The Art of Seeing Art

I went to three wonderful and very different art shows this week that are still open.

Cecil Beaton: The New York Years

at the  Museum of the City of New York,
“Perhaps the world’s second-worst crime is boredom; the first is being a bore.”Cecil Beaton

From the 1920s through the ‘60s, Manhattan’s artistic and social circles embraced British-born photographer and designer Cecil Beaton (1904-80). Cecil Beaton: The New York Years brings together extraordinary photographs, drawings, and costumes by Beaton to chronicle his impact on the city’s cultural life. Beaton’s relentless energy and curiosity spurred him to pursue new fields, from fashion and portrait photography to costume and scenic design for Broadway, ballet, and opera, and to put his own aesthetic stamp on each of these endeavors.

Beaton designed the sets and costumes for My Fair Lady

Great Garbo, who was the one woman he loved

Self portrait


Marlon Brando 1948

Daniel A. Bruce

at the Dean Project,

In his words:

My most recent objects and images were conceived as conflations of my own personal idiosyncrasies regarding power and value. These investigations require that I discern the ruses and value relations of our postmodern condition in order to re-purpose a stratagem of my own that highlights the suspect nature and ideological parameters of convention. My interest dwells in the moment when sign-value takes precedence over use-value and the location of this moment in the history of commodity. The work is aligned with what I have coined a ‘bumpkin aesthetic’—the methodological combination of the awkward and unsophisticated with the ideals of artistic validity. ‘Bumpkin Aesthetic’ as a methodological combination has a conflicted nature that simultaneously conjures both high and low cultural practice in advocation of ambiguity, heterogeneity, and freedom.

Compost (detail) fest. Daniel

Rustic Room (Deer Head)

Untitled, 2011

Pig With Wings, 2012


George Platt Lynes

at the Stephen Kasher Gallery,

George Platt Lynes did not initially intend to have a career in photography. The summer after his graduation from high school, Lynes traveled to Paris, where he met the writers Gertrude Stein and Jean Cocteau. He returned to enroll at Yale University but left school after one semester. His parents helped him start a publishing house, but the business soon failed. The serendipitous gift of a camera led him into taking portraits of his literary friends, including Marianne Moore, Colette, and W.H. Auden. In 1933 Lynes opened his first New York studio where he did fashion photography for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar; throughout the 1930s his elegant portraits gained popularity among the city’s elite. The 1940s saw at once Lynes’ decline as a fashion photographer and the production of his exceptional work with the male nude. After an ill-fated foray into Hollywood publicity photography, Lynes returned to New York, but was stricken with debt and illness. Diagnosed with cancer in May 1955, he died later that year at age 48.
In 1935, Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine invited Lynes to produce promotional photographs for their ballet company. Kirstein, who had been Lynes’ schoolmate, realized that this work would perfectly fuse Lynes’ talents in fashion and portrait photography. For twenty years, Lynes photographed many of the era’s greatest ballet dancers.

Untitled, 1936

Untitled, 1933

Gloria Swanson, 1939

Sono Osato, 1937

Elizabeth Gibbons, 1938

Untitled, 1941


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