Feb 27 Tue 7pm Steven Pinker at West Side Bway/84St Barnes and Nobel Explains Why Enlightened People Are Optimistic

Steven Pinker has broadened the base of his data to justify the optimist in him on all social fronts, though one would think that his hairdresser might curb the impulse to advantage

Steven Pinker has broadened the base of his data to justify the optimist in him on all social fronts, though one would think that his hairdresser might curb the impulse to advantage

Once again an proponent of Optimism is being attacked by the apologists of illiberal authoritarianism who celebrate individual struggles above kindness for fellow man.

Feb 27 Tue Steven Pinker at West Side Bway/84St Barnes and Nobel Explains Why Enlightened People Are Optimistic

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.

Pinker is a professor of psychology at Harvard and the author of 10 books

(Time Jan 4 2018) By Steven Pinker: According to the latest data, people are living longer and becoming healthier, better fed, richer, smarter, safer, more connected–and, at the same time, ever gloomier about the state of the world. As the political scientist John Mueller once summed up the history of the West, “People seem simply to have taken the remarkable economic improvement in stride and have deftly found new concerns to get upset about.” How can we explain pessimism in a world of progress?

It’s not that people are naturally glum. On the contrary, they tend to see their lives through rosetinted glasses: they say they are happy, their schools are good, their neighborhoods are safe and that they are less likely than the average person to become the victim of an accident, a disease, a layoff or crime.

But when people are asked about their countries, they switch from Pollyanna to Eeyore: everyone else is miserable, they insist, and the world is going to hell in a handcart.

This disconnect originates in the nature of news. News is about what happens, not what doesn’t happen, so it features sudden and upsetting events like fires, plant closings, rampage shootings and shark attacks. Most positive developments are not camera-friendly, and they aren’t built in a day. You never see a headline about a country that is not at war, or a city that has not been attacked by terrorists–or the fact that since yesterday, 180,000 people have escaped extreme poverty.

The bad habits of media in turn bring out the worst in human cognition. Our intuitions about risk are driven not by statistics but by images and stories. People rank tornadoes (which kill dozens of Americans a year) as more dangerous than asthma (which kills thousands), presumably because tornadoes make for better television. It’s easy to see how this cognitive bias–stoked by the news policy “If it bleeds, it leads”–could make people conclude the worst about where the world is heading.

Irrational pessimism is also driven by a morbid interest in what can go wrong–and there are always more ways for things to go wrong than to go right. This creates a market for experts to remind us of things that can go wrong that we may have overlooked. Biblical prophets, oped pundits, social critics, dystopian filmmakers and tabloid psychics know they can achieve instant gravitas by warning of an imminent doomsday. Those who point out that the world is getting better–even hardheaded analysts who are just reading out the data–may be dismissed as starry-eyed naïfs.

Psychologists have identified other reasons we are nostalgic about the past and jaundiced about the present. Time heals most wounds: the negative coloring of bad experiences fades with the passing of years. Also, we are liable to confuse the heavier burdens of maturity with a world that has lost its innocence, and the inevitable decline in our faculties with a decline in the times. As the columnist Franklin Pierce Adams pointed out, “Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.”

The cure for these biases is numeracy: basing our sense of the world not on bleeding headlines or gory images but on measures of human flourishing such as longevity, literacy, prosperity and peace. Numbers, after all, aggregate the good and the bad, the things that happen and the things that don’t. A quantitative mind-set, despite its nerdy aura, is not just a smarter way to understand the world but the morally enlightened one. It treats every human life as equal, rather than privileging the people who are closest to us or most photogenic. And it holds out the hope that we might identify the causes of our problems and thereby implement the measures that are most likely to solve them.

Pinker is a professor of psychology at Harvard and the author of 10 books

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Feb 26 Mon The Poetry of Nature: Edo Paintings from the Fishbein-Bender Collection at Met Sackler Wing Galleries 225-32 (February 27, 2018–January 21, 2019)

The Poetry of Nature: Edo Paintings from the Fishbein-Bender Collection

Painting blossomed in Japan during the Edo period (1615–1868), as artists daringly experimented with conventional styles. Novel approaches to pictorial art came to Japan from China or the West, and new schools or styles emerged when individual painters stepped outside the rules set forth by established painting academies.

The exhibition The Poetry of Nature: Edo Paintings from the Fishbein-Bender Collection, opening February 27 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, will trace the development of the major schools and movements of this fascinating era. Featured will be more than 40 outstanding examples of Edo-period hanging scroll paintings from the collection of Estelle P. Bender and her late husband, T. Richard Fishbein.

Many of these paintings—mostly gifts and promised gifts to The Met—have not been displayed or published in the West. Inspired by the way the collectors enjoyed these works in their home, the exhibition will present the Edo-period paintings in juxtaposition with some 15 contemporary Japanese ceramics from the Fishbein-Bender Collection. Unexpected pairings of paintings and decorative objects are also part of an age-old Japanese tradition called tori-awase (connoisseurial arrangement).

An additional 50 works in various formats and media from The Met collection will provide further context. Some of the light-sensitive works on paper and silk will be rotated partway through the exhibition.

The exhibition and catalogue are made possible by the Bender-Fishbein-Goodman Family.

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Feb 21 Wed Robert B. Reich Tells Upper West Side Barnes and Noble Sellout Audience We Will Live Again By The Common Good

His heart is in the right place but is this man preaching fundamental values getting his economics wrong as a critic of an earlier book says?

His heart is in the right place but is this man preaching fundamental values getting his economics wrong as a critic of an earlier book says?

Back to democracy
There were plenty of chairs provided at the Wednesday evening appearance of the very distinguished economist and public intellectual Robert B. Reich at the Upper West Side yesterday evening but they were packed ahead of time with fully paid up book buyers for his arrival at 7pm on stage, and the crowd of old and young spilled out to all three major aisles of the extensive upper floor as Reich began to speak with his unusual mix of idealistic impetus and extensive knowledge of the economic and political landscape from both inside as a Clinton cabinet member in the 90s (from 1993 to 1997) and outside in academia from his current perch at Berkeley, but not without producing what he recognized as the obligatory disarming joke (that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump arrive at the gates of Heaven at the same time, and are asked by God what they believe, when Clinton holds forth in wonkish style long enough to get hastily ushered in, while Trump when asked what he believes, says “I believe you’re sitting in my seat!”), and then tells us of his early slot as an intern for Robert F. Kennedy, where he operated the signature machine, and essayed the amusing prank of sending his friends letters like “Dear Joe, are you aware that you have the biggest nose in New York State? Yours sincerely Robert F. Kennedy” (“Do you still have that letter?” he asked someone in the audience, who replied he did) but then launched into the content of his slim small book The Common Good which he has now published at the instigation of Jonathan Siegel his editor at Knopf, a summary of all the fundamental democratic values lost in public life in the last half century as the Republicans have led the way from the aspirations which once bound us all together such as equal rights and equal opportunity, no one being above the law and a full set of democratic institutions to the current upside down lack of all social ethics except the Ayn Rand style principle of selfish greed and Trumpian narcissistic celebration of wealth and power, a new ethos that has come to dominate boardrooms and Congress replacing the previous era Reich recalled when CEOs used to take seriously their obligations to employees and the community, and where the nobility of purpose of being in the Senate and working together was shared by all and even banking was reliable and boring – “Anyone remember when finance was boring?”- all involving values of communal togetherness close to Reich’s heart ever since he enlisted an older boy at school to protect him against bullying for being too short, and the same protector was later tortured and murdered in Mississipi trying to advance civil rights, where the real patriotism of giving your life for this country, and when inclusion meant what we owed each other as citizens of the same nation, has now been replaced by the current thin veneer of so called ‘patriotism’ and raising the flag while excluding people by “securing the border”, and Reich’s plea is that we now move back to the cooperative end of the spectrum and recover the democracy and beliefs on which this country was founded, which must have involved preaching to the converted in most of his enthusiastic audience here, though always expressed felicitously in his book and here in person, and with the charm of genuine conviction which is very well informed (there is a very good list of moral outrages in public life perpetrated in the last decades in the center of the slim volume), although his economics is picked apart by a recent Forbes commentator (see the very end of this post), but Reich just like Easterbrook the previous night was decidedly optimistic in the face of all this moral deterioration, in his case a feeling boosted by the waves of resistance and change building up with MeToo and TimesUp, BlackLivesMatter etc which will he is confident amount to a continuing reaction against abuses of power, ironically encouraged by the extremism of Donald Trump to “take our politics back”, for although Trump has certainly worn Reich down, as the author explained when introducing himself looking somewhat disheveled, it is above all the know-nothing President that has got us all talking about the ideals of democracy and “The Common Good”, and certainly our author is the right man to address the issue, even if assiduous surfers of Democracy Now and similar liberal news sites on the Web might be too familiar with the problem of democratic values going downhill in American life to need it spelled out in his $18 book, as the determined bookstore pr person apparently desperately hoped in order to help her splendid branch stay in business as a cultural jewel on the West Side against the loss-leadership depredations of Amazon, by not allowing non-buyers to occupy any chair before the actual appearance of Reich at 7pm amid this crowd of supportive listeners looking for leadership on this fundamental crisis in values in the US, shared with Britain with Brexit and the European Community. – AL

Publicity: From the best-selling author of Saving Capitalism and The Work of Nations, a passionate, clear-eyed manifesto on why we must restore the idea of the common good to the center of our economics and politics.

With the warmth and lucidity that have made him one of our most important public voices, Robert B. Reich makes the case for a generous, inclusive understanding of the American project, centering on the moral obligations of citizenship. Rooting his argument in everyday reality and common sense, Reich demonstrates the existence of a common good, and argues that it is this that defines a society or a nation. Societies and nations undergo virtuous cycles that reinforce and build the common good, as well as vicious cycles that undermine it. Over the course of the past five decades, Reich contends, America has been in a slowly accelerating vicious cycle–one that can and must be reversed. But first we need to weigh what really matters, and how we as a country should relate to honor, shame, patriotism, truth, and the meaning of leadership.
Powerful, urgent, and utterly vital, this is a heartfelt missive from one of our foremost political thinkers: a fundamental statement about the purpose of society and a cri de coeur to save America’s soul.

Robert B. Reich
Author Event (Philosophy)
Wednesday February 21, 2018 7:00 PM

Author Robert B. Reich roots his argument in everyday reality, demonstrating the existence of a common good, and argues that it is this that defines a society or a nation. We undergo virtuous cycles that reinforce and build the common good, as well as vicious cycles that undermine it. America has been in a slowly accelerating vicious cycle–one that can and must be reversed.

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Feb 20 Tue Carnegie Council – Gregg Easterbrook Talks on his book It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear

Has the rise of social media blurred our perspectives on the world? Is civilization teetering on the edge of a cliff, or are we just climbing higher than ever? Gregg Easterbrook is a contributing editor to The New Republic and The Atlantic Monthly and he writes the Tuesday Morning Quarterback column for The New York Times. He was previously a fellow at the Brookings Institution and at the Fulbright Foundation.

Gregg Easterbrook — It’s Better than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear (Public Affairs)
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM

So far, so good, not bad
Gregg Easterbrook is a contrarian who suffers from the fact that he is a fundamentally sanguine reviewer of human society as it proceeds ever more rapidly through technological change, who firmly believes that doomsaying is premature and all will be for the best in the future, given the fact that the past shows that fundamentally we have advanced in comfort, health and civility overall despite the fact that most people currently worry a great deal about the future given current trends in many areas, such as loss of species, deteriorating environment, critical build up of carbon dioxide in the sky which is melting the planet’s ice caps, replacement of human jobs with AI and automation, and so on, as the Cassandras claim and he doesn’t deny, but he is able to point to the largely forgotten reality that there has been huge basic improvement in all these measures of human welfare recently or by historic measure, and to him this suggests the heartening principle that while life is full of problems we have been able to solve them in the past and can reliably do so sooner or later in the future, even if things look more critical at the present time than ever before, given the size of the slippage in planetary balance which promises huge coastal inundation of the very city in which he is speaking soon enough, and he explains our tendency to emphasize the negative by a natural human emotional bias towards fear and unease, the same bias that led us politically to get behind a champion salesman and vote him in to the Oval Office while he contradicted reality by claiming the nation and economy was going to hell in a handbasket, a tendency toward alarm which denied the plain fact he reliably researched and presents in his 380 page book proving that we are all better off now in the US than in the past on all major measures, and we should ignore the media who naturally cover the fire which has broken out in the forest while ignoring the vast landscape of trees which are not burning, though exactly why and whether the future will be as the past in which we solved so many problems is a question which he didn’t answer in his talk judging from the questions asked after he ended, including our own story of how we had so confidently arrived on these shores forty years ago expecting the work week to quickly head down from 40 hours to 36 hours a week to 30 and below, only to find that it did nothing but rise in the past decades despite the fact that now technology has begun to replace so many jobs with AI and automation, a puzzling outcome which seems to leave the future without any predictability at all judging from the past, but he answered that all the answers were in his book if you were wondering how he supported his optimism, and other questioners seemed to raise the same kind of doubts in pointing out, for instance, the many homeless citizens living in one of the richest residential areas in the world in San Diego, so one was left wondering if Gregg’s thesis was anything more than counting the progress of the past without any reason to assume that the conquest of human problems would be as successful in the future, skepticism which might be defeated by a close reading of his book but which his talk somehow did little to allay, though that may well be the very bias toward negativity which he claims we all suffer from, but somehow his methodical but somewhat uninspired presentation which was a repeat of his interview on NPR in the same morning left one looking forward to Steven Pinker’s appearance next week on the 27th at the West Side Barnes and Noble, since Pinker has been addressing the same theme of overall reasons for optimism in apparently more incisive and substantial works ever since his last surprising finding that global violence is at a lower level than ever before.

Program at Carnegie Council:
Is civilization teetering on the edge of a cliff? Or are we just climbing higher than ever?

Most people who read the news would tell you that 2017 is one of the worst years in recent memory. We’re facing a series of deeply troubling, even existential problems: fascism, terrorism, environmental collapse, racial and economic inequality, and more.

Yet this narrative misses something important: by almost every meaningful measure, the modern world is better than it ever has been. In the United States, disease, crime, discrimination, and most forms of pollution are in long-term decline, while longevity and education keep rising and economic indicators are better than in any past generation. Worldwide, malnutrition and extreme poverty are at historic lows, and the risk of dying by war or violence is the lowest in human history.

It’s not a coincidence that we’re confused–our perspectives on the world are blurred by the rise of social media, the machinations of politicians, and our own biases. Meanwhile, political reforms like the Clean Air Act and technological innovations like the hybridization of wheat have saved huge numbers of lives. In that optimistic spirit, Easterbrook offers specific policy reforms to address climate change, inequality, and other problems, and reminds us that there is real hope in conquering such challenges. In an age of discord and fear-mongering, It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear will profoundly change your perspective on who we are, where we’re headed, and what we’re capable of.

Gregg Easterbrook is a contributing editor to The New Republic and The Atlantic Monthly and he writes the Tuesday Morning Quarterback column for The New York Times. He was previously a fellow at the Brookings Institution and at the Fulbright Foundation.
Easterbrook is the author of numerous books, including Sonic Boom: Globalization at Mach Speed. He was previously a fellow at the Brookings Institution and at the Fulbright Foundation.

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Feb 17 Sat 4.15pm Anthology Film Archive 2nd Ave 2nd St The Heartbreak Kid by Elaine May with Charles Grodin and Cybill Shepherd

Risky business - Charles Grodin pursues the ultimate WASP princess into the heart of America sacrificing everything and risking social rejection at every turn to triumph over every obstacle to win ....  what?

Risky business – Charles Grodin pursues the ultimate WASP princess into the heart of America sacrificing everything and risking social rejection at every turn to triumph over every obstacle to win …. what?

Not the remake but the essential original

4:15 PM
HEARTBREAK KID
by Elaine May
1972, 106 min, 35mm

With Charles Grodin, Cybill Shepherd, Jeannie Berlin, and Eddie Albert.

Pinnacle of filmed social comedy
This extraordinary film deserves to be called a masterpiece because it combines social conquest with sexual in a sequence of overcoming impossible social barriers which would bring the aspirations of most of us to a sudden and very embarrassing if not humiliating collapse, but here a flow of priceless scenes, such as the first meeting of the unlikely couple on the beach as she looms above him her perfect face and figure only half visible against the hot sun as she says “You’re lying on my spot. Who told you you could lie on my spot?”, or the evening where he is invited only two days after his wedding to explain his intentions to the fearsome general now a banker and hostile father protector of the female provocateur who has in two minutes become his new dream for life, or the moment when he frees her on her Minnesota campus from walking with three huge football players by pretending to be a drug cop and flashing a fake badge, or when he sits across the desk from the granite jawed banker who vainly offers him escalating thousands of dollars to free Kelly from the New York interloper and is reduced to bellowing at him “If you don’t want money then what the hell do you want??!!”, are all made into one unexpected triumph after another by the inimitable wit and wordpower of Neil Simon, all of it so well acted and presented so skillfully by director Elaine May that it moves through a narrative that is as much social commentary on the trivial absurdities of competing for distinction in a materialistic world on an inhuman basis as it is a romantic obstacle course which celebrates the power of overcoming everything between you and the most desirable woman in the world with sheer decisive determination which recognizes nothing in the way as insuperable, and the combination of provocative comedy and gut tension social drama is always riveting and in its special way entirely unique in cinema, a masterful achievement for all concerned, including an ending that speaks volumes on the vanity of human wishes in this obsessive arena in which most of us are involved for much of our lives without permanent resolution, all enhanced immeasurably on the big screen at the precious Anthology Film Archive brick castle which endures like some palace of filmic mystery on the corner of Second Avenue and Second Street, invisible to the ignorant passing by but in its very sizeable second floor theater offering hospitality to past peaks of celluloid story telling literacy and narrative skill in an unmatched venue for brilliant full size film shows and their expert New York typically Jewish audience of long time residents who have cultivated the deep appreciation these works of genius deserve, in the renewed perfection of their original big screen projection which allows every lost color value and scene detail to be seen close up and loved anew. – AL

Film Comment review from an unromantic but impressed critic: “Were there film-historical justice in the world, THE HEARTBREAK KID would be remembered as something more than a finger-jabbed-a-little-too-sharply-in-the-ribs footnote to THE GRADUATE. An excruciatingly hilarious masterpiece of modern misanthropy, May’s second directorial outing stars Charles Grodin as a newlywed who, not five days into his honeymoon, mercilessly dumps his bride (played, with an Oscar-nominated mixture of hapless pathos and a double order of egg salad, by May’s daughter, Jeannie Berlin) in order to pursue Cybill Shepherd’s teenage Minnesota WASP princess. An anatomy of internalized rage, curdled misogyny, and bottomless self-deception, May’s second film – as indeed do each of the four films she directed – deserves better.” –Chuck Stephens.

Something better in the New Yorker:

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Feb 13 Tues 10-Noon At the Met: William Eggleston: Los Alamos

William Eggleston (American, born Memphis, Tennessee, 1939). Untitled, Memphis, 1965. Dye-transfer print, 17 11/16 x 11 15/16 in. (45 x 30.4 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift of Jade Lau. © Eggleston Artistic Trust

William Eggleston (American, born Memphis, Tennessee, 1939). Untitled, Memphis, 1965. Dye-transfer print, 17 11/16 x 11 15/16 in. (45 x 30.4 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift of Jade Lau. © Eggleston Artistic Trust

Glimpses as revelations
This show of some early work of the pioneer of color photography, William Eggleston, reveals how much more he was than a colorist in his art, for his gift is dedicated to glimpses of the unvarnished ordinary in life with a lens that magically locates meaning in sights that most of us might turn away from, from deserted landscapes, rusting cars hidden in undergrowth, to portraits of people caught up in unselfconscious existence amid the materialistic starvation of their spirit, where his self refined dye transfer color process is called into service to add meaning rather than enhance realism, and, matched by his genius in framing the everyday details of neglected lives as if they were gems of literary significance in perfectly balanced settings, return the viewer to a long ago lost sense that the world is fundamentally in order underneath the supposedly newsworthy cacophony of conflicting social drives and prejudices, in a place where nature rules and humanity flowers quietly out of the limelight, and the inner and outer beauty of a youth pushing supermarket carts (above) or Eggleston’s wife suckling her baby (not in the show here) or an uncle and his black chauffeur standing by his polished car as if they were three members of a family group, are all caught at the essential moment of insight by a photographer who notes the quotidian and unimportant and rather miraculously manages to construct and capture these scenes and images in one try only, we are told, without taking multiple shots in the modern digital manner, and it is hard to leave this exhibition without vowing to becoming a latter day Eggleston on Instagram.

The American photographer William Eggleston (born 1939) emerged in the early 1960s as a pioneer of modern color photography. Now, 50 years later, he is arguably its greatest exemplar. William Eggleston: Los Alamos will feature a landmark gift to The Met by Jade Lau of the artist’s most notable portfolio, Los Alamos. Comprising 75 dye transfer prints from color negatives made between 1965 and 1974, the series has never been shown in its entirety in New York City and includes the artist’s first color photograph (Untitled, Memphis, 1965) of a young clerk pushing a train of shopping carts at a supermarket in Memphis, Tennessee.

The exhibition includes lush color studies of the social and physical landscape of the Mississippi delta region, which remains the artist’s home, as well as studies made during numerous road trips with his friends Walter Hopps and Dennis Hopper—to New Orleans, New Mexico, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. On these journeys, the artist explored the awesome and, at times, raw visual poetics of the American vernacular. Los Alamos will also include as a counterpoint a small suite of Eggleston’s rarely seen black-and-white photographs from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s that the artist made concurrently with Los Alamos.

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Feb 6 Tue 10am-Noon Met – Korea’s Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art – Gallery, Gallery 233 (February 7–May 20, 2018)

 Jeong Seon. Mount Geumgang Viewed from Danbal Ridge, leaf from the Album of Mount Geumgang, 1711. Ink and light color on silk. National Museum of Korea, Seoul, Treasure no. 1875

Jeong Seon. Mount Geumgang Viewed from Danbal Ridge, leaf from the Album of Mount Geumgang, 1711. Ink and light color on silk. National Museum of Korea, Seoul, Treasure no. 1875

Mountainous soul

There is no region closer to the hearts of Koreans responding to their heritage in natural geography than the dramatically varied and extensive Diamond Mountains which lie on their East coast above and beyond the political border which now divides their peninsula, cruelly keeping the South Koreans from visiting this magnificent and dramatic range as they briefly could for a decade from 1998. but this extensive sampling of their artistic response to it over the last four centuries ranges from the Album of Mount Geumgang by Jeong Seon (above) through Elizabeth Keith, the Scottish artist among a handful of foreign visitors to Korea in the 1920s who wrote that she “would not have missed the grandeur for all the danger. Sometimes a mountain-top would appear like the dome of a great cathedral. Then the tops would look like jagged spires. . . . The beauty of the climb was a revelation to me”, to two contemporary works by Shin Jangsik the professor of art at Seoul University present at the preview who visited every year during the recent decade the door was briefly open to South Koreans whose many notable Diamond Mountains paintings (see below one of the two included in the show) reflect his own as well as the continuing national artistic and cultural engagement with this remarkable landscape that in its enduring monumental variety calls eternally to the Korean soul.

Shin Jangsik, Korean, born 1959. The Light at Cheonhwadae Peaks, from the series Twelve Scenes of Mount Geumgang, Korea, 2014 Acrylic on canvas and Korean paper. Image: 25 3/8 x 38 1/2 in. (64 x 98 cm). Lent by the artist Shin has almost exclusively devoted his energy to the subject of the Diamond Mountains since the early 1990s. He began painting the mountains in 1993 before ever visiting them. When the Diamond Mountains reopened to tourism in 1998, he was on the first ship sailing for Geumgang. Since then, he has journeyed multiple times, through different routes and locations and at all times of the year. In 2014 he painted a series of twelve scenes depicting various sites within the mountains in the four seasons. The Light at Cheonhwadae captures the brilliant sunlight reflected off the   snowcapped peaks. Shin, who trained in Western techniques, typically uses acrylic on canvas (or on Korean mulberry paper over canvas), capturing the effervescence and luminosity of the landscape in bright colors.

Shin Jangsik, Korean, born 1959. The Light at Cheonhwadae Peaks, from the series Twelve Scenes of Mount Geumgang, Korea, 2014 Acrylic on canvas and Korean paper. Image: 25 3/8 x 38 1/2 in. (64 x 98 cm). Lent by the artist – Caption: Shin has almost exclusively devoted his energy to the subject of the Diamond Mountains since the early 1990s. He began painting the mountains in 1993 before ever visiting them. When the Diamond Mountains reopened to tourism in 1998, he was on the first ship sailing for Geumgang. Since then, he has journeyed multiple times, through different routes and locations and at all times of the year. In 2014 he painted a series of twelve scenes depicting various sites within the mountains in the four seasons. The Light at Cheonhwadae captures the brilliant sunlight reflected off the snowcapped peaks. Shin, who trained in Western techniques, typically uses acrylic on canvas (or on Korean mulberry paper over canvas), capturing the effervescence and luminosity of the landscape in bright colors.

Cat. 11 Album of Mount Geumgang 1-e. Haesan Pavilion 해산정 Image: 10 5/8 x 14 3/4 in. (26.8 x 37.3 cm). This leaf depicts a relatively large swath of the mountains, in an overhead composition. With the white rocky peaks in the background, a wide slice of Sea Geumgang is presented—from the Haesan Pavilion in the middle ground to the Seven Star Pillars, a constellation of oddly shaped rocks, in the sea on the lower left corner.

Cat. 11 Album of Mount Geumgang 1-e. Haesan Pavilion 해산정 Image: 10 5/8 x 14 3/4 in. (26.8 x 37.3 cm). This leaf depicts a relatively large swath of the mountains, in an overhead composition. With the white rocky peaks in the background, a wide slice of Sea Geumgang is presented—from the Haesan Pavilion in the middle ground to the Seven Star Pillars, a constellation of oddly shaped rocks, in the sea on the lower left corner.

Met Museum text: The Diamond Mountains—perhaps the most iconic and emotionally resonant site on the Korean peninsula—is the theme of an international loan exhibition that will open at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on February 6, 2018. Though the region has inspired cultural pride since ancient times, its present location in North Korea has kept it largely inaccessible in modern times. Featuring nearly 30 landscape paintings from the 18th century to the present—from delicately painted scrolls and screens to monumental modern and contemporary artworks—Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art will present the visual imagery of this emblematic site. The highlight of the exhibition will be an exquisite early 18th-century album—a designated Treasure from the National Museum of Korea—by the master painter Jeong Seon (1676–1759), who revolutionized Korean painting by breaking with conventional generic imagery and depicting native scenery. The exhibition is the first in the West on this important subject, and most of the works have never before been displayed in the United States.

The exhibition is made possible by The Met’s collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea (MCST) and the National Museum of Korea (NMK).

Diamond Mountains is part of a celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of The Met’s Arts of Korea Gallery, and the opening coincides with the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The exhibition will also include works by renowned painters such as Kim Hajong (1793-?) and Sin Hakgwon (1785-1866).

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Feb 5 Mon 10 am–noon At the Met Breuer (Floor 2) – Highlights from Leon Golub: Raw Nerve (Feb 6–May 27, 2018)

Gigantomachy II
by Leon Golub (American, Chicago 1922–2004 New York) 1966 Acrylic on linen 9 ft. 11 1/2 in. × 24 ft. 10 1/2 in. (303.5 × 758.2 cm) Gift of The Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts and Stephen, Philip, and Paul Golub, 2016

Leon Golub. (American, 1922–2004) Two Black Women and a White Man, 1986 acrylic on linen 120 x 163 inches Courtesy Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York © The Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Leon Golub. (American, 1922–2004)
Two Black Women and a White Man, 1986
acrylic on linen
120 x 163 inches
Courtesy Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York
© The Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts/Licensed by VAGA, New
York, NY

Activist Art Power at the Breuer

One of the great public services the Met often carries out is to serve up the work of an artist that you may not be fully aware of if you are not in the field, and in this case the Breuer delivers another high impact show that many newcomers to Leon Golub’s achievement will carry home in their minds with great gratitude as an unlooked for gift in displaying yet another advance in human imagination they hadn’t conceived of before, for Golub’s huge canvases speak loudly not only with huge figures unmatched in presence and connection with the viewer as they look out or even crawl out towards him or her from battle or torture or other sites of the devastation of male belligerence in history both classical and modern, but also in clear evocation of Golub’s life long activism against the excesses of the powerful over the oppressed as the fundamental villainy of excess masculinity, an ethical reproach which is particularly telling in our current political circumstances as we teeter on the nuclear brink, all brought home to us in Golub’s unique ability to match the outward action of oppression and abuse of power with the explicit humanity and visible beauty and familiarity of the soul’s inner life even as in the case of two vast canvases in the penultimate room of this show, not as widely known and celebrated as the rest, one picturing two black men in conversation in front of a wall in Cuba with a dynamic image of a third bursting out of it, the other with an aged black woman sitting on a bench seat looking directly at us while another looks off at a passing white man who avoids meeting his gaze as he looks in the opposite direction off canvas at what judging from his twisted smile may well be an instance of prejudice in action in some off camera incident, which along with other works in Golub’s whole career largely ignoring fashionable abstraction in favor of the human figure and arms length objectivity in favor of activism against violence in his art matched with actively demonstrating in real life against the Vietnam war offer powerful images combined with ethical attitude in a fully expressed way that remains unique in contemporary art, although something of the same outsized artistic power and overwhelming empathy with the humanity of those abused by power and class might be seen in a recent Breuer offering of Kerry James Marshall a year and a half ago, where black skinned figures found their rightful place as people as substantial and in some self expressive ways superior to those that assume a higher rank, just as the hugely impressive art of Leon Golub is in key ways superior in self expression to the abstractions of contemporary fashion.

Leon Golub. (American, 1922–2004) General Ernesto Geisel (1976), 1977 Acrylic on linen

Leon Golub. (American, 1922–2004)
General Ernesto Geisel (1976), 1977
Acrylic on linen

Met Breuer briefing: Opening February 6 at The Met Breuer, Leon Golub: Raw Nerve will present a selective survey of this groundbreaking artist’s work.

Timed to celebrate the 2016 gift to The Met of the monumental painting Gigantomachy II (1966) from The Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts and Stephen, Philip, and Paul Golub, the exhibition will present highlights from Golub’s long, eminent career, drawn from distinguished private collections as well as the artist’s estate. Golub’s unflinching portrayals of power and brutality have profound relevance today, as does his belief in the ethical responsibility of the artist.

Born in Chicago, Golub (1922–2004) occupies a singular position in the history of mid to late 20th-century art. His devotion to the figure, his embrace of expressionism, his amalgamation of modern and classical sources, and his commitment to social justice distinguish his practice as an artist.

The centerpiece of Leon Golub: Raw Nerve is Gigantomachy II, a commanding, epic work measuring nearly 10 by 25 feet. Created in 1966, two years after Golub joined the Artists and Writers Protest Group and began to lobby actively against the Vietnam War, this political allegory recounts the story of a mythic battle between the Olympian gods and a race of giants. In Golub’s contemporary retelling, there are no heroes, only anonymous men in various states of distress, their bodies riven by scars and wounds.

Alongside this powerful and terrifying work, Leon Golub: Raw Nerve will feature paintings from all of the artist’s most important series, including Pylon, White Squad, Riot, and Horsing Around. These will be accompanied by a 1970 painting of a victim of the Vietnam War, as well as a suite of early paintings that reflect Golub’s study of antiquity, and a group of unsettling portraits of the Brazilian dictator Ernesto Geisel.

Also on view will be works on paper that represent subjects of longstanding interest to the artist, from mercenaries , interrogators, and the victims of violence to political figures, nudes, and animals, all of them rendered in the raw, visceral style for which he is justly celebrated.

Taken together, the works in Leon Golub: Raw Nerve, which span the entire arc of Golub’s career, attest to his incisive perspective on the catastrophes that afflict human civilization as well as his critique of violence and belligerent masculinity.

Leon Golub: Raw Nerve is organized by Kelly Baum, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art in The Met’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art.

The exhibition is featured on The Met website, and also on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Jan 29 Mon 10am-Noon Met Thomas Cole’s Journey: Atlantic Crossings at Floor 1, Gallery 746, The Erving and Joyce Wolf Gallery (January 30–May 13, 2018)

 Thomas Cole (American, 1801–1848). View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow (detail), 1836. Oil on canvas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1908

Thomas Cole (American, 1801–1848). View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow (detail), 1836. Oil on canvas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1908 (Click to enlarge to find self portrait of artist amid leaves)

Songs to a Lost Paradise

The rugged and richly overgrown landscape of America in the earlier 19th Century, before it was despoiled by industrial man’s efforts to tame it and replace it with something more immediately comfortable, though far from as beautiful as Nature’s creations, was never celebrated on canvas more profoundly than by Thomas Cole, whose roots were in the industrial North of England from which his family was forced to emigrate in his childhood as it was overwhelmed by the unbridled chaos and dirt of the Industrial Revolution, and his art which is now presented in a watershed exhibition at the Met in all its glorious natural finery and dark forboding of the desecration to come, is not only a wonderful tribute to the landscape of early America but a vivid reminder of all that was lost when Andrew Jackson, in many ways an earlier version of our current occupant of the Oval Office, took the brakes off the ruthless economic harassment of Mother Nature and made profit the ruler of the new nation, a trend to which Cole was painfully alert, given his origins, and incorporated in his work, in fact explicitly painted in one major sequence of five huge canvases displayed around the end bay of the second major room of Gallery 746. just off the American Wing Cafe down some steps in the north west corner of that beautiful, sky lit space where so many exquisite white marble sculptures of less famous artists are displayed, in a sequence which starts with pure natural landscape on the left, reaches a peak of goldplated urban classicism in the center painting, and ends in desolation on the right, the ravages of materialism complete, and the rest of the exhibition follows a similar path, beginning with Cole’s early inspirations Turner and Constable who led the young returnee from America from his start as a dye developer for a fabric manufacturer and early standard depictions of upstate New York landscape into a liberated and much more ambitious approach which when informed also by extending his Grand Tour to Rome expanded into a genius for landscape celebration which led the way for others in the States till well past Cole’s death from a seemingly simple cold which took root in the 47 year old and saw him into the grave in a matter of days, struck down at the height of his powers and gathering renown, with another twenty years or more of unmatchable work in him, but with a must-see legacy that now can be enjoyed at the Met in the three months before it is sent to London’s Tate Gallery to raise the level of appreciation in that land of a lost son, for recognition of this superlative master is still somewhat limited there, according to the Yale art department head who took the press around in a preview, who when asked if he had any Coles in his own possession answered “I wish”, after having noted that Cole’s influence on his political contemporaries had been limited in restraining Jackonian desolation, but now the exhibition of Cole’s beautiful renderings of pristine nature and then the excessive enroachment of modern man’s careless replacements certainly was relevant in the present political climate, and a timely reminder of all we stand to lose if the trend begun in England’s North and carried over to Andrew Jackson’s desecration of what Cole valued most so long ago now continues in the 21st Century retrogressive return to that unthinking era now under way, which gives everybody two very important reasons not to miss this watershed show, its aesthetic joys unknown to modern art, and its political resonance.

Thomas Cole’s Journey: Atlantic Crossings

Through more than six dozen works of art, this exhibition explores the British roots and European influences of the great American landscape painter Thomas Cole (1801–1848). Included in the presentation are 39 of Cole’s most important works. The exhibition reassesses Cole’s career and rewrites the history of the Hudson River School of painting.

Met Museum to Explore Transatlantic Career of Renowned Painter Thomas Cole

Exhibition Marks 200th Anniversary of the Artist’s Arrival in America

Celebrated as one of America’s preeminent landscape painters, Thomas Cole (1801–1848) was born in northern England at the start of the Industrial Revolution, emigrated to the United States in his youth, and traveled extensively throughout England and Italy as a young artist. He returned to America to create some of his most ambitious works and inspire a new generation of American artists, launching a national school of landscape art.

Opening January 30 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exhibition Thomas Cole’s Journey: Atlantic Crossings will examine, for the first time, the artist’s transatlantic career and engagement with European art. With Cole’s masterworks The Course of Empire series (1834–36) and The Oxbow (1836) as its centerpiece, the exhibition will feature more than three dozen examples of his large-scale landscape paintings, oil studies, and works on paper.

Consummate paintings by Cole will be juxtaposed with works by European masters including J. M. W. Turner and John Constable, among others, highlighting the dialogue between American and European artists and establishing Cole as a major figure in 19th-century landscape art within a global context. The exhibition marks the 200th anniversary of Cole’s arrival in America.

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Jan 22 Mon 10am-Noon Met – Birds of a Feather: Joseph Cornell’s Homage to Juan Gris – Gallery 918, Lila Acheson Wallace Wing (January 23–April 15, 2018)

Joseph Cornell (American, 1903-1972). Homage to Juan Gris, 1953-54. Box construction. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Purchased: John D. McIlhenny Fund. Art © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

On October 22, 1953, Joseph Cornell wrote in his diary: “Juan Gris/Janis Yesterday.” He was referring to the previous day’s outing, when, on one of his frequent trips to the gallery district in midtown Manhattan, Cornell visited the Sidney Janis Gallery on East 57th Street. Among a presentation of approximately 30 works by modern artists, one alone captivated Cornell—Juan Gris’s celebrated collage The Man at the Café (1914), which is now a promised gift to the Museum as part of the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection.

This shadowy profile of a fedora-topped man immediately inspired Cornell to begin a new series: some 18 boxes, two collages and one sandtray created in homage to Juan Gris, whom he called a “warm fraternal spirit.” Completed over a period of 13 years, Cornell’s series of Gris shadow boxes is more extensive in number than any other that the artist openly dedicated to one of his admired luminaries of stage, screen, literature, or the visual arts.

The main protagonist of Cornell’s Juan Gris series is a bird—the great white-crested cockatoo—specifically, an image taken from a 19th-century print of the species that Cornell repeatedly used along with Photostats or silhouettes of the bird’s form to explore the fascinating shadows that Gris produced in his own practice.

At The Met, the exhibition Birds of a Feather: Joseph Cornell’s Homage to Juan Gris will reunite for the first time nearly a dozen boxes from Cornell’s Gris series together with the Cubist masterpiece, The Man at the Café.

The exhibition is made possible by the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust.

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Jan 18 Thu 6-8pm SWINY Cells Are the New Cure! book with Dr. Max Gomez and Dr. Robin L. Smith at Yale Club

Cells Are the New Cure with Dr. Max Gomez

Age and disease will be cured by the body’s own cells! Max Gomez’s talk and book purport to bring us news of the success of the new effort of the last five years promising eternal life free of ailments if it all works out, which attempts to entrain your age old defenses against outside threats to the body plus internal crumbling by revving up stem cells, T cells and other cellular soldiers by taking them outside the body,modifying them and then sending them back to defeat the depredations of everything from aging to cancer, in other words as his title has it, Cells Are The New Cure, though his excitement over the latest successes of this approach, which has seen remarkable remission and recovery of individual patients scheduled otherwise to leave behind this mortal coil feet first very shortly, and his book is a fine, simply expressed rundown on these indications of huge potential so far, which can be followed by any untutored reader with ease and appreciation for the handsome Gomez’s renowned ability on air as well as in these pages to reduce scientific gobbledegook to human language, has to be tempered a little by waiting to see what transpires, since what he offers with such optimism for the future should be reviewed carefully to see what the overall success achieved so far really is, since these new methods like similar earlier ones have helped only a low share of patients so far, just as other gene based or blood cell manipulation techniques have sometimes showed huge breakthrough successes with individual patients only to disappoint in many others, reminding us once again that the much disdained alternative of using plant based phytochemicals to restrain and even remit if not cure cancer and other ailments remains mostly unassessed by very expensive clinical trials in the current environment of profit driven medicine, although some notable successes have been scored against cancers, even though whether people do well as they age certainly seems partially gene based, and, as Dr Gomez replied in answer to a question as to how do-it-yourself action might still replace this new approach which is currently running at as much as $475,000 a crack, it does seem as if even though the natural diet and exercise approach might help keep bodies in good shape in everyday life, generate more blood cells and evidently keep cancer at bay by revving up the immune system on their own, once large tumors and other significant ill health and aging sets in it may be time to welcome the new breakthrough as the ultimate ticket to recovery if things work out as everyone is very excitedly hoping, as the author implied with his very first statement to this crowd of mostly stenographic science reporters, though they included many distinguished practitioners of that scientifically gullible art, which was to ask “How many of you want to live to be 100?”, but nonetheless his book is invaluable for all those who want to catch up with what is going on at the frontier of future treatments, as well as the latest news on what has been established in health studies so far in general, for his book is much more than that, it is a handy, matchless compendium of research advice across the whole waterfront of current health preoccupations, which are summarized with perfect clarity. .

PR notice: YALE CLUB
Science Writers in NY cordially invites you to a special evening with award-winning medical correspondent Dr. Max Gomez — discussing his new book “Cells Are the New Cure.”

Dr. Max Gomez and his co-author, Dr. Robin L. Smith, will talk about their exceptional book, answer questions about content and craft, and sign books (sold at discount for $18.)
Beer, wine, soda and substantial hors-d’oeuvres will be provided.

Dr. Gomez’s just-published book on the use of living cells and genetic modifications as revolutionary agents of healing has arrived with exquisite timing. The very first such treatments received FDA approval in the past several months, making 2017 the year that reality began to emerge alongside promise.

Two therapies genetically transform a patient’s immune cells to target a specific leukemia. And sight is restored in a type of inherited blindness by a gene-normalizing treatment that targets the retina.

Drs. Gomez and Smith have tackled this viscerally and intellectually thrilling area head on. They cover the full breadth and depth of cellular therapy research—assimilating and organizing the promising results from more than 35,000 clinical trials—and its potential applications, from genetic defects to organ repair, cancer, autoimmune diseases, cognitive health, longevity—and so much more. They create a clear roadmap for understanding past, present, and future, narrated in highly accessible language that is a rewarding read for novice and knowledgeable alike.

Max Gomez established but a pioneer

Max Gomez established but a pioneer

Dr. Max Gomez graduated cum laude from Princeton University, earned his Ph.D. from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at The Rockefeller University. In his more than 35 years of pursuing and communicating innovative science and healthcare progress, Dr. Gomez has earned 9 Emmy Awards, 3 NYS Broadcaster’s Association awards, and UPI’s Best Documentary award.

Dr. Robin L. Smith is a global thought leader in regenerative medicine, one of the fastest growing modern medical disciplines. She received her M.D. from the Yale School of Medicine and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business.

CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez Stops By To Talk About New Book ‘Cells Are The New Cure’

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Jan 16 Tues 10am-12 noon Met Gallery 851 Before/On/After: William Wegman and California Conceptualism (January 17–July 15, 2018 )

William Wegman’s Ultimate Dogginess at the Met
The remarkable achievement of Bill Wegman is all the more astonishing given that, at first sight, you might think that an artist who merely makes videos of his dogs in various simple interactions where he treats them as fellow beings who deserve the same level of attention, respect and language as any other friends is someone whose artistic product is unlikely to deserve the respect of your attention, let alone installation and exhibition in the greatest art museum of the Americas, but if you miss this 90 min selection from the 174 short videos that he made from 1970 to 1999 by not giving them at least half an hour or more of your uninterrupted gaze in the darkened projection room at the center of this large room wall display of his and his Southern California contemporaries’ drawings, prints and photographs all now labeled Conceptual Art you will miss a unique expansion of your mind into realms unknown to those who come to the Met to gaze upon its treasures within a traditional mental framework of aesthetic beauty and human psychology, for Wegman has in this set of staged interviews and provocative encounters with Man Ray and his later dogs explored nothing less than “dogness”, the very existential reality of being a dog, more effectively than any combination of words and still images on a flat surface, as he destroys the mental framework through which you normally perceive a dog as effectively as he takes away the frame through which one normally views art in the Met, and in the most basic and simple interactions with his sinewy hounds reveals what they are as emotionally compatible but sensorily strange human companions who live in a different world beside us, puzzled by our behavior but always cooperative in their reliable affection and support for their owner-leader, with a window into their souls provided by Wegman in his little playlets, such as a dog asleep like a human tucked into soft covers and pillows that he rests his head on, until a ticking alarm next to him goes off and he leaps up and away, or simply opens one eye and then relapses into sleep again, or taken up and cuddled in his owner’s arms with Wegman`s hand cupping the dog’s testicles as he explains that it is “securely locked in my arms and therefore trusts me” and the dog is indeed undisturbed even as he lifts the dog’s loose lip with his finger or extends its ears on both sides, or endlessly tossed a hard unchewable white ball until finally Man Ray drops the ball out of its mouth accurately into an empty soup can placed in front of him instead of the floor, or simply his later two dogs together facing camera and move their heads and eyes in line with some object he moves about off camera, or Man Ray sitting at a table while Wegman explains to him he has spelled beach wrongly as beech, or simply an extended shot of him noisily lapping milk with a long tongue and noise from inside a fat tumbler, lighthearted and even humorous in the simplicity of the human dealings only half understood yet followed by the attentive dog spoken to or played with, but which mixed with other brief presentations of Wegman himself addressing us about the simple chair he has obtained which he claims has legs tuned to different notes if he whacks them with a stick, as he does so, or with shaving foam covering the lower half of his face explaining that he was born with a one inch mouth and when it hadn’t widened by age six as expected they had transplanted the mouth of his grandfather who had just died, all of which has the most intense effect of focusing one’s mind on the physicality of the beings featured and their minds in that moment, highlighting the aspects of their presence so vividly that hours afterwards you might find the dogginess of the dogs in your viewings still vividly alive in your memory, and adding up to a most remarkable introduction via all these simple tools to aspects of reality which were hitherto lost in the shadows of the mind, but are now clearly center stage, in regard to our own reality as well as that of the dogs, for also Wegman’s short clips with himself as actor in aspects of daily life have the same ability to brush aside layers of cultural unreality by banishing the usual overlay of ways of looking such as selling, or buying into commercial or other social fantasies which distort our view of what is in front of our noses, which when peeled off reveal the actual life experience in all its simple natural glory, a truth which often becomes humorous in its deflation of pretension and posture, as in his standing over a bag with trembling legs detailing the inconveniences of flying, or the clip where he barks like a dog using the actual sounds of his dogs, or telling a tiny spot on the carpet to “Get outa here!” which he says “usually works: and does so in this case, or dropping shavings onto the back of his dog resting on a sofa who reacts at first by trying to eat them but eventually gives up and goes back to sleep as they continue to fall, or the long supposed discussion with a male authority asking questions from a small tv screen of the difference between audio tape and video tape, or simply reading out in a completed verbal form of copyright notices on a printed page, all of which have the peculiar effect of stripping social assumptions and expectations from contemplating objects or situations to re-present them as what they are. just as he re-presents his dogs and their reality for what they really are, which is so reassuring in feel that in the current political context it makes one wish that every voter in the land should come and view these remarkable works and have their fantasies borrowed from the current President or in opposition to him stripped away to reveal the social reality they distort, a public service which Wegman’s extraordinary achievement in revelation could well carry out, particularly if Trump could somehow be led to watch in lieu of his marathon TV watching and Twitter engagement, which in exactly the opposite way enlarge and inflate his narcissistic fantasies which are so far removed from reality that they risk the nuclear annihilation of the planet according to the 27 psychiatrist authors of the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, which would admittedly be a level of influence far beyond the conscious purpose of Wegman himself in fashioning these salutary works, at least according to his self deprecating style in telling his own biography to the assembled press at the preview of this exhibition, where he said that after he didn’t get rehired from his early teaching job he moved to Los Angeles and “begrudgingly” got a dog to please his wife, then dragged the dog named Man Ray to his studio and “he kept going into everything, he was really interested in what I was doing”, for then “I was doing work which people understood, even myself, and got into a show, I don’t know how, then I got into dogs and I’ve been happy ever since!,and I am happy to get into the Met, that they accepted it!” he told the press at this preview, a self effacing style that matched his art in which the artist’s ego and the overarching considerations of selling and showing his work let alone its social or political influence are obviously far from his mind, which is exactly why what it teaches is so needed in the Trump era, a return to the sanity of reality from hyperfantasy and all its accompanying baggage of tribalism and fear of other.

Opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on January 17, the exhibition Before/On/After: William Wegman and California Conceptualism will survey Conceptual Art as it developed in Southern California in the 1970s. The show is occasioned by the artist William Wegman’s extraordinary recent gift to the Museum of 174 short videos that he made between 1970 and 1999—his entire career in the medium. A 90-minute selection of videos from this gift will be shown along with photographs and drawings by Wegman as well as drawings, prints, and photographs by his contemporaries in Southern California—John Baldessari, Vija Celmins, Douglas Huebler, Ed Ruscha, and others.

Wegman took up video while teaching painting at the University of Illinois in the mid-1960s. Like many artists using the then-new medium, Wegman appreciated video—like photography—for its lo-fi reproducibility and anti-artistic qualities. Also, unlike film, where the negative must be developed and processed before viewing, video was like a sketchbook that allowed revision in real time.

It wasn’t until Wegman moved to Southern California in 1970 that his video production took off. Although he lived in Los Angeles for only three years, the artist found his method: short, staged vignettes using everyday items in which expectations are reversed and puns and homonyms pursued to absurd conclusions. The artist’s key early collaborator for most of these short videos was his dog, a Weimaraner called Man Ray, who enthusiastically participates in the goings-on. In contrast to other early adopters of video, Wegman eschewed an aesthetic of boredom to focus on humorous, improvised scenarios in which he deflated the pretensions of painting and sculpture while also lampooning the pieties and self-seriousness of Conceptual Art—at a time when it was being codified and institutionalized. Beneath the slacker humor, however, are poignant points about failure and the reversal of expectations that resonate with work by other West Coast Conceptualists—the friends and fellow travelers also featured in the exhibition.

Before/On/After: William Wegman and California Conceptualism is organized by Doug Eklund, Curator in the Department of Photographs at The Met.

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Dec 11 Mon 3.30-5.30pm Met Shows The Silver Caesars, Mystery Dish Stand Statuettes from the 1500s (Dec 12 Tue-Mar 11 Sun)

The height of the goldsmith’s art in the 1500s, this figure is of Vespasian, one of the twelve Caesars mounted on a pictorial horizontal dish in the magnificent set of 12 mysterious Aldobrandini Tazze at the Met

The Silver Caesars: A Renaissance Mystery

Extraordinary work by Rennaissance silversmiths in the 1500s, twelve tall dish stands featuring the first twelve Caesars – but who did them, and why?
Some have feet attached by a 19th Century dealer (Can you tell which?)

Rich life portrayals by Rennaissance goldsmiths
White (ungilded ) silver might seem emotionally cold in the imagination but not in this unique collection, for there is something inherent in the match of gilded silver and the art of working it into sculpture and images on a surface in this extraordinary array of small foot high Caesars on top of wide dish pedestals that transcends its very high craft quality, and the brilliant display produced by curator Julia Siemon, that addresses the viewer heart to heart, a warmth that pervades the craftsmanship that speaks of its roots in the lost sixteenth century workshop where it was produced – the source is a great mystery but Siemon says that the Netherlands or Flanders is the likely region, since the sheer erudition involved and the busy-ness or
horror vacui with which their surfaces are filled is unlikely to be Italian or German – at a time when such work was still human to human, bench to home, as it were, though in this case for a very noble or royal client, but still visibly a craft which while superb technically addresses the viewer as directly as a child’s history book, with a similar focus on people, in this case the first twelve Caesars, twelve Roman emperors in their costumes, whose small figures pose on short stands in the center of wide dish cups whose surface is worked with special skill to portray scenes from their imperial lives, though notably choosing only positive scenes reflecting their assumed glory, where Vespassian for example, who ruled from AD 69-79, is shown as he spits in the eye of a blind man, and touches a lame man’s leg with his heel (two acts which miraculously cured the two supplicants of their ailments), or seated at breakfast when a stray dog brings in a human hand and drops it under the table, a good omen of future power, or in triumphal procession after his military victory over the Jews in AD 68.

Hi-res photos of individual scenes from the dishes are projected overhead to clarify the images, in this case the rooster that settled on Vitellius' shoulder and then stood on his head while he judged at a tribunal in Vienna

Hi-res photos of individual scenes from the dishes are projected overhead to clarify the images, in this case the rooster that settled on Vitellius’ shoulder and then stood on his head while he judged at a tribunal in Vienna

all drawn on paper then pricked in outline on the silver plate before being embossed and lightly gilded in the sixteenth century manner, and now collected and displayed by the Met with for the first time the right dish matched with the right Emperor, after their components got mixed up over the centuries, with their stories explained by finding the references in Suetonius’s history of Rome that the craftsmen drew upon, a copy of which is displayed too, where just a few lines give rise to an image, some of the larger ones embellished with Renaissance houses and townscapes in the background, with enhanced digital displays of two tazze on an upper wall with narration by Classicist Mary Beard of Cambridge also placed on the Net’s website.

The foot tall figures of the Caesars – here, Augustus – are mounted on dishes into which are moulded scenes from their lives

(Met:) The superb technical virtuosity of Renaissance silversmiths is nowhere more evident than in the magnificent set of 12 silver-gilt standing cups from the 16th century known collectively as the Aldobrandini Tazze. Each of the Tazze stands over a foot tall and features a shallow footed dish surmounted by a figure of one of the first 12 Caesars. On the intricately wrought interior of each dish appear four episodes from the life of the corresponding ruler, as recounted by the Roman historian Suetonius. Although the Tazze are among the finest and rarest examples of 16th-century European silverwork, little is known about their creation. The questions of when, where, why, for whom, and by whom these splendid luxury objects were made will be addressed in the exhibition The Silver Caesars: A Renaissance Mystery, opening December 12 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The complete set has not been seen together since the mid-19th century, when it was disassembled and dispersed, its constituent parts misidentified and mismatched. In addition, the elements of all 12 Tazze will be displayed in their original configuration—a unique opportunity for modern viewers to appreciate one of the most enigmatic monuments of in the work of 16th-century goldsmiths.

The exhibition is made possible by The Schroder Foundation, Selim K. Zilkha, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, Nina von Maltzahn, and an anonymous donor.

The Silver Caesars will highlight the elegance and astonishing erudition of the Tazze, presenting them with a small selection of other works in silver and other media, including both ancient and Renaissance coins and medals and Renaissance prints, books, and paintings. The exhibition will consider such topics as 19th-century views of the Renaissance and Renaissance views of ancient Rome. Examples of 19th-century works that the Tazze inspired will be included. In addition to offering new insights into the Tazze and their history, the exhibition will explore the set’s famously mysterious reputation—engaging the visitor in tracing clues that may lead to a better understanding of this Renaissance masterpiece.

Within the exhibition, a digital component featuring high-resolution photography of two Tazze will enable visitors to explore these works and their fantastic antiquarian imagery in greater depth. This material, including narration by Mary Beard, Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge, will also be available on The Met website.

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Dec 6 Wed Daniel Ellsberg at Barnes and Noble 86 St on The Doomsday Machine, warning of human extinction

Daniel Ellsberg is predicting the end of the human race if the current nuclear plans are not changed at the top level he used to work in, so why is he smiling so blithely?

Barnes and Noble 86 St and Lexington: Daniel Ellsberg Dec 6 Wed 7pm on The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. The Author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers talks of the planetary danger of America’s beyond Top Secret nuclear policy.

Having won the lasting gratitude of the American public for destroying their illusory trust in the federal government’s competence and truthfulness in prosecuting war with the Pentagon Papers revelation fifty years ago, Daniel Ellsberg is back with an even more damning and fearsome revelation, how Washington has been risking human annihilation for seventy years with insane plans for all out nuclear preemptive attack against Russia which were formulated by Strategic Air Command under Eisenhower and have remained unchanged in seventy years, according to Ellsberg, an ongoing threat of human extinction now escalated with the unpredictable current President’s hands on the firing button, as well as many other officials with the same powers, all based on documents Ellsberg copied at the time of the Pentagon Papers over fifty years ago but buried and eventually lost in a garbage dump as he fought his initial battle as the world’s most public spirited official breakaway, but when added to his inside experience at the top levels of command putting us closer to midnight on the clock of human extinction than ever before right at this moment, all laid out with alarming brilliance in his new book from Bloomsbury, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, which is so disastrous in its implications for the very survival of the human race that many may wish the world champion whistleblower had prioritized it over the Pentagon Papers, since it involves the fate of all humanity rather than simply the deaths of mere millions in the Vietnam war.

Daniel Ellsberg is about to announce the possible extinction of the human race, but doesn’t seem too worried

Last night the author bounded on stage in what seemed a remarkably cheerful mood to first execute a couple of magic tricks.

The author of the Doomsday Machine can make handkerchiefs disappear and reappear, but not the Doomsday Machine at the Strategic Air Command

With accomplished sleight of hand Ellsberg made two red and green handkerchiefs disappear and reappear, and then he explained why he hadn’t mentioned all this insanity before, when half a century ago he felt ethically impelled to defend the US constitution and risk prison by taking the lid off the idiocy, criminality and deceit of Vietnam policy. He told us that he had written out early chapters around 2000 and given it to the editor of his autobiography Secrets but it simply didn’t fit and needed its own book, which is certainly true, this impressively thorough and intelligently written book may be the most important release of the year if not the decade, since it recounts the madhouse stupidity of Eisenhower’s early nuclear strategy in which any major attack from Russia was to be met by missiles on thousands of cities in Russia, China and Eastern Europe, preempting any possible counter, and involving the death of 600 million, according to the answer to a question which only Ellsberg thought to ask, an insanity which according to Ellsberg remains unchanged policy at this moment, a disgraceful extension of the World War II change in war tactics detailed in his book where civilian populations became primary targets of German, British and finally American bombing from above at night, a strategy of ruthless extermination of innocent bystanders of government warmongering and diplomatic clumsiness which continues to this day and on the nuclear level involves the same insane plan for all out attack which research has now shown would amount to the complete destruction of human life in nuclear winter and starvation.

Asleep at the switch? Daniel Ellsberg needs you to wake up and do something before it is too late to save all of us on earth

This dire prospect seemed to run counter to Ellsberg’s fluent bonhomie in retailing it to a packed audience in Barnes and Noble’s underground book talk room of mostly gray haired male shut ins from the look of them, so we felt impelled to ask him why he seemed so inordinately cheerful when predicting our extinction, was it because he felt our luck would hold, or that the absurdity of the generals’ thinking was so outrageous that one could only laugh, or was it because he personally was due to leave the planet anyway soon, or was it to make his dire message palatable enough that people would listen and act, or was it that he had faith that the intelligence of his critique would prevail when intelligence hadn’t had any effect for fifty years? To which he replied in public and afterwards that he had no faith that intelligence would hold sway in the future any more than it had in the past, but he still had dwindling hope that things would work out, and he did not want to seem hysterical though in fact that was entirely appropriate, and his smiles otherwise only reflected the presence of his wife and other family who had come in support.

In fact however his real feeling was one of what Martin Luther King called “the fierce urgency of now”, and that it was up to us to wake up and do something about it now before it was too late, to be the “silence breakers” in the same way as the women who were now coming forward to expose the vulgar and criminal depredations of the Weinsteins of the world, to the great surprise of many men to whom they had never confided their oppression in the past.

Among the handful of young people listening to Ellsberg’s appeal were two of his grandchildren, but where were the rest of his audience needed to save us from his prediction of nuclear doom?

Looking around the room full of gray hairs – at least two men seemed to doze off during his talk – one wondered if he would have any more success in breaking the denialist apathy of the bulk of the democracy in which we live than other intelligent critics of the status quo, even though the legendary whistle blower may now be sounding the greatest warning in history – or the death knell of civilisation and human existence..

If you can’t be bothered to read Ellsberg’s book and try to save the world from the SAC, or are too afraid to, maybe this will soon get your attention: Shell, a replica of the biggest detonated Soviet nuclear bomb AN-602 (Tsar-Bomb), on display in Moscow, Russia, August 31, 2015

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Dec 4 Mon Met: Society and Fashion Photographs by Adolf de Meyer (December 4, 2017–March 18, 2018)

Patron of the avant-garde, Count Etienne de Beaumont, in his Paris townhouse, scene of legendary masquerade balls "of unsurpassed magnifience" attended by artists such as Cocteau, Picasso, and Man Ray c1923, gelatin silver print. Adolf de Meyer (American [born France], 1868–1946). Etienne de Beaumont (detail), ca. 1923. Gelatin silver print, 9 5/16 x 7 5/16 in. (23.7 x 18.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Paul F. Walter, 2008 (2009.460.7)

Patron of the avant-garde, Count Etienne de Beaumont, in his Paris townhouse, scene of legendary masquerade balls “of unsurpassed magnificence” attended by artists such as Cocteau, Picasso, and Man Ray c1923, gelatin silver print. Adolf de Meyer (American [born France], 1868–1946). Etienne de Beaumont (detail), ca. 1923. Gelatin silver print, 9 5/16 x 7 5/16 in. (23.7 x 18.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Paul F. Walter, 2008 (2009.460.7)

Brilliance of Slow Photography
Unless you look for it you may pass by this gem of an exhibition in the Howard Gilman Gallery, the first gallery on the right on the second floor of the Met (take the elevators at the small southern entrance up to the great corridor of the B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Gallery now wholly taken over by Rodin) but like a backwater off a broad and turbulent river, you’ll find a singular oasis of calmness and depth which will transport you if you pay it careful attention into a different artistic universe, one of exquisite finesse and timeless aesthetic at the peak of what one might label ‘slow photography’, the period between 1900 and the 1930s in which the aristocratic, gay, Paris-born de Meyer flourished as a master of still lifes, portraits of his high society friends (including here is a serpent long Josephine Baker from 1925) and eventually after the start of World War I in New York trailblazing fashion exposures which graced the pages of Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and other clothing bibles of the time with such extraordinary beauty that they appear to occupy a higher realm than the temporary preoccupations of the text, his images early admired by Stieglitz eventually driving Cecil Beaton to exclaim that De Moyer had created “a new universe”, using tricks such as a light bulb under a model’s skirt or draping gauze over the camera, which can here be seen in copies of the magazine displayed in the floor cabinet of this essential exhibition, mounted by curator Beth Saunders from the Met’s own collection, including his 1912 series of the then scandalously sexy Ballets Russes Afternoon of a Faun by Nijinsky and Debussy, plus one of the seven copies left of the 1914 edition of the handcrafted book of thirty collotypes that resulted, though none of the images on the walls here are very erotic, or sensational in any way, only repaying quiet attention and contemplation to yield their virtues fully otherwise hidden from the impatient, here joined as well by his early experiment in autochrome color in 1907 featuring Tamara Karsavina of the Baller Russe, originally as a colored glass plate which has to be illuminated from behind, but here as a facsimile transparency, still with a rather special effect, but like all of these aesthetically resonant works its real quality is only apparent if you gaze upon it for a significant time.

De Meyer tried autochrome at its inception in `1907 in this study of Tamara Karsavina of the Ballets Russe at an English estate, and the colored glass plate is approximated in the exhibition with a transparency.

De Meyer tried autochrome at its inception in `1907 in this study of Tamara Karsavina of the Ballets Russe at an English estate, and the colored glass plate is approximated in the exhibition with a transparency.

The illuminated stability and beauty of de Meyer's work for New York's Harpers Bazaar is only fully apparent in the exhibition

The illuminated stability and beauty of de Meyer’s work for New York’s Harpers Bazaar is only fully apparent in the exhibition

Quicksilver Brilliance: Adolf de Meyer Photographs at the Met’s Howard Gilman Gallery (852)

A member of the “international set” in fin-de-siècle Europe, Baron Adolf de Meyer (1868–1946) was also a pioneering art, portrait, and fashion photographer, known for creating images that transformed reality into a beautiful fantasy. The “quicksilver brilliance” that characterized de Meyer’s art led fellow photographer Cecil Beaton to dub him the “Debussy of the Camera.”

Opening December 4 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Quicksilver Brilliance: Adolf de Meyer Photographs will be the first museum exhibition devoted to the artist in more than 20 years and the first ever at The Met. Some 40 works, drawn entirely from The Met collection, will reveal the impressive breadth of his career.

The exhibition will include dazzling portraits of well-known figures of his time: the American socialite Rita de Acosta Lydig; art patron and designer Count Étienne de Beaumont; aristocrat and society hostess Lady Ottoline Morrell; and celebrated entertainer Josephine Baker, among others.

A highlight of the presentation will be an exceptional book—one of only seven known copies—documenting Nijinsky’s scandalous 1912 ballet L’Après-Midi d’un Faune. This rare album represents de Meyer’s great success in capturing the choreography of dance, a breakthrough in the history of photography. Also on view will be the artist’s early snapshots made in Japan, experiments with color processes, and inventive fashion photographs.

Born in Paris and educated in Germany, de Meyer was of obscure aristocratic German-Jewish and Scottish ancestry. He and his wife, Olga Caracciolo, goddaughter of Edward VII, were at the center of London’s café society.
After starting in photography as an amateur, de Meyer gained recognition as a leading figure of Pictorialism and a member of the photographic society known as the Linked Ring Brotherhood in London. Alfred Stieglitz exhibited de Meyer’s work in his Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession and published his images as photogravures in his influential journal Camera Work.

At the outbreak of World War I, de Meyer settled in the United States and applied his distinctive vision to fashion as the first staff photographer at Vogue and Vanity Fair, and later at Harper’s Bazaar, helping to define the genre during the interwar period.

The exhibition was organized by Beth Saunders, Assistant Curator in The Met’s Department of Photographs.
The exhibition will be featured on the Museum’s website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Exhibition Dates:
December 4, 2017–March 18, 2018
Exhibition Location:
The Met Fifth Avenue, Floor 2, The Howard Gilman Gallery, Gallery 852

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