at the Whitney

by grace on January 9, 2020

After taking so many photos at the Met i was determined to not go so crazy at the Whitney.

It’s a cool museum, and not so big, plus one entire floor was closed so we didn’t have to worry about it. we decided to start with lunch, but on the way i had to take a photo of this cool old jukebox with a mountain scene on the background.

the studio cafe was on the top floor, the eighth, and mom and i had some super-healthy stuff, i can’t remember what i got but it involved grains and things.

The cafe had floor-to-ceiling windows and you could go out on the balcony. it had been raining and it was a little too drizzly and wet to sit outside on the patio but i took this panorama.

Can you see the statue of liberty there in the background? on the left. That’s the Hudson River.

we realized there were stairs outside that we could walk down, so we did. there were all kinds of views up there and it was totally cool. christmas trees on top of balconies and stuff like that.

Here’s a pretty famous photo of the Fort Peck Dam in Montana by Margaret Bourke-White. It was on the cover of the very first Life Magazine in 1936. This magazine was down in our basement for a very long time because my grandmother had saved it. I bet it’s not there now. Maybe mom has it? Hmm, doubtful.

Here’s how it looked on the cover of the magazine.

There were plenty of other things that i took pictures of, but my second-favorite was this wonderful circus by Alexander Calder. he created it out of all kinds of random things like wire, bottle caps, paper, buttons, string…here’s the blurb from the whitney website:

After moving to Paris in 1926, Alexander Calder began to fabricate dozens of tiny figures and props for what would become his most beloved work—titled in French Cirque Calder, and in English Calder’s Circus. Making use of simple, available materials such as wire, wood, metal, cloth, cork, fabric, and string, he constructed ingeniously articulated animals, clowns, and acrobats. In total, the circus consists of an elaborate troupe of over seventy miniature figures and animals, nearly 100 accessories such as nets, flags, carpets, and lamps, and over thirty musical instruments, phonographic records, and noisemakers. In Paris, Calder’s audience would sit on a low bed or crates, munching peanuts and using the noisemakers while Calder choreographed, directed, and performed Calder’s Circus, narrating the actions in English or French. Accompanied by music and lighting, performances could last as long as two hours. Calder’s Circus brought him renown in Paris as he staged it for artist colleagues and friends, including Piet Mondrian, Joan Miró, and Marcel Duchamp. These performances also introduced the kineticism that would become the defining characteristic of Calder’s art from the 1930s onward.

Along with all the objects in the circus, there was a video playing above of Calder doing the circus. i wish i’d taken the time to sit down and watch it because even though it’s here, the picture quality isn’t so great.

I guess what i love most about this circus is that it’s a grown man having a jolly good time playing. Plus he performed it for all those other famous arist friends. that must have been quite the scene back in the 20s.

Calder was such an interesting artist; he worked in many mediums including sculpture, mobiles, painting, printing, jewelry, and he painted some airplanes and a BMW! He also designed sets for some theatrical productions. You can look him up on Wikipedia because he was really something. If you don’t feel like it, let me just tell you a couple more things I read – his grandfather was a famous sculptor originally from Scotland, his father was also a well-known sculptor and his mother was a portrait painter. his sister was a key player in the development of the UC Berkley art museum. You really should take the time to read about him because he’s fascinating.

it’s funny, because both my parents were artists; they met at the University of Illinois Champaign in the painting department. In his lifetime my dad painted, made jewelry, did some wonderful prints, and my parents designed and built sets for some community theater productions. He was an art teacher for a while and we used to have this wonderful cardboard box he’d made in class that had lights in it and all kinds of painting on the outside – we used to put it out at christmas. i just talked to a man i know who had been a student of dad’s, and the guy, gary, told me that dad was a wonderful art teacher. that made me happy.

so i guess i’m saying that my dad was kind of like calder, only he didn’t make it to the big time.

we don’t do that in my family so much.

not yet, anyway.

anyway, next i’m going to show you my most favorite piece at the Whitney, the reason we went there in the first place.

ok then,

g. hughes in 2020.

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