What a busy week.
It began with John Houston’s Beat the Devil. Made in the 50’s, it’s still a hoot. Humphrey Bogart, Robert Morley, Gina Lollabrigida, Peter Lorre, Jennifer Jones – what a mix.They are very evil and very funny crooks heading for African uranium mines on a leaky Italian boat with a drunk captain.
Sunday was a Frick concert by Cuarteto Casals, a Spanish quartet that romped through Mozart, Bartok, Brahms. It was a rousing two hours.
Studio 5 presents programs that explore different aspects of the dance. On Monday, Tyler Angle moderated a program about how each dancer reacts differently to the same music. Angle, Sara Means, Unity Phelan, Indiana Woodward and Daniel Applebaum demonstrated their interpretations of different Balanchine, Peck and Ratmansky’s pieces. Yummy.
We finally, finally, made it to the Barnes in Philadelphia. Not the original site, alas, but the new building. It’s a handsome structure in the northwest part of Philadelphia. The museum has been recreated almost exactly like the original building. Lots of hardware, lots of Renoirs, 180 to be exact. The Barnes has the largest Renoir collection in the world. We took a tour which was a great idea because the docent explained the Barnsian way. Each wall is an ensemble based on light, color, line and space.
We had lunch in the Reading Terminal Market, a bustling world with 800 hundred vendors, many more customers and, best of all, Bassett’s butterscotch ice cream. Dinner was at the Oyster House. The Barnes might have a lock on Renoirs but the Oyster House has, according to the Guiness World Record, the largest collection of oyster dishes in the world. It also has wonderful food. Shad is in season – and a friendly, efficient atmosphere.
A friend was sitting down the block at Rosemary’s on Greenwich Ave. It’s a large restaurant. I was seated at the other end wondering where she was. Finally, a waiter put two and two together and pointed us out to each other. We quickly made up for lost time by ordering a delicious, weird pasta dish – linguine with preserved lemon (what’s that?), pickled chili, and parmigiano. Hasn’t parmigiano joined several other Italian words i. e. ciao, al dente, balsamic that have crept into American lingo? After racing through the linguini in record time and still feeling a bit peckish, I averted my eyes from a hateful brussel sprouts dish and ordered lard, soppressa and homemade focaccia. With the help of a glass or two of white and red, my friend and I mosied down memory lane. it was a delicious lunch.
At the Met a friend and I went dutifully to the Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun exhibit. Le Brun was a survivor. She lived during the turbulent years, 1755-1842, painted for the ill-fated court of Louis the Sixteenth, escaped France with her head, and lived in exile in Austria and Russia. If only we could have appreciated her art. It’s superior candy box, the kind of criticism that is regularly thrown unjustly at Renoir. We then wandered past some Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780 -1867). What a difference. He painted, like Le Brun, the aristocracy. He caught their hauteur. And can anyone else paint textiles like Ingres? There’s a painting of a gorgeous, snooty Blessed Virgin worshipping the Host. From the expression on her face, to quote my friend, you wonder if it’s vice versa. The 1775 portrait of Moltedo has the subject clothed in rich, opulent cloth and soft, very strokeable fur. Then, we went in search of one of my favorites, Stuart Davis. At last we uncovered one painting of the Jefferson Market. Once upon a time the Met had an entire room devoted to Davis’s art. Onward to the Islamic Art galleries and the flow and diversity of Arabic calligraphy. We then headed to the members dining room and feasted on delicious crab cakes and the lovely spring view of Central Park.
Somebody’s got to do it.
Edward Snowden “They frame this false choice between security and privacy. But you can have both … Surveillance isn’t about safety. It’s about power.”