blending Art, Culture & Exercise

INspired by ART

Just when you thought the melting pot couldn’t get any narrower some smart person added working out to the mix of blending art with just about everything.workout1

Everything being fashion, music, culture (a given), food with or as an art, now getting FIT with Art which started only last month. might be the next new craze.  And like all big success stories it takes place in NYC at the largest art museum in the United States, “the Met”.

Here’s the lowdown taken from T, the NY Times Style Magazine:

Monica Bill Barnes & Company, the irreverent contemporary dance troupe, started “The Museum Workout”: a 45-minute physical journey that spans two miles of the Metropolitan Museum of Art before opening hours. The workout, commissioned by the MetLiveArts, contains a route curated and narrated by the illustrator Maira Kalman, the author of “The Principles of Uncertainty,” and encapsulates the company’s motto to “bring dance where it does not belong.” “We wanted to honor what exists and build from it,” Barnes, the company’s artistic director, says of the unlikely setting.

By pre-selecting objects to encounter along the way (the Met’s permanent collection houses over two million items) and dictating participants’ movements, Barnes hopes the format’s “physical framework allows each audience member to have a unique emotional experience.” The workout begins promptly at 8:45 AM; at this hour, the museum’s usually clogged steps are clear, shrouded in shadows and bright patches of morning light.

Within the museum, Barnes and the performer Anna Bass serve as our athletic docents. They dance side by side, snaking through the museum, trotting, marching, speed-walking with ease. When objects, like a terracotta monument carved with angels, obstruct their path, they diverge like hand-holding lovers, separated by an oncoming crowd.

Make no mistake: this is a workout. Your body will perspire, your heart rate will rise and you’ll shed any light layers. (That said, my one request would be to increase the cardio incrementally and start with more stretches that early in the morning.) And because our enjoyment of anything increases when it’s otherwise prohibited, the workout’s massive pleasure derives from its illicitness:“trespassing” the Met before re opening hours, writhing to Elton John within the galleries, gently sweating on various marble surfaces. It confers other singular bragging rights as well — like having done jumping jacks before the marble statue of a nude Perseus

WATCH the Museum Workout Video Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Though Kalman isn’t physically present, her presence is pervasive. Her narration proffers personal thoughts about art and unexpected aphorisms on mortality. Barnes admired her work as an acquaintance, and admitted that, like anyone she approaches for projects, “It’s just an excuse to become close to somebody that you think is going to add value and perspective to your own life.” Novelty aside, the building is exceptionally beautiful uncluttered with people. What the workout gives participants is an appreciation of the museum itself: the soaring ceilings, narrow hallways, spacious galleries; how the sunlight rakes and refracts through the windows, then scatters like beads from a broken necklace across the floor.

At the end, there’s coffee, clementines, crusty bread and butter. The assortment, neatly spread in the American Wing cafe, was chosen by Kalman, and her handwritten notes — scribbled with “KEEP MOVING” — lay arranged for participants to pocket. Though thrilling, the experience is ultimately ruinous. Wandering the halls after the museum has opened, your resting heart rate restored, How wonderful, you’ll think, as school children scuttle around, when none of you were here.

Source for Story: ALEXIS CHEUNG for T MAGAZINE – NY Times

What do you think?  Meet me at the Met.  Yes, No?

Humorous Sidenote (which has nothing to do with this post – I was phoning an auto repair shop): Today is Presidents Day in the U.S.  I phoned Saturday to find out about getting an oil change on Monday (today).  Asked if they were open on Monday.  Girl who answered replied “Yes, we’re open.”  To clarify I said “but it’s Presidents Day.”  She replied “yes,  but we’re Mexican!”  How about Sunday?  Are you open then?  No, she replied.  “We’re Mexican!”

Beauty: make like an Egyptian

HOW TO CHANNEL your inner CLEOPATRA or NEFERTITI – take your pick.

Photographed by Eilzabeth Brockway for Vogue
Photographed by Eilzabeth Brockway for Vogue

They were both beautiful, powerful women of their time.  They used natural cosmetics made of malachite and naturally colored clay they would dry in the sun and then burnt to achieve the right red pigment perfect for cheeks and lips.  Seems like a lot of work.  I’m sure that both Cleo & Nef had help to attend to that part and then loaded it on with a heavy hand.  But they were regal, glamorous, rich and desired. This is 2015 so where am I going with all this?

Photographed by Kevin Tachman. Makeup by Pat McGrath
Photographed by Kevin Tachman. Makeup by Pat McGrath

Besides the fact that I stayed in a hotel across the street from The Egyptian Museum in Cairo for almost one month and was fascinated with the world’s most extensive collection of pharaonic antiquities and think I may have seen it all….and tried to imagine what life may have been like as a pharaoh (as the longest-reigning female pharaoh in a man’s world  – coincidentally there’s a book called “The Woman who would be King”).  I know it’s a long shot but I like to think we have something in common.

This is going somewhere I promise….

Kre-at Beauty 24-Karat Gold Lashes, $295; for information:
Kre-at Beauty 24-Karat Gold Lashes, $295; for information:

The METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART has a brand new exhibition “Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom,” which highlights the cultural and political renaissance that flourished in the civilization over the span of nearly 400 years.

Spitfire Girl Potion Collection Spray Perfumes, $45 each;
Spitfire Girl Potion Collection Spray Perfumes, $45 each;

Among the pieces on display are canopic jars used for mummification, and ornate royal jewelry inlaid with precious stones and coated in gold.  Ahh….gold!  I left Egypt with some beautiful 22kt gold jewellery which included a ring that has an inlaid Pharaoh and a pair of good luck scarab earrings and matching pendant.

Tarte Stroke of Midnight Brush Set, $44;
Tarte Stroke of Midnight Brush Set, $44;

Even more than 3,000 years later, a dash of bright gold—prized by the Egyptians as a divine and indestructible element and associated with the sun god Ra—still makes our hearts flutter.  Just ask the gilded aficionado Pat McGrath, who adorned Parisians last week with her forthcoming 24-karat inspired eyeshadow hue (in above photo).

Christian Louboutin Scarabée Nail Colour, $50 each;
Christian Louboutin Scarabée Nail Colour, $50 each;

We are not suggesting you go full-scale Cleopatra, but a simple swipe of metallic eye gloss or a gold-handled makeup brush is enough to tap into the hue’s brilliant decorative effect.  Maybe make you feel a little pharaohish.

Aerin Travel Gold Hairbrush, $75;
Aerin Travel Gold Hairbrush, $75;

Why not bring a little Egyptian-inspired glamour to your everyday beauty routine?

Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Mask, $80;
Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Mask, $80;

From Spitfire Girl’s hieroglyphic-stamped perfume bottles (I love my little collection of Egyptian perfume bottles) to a gold-capped mask so rich Cleopatra might have kept it on her vanity, these are some ways to celebrate the arrival of Egypt by way of New York City.

That was my point all along!

 Source: Jenna Rennert for Vogue

ART/Culture: The most Famous Paintings in the World…

Every year millions of dollars are spent by art collectors eager to own the world’s most sought after paintings. However, the most expensive paintings are not necessarily the most famous paintings. The most famous ones are generally owned by museums, which very rarely sell them, and as such, they are quite literally priceless. An overview of the TOP 10 most famous paintings of all time, found in museums around the world:

the birth of Venus
the birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli

10. The Birth of Venus is a painting by Sandro Botticelli created around 1485–87. It depicts the goddess Venus (or Aphrodite as she is known in Greek mythology) emerging from the sea upon a shell in accordance with the myth that explains her birth. The original location of the painting and its commissioner remain uncertain. Some experts attribute its commission to Lorenzo de’ Medici and the Villa of Castello as the site to which the work was originally destined. Today, the painting is held in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Water Lillies
Water Lilies, Claude Monet

9. Water Lilies is a series of approximately 250 oil paintings by French Impressionist Claude Monet. The paintings depict Monet’s own flower garden at Giverny and were the main focus of his artistic production during the last thirty years of his life. The paintings are on display at museums all over the world. The one shown here is displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The night watch,
The night watch, Rembrandt van Rijn

8. Completed in 1642, at the peak of the Dutch Golden Age, The Night Watch is one of the most famous paintings by Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn. It depicts a city guard moving out, led by Captain Frans Banning Cocq and his lieutenant, Willem van Ruytenburch. For much of its existence, the painting was coated with a dark varnish which gave the incorrect impression that it depicted a night scene, leading to the name Night Watch. This varnish was removed only in the 1940s. The painting is on display in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

The Scream,
The Scream, Edvard Munch

7. The Scream is a series of expressionist paintings and prints by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, showing an agonized figure against a blood red sky. The landscape in the background is Oslofjord, viewed from the hill of Ekeberg, in Oslo. Edvard Munch created several versions of The Scream in various media. The one shown here was painted in 1893 and is on display in The National Gallery of Norway. It was stolen in 1994 in a high-profile art theft and recovered several months later. In 2004 another version of The Scream was stolen from the Munch Museum, only to be recovered in 2006

the girl with the pearl earring,
the girl with the pearl earring, Johannes Vermeer

6. Sometimes referred to as “the Dutch Mona Lisa”, the Girl with a Pearl Earring was painted by Johannes Vermeer. Very little is known about Vermeer and his works and this painting is no exception. It isn’t dated and it is unclear whether this work was commissioned, and if so, by whom. In any case, it is probably not meant as a conventional portrait. Tracy Chevalier wrote a historical novel fictionalizing the circumstances of the painting’s creation. The novel inspired a 2003 film with Scarlett Johansson as Johannes Vermeer’s assistant wearing the pearl earring.  It has been in the collection of the Mauritshuis gallery in The Hague (Netherlands) since 1902.

Pablo Picasso
Guernica, Pablo Picasso

5. Guernica is one of Pablo Picasso most famous paintings, showing the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians. Picasso’s purpose in painting it was to bring the world’s attention to the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by German bombers, who were supporting the Nationalist forces of General Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso completed the painting by mid-June 1937. The painting can be seen in the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.

The Sistine Chapel,
The Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo

4. The Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, at the commission of Pope Julius II, is one of the most renowned artworks of the High Renaissance. The ceiling is that of the large Chapel built within the Vatican in Rome. Central to the ceiling decoration are nine scenes from the Book of Genesis. Among the last to be completed was the Creation of Adam in which God the Father breathes life into Adam, the first man. The Creation of Adam is one of the famous paintings of all time and has been the subject of countless references and parodies.

The Last Supper,
The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci

3. The Last Supper is a 15th century mural painting in Milan created by Leonardo da Vinci and covers the back wall of the dining hall at the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. It represents the scene of The Last Supper when Jesus announces that one of his Twelve Apostles would betray him. Leonardo began work on The Last Supper in 1495 and completed it in 1498 though he did not work on the painting continuously. Some writers propose that the person in the painting seated to the left of Jesus is Mary Magdalene rather than John the Apostle, as most art historians identify that person. This popular theory was the topic of the book The Templar Revelation (1997), and plays a central role in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code (2003).

Starry Night,
The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh

2. The Starry Night was painted by Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. Although Van Gogh sold only one painting in his life, the aftermath of his work is enormous. Starry Night is one of his most famous paintings and has become one of the most well known images in modern culture. The painting shows the village of Saint-Rémy under a swirling sky, in a view from the asylum towards north. The cypress tree to the left was added into the composition. Since 1941 it has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci

1. The most famous painting of all time, the Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci during the Renaissance in Florence. He began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 or 1504 and finished it shortly before he died in 1519. The painting is named for Lisa del Giocondo, a member of a wealthy family of Florence. In 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen by Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian patriot who believed the Mona Lisa should be returned to Italy. After having kept the painting in his apartment for two years, Peruggia was finally caught when he attempted to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Today, the Mona Lisa hangs again in the Louvre in Paris where 6 million people see the painting each year.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing six of these paintings in person.  The Birth of Venus (Florence), Water Lilies (Met, New York), The Night Watch (Amsterdam), The Last Supper (Milan), Starry Night (MOMA, New York) & Mona Lisa (Paris).

So, do you have a favourite? I appreciate them all, but if I had to choose it would be between The Birth of Venus and the Girl with the Pearl Earring.  Does this mean I’m a girly girl?



ART/Culture/CLAYTIME – Ceramics finds its place in the art-world mainstream

CLAY: a common material with an ancient history…

Wayne Ngan
WAYNE NGAN sculpts the most striking creations

Versatile, sensuous, malleable, as basic as mud and as old as art itself, clay is increasingly emerging as a material of choice for a wide range of contemporary artists.

 Ann Agee’s installation Super Imposition (2010), at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, presents the artist’s factory-like castings of rococo-style vessels in a re-created period room.
Ann Agee’s installation Super Imposition (2010), at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, presents the artist’s factory-like castings of rococo-style vessels in a re-created period room.

Ceramic art, referring specifically to American ceramic art, has finally come out of the closet, kicking and disentangling itself from domestic servitude and minor-arts status—perhaps for good. Over the past year, New York has seen, in major venues, a spate of clay-based art. There was the much-lauded Ken Price retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as his exhibitions at Franklin Parrasch Gallery and the Drawing Center. Once known as a ceramist, Price is now considered a sculptor, one who has contributed significantly to the perception of ceramics as fine art.

Populist as well as elitist, its inclusive nature might be one reason for its current appeal. It has infinite versatility, from the purely formal to the functional. It is a substance every child has played with,

Clayzone Ceramics, Vancouver
Clayzone Ceramics, Vancouver

and it is responsive to the primal instinct to make things by hand. Clay allows the artist to create form in spontaneous and direct ways that other mediums do not.

What do the Artists have to say?

Arlene Shechet, Sculptor: “I’m not a ceramic artist,” Shechet insists. “I’m an artist who works in clay. I like working in clay because it is very direct experience. I like the resistance of clay. It’s a physical enterprise, and you can make anything out of it. It doesn’t have a character until you give it one.”

Julia Kunin, Sculptor: “Clay,” she says, “gives me the freedom to create something intense, raw, over the top.”

Sculptor Julia Kunin creates baroquely grotesque animal forms, such as Double Portrait, 2010. D. James Dee
Sculptor Julia Kunin creates baroquely grotesque animal forms, such as Double Portrait, 2010. D. James Dee

It has allowed me to pile things up, break things down, play, and make mistakes.” Kunin loves the immediacy of a material that is “as basic as mud,” she points out. “I am addicted to the unpredictability and iridescence of the glazes I’m using as well as the range of their colors and their psychedelic qualities.”

As these artists and many others, frequently women, wrestle with a material deeply embedded in rules, craft, and tradition, they are widening its trajectories, spinning it into the art-world mainstream, into blue-chip desirability. They are waiting for the day, as Cherubini says, when clay—no longer synonymous with the counterculture, with hippies and vegans—is just a material like any other, and those who use it are not ghettoized as ceramic artists.clay5



Lilly Wei is a New York–based art critic, independent curator, and a contributing editor of ARTnews.