Topic: VOCALISTS - USA
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Two new exhibitions will open on Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Montclair Art Museum — “Philippe Halsman: Portraits of American Artists” in the Robert H. Lehman Court Gallery, and “Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Made in America” on view throughout the museum galleries. Both exhibitions are on view through Jan. 14, 2007.
They’re not the biggest nor the most elaborate — but they’re two of the most interesting and dynamic that MAM has ever staged.
One of the leading portrait photographers of the 20th century, Philippe Halsman was best known for his provocative, penetrating portraits of celebrities, politicians, and intellectuals which graced the pages of such major magazines as Life, Look, Esquire and the Saturday Evening Post, from the 1940s through the 1970s.
His portraits of leading American artists and cultural figures such as Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keefe will be featured in this exhibition. Leading musical figures such as Marian Anderson and Louis Armstrong, the pioneering dance figure Martha Graham, and photographers Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen, Weegee, and Margaret Bourke-White are also in the exhibition.
Also on view will be a self-portrait of Halsman and a family portrait which includes his daughter, Irene Halsman, an artist in her own right, who resides in Montclair, and is co-executor of the Halsman estate from which most of the photographs in the show are derived.
Commenting on his own work, Halsman observed, “This fascination with the human race has never left me. Every face I see seems to hide and sometimes, fleetingly, to reveal the mystery of another human being. Capturing this revelation became the goal and passion of my life.”
Philippe Halsman (1906-1979) was born in Riga, Latvia. He studied engineering in Dresden before moving to Paris, where he set up his photographic studio in 1932. Halsman’s bold, spontaneous style won him many admirers. His portraits of actors and authors appeared on book jackets and in magazines; he also worked with fashion. By 1936, Halsman was known as one of the best portrait photographers in France.
Halsman’s career came to a dramatic halt in the summer of 1940, when Hitler’s troops invaded Paris. Finally, through the intervention of Albert Einstein (who had met Halsman’s sister in the 1920s), Halsman obtained permis-sion to enter the United States in 1940, and he arrived in New York in November, with little more than his camera and a few prints.
Halsman’s big break came when he met Connie Ford, a striking young model who agreed to pose in exchange for prints for her portfolio. When publicists at Elizabeth Arden saw Halsman’s photograph of Ford against an American flag, they used the image to launch a national campaign for “Victory Red” lipstick. A year later, in the fall of 1942, Life magazine asked Halsman to shoot a story on new hat design. To Halsman’s delight, his portrait of the model smiling through a feathery brim landed on the cover. One hundred covers (more than any other photogra-pher) followed before the magazine ceased weekly publication in 1972.
Over the course of his career, Halsman enjoyed comparing his work to that of a good psychologist who regards his subjects with special insight. In fact, Halsman strove to reveal the essence of his sitters. As he explained, “It can’t be done by pushing the person into position or arranging his head at a certain angle. It must be accomplished by provoking the victim, amusing him with jokes, lulling him into silence, or asking impertinent questions which his best friend would be afraid to voice.”
Like many who escaped Hitler’s Europe, Philippe Halsman rarely discussed the past. He rightly insisted that his most important work took place in America, and in many ways his adopted country became his subject. One typical review noted his patriotic flair, praising Halsman’s “unsanctimonious and immensely intense portrayal of American bounce.” From a historian’s perspective, it seems clear that Halsman invented a glowing image of the nation as he saw it, using light, persuasion, nerve, psychology, and experience. This place and these faces are his legacy. “Phil-lippe Halsman: Portraits of American Artists” is curated by Gail Stravitsky.
Also opening on Sept. 16 is “Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Made in America”
“Jaune Quick-to-See Smith uses humor and satire to examine myths, stereotypes, and the paradox of American Indian life in contrast to the consumerism of American society. Her work is philosophically centered by her political activism and strong American Indian spirituality. The exhibition includes 34 pieces of her work over the last decade in drawing, printmaking, painting and mixed media installation.
Born in 1940 on the Flathead Reservation in Montana, to Flathead Salish, French-Cree, and Shoshone parents, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith became an artist while in her 30s and was earning a living as a painter before she com-pleted her master of fine arts degree at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
By the mid-1970s, she had founded artists groups, curated exhibitions, and organized grassroots protests to ex-press concern for the land and its Native people. She has developed a distinctive modernist style over the past 35 years, in a variety of techniques. Quick-to-See Smith has received international acclaim through more than 75 solo exhibitions and numerous international shows.
Smith’s politically loaded subject matter ranges from cowboys and Indians to McDonald’s and consumerism, res-ervation life, and war. According to Quick-to-See Smith, “Everything in America is for sale, including land, water and elections.” That’s why she includes money signs in her paintings as did Andy Warhol, but she adds other iconic forms such as ancient petroglyphs in her work to reflect both Western and Native cultures.
Twig Johnson, curator of Native American Art, has coordinated the MAM presentation of the show. Johnson is also inserting selected works by Smith in some of the Museum’s Permanent Collection Galleries which will provide visitors with opportunities to consider contemporary Native American creativity, with early Native American easel painting of the 1930s, and 18th- and 19th-century American portraits, and Native American art and ethnographic objects.
Johnson proudly talks about Smith’s work. “We are thrilled to be hosting such an important exhibition,” she said. “Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s work reflects MAM’s mission … her work always stimulates, teaches and inspires.”
Local children are invited to audition for Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker" performance. Children age 8 to young teens can audition for roles of party guests, mice, angels, little snowflakes, butterflies, little pages and junior corps de ballet in Russian, Arabian, French, Chinese and Spanish divertissements.
Children can preregister online at www.nutcracker.com. Master classes will be held immediately after the audition for those who are cast in the Nutcracker.
Russian soloist Roman Arkhypov will conduct the audition.
It will be held Oct. 28, with registration from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and auditions to follow at the Robin Dawn Academy of Performing Arts, 4417 S.E. 16th Place, Cape Coral.
Children should bring tights, leotards, ballet slippers and pointe shoes if on pointe.
Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker" will be held at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 26-27. Tickets can be purchased by calling 239-481-4849 or online at www.nutcracker.com.
The Moscow Ballet will perform the "Great Russian Nutcracker" in 80 cities during its 14th annual holiday tour of the United States.
Call the Robin Dawn Academy for more information at 239-549-0827.
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