Monday, March 14, 2016

Precious treasures

Watching the passing parade. 12:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, March 14, 2016. Daylight Savings Time. Partly sunny, partly overcast weekend in New York with temperatures in the high 50s/low 60s in the day and high 30s at night, with rain passing through yesterday.

My eldest sister and my niece were visiting for the weekend from Naples, Florida where they both live year round after lifetimes in Massachusetts and Cape Cod. They are perfect guests because they both like to look around the city – any place, even walking down the avenues or riding a bus watching the people, and amazed at everything. My sister lived here as a child – before her baby brother came along, so she has a natural sense of getting around. But everything is new eight decades later.
Big sis watching over her little bro way back when in Massachusetts, circa 1945. Me and my big sister on Saturday at the Frick.
On Saturday we went over to the Frick to see the Van Dyck Exhibition, The Anatomy of Portraiture, which runs through June 5th. The Master astounds. Every face can speak.

I used to visit the Frick occasionally when I was first living in New York. I went the first time knowing nothing about it except that it had once been a man’s house. Henry Clay Frick. I was astounded.
Anthony van Dyck, Self-Portrait, ca. 1613–15
On a Saturday afternoon in the autumn when it was just getting chilly, you could go there (admission was free in those days) and spend an afternoon in the hush of serenity. A refuge. There were very few visitors in those days – mid-1960s – and so moving throughout the mansion-now-museum, there often no visitors. You could almost have the whole magnificent interior and art collection to yourself. You could imagine old Mr. Frick coming downstairs from his bedroom in the late night and walking about and reflecting and and considering his rooms full of his precious treasures.

Mr. Frick was partial to portraits. He liked the English portraitists and their subjects, although not exclusively. The boy from Pittsburgh became, in his way, their heir, and with a house to shelter them that befits their rank and style. Mr. Frick, like his confreres of the Gilded Age, was into rank. And style. And permanence.
Van Dyck's celebrated portrait of Bentivoglio, arguably Van Dyck's most famous.
The result of his ambitions and his emotions was this magnificent house that is even more magnificent since the first days I visited many years ago. It is also much much more visited. There were people in all the rooms and all the galleries on Saturday afternoon. And as many times as I’ve visited over the years, the art, the interiors, the porcelains, marbles, and furniture remain superb, as if perfect. You get the feeling that Mr. Frick was that disciplined and orderly in his acquisitive powers. He lived there for only five years, from its completion to his death in 1919. It was also his wish that this house would become the museum that it is today.
Anthony van Dyck, Margareta Snyders, ca. 1620
Anthony van Dyck, Mary, Lady Van Dyck, Ca. 1640
It was to be his masterpiece – his vision was carried out by his daughter Helen Clay Frick. And indeed it is a masterpiece. All of this came to mind because this past weekend the first time I’ve been to the Frick in quite some time except for the social events that I cover, and the time JH photographed the second floor interiors where the family lived. I hadn’t visited the actual Collection in years.
Anthony van Dyck, Frans Snyders, ca. 1620
And while we’re on the subject of art and museums, up in Boston on the Saturday before last, more than 650 people -- including tech-savvy fashion designers from around the globe – gathered at the Museum of Fine Arts to preview the exhibition #techstyle, and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Museum’s Fashion Council.

Guests included Nancy Adams, Fashion Council Advisory Committee Chair, wearing a led embedded dress designed by London-based fashion house CuteCircuit and vice-chair Megan O’Block; MFA Director Matthew Teitelbaum and exhibition curators Pamela Parmal, Michelle Finamore and Lauren Whitley welcomed designers including Neri Oxman from the MIT Media Lab; British bionic pop artist Viktoria Modesta, whose high-tech artificial leg is featured in the exhibition; Noa Raviv; Elvira ‘t Hart; Travis Fitch and Adi Gil of threeASFOUR; Lauren Bowker of T H E U N S E E N; Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg of Somerville-based Nervous System; and shoe designer Rem D. Koolhass from United Nude.
#techstyle designers and curators (L-R): Francesca Rosella (CuteCircuit), co-curator Pamela Parmal, Lauren Bowker (The Unseen), Elvira ‘t Hart, Rem D. Koolhass (United Nude), Noa Raviv, Viktoria Modesta, co-curator Michelle Finamore, Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg (Nervous System), co-curator Lauren Whitley, exhibition designers Chelsea Garunay, MFA Director Matthew Teitelbaum, and Tatiana Tejedor.
#techstyle co-curator Michelle Finamore with Fashion Council Advisory Committee Members (l-r): Patty Ribakoff, Kathy Stansky, Liana Krupp, Nancy Adams, Megan O’Block, Isabelle Black, Carroll Pierce, Lynn Dale, and Emi Winterer.
Liana Krupp, Michelle Finamore, Viktoria Modesta, and Hugh Herr. Ben and Tonya Mezrich.
Lynn Dale and Frank Wisneski, Scott Schoen and Nancy Adams, and Megan and Robert O'Block.
Adi Gil and Travis Fitch of threeASFOUR.
Janet Wu and Candice Wu.
Noa Raviv.
Designer Elvira ‘t Hart.
Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Lous-Rosenberg of Nervous System.
Tatiana Tejedor.
Lauren Bowker of The U N S E E N.
MFA's Fashion Council's 10th Anniversary Dinner.

Photographs by Helene Norton-Russell (MFA)

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