Art Buzz February 2, 2012: Vincent van Gogh: In the Eye of His Storms “Van Gogh Up Close” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

ART & ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY NEWS

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In the Eye of His Storms

Source: NYT, 2-2-12

Cincinnati Art Museum

“Undergrowth With Two Figures,” from 1890, part of the 45 paintings by van Gogh in a show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. More Photos »

Vincent van Gogh was shaken but also calmed by nature. The natural landscape inspired some of his most implacably innovative paintings, roiled of surface, ablaze with color and steeped in feeling. They are blunt, irresistible instruments for seeing. Yet nature — and its tiniest details in particular — also sharpened his visual acuity and soothed and comforted his often unstable personality.

In the catalog to “Van Gogh Up Close,” a succinct, revelatory exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the art historian Anabelle Kienle notes van Gogh’s repeated references in his letters to “a blade of grass,” “a single blade of grass,” “a dusty blade of grass.” He not only thought that something this small and modest was a worthy subject for art — as demonstrated by the spare works of the Japanese artists he so admired — he also invoked it as a kind of centering technique for regaining concentration. Writing to his sister-in-law, he recommended focusing on a blade of grass as a way to calm down after the tumult of reading Shakespeare.

“Van Gogh Up Close” has been organized by Joseph J. Rishel and Jennifer A. Thompson, curators in Philadelphia, working with Ms. Kienle, a curator at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and Cornelia Homburg, an independent scholar. It examines van Gogh’s relationship to nature at its most intimate, cutting a narrow path through his achievement, with 45 often small, sometimes seemingly tossed-off paintings. In doing so it manages to lead us to the fullness of his achievement along a fresh and eye-opening route….READ MORE

Van Gogh Up Close 

WHEN AND WHERE Through May 6. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

MORE INFORMATION (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org.

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Art Buzz February 2, 2012: David Resnick: The Amir Center — a mixed modernist message — known as Jerusalem’s ugliest building now might be torn down

ART & ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY NEWS

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A mixed modernist message

The Amir Center was known as Jerusalem’s ugliest building, but the publicity won its architect a raft of projects. It now might be torn down.

Source: Haaretz, 2-2-12

In 1958, shortly after going out on his own, Architect David Resnick was asked to design a new residential building at the intersection of King George and Agron streets in the heart of Jerusalem. The plot chosen was surrounded by several buildings of historical and architectural value such as the Terra Sancta building and the American consulate.

But in the spirit of the times, Resnick decided to build a daring modernist response across from those structures: a square high-rise sitting on a commercial space and flashing its innovation in every detail.

Amir Center -  From the book 'David Resnick, Retrospective' The Amir Center in the 1960s. Its unusual facade won fans.
Photo by: From the book ‘David Resnick, Retrospective’

The residential building known as the Amir Center (sometimes referred to as Beit Agron or the Supersol Building ) recently marked its 50th anniversary. Over the years, it has become one of Jerusalem’s best-known residential buildings thanks to its location, unusual facade and design innovations.

Veteran Jerusalemites still remember the steel crane brought over from Sweden specifically for this project; it hoisted up the prefab parts. Yet the Amir Center is now threatened by an evacuation-construction plan promoted by a group of residents and welcomed by the municipality. Given the renewal marathon underway in downtown Jerusalem, there’s a chance the building will be razed to make way for a luxury high-rise.

“For me, it was very important to have modern construction in Jerusalem, but most of the people opposed my building and said it wasn’t in the Jerusalem tradition,” Resnick said this week.

The Amir Center indeed sparked an intense dispute, and in a series of street interviews earned the dubious honor of “Jerusalem’s ugliest building.” In hindsight, this too is a form of public relations. In the week of the dispute, Resnick was commissioned for a variety of projects all over the city. “When you do something that’s disputed, it sometimes yields good results,” he adds….READ MORE

Art Buzz February 2, 2012: Henry Taylor: A Visual Equivalent of the Blues, in Warm Shades on Exhibit at MOMA

ART & ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY NEWS

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A Visual Equivalent of the Blues, in Warm Shades

Source: NYT, 2-2-12

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Henry Taylor This show of works by Mr. Taylor at MoMA PS1 includes the sculpture “Rock It” and the paintings “Warning Shots Not Required,” left, and “Peanuts.”

The putative gap between art and life is a pernicious myth. Painting in a studio is no less a form of life than, say, occupying Wall Street. Consider the exuberantly vital art of Henry Taylor, whose paintings are in an exhibition named for him at MoMA PS1.

Mr. Taylor, who lives in Los Angeles, paints fast, loose and sensuously on canvases great and small. Portraiture is his work’s center of gravity. His subjects include friends, relatives, acquaintances from the art world and off the street, and heroes from the worlds of sports and politics. Along the way he takes in downbeat cityscapes patrolled by cop cars and envisions allegories of spiritual trauma in the Land of the Free.

It is not incidental that most of his subjects are African-Americans, like himself. The opposite of an abstractionist, Mr. Taylor is a Social Realist in the best sense of that oft-maligned term. He paints roughly the rough world of his own experience, but he does so with a rare spirit of generosity and love. Visual equivalents of the blues, his paintings may resemble those by an Outsider, but they also call to mind Alice NeelRobert Colescott and Bob Thompson, among others….READ MORE