Tuesday, November 30, 2010
hirshhorn museum opening-1974

The Opening Weekend of The Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden actually fell on a Tuesday...October 1st, 1974. There were a number of events that preceded that actual Opening....and there were a number of things we all participated in....One was to walk through the Museum, and through the Sculpture Garden, too, during the day.....Below, that is my late dear sister Robin, standing next to a beautiful Jacques Lipchitz sculpture. And below that picture is the same piece of sculpture, as it looked in the Garden in Greenwich. Again......it looked so much more alive and real there in my father's garden.....Since this time, the Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden has been completely re-designed and my understanding is that it is much 'warmer' now...there is more foliage, etc. than there was back in 1974.....Below, my dear dear sweet friend Sammy---gone, too---standing near a wonderful sculpture by Ipousteguy...."Man Passing Through The Door".......As you can see, there was foliage behind on the wall there....Still, there was a starkness to the look of the Sculpture Garden in 1974. My understanding is, it is better now with more foliage and the redesign...But I haven't been back to The Museum since 1981, right after my father died, so I have no pictures of the Garden except the ones I took on the opening weekend..... Above.....this is now in a different place than it was back in 1974, as you can see....Closer to the staircase. Another view of this sculpture, below.... And below.....here is view of the back of this piece...... This was when the Sculpture was still in the garden in Greenwich.....Below....Another Ipousteguy sculpture photographed in the garden in Greenwich with Olga standing right next to her.... I love the humor of this photograph....And these pictures were taken by Gjon Mili, a very famous LIFE Photographer, who visited Greenwich in 1973 and 1974 to document the sculpture while it was still in Greenwich and also to document how the sculptures were moved....Here below is that same piece being moved from Greenwich---Air lifted by Helicopter...... And below, a number of pictures of some of the Sculpture in the garden in Greenwich, after they had left their positions in the garden and were moved to a 'waiting' place in another part of the garden----waiting to be air-lifted and or boxed for the trip to Washington, D.C........And another picture, below.....And, another picture of more of the sculpture, ready to go to Washington.....Below, is a closer look at the back of this magnificent Jacob Epstein Sculpture....called "The Visitation"...... And here below, is a closer look from the front, of the top half of this monumentally touching piece when it was still housed in the garden in Greenwich......All these pictures were taken by Gjon Mili..... So very very beautiful......And below....An overhead view of the crates of Sculpture waiting to be placed in The Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden......All pretty amazing......!

More To Come...........

December 1st is World Aids Day. Let's not forget all those still in need.......

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Friday, November 26, 2010

This is a picture that I took on the event weekend of the Opening of The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, in early October, 1974. It is a magnificent head by Giocometti---another favorite Sculptor of mine. I don't know what it is about Giacometti's work that touches me in such a deep way, but, it does, and it always has.....By the time Daddy Joe bought the house in Greenwich, in late 1961, I was already living in Los Angeles, so I never really spent much time there, at all.
(Above.....Me and Daddy and Robin.....August, 1966, I think.....) In the 15 years he lived there, I was probably at 'Round Hill', maybe 10 times, all together. And I only stayed over night there about 3 times.....But, I was very familiar with his collection. Wherever Daddy lived, he was surrounded by art. And in Greenwich, it was everywhere---inside and outside of the house.....Paintings and Sculpture inside and of course, only Sculpture outside....And what magnificent sculpture it all was and still is......(Above...."The Burghers Of Calais" by Rodin.......)
In 1962, there was a beautiful show of some of Daddy's collection of Sculpture at The Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. 400 pieces to be exact. And it filled the entire Guggenheim. It was a very exciting show and it was thrilling to see so many pieces under one roof, ALL together, like that. I had come east especially for that show, and actually stayed in Daddy's apartment, there in Manhattan, all by myself--Daddy & Olga were not there......It was not a large apartment at all---in fact it was just one bedroom---but, everywhere, there was "ART"....I think I was there three nights all together, and it was the one and only time I ever stayed there....Looking back, that was a big deal for him to let me do that. I know that seems strange---after all, I was one of his children....But, DJ was not like any other father, as you may have gathered by now if you have been reading my blog for these past five years.......(Below, a picture of the show at The Guggenheim, 1962.......)In many ways, his collection of Paintings and Sculpture were more like his children then we, his actual children, were. And in a way, I can understand that. Let's go back in time: There was this most important Calendar. The pictures from the Insurance Company Calender---(this Calender was from the Insurance Company his mother bought after The Triangle Fire, in case something were to happen to her; after all, she had ten living children, and no husband and a job that paid almost nothing---.16 cents an hour)---when he was just a young boy. These pictures kept him alive in a way that few of us can understand. There he was, in 1910 maybe 1911, sharing a teeny tiny depressingly little dark green room in a Brooklyn tenement with his many brothers---they had no money and little to eat. They had no real hope. But he took the Calender pictures, which were of Paintings by people like Landseer....(Below)And Bouguereau........(The Madonna With Lillies.......)And he put them up on the wall by his bed, in that tiny depressing little room, and these pictures gave him 'hope'. Hope for a future that held more than what he had in this depressingly crowded dark little room---These paintings held the promise of beauty and of what more there could be, here in this country. They held the promise of The American Dream......(Above....another photo of the Sculpture shown at The Guggenheim, 1962).....Daddy Joe actually ended up living out The American Dream........

More To Come.......

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
happy thanksgiving

One of my favorite Thanksgiving Cartoons above---Courtesy of the most recent New Yorker.....One of my other favorite Thanksgiving Cartoons is this one, below.......I actually posted this one last year, too..... And last, but not least.....this one, as well........ But all kidding aside, I hope your day is filled with lots of good food, many loved ones--friends and family---And the hope that the coming year will bring everyone lots and lots to be Thankful for....... Oh, and don't forget to eat lots and lots of Chocolate! That is the best part of Thanksgiving Dinner.......Happy, Happy........

More To Come..........

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

This picture above, was definitely taken in the Garden of my fathers house in Greenwich before all the sculpture was moved to Washington, D.C. to be housed in The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.....
This is a sculpture by Arnaldo Pomodoro---It is called "Sphere Number 6" and below is a picture of it's newer home after the Sculpture Garden Renovation at The Hirshhorn took place. It is a gorgeous piece! I always loved this particular 'sphere', and many many years ago---sometime in the late 1960's, I bought a tiny 'sphere' by the same artist, that sits in my living room. Mine is one of an edition of three---This one above, is Unique, as far as I know.....Here is a picture of the big one below, as it looked in the outdoor Garden at The Hirshhorn, when in first opened in early October of 1974. It's not the greatest picture unfortunately---it is hiding somewhat behind another sculpture, but....it is the only picture that I took of it that October day in 1974. And here below is my small 'sphere' as it sits in my living room........ I LOVE this man Arnaldo Pomodoro's work! And if I could afford it, I would buy more. I'm just grateful I bought this little one when I did, 41 years ago....!

Another favorite sculpture of mine in the collection, is this Cardinal by Giacomo Manzu. There are actually two different Cardinals---maybe even more, and I loved them all......The picture above is how this particular Cardinal looked in The Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. back in 1974, and the one below is how it is placed since that Renovation in the 1980's.....(At least I think it was the 1980's.....)It looks better in the second picture with some greenery behind it......And below.....How it looked in my father's garden at the house in Greenwich.... And below, some pictures of one of the other Manzu Cardinals as they lived in Greenwich...... I know I am biased, but I always loved the way these Sculptures looked in Greenwich---They are so elegant and peaceful, standing next to the house and with the trees around them.I preferred these locations in the Garden in Greenwich better than at The Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden---at least, I prefer them to the way they looked in The Sculpture Garden at the Opening of the Museum back on October 4th, 1974. There are many more pictures of some very great great Art and I will be posting them soon....

More To Come........

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Monday, November 15, 2010
lillian gish

I watched some of "Birth Of A Nation" the other night, on Turner Classic Movies.....They were showing it in conjunction with this on going 7 part original documentary series called "Moguls & Movie Stars: A History Of Hollywood".....So far they have shown Episode One & Two, (Episode 3 will be shown on Monday, Nov. 15th, and at other times during this week...).....It is a very interesting wonderfully informative documentary....The first Episode covered the years 1889 to 1907. Episode two covers 1907 to 1920.....There is some incredible archival footage from all the Pioneers of film, and some interviews with film historians as well as interviews with some living relatives of the men who started the film business. I am loving this series, needless to say.I have never seen "Birth of A Nation" (1915) all the way through...and I didn't make it all the way through the other night, either. There is much about it that is extraordinary---D.W. Griffiths most famous full length film, is over three hours long. But there is a lot about it that is terribly disturbing. It is a deeply racist one sided view of the History of our country, particularly in the south, and it was based on a book called "The Clansman", which should explain why it is so incredibly racist, along with some very graphic images. But, starring in this epoch film, among many others, is the young and beautiful Lillian Gish. And you can see from this film what a striking presence she is on the screen. Young and very beautiful, her acting was very real for those silent days. It was very different than most of the 'silent screen stars' in that she didn't over-act at all. She was wonderfully simple, and as I said, very natural...Lillian Gish and her younger sister Dorothy both had long stage and film careers...... And in fact, made a number of films together...including the silent film, "Orphans Of The Storm"......Both sisters came into my life many many years ago in a brief but memorable way....Dorothy Gish spoke at my small graduation from The Feagin School of Drama & Radio in New York City, back in 1952, and Lillian Gish was an important part of the summer of 1951. Seeing her the other night in "Birth Of A Nation" reminded me of the week I spent with her, working backstage, at The Sea Cliff Summer Theatre when I was an apprentice. Miss Gish was touring in a slight little play called "Miss Mabel". She came to Sea Cliff the third week of our Season---first there had been Veronica Lake in "The Curtain Rises". Next, Melvyn Douglas and Signe Hasso in "Glad Tidings".....and then came Miss Gish. (That is wonderful actor, Clarence Derwent in the picture with her below.....)She was incredibly gracious and was wonderful to all of the "apprenti" who worked 'the crew' that week, leaving us a gift of $30, which was a lot of money back then---like, $300 today. This was an incredibly generous thing to do. In the three years I worked at Sea Cliff, no other "Star" actually acknowledged the hard working non paid apprentices. Not one. We were all touched by her genorosity. (Below, the backstage crew of Apprentices for "Miss Mabel" with Miss Gish in the center. That is me in the lower left corner and my dear Sammy in the upper right in the white shirt......)And, we waited till the end of our 11 week season and had an End-Of-The-Summer-Season party right there on the stage at Sea Cliff and that $30 covered everything! All these years I have remembered how kind and caring and incredibly gracious she was, and I didn't know that she was a 'racist' and an anti-Semite. She had always defended "Birth Of A Nation", denying that it was racist in any way....I'm not sure why I didn't know about all that. But I think it was because I wasn't that well informed back then.....All I really knew about her back in 1951 was that she was a very important part of theatre and film history.In retrospect, I wonder if she had known that at least half the Apprentices at Sea Cliff were Jewish, would she have given us anything? I doubt it. She was fierce about her beliefs, and stuck by her guns. (She dropped the great great critic George Jean Nathan when she found out he was Jewish. Oy Vey!)But, as an actress and a "star" she was the consummate professional in every way, and, as I said, she was incredibly gracious and very generous to all of us underlings. What does it all mean? I don't know. I must admit reading about Lillian Gish' life in trying to pin down her actual Birth Date---which is still unclear, but was most likely 1893---was terribly depressing.To become aware of Miss Gish' racism and right wing "America-First" membership, made my heart sink. And it absolutely tainted my memories of her I am rather ashamed to admit, but, I have my beliefs too. At 20 years old I wasn't as clear or fierce about what I believed in as I am now. And in fact, I did not know what her convictions were back then. All I knew was, she was truly lovely to all of us that week, and never ever acted "The Star". And for those who may not even know her name---she was a very important part of the History of films and of the History of the Broadway Stage, as well. The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences gave her an Honorary Oscar in 1971.And her true importance in film was recognized and Honored by The American Film Institute, back in 1984, giving her their highest honor---The Life Achievement Award---she was only the second woman to receive this Award, and the only Silent Screen Star to ever be so Honored. But with this Award her place in Film History was secured, as it truly deserved to be. Lillian Gish was one of the few "stars" of Silent Films who went on to have a very long and fruitful career in "talkies". The Gish Sisters, achieved greatness, in a very fickle profession. And it is indeed a "Profession". Dorothy and Lillian Gish were both true "Professionals", and as sisters, they remained close to one another for all of their lives....... Lillian Gish was almost 100 years old when she died in 1993. I feel lucky to have experienced what little I did, in terms of her professionalism back in 1951. And I don't think I will ever be able to get through the over three hours of "Birth Of A Nation", though it too was a milestone in Film History. D.W. Griffith changed how films were made and viewed...He was a Cinematic Genius, but that is for a different post at another time....! And what does this quote say about Woodrow Wilson?

More To Come........

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