27 January 2007

gerome, raidpere ... et al.

It's been a while. Yesterday afternoon, I went to a lecture on Jean-Léon Gérôme by Marc Gotlieb at the Institute of Fine Arts. He talked about how we viewers are looking at the narrative from a space outside the picture and how the moment of highest emotion has passed. For example, the line of people are returning to Jerusalem in "Golgotha" (Musée d'Orsay) and the shadows of the crosses are underplayed in the right foreground. We probably read the background and come forward to the shadows.

After the lecture, I went up and looked at magazines before meeting Christie at the Josef Hoffmann show at the Neue Galerie. While perusing the magazines, I came across a review/notice of a recent exhibition by Mark Raidpere. I don't know why he wasn't in my consciousness but he is now. He has been doing art photography for about 10 years after working as a fashion photographer. He was the Estonian entry at the Biennale di Venezia in 2005. He mixes traumatic self-portraits, prisoners, family, social rejection, and other rather bleak themes, with a "guarded gay-identity."

"The guarded gay-identity in his oeuvre is simply the reality that he shapes into art as direct experience, into works that are not aggressive or political but instead make you feel and think at the same time." -- Maria-Kristiina Soomre

I also liked this quote [this is for my sister Carol]:
For many, nakedness is humiliating and intimidating (--). For some this satisfies their need for exposure (E. Cooper). To remain clothed means to stay in safety, to keep the anonymous shields of social agreement around yourself.
Hanno Soans and Elo-Liis Parmas: Raidpere's Self-Image

Anyway, I've been enjoying traversing the net (aka googling) on Raidpere and reading about his work. The prison theme is especially poignant because of my own guarded personal business, but also because I just put Fish: a memoir of a boy in a man's prison by T.J. Parsell in my bag as my next book. It's too close, it's too foreign. We are all guarded in some of the business of our life though ...

I just finished reading The intimate life of Abraham Lincoln by C.A. Tripp and he speaks of Lincoln as a guileless truth-speaking pragmatist.

Now, the Hoffmann show was an unqualified delight. The show reconstructs four rooms by Hoffmann with supporting documentation and objects. The rooms are beautifully set in the beaux-arts galleries of the Neue Galerie. Seeing it with Christie was especially right since we both respond vigorously to the Vienna 1900 style but have varying personal preferences. There were a couple boxes of galuchat and neither of us recognized that material. (AAT: Leather made from the skin of a ray fish and characterized by a covering of pearl-like papillae usually ground flat leaving a pattern of tiny contiguous circles which are further emphasized by dyeing.) On one of the galuchat boxes, the tiny circles were darkened for emphasis. Alas, the top was on a high shelf and I hesitated to hoist Christie up so that she could see the emphasis.

After the Hoffmann show, we went to Serafina at 79th and Madison and had a very nice arugula salad and napolitana pizza, with Montepulciano d'Abruzzo house red.

Last week was ALA Midwinter in Seattle. The conference was good and I'll eventually get my report done on http://artcataloging.net/alagen.html. Lots of good discussions at MARBI and I attended most of CC:DA this time. While I am somewhat discouraged by the "progress" on RDA, the CC:DA discussions were mostly interesting. FAST is also moving forward, not with as much revolution as I might like but it is promising. There was also the usual complement of talking with friends over food and not. I got to Seattle about mid-day on Thursday and meandered through the new Seattle Public Library building by Rem Koolhaas. It is really wonderful to walk about in but one has read of staff dissatisfaction. There was a man in a green shirt on the green-lit escalator and he positively glowed. http://www.arcspace.com/architects/koolhaas/Seattle/

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