kimmelman

Monet

The Monet exhibition taking place in fall 2010 at the Grand Palais in Paris has caused an international sensation. In a rapturous review on the front page of The New York Times, Michael Kimmelman says that it gives us a sublime painter whose achievement places him in the company of artists who reveal the world with new vision. This catalogue offers a permanent record of this magnificent art exhibition. 

Claude Monet is one of the most beloved painters in the history of art. His work appeals both to the broad general public and to artists, who are moved and challenged by his achievement over a working life that spanned six decades. With more than 300 illustrations of Monet’s greatest works and accessible essays by leading art historians, this lush volume offers a vivid new perspective on the artist and his work. 

Praise for Monet:

“The biggest art spectacle in Europe this fall … it is, believe it or not, the first full-dress overview Paris has staged in decades, the first chance anywhere to see the whole sweep of his work in some time. The French are treating it like a national celebration… . The exhibition would have been a box office smash even if it had corralled fewer of Monet’s benchmarks. It happens to be ravishing.”–Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times

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Floating in the Sky - Manhattan’s Secret Pools and Gardens | via

High above the sweaty streets lies Manhattan’s most hidden luxury: the rooftop pool.

In New York City, it’s always about numbers. The Department of Environmental Protection has picked some 1,700 municipal-owned properties — 500 schools, 600 comfort stations, 10 housing projects, 400 spray showers and 87 parks among them — to help the city cut back on water use. For locals nobly struggling to conserve resources, there is also this number to make them steam: $7.5 million. That’s the asking price for a four-bedroom apartment in Franklin Place, a luxury condo development in TriBeCa with a rooftop pool.

You wouldn’t know it, but they’re up there — those turquoise oases, invisible to those of us who cope each day with sour summer smells, sweltering subway platforms and scorching sidewalks. More than any other city, New York converts the graph of its income inequality into a vertical urban plan, with most people spread out at street level — conniving to linger for just one extra second before an air-conditioned storefront when its door swings open — and the lucky few in their secret aeries and tiny triangle bikinis, lolling poolside.

Once upon a time, relief from summer in the city meant a vandalized fire hydrant or a snooze on the fire escape. When I was growing up in New York, the closest thing to a rooftop pool was dropping water balloons onto friends from my second-story window, before trading places so they could drop them on me. Rooftops were deserts of sticky blacktop, the last places to which any sane New Yorker would retreat. And rooftop pools were as exotic as soccer fans. But now they’re proliferating as come-ons for condos and hotels — whose developers, truth be told, would probably prefer erecting more lucrative penthouses but must occasionally meet bothersome green requirements. Landscaped pools help turn those requirements to their advantage.

Are we jealous? The pools are utilitarian, occasionally clumsy architecture, mostly devised to maintain an aura of exclusivity. The real estate market thrives on amenity envy. And yet, envy aside, there is something deliciously voyeuristic about helicopter photographs of a suddenly unfamiliar, upturned cityscape dotted with David Hockney bathers in dappled water and lounge chairs. Those chairs come with their own numbers. The Dream Downtown, a hotel in the Meatpacking District, charges $175 a day to use the pool, Monday through Thursday. A cabana on the weekend will set you back at least $2,500.

Text: Michael Kimmelman
Photography: George Steinmetz

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“His drawings, haunted and chockablock with weird machines and otherworldly vistas, meditated on destruction, poverty, science and afflicted cities like Sarajevo, Zagreb and Havana, where he imagined quasi-Cubist designs like bandages on open wounds.” -The New York Times’ Michael Kimmelman on Lebbeus Woods
Read Kimmelman’s full New York Times 2012 commemoration here.

Lebbeus Woods, Architect is on view through June 15.

Image: Lebbeus Woods, Berlin Free Zone, 1990
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Sesame Street: #SeeAmazing Autism Story

Leslie Kimmelman, an employee at Sesame Workshop, has been involved with the Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative since its inception. Watch as Leslie gives some specifics on what makes her son amazing - especially his kindness and his love of singing! Tell YOUR story and share your experiences, thoughts, photos, and videos using #SeeAmazing. To find out more, visit bit.ly/SeeAmazing

Ada Yonath (b. 1939) is a crystallograhper from Israel, and the first Israeli woman to win the Nobel Prize. She achieved this in 2009 in Chemistry, for her groundbreaking research on the structure of the ribosome. She is also the first Middle Eastern woman to win a Nobel Prize in a science category.

She is currently the director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly of the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to the Nobel Prize, she has received numerous other awards, such as the Wolf Prize in Chemistry and the Albert Einstein World Award for Science.

We’ve Come a Long Way, Maybe: Lessons of the Whitney Museum’s “Black Male,” Two Decades Later

Thelma Golden made an intriguing admission to the crowd at the New School last night about something she did—actually, didn’t do, 20 years ago.

She claimed she had never read the reviews of Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, the groundbreaking, stereotype-busting, paradigm-shifting exhibition she organized at the Whitney Museum as a 27-year-old curator —until this year, when she recited Michael Kimmelman’s ambivalent New York Times commentary onstage at the Guggenheim. Her performance was part of a program organized by Carrie Mae Weems, who was one of the 29 male and female, black and white artists in the Whitney’s 1994 show.

Golden’s review-avoidance tactic was possible in the pre-Internet era, she reminded the audience, which the Whitney had invited to watch her, writer Hilton Als and art historian and critic Huey Copeland consider “Black Male” and its legacy on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. Not that she hadn’t gotten feedback. The questions Golden received over the last two decades could fill a book, she noted (number 1: what about black females?). She was harassed and threatened, accused (on the basis of her name) of being a Jewish woman who had no business curating black art, and was herself, like the show, indelibly linked with the word “controversial.” Golden, who in 2005 became the executive director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, just kept working, because so much work remained to be done.

That Golden was able to make such a deep impact on the cultural conversation with her very first show, the panelists noted, is a tribute to the vision of Whitney’s then-director, David Ross; to Elisabeth Sussman, whom Golden had helped organize the equally controversial 1993 Whitney Biennial; to colleagues and collaborators like Als (who wrote for the catalogue) and Glenn Ligon; and to artists including Adrian Piper, Robert Colescott, and David Hammons, three anchors of “Black Male” who had been pushing the boundaries of identity-based art long before multiculturalism became a catchword.

Lorna Simpson, Leon Golub, Lyle Ashton-Harris, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Jean-Michel Basquiat were among other voices included, along with Fred Wilson, whose headless, uniformed museum guards Golden described as a “meta-moment” linking the show to the staff and the wide audience she wanted to attract. And the audience came—given the era and the neighborhood, she could usually tell who was heading to the show when they emerged at the 77th Street subway stop.

What became of that audience is one of the unanswered questions of the panel about the exhibition’s legacy in the current moment. For while, as Golden noted, many issues at the heart of “Black Male” are now central to contemporary-art dialogue, the conversation has also moved on, to hybridity, globalism, and trans-nationalism (while multiculturalism is relegated to education departments). Even as Titus Kaphar, an heir to the “Black Male” artists, makes a Time cover ennobling the Ferguson Protestors, the role of the mainstream art world in the national conversation about race remains minimal.

Equally disappointing is the lack of progress toward a goal that might have seemed more realistic in 1994— the diversification of audiences and museum staffs. Golden is the only African American director of a major U.S. museum. Black curators are few.

Sadly, Fred Wilson’s “all too familiar crew of headless black mannequins,” as Kimmelman dubbed the 1991 piece in 1994, remains all too relevant. Two decades after “Black Male,” museum guards are usually the only people of color in the room. With a few exceptions, this goes for galleries, too.

Golden described the show as feeling like 100 years ago, and also like yesterday. The comment said it all. 

Looking at the trajectory of the players in “Black Male,” there is much to celebrate. Just not the slow pace of institutional change, courage, and imagination.