Sunday, January 3, 2016


Matisse at the Barnes

Zigging between Mom’s in Princeton and Caroline’s Dad’s in Garrison, the break was a peaceful break from the world.  Light and dark, life was always creeping in, but so was the fun. I snuck off to State College to hang out with Uncle Bruce for a night. There will be another blog about that. But suffice it to say, the old man’s stories of growing up in the cold war, remembering World War II, and then Viet Nam, it kept me riveted.

Uncle Bruce and this writer.  I forgot to turn on the flash.

Most of the break, we cooked and watched sunsets and played frisbe and hatched plans. 

Caroline's gorgeous photos. 

By New Years, Caroline and I grabbed a train and rode into the city for a few hours, dropping by to visit friends, to greet the day.  Breathing the fresh air of the Lower East Side, we picked up pickles from a deli, proseco from the corner, and strolled to see our friends, drinking bloody marys, gossiping about the holidays blues, fights, and fun. 

And we hoped for something lovely of a day and year ahead. We reflected on Adam Purple and the lessons of his life, the losses of Purple and Judith Malina and our foibles. We chatted about who was getting married, our favorite movies of the year.  My top six were: God Help the Girl, Pitch Perfect II, all the Truffaut Movies, Creed, and the Star Wars remake of the 1977 movie.

 Donald talked about Kellers and the Mineshaft where he used to take friends and getting in a fight with Wally Wallace, the infamous owner, who wouldn’t let him  in because he violated the dress code.

And eventually we made out way back to Princeton, traipsing through the Fisheads at Madison Square Garden.

Laughing at what the world offered all the ridiculous and lovely of it all. We watched the Producers and chuckled at the ridiculousness of it all.

Saturday we meandered out to see art at the Barnes Collection in Philadelphia. I have always had an odd relationship with the city, thinking of Diane Keaton in Manhattan, who used to always say, “I’m from Philadelphia. We still believe in god.”

There is an odd morality to the art at the Barnes Collection.  He arranges everything in ensembles, juxtaposing materials from Africa, Greece, through time and genre, photos, steelworks, archetypal objects and talismans. There are moments one imagines this is what it must have looked like inside of Freud’s office, with images representing interior and exterior worlds, images, dreams, fantasies.
Barnes askes observers and students to consider art in terms of light, lines, color and space.

We loved the Chaim Soutine and Pascin at the Barnes.

I was taken by the juxtapositions of the images, shapes from divergent worlds.
There was also the hetero Victorian porn of the Renoirs and Degas, of the Gustave Courbet, Woman with White Stockings, pervy images hung in art galleries, framed as high art.  But if it was in one of the bathrooms in Penn Station, the image would be porn.

things got hot at the barnes -  Gustave Courbet,

There is a pretension about the collection. Over and over we hear Matisse thought this was the “only sane place to see art in America.”

But the line between   titillation and art, between hopes and memories, aspirations and regrets, there are many ways of looking at the lines and images, color and space connecting the ensembles. This is the stuff of  novels and stories and wanderlust. The mash up of ideas reminds us that the montage and the street beat, the collage and the sample are the art of our era. The George Seurat opens us up to the hyper reality of the digital world.

The Modigliani’s and the ancients in one room reminds us the shape of time takes countless forms worth reflecting upon. Instead of a break, each of these objects marks a continuity of ideas and influences through time.

And so we walked and reflected on the culture industry, of the high costs of admission, rendering art a hobby of the elites, while everyone else listens to their own beats. 

Later, we all went out to eat, reflecting on our travels with grandmom, hopes for the years, the stories of those who had been here, the regrets and enjoyments.

We watched Frida and talked about art and dreams, hope and pain, and ways to transform anguish into new stories as the last night of vacation in Princeton came to pass. 

Frida and Trotsky and an affair for the ages. 

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