18 November 2009

the cabbage fairy & Getty surrogacy

Who could resist a woman whose first film was entitled "Le fée aux choux" (The cabbage fairy, 1896)? I'm reading the new Artforum which includes an article on Alice Guy Blaché by Alison McMahan, entitled "The most famous woman you've never heard of" (November issue, p. 81-82). Guy was the secretary at a camera and optics company in Paris in the 1890s. Her boss was developing the Biographe 60-mm motion-picture camera and she persuaded him to let her use it. The result was the one-minute "Cabbage fairy" in 1896, one of the first films and she is credited with developing the art of cinematic narrative. The Whitney has a new show about her work but I'm not likely to get there. BUT, on Netflix, I found "Gaumont treasures: the films of Alice Guy" and moved it to the top of my queue. Gaumont is the film company for which she worked as head of film production.

Rather than mope that I'm not likely to get to the Whitney show (I might have missed it, even if I was living downtown), I will just enjoy whatever is included on "Gaumont treasures." And while looking at the Artforum, I also noticed two shows in Boston that I might be able to get to on Thanksgiving weekend or thereabouts. I'm going to Boston in preparation for my trip to Madrid with Bill Connor. The impetus for the trip was the Palladio show which is at the Prado. One always goes to Madrid for Palladio, right? It won't hurt that one can also see the great Spanish and Flemish paintings there, the great works at the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia. And I want to get back to the Lazaro Galdiano which is rather like the Gardner in that domestic way.

The Boston shows are both at 460 Harrison Street: John O'Reilly at Howard Yezerski and Liz Glynn at Anthony Greaney. The title of Glynn's show is "California surrogates for the Getty." Sounds fun, no? Glynn is the progenitor of the "Build Rome in a day" project which she did at the New Museum in April and which I helped on. The whole idea of Getty surrogates sounds pretty intriguing. The John O'Reilly show is curated by Trevor Fairbrother and says it includes works by Rembrandt and Joseph Cornell; since O'Reilly includes other works, usually in bits and pieces, it could be interesting. And Fairbrother has written a lot about Sargent so there's just layers of possibilities.

When I wrote "Build Rome in a day" above, I first typed "Roma" for Rome. I just finished reading Steven Saylor's 555-page novel Roma. The book started slowly but grew on me ... I guess. Not the best writing style so I just let the sentences flow past me. The centerpiece is the fascinum, a totem/necklace which is worn through the centuries and passed down from father or grandfather to son or daughter, crossing family lines a time or two, becoming so worn and legendary that the last wearers don't know who the god was. "Fascinum" is from the same route as fascination. The telling of the Ides of March assassination of Julius Caesar was rather coyly amusing as Caesar's nephew visits Cleopatra in Trastavere and then stumbles upon the plotting and into the hall where the assassination happens.

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