We pour over the works of the great artists. Curators write rapturous descriptions of those same works and their supposed meanings. And critics surely analyze them far too vigorously. But what if we were able to really get inside of the minds of Van Gogh, Picasso, Warhol, Basquiat? How would it evolve the way we see both them and their art?
Those are the questions that New York painter John Ransom Phillips undertook - and fascinatingly succeeded - to answer with his revelatory new series, Lives of Artists - which will be on exhibit at the BlackBook Presents gallery in Brooklyn starting October 24.
If anyone doubted Walt Whitman's continuing hallowed place in the American cultural pantheon, they'd need only take in the sheer scope of the tributes being paid in honor of his 200th birthday this year. In New York City alone, the New York Public Library, the Morgan Library, and the Grolier Club have each examined the exalted 19th Century American poet's work from a uniquely different, but equally engaging point of view.
The latter exhibition, Poet of the Body: New York's Walt Whitman, closed in July. But its energetic curator, Karen Karbiener - a premier Whitman scholar and professor at NYU - is still admirably hard at work preserving the considerable legacy of the man whom she not at all hyperbolically calls "America's greatest poet." But for her, one project in particular is possessed of a foremost sense of urgency.
"I am the President of a 501(c)(3) called the Walt Whitman Initiative," she enthusiastically relates, "and it’s our focus to keep people celebrating him and to keep protecting his cultural legacy. That's where the campaign to landmark his house comes in. It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time."
Miami, like other major American cities in the 1970s (ahem, New York) watched helplessly as its glory days gave way to a drug-riddled war zone, one that left hollowed out landmarks and blocks of Art Deco hotels in rueful ruins. Hindered by corrupt law enforcement and a significant Latin American narcotics pipeline, it struggled along until the latter end of the '80s, when a music/fashion driven revitalization began to at last introduce new hope.
Frieze Los Angeles made its much buzzed about debut yesterday, fully living up to the spirited anticipation surrounding the international fair. Thousands of art-seeking Angelenos, celebrities, New York transplants and far flung jet-setters flocked to the Paramount Pictures studio lot to experience what many feel has been long overdue for the art-driven city.
Despite the brisk trade in his paintings and screen prints, at his core, Andy Warhol was probably more photographer than anything else he put his inimitable talent to. And during this year's Frieze Los Angeles, that will be thrillingly, revealingly on display.