Fall Exhibits at the Morgan and the Frick
Now that we’re into Fall, it’s a great time to visit our museums. Miriam Silverberg reports in on some new exhibits at two of our favorite museums, the Morgan and the Frick.
Fall Exhibits at the Morgan
The Morgan Library & Museum on Madison at 36th Street has a number of very interesting and worthwhile exhibits. My favorite is John Singer Sargent’s overlooked charcoal portraits. They certainly are overlooked. I love his paintings but, like most people, I wasn’t aware of his charcoal portraits. They are beautiful. Very moody and evocative. He made over 750 of these charcoal portraits. This is the first major exhibit of Sargent’s charcoal portraits and will be on view until January 12. I guarantee you will love it.
There’s another very interesting exhibit on Giuseppe Verdi, Italy’s pre-eminent composer. He retired from opera at 58 but was coaxed out of retirement by fervent pleas from his adoring audiences. Verdi then composed what would become the crowning achievement of his career: Otello and Falstaff. Until January 5 the Morgan is presenting highlights from the Milan-based Bertelsmann-owned Ricordi Archive, offering visitors insight into the production of these two operas, as well as the complex enterprise of bringing an opera to life. The Ricordi Archive traces the genesis and realization of Otello and Falstaff through original scores, libretti, selected correspondence, set and costume designs and more, marking the first exhibition of these rare documents and artifacts in the U.S.
The last exhibit is Illusions of the Photographer Duane Michals on view until February 2. This is a six-decade retrospective of Michals, known for his picture sequences, inscribed photographs, and more recently, films that pose emotional, conceptual and cosmic questions beyond the scope of the lone camera image. Wow! Frankly, I had never heard of him but it proved to be very interesting. The exhibit showcases his storytelling instincts, both in stand-alone staged photos and in sequences. There are also screenings of short films. Go see it.
The most diverse draftsman of the Italian Baroque era was Guercino (1591-1666). He created brilliant drawings in a broad range of media. The Morgan owns more than 35 works by this artist and, supplemented by loans from NY private collections, they’re all on view until February 2. They include figures drawn from everyday life as well as brilliant caricatures. On view are multiple studies for several projects allowing you to see his mind at work as he considered his ideas. His work was highly stylistic, best seen in looping, calligraphic pen lines that do not depict drapery folds so much as they convey a sense of fluttering cloth. After this energetic sketching with the pen, he would typically take up a brush, clarifying a design or even seeming to sculpt forms with multiple layers of wash. Very interesting.
The Renaisance Sculptor You Need to Know About
The Frick Museum on 70th at Madison is having the first exhibition devoted to the Renaissance sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni (1440-1491). He was quite a guy. He was a student of Donatello, a teacher of Michelangelo, a favorite of Lorenzo de Medici and an active collaborator with many other artists. By uniting nearly his entire extant oeuvre—more than 20 statuettes, reliefs, medals, a life-sized statue, and a monumental frieze never before shown outside of Italy—the show demonstrates the artist’s creative process and ingenious design across media, his engaging lyrical style, and especially the essential role he played in the development of Italian Renaissance sculpture. To give you some idea of his importance, Bertoldo was one of the earliest sculptors since antiquity to create statuettes in bronze, an art form that became most popular in prestigious collections during the 15th century and thereafter. Naturally, you’ve got to see this. He’s so important in Italian Renaissance art and you probably know so little about him.
Miriam Silverberg is a freelance journalist and owner of Miriam Silverberg Associates, a boutique publicity agency in Manhattan. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.