Content, A; Concept, C; Critic, C- : Ghosts in the Machine for Artcurial’s ‘Paris, Atelier du Monde’ Auction

smfall Paris artcurial cocteau 23Jean Cocteau (1889 – 1963), “La leçon d’anesthésie,” 1951. Oil on canvas, 24.02 x 18.11 inches. Signed with the initial and dated upper right. Originally a gift to Jean Marais, Cocteau’s muse. Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 6,000 – 8,000 Euros. Image copyright and courtesy Artcurial.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

To receive the complete, lavishly illustrated article, with art by Cocteau, Pascin, Braque, and others, subscribers please contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the DI for just $29.95/year by designating your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check. Subscribers receive full access to our Archive of 2,000 exclusive reviews and other articles by 150 leading critics of performances, films, and exhibitions on five continents from 1998 through 2015. You can also purchase a complete copy of the Archive for just $49 (individuals) or $99 (institutions) Contact Paul at paulbenitzak@gmail.com.

The first draft of history isn’t Journalism, it’s Art

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

If we can no longer count on mainstream journalists for a reliable first draft of history, we can still turn to artists, whose only patron is the muse. (After all, “Guernica,” the most searing souvenir we have of Franco’s Axis-supported atrocities, was created by Picasso, who, when asked by German officers visiting his Paris atelier during the Occupation, “Did you make this?” answered: “No, you did.”) I take solace therefore in work by Robert Combas, Jean-Michel Atlan, Arman, Karel Appel, Pierre Alechinsky, Kader Attia, Etienne-Martin, and Antoni Clavé, all of which – like most of the 269 lots in today’s Artcurial’s Post-War / Contemporary and “Humanus versus Animal” auctions in Paris – tells unfiltered stories with social, political, historical, and/or literary implications. Let’s start with the oeuvres in which these resonances may be the least evident without some context, two untitled oils by Jean-Michel Atlan (1913 – 1960), both of which owe their very existence to the Algerian-born Jewish artist’s cunning during the Occupation, as documented by the critic and novelist Michel Ragon.

To receive the complete, illustrated article, subscribers please contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the DI for just $29.95/year by designating your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check. Subscribers receive full access to our Archive of 2,000 exclusive reviews and other articles by 150 leading critics of performances, films, and exhibitions on five continents from 1998 through 2015. You can also purchase a complete copy of the Archive for just $49 (individuals) or $99 (institutions) Contact Paul at paulbenitzak@gmail.com.

freespace performanceJersey Girls: One unfortunate fall-out of the outing of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein for his alleged violent (please don’t call it sexual) misconduct against women is that, even as newly empowered victims, women are still being defined in relation to something men have perpetrated on them, as opposed to for their own intrinsic value and values as separate entities apart from ‘Adam.’ All the more reason to celebrate Friday’s performance at the Westminster Arts Center, 449 Franklin Avenue in Bloomfield, New Jersey (lovely this time of year) of “A Woman’s Movement,” a newly minted multi-media work by the acclaimed dancer and choreographer Donna Scro Samori for Freespace Dance, which she directs. I was first enthralled by Samori as the illuminated (by candle-light, or its semblance) alabaster angelic center of Murray Louis’s “Sinners All.” You may have thrilled at the balletic balance she gave to Peter Pucci’s “Hoops” or the pathos and precision (depending on the dance) with which she imbued and inhabited (and surely inspired) the choreography of Sean Curran for many years. Or simply been awed by her individual and collaborative creations with Freespace, which culls its grace from ballet, its inventiveness and earthiness from modern with a dash of Momix/Pilobolus (and a dose of various incarnations of Men Dancing when male ensembles are enlisted) thrown in, and its soul, spirit, and (where appropriate) serenity from Yoga. This time around, Samori will be creating collaborative art with 13 other female artists, which bodes well; taking nothing away from her individual work, presence as a solo performer or catalyzing effect on duet partners, I like to see what happens when she rebounds off other artists, of all genres. For more information, please click here.  And for tickets, click here. Photography by APJ and courtesy Freespace Dance. — PB-I

Secret Origins: Michelangelo at the Met

met mich 9. Michelangelo_Three Labours of Hercules_HM Queen Elizabeth II_Windsor smallIf you thought Modern Art started with Delacroix, the new exhibition Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer, opening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art November 13, will force you to reconsider. Running through February 12, the exhibition presents a stunning 128 of the artist’s drawings, three of his marble sculptures, his first painting, and his wood architectural model for a chapel vault.  “This is an exceptionally rare opportunity to experience first-hand the unique genius of Michelangelo,” said Met president Daniel H. Weiss. The exhibition will trace the life and career of Michelangelo Buonarroti (b. March 6, 1475; d. February 18, 1564), beginning with his training as a teenager in the workshop of Ghirlandaio and his earliest painting, “The Torment of Saint Anthony” (1487–88), and first known sculpture, “Young Archer” (ca. 1490). An entire gallery will be devoted to his monumental project of painting “The Last Judgment” on the Sistine Ceiling, and will include Michelangelo’s original studies for the project. Above: Michelangelo, “Three Labors of Hercules.” Drawing, red chalk; 10 11/16 x 16 5/8 inches (27.2 x 42.2 cm). Royal Collection Trust. “Copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017, www.royalcollection.org.uk.”

Merce, Acting, in Cage’s “Alphabet”

By Christine Chen
Copyright 2002, 2017 Christine Chen

BERKELEY — On Tuesday, Cal Performances presented the Bay Area premiere of John Cage’s “James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet” at Zellerbach Hall. “Alphabet,” a work originally imagined and written by Cage as a radio play in 1982, has now been adapted for the stage under the direction of Laura Kuhn (director and co-founder of the John Cage Trust). The integrated score, composed by Mikel Rouse from a manuscript Cage created before his death in 1992, consists of sounds, found environmental music and spoken text, all of which occur — in typical Cage fashion — sometimes by choice and sometimes by chance. Cage’s carefully crafted text collages quotations (real and imagined) from the three title figures, along with witty quips and non-sequiturs in the form of “mesostics” (text that can be read vertically as well as horizontally). It is all put together through an elaborate system of chance, involving the different possibilities of each character being alone or with another character or characters, the 26 letters of the alphabet which correspond to each of these possibilities, and an “unabridged” dictionary (?!?!). The resulting effect is that the audience members, unless they are Cage fans, Joyce aficionados, Duchamp buffs, or all-around modern art fanatics, are made to feel like Forrest Gump in a highbrow modern art world — bewildered, yet naively appreciative of the strange characters around them. There is the sense that the 15 historical figures represented in the fantasy, including Joyce, Duchamp, Satie (played, in a casting coup, by Merce Cunningham), Mao Tse Tung (as a child), Brigham Young, Henry David Thoreau, and Buckminster Fuller, are speaking both to and above the spectators.

To receive the complete article, first published on February 8, 2002, subscribers please contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the DI for just $29.95/year ($99 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, dance company members, etc.) by designating your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check. Subscribers receive full access to the DI Archive of 2,000 exclusive reviews by 150 leading dance critics of performances on five continents from 1998 through 2015. You can also purchase a complete copy of the Archives for just $49 (individuals) or $109 (institutions) Contact Paul at paulbenitzak@gmail.com.

 

Witness: At Artcurial Photo Auction ‘Eye Feel Photographie,’ Context is Everything

small photo artcurial, JOHN STEWART, ALI'S FIST@Artcurial

small photo artcurial, GAO BROTHERS, GOODBYE TIANANMEN @ArtcurialTop: John Stewart (1919-2017), “Ali’s Fist — Chicago,” 1977. Silver gelatin print mounted on dibond, 49.21 x 49.21 inches.  From an edition of five. Signed with certificate of authenticity on verso. Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 18,000 – 25,000 Euros. Bottom: Gao Brothers (Zhen and Qiang Gao), “Goodbye Tiananmen,” 2007. Chromogenic proof, 31.5 x 39.3 (image) and 33.4 x 41.3 (sheet) inches. From an edition of 10 examples. Signed, dated, and numbered in the lower margin at left. Pre-sale estimate: 2,500 – 3,500 Euros. Images copyright and courtesy Artcurial.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

At a time when pictures on auction are more likely to be worth (or at least valued at) thousands of dollars than a thousand words, tonight’s sale at Artcurial in Paris, Eye Feel Photographie, goes against the grain by priming meaning over money, with work at pre-sale estimates that are (relatively) modest and messages that are huge, even as current contexts make many of them troubling, particularly a Helmet Newton nude with sado-masochist and blatantly misogynist overtones and a Michel Comte nude of former French first lady Carla Bruni taken for a 1993 safe sex campaign, but also a Dennis Hopper photograph of the 1965 Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

To receive the complete article, with many more photos, subscribers please contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager for just $29.95/year ($99 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, company members, etc.) by designating your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check. Subscribers receive full access to our Archive of 2,000 exclusive reviews by 150 leading critics of performances on five continents from 1998 through 2015. You can also purchase a complete copy of the Archives for just $49 (individuals) or $109 (institutions) Contact Paul at paulbenitzak@gmail.com.

 

Blow, Satchmo, blow — Armstrong in Chi

satchmo small.jpgAmong the oeuvres featured as part of the exhibition The Photographer’s Curator: Hugh Edwards at the Art Institute of Chicago, playing through October 29, is, above: Dennis Stock, “Louis Armstrong Playing the Trumpet, 1958.” The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of the photographer. © Dennis Stock / Magnum Photos.

Dance Insider Sponsorship Opportunity

freespace for adDance Insider Principal Sponsorship Available: The Dance Insider Principal Sponsor will join Principal Sponsors Freespace Dance (above) and Slippery Rock Dance in sharing for one year the very top spot on this Dance Insider Home page — the longest-running Home page in Dance Journalism. You get that top spot for four months (where the Nutmeg Ballet image is now on top of our Home page); when you’re not in that spot, you get a recurrent ad on the Home page. For details, please contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com .

Escape from 9-11 & Terrorism: Maguy Marin’s Brave New World revealed in Paris

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2002, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

(Author’s Note: The first dance response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — today more relevant than ever.)

PARIS — AIDS had its Tony Kushner to write it a fantasia, and now 9-11 has its Maguy Marin to furnish a plan for action, an artist who both captures the actual calamity and lights the escape route. With her new “Points de Fuite” (“Points of Escape”), which premiered last night at the Theatre de la Ville – Sarah Bernhardt, Marin not only affirms the appropriateness of an artistic response to 9-11 and the aesthetic potential of such an expression, but its absolute necessity to finding points of escape from the despair, depression, rage and helplessness which continue to emanate from our literal, moral, and political ground zero in the wake of September 11.

To receive the complete article, first published on February 13, 2002, subscribers please contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the DI for just $29.95/year ($99 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, dance company members, etc.) by designating your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check. Subscribers receive full access to the DI Archive of 2,000 exclusive reviews by 150 leading dance critics of performances on five continents from 1998 through 2015. You can also purchase a complete copy of the Archives for just $49 (individuals) or $109 (institutions) Contact Paul at paulbenitzak@gmail.com.

Hear them breathe: Brookoff up close

matt image smallCrashing through the membrane: I still remember the first intimate ballet showing I was privileged to see, in Joffrey Ballet co-founder Gerald Arpino’s no-frills basement studio near the Church Street Safeway in San Francisco. The intake and exhalation of breath, the contours of the leg muscles and the grasping of hands right in front of you; there’s nothing like it for appreciating the hard work and honesty that goes into dances rigorously created and earnestly performed. Even moreso when the choreography is built around connections: of partners, of circles (evoking the primordial dances around a fire so eloquently described by Curt Sachs) — of the delicate digits of the pianist to the expressive hands and torsos of the dancers and the musicality of the dancemaker. New Yorkers will be gifted (much as I protest the recent lazy perversion of our language which turns nouns into graceless verbs, trampling the correct and more elegant versions in the process — right? — this term seems to ring just here) with such an opportunity Saturday in Brooklyn, when Mathew Brookoff and his Brookoff Dance Repertory Company occupy the Duffy Studio of Brooklyn’s Mark Morris Dance Center from 5 to 6 p.m., variously occupying Schoenberg’s Six Little Piano Pieces and a Schubert Impromptu in the veteran choreo’s anything but impromptu duet entwinings. (I plead for an exception for that one from Messieurs Strunk & White.) In addition to these new sculptures in motion, Brookoff also expands his recent group work “Fracture” (above) from six to 12 dancers. Free and open to the public. Pictured at the rear, from left to right: Andrew Harper, Tiffany Mangulabnan, and Jordan Miller; in front: Ali Block, Amy Saunder, and Brian Gephart. — PB-I (inspired by Harris Green)