Sunday, August 05, 2012


After work on Friday, I headed over into Manhattan to go see the immaculate Frick Museum.  The ride over was a trip.  As Bill Cosby said, a show in every car.  As we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, some kids were doing a show of acrobatic pole dancing with flips from the veritable monkey bars.  Later, an old fellow with a guitar in a straw hat sat next to me.  I asked he could play a song.  He strummed a cancion for amor.  Lamentablamente, my stop came too soon.

I got into the Frick for a student's price, $10.  I figure as long as I am paying student loans, I should qualify.  The ol' baron Henry Clay Frick had an utterly impressive collection.  

I walked in to find Whistler's Jezebel in black crepe.  An imperious and defiant portrait, softened by delicate feminine beauty.

I stared El Greco's grizzled conquistador in puffy green pantaloons.  White socks and a puffed white collar with silver lobster mail.

Across the hall, Renoir's florid pastel of shimmering flaxen-haired mother and children caught my eye and my smile.

That delight was flanked by two more Whistler beauties, this time in pink poutiness.  Such haughty beauty found in "Symphony in Flesh Color and Pink"

and her opposite: "Harmony in Pink and Grey"

And I found one of my favorite artists, JMW Turner.  His picture of Antwerp looked like sailing into heaven

And his reflections in the waters of Cologne moved me.  The notion of painting reflections struck me as such a profound thought.

And then I found myself staring at genius.  A self-portrait of Rembrandt, with a twinkle hidden in his eyes.  It is not everyday you find yourself staring at genius, and find him staring back at you across the canvas of centuries (except of course, when I look in the mirror ).

There was a fascinating exhibit on "white gold," as porcelain was called.  Porcelain had been found in China since the 7th century but didn't come to Europe until the mid16th century in the hull of Portuguese vessels.  Porcelain's production was a mystery until 1708, when a German chemists named Johann Fredrich Böttger succeeded in white alchemy.  He managed to produce the true hard paste porcelain by combining local clays containing kaolin with ground alabaster.  His compound made him rich beyond avarice.

The formula for "arcanum" was strictly guarded by JFB's patron August II, the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland.  In 1710, August opened Europe's first porcelain factory in Dresden.  Known as August the Strong, he was determined to keep arcanum a secret, so he relocated his porcelain factory to a heavily-guarded cliff-top castle.

The exhibit led me to spur my chemist brother into the field of alchemy.

Oh, Frick.  An utter bastard of a man, but a hell of an art collection.

Afterwards, I headed over to the Asia Society Museum.  There was an interesting exhibit of Wu Guanzhong that combined Chinese landscape painting with modernist touches.   There was one piece that caught my eye of Chinese harbor landscape-turned-Jasper Johns.  Cy Towmbly's Chinese cousin.  Some of it worked, especially when it was subtle and just a slight tweak.  It was interesting to to see the classical Chinese style abstracted through a modernist lens.  The best stuff delicately balanced the classical Chinese style with a modernist energy.

After the museum, I made my way to Central Park, where I stumbled upon Alice having tea on a toadstool.

Go ask Alice.

I found my way to a cafe overlooking a reservoir where toy boats were being sailed.  I grabbed a Heineken from the cafe and marveled at life's little adjustments.  A change in latitude spurs a change in attitude.  I feel more at peace, more in the present.  Dare I say, happy.  Such is my natural state when exploring new territory.  I am probably the first to say this since 13 trinkets were traded, but for me New York seems virgin.

On my way out of the park, I found a veggie dog with veggie chili at a central park cart.  Good to go.  I paid for it by a credit card swiped on an i-phone.  I marveled at such a device and for the first time in a while felt like I saw some good ol' American entrepreneurship and innovation.  Such devices would be gold in Iraq, where the i-phone is pretty common but credit card devices are not.

I ended the evening with my old friend Mark Doman.  We sat high above on his apartment balcony, and I watched the emerald and ruby headlight strands wrap the city.

No comments: