The Biddington's Bentley Takes to the Road
Louise Bourgeois bronze

New York City in 2003
Art, Antiques, Shopping & Restaurants

Editor's note: Many of the major shows of the winter-spring New York City season were traveling exhibitions reviewed in the Paris autumn 2002 article. This article covers the summer 2003 museum shows of note.

Louise Bourgeois "Untitled" Bronze (right)


The museum at the National Academy of Design, one block north of the Gugggenheim at 90th Street and Fifth Avenue, primarily exhibits realist and representational art. A show of entitled "Challenging Tradition: Women of the Academy 1826-2003" is on view. Surprisingly, the National Academy included women from its inception in 1826. Newly elected Academicians must donate a work, preferably portrait of themselves, to the museum's permanent collection; so this exhibition includes many artist self-portraits. But it also includes a remarkably interesting farm scene with tractor by Altoon Sultan, this suggestively sprouting organic bronze by Louise Bourgeois and a vibrant red/yellow still life by Laura Shechter. Exhibition Dates: June 28, 2003-January 4, 2004. Museum Admission: $8.

Kandinsky bright picture

Wassily Kandinsky "Bright Picture 1913" Oil on Canvas

Malevich painting from 1915 Mondrian painting 1922

Kasimir Malevich "Eight Rectangles 1915" Oil on Canvas (left)

Piet Mondrian "Tableau 2, 1922" Oil on Canvas (right)

For afficionados of early 20th century abstraction, two exhibits at the Guggenheim, the large exhibition "Kasimir Malevich Suprematism" and a pocket size Kandinsky watercolors show merit a serious look. The austerity and focus of early (circa1913) Suprematicist paintings make Malevich's--any everyone else's-- Cubist paintings quaint in comparison. When Malevich works his way into the all-whites or even into the later figures, the spiritual aspect of his work--so obscure and unintelligible in his writing--becomes comprehensible. Many stunning works in the Suprematist show are on loan from the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The intimate room of Kandinsky watercolors from the teens through the 30's also provides a juicy treat--especially viewed in concert with the four significant Kandinsky oils in the scattershot "Picasso to Pollack" exhibition on the spiral ramp. Suprematist Exhibition Dates: Through September 7, 2003. Museum Admission: $15.

Commenting on the Guggenheim shows, Italian sculptor Serena Tallarigo observes these differences among early 20th century masters of abstraction: "Kandinsky stays attached to drawing and therefore maintains a relationship to the physical world. In contrast, the non-objective artists try truly to break free of physical references. Thus, Suprematism is a tool of expression of the irrational. Suprematist painter Malevich is entirely irrational. Malevich is the complement to Mondrian whose approach to painting is entirely rational."

Goltzius portrait drawing

Hendrick Goltzius
"Self Portrait" 1590-92
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

At the Metropolitan Museum the show from the Rikjsmuseum of Netherlandish mannerist printmaker, draughtsman and painter Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617) is the standout. Most likely, this Northern artist who traveled to Italy will be familiar only from his etchings and engravings--the ones with overly-articulated bodies looking like inflated sacks of potatoes. This show proves that Goltzius was a gifted draughtsman in pastel and metalpoint. Later in his life he grew interested in painting; twelve of Goltzius' paintings--all of them peculiarly engaging--are included in this exhibition. Goltzius Exhibition Dates: June 26-September 7, 2003. Admission: pay what you wish.

Tetrode equestrian bronzeTetrode bronze figure flayed man

Willem van Tetrode
"Mounted Warrior" Bronze (left)
"Écorché" Bronze (right)

To view more Old Masters, visit The Frick Museum a beautifully serene spot with garden by Russell Page. The current sculpture show in the museum atrium of Goltzius' near-contemporary Willem van Tetrode offers a rare opporunity to see multiple casts of late Renaissance bronzes. (In certain circles it is argued that Goltzius used Tetrode sculptures as models for his engravings. Known in Italy by the name Guglielmo Fiammingo, Willem van Tetrode (1525-1580) was a crucial artist in carrying the Italian classical style to sculpture in the Netherlands. The figure at right an "Écorché" is a musculature study of a flayed body. But rather than being academic in spirit its dance-like gesture is expressive in a way most unexpected in a 16th century mannerist bronze. The "Mounted Warrior" at left where the weight is balanced on just two back hooves is a tour de force of bronze casting. Known for his talent at modeling in wax, Tetrode's works have a tension, torsion and vivacity rare in bronze sculptor. Anyone who loves bronzes, their surface detail and patinas will delight in this show. Tetrode Exhibition Dates: June 24-September 7, 2003 Museum Admission: $12

Lunch or dinner on the upper eastside: Brasserie Julien (Third Avenue between 80th and 81st) serves paté made from the family recipe and good French wines by the glass. Also, 2nd Avenue between 73rd and 76th Streets is a veritable restaurant-row of world cuisine. In summertime the restaurants sprawl into the street offering Italian, Turkish, Greek and Persian fare as well as amusing street theatre.

At the lower end of Central Park, near the park entrance at 60th and Fifth, many portrait artists ply their trade. Depending on the artist, the sketch requires from 15 to 45 minutes and costs about $20. Since is allows them to take home a truly personal item, teenage tourists especially enjoy this process. Isn't everyone vain enough to enjoy being seen through another's eyes?

Mid-Town Manhattan

If representational art is to your liking, check out mid-town galleries such as DC Moore (724 Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th) and Forum (745 Fifth Avenue between 57th & 58th). For modern masters and some contemporary art, try the 25 galleries in the Fuller Building at 41 East 57th.

Second Avenue Antiques Market (Second Avenue and 55th Streets) is a multi-level, multi-dealer antique mall of the moderately upscale variety. Strong in estate jewelry, this is a pleasant rainy day stop.

In the mid-town UN neighborhood: Deux Amis (51st near First Avenue) features Algerian couscous as well its core French menu. Indigo (50th near First Avenue) serves a quality Indian lunch buffet and serene dinner.

If you don't want to wait in the lines going up to the top of the Empire State, choose the Morgan Library at Madison and 36th Street as a re-grouping location. It houses superb drawings, paintings and a Guttenberg Bible. If the diehard tourists in your party are late, you can relax in the pleasantly upscale atrium cafe.(Subway Stop: 34th Street)

Lunch or dinner near 34th Street: Artisanal (32nd between Park and Madison) serves dozens of fine wines by-the-glass and perfectly ripened cheeses. For a rare Burgundian treat, try Madison Bistro at Madison and 37th. For Italian cooking, Da Ciro a friendly trattoria on Lexington Ave. at 33rd Street does a thin wood-oven appetizer pizza with truffle oil. If the scene is more important than the cuisine, Asia de Cuba at Madison Ave. near 37th Street remains entertaining.


West of the tourism mainstream, the neighborhood called Chelsea runs from 14th Street through the 20's west of 6th Avenue.

Much of the contemporary art gallery scene formerly in SoHo has taken up residence far west in Chelsea's loft buildings in the low twenties between 8th Avenue and the Hudson River. The most significant and edgy new addition to the neighborhood is EYEBEAM a museum/exhibition space for new media and digital art installations and events at 540 West 21st St. between 10th and 11th Avenues. Gracie Mansion Gallery at 504 West 22nd exhibits witty, engaging pieces often with Pop inspiration. 515 West 20th & 529 West 20th are both big buildings with many galleries showing a wide range of representational styles from abstraction at Andre Zarre to installation at I-20. Check schedules before going since gallery hours vary.

Lunch or dinner in Chelsea: While Red Cat Grill (10th Avenue between 23rd and 24th) is still lively after gallery openings, the right place to see and be seen is now the trendier Park on 10th Ave. at 17th Street. The Pakistani spot next to the gas station (10th between 22nd and 23rd) has a following among cabbies and the more intrepid members of the art crowd.

On Saturdays & Sundays at the crack of dawn visit the Outdoor Antiques and Collectibles Flea Markets. The biggest is at 6th Avenue and 26th, but you'll find others within a block or two. Also, check out the multi-dealer antiques buildings on 26th Street one block east and one block west of 6th Avenue. (Bus: Crosstown on 23rd or 14th Street Westbound.)

DOWNTOWN: SoHo & Chinatown

Soho restaurants remain varied and interesting. But, as the neighborhood has matured, the shopping has gone big-name European mainstream with the cool and innovative design crowd--and some art galleries--drifting further east into Little Italy and the Lower East Side. But the new improved version of Chinese goods store Pearl River Trading Company (Broadway near Grand) is definitely worth a visit for its reasonably priced Asian silk clothing and wonderful housewares.

SoHo gained fame thanks to the artists who transformed the cast-iron factory buildings into painting+living lofts during the 60's and 70's and galleries opened there are well. While many galleries have decamped to Chelsea, some good ones remain. Several buildings along Broadway house galleries on every floor: 591 Broadway is home to June Kelly Gallery who shows quality contemporary sculptors and painters. The Drawing Center (35 Wooster Street) is a non-profit space known for its interesting works-on-paper exhibitions.

Around the corner on West Broadway between Broome and Grand, The Cupping Room offers a congenial, old SoHo spot for a midday caffeine-with-muffin break before continuing along the culture-vulture circuit.

Afterwards, work your way through the crowds east on Canal to Mott Street. Mott boasts two significant charms: great dim sum restaurants and tiny shops selling the newest knock-off handbags.

(Subway Stop: Spring, Prince or Canal.)

DOWNTOWN: Wall Street & Tribeca

A favorite arts stop in lower Manhattan is the Museum of the American Indian (a branch of the Smithsonian) in the beautiful old Customs House building at the southernmost end of Broadway. The permanent exhibition has a lot of "touch and tell" devices, good visuals and good sound effects. The museum is engaging for both adults and children. There are gift shops on premises that sell fine contemporary Native American crafts such as jewelry, pottery, weavings and carvings; the shops also stock a selection of related books.

(Subway Stop: Bowling Green or Wall Street.)

In Tribeca, seek out Cheryl Pelavin Fine Art (13 Jay Street) a contemporary gallery notable for original prints. Only a block away, Zutto (77 Hudson Street at Harrison Street) offers an affordable sushi break. For dinner in Tribeca: Capsouto Frères (Washington at Watts Street) blends together French cooking with a relaxed, welcoming style in a handsome, open space.

QUEENS: Long Island City

Formerly in SoHo, a child-friendly art venue, The Museum for African Art has re-located to Long Island City (Queens). Along with exhibiting fascinating objects, it provides ambient music, video clips and other multi-media to help the visitor fit these objects into their cultural setting. The museum offers an array of lectures and events related to exhibitions and a shop that sells real art works and crafts from Africa. Admission: $6 adults; $3 kids.

Adam Cvijanovic painting New City

Adam Cvijanovic "New City"

A visit to Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City (Queens) is like spending a casual day in the country. Under the leadership of sculptor Mark di Suvero this outdoor studio and exhibition space was created from an abandoned riverside landfill as a venue for showing large-scale contemporary sculpture. It's a low-key, unprententious place that is free and open all year from 10am to sunset. Exhibitions vary: the current one "Yard" evokes images of that familiar domestic space with works ranging from an engaging two-sided mirrored picket fence ("Mirror Fence" by Alyson Shotz) to a large and suitably ugly inkjet mural construction of a housing development ("New City" by Adam Cvijanovic). The scuffy immediacy of Socrates is like a refreshing flashback to the 1970's. During summer, the events schedule includes evening film screenings and kids art workshops--the one on kaleidoscope making sounding particularly enticing. (Telephone: 718 956 1819)
Directions: From Manhattan take the 7, E, R or V subway to Queens Plaza; then transfer to the Q19A bus northbound to the Broadway stop. This is a relatively quick trip--about 30 minutes depending on connections. A 10-minute cab ride from midtown Manhattan costs about $8.

For sustenance before or after the visit to Socrates, Restaurante LaMargarita (21-34 Broadway--near 21st Street) serves tasty Colombian food in a scrubbed, friendly setting at modest prices. For a different part-walking, part-riding return to Manhattan, exit Socrates and walk south past the Costco and another pleasant public park until you reach the footbridge to Roosevelt Island. Once on Roosevelt Island turn south again walking and admiring the unexpectedly-close Manhattan skyline until the Manhattan-bound F train or tram stop appears.


A short ride on the "F" train from SoHo under the Lower East Side and the East River to the York Street stop in Brooklyn is like time travel to the SoHo of the 1970's. This area called "Dumbo" (down under the Manhattan Bridge on-ramp) is home to artists, a theater space, alternative galleries and restaurants. Open Thursday through Monday, d.u.m.b.o arts center (doc) is a non-profit art space that hosts contemporary shows by guest curators featuring works by artists from the surrounding neighborhoods. Nearby St. Ann's Warehouse, a performing arts space, hosts innovative theatrical and musical productions for short runs. St.Ann's has a very civilized lobby cafe run by Rice whose restuarant 2 blocks away on Washington Street features tasty Asian-Latino fusion cooking and moderately-priced wines. At 111 Front Street, Dumbo General Store hangs works by local artists and makes a comfortable stop for a latté and panini. Choc-aholics will lose all semblance of control at Jacques Torres at 66 Water Street whose retail café includes a window into the chocolate factory next door. Enjoy the ephemeral pleasures of Dumbo soon. Its lost-cost, low-key delights are bound to be supplanted shortly by the prices and attitude that comes with gentrification.

LOGISTICS: Ditch Your Car

Do not drive a car into Manhattan. If you have done so garage it immediately. While garages are very expensive, they are less expensive than having your car towed away. There are almost no legal parking spaces on the street in the City.

Buy a Public Transportation Card

Ask directions to the nearest subway stop and purchase a 7-day Unlimited Ride MetroCard for $21. This card allows you to ride subways& buses and transfer between the two at will--all for $21. It is tremendously convenient. The MetroCard will allow you to feel free and be impulsive. (And save you the annoyance of hunting for exact change or hailing a taxi.)


More Travel Destinations:
Tourism New York City 2005: Christo's Gates
Art Museums, Neighborhoods & Dining in Buenos Aires
Cultural Touring along Italy's Amalfi Coast
Museums & Restaurants in Amsterdam
Cultural Touring along Spain's Costa del Sol
Art Touring in Lisbon
Art Touring in Milan
Art Touring in Antwerp
Art Touring in Barcelona
I-80 Park City to New York City Art & Antiques
Tourism New York City 2003 (Archive)
Tourism New York City 2002 (Archive)
Art & Wine in the Finger Lakes of New York State
Art & Antiques in Hudson, New York (Columbia County)
Cultural Tourism & Restaurants in Rome 2002 Update
Hartford & Wilton, Connecticut
San Francisco Jackson Square
New Hampshire Route 1A
Morris County, New Jersey

Jake Biddington's 2005 Collecting Series:
Art Appraisals and Valuations
Investment Grade Contemporary Art

Jake Biddington Investing (Archives):
PPP Test: Judging Quality in Contemporary Art
Art, Time and Technology
American vs. European Paintings
Jake Biddington's Art as Entertainment
Jake Biddington's Vetted Antiques & Art Shows
Jake Biddington's Patent Numbers as a Dating Tool
Jake Biddington's Hard Assets as Portfolio Diversification
Jake Biddington's Buying Fine Jewelry at Auction
Jake Biddington's Long Term Investing
Jake Biddington's Short-Term Investing
Jake Biddington's The Craft of Art


Here at BIDDINGTON'S, our work is also our play. When we're not exhibiting and discussing art & antiques online, we're learning about wonderful objects in shops, at great shows and in museums all over the world.

Contact Jake Biddington about His Travels

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PEDIGREE & PROVENANCE--art words & terms defined. CREATIVE PROCESS--artists' studio visits.
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