The Biddington's Bentley Takes to the Road

New York City February 2005 Update
Manhattan Art Events & Museum Exhibitions

Christo and Jeanne-Claude poster gates Editor's Note: See archived Jake Biddington's NYC articles below for more art and dining information.

The Gates: Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Central Park

Late February 2005 sees the City agog with the Christo and Jeanne-Claude mega-sculpture "The Gates". Relieving an excruciatingly dull winter, the fluttering, pumpkin-orange pleated curtains hanging from tall steel frames make a surprising addition to the miles of walkways traversing the park. Structurally sound and sturdily fabricated, the installation elements bear testimony to the creative team's relentless professionalism. While Christo and Jeanne-Claude are undoubtedly cultural assets, aesthetically, this effort is less successful than their prior works such as the Wrapped Reichstag or the glorious Surrounded Islands. The crowd enlivens "The Gates"; as an artwork, it is event--not object.

Artistically, this project might have proven more effective in a less intensely designed space. Central Park is a tour de force of landscape architecture. The Frederick Law Olmstead/Calvert Vaux vision is in no way elucidated by "The Gates" whose unattractive, linear structures relate neither to the natural, nor to the contrived, aspects of the park's complex plan. Perhaps if the curtains could have floated freely... As is, their frameworks read as intrusive supports like power lines or telephone poles that beg to be Photoshop-ed out of vacation pictures. Viewed from above on the grand scale, the drawing implicit in "The Gates" makes no statement.

Visually this project is not for the ages, but Christo and Jeanne-Claude's amazing cultural accomplishment proves that all things are possible--even in our red-tape ridden city. "The Gates" sends positive energy vibrating through Manhattan.

Surrealism at National Academy of Design--February 16-May 8, 2005

Anchored with Surrealist works by Europeans Tanguy, Ernst and Man Ray as well as Chilean painter Roberto Matta, "Surrealism USA" at The National Academy of Design illustrates the impact of this 1920's & 1930's European movement on American artists. Painter Mark Rothko and sculptor David Smith donned Surrealism like a hat only to discard it (or sublimate it) shortly thereafter. Other Americans such as mid-westerners Charles Rain and Dorothea Tanning made it their own. This show covers the spectrum from narrative Surrealism with its precisionist painting to organic Surrealism whose automatic drawing influenced Jackson Pollock and other Abstract Expressionists. Without resorting to lavish packaging, the curatorial staff succeeds in conveying the vivacity, wit and intellectual acuity of this artistic movement.
Charles Rain (1911-1985)
"The Magic Hand"
Collection Henry W. Grady
on view at National Academy of Design

Metropolitan Museum
Peter Paul Rubens: The Drawings--January 15-April 3, 2005
Fra Filippo Lippi to Piero della Francesca--February 1-May 1, 2005

For whipping ones connoisseurship skills into shape, these two Old Masters shows at the Met will do nicely. The 15th century painting exhibition covers sufficient material so that the viewer can easily perceive the transformation from icon-like flatness to a modified naturalism that is essence of Renaissance painting in Italy. For those who love superb line and sublime surface, the Fra Filippo Lippi altarpiece provides a heart stopping experience.

Rubens drawing Libyan Sybil With works lent from the world's finest drawing collections including Vienna's Albertina, the Rubens show is perfect for training the eye to discern quality in drawings. The exhibition is organized--and its commentary clearly written--to note comparisons between Rubens' own works, his works copied from others artists, his modifications of actual works by other artists and works by his followers. Among the high points are Rubens' fully realized Italian period studies in which he copied ancient and Renaissance masterpieces.

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) drawing
"Libyan Sybil" (after Michelangelo)
Collection Musée du Louvre
on view at Metropolitan Museum of Art
Having just read Eric Hebborn's "Art Forgers Handbook", I'll never peer at another Old Master drawing without asking myself: "Real or fake?" By and large, the drawings in this show provide that visceral punch of recognition that goes with an authentic artwork. As is natural with works-in-progress, some studies are less strong than others: When drawing 3/4 facial views, Rubens himself does not always possess a master's hand. Of course, there is a big difference between badly drawn and forgery. Still, a gimlet eye might be tweaked by one drawing from a major American museum where the faces seem, perhaps, not quite "right"? Surely an overactive imagination is a small price to pay for developing the talent to discriminate among fine, fair and faux.

Neue Galerie

Egon Schiele drawing Freundschaft Housed in an elegant 1914 Carrère & Hastings townhouse on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 86th Street, Neue (pronounced: "noy-a" like Goya) Galerie brings a fresh voice to New York City's museum mile. With its focus on 19th and 20th century German and Austrian decorative and fine art, the Neue Galerie exhibits artists sorely under represented in the Manhattan gallery glut. On view are works by architect and designer Josef Hoffman, Die Brücke artist Erich Heckel, Max Beckman and--best of all--Egon Schiele. The room lined with Schiele's boldly linear and expressively risqué drawings is arguably the best collection of works on paper in town. This period of European Expressionist art seethes with angst, brutality and sexuality. The museum understands it material: children under 14 are not admitted to the galleries.

Egon Schiele drawing
Collection Johannes Gutenberg University
On the ground floor Cafe Sabarsky harkens back to the grand Viennese cafés offering substantial Austrian dishes, coffee mit schlag and decadent pastries. Alas, absent is the smoky haze needed to complete the sensual illusion making the coffee and chocolate more pungent and transporting us back to the Vienna of Freud and Schnitzler.

More Art & Antiques Destinations with Jake Biddington:
Art Tourism New York City 2005: Christo's Gates
Art Museums, Neighborhoods & Dining in Buenos Aires
Art and Touring along Italy's Amalfi Coast
Art 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
Art Tourism New York City 2003 (Archive)
Art Tourism New York City 2002 (Archive)
Art & Wine in the Finger Lakes of New York State
Art & Antiques in Hudson, New York (Columbia County)
Art & Restaurants in Rome 2002 Update
Hartford & Wilton, Connecticut
San Francisco Jackson Square
New Hampshire Route 1A
Morris County, New Jersey

Jake Biddington's 2005 Art Collecting Series:
Art Appraisals and Valautions
Investment Grade Contempory Art

Jake Biddington Art 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.

In this article, Jake Biddington offers suggestions and descriptions of interesting art tourism destinations. Some of these venues are always in open; others revolve around special or seasonal events. These are art travel excursions we at BIDDINGTON'S--upmarket, online art & antiques auctions and Contemporary Art Gallery--have enjoyed making. We hope you'll like them, too.

Contact Jake Biddington about His Travels

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Downloading or printing for online or print reproduction of any materials without specific written permission from Biddington's, Inc. is prohibited.

PEDIGREE & PROVENANCE--art words & terms defined. CREATIVE PROCESS--artists' studio visits.
JAKE BIDDINGTON'S INVESTING--financial advice on art & antiques collecting. MY ART--art for kids.