I caught a great show last week on my second visit to Palm Beach’s Liman Gallery. This time it showcased work by a young artist named Gaelin Rosenwaks. I was as equally impressed by this show as I was by the Emily Zuch show I’d seen there a few weeks prior. I’m a bit surprised to find such cutting-edge art at a gallery in Palm Beach. I expect to see work of this caliber and creativity in Miami, but not necessarily in SoFla’s sleepiest and most exclusive enclave. Here, I guess, the stereotypical notions I hold in my mind make me think I’ll find pretty seascapes and pictures of Palm trees and hibiscus flowers, not a socio-commentary on the ills and ravages of over-fishing.
But that’s what I found at Rosenwaks exhibit, “Global Catch: Portraits of a Precious Resource.” My friend Elle Schorr was with me. She’s an accomplished and innovative fine art photographer. So, I greatly value her opinion and as soon as we entered the small gallery space, she told me she was impressed. What we saw in front of us, on all of the gallery walls, and hung salon-style cascading up towards the ceiling, were photographs of fish and fish markets. This is how the Liman Gallery’s press release described Rosenwaks’ work:
“As a marine scientist focusing a majority of her academic career on fisheries, Gaelin Rosenwaks
personally witnessed the tremendous declines in fish populations and the devastation happening to
our oceans. Because of this, she set out to document the diversity of fish and how different cultures
approach their consumption of fish and other marine resources. The Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations reports that 47% of major fish stocks in the world are considered
fully exploited, 18% are considered over-exploited and 10% are considered depleted. In total 75% of
the world’s fish stocks are harvested either to their maximum or beyond, an alarming statistic as we
move into the future. However what Rosenwaks found in her quest to document this consumption is
that many of the largest consumers of seafood appreciate the resource in a way she could have never
imagined. The fish are treated as precious jewels, carefully handled and displayed in vivid colors.”
There was a lot to take in, but the photographs told a story and I felt compelled by that story, even though it’s one that I had no knowledge about, or even interest in, until I saw this exhibit. After I stopped marveling at the photos, I began to marvel at the fact that Rosenwaks is a Duke-educated marine scientist. So her art is an extension and expression of her work and studies. It’s admirable that she found a way to use her creativity and intelligence to make a statement about something she clearly feels very passionate about. She’s definitely an artist to watch. She also has created a very interesting company. Please visit Global Ocean Explorations to learn more about her and to watch videos and see more photos.
Last week, I trekked up to Palm Beach — and I mean way up beyond Worth Avenue to near where The Breakers is — to review a show of work by Emily Zuch at the Liman Gallery. I’m so glad I did. I really fell in love with this gallery, which occupies one large gallery space at the corner of the Paramount Building and another smaller exhibition space a few storefronts down.
In both of these spaces, Ellen Liman has created a charming venue for art that includes a nook area for out-of-print and rare art books, as well as ample exhibitions space that is teeming with art work from some very well-known artists, but everything is so jam-packed that if you don’t look closely and take your time, you’ll miss some real gems.
For example, what made this visit even more of a delight, Liman had a work by one of my favorite artists, who I also wrote my senior thesis about, Miriam Schapiro. Schapiro emerged in significance during the 70s when she was recognized as part of a group of feminist artists that included Judy Chicago who helped elevate traditional female crafts, such as needlepoint and quilting, to “high art” status.
Liman has a great eye and is also very well-connected in the art world. She attends all the major fairs in the US and Europe and she’s bringing cutting edge and interesting contemporary art to Palm Beach. Her gallery is not to be missed if you’re visiting or even if you live here and have never been.
I also enjoyed Zuch’s exhibit, “The Land of Fake Nature.” Zuch, who is 27, created large-scale oil paintings done on sheets of paper that are colorful and imaginative, as well as smaller drawings that bring to mind the work of Edward Gorey. You can read more about her in my review of the show for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper.
Today is Michelangelo’s birthday, so I’m posting this article I wrote about him for the newsletter for a local Italian Club last year. The photo below is from an event organized by the Friends of the Uffizi Gallery. They raise funds for the restoration of art at the Uffizi and recently funded the new Michelangelo Room that opened at the Uffizi on Jan 29, 2013. You can read about that project here: http://bit.ly/Xqq8nE. The organization is led by President Contessa Maria Vittoria Colonna Rimbotti. You may recall that Vittoria Colonna was Michelangelo’s muse and descends from the same family! Please visit their website and consider joining their organization, or donating to their very worthy cause: www.FriendsoftheUffiziGallery.org.
Anyone who has seen Michelangelo’s David has no need to see anything else by another sculptor, living or dead.
~ Giorgio Vasari (Renaissance painter and writer, as well as Michelangelo’s biographer)
Michelangelo Buonarroti was twenty-six years old in 1501, the year he began working on David, the 17-foot-tall marble statue that would become one of Italy’s most iconic artworks. Of the work, he is often quoted as having said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Throughout history, people have acknowledged that quote as pertaining not just to art, but to human potential. Therefore, David also serves as a visual testimony to the important influence of Italy on the development of Western art, as well as to the many other important cultural contributions it has made in the world.
The biblical tale of the young David cleverly defeating the giant Goliath, which inspired the work, is also one of human potential. It’s likely that Michelangelo identified with David because he was also a young man with immense talent, which drove him forward in an indefatigable manner. He’d been born in Caprese near Arezzo in Tuscany. His father was a banker and government worker, who eventually, albeit reluctantly, supported his son’s artistic aspirations. By the time Michelangelo was thirteen he was apprenticed to a painter, and when he turned fourteen his father persuaded a sculptor to pay the teen as a working artist, which was as unusual then as it would be today.
The monumental David was completed in 1504. This was after Michelangelo created the hauntingly beautiful sculpture, the Pietà, which was finished in 1499, but before he began working on the intricately-detailed ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in 1508, which he completed in 1512. This means that all three masterpieces were completed before he turned 40. Mistakenly, it’s been reported at times that Michelangelo lost his eyesight while working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, but the condition was only temporary and the artist continued to work until he died at the age of 88.
What many don’t know about David is that the statue had already been started by two other artists before Michelangelo was commissioned to finish it. The expensive block of Carrara marble had lain abandoned for twenty-five years in the yard of the cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore. The Overseers of the Office of Works of the Duomo, known as the Operai had wanted to commission a series of twelve large Old Testament sculptures to sit at the top of the cathedral, but the two artists that they’d contracted for the David, one working under the tutelage of Donatello, had both failed to complete the work.
Michelangelo was chosen from a group of artists, which included Leonardo da Vinci, to finish the work because he made the most persuasive case to the Operai as to why he should get the commission. Da Vinci later remarked dismissively, perhaps from jealousy, about Michelangelo working on David “He looks like a baker. The marble dust ﬂour all over him and his back is covered with a snowstorm of chips.”
However, Michelangelo triumphed where previous artists had failed. He completed the magnificent work in 1504. When he revealed the six-ton David to the Operai and other Florentine dignitaries, they immediately realized that the plans to erect the statue atop the cathedral were flawed. Not only was it extremely heavy and large, but it was so magnificent that they decided, instead, to give it a more prestigious location. Even da Vinci conceded that David deserved a more prominent location. Ultimately, the statue was placed in the Piazza della Signoria near the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio where an exact replica now stands today. The original has remained in the nearby Accademia di Belle Arti since 1873.
Michelangelo never married, nor had children. He remarked, “My sculptures are my children. And they will live for much longer.” His biographers note that he was often disheveled, frenzied. Though he was paid well for his art, he lived like a peasant. He did not accept apprentices, nor would any have lasted with him. His artistic talent created a fire inside of him that raged deeply and made him difficult to endure. Though he was widely admired, he had few close friends.
Perhaps Michelangelo’s isolation was a blessing in disguise because it enabled him to channel his passion and talent entirely into his work. As such, he made a significant contribution to both the artistic achievements of Italy and to the creation of Western art as a whole. His works, such as David, and just like the biblical story that inspired it, continue to endure, inspire and triumph.
In time for the opening of The Armory Show, my next article for JetSet Magazine speaks to the emergence of an elite tier of fairs that are replacing NY galleries as the site for major sales of 20th and 21st century work, while galleries are evolving into museum-like venues for establishing an artist’s prestige. The article includes interviews with Noah Horowitz, Linda Blumberg, Amanda Sharp and Jayne Drost Johnson of Armory, Frieze NY, ADAA’s The Art Show and the buzzworthy Independent fair, as well as Kathy Battista of Sotheby’s art institute and Adam Sheffer of Cheim Read.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet Annie Leibovitz during the press preview of her show at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Fl. The show consists of 39 works that were acquired as part of the museum’s permanent collection. Leibovitz is an icon who actually became an icon by photographing some of the world’s most famous celebrity icons. She impressed me by how down-to-earth and real she was and also with her passion for what she does.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Ellen Roberts, the new Harold and Anne Berkley Smith Curator of American Art at the Norton Museum of Art for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper (click to read the interview). I think she’s terrific and I was impressed by her enthusiasm and knowledge. When I met with her, she’d been at her post less than two weeks and she already knew the museum’s collection like she’d been there for years. In the photo I took above (that unfortunately came out very dark) she stands between Edward Hopper’s August in the City (1945) and Charles Sheeler’s Shadow and Substance (1950).