the images are all multiple exposure-stitched panoramic images, most using a Zeiss Otus 55mm lens on a Nikon D800e camera. 

Here is the photo that had me take full notice of his fine art work.  It is titled, “Dumbo, Brooklyn” for those unfamiliar, Dumbo stands for, Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.  It looks staged but remember it is multiple exposures except for those two women rushing along on the left.  Typical New Yorkers, they are not going to stop for anything, (that is why when a movie is being shot on NY streets there are crew member blocking pedestrians who will not be stopped and would end up in the film!

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This next image is called, “The Stranger’s Path”, it is taken at Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport”, built by the GDR (East Germany).  This long walkway connects the airport to the train station.  The photograph itself is 20 feet long. By the time you have seen the whole image you may feel you have taken that long walk pulling your suitcase behind you!

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A place I am better acquainted with is the Paradeplatz in Zurich, Switzerland.  It is a major intersection of town and the tram goes through it. The images of the square and the tram made me feel I was back in one of my favorite places.  David tells me that both images were taken from the exact same vantage point without moving the camera.

Click on image to enlarge
Click on image to enlarge
Will David Kutz become a household name? Who knows, but it is certainly heartening that there are people out there with a keen eye who have honed their skills and are willing to devote themselves to their art for the benefit of all.