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The Johnston Letter
by Jill Johnston
Cross-Country:
A Memoir of France
Cowboys 'n' Culture

Art Investment News is for sale. Contact publisher Paul Ben- Itzak. Based in Paris, Art Investment News focuses on exceptional work by renowned artists on sale for $100 - $100,000, supplemented by coverage of museum and gallery exhibitions of interest to art investors. AI News is edited and published by Paul Ben-Itzak, a veteran journalist who has covered the arts and financial news for Reuters, the New York Times, his own magazine the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager, and many others from New York, Paris, San Francisco, Chicago, and Texas. Dealers, Galleries, and Artists: Reach art-buyers with Art Investment News! 24/7 sponsor ads on AIN are as low as $49/month. Contact Paul for more information. Some articles require a Subscriber user name and password to access the full articles and galleries. To subscribe for just $29.95/year and receive full access to new and archived content, click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button below, or e-mail us for info on paying by check. Please note that for donations and subscriptions, your PayPal order will indicate "The Dance Insider," our parent company. Special thanks to AIN godmother Kim Clark.


Cendrine Rovini, "Enantiopanaxioi," 2014. Mixed media on tintoretto, 70 x 50 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Da-End.

Paris Dispatch & Gallery, 9-15: Frame it Black
Shadow Dancing in Saint-Germain des Pres with Cendrine Rovini & Jean-Benoist Salle at Da-End
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2014 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- What if there were a gallery which achieved optic brilliance not with the crutch of 'new technology' (the Impressionists may have been influenced by the nascent science of photography, but they didn't replace their pinceaus with Kodachrome; not that this protects them being retro-binded with science, as witness the recent efforts of latter-day meteorologists to pinpoint the exact moment that Monet painted "Impression of the Sunset"), but by the simple device of setting the art against a luminous black background? In this current context, in which gadgets and gimmicks have been accorded equality with the painter's palette, I was quick to misapprehend -- on a recent Left Bank gallery gambol -- the black walls of the cavernous Da-End gallery on the rue Guenegaud for clever effect, an understandable snap judgment given a moniker more likely to evoke the '50s aesthetic of faux-hipster Brooklyn ("Da-End, man!" shrieks Brando's molle as he sweeps her off to Avalon on his Harley-Davidson) than the winding streets of storied Saint-Germain des Pres, the legitimate Dauphine of Noir since Juliette Greco, Miles Davis, Boris Vian and coterie first introduced it at the Club Tabou as the wardrobe of choice for orphans of the most somber of wars, and who, godfathered by Sartre and de Beauvoir, Camus and Cocteau, shaped this darkness into a berceau of beauty, temporarily aborted by Algeria, but persistently pushing like pissenlit through this fertile terrain, undeterred by the ruling ethic of "austerity." Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


Jean Dubuffet, "Site domestique (au fusil espadon) avec tete d'Inca et petit fauteuil a droite," 1966. Vinyl on canvas, 125 x 200 cm. Fascicule XXI des travaux de Jean Dubuffet, ill. 217. Copyright Dubuffet and courtesy Galerie Jaeger Bucher / Jeanne-Bucher, Paris.

Paris Dispatch, 9-4: How the Southwest (of France) was won by a Paris gallerist
Gajac Museum retrospect celebrates Saint-Germain des Pres's Jean-Francois Jaeger
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2014 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- Accessibility has become a dirty word, with its implication that to reach the masses, art must be dumbed down. But truncate the word to "access," and you understand the collaboration that the municipality of Villeneuve-sur-Lot in Southwestern France -- a region better known for the fertility of its grapevines than the fecundity of its modern art scene -- and the legendary Saint-Germain des Pres gallerist Jean-Francois Jaeger of the Gallery Jeanne-Bucher have forged over the past 45 years, under which the anything but hic residents of this 'provincial' town have been able to experience the contemporary art revolution(s) of the '50s, '60s, and beyond contemporaneously with the putatively hip Parisian public. This complicity is being celebrated, through October 26, at the Musee de Gajac, a converted Villeneuve flour mill, in "A Passion for Art: Jean-Francois Jaeger and the Gallery Jeanne-Bucher," with work selected by the 90-year-old honoree which, true to form, prizes mystery over mediocrity and discovery over dilettantism. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


Among the low-priced treasures by well- and lesser-known masters on sale at Christie's Amsterdam's May 29 sale of Impressionist and Modern Art: Maximilien Luce (1858-1941), "Chantier sur les bords de la Seine," signed 'Luce' (lower left). Oil on canvas, 33 x 55 cm. Pre-sale estimate: 15,000-20,000 Euros ($19,429-$25,906). Copyright Christe's Images Ltd. 2013. Pupil and friend of Pissarro, anarchist, president of the French artists' union, and the last of the hard-core Impressionists, count on Maximilien Luce to not just follow his colleagues in another bucolic and light-infused study of the banks of the Seine, but to thrust into the foreground a group of workers busy prettying up those banks. For more on the pertinent painter, see our Arts Voyager Gallery on the Luce museum in the Paris suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie here.

Art Investment News, 5-29: Canal plus
Luce, Rodin, Courbet, Guillaumin, Bieling: Low-priced Treasures at Christie's Amsterdam
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

If you thought the only reasons for an art investor and art lover to travel to Amsterdam were the Van Gogh museum, the Old Masters, and the city's winding canals, think again: Christie's Amsterdam's May 29 Impressionist and Modern Art Sale offers the collector of modest resources the chance to acquire no less than an early Courbet oil painting with a pre-sale estimate of less than $12,000, a Rodin pencil and watercolor estimated to fetch less than $16,000, more stunning and signature work from the under- appreciated late Impressionists Maximilien Luce and Armand Guillaumin in the low five figures, and a breathtaking 1917 "Dancing Nude" from Herman Bieling which approaches Picasso's rarefied air at the much-more Earthbound figure of $3,886-$6,476. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


One of the priceless masterpieces available for interesting prices at Christie's Paris's May 28 sale of Impressionist and Modern Art: Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), "L'hiver," with the cachet of the atelier 'E Vuillard' (lower right; Lugt 2497a). Oil on canvas, 34.7 x 25.7 cm. (13 5/8 x 10 1/8 in.). Painted about 1900. Pre-sale estimate: 15,000-20,000 Euros ($19,359-$25,811). Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Art Investment News, 5-27: Crazy Christie's
Unique gems at (relatively speaking) bazaar prices from Vuillard, Fini, Vlaminck, and Renoir at Christie's Paris
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

What makes an apparent atypical masterpiece by Edouard Vuillard worth less than $26,000, an oil painting by the over-rated Eugene Boudin worth up to $900,000 -- oh look, another undistinguished water setting -- and a gouache, watercolor, and ink by the perpetually under-rated Maurice de Vlaminck valued at less than $24,000? The pre-sale estimate of the Vuillard -- like the others, as well as a stunning Renoir and an early Leonor Fini, on auction at Christie's Paris's May 28 sale of Impressionist and Modern Art -- can perhaps be explained by the fact that authorship is indicated with a cachet of the artist's atelier, and not a signature, although the sheer uniqueness of the stark "L'hiver" (Winter) in the Vuillard universe -- dominated by subtle interiors whose most outstanding feature is the painter's use of refracted light -- would seem to mitigate for a higher expectation. (The work is so exceptional that one can even argue for pre-emption by the State to keep it in public view.) The high pre-sale estimate of the Boudin can perhaps be explained -- if not justified -- by recent exhibitions which (erroneously, in my opinion) have had the effect of putting this lesser Impressionist on the same plane as his major contemporaries, poor Vlaminck's low estimate by his being born 50 years later, and thus technically speaking not grouped with the pioneering first wave of Impressionists. And as a general rule, size does seem to matter to those who determine the valuations at Christie's; its 9 1/2 x 11 7/8 in. dimensions might explain the relatively paltry pre-sale estimate of $77,434-$103,246 for Renoir's lush "Saule au bord d'une mare" (the illegible signature might also have something to do with it, but the tableau's impeccable provenance -- beginning with the Durand- Ruel gallery, which acquired it directly from the artist on August 15, 1916 -- would seem to minimize that factor). What all these works (save the Boudin) have in common is they offer the art investor with modest resources the opportunity to make his collection without breaking his budget. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


If you want to look for where art is being made in Paris today, don't look in the hills of Montmartre but the heights of Belleville. And if you want to look inside the artists' studios, check the Portes Ouverte of the Artists of Belleville, taking place through Monday, May 27. Besides seeing recent work by living artists (including, top, Sarah Dugrip's "Liseuse" and, bottom, Catherine Olivier's "Parcour IV techniques mixtes," both on view in Olivier's atelier at 42 bis rue des Cascades), the promenade offers some of the most extraordinary views of the City of Light, including that of the Eiffel Tower from the parc Belleville. For more information on the Portes Ouverte and the artists of Belleville, click here. To see images of more work by Olivier, visit her web site or see our 2012 Arts Voyager Gallery, and by Dugrip, click here.


Among the American stories available at Christie's New York's May 23 sale of American Art are, top: Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1963), "Madeline and Pepito," signed 'Bemelmans' (lower left). Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in. (61 x 91.4 cm.). Pre-sale estimate: $50,000- $70,000; and, bottom: Stuart Davis (1892-1964), "The Tug Boat," signed and dated 'Stuart Davis 1922' (on the reverse). Oil on panel, 12 x 16 in. (30.5 x 40.6 cm.). Painted in 1922, 1951 and 1953. Pre-sale estimate: $250,000-$350,000. Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013. While this piece exceeds our $100,000 threshold, we include it here because when it comes to Abstract Expressionist art that is as intricate as it is accessible, as technically accomplished as it is magically whimsical, Davis sets the standard. Both images copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Art Investment News, 5-23: An American Narrative
Storytellers for Sale at Christie's New York
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

Once upon a time American painters told stories, their canvasses teeming with the colorful life of a society embracing the ongoing industrial revolution, as well as the rural pockets of benign resistance. The very term used to describe one of their movements said more about theme than technique: The Ashcan School. And even Abstract champions like Stuart Davis usually offered a narrative hook to anchor the viewer. Christie's New York's May 23 sale of American Art offers a nostalgic return to this age when content meant meaning, with several examples available at refreshingly low pre-sale estimates, all the more bon marché when one considers the grist for the imagination they'll inspire when hanging on one's wall. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

Among the chefs d'oeuvre available at Christie's London's May 22 sale of 19th Century European Art at moderate pre-sale estimates are, top: Johan Barthold Jongkind (Dutch, 1819- 1891), "Clair de Lune sur un canal, Dordrecht," signed and dated 'Jongkind 1876' (lower left). Oil on canvas, 15 3/8 x 18 1/2 in. (39 x 47 cm.). Pre-sale estimate: 18,000-25,000 British pounds ($27,342- $37,975); and bottom: Emile Bernard (French, 1868-1941), "In the Harem," signed 'Emile Bernard' (lower right). Oil on canvas, 42 3/4 x 55 1/2 in. (108.5 x 141 cm.). Painted circa 1903. Pre-sale estimate: 15,000-20,000 British pounds ($22,785- $30,380). Both images copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Art Investment News: At Christie's London, Major Masterpieces at Minor Prices from Under-heralded Masters
Forget that record sales week; here are some masterpieces you might actually be able to afford to buy
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

If you've got auction fatigue after the recent record sales week in New York, don't take a break quite yet; if you do, you'll miss an opportunity to bid on chefs d'oeuvre by major 19th-century artists like Corot, Bernard, Raffaelli, Rico, and Jongkind too often over-shadowed in the mainstream media and auction house hype by the usual Impressionist bread-winners -- and at pre-sale estimates much more modest which, from a strictly artistic standpoint considering the magnificence of the tableaux on sale, deliver a lot more bang for the buck. Herewith a sampling of some of the gems on sale at Christie's London's May 22 sale of 19th Century European Art Including Orientalist Art. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

Pablo Picasso, "Femme assise dans un fauteuil (Eva)" (Woman in an Armchair), 1913. Oil on canvas, 59 x 39 1/8 in. (148 x 99 cm). Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection. Copyright 2013 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Art Investment News, 4-14: Game-changers
From Lauder, a trove of Cubist Masterpieces for the Met; Le Corbusier at MoMA
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

In an epoch where high culture is more than ever in danger of being drowned out by the noise of so- called popular culture in a mass media that no longer just caters to the tastes of the middle- and low-brow but seems determined to lower standards, museums more than ever must play an educative role -- not in the dry didactive sense of that word but in the enlightening one. And yet, in portraying the full panoply of art history in all its richness, they're often hamstrung by the fact that so much of that catalogue remains in private hands, only to surface briefly when it comes up for sale. Meanwhile, institutions like the Museum of Modern Art which steward a substantial part of that history feel they must charge admission prices which -- twice the cost of going to the movies -- can discourage the masses from discovering their collections. All the more reason to celebrate when a museum which still lets patrons pay what they can, as does the Metropolitan Museum, receives a mission-enhancing gift like the 78 works by Picasso, Braque, Gris and Leger just bestowed on it by Leonard Lauder. Even moreso with the additional news that in connection with the acquisition of this trove, the Met is establishing a new research center for modern art to be suppored by a $22 million endowment set up by Lauder and other supporters. Click here for the full article and more images.


Among the paragons of illustrated books being auctioned off at Christie's NY April 9 and 10 from the Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow are chefs-d'oeuvres including (top): Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), "Klange (Roethel 71-4, 85, 95-140, 142-6)," the complete set of 56 woodcuts including 12 in colors, 1907-13, on Van Gelder laid paper, with title, text in German and justification, signed on the justification, copy number 290 of 300, published by Reinhard Piper, Munich, 1913, estimated pre-sale at $30,000-$50,000; (middle), Marc Chagall (1887-1985), "Mein Leben (Kornfeld 1- 20)," the complete set of 20 etchings and dry-points, 1922, on Japan paper, with title, justification and table of contents, all signed in pencil, numbered 10/110, from the edition of 26 on this paper (there were also 84 on wove paper), published by Paul Cassirer, Berlin, 1923, overall 18 5/8 x 14 5/8 inches, estimated pre-sale at $120,000 - $180,000; and (bottom), William Blake (1757-1827), "The Waking of Leonora," original design for the tailpiece in a bilingual edition of "Leonora. A tale by Gottfried August Burger" (1796), an autographed pen-and-ink and watercolor drawing, finished in black, red, two tints of blue and grey wash, on wove paper (82 x 140 mm). Signed in pencil in lower right-hand corner. Framed and glazed, and estimated at $60,000-$80,000. Chagall, who came to printmaking at age 35, recalled (quoted in Forestier, Sigeals, p. 9), "I would have been missing something if, aside from color, I hadn't also devoted myself, at a certain moment in my life, to gravures and lithographs.... In holding a lithographic stone on a copper plate I believed I was touching a talisman [,] in which it seemed I could place all my sadnesses and all my joys." Images copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

With Corot hard to locate between the collections of the Louvre and the Orsay, and Delacroix not safe at the Louvre-Lens (see news items below), this might be a good time to buy work by these masters for yourself -- especially when Christie's has them available for a relative song this month. On auction in New York April 29 (left): Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875), "Paysage aux bouleaux argentes." Oil on canvas, 10 1/4 x 7 in.. Painted circa 1860-65. Pre-sale estimate: $50,000 - $70,000. And at Chrisitie's Paris April 10 (right): Ferdinand-Victor-Eugene Delacroix (Saint Maurice 1798-1863 Paris), "Jeune femme nue debout." Plume and brown ink, filigrane 'J Berger.' 385 x 218 mm. Pre-sale estimate: 6,000 - 8,000 Euros $7,679 - $10,238. Both images copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

The Art Maverick, 4-9: French Art Beat (illustrated)
New director at the Louvre; battle over a Signac; bring me the head of (Courbet's) 'Creation of the World' (just don't try showing her naked body on Facebook); Delacroix defaced; where's Corot?; where to buy Delacroix, Corot, Laurencin, Sisley, Millet & more for peanuts
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

French newspapers were aflutter last week with the story of Jerome Cahuzac, a former Socialist budget minister who confessed to having squirreled away 600,000 Euros in a Swiss bank account to avoid paying taxes on the income after previously having denied doing so and denounced others who did. The headline-grabbing 'cultural' news was the death of a doctor participating in "Koh-Lanta," the French answer to "Survivor." One had to scroll to the bottom of the websites of Le Monde and Liberation, two of the major Paris dailies, to discover political and artistic news that France has reason to be proud of: That a new president has been named for the Louvre -- chosen by President Francois Hollande, who personally informed the lucky man, chief of the Louvre's department of Greco-Roman antiquities Jean-Luc Martinez, 48, a sign of the importance France places on culture. That Hollande's selection over-rid the preference of his culture minister, Aurelie Filippetti -- who was determined to nominate a woman for the position -- signaled that the French president, who spoke little about the arts in his 2012 electoral campaign, is finally taking cultural decisions seriously. Still, if you'd rather not trust your art conservation to politicians -- and if you want a legal place to bank your money -- we're including in this update on French art news a special illustrated preview of some of the bargains available at upcoming Christie's sales from the likes of Corot, Delacroix, Utrillo, Sisley, Rodin, Laurencin, Millet, Fragonard, and others, at pre-sale estimates of as little as $8,000. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

Left: József Faragó, a cover page design for the album "Farago's Review," 1898. 1907-320. Paper, ink, pen. 411 x 317 mm. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery. Right: József Faragó, "Our Country's Greats in Paris, 1900." Farago 1902-51. Paper, ink, pen. 324 x 249 mm. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery.

Art Investment News Gallery, 4-2: Pioneers of the Ninth Art
How József Faragó Expanded Honore Daumiér Beyond the Frame
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

One risk of the Franco-centrism of most of the world's international-caliber museums of classic art (by classic I mean before 1950) is that the indigenous culture often gets short shrift, even when it compliments the French masters as sources of inspiration and emulation for the local talent. In Hungary -- which has a rich culture too often over-looked by the global curatorial brain-trust -- the recently reunited Budapest Museum of Fine Arts and Hungarian National Gallery have neatly addressed this lapse by mounting, as their first collaboration since the merger, complimentary exhibitions on Honore Daumiér (1808- 1879), the pioneering French caricaturist, and József Faragó (1866-1906), who succeeded Daumier chronologically but just may have exceeded him artistically, creating work that, while topical, can stand on its own as art whether or not one knows the historical context and even if one doesn't speak the language. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

Brassai (1899-1984), "La Cage aux fauves aux Folies Bergere," c. 1932. Gelatin silver print signed, annotated 'Pl.711, page 147' in pencil/ink, title, date, annotations by Mme Gilberte Brassai in pencil and Faubourg-St.-Jacques credit stamp (on the verso). Image/sheet: 9 1/2 x 7 1/8 in. (24 x 18.6 cm). Pre-sale estimate: $12,000 - $18,000. Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Art Investment News Gallery, 3-28: The last time I saw Paris
At Christie's NY, a Vintage City of Light through DeLIGHTed Eyes
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- Does any city in the world belong more to photographers than Paris? When the pocket camera became popular starting in the late 19th century, even painters -- from Degas through Bonnard -- couldn't resist ditching their pinceaux for the more modern apparatus. And does any other city look so... better in black and white than color than Paris, the city of Brassai, of Cartier-Bresson and Lartigue, of Ronis and Desnos, of Atget and Kertesz? At times I've questioned whether art objects which usually are not original because they can be easily re-produced are really worth the sky-rocketing prices they're fetching at auction. But two sales coming up next week at Christie's New York -- its photography sale April 5 and another called "The DeLIGHTed Eye, Modernist Masterworks from a Private Collection" on April 4 remind me, particularly in their Paris components, that the photographer is not just immortalizing his subject, brilliantly capturing a fleeting moment like Cartier-Bresson, but also capturing the sentiment he felt when he took the shot, so that each copy is also a document. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)


Left: Joan Miro (1893-1983), "Composition," 1930. Charcoal on paper. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Gift of Oveta Culp Hobby. Copyright 2012 Successio Miro / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy Morgan Library and Museum. Right: Leonor Fini (1907-1996), "La Danseuse aux chats," between 1948 and 1952. #2161. Ink on Paper, 15" x 12." Copyright Estate of Leonor Fini, Paris. Courtesy CFM Gallery.

Art Investment News Gallery, 3-7: Surreal Surprises
Morgan Exhibition Excludes a Master
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

"Tout ce surnaturel lui est naturel."

-- Jean Cocteau, introduction to the Leonor Fini exhibition at the Museo Correr in Venice, 1951. (Cited in "Leonor Fini," Editions Hervas, Paris 1981.)

"Surrealism might one day be passe, but intelligence never will be, whether it's the intelligence of Leonor Fini or others."

-- Alberto Moravia, "Leonor Fini and Intelligence," from "Leonor Fini," Sansoni, Rome 1945. (Ibid.)

Much as I'd like to be enthusiastic about the Morgan Library and Museum's current exhibition Surrealism and the Art of Drawing -- an impressive kaleidescope of more than 160 works including by Dali, Miro, Ernst, Carrington, Cornell, and Magritte, on display through April 21 -- it's hard to stomach yet another supposed all-encompassing survey of Surrealism that excludes one of the movement's most adventurous and rebellious agents of change and accelerators, Leonor Fini, particularly when the Morgan's director, William Griswold, contends that "one of the principal goals of our exhibition program is to present new insight and fresh perspectives on the medium of drawing." Where exactly is the insight and 'fresh perspective' in perpetuating the historical informal boycott of Fini by most major museums, no doubt initiated by Griswold's male predecessors who felt threatened by a strong, sensually adventurous and sometimes sexually ambiguous (in her work anyway) lioness of a woman who deferred to nobody? Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

Alexander Calder (1898-1976), Untitled (Studies of Figures in Movement). Drawn in 1925. Pencil on paper, 19 1/2 x 14 in. (49.5 x 35.6 cm). Part of a lot of seven drawings featured in Christie's New York's First Open Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art March 8. Pre-sale estimate for lot of seven drawings: $30,000 - $50,000. Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Art Investment News, 2-28: Lord of the rings
Calder at the Circus at Christie's New York's First Open
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH, TX -- Asked by the Fort Worth Weekly what advice he would give aspiring actors, Barry Corbin (Northern Exposure, The Closer, Dallas) related how the great cowboy actor Ben Johnson had once counseled him to carve out a unique niche, explaining (I paraphrase), "There may be better actors than me, but there's only one Ben Johnson." Given the relatively low prices they fetch, perhaps I still don't know anything about assessing art (Corbin does; his yard here is presided over by a bronco rider fashioned by Frederic Remington or Charlie Russell), but it seems to me there should be a premium on early work by one-of-a-kind artists, because it allows you to literally see the creator's craft developing and evolving in front of your eyes. Alexander Calder (1898 - 1976) was one of those figures. Add to this that the medium of the lot in question at Christie's New York's First Open Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art March 8 -- a set of seven charcoal, graphite, and pencil drawings of the circus made in 1925 (technically post Great War) -- allows us to behold the artist at work in an elemental form where you can almost feel his hands sketching, and the pre-sale estimate of $30,000 - $50,000 seems to be a steal. Subscribers click here for the full article with more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

Among the low-priced American art treasures available at Christie's February 27: Left: Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000), "Trappers." Tempera on masonite, 16 x 12 in. (40.6 x 30.5 cm). Pre-sale estimate: $15,000-$25,000. Right: Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1963; creator of "Madeline"), "Notre Dame," signed "Bemelmans" (lower right), dated "60" (lower left). Oil on canvas, 51 1/4 x 31 3/4 in. (130.2 x 80.6 cm). Pre-sale estimate: $4,000-$5,000. Both images copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Art Investment News, 2-27: Major gems at minor prices
American Masters for $4,000 - $25,000 at Christie's American Art sale
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

The imminent availability -- at Christie's New York's February 27 sale of American Art -- of five works by pivotal, influential, generative monuments of 20th century American art (or, in one case, children's literature) for estimates as little as $4,000 and topping out at a relatively modest $25,000 seems an appropriate occasion to re-introduce Art Investment News (AIN) and its modus operandi. The important 'news' for us -- news that investors or simply art-lovers with modest budgets can actually use -- is not the latest Damien Hirst fabrication that sold for a ludicrous eight figures, but rather the real gems available for as little as four (or even three!) figures, typically under-publicized by the art press, the financial press, and even the auction houses themselves, whose press releases tend to concentrate on the big-ticket "lots." (Even the nomenclature betrays the commodity calculus.) In the present case -- oeuvres by Milton Avery, John Sloan, Reginald Marsh, Jacob Lawrence, and Ludwig Bemelmans, all of whom figure prominently in major museum collections or recent exhibitions (or, in the case of "Madeline" creator Bemelmans, the collective childhood memory) -- this means the potential to hang on your walls (without breaking your budget) works which offer the double pleasure of their own intrinsic interest and their meaning in art history. Subscribers click here for the full article and more images. (Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for just $29.95 using the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

Christie's New York is billing its March 8 First Open sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art as, among other things, an opportunity to explore lesser-known works by established artists, and the above definitely qualifies. Keith Haring (1958-1990), "Grace Jones at Paradise Garage," gouache on paper. 23 3/8 x 37 1.4 in. (59.4 x 94.6 cm). Painted in 1986. Estimate: $80,000 - 120,000 U.S. dollars. Image copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2013.

Very top: Pierre Vidal, "Couverture pour 'La vie a Montmartre," 1897. Lithograph, 20 x 27.5 cm. Private collection copyright DR. Bottom, Left: Theophile Alexandre Steinlen, "Affiche de la tournee du Chat Noir." Lithograph, 58.5 x 79 cm. Collection musee de Montmartre copyright DR. Top Right: Anonymous, "Au premier Chat Noir," avant 1885. Tirage photographic, 17.7 x 23.6 cm. Collection musee de Montmartre copyright DR. Bottom Right: Exterior view of the atelier of Suzanne Valadon, Musee de Montmartre. Copyright Guillaume Lachaud.

Arts Voyager Gallery, 2-17: Patrimoine
A revitalized Musée de Montmartre revives le Chat Noir
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

What sets Paris apart from any other art capitol in the world is that it is not just a city of museums, it is one, both a showcase for art and the place where that art was created. . Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

Top (currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art): Pablo Picasso, "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon," 1907. Oil on canvas, 8' x 7' 8" (243.9 x 233.7 cm). Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. © 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Bottom: The Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre, where Picasso created the work.

Call for Artists, 2-17: Revivifying a Monument
The Bateau-Lavoir is looking for a new visage
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

Lest you think that the Musée de Montmartre, under its new stewards the Kleber Rossillon Group, is only concerned with glorifying artists of the past, as its first exhibition, on the Chat Noir, does, the museum has also organized a competition to revivify the neighborhood's other storied cradle of art in a way that encourages living artists: The concourse to design a new vitrine for the Bateau-Lavoir -- best known as the place where Picasso and Braque essentially invented Cubism -- invites scenographers, designers, graphistes and sculptors to submit their proposals (by March 1!) to re-make the storefront (which for years has contained just a spare, lightly illustrated recounting of the site's history) that is the only remnant of the original building. Click here to read the full article.

Top: Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848-1894), "Paris Street; Rainy Day," 1877. Oil on canvas, 83 1/2 x 108 3/4 in. (212.2 x 276.2 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection. Bottom, left: Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848-1894), "At the Cafe," 1880. Oil on canvas, 60 1/4 x 44 15/16 in. (153 x 114 cm). Musee d'Orsay, Paris. On deposit at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen. Bottom, right: Henri Fantin-Latour (French, 1836-1904), "Edouard Manet," 1867. Oil on canvas, 46 5/16 x 35 7/16 in. (117.5 x 90 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Stickney Fund.

Art Investment News Gallery, 2-12: Fashionistas
'Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity' at the Met: Ignore the conceit, go for the art
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

If context illuminates in Cezanne and the Past, on view at the Budapest Fine Art Museum through February 17, for Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, opening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art February 26 and running through May 26, it threatens to obscure (at least if one is to judge by the press release). Co-curated by the Art Institute of Chicago and the Musee d'Orsay, the exhibition's thematic presentation seems to super-impose a subject-driven mode of operation which was never the Impressionists' primary concern. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

Top: Edouard Manet (Paris, 1832- Paris, 1883) "Picnic in a Wood," n. d.. Black chalk, partly reinforced with pen and black ink, with green, blue,brown and black watercolor on paper, 478 x 317 mm. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology University of Oxford, Oxford, inv. no. WA1980.83. Mathey 35 B. Bottom: Paul Cezanne, (Aix-en-Provence, 1839-1906, Aix-en-Provence), "Bathers," 1899-1904. Oil on canvas, 51.3 x 61.7 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago, Amy McCormick Memorial Collection, Chicago, inv. no. 1942.457. RP 859. For more on these two tableaux and the relationship between Manet and Cezanne, see below and follow the link to our complete article and gallery.

Art Investment News Gallery, 2-7: Back to the Future
Cezanne in Budapest: Even the 'father of us all' had parents
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

It's easy to be cynical about the trend by museums over the past decade to exhibit major figures in juxtaposition with other artists (not always peers). To me it's often seemed like a marketing ploy, as if curators don't credit the reputations of Pissarro, Picasso, Manet, Monet, and Cezanne as sufficient to draw visitors, and need to re-brand them in a new context. But Cezanne and the Past -- Tradition and Creativity, an assemblage of 100 works by the master juxtaposed with work by his antecedents (from Le Nain to Poussin up to Manet and Courbet), on view at Budapest's Museum of Fine Arts through February 17, has opened my eyes to the value of context as illumination. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

From the new exhibition Matisse: In Search of True Painting -- an Exploration of Matisse's Painting Process, on view through March 17 at the Metroplitan Museum of Art: Top: Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), "Drawing for 'Le Luxe,'" 1907. Charcoal, squared for transfer, on paper mounted to canvas, 88 9/16 x 53 15/16 in. (225 x 137 cm). Centre Pompidou, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris. Gift of Marguerite Duthuit, 1976. Bottom: Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), "Luxe, calme, et volupte," 1904. Oil on canvas, 38 3/4 x 46 5/8 in. (98.5 x 118.5 cm). Centre Pompidou, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris. Gift in lieu of estate taxes, 1982. On extended loan to the Musee d'Orsay, Paris. Both images and works copyright 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. For more on the exhibition including more images on the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager, click here.

The work of Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967) appears deceptively simple. So when a Parisienne artist pal, just back from the mammoth tribute to the artist on view at the Grand Palais through January 28, wrote to rave about the subtlety of Hopper's canvasses and the stories they reveal upon extended contemplation, I took another look. Part of American Modern (August 11, 2013 - January 27, 2014), in which the Museum of Modern Art proposes to "take a fresh look" at its holdings of American Art from 1915 - 1950, "House by the Railroad," a 24 x 29" (61 x 73.7 cm) oil on canvas painted in 1925, depicts in one tableau the major arena of change that advanced and confronted the heretofore oft- insulated House of America in the first half of its 20th century: Accelerated communication. But pure aesthetes should rest assured; MoMA's cross-media exhibition promises a mis-en-scene with "visual connections trumping strict chronology." (The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Given anonymously. Digital Image ©The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Digital Imaging Studio.) -- PB-I

Left: Walt Kuhn (1877-1949), "Plumes, 1931." Oil on canvas. Acquired 1932, the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.. From the exhibition "To see as artists see: American Art from the Phillips Collection," on view through January 6. Right: Marie Cosindas (b. 1925), "Andy Warhol, 1966." Dye diffusion transfer print. ©Marie Cosindas. Courtesy the artist. From the exhibition "Marie Cosindas: Instant Color," on view March 5 - May 26, 2013. Both events at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas.

Art Investment News Gallery, 12-5: From collector to collection
An American Panorama at the Amon Carter
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Once upon a time a newspaper man named Amon Carter followed the recommendation of his friend Will Rogers, and spent $5,000 on a couple of canvasses by the "cowboy artist" Charles M. Russell. He built his Russell (and Frederic Remington) collection until, by the time of his death, he was able to bequeath it to found the museum which for the past 51 years has born his name and which, by his decree, is always free, because Carter wanted children to have the advantages he didn't. The museum did not rest on its rawhide laurels, but grew up to be the greatest museum of American art in the world, in both its curatorial savvy and collecting prescience. Click here for the full article and complete gallery of current and upcoming exhibitions at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

From Christie's Paris's December 3 - 4 Contemporary Sale: Lot 19. Andy Warhol (1928-1987), "Flowers." Signed and dated 'Andy Warhol 64' (on overlap). Silkscreen print on canvas, 12.7 x 12.7 cm. (5 x 5 in.). Completed in 1964. Estimated at 80,000 - 120,000 Euros ($103,476 - $155,214), it sold for 145,000 Euros ($188,936). Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
19: Oui, je parle baguette
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Just because you speak French doesn't mean you understand the French

Here's the secret to successful baguette-buying in France: When shopping at an unfamiliar boulangerie, always order the next step up from the basic baguette. It's sometimes called the Retrodor or the Petite Ghana, but most often called the Tradition, pronounced tradi-CION, with a Tevya-like flourish at the end; if you say 'tradi-SHUN' the vendeuse will shun you, feigning not to understand. (The French are like that; get one consonant wrong, and instead of just giggling, grimacing or correcting you, they'll screw up their faces and pretend they have no idea what you're talking about.) Subscribers click here to read the full Chapter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Among the offerings at Christie's Paris's Contemporary Art sale December 3-4 are, left: Lot 56: Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985), "Site avec 6 personnages." Signed with initials and dated 'J.D. 81' (lower right). Acrylic on paper laid down on canvas. 67 x 50 cm. (26 3/8 x 22 1/2 in.). Completed June 27, 1981. Estimate: 70,000 - 100,000 Euros ($90,542 - $129,345). And right: Jean Dubuffet, "Arabe." Signed and dated 'J. Dubuffet 48' (lower right). Color crayon and mine de plomb on paper. 34 x 22.5 cm. (13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in.). Completed in January 1948. Estimate: 12,000 - 18,000 Euros ($15,521 - $23,282). Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 12-3: Bonjour La Vie
Christie's Paris: Capital d'Art Contemporaine
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Recently the Parisian daily Liberation published a dispatch on how New York art galleries had fared after the hurricane. While the reporter had done the homework on the hurricane's financial impact, there was at least one factual error: Chelsea was described as "the contemporary art capital of the world." Perhaps this would be true if what was being calculated was gallery space per square mile, but from a quality standpoint, this New York neighborhood is more like the Walmart of art; you have to look really hard to find the gourmet section. On a typical night's tour the past couple of years, out of 12 openings visited, I'd be lucky to find three exhibitions of any substance. I can only remember one (new) artist who offered anything original, and he was principally a musician / computer scientist who had filled a gallery with gamelan player pianos, one even voice-activated. If there is a school for curating, none of its graduates have landed in Chelsea. I was similarly disappointed by the offerings in a recent "1990 to now" auction at Christie's London, an assemblage of the clever, the cloying, and the conceptual. Whoever did the assembling for Christie's Paris's Contemporary Art Sale December 3-4 evidently has a better eye and a more cultivated taste. Even a classicist like me was able to find more than a dozen late 20th century works that have something to say and express it in an eloquent fashion, including a nifty selection of mid- and late-career Jean Dubuffets estimated at as little as 12,000 Euros, an early Warhol silkscreen, a pair of Niki de Saint Phalle characters, and even a topical Roger Bissiere. Click here for the full Article and more Images.

From Christie's New York's November 28 American Art Sale: Top: Lot 95. Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), "Norman Rockwell Paints the Soda Jerk." Signed with initials 'N/R' (lower right). Oil laid down on board, 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.8 cm). Painted in 1953. Estimate: $80,000 - $120,000. In this self-portrait, Rockwell depicts himself painting "Soda Jerk," which illustrated the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on August 22, 1953. Bottom: Lot 11. Stuart Davis, Stage Set for "The Puritans." Signed and dated 'Stuart Davis 1922' (lower right) -- inscribed with title (lower left). Watercolor, gouache and pencil on paperboard, 16 x 23 in. (40.6 x 58.4 cm). One of five stage and costume designs that Davis made for his friend Ralph deGolier's play "The Puritans." Estimate: $50,000 - $70,000. Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery 2, 11-28: Last night on Earth
American Mystery at Christie's New York
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Last night I dreamt that I was a revolutionary hero penned in a large cage in the spacious living room of a sky-scraper. My genial jailer assured me with regret -- we had been friends -- that he was inevitably going to have to execute me. When I awoke, this time it was not with the usual "It was just a dream" relief but remembering what Brendan Gill wrote in his introduction to the Portable Dorothy Parker (Viking Press, New York, 1973), addressing Parker's fear of dying young: Man is the only animal that is is aware of his own eventual extinction (a reminder that did relieve my mourning for my late three cats; at least their years on Earth were a lot more carefree than mine have been). In fact my execution had not been lifted just because I woke up. Then I had a more beatific epiphany, inspired by some of the work I'd been pouring over yesterday on auction at Christie's New York's November 28 sale of American Art: What artists (can) do is distill, preserve, and perpetuate a frieze, a moment, even an idea of life, delivering it to eternity. Click here to read the full article and see more Images.

From Christie's Paris's Sale of the Collection of Henri-George & Ines Clouzot to benefit the Secours Catholique: Top: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), "Le Peintre a la Plage (Bloch 769, Baer 919 Ba)." Aquatint, 1955, by P. Picasso, on velin paper, signed and numbered 3/50 in pencil, framed. P. 47.2 x 83.2 cm. (18 1/2 x 32 3/4 in.); F.60.5 x 91.5 cm. (24 x 36 1/4 in.). Estimate: 12,000 - 18,000 Euros. ($15,365 - $23,048). Bottom left: Robert Delaunay (1885-1941). "Football, projet pour un decor de ballet 'Football'." Estimate: 150,000 - 200,000 Euros ($192,063 - $256,084). Bottom right: Jacques Villon (1875-1963), "Le Fauteuil (Ginestet & Pouillon 521)." Lithograph in colors, on arches. Signed and annotated artist's proof in pencil, with the engraving guilde's blindstamp, unframed. F. 56.5 x 38.4 cm. (22 1/4 x 15 in.); I. 49 x 30.3 cm (19 1/4 x 12 in.). Estimate: 200 - 300 Euros ($256 - $384). Images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-28: Quai d'Art
At Christie's Paris, art appreciation through the lens of Henri-Georges (& Ines) Clouzot
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

"On the walls of (Henri-George Clouzot's) new apartment, which has a view over Paris from L'Etoile to Auteuil, are Dubuffet, Bissiere, Braque and Vieira da Silva. His interest does not end there. Despite appearing to be a lone wolf... he has antennae everywhere.... He has undoubtedly learned from Picasso, that other sufferer from voracious anxiety, never to be too far from the pot in which new ideas are simmering."

-- Otto Hahn, L'Express, September 25, 1967

Christie's Paris's December 1 auction of the Henri-Georges and Ines Clouzot collection offers an extraordinary opportunity to quadruple-dip: Besides the inherent aesthetic value of most of the 50 works -- including major pieces by Dubuffet, Laurens, and Delaunay, and lesser work from Picasso and Braque -- you get the thrill of having in your home art that was selected, regarded, and treasured by, and that even inspired one of the pivotal film directors of the 20th century, a master of French film noir (with films like "Quai des Orfevres" and "The Wages of Fear"), a godfather of the Nouvelle Vague, and the inventor of kinetic cinema, a form of the genre which also reflected Henri-George Clouzot's immersion in the other visual arts. And you get the satisfaction of knowing that the proceeds go (as have gone, per Ines Clouzot's wishes, the rights to Clouzot's films) to the Secours Catholique, an essential French charity more accustomed to getting donations of old clothes than chefs d'oeuvre. Click here to read the full article and see more Images.

Lot 90. Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955), "Maison de Mimi Pinson, Rue du Mont- Cenis sous la neige, Montmartre." Signed 'Maurice.Utrillo.V.' (lower right). Oil on canvas, 46 x 55.2 cm. (18 1/8 x 21 3/4 in.). Painted circa 1952-55. Estimate: 70,000 - 100,000 Euros ($89,347 - $127,639). See below for comments. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-26: Major Artists at Minor Prices
At Christie's Paris Impressionist & Modern Sale, a Rich Basket of Finds
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

I was trying to remember what famous artist lived on the street Maurice Utrillo depicts in his oil painting "Maison de Mimi Pinson, Rue du Mont-Cenis sous la neige, Montmartre" -- one of the gems on auction at Christie's Paris's Impressionist and Modern Sale November 28 -- when I realized that it was the inverse: I used to sip cappuccino on the terrace of a cafe on the rue Mt. Cenis, and was thrilled to discover Utrillo had actually painted this corner of this street, one of the many in Montmartre which, perched atop stairs, looks out on just the tops of the buildings of the street below. These streetscapes are mostly unchanged in the 75 or so years since Utrillo painted them. I've previously dismissed Utrillo as a postcard painter, whose principal subject -- Montmartre -- accounts for much of his charm, as well as the exorbitant prices for his oeuvre. But in fact, seeing this tableau suggests the contrary. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

Gustave Moreau, "Leda." Oil on canvas. Paris, musee Gustave Moreau, Cat. 43. ©RMN / Rene-Gabriel Ojeda. (Not for sale.)

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-21: Connoisseurs to Connoisseurs
Exploring the hidden treasures of art and France with Christie's and the Musee Gustave Moreau
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

What I love about pouring through the illustrated lists of upcoming Christie's sales is that there is no curatorial marketing; just connoisseurs selling to connoisseurs. Sometimes I find work by artists I already know and want to expose you to; but often I find work by artists I've never heard of. Two upcoming auctions, 19th Century European Art including Orientalist Art (London, November 21) and Impressionist Art and Modern Art (Paris, November 28), as well as one museum tucked away in a mansion in lower Montmartre offer such treats, with the added bonus of a sort of Tour de France of corners of that diverse country usually ignored by the big guys. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

From the November 26 Christie's London Important Sale of Russian Art: Top: Lot 165, Aleksandr Kramarev (1886-1975), "Study for a poster for the Riga art salon of Baron V. A. Kaulbars, 'ARS'." Aleksandr Kramarev (1886-1975) Signed in Cyrillic 'A. Kram...' (lower right); further signed in Cyrillic, inscribed extensively in Russian and dated 'AKramarev/1923' (on the reverse). Tempera on card, 17 1/2 x 14 1/4 in. (44.3 x 36.1 cm). Estimate: 5,000 - 7,000 pounds ($7,920 - $11,088). Bottom: Maria Iakunchikova (1870-1902), "Wild strawberries." Pyrogravure and oil on board, 8 3/4 x 11 5/8 in. (21.1 x 29.5 cm). Estimate: 15,000 - 25,000 pounds ($23,760 - $39,600). ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012. Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

This is where my ignorance of what drives the art "market" -- where monetary value doesn't always have anything to do with aesthetic power and appeal to sentiments (like beauty) -- rears its pretty head. From the heart's point of view, I can't fathom what makes a clever Andy Warhol silkscreen of multiplying Statues of Liberty sell for $43 million, while the work of Maria Iakunchikova, an array of which is being auctioned off for Christie's London's Russian Art sale November 26, is estimated by Christie's at as little as $4,752. Iakunchikova charges the deepest fathoms of the heart and soul, but if the other argument for Warhol's monetary supremacy is that he was the harbinger of a movement, pop culture, Iakunchikova can match him there too, as the pioneer of a technique, the pyrogravure. Click here to read the full article and see more Images.

Extra! Ruth Asawa work sold for more than double pre-sale estimate at Christie's New York Morning Post-War and Contemporary Sale November 15. After being estimated at $120,000 - $180,000, Ruth Asawa's Untitled (S.093, Hanging Seven-Lobed, Two Part Interlocking Continuous Form within a Form), a hanging sculpture, sold Thursday for $422,500. Read more about the work here and about Ruth Asawa here.

Lot 115 of Christie's Paris's November 16-17 Photography Sale, with 175 photographs the largest auction ever for Christie's in France: Elfried Stegmeyer (1908-1988), Untitled (Girl In Clouds), 1936. Epreuve sur papier albumine, montee sur support cartonne. Estimated at 4,000 - 6,000 Euros ($5,136 - $7,703). ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012. For our complete story and more images, click here.

The Arts Voyager, 11-16: The case of Albert Camus, the Stranger who looks like us
A plea to the French government to step in and sponsor his centennial exhibition
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

News item: Planned centennial exhibition, "Albert Camus, the stranger who looks like us," to be curated by scholar Benjamin Stora for Marseille - Provence Capital Cultural European 2013, cancelled by the committee for Marseille - Provence Capital Cultural European 2013. (Click here to read -- in French -- the preliminary scenario for the exposition conceived of by Benjamin Stora and Jean-Baptiste Peretie, as initially approved by Catherine Camus, the author's daughter and rights-holder.)

The occasion was as opportune as the disappointing denouement was perhaps inevitable, given the tendency of the interested to alienate people on both sides of any given question with a point of view and approach that often defied any fixed ideology, bred from the melanged influences of ideas and experience, intellect and instinct, reflection and urgency. At the heart of the Mediterranean capital Marseille's campaign to win the European Union's coveted and potentially lucrative Cultural Capital of Europe designation for 2013 would be the man who not only embodies everything that is heroic about France, a champion of philosophy, letters, the theater, even -- as editor of the underground newspaper Combat -- the Resistance to the German Occupation, but who better than anybody embodies in one man the intricate, still conflicted mosaic that is France's relations with its former colonies, its own Mediterranean first man, Albert Camus. Click here to read the full Article.

Among the 175 photographs on sale November 16-17 at Christie's Photography sale are, left: Lot 172. Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), "Rue Mouffetard, Paris, 1952." Gelatin silver print; printed circa 1980; signed in ink lower right in the margin. Estimated at 10,000 - 15,000 Euros ($12,839 - $19,258). And right: Lot 173. Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), "Alberto Giacometti a la Galerie Maeght, 1961." Gelatin silver print; printed 1999; signed in ink lower right in the margin. Estimated at 20,000 - 30,000 Euros ($25,678 - $38,516). Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-16: Through the pinhole
At Christie's Paris, a Moveable Feast through 20th Century Photography
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

If like me you're skeptical about whether photographs are rare enough to fetch five and even six-figure prices at auction (greased perhaps by major museums adding photography curators to underline the increased esteem for the art?), as they've been doing lately, you might want to take a look at what Christie's Paris is billing as its largest photo auction ever, November 16 and 17. Underpinning my own hesitation about whether this medium is over-valued at auction is that photos simply are not as unique as paintings, as long as there's a negative out there from which more copies can be made. But this particular sale has taught me that *unlike* a painting, a photograph can have multiple values -- for example, as both reliable documentation and a work of art. And when you add a signature, it can even be classified as an artifact. This is before one gets to the subject, which can add layers of historical value. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

You could have paid $28,082,500 for (above left) Roy Lichtenstein (1923- 1997)'s 1995 oil and Magna on canvas "Nude with Red Shirt" (signed and dated 'rf Lichtenstein '95' on the reverse, 77 x 65 in. or 198.1 x 167.7 cm), as someone did November 14 at Christie's New York's Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale, which brought in more for the category than any sale in history, $412 million, setting records for Richard Diebenkorn, Jeff Koons, Franz Klein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Geroge Condo, Mark Grotjahn, and Richard Serra. Or you could pay -- according to its estimate for the November 15 morning sale -- $100,000 - $150,000 for (below) Lichtenstein's 1995 study "Nude in Kitchen," signed and dated 'rf Lichtenstein '95' on the reverse, a colored pencil and graphite on paper (image 7 3/4 x 10 in or 19.6 x 25.4 cm, sheet 9 3/4 x 13 1/8 in. or 24.7 x 33.3 cm). (Update: Sold for $338,500) Setting a world record for the medium for the artist was (above right) Alexander Calder (1896-1976)'s wire with wood base sculpture "Policeman" (18 1/2 x 8 5/8 x 8 5/8 in., or 47 x 22 x 22 cm), executed circa 1928, which sold for $4,226,500 after being estimated at $1.2 - $1.8 million.(You can get Calders in other mediums for considerably less at the November 15 morning sale; click here for examples.) Images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.


Lot 331. Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920), "California Ridge." Signed, titled and dated 'California Ridge Wayne Thiebaud 1987' (lower margin). Watercolor over etching sheet: 14 7/8 x 17 7/8 in. (37.7 x 45.4 cm). Image: 8 3/4 x 11 1/2 in. (22.4 x 29.3 cm). Executed in 1987. Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-14: California, here I come
Left-Coast masters and other gems at Christie's New York's Post-War & Contemporary Morning Sale
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

If ever proof was needed that California was its own sub-category of 'pleine air' in the schema of American Modern in the 20th century, Christie's New York's Post-War & Contemporary Morning Sale November 15 furnishes it, with work by West Coast giants Wayne Thiebaud, Elmer Nelson Bischoff, and Ruth Asawa, among others. 'West Coast' is not applied here to segregate or qualify, but rather as a unifying contour -- Richard Diebenkorn can also not be left out for at least a segment of his work -- of these arttists who painted with a certain expansiveness, an almost Matisse-ian courting of blue and azure, an infusion of sunlight that sometimes made it seem as if California had its own silvery shading of blue, and it had left its imprint in light. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

Lot 104. Ruth Asawa (b. 1926), Untitled (S.093, Hanging Seven-Lobed, Two Part Interlocking Continuous Form within a Form). Hanging sculpture -- brass and tinned copper wire, 77 x 23 x 23 in. (195.5 x 58.4 x 58.4 cm). Executed circa 1955. Estimate: $120,000 - $180,000. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Copyright 2012 Sandee Curtis

(When parents die and leave art behind, what goes into their children's decision to sell -- and what are the stories of the relationships behind the art in question? Sandee Curtis and Baunnee Sea have a unique story to tell about the relationship between their late mother, the artist Merry Renk, and their one- time neighbor Ruth Asawa, both of whom are represented in Thursday morning's Post-War and Contemporary Sale at Christie's New York. I asked Sandee -- also a classmate at Alvarado Elementary School, where Ruth, Merry, my own and other parents planted the seeds for San Francisco's arts in the schools movement in the 1960s -- to share her family's story. For more on Thursday's auction, click here. -- PB-I)

My father passed away four years ago (coincidentally the day before the death of Ruth Asawa's husband Albert Lanier). So when my mother decided it was time to die, we knew that we would have to deal with a household full of artwork, art archives, and memories. My mother spent the last 15 years of her life looking backward and writing stories about her life and creating memory paintings, which were like autobiographical illustrations of moments in her life. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

Angels in America: It's the week of the photograph in Paris, and Christie's Paris is marking the occasion by its grandest photography auction ever, with the major names of the 20th century pantheon answering present and accounted for the two-day event, November 16 and 17: Man Ray, Eugene Atget, Henri-Cartier Bresson, king of the "amateurs" Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Walker Evans, Weegee, Dorothea Lange, and more. Above, top: Lot 37, Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971), "At the time in the Louisville Flood, Louisville, KY, 1937." Gelatin silver print. Pre-sale estimate: 4,000 - 6,000 Euros ($5,110 - $7,664). Bottom: Lot 9, Wim Wenders (born in 1945), "2036, Arkansas Pass, Texas, 1983." Chromogenic print; signed on the reverse. Estimate: 1.500-2.500 Euros ($1,916 - $3,193). Images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.


"Fleshy, often corrupt, yet always exciting." That would be the seven bottles of 1929 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild on sale in at Christie's Geneva's Fine Wines auction Nov. 14. At a pre -sale estimate of US equivalent $9,556 - $13,803, this Pauillac comes in at well under AIN's $100,000 threshold, which is more than we can say for (above left) Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)'s "La Congratule," a 19 5/8 x 26 1/4 in. (49.8 x 66.7 cm) gouache on paper painted in 1962. Part of Christie's New York's Post- War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale Nov. 14, the work's pre-sale estimate is $600,000 - $800,000. Why are we breaking our rules and highlighting this lot? Because it illustrates another admirable rule for collectors: Ignore the professional curators and follow your muse. The work comes from the collection amassed by Hannelore and Rudolph Schulhof, who over 60 years demonstrated a commitment to buying the work of living artists. This was serendipitous for Dubuffet, who had trouble getting through the doors of the French national art museum, now called the Pompidou Centre. (Of course, after he died the Pompidou staged a massive, comprehensive exhibition of more than 400 of his works, which demonstrated Dubuffet's singular vision and universe.) The above canvas captures the mosaic of a Parisian street in the 1960s, with all the delight its verve inspires in the prodigal son de retour. Dubuffet wasn't just depicting the street; he was painting for it. "It is the man in the street that I'm after, whom I feel closest to, with whom I want to make friends and enter into confidence and connivance," said the artist, as quoted in P. Selz, "Dubuffet" (New York, 1962). Want to pick up a Dubuffet that's closer to street prices? How about (above right) "Animal Echappe," signed with initials 'J.D.' (lower right). An Ink on paper and collage on paper executed in 1975, it measures. 9 7/8 x 8 1/2 in. (25 x 21.5 cm), and is estimated pre-sale at $10,000 - 15,000. Images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

How'd we do? Salvador Dali's "L'etoile de mer," one of our picks for the November 8 Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale at Christie's New York, sold for $56,250, nearly twice the top pre-sale estimate of $30,000. Our own star pick, Camille Pissarro's "Scene villageoise" (see below), also did well, going for $40,000 after a pre-sale estimate of $25,000 - $35,000. Maurice Utrillo had mixed results, with one of our picks remaining unsold and the other two exceeding expectations. But the real star after Dali was Camille Claudel, the Rodin second who I prefer over the master, whose "L'Implorante," petit modele, sold for $206,000 after being estimated at $120,000 - $160,000. For full results on our picks -- and a second look at the images -- click here. Above: Salvador Dali (1904-1989), "L'etoile de mer." Signed 'Dali' (center right). Oil on board, 7 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. (20 x 20 cm). Painted circa 1953. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.
Lot 315 of Christie's New York's Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale Thursday November 8. Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), "Scene villageoise." Oil over pencil on canvas, 9 3/8 x 12 in. (23.9 x 30.5 cm). Painted circa 1854-1855. Estimate: $25,000 - $35,000. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-8: Treasures & Tragedies
Rare Pissarro and Star by Dali Star in Christie's New York Impressionist & Modern Day Sale
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

When Camille Pissarro fled France in 1871 as the Prussians were advancing on the Paris region, he left behind 1,500 of his paintings in his home in Louveciennes, which was requisitioned by the invading army. When he returned, the Prussians had destroyed almost all of them, using some as doormats on which to wipe their muddy feet. Consequently, it's not easy to find work that the dean of Impressionism made before he turned 40. Fortunately, in around 1856, Anton Melbye, the brother of Pissarro's first teacher Fritz Melbye and whose assistant Pissarro served as in 1855 in Paris, had the foresight to purchase the remarkable "Scene villageoise," a 9 3/8 by 12 inch oil over pencil on canvas. It's the steal of today's Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale at Christie's New York, which estimates the work at $25,000 -$35,000, about $43,732,500 less than one of Monet's "Nymphea"'s went for at last night's Impressionism and Modern Sale, and around $4,364,500 less than Pissarro's 1872 oil painting "Hameau aux environs de Pontoise" fetched (exceeding the top estimate by nearly $400,000). But this miniature masterpiece is not just an artifact. The vividness of its colors make the work preternaturally (but, considering we're talking about Pissarro, not surprisingly) ahead of its time.... It almost has the circulation of a water-color. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

For Christie's New York's November 8 Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper Sale, at least two bargains by two masters are on offer: Perfectly matching material to effect and mood (top) is Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)'s circa 1895 "Effet du soir." Signed 'E Vuillard' (lower right). Pastel on paper, 12 1/4 x 12 1/8 in. (31.6 x 30.8 cm). Christie's pre-sale Estimate: $50,000 - $70,000. Sumptuous and simple at the same time is Henri Matisse (1869-1954)'s "Femme se maquillant." Pencil on paper. 9 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (24 x 31.5 cm). Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000. Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.


Cross Country / A Memoir of France
18: If the hat doesn't fit, comment trouve l'amour?
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

"Whadda ya mean, the hats are in Germany?" "I got a call from a delivery service in Wiesbaden and they're being held up because of a strike. They won't be here for at least another ten days." "But it will be too late then; the hat show will be over. Let me check into it." I'd met Laura when she was managing a dance company in Connecticut. Discovering that she also designed hats -- and had a whole line of them, most of which looked to me chic-ly French -- I offered to host a show for her in my Paris flat on the rue de Paradis, nestled among the crystal and porcelain shops. The problem was that we were in April 2002, and in one of the many nonsensical security measures installed by the American government, it had been decided that any package over two pounds destined for Europe would be routed through a private company. So the bulk of Laura's hats were stranded in Wiesbaden, and the stock for her show was reduced to the box she was able to cart with her on the plane. I invited my own reduced stock of Parisienne candidates d'amour: Benedicte, with whom I'd broken off ("I thought American boys were serious!" she'd scolded me) when Sylvie stole my heart; Sylvie, subsequently rebuked me; and Gillian, a tres chic new candidate. Sabine and I weren't speaking since I'd answered her suggestion that Judaism wasn't a culture or race but just a religion by escaping from her car (in which we'd been having this debate) while she was in the laundry retrieving her clown costume. Subscribers click here to read the full Chapter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Discombobulation junction: A cavalcade of juxtapositions and contradictions, of all the paintings on sale at Christie's New York's Impressionist Modern Sale November 7, this is the one I'd want to hang on my wall, a tumble of provocations political, historical, sexual, and artistic. Lot 60. Paul Delvaux (1897-1994), "Les demoiselles du telephone." Signed and dated 'P. Delvaux 3-51' (lower right); titled "Les Demoiselles du Telephone" (on the reverse). Oil on panel 30 1/8 x 44 1/8 in. (76.5 x 112.1 cm). Painted in March 1951. Estimate: $1,800,000-2,500,000. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 11-6: Am I blue?
Christie's New York Impressionist Modern Sale: An Azure State of Mind
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

I used to think the French were the only ones who let major masterpieces get away from them. (As Michael Findlay notes in his recent book "The Value of Art," the French government actually refused -- three times, in 1894, 1904, and 1908 -- Impressionist painter Gustave Caillebotte's bequest of 70 works by his fellow Impressionists, even though Caillebotte's sole condition was that they be exhibited within 20 years.) But after browsing through the list of luminous work on auction at Christie's New York's Fall Impressionist & Modern Sale Wednesday -- an array of masterpieces, by known and less familiar artists, that outshines most museum exhibitions I've seen or read about in the past 20 years in Paris, New York, or elsewhere in its originality and vitality -- I'm convinced that private collectors, at their most confident guided by personal taste and not marketing, may be better curators than the professionals. So, if we are once again breaking our own rules at Art Investment News by focusing on an auction in which no works are estimated at less than $100,000 (one, Monet's "Nympheas," is estimated at a whopping $30 - $50 million by Christie's pre-sale, but we'll get to that), it's to focus on a theme appropriate for collectors of all financial levels: Follow your gut, Luke. Or even your fancy. To demonstrate, we've chosen -- oh all right, curated if you like -- a list of works united by one factor with many facets: Blue. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

November 1 was an auspicious day for cats at Christie's London's Vintage Posters sale. Theophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923) was no doubt being feted in Paris, where the descendants of the cats he used as models still prowl the heights of Montmartre, after a color lithograph of his 1896 'Chat Noir' (bottom right; printed by Charles Verneau, Paris, condition A, backed on linen, 24 x 15 1/2 in. or 61 x 39 cm) sold for the equivalent of $24,120, surpassing the top pre-sale estimate of $11,256. But you don't have to be black and living in Paris to be a famous feline; Robert E. McGinnis (b. 1926)'s 60 x 40 in. poster for "Breakfast at Tiffany's," a film about a cat with an eccentric human (top left, condition B+, not backed) realized US equivalent $13,065, more than doubling a top pre-sale estimate of $5,628; and Reynold Brown (1917 - 1991)'s 36 x 14 inch poster for for the same film (top right, insert, condition A; unfolded, backed on paper, conservation framed) sold for the equivalent of $11,055, after a top estimate of $4,824. As for the city that was Holly Golightly's mecca, it didn't fare too badly; David Klein (1918 - 2005)'s "New York Fly TWA" (bottom left; offset lithograph in colors, c. 1960, condition A-; backed on linen, 40 x 25 in. or 102 x 64 cm) sold for U.S. equivalent $5,628 after a top estimate of $3,216. All images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012. To see Keith Haring drawing penises in front of Tiffany's, Art Investment News subscribers can click here. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

From the October 31 Christie's New York Prints & Multiples Sale: Top: Martin Lewis, "Fifth Avenue Bridge (M. 72)." Drypoint, 1928, on laid paper, signed and annotated 'imp' in pencil, from the edition of approximately 108, with wide margins, generally in good condition, framed. P. 9 7/8 x 12 in. (253 x 303 mm); S. 13 3/8 x 16 in. (340 x 405 mm). Estimate $7,000 - 10,000. Bottom: Edvard Munch (1863-1945), "Vampyr II" (Woll 41; Schiefler 34). Lithograph and woodcut in colors, 1895-1902, on heavy wove paper, a strong, vibrant impression, Woll's sixth state (of ten), the lithographic keystone in black, the second stone in red, and the sawn woodblocks printed in blue, green, and ochre, signed in pencil, with wide margins, unobtrusive very skillfully repaired tears at the upper sheet edge, the "E" in the signature reinforced, otherwise generally in good condition, framed. L. 15 1/4 x 21 7/8 in. (387 x 556 mm). S. 20 x 26 3/4 in. (508 x 680 mm.) Estimate $300,000 - 400,000. Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Art Gallery 2, 10-31: New York Forever
Gotham rises in Christie's NY Prints & Multiples Sale
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Whatever catastrophe, natural or man-imposed (as Congressman Ed Markey told MSNBC's Chris Mathews Tuesday, "It's the Koch Brothers versus Mother Nature"), may be-set New York City, that it will rise again is always guaranteed by its two major motors: Art & Money. And so it is that Christie's New York proceeds today with its Prints & Multiples Sale. Serendipitously, many of the lots on auction paint a portrait in art of Gotham by some of its leading artistic chroniclers: Hopper, Haring, Martin Lewis.... We're elated to be able to share a few of these, as well as several other jewels on auction (including one of another city, San Francisco, which knows a thing or two about rising from the ashes, by one of its leading chroniclers, Wayne Thiebaud, and a Halloween treat from a certain Edvard Munch). Click here to see more Images.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875), "La chaumiere aux sureaux, Normandie." Signed 'corot' (lower left). Oil on canvas, 18 1/4 x 22 in. (46.3 x 55.8 cm). Property from the Corcoran Gallery of Art, sold to benefit its acquisition fund. Pre-sale estimate: $60,000-80,000. Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 10-31: Patrimoine, 2
Christie's NY European auction: Corcoran gives Corots the boot
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

If I were a museum director and had to choose a cadre of works disposable enough that I could sell them for my acquisition fund to get new art to play with, I would not choose the tableaux of Camille Corot, who scouted out the trail the Impressionists followed, both in his own painting, being among the first to paint in nature, opening up the sky, blowing on the trees, and giving reflection to the water, and in his teaching, notably the elemental lesson of color values to Pissarro, whose first teacher in Paris he was, and to Morisot, whom he also schooled at his studio off the rue Poissonniere, typically garbed in a flowing smock. And yet this is exactly what the Corcoran Galley has done, in putting on the auction block four landmark works by Corot to benefit its acquisition fund, as part of Chrsitie's New York's (re)-scheduled November 1 sale of 19th Century European Art. What will the Corcoran acquire with the funds raised? Why has it decided that Corot will be the means to this end? What is left of Corot in the museum's collection? Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

On auction today October 30 at Christie's Paris's "Collection d'un amateur bibliophile": The above original erotic caricature, in the manner of Arcimboldo, in which figures Napoleon. Vers 1810, water-color on paper. Christie's pre-sale estimate: 15,000 - 20,000 Euros. On more serious notes, the sale also included a letter from Claude Monet to Auguste Renoir (3,000 - 5,000 Euro estimate), a unique copy of Albert Camus's "L'Homme revolte (Paris: NRF, 1951), one of 10 hors commerce on Madagascar, inscribed by Camus to Rene Char, containing other autographed material and a portrait (Estimated pre-sale at 40,000 - 60,000 Euros, it sold for 82,600 Euros or $106,656) and a copy of the same author's "La Chute. Recit" (Paris: NRF, 1956) printed for Char and inscribed to him by Camus (Estimated pre-sale at 18,000 - 22,000 Euros, it sold for 39,400 Euros or $50,875), what is believed to be the original typescript by Kiki de Montparnasse (born Alice Prin) of her memoirs, together with assorted other mementos (10,000 - 15,000 Euros estimate); and the typescript of the translation of an English detective story by Maurice Sachs, most notably the 'impossible love' of Violette Leduc (400 - 600 Euro pre-sale estimate). Image ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 10-29: Patrimoine
Que l'Etat pre-empt pour 'Le petite Jehanne de France' de Cendrars et Delaunay
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

"En ce temps-la, j'etais en mon adolescence
J'avais a peine seize ans et je ne me souvenais deja plus de ma naissance
J'etais a Moscou, ou je voulais me nourrir de flammes
Et je n'avais pas assez des tours et des gares que constellaient mes yeux."
*

-- Blaise Cendrars, "La Prose du Transsiberien et de la Petite Jehanne de France," 1913.

"One must not let moral and physical health be shaken by setbacks."

-- George Sand, Letter to Gustave Flaubert, August 15, 1875.

Pour Luc, et ses confreres bouquinistes; ce sont eux qui mis en valoir les livres anciennes chaque jour... et qui devrais battu pour le faire... sans subvention.

If ever there were a sale at auction which argued for State pre-emption -- that's when the French government steps in and purchases a work at the gavel price because of its grand importance to the national heritage -- it's "La Prose du Transsiberien et de la Petite Jehanne de France," the seminal 1913 collaboration between Sonia Delaunay, who revolutionized the use of color in abstract artistic expression, and Blaise Cendrars, who revolutionized poetry. The one invented simultaneous painting, the other simultaneous writing, and the work -- which even looks like both something you could hang on your wall and something you could read in your library -- was thus thrice a landmark, in painting, literature, and the "livres d'artist" which are at the heart of the Christie's Paris sale Monday in which the Delaunay-Cendrars work is being auctioned off at a pre-sale estimate of 300,000 - 500,000 Euros, or $393,491 - $655,818. Add to that the poem's measure as a tribute to Joan of Arc, and rookie French culture minister Aurelie Filippetti must step up to the plate for 'Le Petite Jehanne,' even in a time of fiscal restraint. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

Top: Maximilien Luce (1858-1941), "Bord de riviere pres d'un pont." Signed "Luce" (lower right). Pastel and charcoal on paper, 9 3/4 x 12 1/4 in. (24.8 x 30.9 cm). Pre-Sale estimate ahead of Christie's London's Oct. 25 Impressionist / Modern Sale: 3,000 - 5,000 British pounds ($4,600 - $7,500). Bottom left: Jacques Villon (1875-1963), "Phedre et Hyppolite." Signed "Jacques Villon" (lower left) and inscribed "Phedre et Hippolyte" (on the reverse). Oil on canvas, 31 1/2 x 25 1/2 in. (80 x 65 cm). Painted circa 1944. Pre-Sale estimate 18,000 - 25,000 British pounds ($28,000 - $38,000). Bottom right: Leonor Fini (1908-1996), "Jongleur." Signed and inscribed "Jongleur L.Fini." Mixed media on paper, 19 1/2 x 12 3/4 in. (49.5 x 32.5 cm). Executed in 1968. Estimate 1,200 - 1,800 British pounds ($1,900 - $2,700). All images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Gallery, 10-24: Game changers for small change
From Luce to Laurencin, Fini to Cocteau, it's master works for minor prices at Christie's Impressionist / Modern Sale
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

If ever proof were needed that you don't have to be a millionaire to purchase not just exceptional art by acclaimed artists, but exceptionally rare art by iconoclastic, game-changing visionaries, Christie's London's Impressionist / Modern Sale Thursday furnishes it. Want a mixed media work on paper by Leonor Fini that exemplifies two of the many planes in which the nominally surrealist, but ultimately unclassifiable, personally and professionally eccentric and rapacious Fini excelled, theater design and androgynous yet still sexy hero/ines? How about "Jongleur" (Juggler, 1968), which, typical of Fini's theatrical designs, manages to be sensual without being sensationalistic, which Christie's gives a pre-sale estimate of 1,200 - 1,800 British pounds or just $1,900 - $2,700? Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

From the September 27 Christie's London 19th Century European Art including Orientalist Art Sale: Top: Baron Arild Rosenkrantz (Danish, 1870-1964), "Prayers in the desert," signed 'Rosenkrantz' (lower right). Pastel on card, 26 3/4 x 26 in. (68 x 66 cm.). Pre-sale estimate (set currency): 1,500 - 2,000 British pounds ($2,436 - $3,248). Below: Frank Myers Boggs (American, 1855-1926), "Porte Saint-Denis," signed and inscribed 'Frank-Boggs Paris' (lower left). Oil on canvas, 29 1/4 x 36 5/8 in. (74 x 93.2 cm.). Pre-sale estimate (set currency): 10,000 - 15,000 British pounds ($16,240 - $24,360). Both images ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News Art Gallery, 9-27: Through a glass, lightly
From the 19th century, via Christie's, a brighter view of the Other
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Pertinence is big at museums these days; a cursory glance at a list of upcoming exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (which yesterday announced plans to open seven days per week) reads more like a litany of social forums than art shows. But the problem with curating by headlines is that museums plan so far in advance, by the time the exhibition opens the issue being addressed has often receded and lost its immediacy. Contrast this with today's Christie's London Sale, 19th Century European Art including Orientalist Art, whose artists and subjects could be a direct response to the phobia of the Other which has ratcheted up even more this past month, with embassy burnings and assassinations perpetrated by the East against the West, and Islamaphobic provocations perpetrated by the West. It's enough to make even a die-hard liberal nostalgic for the "Orientalism" represented in this sale (and, at these prices, to want to purchase an example). Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

While the Amon Carter Museum of American Art may owe its legacy to the Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington collections of its founder, the Carter's mission is much broader -- as is its collection. Besides boasting a larger and deeper photography stock than even the Museum of Modern Art, for its Modern Art holdings the museum long ago decided to make sure one artist was represented in work from throughout his career: Stuart Davis (1894-1964). On a regular visit, one is likely to see "Cafe, Place des Vosges" (1929), "Chinatown" (1912, and a vivid, dark example of the so-called "Ashcan School"),"Bass Rocks, No. 2," (1939, capturing Jazz as only Robert Delaunay can usually do), and a "Self-portrait" from 1919 that's a spitting image for Van Gogh's. These regulars will be augmented October 6-January 6 with "To see as artists see: American Art from the Phillips Collection," whose 100 works include Davis's 1928 oil on canvas "Blue Cafe," above. ©Estate of Stuart Davis / licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Acquired 1930, the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. (To track Davis's ongoing trek into abstraction, take a look at his 1917 "Rooftops, Gloucester," estimated by Christie's at $4,000-$6,000 for its September 25 Sale of American Art.)

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
17: Children of Paradise, Martyrs for Love
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

"It's early for me," Sylvie pointed out, clasping her hands behind her head and stretching her torso so that her green sweater pulled up to reveal a flat white dancer's belly. We were sitting at the Cafe deux Moulins, at the exact same table where Amelie's would-be suitor the recuperator of train station photo booth rejected shots had waited for Amelie, not knowing she was the waitress standing right behind him, in "The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain." The film's title was truncated to simply "Amelie" for its U.S. release, the distributors perhaps thinking "The Fabulous Destiny of" was too subtle for American audiences. But every American in Paris believes, at least in the beginning, that his destiny will be fabulous, and, still the Paris virgin in January 2002, I believed that mine was staring straight at me from Sylvie's big brown eyes. Subscribers click here to read the full Chapter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Arthur Clifton Goodwin (1864-1929), "A View of the Plaza from Central Park." Signed 'AC Goodwin' (lower left). Oil on canvas, 34 x 40 in. (86.4 x 101.6 cm.). Pre-sale estimate: $20,000 - $30,000. ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Art Investment News, 9-24: You don't have to be a millionaire to buy American
Davis, Shahn, Hopper.... A NY State of Mind on Sale at Christie's
By Paul Ben- Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Forget the literalism of Norman Rockwell, a signature example of which, "The Runaway," is on auction at Christie's Sale of American Art Tuesday September 25 at Rockefeller Plaza, at a mere $80,000 - $120,000, according to the Christie's pre-sale estimate. Sure, the study for the Saturday Evening Post cover of a boy and a policeman jawing while sitting at a soda fountain, the youngster with a makeshift bundle under his feet, is a classic of Americana. But why spend a hundred thousand on a classic of Americana when, for a mere $4,000 - $6,000 (its estimate at the same sale), you could own work by a classic 20th century American artist, the 1917 pencil and watercolor "Rooftops, Gloucester," by Stuart Davis, an example of the realism which continued to filter Davis's work even when he moved into abstraction? On view Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the sale might be sub-titled a New York State of Mind, with stellar examples from Davis, Ben Shahn, Reginald Marsh and even Edward Hopper available at estimates from four to the low five figures. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

Rudolf Nureyev and Noella Pontois in "La Bayadere," Palais Garnier, 1974. Photograph by Andre Chino. Courtesy CNCS.

SAN FRANCISCO -- With its love of pageantry -- the city's eternal scribe Herb Caen once declared "If all the world's a stage, San Francisco is the cast party" -- it's no surprise that an exhibition focused on the accouterments of Rudolf Nureyev would find its sole U.S. venue at the City by the Bay's de Young Museum. Subscribers click here to read the full story and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal Subscribe button above.)

(Update Sept. 12, noon EST: Sold at auction for $55,795, $7,000 more than top pre-sale estimate.) Featured at Christie's London's Post-War and Contemporary Art Sale September 12, and estimated by Christie's to go for $32,000 - $48,000, is "Horizon," by Alexander Calder (1898-1976). Signed and dated "Calder 73" (lower right). Gouache on paper, 22 5/8 x 30 7/8 inches. Executed in 1973. Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2012. Prefer Keith Haring? Cick here!

Top: Ruth Asawa (b. 1926), printed by Clifford Smith. "Nude," 1965. Lithograph. ©1965 Ruth Asawa. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.1965.210. Bottom: Ruth Asawa (b. 1926), printed by Jurgen Fischer. "Nasturtiums," 1965. Lithograph. ©1965 Ruth Asawa. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas. 965.214.

The Arts Voyager, 8-14: Arts Voyager, Generations
Ruth Asawa: From darkness into light
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

For Annette, Eva, Sharon, and all the other parents of the Alvarado Arts Program.

PERRYVILLE, Maryland -- Lafayette, when he traversed it on General Washington's orders, called the mighty Susquehanna River his "rubicom." This morning as the Sun rises over this vast blue reflecting pool right near where it opens up into the Chesapeake Bay, and I reflect on how a kid from San Francisco's Noe Valley got here, at the end of a three-month arts voyage and personal journey that now finds me in a house where Lafayette 'lui-meme' slept, owned by another kid from SF (neighboring Eureka Valley) and her husband, I find myself thinking of Ruth Asawa, who from a childhood interned in a prison camp by her own country (is this what Lafayette and Washington fought for?) went on to turn thousands of kids like me and my pal on to art. I think of art and I think of humility, I think of museums and I think of access. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

First she was his muse. Then he painted her. Eventually she joined the collection of Parisian socialite Helene Rochas. Now you too can own her, when Christie's Paris hosts the auction "The Collection of Helene Rochas" on September 27, preceded by viewings September 11-26. She is "Japanese Woman with Red Table 1967-1976," painted by Balthus (1908-2001) in casein and tempera on canvas, and, measuring 144 x 192.5 cm, she's expected by Christie's to go for 3 million to 5 million Euros. Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2012.

Tanztheatre Wuppertal's Shantala Shivalingappa and Fernando Suels Mendoza in Pina Bausch's "Bamboo Blues." Photo © Jong-Duk Woo.

LONDON -- One great harvest of the Olympics being held in London this year is the cultural Olympiad, which has brought us Tanztheatre Wuppertal Pina Bausch, under the leadership of Dominique Mercy and Robert Sturm. In a tribute to Bausch under the rubric "World Cities," ten works which were inspired by the choreographer's reactions to ten different cities around the world and made between the years of 1986 and 2007 played alternately at the Barbican Theatre and Sadler's Wells, both of whom collaborated in this Bauschian tour de force. Subscribers click here to read the full Letter and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal Subscribe button above.)

Tanztheatre Wuppertal's Dominique Mercy in Pina Bausch's "Der Fensterputzer." Photo © Ulli Weiss.

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Flash Flashback, 7-27: Breathless
Pina throws a press conference
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2004, 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

First published on the Dance Insider on June 4, 2004. Re-published today for Pina's children of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. -- PBI

PARIS -- "What is the source of your imagination?" The question comes at the end of Pina Bausch's Wednesday press conference at the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt, which tonight sees the French premiere of "Nefes" (Turkish for "Breath"), Bausch's latest site-created work for the Tanztheatre Wuppertal, this one developed in Istanbul, where it premiered last year. Bausch, seemingly forever clad in black, leans her chin on one palm, her eyes rolling upwards -- not in exasperation, but as if searching her head for the words -- as long tendrils of smoke spiral from the long cigarette held in her long fingers. (Only Pina Bausch can imbue cigarette smoke with drama; one could swear the smoke is lit with its own follow spot.) Subscribers click here to read the full Press Conference. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Above: A scene from Goncalo Tocha's "It's the Earth, not the Moon." Image courtesy Anthology Film Archives. Below: Sylvie Testud in Jessica Hausner's "Lourdes." Images courtesy Anthology Film Archives.

The Arts Voyager, 7-22: A course in miracles
Essays in direction at Anthology Film Archives
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Two quirky films on view this month at the persistently, even heroically non-conformist Anthology Film Archives, as it almost single-handedly maintains New York's otherwise long-lost title as a cradle of avant- garde cinema among a sea of pop culture altars that shows no sign of abating, demonstrate how the art house cinema founded more than 40 years ago by Jonas Mekas continues to showcase films that in one manner or another confound expectations. Subscribers click here to read the full Review and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Is anyone more responsible than the French for elevating the perception of filmmakers from "director" to "author," or auteur? Take the case of Alfred Hitchcock, from whom the Cinematheque de Toulouse is showing 29 films this month. "How to evoke the considerable craze of which (Hitchcock) was the object during the 1950s and '60s, even to the point -- a rare privilege -- of seeing his name declined like an adjective -- 'Hitchcockien' -- to indicate that the cinematographic forms deployed by this or that director could be qualified as grand art, to signify in one word that they were 'Auteurs' (capital A) and not simple 'makers' of cinema?," writes Christophe Gauthier in his introduction to an accompanying exhibition at the cinematheque of French publicity posters for films made from 1946 to 1966, the years selected to answer Gauthier's question, revealing how the later posters featured not the acting stars, but Hitch himself. The exhibition and festival also mark two important anniversaries for the French love affair with the British filmmaker, the 50th anniversary of the radio interviews conducted with him by Francois Truffaut -- there's not much higher sign of respect than a Frenchman genuflecting before an Englishman, and Truffaut interviewing Hitchcock addresses him more like an eager pupil like an equal -- and the 60th anniversary of the cinamatheque's archives, which began in 1962 when Raymond Borde, perusing a flea market in Saint-Sernin, bought a copy of Hitchcock's 1927 "The Ring," an anniversary which will be feted in a cine-concert later this month at the cinematheque, whose collection today numbers 40,000. Images of Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 "Vertigo" (left) and 1948 "The Rope" courtesy © the Collections of the Cinematheque de Toulouse.

The Arts Voyager, 6-6: What is hip?
Of "hipsters," "coffee culture," and the resonant silence of Jean Epstein
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

For Jim Marron and Herb Caen, who I never knew personally, but who made my world possible, and for Jill Johnston, who made it credible.

NEW YORK -- Okay, looks like I finally found an Arts Voyager opening for the "hipster" rant that's been percolating in my blood for the last two years, ever since I returned to my home town of San Francisco, where I was weaned on hipster-ism that didn't need quotation marks, Ferlinghetti (forget Ginsburg; Ferlinghetti da man, for his much wider influence, as not only a poet who captured and articulated an age's gestalt, but a publisher and bookseller who opened up that world and its expression beyond himself), Rexroth, and others fertilizing the terrain for the hippies of my parents generation, Enrico's and the Old Spaghetti Factory laying down the templates for the coffee houses that became their fields of dreaming, the baseball metaphor hardly hackneyed even from a hack wannabe Beat like me because Willie Mays also hit the Baghdad by the Bay in '58, when Herb Caen's nom de ville evoked not bombs over Iraq but conjured that country's 5,000-year literary heritage to corronate the one being born astride the Golden Gate, as the best minds of a generation defied vertigo and made a grand literary leap into heretofore unknown but ultimately fertile territory. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, which was out in front in amassing photography archives long before the current escalation of the market for art photography, regularly showcases its collection in innovative thematic grouping. The Medium and Its Metaphors, on view through September 12, pairs photography with critical and other literary conceptions. Above: Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904), "Dan with Rider" (.064 Second), One Stride in 8 Phases (Left Lead), ca. 1887. Collotype. Amon Carter Museum of American Art. P1970.56.13.

The Arts Voyager, 5-17: Ridin' Away
Dawson, Harris, & the Texas Trailhands put the 'whole' back in wholesome
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH, TX -- There are artists content to follow and occupy themselves with their own star, and then there are those who strive to change the constellation. Devon Dawson, the dulcet-voiced cowgirl heart of the Texas Trailhands -- though cowboy vocalists "Hoot Al" and "Roncho Ron," with their invitingly warm but not overpowering Texas twangs, should not be under-rated, nor should the other instrumentalists who set the ambiance -- and a latter-day Dale Evans in her own right, makes up part of the latter, a game- changer not just in the realms of music and the West but for young people as well, which is why it's important to consider her and a prodigy, the sensational teenager Kristyn Harris, a reincarnation of Patsy Montana and Patsy Cline if ever there was one, in the same breath.

The Art Investor, 5-9: Seeing Red (and Orange and Yellow)
Christie's sale sets new record for post-war & contemporary art; Rothko sells for $86.5 million
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

The explosion in the market value of art soared to staggeringly stratospheric -- some might say extraterrestrial -- levels Tuesday, as Christie's New York's evening sale of post-war and contemporary art brought in $388.5 million, the most ever for a post-war and contemporary art auction, with one work, Mark Rothko's 1961 "Orange, Red, Yellow," bringing in a mind-boggling (especially for those like your correspondent who don't see in the artist's work much more than assemblages of mono-colors) $86.9 million, a record for the artist at auction and nearly double the pre-sale maximum estimate of $45 million. In all, 14 new world records for sales at auction were set for individual artists, including heavyweights Yves Klein, whose 1962 "FCI (Fire Color 1") sold for $36,482,500, Alexander Calder ($18,562,500, for "Lily of Force," $6.5 million more than the top pre-sale estimate), Jackson Pollock ("Number 28, 1951," going for $23,042,500), and Romare Bearden ($338,500 for "Strange Morning"). An individual collection, the Pincus Collection, also set the record for the most ever brought in by one private collection in the category, $174.9 Million. "This was an historic event in the auction world, with three major records set in the space of a few short hours," said Brett Gorvy, Christie's chairman and international head of post-war and contemporary Art. "This was truly a season of icons, with the best works by Rothko, Newman, Richter, Pollock, Calder and Klein to come to market in many years. To see so many major records established in one evening was a tribute to the exceptional works on offer this season."

The Art Investor, 5-2: Blue-Chip Stocks
Heavy-weight sales for heavy-weight artists at Christie's New York
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

It's a lot easier to fathom an Impressionist or classic Modern artwork going for eight figures at auction than it is to understand why certain Contemporary artists can fetch six figures. A Mary Cassatt oil of a bourgeoisie girl seated in a chair reading a blue book may be no less banal than a pale David Hockney watercolor of a house in the London suburbs, but the $1,538,500 Cassatt's 1909 "Francoise in a Round- Backed Chair, Reading" sold for at Christie's New York for last night's Impressionism and Modern Art Evening Sale can at least be explained by one incontestable factor, even if the subject and technique in themselves are unalluring: Cassatt's dead, so there's a limited stock available. If the cache attached to Hockney can seem arbitrary, having more akin with equities or, better, futures speculation in the inscrutability of its market valuation, the six to eight figures most of the 31 lots brought in last night in a sale that totaled $117,086,000 (21 works went for more than a million) seems more based on their proven place in history. Let's face it: As the art market goes, Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse, Bonnard, Miro, Braque, Modigliani, Renoir, Gaugin, and Monet are the blue-chip stocks. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

Pearls before swine: Suzanne Gregoire in Amy Greenfield's "MUSEic of the BODy."

Flash Preview, 4-27: Decent Exposure
Amy Greenfield Sings the Body Electric
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Anyone who wants to understand the difference between film that serves dance and dance that serves film -- as well as what distinguishes bad performance art from good -- should see Amy Greenfield's 2010 "MUSEic of the BODy," edited from Greenfield's 1994 Fluxus performance with Nam June Paik at Anthology Film Archives and one of a cornucopia of Greenfield's videos and video extracts being screened Monday at Anthology to celebrate the release of Robert Haller's "Flesh into Light: The Films of Amy Greenfield," a sort of monograph of 45 years of courageously curious video experimentation. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

With the demise of Pina Bausch, the number of living choroegraphers adept at both dance and theater can be counted on one hand. All the more reason to appreciate the coupe the Festival de danse et des arts multiples de Marseille, whose program was announced this week, has pulled off in bagging three of them for this summer's caravan: Sasha Waltz & Guests (in the bravely untheatrical chef d'oeuvre "Impromptus," Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (in the manga-fest "Tezuka"), and Peeping Tom, above, in "A Louer" (For Rent). How fitting, then, that to coronate this triumvirate, the Grand Mistress herself will also be on hand -- in a mini Pina Bausch at the Cinema festival including "Dominique Mercy danse Pina Bausch," "Les Reves dansants," and Wim Wenders's "Pina." Also in the line-up: Cullberg Ballet with "The Strindberg Project," Flamenco company Enclave Espanol with "En Plata," Frankfurt Ballet alumna Crystal Pite's "The Tempest Replica," sport dance master Pierre Rigal's hip-hop foray "Standards," and more. Photo by and ©Herman Sorgeloos and courtesy Festival de danse et des arts multiples de Marseille.

Flash Flashback, 4-23: Grave Matters
Taglioni not buried where City of Paris says she is
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2004, 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

(Today is the 208th birthday of Marie Taglioni, the first dancer to use point artistically. From 2001 to 2004, the Dance Insider lead the commemorations in Paris of the Taglioni Bicentennial.This story was originally published on October 6, 2004.)

PARIS -- Officials at the Montmartre Cemetery this morning agreed to take Marie (also known as Maria) Taglioni's name off cemetery maps after an Italian Institute-Dance Insider conference revealed Taglioni, the first dancer to use pointe artistically, is not buried in the cemetery tomb which bears her name, but in the Pere Lachaise cemetery under the name of the ex-husband she divorced after he turned her away from their home because she wouldn't stop dancing. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

Top: Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Marthe standing in the sun, in Montval, 1900 -1901. Modern print from original negative (sepia-toned gelatin silver print), 1 1/2 x 2 1/8 in.. Musee d'Orsay, Paris, Gift of M. Antoine Terrasse, 1992. Bottom: Pierre Bonnard, "The Square at Evening," 1899. Color lithograph on paper, 16 x 21 in.. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., acquired 1954. Both images © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photos: Reunion des Musees Nationaux / Art Resource, NY.

The Arts Voyager, 4-22: Let there be light
'Snapshots' at the Phillips: How science helped Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, Vallotton, Riviere, Breitner, and Evenepoel illuminate an art
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Clever as are some of the juxtapositions in the Phillips Collection's "Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard" -- on view in Washington, D.C. through May 6 and at the Indianapolis Museum of Art June 8 - Sept. 2 -- of photographs paired with paintings, prints, and drawings of similar subjects, what's more interesting is how they confirm and elaborate our understanding of the specific uses of and obsessions with light by these painters, particularly Bonnard and Vuillard, but also Felix Vallotton, Henri Riviere, Maurice Denis, George Hendrik Breitner, and Henri Evenepoel, all featured in this exhibition of 70 paintings, prints, and drawings along with more than 200 photographs, most never before shown in public. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want this article? Donate $5 using the PayPal Donate button above and we'll send it to you.)

Extending from the 6th to the 15th arrondisement, the rue Vaugirard borders the Luxembourg Garden. Eugene Atget. "Fete de Vaugirard," 1926. Gelatin silver printing-out-paper print, 6 13/16 x 8 3/4" (17.3 x 22.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Abbott-Levy Collection. Partial gift of Shirley C. Burden.

The Arts Voyager, 4-18: Paris the Eternal
Atget documents a patrimony: A walking tour of yesterday and today in the City of Lutece
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

No matter the momentary favorites that the current Parisian cultural establishment -- headed in the wrong direction by mayor Bertrand Delanoe and culture minister Frederick Mitterand -- may try to impose on the city of alternating gloomy grey and luminescent light, there's an eternal Paris which valiantly weathers the fleetingly famous and guards its cultural lore and the patrimony of its inheritors, be they current or past residents or devoted visitors. It's that Paris that was celebrated in the recent Museum of Modern Art exhibition of more than 100 of the 8,500 photographs produced by Eugene Atget from the late 19th to early 20th century. The sign over Atget's Montparnasse studio called them "Documents for Artists," but they might have well been called documents for everyone that has ever fallen in love with the city's artistically romantic boulevards, lingered before its shop windows with their animated mannequins and displays of dusty books, sympathized with the desperate but determined denizens of the desolate quarters of the North, the faubourgs and the legendary Zone, or succumbed to a revery in the Luxembourg Garden or a voluptuous melancholy on a narrow street in the Latin Quarter (in Atget's scope extended, rightly, beyond the more famous 5th arrondissement to include the periphery of the 13th). Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Ruth Asawa (b. 1926). Printed by Clifford Smith. "Pigeons on Cobblestones," 1965. Lithograph. ©1965 Ruth Asawa. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas. 1965.200.

The Arts Voyager, 4-12: Art like me
Ways of seeing: Ruth Asawa, John Howard Griffin, Charles M. Russell, 'Frank Artsmarter,' and the Medium and its Messengers
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The very word 'museum' implies fixed, fossilized, crystalized. I thought I knew what 'museum' meant until I discovered the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, which doesn't just not force-feed its visitors interpretations of the art within its walls, leaving their minds free to ramble at will, and doesn't just encourage associations with real life, but goes out of its way to foster debate even about its own intentions as a museum. Or so I discovered on a ramble in self-described "Cowtown"'s Cultural District Saturday that began with shifting through detritus looking for jewels in a cattle barn flea market and ended with watching a man selling off the detritus of the family home he could no longer afford to keep. Along the way I re-discovered an elemental San Francisco artist and personal art mentor, Ruth Asawa, saw cutting horses corner calves, and saw the man who changed his color to write "Black Like Me" and change hearts in America version 1961 in a different light, grace of a Fort Worth man losing his home in unemployment-straddled America version 2012. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

The Arts Voyager, 4-5: Pas si miserable que ca....
DOW got you down? Art market soars... on the wings of Victor Hugo
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

The financial markets may have fallen yesterday, with the DOW, NASDAQ, and SP 500 all down, but the art market just keeps on going up. And you don't have to be an old Dutch Master or Impressionist or named Francis Bacon, David Hockney, or Andy Warhol to set off frenzied bidding wars, nor do you have to be a millionaire to buy. The action at Christie's Paris yesterday swirled around a certain Victor Hugo and his gifted descendants, with the Hugo Collection, 411 lots of 500 items -- letters, manuscripts, first editions, drawings by the author of "Les Miserables," artworks by his great grandson Jean and his pal Jean Cocteau, Ballets Russes sketches by Jean's wife Valentine, mid-19th century photography by his Victor's son Charles, furniture, and more -- all being sold off by the great man's great-great grandchildren, tripling pre-sale expectations and grossing 3.2 million Euros, with winning bids ranging from three figures to six. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

The Arts Voyager, 4-4: Dispersion
A family disseminates a legacy: Collection Hugo at Christie's Paris
Text by Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

"I dedicate this book to the mountain of hospitality and liberty, to this corner of the old Normandy terrain where the noble humble people of the sea live, on the Isle of Guernesey, severe and gentle, my current refuge, my probable tomb."

-- Victor Hugo, "Les Travailleurs de la Mer," introduction to Book 1, "L'Archipel de la Manche."

Item: Christie's Paris to auction off 500 pieces offered by the descendants of Victor, Jean, and the rest of the Hugo family, April 4 2012.

What happened when the most French of the French, Victor Hugo, exiled himself to an island -- part of France until nature detached it from Normandy -- under the sovereignty of the British Crown, where, among other things, residents had to pay a yearly tribute to the Crown of two chickens and were taxed, not on their income, but on their fortune? He fell in love with the place. Choosing exile after Napoleon Bonaparte's coupe of 1852, Hugo stopped first in Brussels, then shortly afterwards on the Channel Island of Jersey and, evicted from there after criticizing Queen Victoria, landed in Guernesey (as he spelled it) in 1855, not returning to France until 1870, refusing a general amnesty offered by Napoleon in 1859. Compared to France under Napoleon III (about whom he'd subsequently write, including the book, "Napoleon le petite"), he found in Guernesey a cradle of liberty, with four newspapers. "Imagine a deserted isle," he wrote in his introduction to "Les Travailleurs de la Mer" (1866). "The day after his arrival, Robinson creates a newspaper, and Friday subscribes.... Arrive, live, exist. Go where you want to go, do what you want to do, be who you want to be. No one has the right to know your name. Do you have your own god? Preach him. Do you have your own flag. Fly it. Where? In the street. It's white? Fine. It's blue? Very good. It's red? Red is a color. Does it please you to denounce the government? Get up on the podium and speak..... Think, speak, write, print, harangue -- it's your business." Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal Subscribe button above.)

Almost four decades after his death, Franco still casts a large shadow over Spain, most recently in the ongoing debate over amnesty granted after the dictator's death in 1975. "Spanish Cinema of the early post-Franco Era," running April 6-13 at New York's Anthology Film Archives in collaboration with scholar Gerard Dapena and the Consulate General of Spain, offers a chance to view the immediate reverberations of his fall -- as well as the delectable opportunity to see two very early works from Pedro Almodovar, whose 1980 "Pepi, Luci, Bom, and the Other Girls in the Heap" and 1982 "Labyrinth of Passion" (above left and right, images courtesy Anthology) are among the 10 gems to be screened.

Maximilien Luce, "Gare de l'Est, les Poilus." Oil on re-enforced paper on canvas, 1917. ©Ville de Mantes la Jolie, Musee de l'Hotel-Dieu.

Imagine that Pissarro didn't die in 1903 but continued to live and work for 38 years, extending his explorations in the various streams of Impressionism. Then imagine that he decided to consecrate the force of his talent and energy to more depictions of the working stiff, the poor conscript sacrificed as cannon fodder in a wasteful war, and the social movements championing them. Imagine that his brilliant palette became more dense, retaining the sense of color values he learned from Corot, the precision he picked up from Seurat, and his native curiosity, then augmenting them with the lessons of the Fauves, of late Monet and even Bonnard. Well, you don't have to imagine this artistic extension of a life; Pissarro's friend, pupil, compagnon de la route, fellow anarchist sympathizer and, finally, artistic equal Maximilien Luce embodied it. Imagine, now, that you could see the living proof. The downside of the news that Christie's had essentially unearthed an early study for Cezanne's mythic "The Card Players" was the realization that this watercolor, so critical for understanding the origins of the impulses behind such a seminal work, had been out of public view for nearly 60 years. While many conscientious private collectors readily lend their work to public expositions, nothing obligates them to do so. Once a work of art has been snapped up at auction by a private collector, nothing guarantees its continued public accessibility .... (That such work is also part of a public heritage is one reason why French law grants the government the right of 'pre-emption' on works up for public auction.) All the more reason to be grateful that Frederic Luce left a stunning 150 of his father's works to the Parisian suburb of Mantes la Jolie and its museum the Hotel Dieu, now celebrating Luce with a new exhibition of 52 works, "Maximilien Luce, de l'esquisse (draft) au chef-d'oeuvre," which follows the artist's process from the draft to the oil painting, including by showcasing similar works in both forms. We're privileged to be able to share some of this work here. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal Subscribe button above.)

A scene from Fritz Lang's 1927 film "Metropolis." Image courtesy Cinematheque de Toulouse.

The Arts Voyager, 3-26: "Metropolis: L'Exposition"
Moving stills from a restored movie masterpiece
By Paul Ben-Itzak

Cinema was originally a strictly pictoral art form. And yet since the dawn of the talkies, what's often been lost in the sweep of a film's story arc is how it can stand alone as visual art, particularly when produced by a master who is more interested in telling a visual story than simply putting a play to celluloid. "Metropolis: L'Exposition" breaks down one of the masterpieces of one art form, that of the moving picture, to reveal it as a series of masterpieces worthy of another art form, the still picture. Organized by the Cinematheque de Toulouse and on view at the Espace EDF Bazacle in Toulouse through April 15, the exhibition offers a cornucopia of images from the fully restored 2008 version of Fritz Lang's 1927 chef d'oeuvre, also to be screened April 7 at the Cinematheque. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Diego Rivera, "Electric Power," 1931-32. Fresco on reinforced cement in a galvanized-steel framework, 58 1/16 x 94 1/8" (147.5 x 239 cm). Private collection, Mexico. ©2011 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

The Arts Voyager, 3-22: Art-full Politics
Diego Rivera returns to MOMA
By Arts Voyager Staff

It's a prescient reunion: In December 1931, two years after its founding, the Museum of Modern Art opened a major exhibition of work by the Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Only the second retrospective presented at the young Museum, the show was wildly popular, breaking attendance records in its five- week run. Rivera's international celebrity was based on his fame as a muralist, but murals -- by definition made and fixed on site -- were impossible to transport. To solve this problem, MOMA brought the artist to New York from Mexico six weeks before the opening and provided him with makeshift studio space in an empty gallery. Working around the clock with three assistants, Rivera produced five "portable murals" -- free-standing frescoes with bold images commemorating events in Mexican history. After the opening, to great publicity, Rivera added three more murals, this time taking on New York subjects through monumental images of the urban working class and the social stratification of the city during the Great Depression. All eight works were on display for the rest of the show's run. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

When real life horror becomes more harrowing than reel life fantasies, maybe it's time to escape to the movies. With the perpetrator of the March 19 massacre of three children and one adult at a Jewish school still at large, the streets of Toulouse have been notably less frequented at night, notes Mayor Pierre Cohen, who cancelled a number of scheduled public events out of respect for the victims, including the annual Carnaval parade. But art counters death with life, so we're glad to hear that the Cinematheque de Toulouse and the Space Center of Toulouse are going ahead with the March 22 evening cine-concert at the Cite de l'Espace of Yakov Protazanov's 1924 "Aelita," the first Soviet science fiction film, accompanied live by the Stereopop Orchestra. The story concerns a Soviet engineer who travels to Mars, where he encounters the decadent Aelita, ruler of the red planet, as well as costumes and decor suggesting Star Trek re-designed by Rodchenko.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
16: Border crossings
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Kela et Paul aux pays de Jeanne d'Arc et Tintin

"Geez, Paul, I thought you said your French was improving! Are you sure 'glace' means ice?"

In fact 'glace' means mirror, 'glace' means ice cream, and neither means ice cube, but I didn't yet know this in December 2001, which is probably why Kela and I kept getting strange looks from the bartenders as we wandered the timbered-house streets of old Rouen asking for ice cream and mirrors, when all we really wanted was ice with which to chill the warm Normandy cider we'd bought at a corner store. While you can find cider at any grocery in France, you can never find it chilled. Finally we gave up, perched on the edge of a sidewalk, uncorked the cider and drank it tepid with our lunch, followed by a tour of the tower where Joan of Arc went up in flames (Kela's mom had chosen this exact moment to telephone her from Maryland; I couldn't understand what they were arguing about, as it was all in Chinese), a former sanitarium for quarantined victims of the Black Plague still decorated with skulls, and coffee on the terrace of a bar overlooking the docks on the Seine, served with sugar cubes in packages decorated with the flags of the various United States. Subscribers click here to read the full Chapter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Arthur Tress, Untitled (Coit Tower), 1964. Printed 2010-11. Selenium-toned silver gelatin print. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. ©2012 Arthur Tress.

The Arts Voyager, 3-20: San Francisco, 1964
Tress revives a heritage that died for Dan White's sins
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

The cult of San Francisco usually reduces the lore to two epochs: The 1950s of the Beats and the '60s of the Hippies, with the latter's concomitant civil rights, free speech, anti-war, and, later, gay liberation movements. Yet there's an eternal San Francisco too, the historic Barbary Coast of the '49ers, the old Irish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Philipino, Mexican, African-American, and a smattering of Jewish families, the San Francisco of the Golden Gate and open vistas, of precipitous streets and Tony Bennett's 'cable cars that climb half-way to the stars.' It's a memory that's been threatened with extinction as the flower children and gay migrations have been succeeded by hoards of Yuppies, the Deadheads supplanted by Sillicon-heads, old-family districts like Eureka Valley -- whose very name evokes the '49er pioneers who built this city -- rewarded for their welcoming attitude towards the gays by seeing them raname their neighborhood "the Castro," the authentic, African-American owned soul-food restaurants of the Western Addition (can anyone tell me if the Church of John Coltrane still beckons to the faithful from its store-front church on Divisadero?) replaced by faux soul food cooked up by white foodies at twice the price, the brilliant minds of the Beats superficially mimicked by a generation of pie-hatted 'hipster' wannabees who confuse tablet computers with the tablets on which troubadors like Ferlinghetti and Rexroth scrawled their espresso-addled paenes to the City by the Bay and its Sun-deprived, pale-faced denizens. The Church of St. Francis in the City of St. Francis where Ferlinghetti observed a naked Godiva riding by on a horse has long -since been marginalized by the Temple of the Foodie, the small tales of the city with which Herb Caen regalled his readers replaced by small plates with big prices, the poetic 'Pabst Blue Ribbon' re-christened 'PBR' to make it hipster-palatable and worthy of sharing a menu with the latest parvenu micro-brew. Into this historically bereft landscape where the city's chronically short-term memory has become even more truncated, enter Arthur Tress and his series of black and white photographs, "San Francisco 1964" -- on view at the de Young Museum through June 3 -- to re-suffuse the canvas of the city with its own colorful history, remind it of its eternal self and perhaps give it back its soul. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

It was a very good year: Lett: Arthur Tress, Untitled (Union Square), 1964. Printed 2010-11. Selenium-toned silver gelatin print. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. ©2012 Arthur Tress, one of 70 photos Tress took in San Francisco that pivotal year -- both the Beatles and the Republicans were in town -- on display through June 3 at the city's de Young Museum. Right: "Bob Dylan With Top Hat Pointing in Car, Philadelphia PA 1964," by and ©Daniel Kramer, whose work on Dylan is featured in "Bob Dylan: L'explosion Rock 61-66," on view through July 15 at the Cite de la Musique in La Villette park in Paris (where Dylan is taught in school). (Meander along the La Villette Basin to get there -- you'll have to detour at a couple of points -- and catch the evening petanque players and, from one of the bridges over the basin, the Eiffel Tower.) It was 1964. I was three years old, and would attend my first concert -- in S.F. -- a year later, by a certain B. Dylan, where my mother would introduce me to Joan Baez. (I'd recount this meeting to Baez years later when interviewing her; she said it made her feel old. I'm now older than she was when she said that. It's all diamonds and rust.) My brother was two. His middle name was Dylan. (More from Tress coming soon on the Arts Voyager.) -- PB-I

To accompany its Zoom Arriere festival, this year focusing on Forbidden Cinema, the Cinematheque de Toulouse along with the UGC Toulouse is presenting, through March 19, an exhibition of posters which have also been threatened by censorship. Typical are, right, Rene Peron's poster for Roger Vadim's 1956 "And God Created Woman," controversial because of its depiction of star Brigitte Bardot's breasts; and, left, Roger Boumendil's for Yves Boisset's 1972 Algerian war film "R.A.S.," short for "Rien a signaler" or "Nothing to Report." With the French government's refusal to refer to the Algerian War for Independence which ended in 1962 as a "war," even 10 years later the poster's simple portrayal of two opposing sides challenged an important taboo; film poster as political act. It would be 17 more years before the French government officially referred to the 'hostilities' as a war -- which officialy formally ended 50 years ago on March 19. Images courtesy Cinematheque de Toulouse.

Left: William-Adolphe Bouguereau, "Seated Nude," 1884. Oil on canvas. Right: Berthe Morisot, "The Bath," 1885-86. Oil on canvas. Both images copyright Sterling and Francine Clark Institute, Williamstown, Mass.. Note in how many places Morisot uses varying shades of blue. The artistic challenges she set herself and her briliance in meeting them are just one reason the author would have liked to see more of her, less of Renoir.

The Arts Voyager, 3-16: I am not Impressed
When is so much Renoir too much? The Kimbell squanders a golden opportunity
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

What should be the mission of a museum focusing on work by dead artists in 2012? To show us something new, not just impress us with beauty we've already seen either first-hand or in reproduction but wow us with and help us appreciate true trail-blazing artistic achievement. There is such a wealth out there of underexposed work by those practicing before, during, and immediately after the Impressionist era -- Maximilien Luce and Berthe Morisot come to mind -- that one has to question the curatorial vision when a museum with major resources like Fort Worth's Kimbell trots out an exhibition weighted with Renoirs that don't reveal anything new -- a stunning 21 of the 72 paintings in the just-opened "The Age of Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Clark," compared to a paltry six by Monet, clearly the greater master, seven by the father of them all Pissarro, and an appalling two by Morisot, the most under- rated of the Impressionist artists because she had the misfortune of being born a woman. Will the ready and easy appeal of the Renoirs with their idealized (idolized?) conception and execution of female beauty attract audiences and appeal to patrons? Certainly. Will it leave them any more intelligent about art than they were before the exhibition? I don't think so. And even the Renoirs are hardly served by the dreary and drab space of the Kimbell, a dull encadrement for fine art if ever I saw one. Subscribers click here to read the full Review and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Inside the apartment at 49, rue de Paradis in Paris, Spriing-Summer 2004: On the bed, Alaskan-Siamese Sonia; on chair, San Francisco native Hopey; partially viewed below desk, black and white Alaskan-European Mesha. Above: The mylar ceiling. On table under the capital 'A' in 'Paradis': Sarah Bernhardt's personal mirror. Photo courtesy and ©Christine Chen.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
15: Cherche la femme
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Torn between three Frenchwomen, and acting like a fool

PARIS -- "It's for your cats. I don't know if it's the right brand, but at least it's something." Sylvie shrugged as she said it, only slightly wrinkling the shimmering magenta silk Oriental dress in which she appeared for my holiday party, the first at 49, rue de Paradis. Her deep brown eyes under her tightly bunned dark brown hair were gazing directly into mine, the corners of her lips slightly turned up in a smile, her freckled cheeks flush from the brisk December evening. She lowered her eyes as she dipped into her compact Chinese purse. "And this, it's for you. It's not much but I thought, for your new apartment, it would be good to help with the atmosphere." She gave the last word a dramatic flourish emphasized by a conspiratorial raising of her eyebrows. Subscribers click here to read the full Chapter and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Catherine Breillat's films frankly addressing female sexuality are not for the prudish. So it's no surprise that three of them, including the 1998 "Romance," above, are among the 80 in this year's Zoom Arriere festival at the Cinematheque de Toulouse, dedicated to "Forbidden Cinema." But it would be a mistake to consign Breillat to the category of pornography for intellectuals. By applying her laser to women's sex lives, Breillat is also making France confront the laceratingly contradictory roles women are expected to play in its society: "Virgin or prostitute, mother or mistress, women have been cut in two since the beginning of the Christian era," Breillat told the Paris daily Liberation's Seguret Olivier in 1998 for a preview of the film, which focuses on its heroine Marie's (Caroline Ducey, above) 'aller-retour's between a man who loves her but has stopped having sex with her and another who loves having sex with her but doesn't love her, with some side affairs (as with Francois Berlleand, above). In the end, Breillat says, "Romance" is "as much the story of a romance as of its negation." Breillat discusses the film in person following its screening March 16 at 8 p.m. at the Cinematheque de Toulouse.

Elle s'appelle Marthe: Coming soon on the Arts Voyager, "Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard" at the Philips Collection, through May 6. Above, left: Pierre Bonnard, "Marthe in the bathtub," Vernouillet, c. 1908-10. Modern print from original negative (sepia-toned gelatin silver print), 3 1/8 x 2 1/8 inches. Musee d'Orsay, Paris, Gift of the children of Charles Terrasse, 1992. ©2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Reunion des Musees Nationaux / Art Resource, NY. Right: Pierre Bonnard, "Woman Standing in Her Bathtub, 1925. Lithograph on paper, 18 5/8 x 13 inches. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Gift of Marjorie Phillips, 1984. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Reunion des Mus&ecute;es Nationaux / Art Resource, NY.

Satomi Blair as Jocasta in "These Seven Sicknesses." Photo by and © Laura June Kirsch.

NEW YORK -- An exciting and deliciously satisfying five-hour evening at the Flea Theater in which all the main characters die and the audience gets scrumptiously fed summarizes Ed Sylvanus Iskandar's production of the "These Seven Sicknesses," a condensation of the seven plays that circumscribe the Grecian saga of the Atreus family: the Oedipus trilogy, Herakles's "Philoktetes," and Ajax's tales, modernized with aplomb in Sean Graney's re-envisioning of the saga. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal Subscribe button above.)

The Arts Voyager, 3-13: 'An intimate Universe'
In Paris, rare treasures by Brueghel, Guardi, Berchem, Tissot, Isabey, Breitner, & More from the Fondation Custodia

Top: Louis-Gabriel-Eugene Isabey (Paris 1803-1886, Paris), "The dyeworks in the souk, Algiers," c. 1830. Canvas, laid down on board, 28.8 x 24.5 cm. Acquired in 2011; inv. 2011-s.10. Bottom: George Hendrik Breitner (Rotterdam 1857-1923, Amsterdam), "Nude with black stockings on a bed," c. 1900. Panel, 20.3 x 30.5 cm; signed. Acquired in 2011; inv. 2011-s.19. Images courtesy Frits Lugt Collection - Fondation Custodia.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

For the intrepid arts voyager to Paris who wants to see art he or she has likely never seen before, the place to be this Spring is not the Orsay Museum, which -- quelle surprise! -- has trotted out an assortment of Degas nudes sure to please the easily titillated tourist -- but the Orsay's neighbor down the street on the rue de Lille, the Institut Neerlandais, which through May 27 is showing, for the first time anywhere in a public exhibition, 115 paintings from the Fritz Lugt Collection normally secreted away (for viewing by appointment only) by the institut's neighbor, the Fondation Custodia, a stunning panorama of pan-European art from the 16th through the 20th century, from innovative Dutch masterworks that demonstrate that nation's rich artistic heritage cannot be reduced to "Rembrandt" to the Dutch teacher of Impressionist pioneer Camille Corot to a rare depiction of an Algerian souk by a young soldier who was part of the French invading party in 1830. At a time when French president Nicolas Sarkozy is threatening to do away with 20 years of freedom of passage across European borders, "Un Univers Intime, Tableaux de la Collection Fritz Lugt" is a much-needed reminder that jobless barbarian sectarian Muslim zealots aren't the only foreign product that comes in when the walls go down. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images from "Un Univers Intime." (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

The Cinematheque de Toulouse has the only known copy of the above large format poster for Jean Renoir's 1937 "The Grand Illusion," part of a special exhibition March 5 - April 10 at the cinematheque devoted to the film, also being projected in full digitally restored splendor as part of its Zoom Arriere festival focusing this year on "Forbidden Cinema," March 9 - 17.

The Arts Voyager, 3-8: Un-censored
From Jean Vigo to Jean Genet and Jean-Luc Godard, Eisenstein to the MItchell Brothers, Pasolini to Iran, the Cinematheque de Toulouse fetes banned films

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

If you thought the most daring, dynamic, and heritage-devoted cinematheque in France was the Cinematheque Francaise, think again: If ever there was any doubt that that the Cinematheque de Toulouse far outdistances its Paris cousin, the former's 6th annual Zoom Arriere festival, this year focusing on Forbidden Cinema, makes it clear that there's only one cinematheque in France that constantly explores risk while at the same time mining the country and the world's rich celluloid heritage, preserving, restoring, and most important sharing rare and engangered treasures, and it's in the Rose City. While the Cinematheque Francaise continues to place box office over patrimoine, with retread tributes to American film-makers like Tim Burton and Robert Altman dominating its programming, beginning Friday and lasting through March 17 the Cinematheque de Toulouse, along with partner cinemas throughout the city, will project a staggering parade of more than 60 films banned for various reasons from the dawn of the medium through the present. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more images from 'Forbiden Films.' (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal Subscribe button above.)

The Arts Voyager, 3-7: Category Busters
From Durer to Warhol, Christie's Print Sale offers rare portal to 500 years of art history
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

The trap that many museums fall into is constraining categorization which often makes it hard to follow artistic through-lines at one sole institution.... The auction house Christie's seems to have come up with a much more coherent curatorial schemata. The works for sale in its London Prints Sale March 28, announced yesterday, are only constrained by one criterium: They're all prints. That there are no restrictions as to epoch or national origin allows the art lover to follow the scope of the medium's development over a 500 year span, from Albrecht Durer's 1501 engraving "Saint Eustace" to Andy Warhol's devastating circa 1978 screenprint "Electric Chair," with a healthy dose of Max Beckmann and contemporary Brucke artists like Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in between. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

The Arts Voyager, 3-5: Menagerie (Updated 3/5 with new images and info)
From the Dordogne to Delacroix & Degas, Calder & Hockney: 15,000 years of Artists on Animals

Top: The bison of the Font de Gaume cave (Les Eyzies de Tayac, Dordogne.) Circa 12,000 - 17,000 BC. ©CMN - Les Eyzies. Bottom: Ferdinand-Eugene-Victor Delacroix (1798-1863), "Royal Tiger." Pen and brown ink and watercolor, over pencil, on paper. The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, Thaw Collection. Photography for bottom image: Graham S. Haber, 2011.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

LES-EYZIES-DE-TAYAC (Dordogne), France -- Artists have been depicting animals since art began, and the adventurous arts voyager can still survey the oeuvre from 12,000 BC to the present. Begin in Les Eyzies, in the verdant Dordogne department of southwest France also known for truffles and foie gras, with the polychrome paintings of bisons in the Font de Gaume cave, dating from the Magdalenian period, the last of the Paleolithic superior era, or 12,000 to 17,000 years BC. (Artistic conditions were also primitive. Judging by the scope of the paintings, their authors must have had to lay on their backs to execute them.) Continue your survey at New York's Morgan Library and Museum, whose new exhibition in its ornate Madison Avenue mansion "In the Company of Animals," running through May 20, begins about 13,200 years after the Paleolithic superior era ended and continues through the 17th century with Rembrandt ("Fourquarters of an Elephant"), the 19th with a lion by Delacroix and a racing horse by Degas, among others, and right up into the 20th century with original illustrations of Babar and Snoopy by Jean de Brunhoff and Charles Schulz respectively, Aesopian animals by Alexander Calder, and David Hockney's 1993 sketches of his pet pooches. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images from Font de Gaume, Hockney, Degas, Poe, Calder, & more. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Adept curating and intelligent collecting doesn't just mean amassing beautiful art. It means advancing the understanding and comprehension of the art. "The Age of Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Clark," the first touring exhibition of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Washington, making its sole U.S. stop at Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum March 13 - June 12, doesn't just dazzle with a procession of Renoirs, Pissarros, and Monets. By also including Impressionist pre-cursor Camille Corot and post-Impressionist Pierre Bonnard among the 73 works, the exhibition tells how a movement was born and how it became eternal. Left: Camille Corot, "Bathers of the Borromean Isles," 1865-70, oil on canvas. Top right: Berthe Morisot, "The Bath," 1885-86. Bottom right: Camille Pissarro, "The River Oise near Pontoise," 1873. All images © Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass. Both Morisot and Pissarro studied with Corot, in the building pictured below. (See caption below.) For more on Corot, Pissarro, Morisot and the Impressionists, click here. -- PB-I

The 'petite' balcony at 49, rue de Paradis, where the cats and I settled in late November 2001. I turned the middle window (closest at left) into a 'cat window,' fencing the opening over so I could leave the window open without them escaping. Across the street, at right, the building with the bright sun swathe on its corner used to house the atelier of Camille Corot, where he gave lessons to Camille Pissarro and Berthe Morisot. Closest street at right is the rue Poissonniere, followed by the rues Papillon and Bleue. Photo courtesy and ©Christine Chen.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
14: A balcony on Paradis
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Paul au pays des Impressionists

When Camille Pissarro arrived in Paris, one of his first stops was the building that is now 58, rue de Paradis, and housed the atelier of Camille Corot, pre-cursor of the Impressionists in 'plein air' painting, refraction, depicting the wind through the movement of leaves, and color values, this last of which he imparted directly on Pissarro (also giving lessons to Berthe Morisot). When I moved into 49, rue de Paradis, on November 28, 2001, I didn't realize that my favorite painter had worked and studied right across the street until I saw the brown metal 'monument of Paris' placard in front of the building, complete with a drawing of the older artist in his tell-tale smock and beret, posed before an easel holding a palette in one hand and a pinceau in the other. Click here to read the full Chapter and see more Images.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
13: Turkey feathers in a glass cowboy boot
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

La merde qui tombe

I decided to host a Thanksgiving party for my cool new French friends, all Anglophiles. I'd met Lucie and Lionel through Beatrice, whose seventh-floor flat in the Square Albin Cachot I'd stayed at a year ago, in the fall of 2000, while she got my Greenwich Village digs. Like her, they were English professors at Paris 5, a Sorbonne-affiliated university on the rue Jussieu in the Latin Quarter, not far from the neighborhood in the 13eme arrondissement where we all lived. I'd dined in their flat on the rue of the White Queen near the Metro Gobelins, just down the Boulevard Arago from the rue Glaciere. Like most French who speak English, L&L had learned from an English as in England teacher, so had English accents, which meant that when I was speaking with them I always felt like I was speaking with English people. Lionel, who liked to crack jokes, thus seemed to me like a real English wag. The pantherine Lucie, with her olive complexion and lithe figure, not to mention lilting accent, intimate smile, and penetrating eyes, changed my mind about short-haired women. Click here to read the full Chapter.

Coming soon on the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager: Degas and the Nude at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, March 13 - July 1. The exhibition -- the first major monographic exhibition in Paris devoted to Edgar Degas since the 1988 retrospective at the Grand Palais -- draws from the Orsay's rich collection of graphic works, particularly pastels, seldom shown because of their fragility and sensitivity to light, as well as loans from the Metropolitan Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, and elsewhere. Above: Edgar Degas (dit), Gas Hilaire-Germain Edgar de (1834-1917), "Femme nue couchee," 1886-88. Pastel, 48 x 87 cm. Paris, Musee d'Orsay. ©RMN (Musee d'Orsay) / Herve Lewandowski.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
12: Return to the Square Albin Cachot
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Mon menage a moi

In November 2001 I returned to the Square Albin Cachot and the art deco apartment complex -- perfectly situated in the 13eme arrondissement on the verge of the 5th arrondissement and the Latin Quarter without being in it -- where I had first fallen in love with Paris, this time accompanied by my three cats, Sonia, Mesha, and Hopey, who were finally starting to get a bit stressed out by all the moving, this being our third Parisian *demeure* in four months. Sonia, my Siamese and the oldest, panted her tongue like a dog in the cab on the way over down the Boulevard Saint-Jacques - August Blanqui, past the Metro Denfert-Rochereau and over the catacombs which lay below it with their centuries-old skeletons and the not-so-old ghosts of the Resistance whose fighters clandestinely convened there during the Occupation, to the rue Glaciere, then the narrow rue Nordmann across from an elementary school and playground. This time we had a first floor flat, so no spying on the neighbors. Click here to read the full Chapter.

When Leonor Fini's "Jeux de jambes" was auctioned off in Paris last October, it sold for $500,000 -- the most ever for a work by the unclassifiable painter, illustrator, and stage designer. If the resurgence in awareness and valuation of Fini owes much to New York-based CFM Gallery and its director Neil Zukerman, who has tirelessly championed and exhibited her work for the past 20 years and boasts arguably the largest Fini collection in the world (including a treasure trove of rare books lavishly illustrated by Fini), West Coast gallerist Rowland Weinstein also gets some credit. As soon as a former CFM associate hipped Weinstein to Fini in 2000, he voraciously began exhibiting and acquiring her work, beginning with an exhibition of works on loan from CFM. About a dozen Fini works were at the heart of the Weinstein's recent exhibition "Surrealism: New Worlds," including, above: "Homme noir et femme singe," 1942. Oil on canvas, 23 3/4 x 29 inches. Courtesy Weinstein Gallery and ©Estate of Leonor Fini. To see more work by Fini, click here. -- PBI

Best known for his fluorescent light installations, Dan Flavin was also an avid draftsman. Running February 17 - July 1 at the Morgan Library & Museum before traveling to Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany, December 16, 2012-March 3, 2013 the first retrospective of his drawings includes over one hundred sheets from every phase of his career, including early abstract expressionist watercolors created in the 1950s, such as, above, "Blue trees in wind," 1957. Grease pencil on ledger paper, 7 7/8 x 10 1/2". Collection of Stephen Flavin. ©2012 Stephen Flavin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photography: Graham S. Haber, 2011.

Charles M. Russell, "When I Was a Kid," 1905. Watercolor, 13 1/2 x 10 1/2." Courtesy C.M.
Russell Museum. Gift of the Estates and Families of Ginger K. and Frederic G. Renner.
(Work not part of featured exhibition; gift just announced by the C.M. Russell Museum.)

The Arts Voyager, 2-10: Don't fence him in
Charles M. Russell gets a new look
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH, TX & GREAT FALLS, MT -- While it might have once seemed laudatory to describe Charles M. Russell as "the cowboy artist" -- and perhaps still is in places like Fort Worth, which refers to itself as "cowtown' with pride -- the term needs to be qualified for audiences outside of the West who might use it to dismiss Russell's oeuvre and place him in a quadrant reserved for "folk" art. That this would be a mistake is the most revelatory contribution of Romance Maker: The Watercolors of Charles M. Russell, which runs at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth February 11 - May 13 before moving to the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls June 15 - September 15. Much as the more than 100 watercolors from 20 collections on rare display -- their sensitivity to light means watercolors can only be brought out on average one month per year -- serve as an epoch epic of the West, a vivid panorama of both American Indian and American settler and pioneer life and society, they also reveal the depths of craft the self- schooled Russell conjured and developed. Click here to read the full Article and see more Images.

The Arts Voyager 2, 2-10: Revelations
From Christie's sales, an education in the art of Morisot, Blanchard, Utrillo, and Signac (and Luce)
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

If you don't follow art auctions because "Why bother, I can't afford to actually buy anything," you may be missing an edifying and breathtaking lesson in art history; many of the works, belonging for years to private collectors, have never or rarely been exhibited in public, whence the revelations in regarding the tableaux themselves, their provenance, and even the surprisingly affordable prices some go for... Perusing the results of Wednesday's Impressionist/Modern Day Sale and Works on Paper Sale, respectively, at Christies London, even this long-time arts voyager discovered things he'd never known, even after 10 years in Paris and seven in New York, related to four of the works sold, by Paul Signac, Maurice Utrillo, Berthe Morisot, and Marie Blanchard. Click here to read the full Article.

Flash News, 2-8: Bullish on Art
More World Records Tumble at Christie's Sales
By Paul Ben-Itzak

World records for the sale of work by Robert Delaunay, Joan Miro, Henry Moore, and others tumbled last night at Christie's Impressionism / Modern Evening and Art of the Surreal sales in London, while works by Camille Pissarro, Paul Signac, and others sold for nearly double their lowest pre-sale estimates and three works of art owned by Elizabeth Taylor, including the Pissarro, doubled pre-sale expectations, selling for a combined $21,784,645, a promising harbinger for today's Christie's sale of 35 additional works from the late actress's collection. Click here to read the full Article.

Left: Claude Cahun, "Autoportrait," 1926. Gelatin silver print, 11.1 x 8.6 cm. IVAM, Institut Valencia d'Art Modern, Generalitat. Right: Claude Cahun, "Autoportrait," 1927. Gelatin silver print, 10.4 x 7.6 cm. Soizic Audouard Collection.

The Arts Voyager, 2-3: Gender-bender
Entre Nous': Claude Cahun @ the Art Institute of Chicago
By Paul Ben-Itzak

And what if the artist uses herself as the clay? Not because she's a narcissist and thinks she's the most fascinating subject in the world -- as is often the situation with dancers -- but because as matter and model, she's so malleable, and thus an ideal canvas for her own artistic explorations, macro ideas about the culture unearthed on an intimate terrain? This was the case with French-born Claude Cahun in the staged self-portraiture, photo-montages, and prose texts she produced, mostly between 1920 and 1940, more than 80 of which figure in Entre Nous: The Art of Claude Cahun, on view at the Art Institute of Chicago February 25 - June 3. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see the more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Flash Review, 2-3: Poseur
Poe's flat homage to Godard flatlines
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

I once attempted to translate a bunch of sketches by Boris Vian, the ambidextrous French man of letters and Jazz, into English. The problem with translating Vian into English is that in these sketches -- all take-offs of the American B movie genre -- as in his most famous novels, such as "I'll spit on your grave," Vian is already sifting classic '50s Americana through a French sensibility. At this point his hyper- dramatizations are hysterical, but when I then attempted to in effect translate them back into English, they lost all their humor and became dull. It was the very medium of the French language, perspective, and interpretation that made the plays entertaining -- in effect, Vian was playing with the language two times, parodying the American and coming up with interesting, inventive amalgamations of French usage that made for dazzling dialogue even when the situations were trite. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

With more than 40,000 photographs, Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum is one of the largest repositories in the U.S. of American photography -- and a veritable history of the art and its reproduction techniques, with holdings ranging from the earliest daguerreotypes produced in the U.S. to contemporary inkjet prints. Because of the fragile nature of the medium, the museum regularly rotates its displays. Up from February 18 through July 22, "Series and Sequences" explores new acquisitions and little-seen collection gems revealing how multiple exposures and project groupings show new insights about the artistic process, and the subjects captured. Above: Harold E. Edgerton (1903-1990), "Tennis -- Forehand Drive, Jenny Tuckey," 1938. Gelatin silver print, ca. 1986. ©Harold & Esther Edgerton Foundation, 2011, courtesy of Palm Press, Inc..Gift of Friends of Photography. P1986.12.

Spring follies: Ballet Revolucion comes to Sadler's Wells in London April 25 - May 19. Photo: BB Promotion.

If you'd asked me a week ago to name my favorite film, I'd have said "Stage Door," the 1937 tragicomedy starring a mega-cast including Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, and Eve Arden as residents of a boarding house for performers trying to make it on Broadway. If you'd asked me who directed the film, I wouldn't have been able to tell you. So perhaps Anthology Film Archives is correct to feature two other films by Gregory La Cava in the cadre of "Stuck in the Second Tier: Unknown Auteurs." Unlike art house regulars Godard, Fellini, and Chaplin, they're harder to see. All the more reason to celebrate Anthology's screenings January 27 - 29 of the 1935 "She Married her Boss" and the 1941 "Unfinished Business," which, like "Stage Door," feature strong women, who make their mates conform to their terms. In "She Married Her Boss," Claudette Colbert doesn't just quit her job as Girl Friday to Melvyn Douglas to become a homemaker; she threatens to leave him unless he gives her more of a home life. Irene Dunne's small-town not-so bumpkin refuses to prostate herself for Robert Montgomery's alcoholic playboy when he falsely accuses her of loving his brother, instead waiting for him to come around, even at great personal expense. It's easy for a male director to be a feminist today; working in the 1930s and '40s, La Cava was no second tier screen champion of women's rights, but a pioneer. (Image courtesy Anthology Film Archives.) -- Paul Ben-Itzak

Coming soon: Continuing a banner season of exhibitions as it celebrates its 50th birthday, on February 11 the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth presents more than 100 watercolors by Charles M. Russell, the Western artist on whose oeuvre, along with that of peer Frederic Remington, the Carter Museum made its name. Romance Maker: The Watercolors of Charles M. Russell continues through May 13; admission to the museum is free. Above: Charles M. Russell (1864- 1926), "When Cows Were Wild," 1926. Watercolor on paper. Montana Historical Society, Col. Wallis Huidekoper Collection. Gift of Colonel Wallis Huidekoper. X1952.02.02.

The Arts Voyager, 1-26: I'm a reel cow-hand
Chaneling Bob Wills at the Stock Show & Rodeo
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH, Texas -- It was supposed to be the Cowboy Poets Campfire Stories day Tuesday (one of four, concluding today beginning at noon) at the West Arena of the 116th Stock Show & Rodeo, continuing through February 4 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, but, borrowing a page from the French, the Western wordsmiths evidently interpret poetry to include music, and far be it from this greenhorn worshipper at the temple of Bob Wills to grouse about an afternoon of cowboy, western swing, and frontier tunes largely presided over by Devon Dawson, a latter-day Dale Evans if ever there was one, and also featuring the band of veterans (of tours with Tex Ritter and Lefty Frizzell, among others) known as the Over the Hill Gang. Youth also claimed its place, chiefly in the person of golden-trelissed sensation Kristyn Harris, boasting a yodel that makes its presence known not only in stand-alone moments, but by adding tremor and tremble to the rest of her singing. It's no insult to say that Harris can belt 'em. The scariest part is that she's not yet 18. Notwithstanding legendary bassist, author ("The Chameleon Rancher"), and Cutting Horse Hall of Famer Pat Jacobs's quip -- referring to the three hardly over the hill cowgirl guitarists ("Mustang Micky" joined Dawson and Harris) who accompanied his Over the Hill Gang for their set -- that "they're here to notify next of kin in case any of us keel over," in fact they were all there to carry on the tradition of concert cowboy music that emerged with Wills, even if it means, as it did Tuesday afternoon, ignoring a flash storm that's knocked the power out and playing on. Click here to read the full Article.

A breathtaking 72 Impressionist tableaux including 21 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, six by Claude Monet, seven by Camille Pissarro, four by Alfred Sisley, three by Edgar Degas, two by Edouard Manet, and two by Berthe Morisot, plus pre- and post-Impressionist work by Camille Corot and Paul Gauguin, will be exhibited at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, the only U.S. venue for the first-ever touring exhibition of the remarkable collection of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Before it's finished in 2014, the three-year tour will also reach France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and China. Top: Edgar Degas, "Dancers in the Classroom," c. 1880; bottom left: Berthe Morisot, "The Bath," 1885-86; bottom right: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, "A Box at the Theater" (At the Concert), 1880. All images © the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, U.S.A..

The Buzz, 1-24: The tears of a clown
For next Graham Company NY season, only half the works are by Martha Graham
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Imagine if the Picasso Museum in Paris suddenly decided to place half the works by Picasso in temporary storage and replace them with work by other artists. There would be an outrage. And yet this is exactly what the current custodians of the Martha Graham Dance Company are doing for the company's upcoming New York season this March at the Joyce Theater. But where is the outrage? Subscribers click here to read the full Column. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Paris at the barricades again, May 1968, as seen in Chris Marker's "Le fond de l'air est rouge." Image courtesy Icarus Films..

After a year of intensely following and reviewing the offerings of New York's 40+ year-old Anthology Film Archives, easily the best and bravest cinematheque in the United States and one of the top in the world, I think I'm finally beginning to understand what Anthology artistic director Jonas Mekas and his colleagues are up to, or rather, how they've chosen to manifest it. Historically partial to fiction and less engaged by documentaries, at first I wasn't particularly keen on the preponderance of the latter at Anthology. But after watching Chris Marker's "Le fond de l'air est rouge" (cryptically translated as "Grin Without a Cat," an allusion to Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat) and Sergei Loznitsa's "Revue" and "Blockade," all screening in "The Compilation Film" series beginning today at Anthology, I understand that what Mekas and crew are primarily interested in is film that knows it's film and that fully exploits the medium -- and even expands it. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Heritage is a messy business, especially in a country built out of multiple heritages. There may be no more vivid microcosm of this principle right now in the United States than that found in the few blocks that make up the Cultural District of this cosmopole which calls itself "Cowtown" with pride and accurately claims the motto "Cowboys & Culture," because of its concentration of world- class museums and Western heritage. Click here to read the full Article.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
11: Fool for love
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

Le chevalier de le tournesol

I had come to Paris in part to search for 'la femme de ma vie,' but a mere change in geography would not be enough; I'd have to be more bold. If I kept having to reflect before I asked someone out, I was going to reflect myself right into the grave. "You should act like the Fool!" my best friend from the States prescribed, the Fool who doesn't think but acts on instinct. So I decided that every time I went out I would buy a flower and give it to the first woman I saw who so inspired me, without calculation. I chose the sunflower and became the Chevalier de le Tournesol. Click here to read the full 'Cross-Country' Chapter.

Last chance: "de Kooning: A Retrospective," the first major museum exhibition devoted to the full scope of the career of Willem de Kooning (American, born the Neterlands, 1904-1997), with 200 works from public and private collections dating from 1926 to the late 1980s, ends January 9 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Above: "Orestes," 1947. Enamel on paper mounted on plywood, 24 1/8 x 36 1/8? (61.3 x 91.8 cm). Private collection. ©2011 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

John Marin (1870-1953). "Top of Radio City, New York City," 1937. Watercolor on paper. John Marin. ©Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Private collection, Seattle.

The Arts Voyager, 1-8: John Marin at the Amon Carter
'Nature's laws of motion have to be obeyed'
By Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH -- With "John Marin: Modernism at Midcentury," the Amon Carter Museum has once again outclassed Gotham in curating and celebrating an artist at the nucleus of the New York modern art movement of the last century. Like his New York contemporary Stuart Davis, the New York modern figure most prized by the Amon Carter, Marin was an abstract artist firmly anchored in the concrete world which inspired his tableaux and gave him matter to re-arrange, whether the natural and nautical world of Cape Split, Maine, at the heart of this exhibition, which focuses on the last 20 years of his life (1933 to 1953) when he summered there, or the geometrical muse of the big city, seen here in Marin's riffs on subjects like the Brooklyn Bridge and Radio City Music Hall. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see the full Gallery. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Catherine Olivier, "Perche II" (left) and "Absence III." Both works pyrogravure on fabric and ©Catherine Olivier.

The Arts Voyager, 1-5: Waiting in Limbo
The vaporous, smoldering art of Catherine Olivier
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- As a child growing up on an isolated farm in the Loire Valley on the crest of and impatient for great adventures, Catherine Olivier developed a fertile inner life, an apprenticeship of imagination that served her well when, armed with a diploma from the Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts d'Angers, she moved to Paris some 20 years ago to study at the highly selective Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs, eventually settling in the hilly northeastern quarter of Belleville, where the colony of artists strives to create work as expansive as the vistas of Paris they look out on from its heights. It's a potpourri of amateur photographers, seasoned lithographers, earnest folk artists and genuinely inventive wunderkinds searching for innovative mediums to artistically articulate the uncertainty of living in the 21st century, in which the nuclear fatalism of an earlier generation has been supplanted by the even more existential doubt impressed by global warming and economic precariousness (or, as the French put it, 'precarite'). Olivier soon found the medium to match her epoch. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see the full Gallery. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
10: Smoke gets in your eyes
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2012 Paul Ben-Itzak

In Montparnasse with Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Amelie

I've avoided seeing Woody Allen's "Midnight In Paris" mostly because, based on previous American in Paris fantasias, Woody's Parisian midnight probably doesn't have a lot to do with my daily Paris reality as I lived it from 2000 to 2010. Unlike Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and most American storyteller-adventurers, my Paris flight was solo, meaning I had to actually depend on French people if I was to have a social life and hope to have a love life. (Not for me the sordid midnight Montmartre rambles of Henry Miller.) I had to look to an earlier generation for a role model, and it wasn't promising. When it came to finding love with a French woman, I frequently felt like Lambert Strether in Henry James's "The Ambassadors," meeting a promising mate only to smack into a wall of Jericho that even my American can-do spirit couldn't break through. But I didn't yet know this in the late summer-fall of 2001, when my second Parisian abode, in a '60s-era high-rise next door to the Pasteur Institute (where AIDS, the virus of love in the 20th century, had been discovered), put me within skipping distance of Montparnasse, from which the elixir of Fitz and Papa still wafted over. Click here to read the full 'Cross-Country' Chapter.

The one-story building, nestled in a bucolic place at the bottom of the rue Ravignon above the rue des Abbesses in Montmartre, may be mundane, but the event which culminated there in 1907, was monumental. Entoured and influenced by his fellow artist-residents at the Bateau Lavoir, as it was then known, Pablo Picasso unleashed Les Demoiselles d'Avignon on the world and altered not just art but the way art would be created and viewed for the next century. Acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 1939, the painting is among the many landscape-shifting and paradigm-pushing works currently on view in the Alfred H. Barr Painting and Sculpture Galleries on MOMA's fifth floor. Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907. Oil on canvas, 8' x 7' 8" (243.9 x 233.7 cm). Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. © 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Camille Pissarro, "Minette," ca. 1872. Oil on canvas, 18 1/16 x 14 in. (46 x 35 cm). Wadsworth
Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, the Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin
Sumner Collection Fund, 1958.144.

The Arts Voyager, 12-13: Impressionist as Humanist
"Pissarro's People" revived in San Francisco
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

PONTOISE (Val-d'Oise), France -- On a side street off the rue de L'Hermitage in this mundane outlying suburb of Paris sits a cluster of four unremarkable houses. You wouldn't be looking for them at all unless you happened to know that their roofs were memorialized by one Camille Pissarro in his 1877 oil painting "Les Toits Rouges." But this was the genius of Pissarro, to elevate the mundane to the level of the pastoral. To combine eye, the ability to see beauty in the ordinary, with technique, the ability to deploy the tools to bring to the premiere plain, in color and its application, the aspects of a subject, be it a country passage or a family portrait, a group of field laborers harvesting apples or a domestic worker holding with both hands her cup of coffee, that make it memorable. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see the full Gallery. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Communards in Peter Watkins's "La Commune." Image courtesy of Icarus Films.

The Arts Voyager, 12-13: Les Anarchistes
Watkins's "La Commune," Tanner's "Charles...," and Mekas's 'Sleepless' nights @ Anthology
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

Halfway through "La Commune," Peter Watkins's 5-hour, 45-minute tour de force which simultaneously resurrects the insurrectional barricades Parisians erected around their city to stave off a new monarchist government and tears down the barricades between documentary and fiction, I had to stop and e-mail a Parisian friend to ask if she'd seen the film. My friend -- an artist denizen of Belleville, one of the quarters evoked by Watkins -- had not even heard of it. This vindicated Watkins as far as the one major reservation I have about "La Commune," that the otherwise educative inter-titles, filling in the basic historical timeline around the events of March - May 1871, sometimes cede to the film-maker's rants about the obstacles to getting his film distributed in France -- even its co-producer the German-French television network Arte screened "La Commune" from 11 at night to 4 in the morning -- and claims the Commune is under-taught in French schools. The media blockade is of course not incidental, indeed validates the film's relevance in presenting a model of a utopian ideal which directly menaces the ruling financial and political elites. (My friend also e-mailed back that she'd just been watching an Arte prime-time program on Al Capone and the Roaring '20s, a subject less likely to rile its audience to revolt in these heady days of the Euro-crisis. Maybe.) Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

If he's most associated by the greater public today with rural passages and still lifes, Paul Cezanne spent half of his creative years in Paris and the Ile de France, painting everything from the street-scapes of Montmartre and its denizens to the more bucolic banks of the Marne. Cezanne and Paris, running through February 26 at the Musee du Luxembourg, celebrates this artistic love affair with 80 works by the painter Picasso called "the father of us all." Above, clockwise from upper left, all by Paul Cezanne: "La Rue des Saules a Montmartre," circa 1873-1874. Huile sur toile, 31.5 x 39.5 cm. Personal collection. ©Personal collection. "Bethsabee, after Rembrandt," 1871-1874? (according to John Rewald, circa 1870). Huile sur toile, 37 x 46 cm. Personal collection. ©Personal collection. "The Negro Scipion," circa 1867, Huile sur toile, 107 x 83 cm. Sao Paulo, MASP, Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo Assis Chateaubriand. ©Museu de Arte, Sao Paulo, Brazil / Giraudon / The Bridgeman Art Library Nationality. "Paris Rooftops," 1881-1882. Huile sur toile. 59.7 x 73 cm. Personal collection. ©Personal collection.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
9: La Gamine de Montmartre
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

I'm hallucinating!

If you really want to experience the authentic Montmartre, the Montmartre of phantoms and not the Montmartre of charlatans, avoid at all cost "La Butte," the tip-top of the village encircling Sacre Coeur which is mined with tourist traps and has about as much to do with art any more as San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf has to do with fish. Start at the Metro Barbes, whose nocturnal closure opened "Les Portes de la Nuit" (the Gates of the Night) to the lanky Yves Montand in Marcel Carne's 1946 semi-surreal fairy tale of post-war Paris, or, if your legs are feeling sturdy, begin at the base of the rue des Martyrs at the Metro Notre Dame de Lorette -- named for the church of the same name before whose doors Van Gogh once stood praying before heading down to the Boulevard Montmartre to sell his paintings at the Galerie Goupil -- and head up-hill. At the top of Martyrs, turn left down the Boulevard Rochechouart - Clichy and continue past the Moulin Rouge, then traverse the bridge over the Montmartre cemetery, tracing the foot- steps of Truffaut's teenaged truant carrying a typewriter stolen from his step-father's office in the 1959 "400 Blows," and remembering to doff your beret to Sacha and the rest of the Guitrys, France's royal family of theater, reposing below in the cemetery. Then head up the winding, chestnut tree-lined rue Caulaincourt, imagining what a struggle the nightly climb from the Moulin Rouge to his studio just off Caulaincourt must have been for the stunted Toulouse-Lautrec. The street broadens out at the Square Constantin Pecqueur, where Isadora once taught her charges, a plaque reminds you, and Steinlin fed and painted his cats in a Hausmanian building towering above the square (their calico offspring still scramble for food left on the high railing bordering Sacre Coeur on the Butte). Buy a thick triangular slice of warmed-up tuna-tomato quiche at the boulangerie near the square and eat it on a bench across from the statue Paul Vannier built in homage to the artist, above a bronze frieze of what could be the 12 apostles dressed as mendicants lined up in a soup kitchen, except that some wag has chalked in libidinous thought balloons for each, hovering over a basin of dead water. Click here to read the full 'Cross-Country' Chapter.

From Romeo Castelluci's "On the concept of the face of the Son of God." Klaus
Lefebvre photo courtesy Theatre de la Ville.

Flash Communique, 11-9: Romeo Castellucci at the Theatre de la Ville - Paris
October 20 - 30: 10 days of resistance to fanaticism
The director, the staff of the Theatre de la Ville, and the audience did not give in
By Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota
Artistic director, Theatre de la Ville
Translated and with an introduction
by Paul Ben-Itzak

In 10 days of confrontation that made the riotous response to Stravinsky and Nijinsky's "Rite of Spring" of a hundred years ago seem like a Spring picnic, the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt -- Europe's leading theater, situated on the banks of the Seine across from Notre Dame, and where the Divine Sarah was once all that was needed to stir up the public -- faced off against a small but virulent cadre of right-wing Christian fundamentalists, as the theater's director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota courageously called them, determined to stop performances of Romeo Castelluci's play, "On the concept of the face of the Son of God," a dramatic reflection on the relationship between an incontinent father and his son, amplified by their rapport with the visage of Christ, as represented by a giant rendition of the Antonello da Messina painting. From October 20 to 30, the Place Chatelet and the inside of the theater itself, situated not far from what Parisians refer to as Point Zero in front of Notre Dame because all distances in France are measured from it, became Ground Zero in a daily escalating battle pitting freedom of artistic expression against violent religious fanaticism, as right-wing Christian agitators scaled the exterior balcony of the theater to toss eggs and pour draining fluid on would-be spectators; bought entrance tickets so that they could launch stink-balls and tear gas at the audience; stormed the stage; incited young people with lies that the play included excrement being thrown at the portrait of Christ; and, on calmer days, settled with simply disrupting the performance with boos and whistles. On four occasions, the theater had to call in the police. At each and every show, the artists performed the work to its conclusion. What follows is Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota's first-hand account of the events. Owing to the imprecision of translating certain uniquely French terms and expressions, for an authoritative French text readers should visit the web site of the Theatre de la Ville, where they can also sign a petition of support for the theater against fanaticism whose current signatories include the actors Sylvie Testud, Juliette Binoche, and Michel PIccoli, choreographer Sasha Waltz, directors Patrice Chereau and Robert Wilson, and dancer and director of Pina Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal Dominique Mercy. -- Paul Ben-Itzak


The performances of Romeo Castellucci's work, "On the concept of the face of the son of God," at the Theatre de la Ville October 20-30, were systematically disrupted by organized groups claiming to be from Action Francaise and Renouveau Francais. AGRIF (the Association against anti-White and Anti-Christian racism), went to court to try to block the performances, before the Court of Grande Instance October 18, 2011 and the Administrative Court of Paris October 28, 2011, and its request was denied. Click here to read the full Account.

Aida Vainieri joins Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal in reprising Bausch's masterpiece
"Danzon," December 2 & 3 at Cal Performances' Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. Bettina Sto photo
courtesy Cal Performances.

Flash Review, 11-7: Can everything old be new again?
Jones/Zane, Redux
By Philip W. Sandstrom
Copyright 2011 Philip W. Sandstrom

NEW YORK -- The immediate challenge facing this reviewer on September 25 at New York Live Arts (formerly Dance Theater Workhop), watching the current Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Dance Company perform seminal pieces that defined the troupe in its early years, was not looking for Zane and Jones in the dances. Because I first experienced this work as performed by the co-choreographers, I had to try to erase the memory of those poignant and particular performances by those distinctive performers and force myself to view the work anew, all the more challenging as I'd worked with Jones/Zane on a number of their projects at Dance Theater Workshop in the 1980s. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal button above.)

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
8: Lost in Translation
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

When a white French person tells you a neighborhood is dangerous, often what s/he really means by 'dangerous' is 'There are a lot of French Arabs there.' (Except that the white French person would just call them 'Arabs,' regardless of how many generations their families have been implanted in France.) I hadn't yet realized this false equivalence when I moved to France in the summer of 2001, so that when I found myself, less than a week after my arrival, taking a midnight stroll down what I'd been warned was the most 'dangerous' street in the most 'dangerous' town in France, Montpellier, flanked on both sides of the street by swarthy male citizens whose eyes were riveted on me, I felt like I was running a gauntlet. I nonetheless wore the widest possible grin on my face because in front of me, carrying my DJ equipment between them and holding my life in their hands were the real objects of the local attention, two gorgeous ladies from Spain, Marta (a glittering blonde of 28) y Marta (a lithesome and winsome brunette of 22). Click here to read the full Chapter.

The Arts Voyager, 10-19: Artist as Witness
Occupying the Media with Woody Guthrie and Oliver Laxe
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

What do a demonstration in Paris, a performance in Fort Worth, a prisoner exchange in Israel and Palestine, and a documentary filmed in Morocco opening tonight in New York have in common? Taken together, they confirm the importance of the artist as witness. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

James Daugherty (1887-1974), "Cabaret (Cafe Chantant)," 1914. Transparent and opague watercolor and graphite on wove paper. 12 1/8" in diameter. ©Lisa Daugherty/Friends of James Daugherty Foundation, Inc.. Courtesy Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

The Arts Voyager, 10-14: The Art Mavericks
Amon Carter and his children
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH, TX -- A year of trawling for art and art lovers in New York's Chelsea canyon yielded little that was interesting beyond some old favorites such as the Figurative leader CFM Gallery. Uptown, meanwhile, the Met seems mired in the 17th century, except for the Costume Institute, which should long ago have changed its name to the (latest) Fashion Institute. MOMA never writes, it never calls, so, art-wise, there was little to prevent this arts voyager from packing up his notebook and following his congested nose for art out to where the West begins and art is still made and fancied with the passion of a beginner, with the extra touch that after you finish visiting with the cowboys and the Indians of Remington and Russell at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, you can revel at real horses whinnying from the livestock show at the neighboring Will Rogers Memorial Center (don't forget to pay your respects before the statue of Will on his horse on your way out), and even take home some relics from the week-end flea market, be they a double-set of Bob Wills or a genuine Texas nutcracker that doubles as a crustacean crusher. Throw in a Saturday night arts ramble at the Arts Goggle in the not-yet and please-don't-get precious Southside Fairmount National Historic District and a rare chance to view 100 gems of watercolors and drawings -- from Ben Shahn's dramatic ink bust of Martin Luther King just after Selma off the cover of Time magazine to fundamental Stuart Davis to stunning charcoal and graphite drawings of the Golden Gate 82 years before the Bridge went up -- all at the Amon Carter before they go back into light-protected storage for another 10 years, and I'll take self- described Cowtown over the Apple any day. Subscribers click here to read the full article and see more images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal button above.)

Flash History, 10-7: Merce
A Dance Memoir
By Elinor Rogosin
Copyright 2011 Elinor Rogosin

During the summer of 1952, I discovered Merce Cunningham's class in a loft on W. 8th Street, not far from New York University, where I was taking a summer course. It was not so much a conscious decision to transfer from the Martha Graham School and technique to the Cunningham classes, but a matter of chance. Modern dance was extremely passionate about such allegiances at that time. And when I introduced myself before the first class, I told Merce, in a confessional tone, that my previous training had been at the Martha Graham School. He reacted to my admission with an amused smile, but said nothing. Then one day, after I had been studying with him for a while, he surprised me by remarking, "You're more lyrical than most of those who've studied with Martha." Referring to the first names of our teachers was part of the early modern dance heritage, and I thought of Merce's comment as a compliment. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Unparalleled artist, activist, labor leader, and Greenwich Village denizen Stuart Davis is just one of those whose work is featured in "The Allure of Paper: Watercolors and Drawings from the Collection," continuing through October 9 at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Above: "Gas," ca. 1930. Stuart Davis (1892-1964). Opaque watercolor, ink, and graphite on wove paper. © Estate of Stuart Davis / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas. 2000.7.

Caricature and Comics: Whether working in 1777 or 2008, the comics artist, graphiste, illustrator or caricaturist has always looked at everyday life or the grand scene, at mythic stories or super-heroes in a way that applies eye and craft to shed a new light on society and mores, to tell stories or depict personalities and themes in a way that words alone cannot. Two new exhibitions illustrate this. Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine, on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through March 4, 2012, explores humorous imagery from the Italian Renaissance to the present, from Daumier through Hirschfeld. "Blutch," on view at the Galerie Martel in Paris through October 29, stars Blutch, born Christian Hincker, whose work, in both its style and subjects, often pays homage to the films the artist grew up with in the 1960s and '70s. "At heart, I try to explain what it is to be 20 years old," says Blutch. Left: Blutch, "La Beaute," 2007. Black, blue, and red crayon. Courtesy Galerie Martel. (Click here to see more images.) Right: Anonymous, British, 18th century, "Top and Tail," 1777. Hand-colored etching, plate: 12 11/16 x 7 13/16 in. (32.3 x 19.9 cm), sheet: 14 1/16 x 8 9/16 in. (35.7 x 21.8 cm). the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, the Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1959 (59.533.5).

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
7: Les compagnons de route
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

At the risk of hovering too long in the land of the dead -- Paris is, after all, to paraphrase Malcolm McLaren, a city of ghosts and shadows -- I think it's time to introduce my feline co-stars, the ones who made it possible for me to make all these traverses, from Alaska to San Francisco, San Francisco to New York, New York to Paris, Paris to Les Eyzies in the country's southwestern Dordogne region, Les Eyzies to Montpellier and Perigueux, and to Paris and back again twice: Sonia, Mesha, and Hopey, my compagnons de route for two decades of adventures and escapades. Click here to read the full 'Cross-Country' Chapter.

A scene from Ariane Michel's "Les Hommes." Image courtesy Ariane Michel.

Whether intentionally or not -- the publicity seems to indicate the former -- Ariane Michel's 2006 digital video to 35mm "Les Hommes," screening tonight and tomorrow night at Anthology Film Archives in New York, is a sort of anti-travelogue that follows an expedition of scientists and naturalists to Greenland, revealing their, and by implication contemporary Man's, disassociation with nature even as the film-maker tracks her human subjects' probing of the arctic landscape and its animal and floral inhabitants. The alienation starts almost immediately, with an all too typical contemporary French monotonal sonic landscape that clashes dramatically with the natural one approaching as the arctic explorer ship Tara approaches land, the camera spanning a sea dotted with ice floats and the occasional glacier. I was tempted to turn the sound down during the first 15 minutes of the film that this annoying drone droned on, so that I could just take in the vast ocean, greenish mountains, and gray-green stony beaches in the purity in which the explorers must have encountered them. Click here to read the full Review.

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The easy thing for the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Orange County Museum of Art to do in featuring Richard Diebenkorn would have been to focus on the figurative work most associated with the West Coast-based artist, that created between 1955 and 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area, and ensure box-office appeal to the largest audience. But museums also have a responsibility to contribute to the ongoing understanding of major artists by promoting their oeuvre in all its dimensions. Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series, on view at the Modern in FW through January 15 before moving to OC February 26 - May 27 and the Corcoran Gallery June 30 - September 23, highlights more than 75 works from Diebenkorn's abstract period, when he lived and worked in Ocean Park, Southern California from 1967 to 1988. It "reveals anew the complexity and subtlety of Diebenkorn's practice and the relevancy of his work to the continuing dialogue with abstraction among contemporary artists," says exhibition curator Sarah C. Bancroft. "It is a rare and unique opportunity to bring to a broader audience such a well-known yet under-exhibited body of work." Even if they are "abstract," some of the tableaux, such as that featured here, suggesting redwoods and coastal ambiance, reflect the inspiration of the California milieu in which Diebenkorn worked. Above: Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled #26, 1984. Gouache, acrylic, and crayon on paper. 24 x 38 inches. (61 x 96.5 cm). Private collection. Copyright The Estate of Richard Diebenkorn. Image courtesy The Estate of Richard Diebenkorn. -- Paul Ben-Itzak

Following the success of its recent program "Duos," the Ballet Preljocaj reprises the evening October 17 & 18 at its Pavilion Noir headquarters in Aix-en-Provence, performing Angelin Preljocaj's "Annonciation," "Centaures," and the duet from "Blanche Neige." Above: Zaratiana Randrianantenaina and Celine Galli in "Annonciation." Jean-Claude Carbonne courtesy Ballet Preljocaj. Subscribers click here to read Paul Ben-Itzak's review of the Paris Opera Ballet's interpretation of "Annonciation." (Not a subscriber? Click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above to get full access to all archived and new articles for just $29.95/year.).

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
6: Paul au pays des morts-vivants
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

With Taglioni & Truffaut in the land of the living dead

The five films of Francois Truffaut's Antoine Doinel cycle begin in 1959 with the troubled teenager of "The 400 Blows" and end two decades later with the 30-something Antoine (in all the films, Jean-Pierre Leaud) of "Love on the Run" finally finding his true love Sabine, his former amours come to the rescue to make sure the affair isn't derailed by the another of the faux pas that have dogged Antoine all his life, especially his complicated romantic life, complicated further by his complex relationship with his mother. Close watchers of the five films will note that the Montmartre Cemetery figures in three. Click here to read the full 'Cross-Country' Chapter.

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Catherine Olivier, "Absence III." Gouache/acrylique, Paris 2009.
Copyright Catherine Olivier.

The Johnston Letter, Volume 1, Number 3
Be Ready for Anything
By Jill Johnston
Copyright 2005 Jill Johnston

(On the first anniversary of the death of Jill Johnston, friends, family, and colleagues will gather Sunday, September 18 from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South in New York, for an afternoon and evening of readings from the legendary columnist, journalist, activist, writer, and critic, followed by a reception. This Letter was first published on the Dance Insider on September 7, 2005. The Mark Morris Dance Group performs the choreographer's "Dido and Aeneas" tonight through Sunday at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, with Morris making his San Francisco Bay Area conducting debut.)

Dear Paul, Thanks for those tickets to the Mostly Mozart festival at Lincoln Center to see Mark Morris. Before taxiing uptown I was sitting with Ingrid outside our house, dressed to go, a large colorful woven bag slung over my shoulder, saying I didn't think I could make it. She talked me into it by saying that if when we got there I didn't want to go, we could turn around and come home. I'm not agoraphobic exactly, but really when I go anyplace besides the neighborhood it's to get in our car and drive out of the city. I go uptown once in a while for some appointment or other. Driving out is not always wonderful. Last week at the height of our torrid humid summer, imagining we would beat the heat at 9 a.m., we drove to IKEA near Newark just for the treat of their cafeteria-served Swedish shrimp over egg mayo on lightly toasted bread. That was my goal anyway. Subscribers click here to read the full Letter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Julien Cottereau as Julien in Matias Meyer's 2009 "El Calambre" (The Cramp). Gerardo Barroso Alcala photo courtesy Axolote Cine.

The Arts Voyager, 9-16: GenMex
Running away to Chacahua with a French clown
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

Travelogues are easy: Just plop the camera before some magnificent vistas and start to shoot. Take it into a cafe or two and a fishing pier for some human local color and voila!, National Geographic on celluloid. Interior journeys are less easy to convey. With his 2009 "El Calambre" (The Cramp), playing tonight and Monday at New York's Anthology FIlm Archives as part of its series "GenMex: Recent Films from Mexico," Matias Meyer places a short story by Chinese writer Gao Xingian on the Pacific Coast of Mexico around the fishing village of Chacahua. This is where late 20-something French clown Julian (Julien Cottereau) parks his skiff one misty night in a "spiritual search." Or so we're told by the program notes. In the visage of the film itself, as well as Cottereau's, it's hard to divine exactly what's troubling him; he projects little more than a generalized angst, with lots of gazes out into the vast expanse of the ocean but little verbal expansion -- the film's dialogue is spare -- on what ails him. He sleeps, he swims underwater (the lens fills with bubbles appropriately), he vomits, he tastes freshly caught oysters doused with lemon juice and hot sauce by local fisherman Pablo (Pablo Lopez) ("very little," Julien pleads fruitlessly -- the French are not big on spicy -- having to settle for wiping the hot sauce off the oyster with his sunscreen-doused fingers). He finally hires Lopez to chauffeur him around by boat; there's even a cathartic scene in which the Frenchman follows the Mexican's lead in getting out of the boat and covering himself in mud, presumably in a cleansing ritual. In the end -- and in the movie's most riveting and potentially moving scene of cultural exchange -- he performs his clown-show for the villagers. Not that we're allowed to see much of it; Meyer chooses to focus more on the spectators' reaction than the spectacle, echoing the general tenor of the film, which leaves us to fill in the emotional blanks from Julien's generally emotionally smudgy visage. The film ends with the comedian breaking out in a cold sweat in his tent after the show, as well as a smile of relief; the catharsis has apparently transpired --- we're just not sure what's been expelled.

Flash Flashback, 9-11: Bessie at the Barricades
An Open Letter from David White
By David White
Executive Director
Dance Theater Workshop
Photography by Julie Lemberger

(Editor's Note: Rather than add to the general pandemonium of calendar-induced coverage of the events of September 11, 2001 this month, we've decided to highlight one particularly prescient and almost uniquely brave piece published in these pages on September 18, 2001. Subscribers who wish to revisit the entirety of our coverage, including dispatches from Ground Zero and around the world, plus my own perspective as a New Yorker recently transplanted to Paris, are invited to check our 2001 archives, under September. -- PB-I)

This is the second introduction written for the 2001 New York Dance and Performance Awards, otherwise known as the BESSIES which will be held as scheduled at the Joyce Theater on September 21, 2001 at 7 p.m. The first, proofed and formatted, replete with ironic references to the retirement of Jesse Helms and a reflection upon the culture wars of the 1990s, was blown away on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Of course, it was not blown away like the souls at the World Trade Center, in five rings of the Pentagon, or in a field outside Pittsburgh. The BESSIES are about a certain kind of survival: There was in the original text an allusion to the independent artist as a "survivor" of a true-life cultural reality show. No more. On Tuesday, the notion of "reality show" took on a whole new meaning, in New York and around the world. When two people grasp hands and jump from the shattered windows of a molten tower, lit up by a hijacked jetliner, live and in color, all realities, not just cultural reality, are forever changed. Subscribers click here to read the full Letter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Walter Saabel and Asia Crippa in "La Pivellina," a film by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel, and a First Run Features release.

The Arts Voyager, 9-7: Send in the Clowns
Running away with the circus with Covi & Frimmel
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Where is the line between documentary and fiction? In film, even documentaries involve story-telling. And fiction should have at least a kernel of truth in order to resonate. Two films by the same directors on view this week at Anthology Film Archives, the New York theatrical premiere of Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel's fictional "La Pivellina (Little Girl)," showing through tonight (with the film- makers presenting it), and their documentary "Babooska," running through Sunday (ditto), offer the unique opportunity to examine the question through the lens of directors whose fiction looks and feels like a documentary and whose documentary could just as well be cinema verite. Both offer the opportunity to run away with the circus and tour rural, coastal, and suburban Italy as seen through the lives of nomadic performers living on the edge, their grip on financial survival as tenuous as a tight-rope walker's on terra firma. Click here to read the full Article.

Charles M. Russell (1864-1926), "In Without Knocking," 1909. Oil on canvas. Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas 1961.201.

The Arts Voyager, 9-2: What is America to Me?
Van Cliburn and the Fort Worth Symphony rise to the occasion
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH, Texas -- In the 10 years since the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001, Uncle Sam's shoulders have often seemed to slump from the weight of a revenge which has exacted a million innocent lives for 3,000, an economy which has footed the bill at the expense of American children, cities, and the poor, and a Bill of Rights which both Republican and Democratic presidents have laid siege to. One might well ask -- well, anyway, your humble correspondent might -- What exactly is there to celebrate about America in 2011?, and be less than enthusiastic about a mini-festival called Celebrate America. Yet this would be a gross misread of the event as planned and executed last weekend by the Fort Worth Symphony, as lead by music director and conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya and, for Saturday's performance at Bass Hall, hoisted upon the sturdy shoulders of one of the country's most celebrated bearers of non-military victories in international relations of the 20th century, no less than Van Cliburn, perfectly cast as Lincoln in Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait." Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

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Pete Kelly's "Blur Stampede Panoramic," above, is just one of the myriad of photographs on display at the Robin Rice Gallery as part of "Summertime." Click here to see the full Dance Insider gallery. Image courtesy Robin Rice Gallery.

Above: Karine Laval, "Swimming Pool #24, Annecy, France." Below: Linda Churilla "Longboard Afternoon, Ditch Plains." Images copyright the photographers and courtesy Robin Rice Gallery.

The Arts Voyager, 8-2: 'Summertime' & the Curating is Stunning
Robin Rice broadens the vista and ups the Ante

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- In the universe of New York art galleries, circa 2011 -- where just about anybody with a bit of money and a circle of cool-looking friends seems to be able to pitch a tent in Chelsea Canyon and call themselves a curator -- Robin Rice stands alone, packing a universe of perspectives into her relatively compact storefront gallery space at 325 W. 11th Street in the far west reaches of Greenwich Village. The gallery's current exhibition Summertime, running through September 11, is no exception, compressing an astounding variety of universes -- and printing processes -- into the seemingly limited space. Don't be deceived; if the title "Summertime" suggests an obvious theme, Rice's selection, deriving from a far-reaching curatorial outlook, is anything but. Click here to read more and see more images.

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If Manet is rightly credited as "the man who invented modernity," as the Musee d'Orsay refers to him in the exhibition which ends Sunday, when it comes to the modern aspect of his figures (see also "Olympia," below), he was helped in no small part by his models, including Berthe Morisot. (Captured at left in "Berthe Morisot au bouquet de violettes," 1872, Huile sur Toile, 55 x 40 cm, Paris, Musee d'Orsay. ©Musee d'Orsay, dist. RMN / Patrice Schmidt.) The Morisot collection at the Marmatton is largely the legacy of Annie Rouart and Denis Rouart, Morisot's grandson. Another Rouart, the painter's great great grand-daughter Lucie, is the subject of two portraits on display through August 13 at New York's Flomenhaft Gallery, both by Neil Folberg (including, above, "L'Arlesienne"), who was commissioned to travel through France in the footsteps of the Impressionists, creating works with his camera that they might have made were they alive today. Image ©Neil Folberg and courtesy Flomenhaft Gallery.

Decisive Decade: 10 years of dance in France
Return of the Ballerina
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2002, 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

(From 2000 through 2010, the Dance Insider was the leading source for English language reviews of and news about the French dance scene. 'Decisive Decade' revisits that coverage and a critical period in the European dance scene. This article, first published on October 3, 2002, includes a review of "L'Arlesienne," by Roland Petit, the most important creator of theatrical ballets in the 20th century. Petit passed away Sunday in Geneva. For more on Petit on the Dance Insider, see also our Flash Reviews of "Notre-Dame de Paris" and "Clavigo," both as performed by the Paris Opera Ballet.)

PARIS -- With one pointed foot and a pair of eloquent arms, propelled by one powerful heart, guest Paris Opera etoile Isabel Guerin delivered a rousing reminder last night at the Garnier that Ballet is never dead; all it requires to live is a dancer as able to display her fragility as her agility and as compassionate as she is fierce. A week after William Forsythe foisted his own brand of anti-ballet pretension on the city where so much of the foundation of ballet was laid, Guerin, returning to the stage where she has touched so many hearts for 25 years, brought ballet back home to that foundation: It's the pointe, with a little help from the arms and a major investment from the soul. The foundation for last night's refresher course from Guerin was the mixed (in both senses of the word) Roland Petit/Jerome Robbins program with which the Paris Opera Ballet has opened its season at the Garnier. If I could Flash only a single moment from the evening, it would be when Guerin's Vivette, in Petit's "L'Arlesienne," enters to discover her fiance Frederi (Nicolas Le Riche) crumpled in a tight fetal position, and immediately rises on pointe, her toes shooting a heart- rending quiver through her whole body, and our bodies too. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

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Walk into the Musee d'Orsay and make your way to Manet's "Olympia," nestled (when it's not part of a special exhibition) in a side gallery on the first floor, and you're likely to find a few visitors nonchalantly regarding the canvas before moving on. It's a far cry from the painting's unveiling at the Salon of 1865, when it so outraged sensibilities with its conception of unidealized beauty that it became fodder for mocking newspaper cartoonists in the leading Paris journals. To understand the many levels of the revolution Manet started, it helps to see him in social and political context. All the more reason to hurry over to the Orsay for the final days of "Manet, the man who invented modernity," which re- examines the many links he created in these spheres, focusing on the teaching of Thomas Couture, the support of Baudelaire, his relationship with women painters (Berthe Morisot, Eva Gonzales), his decision to remain outside the main Impressionism movement, his complicity with Mallarme, and more. Above: "Olympia," 1863, Huile sur toile, 130,5 x 190 cm, Paris, musee d'Orsay, ©Musee d'Orsay, dist. RMN / Patrice Schmidt.

Decisive Decade: 10 years of dance in France
Space, the Final Frontier: Site-Limitless Work from Mantero and Fiadeiro
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2003, 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

(From 2000 through 2010, the Dance Insider was the leading source for English language reviews of and news about the French dance scene. 'Decisive Decade' revisits that coverage and a critical period in the European dance scene. This article was first published on November 24, 2003.)

PARIS -- Watching two recent performances here, from Vera Mantero and Joao Fiadeiro, I was reminded of the New York Times's ludicrous statement last summer that "the proscenium stage is passe." (The writer obviously hadn't read Brecht.) How could anyone be so unaware that the most crucial theater of operation for the choreographer is not the location in which the spectacle takes place, but the spaces of the body and the mind and where they meet in the vast landscapes of the spectator's imagination? Like Dance Theater Workshop, whose new theater was the subject of Gia Kourlas's irresponsibly ignorant argument, the Theatre de la Bastille (whose curatorial niche in France is similar to that of DTW, PS 122, and Danspace Project in New York) has also been renovated, at a cost of about $900,000. But with all due respect to the costs involved, and my own personal comfort in watching the second program of "Complicites portugaises" this past Saturday (the program concludes tonight) from the comfort of a re- upholstered seat, it was the many spaces that Vera Mantero probed in her 1999 "Olympia" that made this 20-minute show. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Situated along Paris's tony gallery row on the rue Matignon, the Galerie de l'Exil tries to bring to light foreign artists exiled in Paris, or what it calls 'the forgotten of art history.' While Georges-Henri Pescadere was no foreigner -- having been born in the city's decidedly less tony but storied Menilmontant quarter, in 1915 -- he was deported to Germany during the war as a resistant, and his more than 600 works endured a sort of self-exile until his death in 2003, due to Pescadore's aversion to exposing his art to others. All the more reason to celebrate the gallery's exhibition of 40 of these oeuvres, through October 31. "Nourished by his avowed admiration for Cezanne and Picasso," said gallery director Etienne Aubert, "Georges-Henri Pescadere did not deny himself this affiliation. The result is obvious. The history of painting from the debut of the 20th century takes on new force and life under his paintbrushes." Above: "Nu sur fond bleu" (Nude on blue background), 89 x 116 cm.

Just as the Eiffel Tower altered the landscape of Paris and upset notions of art when it was completed in 1889, so jazz deconstructed the musical landscape when it emerged in the 1920s. It's no surprise that Robert Delaunay, influenced by jazz, would re-arrange perspectives when he painted the Eiffel in 1924. It's no surprise either that the result, above, is one of 11 works at the heart of the Dallas Museum of Art's Center for Creative Connection's exhibition "Encountering Space," an interactive exposition on view through Fall 2012. "Eiffel Tower, 1924." Robert Delaunay, French. Oil on canvas. 72 1/2 x 68 5/8 x 1 1/2 in. (184.15 x 174.31 x 3.81 cm). Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated. © L&M Services, Amsterdam.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
5: The Return of the Girl in the Green Dress
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

Chez moi chez Baudelaire & Yeats

If I wasn't already set on moving to France, seeing the five films of Truffaut's Antoine Doinel cycle (beginning with "The 400 Blows") all in one weekend at New York's Anthology FIlm Archives in 2000 did it. As if right on cue, then, the girl in the light green dress who greeted me and my three cats, Sonia, Mesha, and Hopey at 33 rue Lamartine -- one-time demeure of Baudelaire, which I'd be subletting while the girl was off to produce in the Off festival at Avignon -- on July 2, 2001 had the same name as the heroine of "L'amour en fuite" (Love on the Run), the last chapter of the cycle, in which Antoine, finally, maybe, finds his true love: Sabine. Movies are clearer than life, though (with the casting sometimes adding other layers; 'my' Sabine would later inform me that the the Sabine of my dreams, Truffaut's, was played by the lady of a whole generation of French kids' nightmares, Dorothee, better known to them as the insipid host of the kids' show that dominated the after-school air-waves in the 1980s); our story, that of Sabine and I, would rarely be simple over the next decade. Sometimes I think I never loved anyone as much as I loved Sabine. More than that, I loved who I was with her -- not the moments, too frequent, where I had to lean on her, which must have made her feel less like a woman and more like a mother -- but the moments where we would fall into a comic interplay, often each playing roles, for Sabine was a clown, by profession, and my saving grace, not availed of as often as it could be, was to be one by vocation. Click here to read the full 'Cross-Country' Chapter.

Muhammad on his mountain: Ali in the camp he constructed in Deerlake, Pennsylvania, from Anton Perich's "Muhammad Ali, the Long-lost Movie." Image credit Anton Perich and courtesy Anthology Film Archives.

Flash Preview, 7-1: The Greatest, brought down to Earth
With Muhammad, on his Mountain
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Raw and with the languorous appearance of being uncut, Anton Perich's "Muhammad Ali, the Long-lost Movie," screening tonight only at 7:30 at Anthology Film Archives, is a stunning, singularly American document of a singular bell-weather of the American trans-cultural scene in the early 1970s, a cinema verite portrait of a man in all his elements, as elementally American as he is elementally African-American and American Muslim, earnest and down to earth, nowhere demonstrated more movingly and simply then in the long middle section of the black and white video, set in a real camp Ali built up top a mountain in Deerlake, Pennsylvania in 1973, on a plateau surrounded by granite rocks he had painted with the names of his history, Johnson, Dempsey, Louis, Leonard, Marciano, Graziano.... After excerpts were shown on Manhattan Cable Public Access in 1973, the footage was "lost in my archives," Perich says, until he edited this new version last year. The result is a document -- perhaps the first -- which sheds and even explains, in Ali's own words, the public showman's veneer that, as much as his boxing, catapulted Ali to the fulcrum of the cultural zeitgeist in the cross-fertilized era that was the 1970s. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? Yearly subscription, including full access to archives, is $29.95. To subscribe, just click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

Decisive Decade: 10 years of dance in France
An American Dance Fan in France: In Montpellier, it's Back to the Future
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2001, 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

(From 2000 through 2010, the Dance Insider was the leading source for English language reviews of and news about the French dance scene. 'Decisive Decade' revisits that coverage and a critical period in the European dance scene. This article was first published on July 11, 2001. Emmanuelle Huynh now directs the Centre national de danse contemporaine in Angers, where her predecessors include Alwin Nikolais. Paul Ben-Itzak has since learned that Montpellier is not the most dangerous place in France. The current edition of the Montpellier Danse Festival continues through July 7.)

MONTPELLIER, France -- So, dance insider, it's midnight Monday, and I'm strolling down the most dangerous street in the most dangerous town in France, with the widest grin on my face. I'm smiling because ahead of me walk my protectors, the two most beautiful women in Montpellier this summer, swinging my DJ gear between them and leading our return expedition to La Chapelle. Marta y Marta -- two ladies from Spain -- caught my DJ act Sunday night. It was just a small part of the "happening" at La Chapelle's After-Shave salon, the unofficial after-party of the Montpellier Danse festival. The encounter was enough to remember each other when we met again Monday afternoon at the old Dominican Church off Espace Charles de Gaulle, where Compagnie MC2 Luc Maubon performed "Languages Oublies," also not an official part of the festival but a beneficiary of the "all-dance, all-the-time" spirit that intoxicates this Southern city every year. I asked my new friends to the performance of Catherine Diverres, one of seven formal or informal spectacles I saw this week. I also caught Emmanuelle Huynh's prop-impelled, land of the unrestrained duet-grapple dance, an all-Jiri Kylian evening from the Netherlands Dance Theater, and planned and impromptu dance and dance and music performances at La Chapelle that amplified the official events, as well as solidified for me that this town, at this time, is very much like what NYC must have been in the 1960s, when ballet boomed and Judson birthed. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

So what if for the cut-outs which defined his last artistic epoch, Henri Matisse usually relied on assistants to implement some stages of his conceptions? The eye was his, as was the through-line, dating back to his co-founding of the Fauves; Color and Light. No work demonstrates this more than "Ivy in Flower," completed a year before the painter's death, and on view at the Dallas Museum of Art through December 11. "I almost have to tie myself hand and foot to prevent myself from starting work at once," Matisse wrote son Pierre in 1952 about the commission for a stained glass window to decorate the mausoleum of Albert Lasker. By early 1954, his feelings had changed. "It is a miserable business that I should be treated like this at my age, and with all my past work to speak for me," he wrote. The DMA exhibition, "Afterlife: The Story of Henri Matisse's 'Ivy in Flower'" recounts this masterpiece's journey, in Matisse's mind as well as physically; it's now in the collection of the museum. Henri Matisse, "Ivy in Flower," 1953, colored paper, watercolor, pencil, and brown paper tape on paper mounted on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, ©Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.


Above: "Chico & Rita," 2011. China ink on paper. 50 x 35 cm. Below: "Chico & Rita," 2011. Watercolour on paper. 50 x 35 cm. Both images ©Javier Mariscal.

The Arts Voyager, 6-24: Auberge Espagnol
Mariscal @ Martel: Elevating the "Alpha-Art''

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- If France has long placed comics art, or what the French call 'bande dessine' or even, more fancily, 'graphisme,' on the same level as the rest of the fine arts, the Galerie Martel, nestled into a side street off the rue de Paradis (once best known for its crystal and Limoges porcelain boutiques; years ago, one might have scored a piece of porcelain decorated by a young Renoir) in the cosmopolitan 10th arrondissement of Paris, may be the country's first gallery to both devote itself exclusively to the art and expand its definition. Its goal, the gallery says in its mission statement, is to lift the profile of 'graphisme' by exhibiting artists of the highest order whose point in common is exploring new territories and knocking down the barriers that often separate illustration, painting, comics, and animation. The gallery is also unique in its singular lack of chauvinism, demonstrating no particular proclivity for featuring French comics artists in disproportion with their actual importance. (As opposed to, say, Parisian cheese shops or dance theaters, where the French varietal dominates.) Thus, in its three-year existence, the Galerie Martel has already featured comics -- or, more properly, comix -- pioneers like Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman, as well as Jose Munoz, Lorenzo Mattotti, Milton Glaser, Charles Burns, and Thomas Ott. With its latest exhibition, devoted to Spanish-born and Barcelona-heeled (you can see it in his pastel yellows and Mediterranean blues) Javier Mariscal, the Galerie Martel has outdone itself and extended both its vision and the horizons of its visitors when it comes to imagining the possibilities of and demolishing the barriers between 'comics' and the supposed finer arts. Subscribers click here to access the full Gallery and read the full article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal button above.)

Will Barnet (b. 1911), "Awareness of Dawn," 1951. Color lithograph. ©Will Barnet. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas. 2006.6.

The Arts Voyager, 6-21: Amen, Amon
Art awareness a la Texas
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH -- A French pal recently expressed surprise when I told her I was considering moving to Texas; "C'est tres conservative, n'est pas?" Mais, non! If the opposite of 'conservative' is 'open,' then the Fort Worth area is hardly conservative when it comes to art. The Amon Carter Museum, which may have the most wide-ranging collection of 20th century American art in the U.S., is free 24/7. And if this isn't enough to encourage attendance, every Wednesday through July 27 the museum offers Storytime, aimed to engage children with its collection -- this Wednesday's program, "Yee-Haw!," will no doubt tap into Amon Carter's extensive trove of Charles Russell and Frederic Remington. In founding the museum by leaving it his Russell and Remington collection, Carter explained in his will, "As a youth, I was denied the advantages which go with the possession of money. I am endeavoring to give to those who have not had such advantages, but who aspire to the higher and finer attributes of life, those opportunities which were denied to me." The museum's offerings aren't just for kids; Will Barnett: Relationships, Intimate and Abstract, 1935-1965, running until December 31, marks the pioneering artist and and educator's 100th birthday with 50 works running the gamut from realism to abstraction. For an international angle, "Paris calls to us," a special program Thursday night, looks at American artists who studied in Paris, then puts you there by screening Stanley Donen's 1951 "An American in Paris." If Gene and Leslie make you feel like dancing, on Saturday Arts Fifth Avenue proposes "Tango on the Avenue," in the city's Historic Fairmount District. Subscribers click here to read more about Arts Fifth Avenue. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.) Also check out Fort Worth's Leonards Department Store Museum.

Barcelona-born jack of all arts -- notably, comics -- Javier Mariscal, featured above, is just the latest master of bande dessine , and so much more, on display at the Galerie Martel (through September 3), located in the 10th arrondissement of Paris below Montmartre and above the Grands Boulevards, and which is fast making a name for itself as the leading gallery in the world focusing on the so-called 'alpha- art.'.

The Arts Voyager, 6-18: Pieces of a Dream
Mariscal, Barnet, Hamad, Haring: A NY State of Mind Moves Out
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Wednesday night, 8 o'clock. Our evening starts at the Old Heidelberg, dining with Martha Graham's complice and rightful heir Ron Protas, an accident that wasn't an accident, because the setting, unplanned, will set the tone. Once upon a time in New York there were critics of mettle who applied real writerly chops to art by artists who were more than clever, for whom technique was just a means and not an end, and who needed critics with chops to interpret the new art they were creating. This critic, John Leonard, started out as a novelist, beginning with "The Naked Martini," whose hero, Brian Kelly -- another writer with New York City dreams created by a writer with New York City dreams -- would wrap up a day of toil in the advertising houses of "the Lexington Avenue foothills" with a mug of dark beer, a kielbasa, and a proposal of marriage to the Old Heidelberg barmaid inevitably called Helga, swigging the cheap beer (as it was then) from his corner window table looking out at (in the book) York Avenue, somewhere around 86th. (Our waiter tells us the Heidelberg has been at its current location, 2nd just before 86th, since 1963; before that it was somewhere on or around 86th; Leonard's book was published in 1965.) So when the 'large' pitcher-sized mug of dark beer comes, I propose a toast to John Leonard, his ghost still sitting in the corner, but it might as well be a lament, a dirge for a city of ghosts, where art by dead artists is usually more interesting than the artists who can afford to live in Michael Bloomberg's New York Version 2.011, where we are told not to worry that the rent stabilization laws just expired, the last barrier to the complete Bobo-ization of New York crumbling with little sounding of the alarm. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

The Belles of Charleston

CHARLESTON, South Carolina -- The first thing you notice here is that everyone in South Carolina is very moist. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

"Brassens Danse." ©Joann Sfar.

The Arts Voyager, 6-1: Liberte et Fraternite
Brassens, stripped by Sfar
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

If there are four things the French adore, they are: anniversaries, anarchists, comics, and Georges Brassens. The new exhibition at the Cite de la Musique at the parc La Villette in the north of Paris, co- curated by comics giant Joann Sfar (author of "The Rabbi's Cat" comics series and director of the film "Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life") testifies to all these amours in a giant way, commemorating the 90th anniversary of the birth and 30th of the death of Brassens, France's signature poet-troubador, in an creatively curated exhibition that uses comics to help revive the anarchist the veneer of nostalgia has obscured. Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see more Images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Originally an oafish but agile mid-16th century Commedia dell'Arte figure from the Italian region of Bergano, by the late 18th century Harlequin had developed into a quick-witted trickster. His diamond-patterned suit now referred to his physical agility and multifaceted nature, at once cunning and foolish, shrewd and absurd. To celebrate the loan of Paul Cezanne's "Harlequin" by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Art Institute of Chicago has mounted an exhibition, on view through May 30, also featuring works from its collection by Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, and Pablo Picasso. Above: Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas's "Harlequin," 1885. Pastel on cream laid paper, pieced at bottom and right and laid down on board. 633 x 567 mm. Signed lower left: "Degas '85." Bequest of Loula D. Lasker, 1962.74. ©2011 The Art Institute of Chicago,

The Arts Voyager, 5-28: Charleston Diary
1: Writing about art as art
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2011 Chris Dohse

NEW YORK -- In a few hours I leave for Charleston. Preparing my body-mind-heart to write again. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Stephen De Staebler's "Winged Woman Walking X," 1995, Bronze, AP/UC, 112 x 20 x 49 in.
Photo by Scott McCue.

In Memorium, 5-26: Stephen De Staebler
From soil to spirit
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

I guard an image from the mid-1960s of Stephen De Staebler in an old, paint-splattered grey sweatshirt, sleeves bunched up on the elbows, jeans, white sneakers, glasses slightly ajar, a memory accompanied by the powdery scent of wet clay and dry ceramic dust, his studio nestled among the trees in the Berkeley Hills full of works in progress and slabs of dry, moist, and drying clay arrayed haphazardly on tables. If early encounters with art are critical in determining lifelong interest -- I was a kid and used to roughhouse with Stephen's son, Jordan -- this one did it for me, seeing sculpture first in process and not as dead matter in a stuffy museum. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)-->

Bonnie Lucas, "Gone Fishing," 2010, collage, 16 7/8" x 11 3/4. ©Bonnie Lucas. For more on the artist, click here to check our gallery and read our story..

The Johnston Letter, Volume 5, Number 5
Your Royal Highness
By Jill Johnston
Copyright 2011 Jill Johnston

(The Jill Johnston Literary Archive needs your support to preserve Johnston's distinguished legacy, including original manuscripts for her Village Voice reviews and columns, and for her 10 books and reviews and articles for the NY Times and Art in America; research material; a photo collection; correspondence; and over 270 journals which need to be preserved digitally before they decay. For more info, click here.)

December 11, 2009

Your Royal Highness,

You are more difficult to meet than the Pope, and I can't stand behind a rope any more to try to shake your hand. Anyway to shake your hand on the street would not accomplish my purpose. Subscribers click here to read the full Letter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

"Portrait de passage VI;" (detail) by and ©Catherine Olivier. Olivier's work will be on view in
Paris in her atelier high atop the rue des Cascades during the annual Open Studios of
Belleville, May 27 - 30, and at the Cite Internationale des Arts at 18, rue Hotel de Ville
June 1 - 7, with a vernissage May 31 from 6 - 8 p.m. Learn more about Olivier on her website.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
4: C'est tout tout?
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

Chercher la femme

"Girls who travel the metro
Stroking white mice they carry in their pockets
Lost in a day dream."

-- Malcolm McLaren, "Paris."

Hand in hand with melancholy as the two dominant French moods is 'joie de vivre,' often associated with food. I've stalled trying to get into this subject because on first glance it doesn't seem so profound as the rest of the subjects I hope to treat in this memoir. But in fact, in France the food thing is not just a foodie thing -- as it has become, say, in my hometown of San Francisco, a temple for worship of cuisine. Food in France is not just about sustenance, nor is it about hedonist enjoyment or making food paramount above all other things, as sometimes seems the case in San Francisco. Rather it's about appreciation and savoring -- savoring not just the savories but every moment, every function, ritualizing eating to elevate it from routine, so that it's not just about putting fuel in the body, but injecting art into everyday living. Click here to read the full 'Cross-Country' Chapter.

Decisive Decade: 10 years of dance in France
Let Them eat Chocolate Pistachio Mousse: Gallows Humor from Emmanuelle Huynh
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2002, 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

(From 2000 through 2010, the Dance Insider was the leading source for English language reviews of and news about the French dance scene. In 'Decisive Decade,' we'll be revisiting that coverage and a critical period in the European dance scene. This article was first published on April 9, 2002.)

PARIS -- Last night I saw what must be the ultimate in site-specific work: Just yards from where Marie -("Let them eat cake") Antoinette was imprisoned before she was beheaded, an orange-shirted dancer rattled off a litany of French pastries, from apple tart to quiche Lorraine, while behind her three others perpetrated a revolution on the set, toppling tables that had been meticulously crafted into two malleable stages at the beginning of the evening. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Maura Nguyen Donohue of Maura Nguyen Donohue / InMixedCompany in her "Strictly a Female Female." Photo ©Steven Schreiber.

NEW YORK -- One evening back in the 1990s, my friend the choreographer and dancer Rebecca Stenn and I were sitting in a tapas bar in the Village, where a Scandinavian presenter was telling us about Sasha Waltz, already the rage in Europe. In the intervening years, Waltz would go on to be given her own building in Berlin and enough additional means, from Germany and leading theaters throughout Europe, to basically work with whatever and as many artists as she wanted to in multiple genres and, most of all, the luxury of time to create new work. She never had to put her own work aside to take a teaching job so she could pay the rent and raise a family, thus risking the loss of creative momentum that might come with that. She was also given the means to hire a full-time dramaturge to make sure the work was disciplined. If Rebecca Stenn and Maura Nguyen Donohue (like Rebecca, a former longtime Dance Insider contributor) had been working in Europe, this is the kind of support they would have received. Subscribers click here to read the full Letter.. (Not yet a subscriber? Yearly subscription, including full access to archives, is $29.95. To subscribe, just click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
3: The Ghosts of the Square Albin Cachot
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

Menaced by Melancholy

"And I'm walking with Erik Satie."

-- Malcolm McLaren, "Paris."

In the fall of 2000, the Lyon Dance Festival was supposed to bring me to France to cover the event. I was to spend three weeks in Lyon, and I'd set up an apartment exchange with an English teacher in Paris for a fourth week, my W. 8th Street, NY apartment for hers on the Square Albin Cachot in the 13th arrondisement, not far from the 5th arr., home to the Latin Quarter. When the dance festival's press office botched the airline tickets, I first threw a fit, then decided that I'd be damned if I was going to let some French bureaucrats ruin my plans and douse my French dream; I arranged with the Parisian teacher to extend the exchange to a whole month. It was my first voyage outside of the United States in 20 years, since an ill-fated attempt when I was 19 to immigrate to an Israel which turned out to be not what it promised, but my Francophilia by this point was so intense that it over-ruled my fear of flying. Click here to read the full 'Cross-Country' Chapter.

No, that's not Isadora Duncan, photographed by Edward Streichen in her native West. (Nor is the top image by pre-Impressionist painter Camille Corot.) The photographs above, on view through June 19 at the Robin Rice Gallery in New York, are contemporary shots taken by Ron Hamad in California and New Mexico, with a chemical process used in lith printing, in which each print is unique. From top to bottom: Pepperdine Trees, Swept Away, and Storm (taken during an actual snow storm). Photography copyright Ron Hamad and courtesy Robin Rice Gallery. (To see more images, visit the gallery's website, or visit the gallery in person at 325 West 11th Street.)

The Buzz, 5-13: Trespassers
Reverend Billy arrested while 'Rebranding' City Ballet's Koch Theater
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Eight years after the Dance Insider first exposed to the arts world how New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre benefactor David Koch was more than just an arts philanthropist, writing about his company's questionable environmental record and efforts to debunk global warming science, the Reverend Billy, a.k.a. comedian Bill Talen, was arrested Wednesday night for 'trespassing' in front of the "David H. Koch Theater" as he lead 500 supporters of the Brave New foundation in a "Guerrilla Rebrand" of the space formerly known as the New York State Theater, home to the NYC Ballet and City Opera. The event included projecting onto the building's outside wall films which, according to a statement from the foundation, highlighted "the outrageous sums of money the Kochs have spent trying to buy our democracy." (In addition to funding the Right-wing so-called "Tea Party" and trying unsuccessfully to block better emission standards in California, Koch has been a major supporter of Union -busting Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.) Later, the activists posted a giant sticker on top of the David H. Koch Theater name, rebranding it "David H. Koch Theater -- I'm the Tea Party's Wallet." Filmmaker Robert Greenwald, the foundation's co-creator, said Thursday, "The Koch brothers believe they can purchase our democracy just as easily as they can purchase New York City landmarks. New Yorkers sent a strong message last night that neither their democracy, nor their beloved city, are for sale." Unclear was how Talen, released Thursday, could be charged with trespassing on a property that was constructed with public money, only changing its name from the New York State Theater when Koch paid $100 million for refurbishments.

Flash Review, 5-13: Seance
Schwartz conjures musical spirits at the NYC Opera
By Christine Chen
Copyright 2011 Christine Chen

NEW YORK -- Stephen Schwartz, the musical theater wunderkind best known for his work on the Broadway hits "Godspell," "Pippin," and "Wicked," has ventured into the rarified world of opera. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

The Buzz, 5-11: Deaths & Entrances
For Martha to live, her present company must die
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Today is Martha Graham's birthday. What better occasion to call for the liberation of Graham's legacy from its current usurpers, "artistic director" Janet Eilber and executive director LaRue Allen, who continue to dumb the work down by explanatory lectures during performances, and to dilute the potency of the oeuvre by thinning out the repertory with unworthy work from unheralded choreographers. Martha Graham was one of the great tragedians of 20th century drama. She does not need to be explained. If there is any explaining to do, it is to be offered by board chairman Judith Schlosser, president Inger Witter, and the rest of the board of trustees which has delegated this destructive power to Allen and Eilber. This they will not do. Thus the only solution is for the dance world, presenters, and most of all audience to boycott the current Martha Graham Dance Company, and for an alternate ensemble to be organized. Enough of the work is in the public domain that they would not need anyone's permission. The best solution I see is for Graham's heir, Ron Protas (a friend) to collaborate with a veteran Graham dancer and found a new company. Protas and the dancer would need to have equal authority for the company to win the trust of dancers, audiences, presenters, and funders. To read more about the Martha Graham saga on the Dance Insider, subscribers can click here to visit oiur Martha Graham Archives. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Keith Haring's "Red" (detail), on view at the Gladstone Gallery through July 1.1982-1984. Gouache and ink on paper. Complete work 106 3/4 x 274 inches (271.1 x 696 cm). ©Keith Haring Foundation. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York.

The Arts Voyager, 5-9: Love, Art, & Death in the Time of Cholera
Haring fleshed out at Gladstone; Vega's skin-deep McCullers
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- "These are markers," Bill T. Jones was telling me. We were at last Wednesday's opening for the Gladstone Gallery's mammoth exhibition of the three mammoth works Keith Haring painted in real-time during a series of performances by the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Company in 1982, as well as two long display cases packed with drawings taken from Haring's notebooks, including a couple of dozen sketches of penises, most poignantly several under which the artist has written, "Drawing penises in front of Tiffany's." Subscribers click here to read the full Article and see the Haring sketchbook. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

"Red," and two other large-scale works created by Keith Haring in real time during a series of performances by the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982, goes on display tonight through July 1 at the Gladstone Gallery in New York. Also on view at the gallery -- whose owner Barbara Gladstone in 1982 commissioned the first prints ever made by the late iconic '80s artist -- will be a selection of early sketchbook drawings by Haring, who died in 1990 at the age of 31 of AIDS-related illnesses. Above: Keith Haring, "Red," 1982-1984. Gouache and ink on paper. 106 3/4 x 274 inches (271.1 x 696 cm). ©Keith Haring Foundation. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
2: The Girl in the Green Dress"
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

A Story for Mimi

Mimi is dancing, spinning in a circle, arms up, in her green dress with tiny pink flowers. Her dark brown hair is half again as long as a helmet, straight, her complexion darker than her Japanese-American origins might imply. The floor of her Liberty Street parlor in San Francisco is a shiny mahogany. I recall her as six, but my mother will later tell me she was three and a half when she died. I recall croup; my mom says it was sudden infant death syndrome. She just rolled over on her side and died. My mom tells me she was fond of "Madeline," a fairy tale of Paris written by a man, Ludwig Bemelmans, who had supposedly not spent much time there and had made his colorful illustrations after photos.

"In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
lived 12 little girls in two straight lines.
They left the house at half past nine....
The smallest one was Madeline."

Click here to read the full 'Cross-Country' Chapter.

German Expressionistm: The Graphic Impulse is a whole lot more than the sum of its 250 parts and the July 11 expiration date of the exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. It also celebrates MOMA's making available online its vast holdings of more than 3,200 Expresionist works on paper. Above: Emil Nolde, "Dancer (Tanzerin)." 1913. Lithograph. Composition: 21 x 27 1/16" (53.3 x 68.8 cm); sheet: 23 5/8 x 29 15/16" (60 x 76 cm). Publisher: the artist. Printer: Westphalen, Flensburg, Germany. Edition: 35. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift of Lynn G. Straus in memory of Philip A. Straus, 2004. ©Nolde Stiftung, Seeb?ll, Germany.

Flash Flashback 1, 5-2: Rinse, Lather, Repeat
Bausch's New, Older Version of "Kontakthof"
By Rosa Mei
Copyright 2002, 2011 Rosa Mei

(The Dance Insider has been revisiting its Flash Archives. This Flash was first posted on March 29, 2002. In 2007, Pina Bausch set "Kontakthof" on high school students from Wuppertal. Anne Linsel and Rainer Hoffman's 2010 documentary of that experience, "Dancing Dreams: Teenagers Dance Pina Bausch's 'Kontacthof'" will be projected at the Museum of Modern Art tonight at 6 p.m., as part of MOMA's New Cinema from Germany festival.)

ANTWERP -- "In the beginning I had dancers who were busy with the way they looked and were afraid of losing something onstage," Pina Bausch told the New York Times in 1985. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

From the Museum of Modern Art Exhibition German Expressionistm: The Graphic Impulse (see caption for above image): Erich Heckel, "Dancers (Tanzerinnen)." 1911, dated 1910. (Morsel.) Lithograph. Composition: 9 3/4 x 7 3/8" (24.7 x 18.8 cm); sheet: 16 5/8 x 11 7/8" (42.3 x 30.2 cm), Publisher: unpublished. Printer: the artist. Edition: approx. 710. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Victor S. Riesenfeld, 1948 © 2011 Erich Heckel / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany.

Flash Film Review, 5-2: Dancing Elders
Ladies & Gentleman Over 65, Meet Pina Bausch
By Lisa Kraus
Copyright 2004, 2011 Lisa Kraus

(First posted June 18, 2004. The latest documentary on a making of Pina Bausch's "Kontacthof," this time the 2007 staging on high school students, Anne Linsel and Rainer Hoffman's 2010 "Dancing Dreams: Teenagers Dance Pina Bausch's 'Kontacthof'," will be projected at the Museum of Modern Art tonight at 6 p.m., as part of MOMA's New Cinema from Germany festival.)

PHILADELPHIA -- A love letter to human personality and how it intensifies with age, "Damen und Herren ab 65" (Ladies and Gentlemen Over 65) is that special work of art that provides a clear window into human nature. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Since Robert Cole left as director of Cal Performances last year, the dance line -up at the leading West Coast presenter has decidedly gotten more lackluster, with the same old suspects being programed. The 2011-12 season announced this week continues to disappoint, with one of the few bright spots being Pina Bausch's classic "Danzon" (above, with the choreographer, in a photo by Maarten Vanden Abeele), which Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal brings to Zellerbach Hall December 2-3. -- PB- I

Decisive Decade: 10 years of dance in France
Breathless: Pina Meets the (French) Press
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2004, 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

(From 2000 through 2010, the Dance Insider was the leading source for English language reviews of and news about the French dance scene. In 'Decisive Decade,' we'll be revisiting that coverage and a critical period in the European dance scene. This article was first published on June 4, 2004.)

PARIS -- "What is the source of your imagination?" The question comes at the end of Pina Bausch's Wednesday press conference at the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt, which tonight sees the French premiere of "Nefes" (Turkish for "Breath"), Bausch's latest site-created work for the Tanztheater Wuppertal, this one developed in Istanbul, where it premiered last year. Bausch, seemingly forever clad in black, leans her chin on one palm, her eyes rolling upwards -- not in exasperation, but as if searching her head for the words -- as long tendrils of smoke spiral from the long cigarette held in her long fingers. (Only Pina Bausch can imbue cigarette smoke with drama; one could swear the smoke is lit with its own follow spot.) Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Bonnie Lucas, Girl with Umbrella, 2010, collage, 9 1/8" x 8 1/2." ©Bonnie Lucas.

The Arts Voyager, 4-27: Return to Innocence
Bonnie Lucas at Esopus
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- One of the pleasures of returning to New York after 10 years in France is that if the Chelsea gallery scene has become conflated -- an explosion of galleries has only meant more chaff to sort through to find the rare wheat -- the death of the Soho gallery scene that was the other distinctive feature of the late '90s has been countered by a flowering of gallery niches in new pockets of the city, notably the Lower East Side but also elsewhere in Gotham. So it was that a few weeks ago I found myself back in my old neighborhood, Greenwich Village, on one of its signature streets, W. 3rd, entering a nondescript building that seemed more likely to house doctors' offices than art galleries, and wandering into the Esopus Space (at 64 W. 3rd, #210) for an exhibition that, as far as the subject of the works (childhood) and medium (collage) go, might well have been created by a child at the prompting of a probing psychologist, but in fact had a far more sophisticated intelligence and developed aesthetic behind it. Click here to read more and see more images.

Cross Country / A Memoir of France
1: Past as Prelude
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

My first memory ever -- I was two and a half years old, and it was 1963 -- is of my mom crying at the sink in our San Francisco home, with me looking up from the black speckled yellow linoleum kitchen floor and asking, "Mommy, what's wrong?" and her explaining, through the tears, "President Kennedy has been assassinated." The only memory I have of my parents together before they split up when I was 12 is my mom passionately embracing my dad when he returned after several hours outside during a violent electrical storm when we were living in rural Northern California in the late 1960s -- I was eight -- and my dad had to traverse a narrow, steep, rough mountain road between our house and the Pomo reservation to get home. My next and only other memory is of them hiking on a mountain above the Tomales Bay ranch where Hans and Dina Angress, both survivors of the Holocaust, had their annual herring festival for the dozens of children they'd adopted and their extended clan. He in his big brown cowboy hat was intensely talking to her; they would separate soon after. It was 1973. I have no memories of my parents happily together. Click here to read the full Chapter.

Letter from London, 4-26: Merging lanes
Tavaziva doubles over; Protein laughs out loud
By Josephine Leask
Copyright 2011 Josephine Leask

LONDON -- "Held" opens with a crowd of school-boys, positioned in strict military lines, enacting a drill, while four of their peers beat out rousing rhythms on the drums. Subscribers click here to read the full Letter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

A bunch of wild-eyed San Francisco radicals: There was a time when what Herb Caen dubbed Baghdad by the Bay was one of the leading laboratories of avant-garde filmmaking in the world, starting with Franck Stauffacher's influential film series Art in Cinema and followed by Sidney Peterson's collaborative workshops, some of the earliest filmmaking classes in the U.S.. Now Anthology FIlm Archives and the Museum of Modern Art will resurrect that era, beginning with Anthology's May 6-7 series Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, in conjunction with a new book of the same name. Among films to be screened (on May 6): Peterson's 1946 "The Potted Psalm," above, and other Peterson films preserved by Anthology. Image courtesy Anthology Film Archives.

Flash Review, 4-25: The Big Blink
Jewett probes the pupil
By Christine Chen
Copyright 2011 Christine Chen

NEW YORK -- In Lostwax Productions' "Blinking," seen Friday at the Merce Cunningham Studio, collaborators Jamie Jewett and R. Luke DuBois explore what happens, physically and psychologically, when we blink. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

When Marie Taglioni stepped up on her pointes for the March 12, 1832 premiere of her father Filippo's "La Sylphide" at the Paris Opera House on the rue Peletier, she made history, placing physical science at the service of the Romantic ideal. What better way to celebrate Taglioni's 207th birthday Saturday, April 23 then taking a gander over to Arts Fifth Avenue in the historic Fairmount District of Fort Worth to check playwright and painter John Carlisle Moore's "The String Theory Ballerina" (above), on display with other work by Moore, Dale Conner, and Wally Knight from 10 a.m. to noon? How about dancing? Return to A5A Saturday night at 8:15 for Tango on the Boulevard, a class followed by a milonga.

Flash Flashback, 4-22: Grave Matters
TAGLIONI'S NOT IN MONTMARTRE
By The Dance Insider
Copyright 2004, 2011 The Dance Insider

First posted on October 6, 2004. Marie Taglioni's 207th birthday is tomorrow.

"'The (Court) pronounced a judgment in favor of the divorce prayed for, on the grounds of the refusal of the Count to admit Madame to the domicile conjugal.'"

-- Edgar Allen Poe, recounting the divorce proceedings pitting Marie Taglioni against Gilbert des Voisins in the November 2, 1844 Evening Mirror. 50 years after her death, Taglioni's remains were relocated from Marseille to Paris and the tomb of the estranged husband who turned her away because she would not stop dancing.

PARIS -- Officials at the Montmartre Cemetery this morning agreed to take Marie (also known as Maria) Taglioni's name off cemetery maps after an Italian Institute-Dance Insider conference revealed that the mother of pointe is not buried in the cemetery tomb which bears her name, but in the Pere Lachaise cemetery under the name of the ex-husband she divorced after he turned her away from their home because she wouldn't stop dancing. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

From the 1940s to early '60s, the livre d'artiste, or artists' book, popular in France as well as the U.S., provided a feast for the eyes and brain, pairing major visual artists with leading poets and authors, or sometimes featuring the artists alone. A stellar example is Henri Matisse's 1947 "Jazz," in which the publisher Teriade produced a limited edition of 270 complete copies of this book of loose folio sheets, including 20 color pochoirs, or prints hand-colored using a stenciling technique. The first 10 were on display at the Art Institute of Chicago through April 11; the remaining 10 can be seen through May 10. Above: Henri Matisse. The Horse Rider and Clown. Pochoir print from Henri Matisse's "Jazz." Paris: Teriade Editeur, 1947. Courtesy the Art Institute of Chicago..

Flash Flashback, 4-21: Going to the Chapel
Our Lady of Bausch
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2004, 2011 Chris Dohse

(The DI has been revisiting its Archives, full access to which is available to subscribers for $29.95/year. This Flash first appeared on November 30, 2004. Wim Wenders's new "Pina (3D)" will be previewed tonight at the Irish Film Institute in Dublin, in collaboration with the Dublin Dance Festival and the Goethe-Institut, with guests Barbara Kaufmann, rehearsal director of Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal, and company alumna Finola Cronin. And from April 27 to April 29 at the Centre National de la Danse in Pantin outside Paris, Foofwa d'Imobilite performs "Pina Jackson in Mercemoriam," a triple homage to Pina Bausch, Michael Jackson, and Merce Cunningham, in whose company d'Imobilite danced. Read recent work by Chris Dohse here.)

NEW YORK -- Going to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see Pina Bausch has become some weird kind of New York City ritual. Like if the Intellectual Elite were a Boy Scout troupe, there would be a merit badge for it. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

The Arts Voyager, 4-19: Happy Journey
Artifacts and artisans in Maryland; poet-artists in New Jersey; poets and artists in Pennsylvania

Carole Huber's "Maquis in Province," with text by V. Beards, is on display through April 30 as part of "Poets and Artists" at the gallery of the Oxford Arts Alliance in Oxford, Pennsylvania, which on April 19 hosts an evening of poetry readings. Image courtesy Oxford Arts Alliance.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

PERRYVILLE, MD -- When the Metropolitan Museum is presenting a bunch of black sheets as art -- the culprit here is Richard Serra, who used 'paintsticks' if you want to get technical about it -- it's time for the art voyager to get out of town. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? Yearly subscription, including full access to archives: $29.95. To subscribe, just click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Forget Jerry Lewis; when it comes to American films, the French are much more partial to Westerns. Several popped up during a Jacques Tourneur festival at the Centre Pompidou several years ago, including the 1946 technicolor epic "Canyon Passage," which features Dana Andrews, Brian Donlevy, Susan Hayward, Hoagy Carmichael, Ward Bond, and Lloyd Bridges as settlers whose passions are as colorful as the lush Oregon backgrounds in which Tourneur shot the film. But it took a Frenchman to bring it to New York: Serge Bozon, who will be presenting the film April 16 (at 7 p.m.) at Anthology Film Archives, along with Allan Dwan's 1955 John Payne / Ronald Reagan vehicle "Tennessee's Partner" (5 p.m.) and Bozon's own 2007 "La France" (9:30 p.m.), featuring La Chameleon of French cinema, Sylvie Testud, as a bride who disguises herself as a man to find her husband, vanished in the chaos of World War I. Image courtesy Anthology Film Archives.

Flash Review, 4-13: Exits and Entrances
Merce is dead; long live Merce
By Daniel Gwirtzman
Copyright 2011 Daniel Gwirtzman

NEW YORK -- A line of ticket-buyers queued in the cold outside the Joyce Theater March 25, hoping for cancellations to see the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's legacy tour in the final weeklong season in Manhattan for the company. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

For treating dance like a serious subject of intellectual discourse, no one beats the French; and in France, no one beats the Centre National de la Danse. This is not to say the CND, quartered in the gritty Paris suburb of Pantin, sequesters dance in an ivory tower. As a programming theme this Spring, the CND has been exploring dance and society. Last weekend it gave a 'danced conference' covering Petipa, and (above, in a 1950 photo copyright Gjon Mili) Doris Humphrey. From March 30 through April 1, the CND goes back even farther, to Louis XIII, and Christan Bayle's recreation for the company Eclat des Muses of "Le Ballet de la Merlaison," a ballet about a merle hunt created and first danced by Louis in 1635. For if there's one thing that could be more eternally French than intellectual discourse, it's "la Chasse.".

Decisive Decade: 10 years of dance in France
From Paris, avec feeling: Technique + Emotion = Paris Opera Ballet
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2000, 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

(From 2000 through 2010, the Dance Insider was the leading source for English language reviews of the French dance scene. In 'Decisive Decade,' we'll be revisiting those reviews and a critical period in the European dance scene. This article was first published on October 23, 2000.)

PARIS -- For about seven years, or as long as I've been covering dance intensely, I've been hearing what a brilliant dude this guy Balanchine was. So much so that he doesn't even require a first name on first reference -- kinda like, well, "God." So I've not really broadcast the fact that, er, many of his ballets leave me cold. But I had a nagging sense -- mostly from seeing the work performed by Dance Theatre of Harlem and Suzanne Farrell's companies -- that it didn't need to be so. Well, Saturday night at the Palais Garnier, courtesy of Paris Opera Ballet dancers Jean-Guillaume Bart, Agnes Letestu, Delphine Moussin, Karin Averty, Beatrice Martel, Aurore Cordellier, and Dorothee Gilbert, I was re-educated: It definitely ain't necessarily so. Balanchine does not have to be coldly rendered. The abstract, architectural beauty of his ballets can be given, well, life, in a way that, er, gives it life. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Above: Humphrey Bogart in Raoul Walsh's 1941 "High Sierra," which Walsh later re-cast in 1949 as the Western "Colorado Territory," with Joel McCrea in the lead. Image courtesy Warner Brothers. Below: Stuart Davis, Study for 'Men without Women," 1932, Radio City Music Hall Mural. Ink and pencil on paper, 11 x 17 inches. Courtesy DC Moore Gallery.

NEW YORK -- Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong era. Oh to have been around -- in Paris, in New York, even in San Francisco -- to absorb the art, cinema, theater, dance and music being produced in the 20 years preceding and two decades following World War II. While the dance, particularly at New York City Ballet and the Martha Graham Dance Company, has not always been so carefully preserved, fortunately there still exist in New York enclaves where you can experience some of the art that emerged in this epoch. In the last week alone I've seen rare art by the American originals Stuart Davis and Romare Bearden (at DC Moore) and Raoul Walsh's rarely screened re-casting of his 1941 classic Humphrey Bogart gangster pic "High Sierra" as a 1949 Joel McCrea Western, "Colorado Territory," both being shown as part of Anthology Film Archives' Auto-Remake series. Subscribers click here to read the full Letter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal button above.))

The Buzz, 3-25: Philistines in the Temple
Defiling Graham and enabling Eilber, Jowitt reveals her ignorance
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Severe words, those in the headlines above, but by her outrageously idiotic, anti- intellectual, and blasphemous words in the lamentable Village Voice, Deborah Jowitt, once a vaunted dance critic of that once vaunted journal, asked for it. Here's what Jowitt wrote, in this week's edition of that once noble newspaper: "Ever since (Martha) Graham died in 1991, her company, now directed by Janet Eilber, has had to commission new works that complement hers; it also strives to make her towering works user-friendly through devices like pre-performance speeches."

"Has had to"? This is like saying the Royal Shakespeare Company has had to commission new works that complement Shakespeare's; it is like saying Thornton Wilder or Eugene O'Neill's elemental and elementally American dramas are not inherently 'user-friendly.' How on Earth could Martha Graham, who traffics in such elemental human emotions and experiences, not be 'user-friendly'? Shame on you, Deborah Jowitt. Shame on you for your ignorance, for your anti-intellectualism, and for abetting the dumbing down of dance's most inherently universal art-maker by Janet Eilber and the rest of those who are currently decimating Martha's legacy.

While it's not as limited as in the United States, major French presenters also have a tendency to program a special group of the same artists repeatedly, making it hard for new companies to break into the privileged circle. What's alluring about the Anticodes festival, traversing the Theater National de Chaillot in Paris, Le Quartz in Brest, and, from March 31 to April 3, Les Subsistances in Lyon, is the smorgasbord of artists rarely seen in theaters of this scale. For Camille Boitel's "L'immediat," presented by Les Subsistances at the Hangar Saone March 31 - April 3, dancer-acrobats interact and play with a bric-a-brac of objects right out of the back room of a Salvation Army, in a melange of cirque and physical theater. Also performing in Lyon: Big Dance Theater, Michel Schweizer / Compagnie la Coma, Dan Safer / Witness Relocation and Collectif ildi! eldi, Circo Aero and Race Horse Company, 2 rien merci, and Yoann Bourgeois. Vincent Beaune photo courtesy Les Subsistances.

You might know the iconic 1957 Leo McCarey film "An Affair to Remember," centered around a fateful Empire State Building rendezvous between Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant. But did you know that this was McCarey's second go-'round at the tale? The original, the 1939 "Love Affair," garnered academy award nominations for best actress Irene Dunne (above, with Charles Boyer) and supporting actress Maria Ouspenskaya, the Stanislavski exponent whose Los Angeles dance school helped launch the career of Marge Champion. Both versions are on view at Anthology Film Archives March 28, part of its Auto-Remake series. Image courtesy Anthology Film Archives.

Decisive Decade: 10 years of dance in France
Is Ballet Irrelevant? In Nureyev's "Raymonda," yes
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2000, 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

(From 2000 through 2010, the Dance Insider was the leading source for English language reviews of the French dance scene. In 'Decisive Decade,' we'll be revisiting those reviews and a critical period in the European dance scene. This article was first published on October 20, 2000.)

PARIS -- It isn't hard to understand why Rudolf Nureyev would want to totally denude Petipa's Orientalist ballet "Raymonda" of most of the Russian mime elements. As detailed in Diane Solway's recent biography, Nureyev was in his dancing prime and wanted a ballet that would showcase dancing, for him, his partner Margot Fonteyn, and the corps. And it isn't hard to understand why the Paris Opera Ballet should treasure this first evening-length work by its late director. But in an age where, in North America at least, even leading ballet directors and arts presenters are aware that ballet has lost its relevance to many, a ballet so archaic in its representation of women and non-white cultures is left, devoid of the museum value its mime might have provided, and danced unconvincingly (technically or dramatically) by two of its three leads as it was last night at the Palais Garnier on the Paris Opera Ballet, with little justification for being presented in the year 2000. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $3.)

The Arts Voyager, 3-17: Take Two
Auto-Remakes at Anthology: Twice as Nice

Raoul Walsh's 1941 "High Sierra" (above, with Humphrey Bogart at left), as well as his re-cast 1949 remake "Colorado Territory" starring Joel McCrea, are part of the Auto-Remakes series showing at Anthology Film Archives March 18-31. Image courtesy Warner Brothers.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Why would the art voyager want to spend any part of an excursion inside a darkened room watching movies? Because the films in question can't be seen anywhere else. What's unique about Anthology Film Archives -- even as big- city cinematheques go, including its European counterparts -- is that since its founding more than 40 years ago by internationally renowned avant-garde director Jonas Mekas, the very curatorial focus and encadring of the programming has provided an outlet for films rarely seen anywhere else, 'old' and new, an eclectic sampling all of which usually have at least one thing to offer for every ardent cinephile. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? Yearly subscription, including full access to archives: $29.95. To subscribe, just click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)>

The Johnston Letter, Volume 5, Number 4
There'll awe ways be an England
By Jill Johnston
Copyright 1973, 2011 Jill Johnston

well i went to england and i didn't see any feminists nor too much of anybody else and i was neurotically famished and rationally cold and determinedly homesick and righteously paranoid but in nine or ten days i figured out the country and that was what i went for so it was an awful and worthwhile trip. Subscribers click here to read the full Letter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Many is the choreographer who has suddenly declared him/herself to also be a 'plastician' or sculptor, as if saying it makes it so. The finished product, though, often ends up looking like little more than the doodlings of an unschooled child. German plastician VA Wolfl went at it from the other direction, "kidnapping" dance, as critic Dominique Fretard put it, when the sculpting medium was no longer sufficient to formulate an artistic response to the societal cataclysms going on around him, using movement -- still with a plastician's sense for the big stage picture -- to investigate daily addictions, the demise of free will, and the anesthesia of emotions, as played out in arenas like international finance, shopping mall parking lots, and the fields of war. "Ich sah: Das Lamm auf dem Berg Zion, Offb. 14,1," Wolfl's latest work for Neuer Tanz, receives its French premiere March 24-29 at the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt in Paris. Revolver-Szenenbild photo courtesy Theatre de la Ville.

Decisive Decade: 10 years of dance in France
Tanz-Miniatures from Wolfl and Neuer Tanz
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2003, 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

(From 2000 through 2010, the Dance Insider was the leading source for English language reviews of the French dance scene. In 'Decisive Decade,' we'll be revisiting those reviews and a critical period in the European dance scene. This article was first published on April 24, 2003. VA Wolfl's latest work for Neuer Tanz receives its French premiere March 24 at the Theatre de la Ville in Paris.)

BOBIGNY, Seine-Saint-Denis, France -- Sure, I kept re-inserting noise-muffling bits of wetted toilet tissue in my ears to save my hearing. Sure, the constant quick black-outs and lights back up were giving me an eye-ache. Sure, the repetitions were at times exasperating, and sure, I was watching the clock. But by the end of "Greenspans Aktentasche," VA Wolfl's 2001 tour-de-force not-about-Alan Greenspan's briefcase dance on the astonishingly and specifically virtuosic Neuer Tanz to open the Rencontres Choregraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis last night, the only reason I was watching the clock was to be sure I made the Last Metro, for I had been transported into Wonderland. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

A scene from Romain Goupil's "Les mains dans l'air" (Hands up). Courtesy the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Flash Festival Reviews, 3-13: Rearview Mirror
Alien-nation a la Francaise: Goupil's "Les mains dans l'air," Badis's "Le chemin noir," & Quillevere's "Un poison violent"
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Walk by a school in Paris, and you're likely to spot a plaque over the entrance commemorating the hundreds of children from that school rounded up and "deported by the Vichy government, in the name of France," under the Occupation. The signs started going up in about 2000, the 60-year gap ending only after president Jacques Chirac, in one of his first speeches in 1995, said it was time for France to take responsibility for the deportations. Yet today, children from many of those same schools are still being picked up by the police and deported. Director Romain Goupil, who treats this subject in "Hand's up" (Les mains dans l'air) -- screening tonight at the Walter Reade during the Rendez-vous with French Cinema being presented there by the Film Society of Lincoln Center -- was careful to say, in a Q&A after Friday's screening, that one can't compare the two situations because no children are being sent to death camps. But the fact that it took France 60 years to officially acknowledge those wrongs of Vichy is one reason he begins his story in 2067, as the 68-year-old Milena looks back on what happened to her and a group of fellow 10-year-olds living in the lower-middle- class neighborhood behind Montmartre in 2009. "I wanted to show how ridiculous this (the expulsions of children) will look to us in 60 years." Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Uprooted: With fear-fueled hearings (the U.S.) and examinations (France) on Muslim immigrant communities going on, there's little attention given to the feelings of the immigrant him/herself. All the more reason to voyage to Lyon and les Celestins theater to check out Claudia Stavisky's production of Viennese playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig's "Le Dragon d'Or" (The Golden Dragon), which uses a toothache as a launching metaphor to examine the point of view of the immigrant (both immigrant and tooth being uprooted), whose origins still live within him. Taking an Asian restaurant as the physical point of departure, Stavisky has five actors relate the intertwined destinies of 30 characters. "This is the first part of a diptych we'll be consecrating to this author and to the question of uprootedness," says Stavisky. "'Le Dragon d'Or' is an urgent work about our intimate ruptures in the global world. It's fascinating dramaturgy maintains at the same time the satellite view and microscopic observation." "Le Dragon d'Or," with choreography by Compagnie Kafig's Mourad Merzouki, runs March 17 through April 7 at les Celestins. Above: A design for the show by Swy Milshtein, courtesy les Celestins.

Natalia Verbeke and Fabrice Luchini in Philippe Le Guay's "Service Entrance." Courtesy SND.

Flash Festival Review, 3-9: Repartir a Zero
"Service Entrance" & "Serie Noire": Facing fear at the Rendez-vous with French Cinema
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- J'etait bouleverse par le film "Serie Noire" d'Alain Corneau, surtout le performance de Patrick Dewaere. I begin in French because the word 'bouleverse' is hard to translate in English, but seems the 'juste mot' to apply to how devastated one is after viewing this classic 1979 Franco-American film noir -- Corneau worked from noir progenitor Jim Thompson's novel -- as I was last night at the Walter Reade Theater, where it struck just one of the spectrum of moods evoked by the Film Society of Lincoln Center's contribution to the city-wide Rendez-vous with French Cinema, playing at the Walter Reade through March 13. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. )

Above: Raghu Rai, "Backdrop Series." Below: Raghu Rai, "Ganpati Celebration Mumbai." Images courtesy Aicon Gallery.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK --"In the course of my work," says Raghu Rai, receiving his first major solo exhibition in New York through March 20 at the Aicon Gallery at 35 Great Jones, "I find that I have been moving to focus on the changing equations of our times, trying to record the deeper universal human responses." A giant of photography who was nominated for the legendary Magnum Photos agency in 1977 by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rai has been published by the New Yorker, Life, Time, and others, and has always prized a certain fidelity to the reality of his subjects. "'When I slice out a space, a moment," he explains, "it should be done with such simplicity and faithfulness that when I give it back to life, life starts moving and flowing around it without a stutter." The panoply of his work on view at Aicon -- much of it for the first time in the U.S. -- includes black and white and color, photo-montage, human and nature. In its sum, in addition to serving as a testament to the photographer's craft and eye, it represents a vivid portrait of India as captured by its premiere visual chronicler. Subscribers click here to read the full article and see more images. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal button above.)

The Buzz, 2-28: Say it ain't so, Paul
Climate crusading Beatle makes ballet for theater named after global warming denier Koch
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

Early last year, Paul McCartney compared those who don't believe in global warming to Holocaust deniers. So why is he now composing a ballet for a theater named after David Koch, head of the largest privately owned oil company in the world, major funder of the phony science which makes it possible for some to deny global warming, and one of the chief financers of a defeated California ballot measure which would have erected hurdles to that state's efforts to contain global warming? Subscribers click here to read the full Column. (Not yet a subscriber? Yearly subscription, including full access to archives, is $29.95. To subscribe, just click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above.)

A scene from Rudy Burckhardt's 1968 film "Money." Image courtesy Anthology Film Archives.

NEW YORK -- Seeing Edwin Denby frolic as a lusty billionaire in Rudy Burckhardt's restored 1968 experimental film classic "Money," preserved by Anthology Film Archives and presented at its theater at 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street again Saturday and Sunday night at 7:30 (I caught it Friday), one gets the sense that this is the performance the greatest American dance critic of all time has been waiting to give his whole life, after a lifetime of watching and reviewing others. Subscribers click here to read the full Review.. (Not yet a subscriber? Yearly subscription, including full access to archives, is $29.95. To subscribe, just click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above. )J

Charo Espino, Angel Munoz, and, in background, Paco Pena of the Paco Pena Flamenco Dance Company. Elaine Mayson photo courtesy World Music Institute.

For Sonia, absent companion still present.

NEW YORK -- There have been many Flamenco flashes in the pan in recent years, legends in their own minds who seem so sure of their own prowess that they seem out of touch, and certainly not in touch with their audience. And then there are the grown-ups like Angel Munoz, quietly assured and confident, from the masterfully precise stamping of his feet through his eloquently poised trunk, poetically reaching arms and pivoting head, seeming to regard each person in the audience with twinkling eyes and a knowing familiarity. Subscribers click here to read the full Review.. (Not yet a subscriber? Yearly subscription, including full access to archives, is $29.95. To subscribe, just click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)


Anyone who thinks they've already seen Andy Warhol's Soup Cans or that they understand Pop
Art needs to get themselves (by March 18) to Armand Bartos Fine Art at 25 E. 73rd St. in NY for
"Warhol Soup," the first comprehensive survey of Warhol's iconic Campbell's Soup series, featuring
20 works made over 22 years, from screen prints of simple cans made in the 1960s to "Campbell's
Chicken Rice Soup Box," made of synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas in 1986, the year
Warhol died. "The development of these images parallels both the history of art and the greater
culture, in that -- like many of the great Pop works of the '60s -- its underlying power lies in the ability
of the subject matter to both tap into and critique the rise of consumer culture," says Bartos, who will
close the gallery space, opened in 2008, with this exhibition, to resume his work of three decades
as a private dealer. Above: Campbell's Tomato Soup (Red), 1985. Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas. Image courtesy Armand Bartos Fine Art.


Patricia Guerrero & Company in Carlos Saura's "Flamenco Hoy." Photo courtesy World Music Institute.

Flash Review, 2-17: Flamenco Fizzes
Saura soft-peddles Sevillian dance
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- While it offers at least one stand-out dancer, Patricia Guerrero, stellar musical direction and playing from pianist Chano Dominguez and four haunting and tempestuous singers -- Alba Carmona, Blas Cordoba, Israel, and Rubio de Pruna -- Carlos Saura's "Flamenco Hoy," which had its U.S. premiere Wednesday night at City Center under the aegis of the World Music Institute, smells an awful light like flamenco for ignorant tourists (some of whom were evidently in the audience; who else would shush others for shouting "Ole!"?), a spectacle with little that is spectacular or innovative, at least as concerns the dance. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). Bottle, Guitar, and Pipe. Paris, autumn 1912. Oil, enamel, sand, and charcoal on canvas, 23 5/8 x 28 3/4" (60 x 73 cm). Museum Folkwang, Essen. Acquired in 1964 with the support of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia and Eugen - und - Agnes - Waldthausen - Platzhoff - Museums - Stiftung. ©2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York..

The Art Voyager, 2-16: Rhapsody in cardboard, sheet metal, newspaper, paint....
"Picasso's Guitars 1912 - 1914" at MOMA
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- The French art critic and compagnon de route of French artists such as Rousseau, Picasso, and Laurencin Andre Salmon recounts how a visitor to Picasso's Paris studio, seeing his "Guitar," made from cardboard, paper, wire, glue, and string in 1912, is said to have asked: "What is it? Does it rest on a pedestal? Does it hang on a wall? What is it, a painting or a sculpture?," to which Picasso replied, "It's nothing, it's a guitar." Making the rounds in Chelsea on a recent Thursday night, I stumbled upon an exhibition entitled, "Bacon's not the only thing that is cured by hanging from a string," featuring a roomfull of collages of a sort made from illuminated colored light-bulbs, hang-man's posts, and, in just about every case, photographs of people. 100 years after Picasso made collage legitimate, collage as an art form, at least when practiced by some professional artists, has become perverted and corrupted by concept. Click here to read the full Article and see more images.


If comic books have long been much more respected in France than in the U.S., as an art form on a level with other arts, it's still rare to find a gallery devoted to what is sometimes derisively called the half-art. Since opening in 2008 in the 10th arrondisement of Paris on the rue Martel off the rue de Paradis -- once known for is crystal and porcelain shops -- the Galerie Martel has become that space, with sweeping exhibitons on Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb, and others. From March 4 to April 23, the gallery presents the first exhibition in Paris devoted to Fred, for 60 years a font of graphic arts inspiration and, as a former director of the pioneering graphic art magazine Hara-Kiri, a major mover in promoting the art in France and abroad. Above: An image from "Barbey d'Aurevilly" from the exhibition, which also honors Fred's graphic novel series "The Crow in Sneakers" and "Philemon," as well as offering an advance preview of Marie-Ange Guillaume's new biography, "The Story of an Eclectic Storyteller."

Media Watch, 2-14: Patrons of the Arts Dept.
New York City Ballet's David Koch in the news

(Editor's note: David Koch, the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre patron who donated $100 million to refurbish City Ballet's home at the New York State Theater, subsequently renamed the David H. Koch Theater, was featured in Bob Herbert's Saturday column in the New York Times, "When Democracy Weakens."An excerpt follows; for the full article, click here. -- Paul Ben-Itzak.)

"When the game is rigged in your favor, you win. So despite the worst economic downturn since the Depression, the big corporations are sitting on mountains of cash, the stock markets are up and all is well among the plutocrats. The endlessly egregious Koch brothers, David and Charles, are worth an estimated $35 billion. Yet they seem to feel as though society has treated them unfairly.... As Jane Mayer pointed out in her celebrated New Yorker article, 'The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry -- especially environmental regulation.' (A good hard look at their air-pollution record would make you sick.).... It's a perversion of democracy, indeed, when individuals like the Kochs have so much clout while the many millions of ordinary Americans have so little. What the Kochs want is coming to pass. Extend the tax cuts for the rich? No problem. Cut services to the poor, the sick, the young and the disabled? Check. Can we get you anything else, gentlemen?"

The Art Voyager, 2-12: Gallery Hop-o-thermia
Fear & Loathing in Chelsea
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Only a true art-fanatic with a death wish would walk 50 blocks to the Chelsea Art Valley on a polar night in Manhattan, when the towering buildings on the seemingly interminable blocks between 10th and 11th Avenue make the art voyager seem particularly naked in the Naked City. So there I was -- oui, moi -- with a scribbled list of a dozen galleries hosting openings Thursday night, in search of high middle-brow art 'arrosed' by red, red, wine. What I found was middle-concept middling art watered down by tepid white wine (doesn't stain like red), only one artist worth remarking among the 12, this defeated art voyager treading wearily home in his Fort Worth Mexican flea market tan cowboy boots, only to be saved by Joel McCrea riding out of the high country with Randollph Scott riding herd. Click here to read the full Column.

Besides providing an opportunity to see two rarely displayed and pivotal art works of the 20th century, Picasso's "Guitar," constructed from cardboard, paper, wire, glue, and string in 1912, and a second version made from sheet metal in 1914, which opened a new artistic mode of expression -- with more than a little aid in subject and matter from the artist's Bateau Lavoir mate Georges Braque -- the exhibition "Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914," on view at the Museum of Modern Art February 13 - June 6, provides a chance to catch 63 other works, painted and in mixed media, from this critical period for the artist. Above: "Glass, Guitar, and Bottle," Paris, early 1913, made from oil, cut-and-pasted newspaper, gesso, charcoal, and pencil on canvas. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. the Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection, 1967. ©2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY..

Above: Maria Kowroski, Joaquin De Luz, and the New York City Ballet in Balanchine and Kochno's "Prodigal Son." Below: NYCB's Sara Mearns, Amar Ramasar, and, in the background, the David Berger Jazz Orchestra in Susan Stroman's "For the Love of Duke." Photos copyright Paul Kolnik.

NEW YORK -- Forget what you may have read elsewhere: With Susan Stroman's semi-new "For the Love of Duke," New York City Ballet has a run-away hit, that rare jazz ballet which makes ballet dancers look great even as the ballet dancers enhance the phenomenal music, in this case by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Those who complain about cliches in the work, as some critics have done, miss the point, and probably missed Stroman's transformational Broadway hit "Contact": The woman knows how to make choreography that connects to this quintessentially American musical form and that, putting it simply, dances jazz -- and, in this piece, shows that she knows how to bring out the jazz dancer in classically trained performers, who add a rare quickness, deftness, and dexterity to the mix that jazz dancers don't always have. Add a textbook lesson in how to interpret an archetypal contemporary ballet role -- that of the Siren in Balanchine's transformational 1929 "Prodigal Son" -- such as Maria Kowroski delivered in the ballet which followed the Stroman at City Ballet's matinee Saturday, and a flawless delivery of the Robbins-Glass urban ballet "Glass Pieces," and you have stunning proof of a new versatility in this troupe, which well- serves the choreography, when the dancers are well-served by the choreographers (which was not entirely the case in the Saturday evening performance). Subscribers click here to read the full Letter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50. )

Above: New York City Ballet's Megan LeCrone and Andrew Scordato in Balanchine's "Symphony in Three Movements." Below: New York City Ballet in Jerome Robbins's "Dances at a Gathering." Photos copyright Paul Kolnik.

NEW YORK -- After a temporary blip in my bludgeoning, er, burgeoning French theatrical career Friday night -- Sam Bernhardt, c'est moi -- I was glad to be back in the cultural thick of things Saturday, finding myself sitting next to Meredith Monk at Judson Church on Washington Square for the afternoon's Gathering in Tribute to Jill Johnston, a real gathering of the tribes, and School of American Ballet legend Suki Schorer Saturday night for an impeccable "Dances at a Gathering." Add a Lower East Side interlude at the Woodward Gallery on Eldridge Street, where artist Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk not only made the scene but made her own frames, and there was once more reason to believe that New York is still a many-splendored art capital, with a rich past and cause to be confident in its future. Subscribers click here to read the full Letter. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50. )

Daniel Ulbricht in New York City Ballet's production of Balanchine's "Prodigal Son." Photo copyright
Paul Kolnik.

Flash Review, 1-28: All in the family
Prodigal sons & SAB prodigies at City Ballet
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- To give the performers their due, let's get the Flash out of the way first: If he's neither as physically accomplished as Damian Woetzel nor dramatically powerful as Peter Boal, Daniel Ulbricht brings to the title role in Balanchine and Kochno's 1929 "Prodigal Son" a unique innocence and vulnerability which adds credence to the story, especially when playing opposite Ask la Cour's Father; forget the usual over-the-hill critical buzzards ready to feed on the carcasses of ballerinas as soon as they approach 40, Wendy Whelan is as silken and lyrical and freely joyous in her musical expression as she's been at any point in her 25-year career; the School of American Ballet has at least four solid future candidates for the New York City Ballet, all of whom did school and company proud dancing with Whelan and Tyler Angle in Balanchine's 1981 "Mozartiana" last night, especially when it came to those eloquent Balanchine arms their elders seem to forget so often these days: Leah Chen, Katherine Finch, Lilia Hamdy, and Callie Reiff; and the NYCB orchestra under director Faycal Karoui would be worth paying to see even without the dancers, judging by its rendering of Tchaikovsky's Suite No. 4, Op. 61 for the same piece. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Above: New York City Ballet's Jenifer Ringer with Robert Fairchild in Jerome Robbins's "I'm Old-Fashioned." Below: Teresa Reichlin and Amar Ramasar in NYCB's production of Christopher Wheeldon's "Polyphonia." Photos copyright Paul Kolnik.

NYC Ballet week 2: 'Symphony' in 2D; Ringer makes Robbins never lovelier

NEW YORK -- As I tap danced my way along Broadway last night in my best Fred Astaire imitation -- not easy on a 'floor' of slush and ice -- following Thursday evening's performance by New York City Ballet of Balanchine's "Symphony in Three Movements," Christopher Wheeldon's "Polyphonia," and Jerome Robbins's homage to Fred and Rita "I'm Old-Fashioned," three indisputable facts could not be obscured even by the driving snow beating at my eyes: the women's corps at City Ballet, and its ability to do justice to Balanchine's magisterial musicality, is in trouble; Jenifer Ringer is not only the purest interpreter of Robbins's choreography I've seen in two decades on two continents and three great companies (San Francisco and Paris Opera Ballet, plus NYCB), but of his intentions; and Alastair Macaulay is the greatest waste of critical space ever to disgrace the pages of the NY Times.

The opening of "Symphony in Three Movements" should be as driving as the Stravinsky music to which it is set. Last night, the women charged with this task looked like they would have been more at home in an aerobics class, except that they were behind the music. Things didn't pick up until Abi Stafford and Sebastien Marcovici cleared the stage for a duet that pushed and pulled, although a colleague pointed out that it was not enough; it might have been the under-impression left by what preceded them that left me over-impressed. The piece -- the pace, really -- picked up after that but it was yet another demonstration of how erratic this company has apparently become. Stand-out performances seem to be the exception rather than the rule, the result more of individual dancers' dedication and/or native talent than a steady hand at the wheel enforcing corps discipline and choreographic fidelity. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50. )

"Often he who has chosen the fate of the artist because he felt himself to be different soon realizes that he can maintain neither his art nor his difference unless he admits that he is like the others."

-- Albert Camus, Nobel Prize in Literature, 1957, Banquet Speech.. © 1957 the Nobel Foundation.

The Johnston Letter, Volume 5, Number 3
Fictions of the Self in the Making
By Jill Johnston
Copyright 1993, 2010 Jill Johnston

(The life and work of Jill Johnston, who passed away in September, will be celebrated Saturday, January 29 at 1 p.m. at Judson Memorial Church in New York, 55 Washingtown Square South.)

I've read somewhere that women transform themselves, or set themselves on some path of achievement, only after an awakening. I don't know if this is so true anymore. I'm sure it was generally true before the early 1970s. Before then I had two awakenings myself, both of them pertaining to the vocation of writing. Quite inconveniently, my first coincided with marriage and motherhood, causing a conflict of interest and a burden of responsibility that was simply untenable at the time without extraordinary support.

This was in 1957-58. My "calling" was to nothing more romantic than writing criticism. It was a powerful summons nonetheless, and I was undeterred in its pursuit for seven years (plying my trade in the Village Voice and Art News). In the end my awakening helped to cost me my new family. Read this story for free today only by clicking here.

Flash Review, 1-23: Not 'Phase' away
De Keersmaeker at MOMA: The universe of dance on grains of sand
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Seeing Anne Terese De Keersmaeker dance her seminal 1982 "Violin Phase" yesterday at the Museum of Modern Art -- you can catch her at MOMA again today at 2 and 4 p.m. -- made it clearer than ever that this piece, performed by this dancer, should be required viewing in every modern dance class around the world. Which is not to say that it is just a *modern* dance masterpiece (perfectly at home among the other modern masterpieces at MOMA, where these performances are connected with the exhibition Online, Drawing Through the 20th Century), but that, craft aside -- because there's plenty of that too -- De Keersmaeker does what fewer and fewer modern dancers and choreographers seem interested in doing these days, and that is reaching out to and engaging the audience. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Flash Flashback, 1-23: Critics Cornered
Why we review dance
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 1998, 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

(The Dance Insider has been revisiting its Archives, 12 years of the best in dance from around the world available to all subscribers for just $29.95/year. This review, first published in the Winter 1998-99 print issue of the Dance Insider, explains the pivotal role of Anne Terese De Keersmaeker's "Phase" in the DI's decision to offer dance reviews.)

I have always been leery about reviewing. Reviews can wield clout -- from influencing you about whether to see a show to closing one. While I am convinced about dances that have uplifted me or enraged me, most of what I see is in the middle. I can formulate opinions on these works, but I can't be sure you'd agree. I don't care for Trisha Brown, but many feel otherwise. The beautiful dancers of Ballet Hispanico make me feel weak in the knees, but if you want subtlety you might be wasting your money. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

A jewel-like Jenifer Ringer (top photo, with Jared Angle), was one of the few highlights in an otherwise lackadaisical "Dances at a Gathering," and Ben Shahn's designs (bottom photo, with the dancers of New York City Ballet) almost saved Jerome Robbins's cheesy "NY Export: Opus Jazz," in the second night of New York City Ballet's Winter season. Photos copyright Paul Kolnik.

Flash Review, 1-20: 'Gathering' moss; 'Export' mess
Dazzling Ringer, shining Shahn save the day at City Ballet
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Jerome Robbins's "Dances at a Gathering" is one of those works you either love or you hate. I usually love it, but last night at New York City Ballet, in its first outing of the company's Winter season, I could see why people hate it. Individual performances within the 50-minute or so dance merited singling out -- Sara Mearns could be the second coming of Monique Meunier and, more important, Jenifer Ringer may just be Robbins's greatest active exponent -- but the spell this quiet rhapsody usually casts on me was absent. I even toyed with slugging this review "'Dances' deadly," as in boring. What its opponents damn the work for -- nothing ever happens -- is usually what I love it for, because the 'nothing' here is like that nothing of a leaf you press into your scrapbook and that years later recalls an ordinary day that, in memory, becomes precious. But for "Dances at a Gathering" to convey this, the dancers gathering have to have an underlying sense of how extraordinary their ordinary gathering is. Absent this awaremess, the work becomes just an assemblage of dances, gathered at random. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

New York City Ballet principal Ashley Bouder in Balanchine's "Valse-Fantaisie." Photo copyright Paul Kolnik.

For Joe Mazo.

NEW YORK -- Winds raged across the city yesterday, and to see her arms in luxuriant action in Balanchine's "Valse-Fantaisie" for the opening of New York City Ballet's Winter season last night at Lincoln Center, one might have thought that principal Ashley Bouder had been out practicing in them, captured them and brought them back to the theater to play with. What I love about the Ballet is just when you think it has nothing new to show you, a dancer comes along and does something you've never seen before. Last night it started with Bouder's arms, riding currents of air and sound that only she could see and feel, standing apart from the hustle-bustle of life in New York City and our harried country and 120 bpm world in 2011, slowing down time itself if only for a fleeting 20 minutes, in an evening of performances as wild in their inconsistency as the opener, Balanchine's 1980 "Walpurgisnacht Ballet," used to be in its furious "bunhead's unbunned" finish, tamely rendered last night. Flash Flashback, 1-13: The Queen of Concept
Scheme Sabotages Style in Michelson's "Daylight"
By Philip W. Sandstrom
Copyright 2005, 2011 Philip W. Sandstrom

(The Dance Insider has been revisiting its Archives, 12 years of the best in dance from around the world available to all subscribers for just $29.95/year. This review was first published on June 28, 2005. Sarah Michelson's new work "Devotion" opens tonight at the Kitchen.)

NEW YORK -- For her new "Daylight," Sarah Michelson radically reconfigured PS 122's second-floor theater, effectively dropping a new performance space in the midst of the old one. If you've performed in or observed performances at this space, you know the stage is bisected by two permanent columns; Michelson plopped the seating -- three custom-seating risers -- adjacent to and in between these fixtures. Then she painted everything -- including the walls -- white. The only exception to this snowy landscape was Claude Wampler's four large portraits of the dancers, delineated, etch-a-sketch style, in a continuous thin black line on an all-white canvas. A phalanx of upright chrome theatrical lights confronted the audience at the lip of the stage, mounted on poles like speared heads. A gentle haze thinly filled the air and the theater was bathed in natural blue-sky light pouring through a large exposed window on the south side of the auditorium. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Among the highlights of the 2011 Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival announced yesterday is the U.S. debut of the French company 3e Etage, lead by choreographer and Paris Opera Ballet dancer Samuel Murez, with dancers including POB soloist Aurelia Bellet, above. Also on the agenda for the festival, which runs June 18 - August 28, in Becket, Massachussetts, are a premiere from legendary dance -theater artist Jane Comfort looking at the American notion of beauty through the icon Barbie and the reprise of Comfort's breathtaking 1998 "Underground River," an exploration of the state of comatose, Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve in Joelle Bouvier's version of "Romeo and Juliet," and a shared program with Jodi Melnick and David Neumann / advanced beginner group. Photo: Steve Murez.

Flash Flashback, 1-12: Asphalt Dance/Opera
Vincent goes on; Vardimon goes back; Xaba & Noel cross over
By Peggy H. Cheng
Copyright 2000, 2011 Peggy H. Cheng

(The Dance Insider has been revisiting its Archives, 12 years of the best in dance from around the world available to all subscribers for just $29.95/year. This review was first published on July 13, 2000. Jane Comfort's latest work premieres this summer at Jacob's Pillow. The Ohio Theater shuttered its Soho doors in August when it was evicted by its landlord.)

NEW YORK -- "You're a New Yorker now," a childhood friend from out-of-town said to me a few days ago. I thought about the quiet, peaceful, rural nature of Western Massachusetts where she and I grew up, and then the yearning we experienced when her mother brought us to "The City," where we walked up and down Broadway tirelessly, drinking in the overwhelming sights, sound, and movement. Her comment resurfaced in my mind last night as I sat down in the Ohio Theater, a loft space in Soho, for a performance of Jane Comfort and Company's dance/opera "Asphalt." The loading dock doors were open, letting in the street and the remaining summer daylight. People mingled, drinking beers and sodas, and Manchild, who plays the character Racine, DJ'd while guests danced in the stage space. It felt like one of the New Yorks that I know and love -- a summer evening spent not too far from the sidewalk and its sights, and music and sounds always with a beat, a beat that is entirely urban when it crosses my mind and enters my body. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Betontanc and Umka.LV in "Show Your Face," part of the Under the Radar festival. Photo copyright Gints Malderis.

NEW YORK -- The best advice I can give you if you have a chance to see "Show Your Face," the Slovenian / Latvian collaboration between Betontanc & Umka.LV which opened last night and closes this night at La MaMa as part of the Public Theater's Under the Radar festival curated by Mark Russell, is to keep your eyes on the puppet and off the program notes. The latter talk grandly about particle physics and Freudian psychology and conclude by promising that "this performance will be the final judgment for us all, because we allowed ourselves to forget." The former is embodied, so to speak, by a faceless toddler-sized snowsuit, brought to life by three puppeteer/actors with such nuance and detail that it seems not only to have a face but a visage capable of displaying the most poignant emotions. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Berkeley-based Cal Performances has scored yet another coupe in presenting the U.S. premiere of "Eonnagata," conceived, created, and performed by Sylvie Guillem (above), Russell Maliphant and Robert Lepage. The work opens February 9 at Zellerbach Hall. To read Josephine Leask's Dance Insider review of its London premiere, see below. Erick Labbe photo courtesy Cal Performances.

Flash Flashback, 1-7: Triplets
Gender-hopping with Guillem & Co.; "Destino"'s Children
By Josephine Leask
Copyright 2009, 2010 Josephine Leask

(The Dance Insider has been revisiting its Archives, 12 years of the best in dance from around the world available to all subscribers for just $29.95/year. This review was first published on April 2, 2009. "Eonnagata," a collaboration between Sylvie Guillem, Russell Maliphant and Robert Lepage, comes to Cal Performances' Zellerbach Hall February 9. )

LONDON -- Audiences here flocked to Sadler's Wells February 26 to see "Eonnagata," conceived, created, and performed by a popular line-up of theater and dance professionals: Sylvie Guillem, Russell Maliphant and Robert Lepage. If these three mega-stars weren't enough to entice people to the theater, the costumes, designed by the inventive Alexander McQueen, added further pulling power. The subject matter of this collaboration was promising too: the sexually ambiguous existence of the 18th-century French noble Charles de Beaumont, Chevalier d'Eon, who as a spy and soldier spent much of a career dressed as a woman. As recounted in the program notes, this enigmatic character, whose actual sex remains a mystery to this day, had fascinated experimental theater director Lepage for many years, as had the world of the "onnagata," male Kabuki actors who train exclusively to perform female roles. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

The Artful Voyager, 1-7: Slaves of New York
Vital dance in Gotham may be missing, but Chan isn't
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- I'll say it: Dance seems to be calcified in New York, the same fossils that were here 10 years ago -- when I left for Paris -- even more entrenched. Indeed, the wilderness is so sallow that the New York Times even felt the need to send its chief dance critic abroad to review 27 "Nutcracker"s, as if even 27 "Nutcracker"s would have to be more interesting than one more New York dance concert, so desperately desolate has the local landscape apparently become. Subscribers click here to read the full Column. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Flash Interview, 1-5: Ballet's World Traveler
A Conversation with Ethan Stiefel
By Francis Mason
Copyright 2001 Ethan Stiefel and Francis Mason

(First published in the Fall 2001 issue of the esteemed publicaiton Ballet Review. Ethan Stiefel, a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre and dean of the School of Dance at North Carolina School of the Arts, was recently named artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. To subscribe to Ballet Review, click here.)

Ballet Review: You are a world traveler now, you go everywhere. What does the world look like to you?

Ethan Stiefel: I must say I never have enough time to explore the various places. Basically I'm seeing the world through theaters or ballet studios. Actually, it's rather like a soap opera sometimes because every place reveals another side of humanity. There are characters and heroes. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Avedon Fashion 1944-2000 -- a traveling exhibition of the International Center of Photography on view through January 17 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston -- explores a panoply of emblematic images by the quintessential fashion photographer of the 20th century. Above: Suzy Parker and Robin Tatersall on the Place Concorde in Paris. Photo copyright the Richard Avedon Foundation and courtesy Boston MFA.

Flash Flashback, 1-4: Mr. Khan, Meet Mr. Larbi
On the Road to Calcutta with Akram and Sidi
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2005, 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

(The Dance Insider has been revisiting its Archives, 12 years of the best in dance from around the world available to all subscribers for just $29.95/year. This review was first published on October 12, 2005.)

PARIS -- This morning, after taking my thermos coffee and croissant by a fountain in the Tuileries Garden, under a brilliant partially cloudy sky, I thought I'd walk home by way of the courtyard of the Louvre. Easier said than done; both the Tuileries and, across the street, the Louvre are now barricaded, with only narrow, security-guard manned entrances. How did we get from curiosity to fear? It's the same question that looms over "Zero Degrees," the new collaboration between European super-stars Akram Khan and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui which received its French premiere last night at the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt, danced by the choreographers. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year and receive full access to 12 years of archived reviews, commentary, and more, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Flash Review, 1-3: From sandbox to coffin
Galvan's Apocalypse
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

(Originally published last summer by ExploreDance.com. Israel Galvan's seminal 2005 "The Golden Age" is reprised tonight through Saturday at the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt in Paris.)

PARIS -- In his 2008 "El final de este estad de cosas, redux," which received its Paris premiere May 31 at the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt, where it continues through June 5, nouveau flamenco sensation Israel Galvan takes on nothing less than the Apocalypse, setting himself in a musical, set, and props kaleidescope that terminates in a stark and virtuoso fashion with the star trying to stomp his way out of an upright coffin as the life ebbs out of him. With Galvan, the line between clever gimmick and task -oriented flamenco -- in which the prop actually produces a new dance dynamic -- is sometimes thin. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

In a career that began at French Vogue and went on to span four decades, fashion photographer Guy Bourdin has been described as a choreographer of the magazine page, creating high-fashion images that also rank as high art. The above image, "Vogue Paris September 1976," copyright 2010 the Estate of Guy Bourdin, is just one of more than 300 in the new book "Guy Bourdin - In Between." (Steidl Publishers, edited by Shelly Verthime and designed by Verthime and Pascal Dangin.) Scroll down to see more images from the book.

The Arts Voyager, 1-3: "The Naked Martini"
Next to Leonard, 'Lights' dim
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Long before the Bolivian soldiers marched through Jay McInerney's 1984 coke-infused "Bright Lights, Big City," the demi-Bohemians of John Leonard's gin-addled "The Naked Martini" stood on the precipice that was 1964, straddling the wall between the space-age bachelor-pad early '60s and the mind-blowing latter part of the decade, hovering between semi-conciousness and heightened consciousness, the strictures of the '50s and the freedom of the late '60s. Which drug might be more dangerous or more enlightening is open to debate -- pick your poison -- but there's no question which is the higher literary achievement. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

The Artful Voyager, 12-27: Winter Wonderland
Playland in the park
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Anyone who still thinks New Yorkers are hard, rude, complaining, obnoxious, sour, argumentative, difficult, depressed, combative, angry or just plain terminally unhappy has obviously never been in New York during a snowstorm, when hard exteriors melt into general bonhomie, doing a sort of Frosty in reverse. Subscribers click here to read the full Story. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year and receive full access to 12 years of archived reviews and more, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Snow is falling: On view through January 9 at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, the exhibition Japanesque: The Japanese Print in the Era of Impressionism explores the development of the Japanese print from 1700 to 1900, as well as its influence on Western art, in particular Impressionism. Above, top: Henri Riviere's "La Tour en construction, vue de Trocadero," pl. 3 from the book "Les Trente-Six Vues de la Tour Eiffel, 1902." Color lithograph copyright 2010 ARS, New York / ADAGP, Paris. Below: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's "Divan Japonais," 1893, featuring the pioneering dancer Jane Avril. Color lithograph poster. Images courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Subscribers click here to read more about Jane Avril on the Dance Insider by Paul Ben-Itzak. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read the Jane Avril story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50..)

Ballerinas of Christmas past: Among her many other accomplishments -- including capturing some of the major literary figures of the 20th and 21st centuries -- renowned photographer Jill Krementz, also the author of "A Very Young Dancer," was the first to write about Darci Kistler, who retired from New York City Ballet earlier this year. Here from one of the riveting Photo Journals she's been filing for New York Social Diary, Krementz captures Kistler in 1981 with Sean Lavery. More here. on the New York Social Diary site. Photo copyright and courtesy Jill Krementz.

Flash Film Reviews, 12-24: Hack Swans & Swains
'Black Swan' bleeds inauthenticity; 'Mao's Last' won't
By Harris Green
Copyright 2010 Harris Green

NEW YORK -- Among the assorted frustrations visited upon us during 2010, the most tantalizing for balletgoers was having two dance movies released in the same year. Instead of doubling one's pleasure, "Mao's Last Dancer," an Australian biopic, and "Black Swan," an unintentionally hilarious American horror film, failed to add up to even one movie that did justice to choreography and filmmaking, dancers and actors. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

The Buzz, 12 -19: Jill, encore
The importance of being Jill Johnston
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

Jill Johnston was my hero. She gave me as a writer liberty -- and helped give many more as people liberty. And she was one of the sanest people I've ever encountered. Those of us that were fortunate enough to share her universe and understand her learned from her. Subscribers click here to read the full Column. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E- mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Michelle Nadal and Rolf Alexander at a bal musette or popular ball in Kurt Jooss's "The Big
City," one of the images that will be on display in the exhibition "Scenes de bal, bals en scene"
at the Centre National de la Danse in Pantin, outside Paris, February 9 - April 30, and the
Theatre National de Chaillot in Paris, May 5 - June 10, part of a season of performances,
conferences, and dances open to the public. Photo: Anonymous, s.l., 1953, and couresy CND.

The Buzz, 12 -14: Felasco
The DTW/Jones merger; the dance/dancing merger
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

It's no wonder that the powers that be at New York's Dance Theater Workshop and the Bill T. Jones company got their story out first through a friendly non-specialist reporter at the NY Times before they bothered to tell the dance press that they'd merged. This thing is ill-considered. Dance Theater Workshop -- the actual presenting and (theoretically) dance service institution in the deal -- sacrifices a known brand, consecrating its name and the four+ decades of history behind it to the dustbin of history. Bill T. Jones gets an institution with its own building and only has to perform there once every two years for a couple of weeks. Little attention appears to have been given to the impact the absorption of DTW by Jones's organization will have on the community of dancers, let alone the wider community.

For some perspective: A prototype actually exists for combining an established choreographer with a presenting organization. It's called the centre choregraphique, and there are 20 of them spread across France. The difference is that there, the 'home' company, usually that of a renowned international choreographer, also maintains a significant presence at home, with a mission that includes real outreach to the non-dancer community, in stark contrast to the inbred way that Dance Theater Workshop has always defined what it means by 'community.' Subscribers click here to read the full Column. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

More Bourdin: We thought we'd bring you two more examples of the work of fashion photographer extraordinaire Guy Bourdin, on view through today December 10 at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy at 972 Fifth Avenue in New York, and in the new book "Guy Bourdin - In Between" (Steidl Publishers, edited by Shelly Verthime and designed by Verthime and Pascal Dangin.) Above, from top: Vogue Paris, August 1955, and Vogue Paris, July 1968. Both images copyright 2010 the Estate of Guy Bourdin..

The Artful Voyager, 12-10: Last Angels in Paris
Juliette in Flight
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

My last two months in Paris had not gone as expected. The first surprise was that I did not experience the exhilaration I'd expected when I'd stepped out of the Gare Montparnasse. Montparnasse! How could anyone, above all an American who had always felt the thread going back to Fitzgerald and Hemingway, not be moved? (My second place in Paris, just two months into my stay, was next to the Pasteur Institute in the 15th arrondisement -- where the AIDS or SIDA virus had been identified -- and thus not too far away from Montparnasse; I'd tried to find the bar on the rue Delambre where Fitzgerald and Hemingway had met, but it had changed hands so many times it was hard to distinguish. I'd settled with "Smoke," on the other side of the street -- not where Scott and Ernest met but, with its pony-tailed Chinese bartender who looked like Wayne Wang, a fitting faux dive to smoke my first Cuban, a fact I'd announced to the bartender before correctly guessing that the blues on the juke was "Albert King!") Subscribers click here to read the full Story. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

New York City Ballet in Balanchine's version of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." Photo copyright Paul Kolnik and courtesy New York City Ballet.

NEW YORK -- On my way last night to what used to be called -- because taxpayers financed it -- the New York State Theater, I stepped on a dead rat. Unfortunately, it was neither the first nor the most offensive rodent I would encounter. The next confronted me when I arrived at the theater -- my first time back in eight years -- and was reminded by the new lettering on its facade that it is now named after David Koch. If I liken Koch to a rat, it's not just because he's one of the main funders of the scary right-wing retrograde Luddite so-called "Tea Party." Nor is it just because his company, Koch Industries, has been responsible for environmental disasters, at least one deadly. No, it's because through his funding of phony science and, most recently, a statewide initiative in California which would have rolled back its efforts to slow down global warming, Koch -- who is also the main funder of American Ballet Theatre's new "Nutcracker" -- does not stand with the ballet's composer Tchaikovsky and its choreographer George Balanchine on the side of those who would foster children's dreams, but on the side of their worse nightmares, those in which an over-heated planet deprives them of their birthright. And why does dance, once again, stick its head in the sand and let itself be used as a shill? As for its "Nutcracker," unfortunately, last night at Lincoln Center, New York City Ballet chief Peter Martins did not need any help in quashing the dreams this dance play is supposed to exalt.

To put it bluntly, I was horrified by what I saw, particularly in the first act, which is more or less given over to children. As written by Balanchine, their choreography is supposed to sing. It is vivid. It is choreography that actually treats children as capable of patterned movement and of finely-etched pantomime. But last night, the operative word was fudge -- not for the candy awaiting the kids in the land of the sweets, but for the way the choreography was smudged and raced over by everyone from the kids playing brethren Marie and Fritz to the rest of the corps of children. I'm not naming them because it's not their fault -- who let these children get onstage with such sloppy and rote moving and acting? Who told them it was enough just to be cute? Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

In a career that began at French Vogue and went on to span four decades, fashion photographer Guy Bourdin has been described as a choreographer of the magazine page, creating high-fashion images that also rank as high art. The above image, "Guy Bourdin's archive - 1955," copyright 2010 the Estate of Guy Bourdin, is just one of more than 300 in the new book "Guy Bourdin - In Between" (Steidl Publishers, edited by Shelly Verthime and designed by Verthime and Pascal Dangin), 33 of which are on view through December 10 at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy at 972 Fifth Avenue in New York.

The Buzz, 12 -6: Philistines at the temple
The unbearable lightness of Alastair Macaulay
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- In a feeble attempt to counter his being called out by myself and others over his latest cat-calling masquerading as criticism, in which he snipped that New York City Ballet's Jenifer Ringer and Jared Angle, seen in "The Nutcracker," must be eating too many sugar-plums, Alastair Macaulay has now made it clearer than ever how unqualified he is to be a critic. How long is his shameless employer the New York Times going to continue embarrassing itself and denigrating the high arts of dance and criticism by setting loose this superficial intellectual feather-weight on a major high art? Subscribers click here to read the full Column. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Vogue France, May 1970. One of the more than 300 images by pioneering French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin featured in the new book "Guy Bourdin - In Between" (Steidl Publishers) edited by Shelly Verthime and designed by Verthime and Pascal Dangin. For more on the book and an accompanying exhibition at Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York, see the caption for the photo above. Copyright 2010 the Estate of Guy Bourdin.

The Artful Voyager, 12-6: Central Park in the Dark
Taking the long way home
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Sometimes a lot happens on a day when nothing seems to be happening. Friday was one of those days.

It came at the end of a week that had been more than a bit grueling. Three weeks ago, on a rare late night bus trip uptown -- waaaaaaay uptown, to Yonkers -- at about 204th Street and Broadway I spotted the orange-red marquee of the House of Mofungo. I resisted the temptation to get off right there, but returned during the day later in the week, ending up at another more humble place up the street, where the classic Puerto Rican dish was exquisite -- a perfectly shaped mold of mashed plantains and pork, with delectable meat sauce poured over it and a salad on the side, all for $8, with the frosted Presidente beer a total of $11. Cumbia was playing of course. Subscribers click here to read the full Column. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)-->

If "Suivront mille ans de calme" (Following 1,000 years of calm), the new collaboration between Ballet Preljocaj and the Bolshoi Ballet (above, in a combined cast) takes its inspiration from St. Jean's Apocalypse, it should not be read as a literal interpretation of the Apocalypse, says choreographer Angelin Preljocaj. "The very word 'Apocalypse' -- from the Greek 'apo,' or 'to raise,' and 'calypsis,' or 'the veil,' evokes nothing less than the idea of revealing, unveiling, or making plain elements which are present in our world, but hidden from view," he explains. "Suivront mille ans de calme," which premiered in September at the Bolshoi Theater and opened December 1 at the Berliner Festspiele, tours throughout France this month, finishing the year December 27 - 30 at the Opera-Royal Chateau de Versailles.

Calley Skalnik as Marie with the children's cast, and friend, in Tulsa Ballet's production of Marcello Angelini's version of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker," running December 11-23 at he Tulsa Performance Arts Center. Photo copyright Sharen Bradford, the Dancing Image, and courtesy Tulsa Ballet. Subscribers click here to read Alicia Chesser's review of the production's premiere. (Not a subscriber? Click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above to subscribe and get full access to all DI articles, past and present, for just $29.95/year.)

The Buzz, 12 -1: Critics Cornered
Macaulay & McCarter: Ballet's not dead, but intelligent criticism may be
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- Years ago at the War Memorial Opera House, watching a performance in San Francisco Ballet's United We Dance festival, I happened to be seated next to a critic for a well-known British dance magazine. Whenever a corps dancer with a well-rounded body appeared on stage, out came the binoculars.

Well, the NY Times's Alastair Macaulay must have studied in the same school of aesthetics, which confounds the shape of the body with how it shapes the dance. For there it was again Monday, in Macaulay's review of the opening of New York City Ballet's production of Balanchine's version of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" where, according to Macaulay, "Jenifer Ringer, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, looked as if she'd eaten one sugar plum too many," and "Jared Angle, as the Cavalier, seems to have been sampling half the Sweet realm."

This is not dance criticism. This is cat-calling. It is unworthy of a critical column. And as far as fairness, it would be like me evaluating Macaulay not on his critical merits but on the puffiness of his cheeks in this photo of him. Macaulay's looks are as irrelevant to his job as Ringer and Angle's are to theirs. Otherwise, why don't we just put rail-thin models with no artistic ability up on stage and re- cast Alastair Macaulay with Hugh Grant and be done with it? Subscribers click here to read the full Column. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)-->

Jenifer Ringer and friends in New York City Ballet's production of George Balanchine's version of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." Ringer is scheduled to perform Sugar Plum Fairy when the production opens at Lincoln Center Friday November 26. Photo copyright Paul Kolnik and courtesy New York City Ballet.

The Buzz, 11-24: Deja vu all over again
Recycled dances for NY's Christmas present
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- I'm all for nostalgia. The other day I walked out of the upper east side digs in which I'm staying and felt like I was walking into a Woody Allen picture, circa 1979. Monday late afternoon, heading towards Central Park, I felt intoxicated, the very air evoking late afternoon promenades of springs past. (We've been having warm weather here in Manhattan.) However, if such emotional memory evocations can actually be good in life, infusing some of that youthful optimism in a present too often burdened by bitter experience, art should be more than just a classical repository. Even if 'classical' doesn't need to mean calcified -- the best classical art addresses eternal values, and so can continue to rejuvenate -- art needs new ideas and artists who push new boundaries, and even beyond those boundaries. On this return to New York after an absence of eight years, when I turn to the arts pages, be it of the Times, the New Yorker, or the sad pathetic shadow of what used to be the Village Voice, in dance this season I see mostly the tired ghosts of seasons past.

In New York City alone, there are no less than four "Nutcracker" productions careening down on us. I am actually a "Nutcracker" fan, I try to cleave to its over-riding message -- extraordinary things are there for those with eyes to see -- but when some of New York City's main dance venues (usually over-concerned about not stepping on each other's toes) are serving up no less than four "Nutcrackers," at least two of them very old chestnuts that at this point may be overdone, it seems to once and for all answer the question of whether NY is the dance capital of the world, in the affirmative negative. Even the non -"Nutcracker" fare has little allure: The Alvin Ailey Company will no doubt continue careening down the 'athleticism' highway, leaving its soul in its wake. Oh look, Ballet Hispanico is performing at the Joyce Theater, a self-described 'home for modern dance' which seems not to understand what the word 'modern' means. And "Complexions," judging by Alastair Macaulay's recent review in the Times, seems to still think reaching for new heights means simply reaching up those legs.

Where are the artists who are actually reaching for new movement ideas? Where is the kinetic curiosity and intellect? Where is the curatorial daring and risk?

The Akram Khan Company in Khan's "Vertical Road." Photo copyright Laurent Ziegler and courtesy the Akram Khan Company.

Akram Khan's New 'Vertical Road' loses direction

LONDON -- There is generally a high degree of metaphysical contemplation in Akram Khan's work, but his new endeavor "Vertical Road" is completely focused on it. In fact "Vertical Road" is about nothing less than a quest for spirituality. Seen at Sadler's Wells on October 9, Khan's new piece is a reaction to the fast and furious technological age that we live in, with its horizontal current that unrelentingly propels us forward, a world in which there is barely enough time to breathe let alone meditate. Khan writes in the program book that he is attracted to the idea of a vertical path which, in contrast to the horizontal one, allows us to both slow down and connect to our spirituality. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50. )

The Buzz, 11-22: Gangster's Paradise
Anchored in Gotham
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK -- It's a helluva town but it can also be a helluva cold and hard place without an anchor. The good news is that your fellow New Yorkers know this too, and are usually looking for opportunities to create windows of humanity in the grey landscape. On an early passage one sweltering June in the 1980s, loaded down with luggage on my way back to San Francisco, I was rescued by a smartly coifed woman who worked at Lord and Taylor, and who not only hauled my big suitcase up the subway stairs for me, but answered my request for directions to the JFK Express by taking me there, on the way offering me her clean white tee-shirt to wipe the sweat off my face.

Returning to New York City in earnest this week after nine years in France and a Greyhound and Amtrak tour of the country this summer and early fall, with prolonged stays in Fort Worth, Great Falls, and San Francisco, I found that old dread of being alone in this grand place returning. Subscribers click here to read the full Column. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

The Artful Voyager, 11-18: Hearts of the West
From the Bay to the Falls on the Dog
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

"But first a few rules," said the first of six drivers from Greyhound and affiliates who would take me from my hometown of San Francisco to Great Falls, Montana, an itinerary which would take us through Truckee and across to Reno, then large casino-brightened stretches of Nevada, barren Utah landscapes, more green Idaho and finally terrain that went from flat seemingly endless highways to breathtaking mountain vistas stretching into eternity in Montana. I had initially dreaded being on a bus for some 32 hours -- we'd depart at 1 p.m. Tuesday, arrive in GF at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday -- but friends had re-assured me that this was not the same Greyhound I remembered from 1997 and an ill-fated trip from NYC to Ocean City, Maryland to see a dancer with whom my relationship was already drowning; the buses were all new and comfortable. "You really feel like you're on a train, the ride is so smooth," one had told me. Well, she was right that Bus #6144 did not remind me of 1997; it was definitely from the '70s and were it a 1/4-sized model would fit right in with my collection of '70s memorabilia. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above.)

Symbolism meets surrealism, Moreau Dali at the CFM Gallery in the Chelsea district of Manhattan. Long the U.S. home of the giant Leonor Fini, CFM also hosts the work of more than a dozen other artists whose common link is fusing high technique with expansive imagination and the ability to dream -- and inspire the viewer to dream. On view through December 31: New paintings from Anne Bachelier, whose "Mots Sortilèges" (Magic Words), an oil on canvas, is featured above. For more images from the show, click here.

Flash Diatribe, 11-17: The definition of Art
Or, What is Art?
By Neil Zukerman
CFM Gallery

Let's begin with an unassailable definition. Art is Communication. The artist wishes to communicate something to the viewer and the viewer wants to understand what that message is. It is this writer's opinion that this definition strips the question, "What is Art?" to its essence.

For obvious reasons the academics like to put everything into categories. It is easier to study assigned groupings then to recognize and address differences. Fortunately, however, artists come in all shapes and sizes as well as engender art in all shapes and sizes. They, by definition, can't be categorized.

Many years ago, in my youth, a new denizen of "New York City" (!), I paid my hard-earned $2.50 and entered, for the only time in my life, the vaunted Whitney Museum. The first thing that greeted me was a 12' x 12' room, painted all white; walls, floor and ceiling. In the far corner I spied six bricks in a row. Curiosity being my driving force, I went over and looked at the tag. "6 Bricks in a Row."!!! I turned around, walked out and have never again given them any of my money -- or respect. Click here to read the full Column.

Tango coast-to-coast: The internationally acclaimed "Tango Buenos Aires" comes to Cal Performances' Zellerbach Hall for one night only, January 21. Meanwhile, back in Manhattan, on December 4 the 92nd Street Y holds an Argentine tango party. $15 gets you a lesson (starting at 8 p.m.) and party (9 p.m. - 2 a.m.), plus performances by tango artists (11 p.m.), the whole hosted by Karina Romero and Dardo Galletto. Above: Tango Buenos Aires. (Photo: CAMI.).

Flash Flashback, 11-8: Instances of climax
Merce, in rare film and video and in a new 'Event'
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2002, 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

(Tomorrow through Saturday at the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt in Paris, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company renews its ongoing love affair with France for one of the last times, with the revival of the evening-length 1983 "Roaratorio," set with John Cage's music and never before seen in Paris. The following Flash of the city's celebration of the company's 50th anniversary was first published on August 13, 2002.)

PARIS -- Is it possible for one choreographer to exhilarate and exasperate you -- er, me -- in the course of two days? If the choreographer is Merce Cunningham, aided and abetted by John Cage, David Tudor, and Takehisa Kosugi, absolutely! In celebration of the Merce Cunningham Company's 50th anniversary, the Paris Quartier d'Ete festival Saturday co-presented, with the Cinematheque de la Danse and the Institut National de l'Audiovisual, an evening of vintage Cunningham and Cage film and video at the Palais de Chaillot. The festivities moved last night to the Palais Royal, where they'll continue through Wednesday with the revival of "How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run," previously reviewed here by Chris Dohse, and "Event for the Palais Royal," experienced by moi last night. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Coming next week on The Dance Insider: Harris Green sends a Letter from New York on New York City Ballet's fall season. Above: Ask la Cour with, left to right, Rebecca Krohn, Jenifer Ringer, and Ashley Bouder in NYCB's production of Balanchine's "Serenade." Photo copyright Paul Kolnik and courtesy NYCB.

The Johnston Letter, Volume 5, Number 2
Twelve-Part Variation on the Death of a Mother
By Jill Johnston
Copyright 1979, 2010 Jill Johnston
Afterward copyright 2010 Ingrid Nyeboe

(Editor's note: The Judson Memorial Church celebrates "Judson Memorial Church and the Avant- Garde, 1954-1977," Oct. 29 & 30 with performances of work by Yvonne Rainer, Remy Charlip, Aileen Passloff, and others. Just as many Judson alumni went on to broader things beyond dance, so did its premiere chronicler, Jill Johnston, who graduated from being the Village Voice's first dance critic (as important as that was) to becoming one of the pioneers of the new journalism. Johnston passed away September 18, but the legacy of her writing is eternal, and we celebrate it today. The afterward by Ingrid Nyeboe celebrates a life and a life together.)

I

November 15 the evening news networks carried obituary film clips of Margaret Mead's life. At the end of the collage on each network she was shown in her cape waving good-bye to somebody, possibly Samoan children or friends in New York. The film was repeated on the late news, and I flipped the channels back and forth to catch the same segments over and over again, especially the last one showing her waving goodbye. Then I went to the phone and called a friend to say Margaret Mead had died and I felt very sad but I wasn't sure why since Margaret Mead never meant that much to me. I never read her books and someone gave me her autobiography but I only read ten pages of it. A year ago I sent her autobiography to my daughter but I don't think she read it either. The next day, November 16, at 11 a.m., the friend I called the night before called to tell me she had some "very bad news" for me, that my mother had died yesterday November 15 at 1:15 p.m. My mother was born in 1901 and so was Margaret Mead, so the only difference between them was that Margaret Mead was known to the world and my mother only to her family and friends. Click here to read the full Letter.

Flash Link, 10-29: Jill Johnston
Liberating the boy within her
By Elizabeth Zimmer
Obit-Mag.com

When the sorority of culture mavens got word of Jill Johnston's death in Sharon, Conn., we were shocked. We couldn't believe she was 81. She'd always been our lodestar and somehow our contemporary.

Forty years or so ago, I was a bewildered young wife living in Halifax and teaching at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. My primary link with New York, from which I'd recently emigrated, was my subscription to The Village Voice, where I read Johnston, who had been writing there since 1959. Click here to read the full story on Obit-Mag.com...

Job opening: Cirque du Soleil is seeking a strong professional contemporary female dancer who is also skilled in Indian dance styles such as Kathak, Bharatanatyam and/or Bollywood for its current shows and upcoming creations. For more information about this position and its requirements, please click here. Apply before December 17, 2010. www.cirquedusoleil.com/jobs.

A back--to-school vitrine at Leonards, the Fort Worth institution which once took up six city blocks and is now celebrated in the Leonards Department Store Museum.

The Arts Voyager, 10-28: Department store art
You can find it at Leonards... Department Store Museum
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH, TX -- It's hard to imagine that in a mid-America where the shopping mall has wiped out much of the landscape, a museum that celebrates a department store would prove one of the city's most fascinating cultural destinations, but then Leonards, celebrated with a cornucopia of artifacts by the Leonards Department Store Museum on Carroll Street off White Settlement Road, was no ordinary department store. And the community-minded mentality of its founders, Obie and Marvin Leonard, has little in common with today's generic cookie-cutter mall stores, often owned by faceless out-of-town corporations. It took up six city blocks and, when the crowds became so large they created a downtown parking problem, Leonards didn't stop at building a parking lot; in 1963 it introduced its own free subway system to get customers from the lot on the Trinity River to the store, the first of its kind in the nation. Such was Leonards' investment in the local community that when President Roosevelt declared a banking holiday in 1933 in the midst of the Great Depression, Leonards responded by issuing its own store scrip, cashing paychecks for a combination of money and scrip -- which other area shops decided to honor. Click here to read the full Article.

PARIS -- In "3Abschied" (3Adieux), on October 12 - 16 at the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt,
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (above) meets up for the first time with Jerome Bel over Mahler's
"l'Adieu" to address death and how humans deal with their own finality, through the vehicle of
De Keersmaeker's dancing body, as choreographed by ATDK and Bel. Anne Van Aerschot photo courtesy Theatre de la Ville. More info here.

Seasons in movement: Choreographers' inspirations don't just come in the studio, but often originate in nature -- the movement of a bird, a horse, a child -- even a season. Deeling Gregory's work captures life in movement on grand and intimate scales. Above: "Pumpkin Patch," a watercolor completed in October and one of a treasure trove of Gregory's oeuvre on exhibit at the Amazing Gallery of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Montana through December. See more of Gregory's creations here.

Flash Flashback, 10-7: Going with the Tide
Sasha Waltzes with the Tsunamis
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

(First posted on May 19, 2006. Sasha Waltz & Guests performs Sasha Waltz's "Gezeiten" beginning November 3 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.)

PARIS -- Speaking of would-be choreographer-healers, as Chappelle Chambers does today in her Flash of Heidi Latsky, personal illness isn't the only malady dance makers would treat these days. If I had a Euro for every press release I receive that promises a response to the all the disaster, death, and destruction, I'd be writing you right now from my own private island (buttressed by Bechtel, bien sur). Unfortunately, like Wim Vandekeybus's recent torture fest, in the end most of these efforts that I've seen simply replicate the dark deeds without offering any kind of real response, invariably leaving me asking, "You're dancers; what do you know about suffering?" I'm not saying artists need to solve or cure our troubles; but where they have promised a response to them, I think it's fair to expect that they're going to use the tools available to them to shed some light.

For her new "Gezeiten" (Tides), receiving its French premiere through tomorrow night at the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt, Sasha Waltz wanted to use her skills "to give an account" of how our constant exposure to natural and man-made disasters -- in this age of information globalization -- affects us individually and as a society. She also wanted, she says in the program notes, to exploit that the theater setting would not allow us to simply switch the channel but assign "more active participation" to the spectators. Like Ernest Borgnine on the Poseidon, we'd be trapped. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Freespace Dance performs Sunday Oct. 3 at 2 p.m. as part of the Outlet Dance Project at the Seward Johnson Center for the Arts at Grounds for Sculpture, 126 Sculptor's Way in Hamilton, New Jersey. The company, directed by Donna Scro (above at left with Omni Kitts in Scro's "Namaste"), has just announced its New York season for June 23 - 24 at St. Mark's Church in Danspace Project's Dance Access series. Photo © Lois Greenfield and courtesy Freespace Dance.

Jeanne Mordoj in her "Eloge du poil." Photo © Marie Frecon & courtesy
Theatre de la Bastille.

Jeanne Mordoj, Kataline Patkai, Isabelle Esposito & Marie Chouinard -- Reflections on forms of beauty

"Elle va entrer vivante dans un pays etranger."

-- Jeanne Mordoj

PARIS -- Sure, dance has aesthetic, musical, geometrical, and narrative rewards, but the sexual or if you prefer purely aesthetic appeal of the body as one of the art's major attractions -- to dance fans and critics alike -- is not to be denied. And yet does the body have to be perfect in its depiction to compel us? Can a body that doesn't conform to typical beauty standards nonetheless tell a beautiful story that beautifully communicates to the audience? Can beautiful bodies fail to communicate? Three shows seen here offer an opportunity for reflection. Subscribers click here to read the full Journal. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

If you think you've seen all there is to see of Edgar Degas, a new exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York (225 Madison Ave. @ 36th)) will make you think again. Highlighting 20 drawings, the exhibition shows not only finished work, but, through two sketchbooks, his work in process. "Drawing often provides a more personal and intimate glimpse of an artist's creative process than either painting or sculpture," said Morgan director William M. Griswold, "and the works on view in this exhibition are no exception. The artist is known for his bold experimentation with subject matter and artistic technique, and the drawings and sketchbooks in this show underscore Degas's willingness to push himself in new directions." The exhibition runs through January 23 (with free admission Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m.) and, if you can't make it to NY, you can also check it online. Above: "Seated Dancer," ca. 1871. Oil paint thinned with turpentine over pencil, on pink paper. Thaw Collection. Courtesy Morgan Library.

Flash Book Review, 9-20: Avril in Paris
Jane Avril by Francois Caradec: There's a reason she inspired Toulouse-Lautrec
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- If it's relatively easy to find reasonably priced biographies of French artists in the bookstalls that line the Seine, it's harder to find chronicles as interested in the artistic legacies of their subjects as they are in artfully recreating the more superficial aspects of their personal lives. A biography I found of Suzanne Valadon, the one-time Toulouse-Lautrec and Renoir model who became a painter in her own right, developing a uniquely personal and natural style, turned out to be less a serious study of her life and work and their originality than a fanciful re-imagining of the colorful conversations she must have had with her son, the painter Maurice Utrillo, and her companion/his friend Felix Utter. Another on Marie Laurencin -- a member of the pre-WWI circle of Picasso, Apollinaire, and Rousseau, and a sometimes designer for dance, notably Nijinska's "Les Biches" -- spent more time on Laurencin's relations with the author's mother than analyzing the creative force behind her willowy, dreamy portraits. Jane Avril, by contrast -- you know her as the svelte dancer immortalized by Toulouse Lautrec -- lucked out in landing Francois Caradec, a giant of the French literary scene and the author of "Jane Avril," to pen her story. (Published by Fayard in 2001 with the price of 18.75 Euros; Caradec passed away in 2008.) Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the Subscribe button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Flash News, 9-18: Bon Voyage, Jilly
DANCE AND LITERARY GIANT JILL JOHNSTON DIES
By The Dance Insider
Copyright 2010 The Dance Insider & Paul Ben-Itzak

HARTFORD, CT -- Jill Johnston, a giant in American Letters who ushered in a new age in dance before going on to help usher in a new age in journalism, and a columnist and chroniclist for the Dance Insider since 2005, died Saturday at Hartford Hospital at the age of 81, her spouse and companion of 30 years, Ingrid Nyeboe, announced, after suffering a stroke September 9, nine days after undergoing minimally invasive open heart surgery to treat atrial fibrillation.

"As Jill was a pioneer not just in dance criticism but in 20th century journalism and literature, dance analogies might be too limiting," said Dance Insider publisher Paul Ben-Itzak. "That said, as a dance critic she was our Merce Cunningham. Just as dance lost the last of its pioneering giants when Cunningham passed away last year, dance criticism has now lost the last of its giants." Click here to read the full Article.

(Top to bottom) New York City Ballet's Darci Kistler in her farewell performance, from Peter Martins's production of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake"; Jenifer Ringer with Philip Neal in his farewell, from Balanchine's "Serenade"; Mauro Bigonzetti's "Luce Noscosta," featuring Santiago Calatrava's design; and Daniel Ulbricht and company in Melissa Barak's "Call Me Ben." All photos ©Paul Kolnik and courtesy NYCB.

Copyright 2010 Harris Green

NEW YORK -- The final five weeks of City Ballet's spring - summer season were particularly newsworthy. Along with premieres of the four remaining works commissioned for the "Architecture of Dance -- New Choreography and Music Festival," the company offered farewell performances by principal conductor Maurice Kaplow and four principal dancers. I passed up the opportunity to bid goodbye to Kaplow and Yvonne Borree but the salutes to the departing Philip Neal (June 13), Albert Evans (June 20), and Darci Kistler (June 27) could not be missed. There's a crescendo of appreciation at these farewells that never fails to move me: Much of the audience gets to its feet during the final curtain call for the cast. Everyone else rises when the curtain opens on the honoree alone onstage. Female principals enter one by one bearing bouquets for their colleague. Male principals bearing a single rose come on single file. In some cases, spouses, relatives and offspring join in. Finally, ballet master in chief Peter Martins makes grand, commanding gestures to the wings and scores of dancers, the rest of the roster of New York City Ballet, stream onstage, applauding as they enter as everyone in the theater has been doing and will continue doing for some time as confetti and glitter strips swirl down. Subscribers click here to read the full Letter and see more photos. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe now for just $29.95/year, just click the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Flash Flashback, 9-9: Comes the Rain
Pina Washes Out; the Most Centered Dancer in the World
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

(First published June 21, 2007. Pina Bausch's "Vollmond" opens at the Brooklyn Academy of Music September 29.)

PARIS -- Audience assault seems to be the tactic du jour for seasoned choreographers who have run out of new kinetic ideas. First there was Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, who in two successive programs here last month from her company Rosas managed to attack, respectively (or rather disrespectfully) the eardrums and the lungs of the audience at the Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt. Now Pina Bausch, whose last four creations rely mostly on the native talents of her performers and regurgitating old dramatic and scenic schtick, has chosen to conclude her new "Vollmond," which opened Saturday at the Theatre de la Ville, with over-amped, eardrum-splitting generic rock 'n' roll. After I mounted the aisle and pushed open the exit doors when I couldn't take it any more, I paused at the threshold of Bernhardt's dressing room long enough to say "Sorry Sarah," that the dramatic bombast with which the Divine One made this theater's name had been replaced this night by pure bombast. Subscribers click here to read the full Article. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Anton Bruehl's 1943 "Harlem Number at the Versailles Cafe" (carbro print). Amon
Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas. Purchased with funds provided
by Stephen L. Tatum in honor of Nenetta C. Tatum, ©Anton Bruehl.

Frederick Remington's 1895 "Fall of the Cowboy.". ©Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

Culture and Cowboys: It's easy to access and to create access for culture in places like New York City. But some, be they artists, curators, or philanthropists, prefer to make art and make art accessible where they've found themselves. While Fort Worth, Texas prides itself on its cowboy heritage -- a weekly 'cattle run' even trots out 20 tired-looking longhorns daily to promenade for tourists in the city's historic stockyards -- it's also been a place where individuals can carve out cultural niches to lure the wider public. These include noted tap dancer Gracey Tune (Tommy's sister), who 20 years ago founded Arts Fifth Avenue, which offers everything from tap for kids to Argentine tango milongas for adults to "Shakespeare in the parking lot"; and Amon G. Carter, a newspaper man whose biggest legacy today is the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, which is both a repository for Carter's substantial collection of chroniclers of the West Frederick Remington (bottom image above) and Charles M. Russell and a leading national exhibitor of modern art, with a rich permanent collection of photography (top image), as well as temporary exhibitons like Ansel Adams, Eloquent Light, on view through November 7. Dance is present, too; as a complement to Constructive Spirit: Abstract Art in South and North America, 1920s - '50s, running through September 5, on August 26 at 6 p.m., the museum presents a free screening, Abstraction, Avant-Garde, and the Silver Screen, with Busby Berkeley's 1934 "Dames," known for its abstract choreography (and a great cast including Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Zasu Pitts). For reservations, e-mail here. -- PBI

The Johnston Letter, Volume 5, Number 1
Red Alert
By Jill Johnston
Copyright 2010 Jill Johnston

Won si eht retniw fo ruo tentnocsid, as we wait for it to be over. Will Obama survive the Tea Party people, or his own presidency, and bipartisan aspirations? Does anyone really believe that two warring political parties are enough for 300 million people? Does it matter, when we are dying anyway? Do we hope for utopia before we go? Can we create our own, even as we know we're on a sinking ship called America? Can't we get off this thing? It's going down with a ton of money, never shared with us, but taking us with it. Atlantis here we come, with tons of useless money. While we chunter on about our lives and interests, the immortal Nero is flying in from Rome with his fiddle. Meantime, I've become hooked on the really low-brow Bachelor show. I want to know how it turns out. Click here to read the full Letter.

Paris Dispatch, 5-31: Bright lights, big city
Taking it to the streets
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- If the past couple of weeks have taught me anything, it's that, as has often been the case here, art is being advanced not by the established venues and gatekeepers, but in the ateliers, the squats, the docks, the banks of the Seine, even the eccentric personalities of individual Parisians who, often against great odds, give the city its colors and its dynamism, try to satiate its thirst for the relief and elevation art can provide with, if not a joie de vivre -- it's too much of a struggle to find the means these days to say that -- at least a joie to engage, be it with the elusive muse, the thread that connects a contemporary artistic scene in flux with the phantoms of the past, themselves often barred by the gatekeepers of their time...and most of all with their fellow Parisians and even tourists. So if I was disappointed by a lackluster season- announcing press conference by the Theatre de la Ville in which its director, Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, was averse to taking questions from the press (and no wonder: the 2010-11 dance season offers little surprises), I was inspired and invigorated by a photo on the wall of a tiny atelier in Belleville capturing a darkened forest fleeting by outside a train window and the enchanting smile of its simply dressed proud author, Agata Rybarczyk -- "It was taken in Poland! I'm Polish!" -- who also invited visitors to create their own art out of small cubes. Subscribers click here to read the full Dispatch. (Not yet a subscriber? To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50..)

Julie Beres's "Sous les visages." Alain Monot photo courtesy Theatre de la Ville.

Beres burrows beneath the visage

PARIS -- One problem with a lot of the modern dance I see is that, in these times of crisis, with so many facing the very real challenges of keeping a roof over their heads and food in their bellies, it often seems frivolous and self-absorbed, as if beamed down from a planet where people don't have to worry about making ends meet and basic daily survival. A second problem is choreographers who think they don't need to be talented and trained dramatists to add text to their creations, with the result that the words they come up with are often... self-absorbed. Et voila Julie Beres, whose "Sous les visages" (under or behind the visages), which opened last night at the Theatre de la Ville aux Abbesses in Montmartre where it plays through June 5, takes a real problem, massive impersonal lay-offs or firings, and treats it with luminous movement and lucid, if not always original, dialogue. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Flash Review, 5-20: Beautiful Mes
Maqoma mixes in Montmartre
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- While I've only seen three shows, what's pulled me so far on my return to Paris, as far as dance goes anyway, is the internationalism and the fresh approach to collaborative creation brought by two artists, Akram Khan and Gregory Maqoma, both seen at the Theatre des Abbesses of the Theatre de la Ville in Montmartre.

You can read on ExploreDance.com my review of Khan's "Gnosis," the big news of which wasn't actually the Bangladeshi - English choreographer but Yoshi Sunahata, a triple-threat drummer, dancer, and singer lent to Khan by Kodo. As for Khan, he shows up again this week as a collaborator in Maqoma's "Beautiful Me," along with Vincent Mansoe and Faustin Linyekula. Subscribers click here to read the full Review. (To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50.)

Paris Dispatch, 5-18: Reflecting
Sarah Bernhardt's Mirror
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- When I first lived in Paris, I used to collect things. My most prized possession was Sarah Bernhardt's personal mirror. (La Sarah gave it to her personal make-up assistant, who gave it to a photographer taking photos at her retirement home, who left it to his wife, who left it to her son, who sold it to me one Saturday in Montmartre.) After the mirror would be my Leonor Fini art books, including a numbered copy of a limited edition "Story of O" the late surrealist painter illustrated, and two other books, also numbered. Then probably the #2 edition of Paris Match, which was actually the first to devote the cover to just one person, and she was...Katherine Dunham. Click here to read the full Dispatch.

Letter from London, 5-17: Playtime
Danza with Ek; Flatt not; Pina still in Kontakt
By Josephine Leask
Copyright 2010 Josephine Leask

LONDON -- Playing to an unexpectedly rowdy audience (English audiences are usually so restrained and quiet), Danza Contemporanea de Cuba brought a delicious taste of Cuban vivacity to the stage at Sadler's Wells on March 19. Enjoying its first visit to Sadler's Wells, on the final leg of its European tour, the 21-strong company of dancers presented two Sadler's Wells commissions, Mats Ek's "Casi Casa" and George Cespedes's "Mambo 3XX1." Subscribers click here to read the full Letter. (To subscribe today for just $29.95/year, just click on the PayPal 'Subscribe' button above. Just want to read this story? E-mail us to buy it for just $2.50..)

Paris Dispatch, 5-14: Home
We'll always have Paris
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2010 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS -- After almost three years in the country, I am back in Paris, dealing with the smog and happy to be back among my people, the outcasts -- my tribe.

It took me a while to realize just how much I am chez moi here. In "Journey to the East," Herman Hesse follows a sojourner whose expedition falls apart in disarray -- apparently. Years later, the sojourner runs into a fellow traveler and asks him whatever happened to the expedition. "It didn't fall apart," his former companion reports. "It was your vision that did." Click here to read the full Dispatch.

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