Monday, May 27, 2013

Brimfield Outing

Yes, I've been holding out on my visit to Brimfield this year. 

It took quite a bit of restraint, but I managed to not buy this trio of black & white photos.

Also, I remembered to bring sunblock and a hat. So all in all, I considered the day a great success. I promise to post what I did buy as soon as I take photos In the meantime ...

This cow's head at one time graced a now demolished meat market in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

This binder was one of at least five journal/scrapbooks maintained by one diligent traveler.

I didn't make it up to Brimfield last year, but I did in 2011. You can read all about my first time in posts here and here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Elena Sisto @ Lori Bookstein Fine Arts

Buffalo Check, 2012

Elena Sisto’s paintings are portraits of young women artists. Figures appear in the picture frame fragment-like, as if they are being observed through a wandering camera lens, which stops when a telling gesture or a significant juncture of planes, objects, and patterns comes into view. While this results, occasionally, in traditional head-and-shoulders portraiture, most of the figures are cropped, often to the point of abstraction. These selective glimpses and well-chosen clues are what Sisto offers to skillfully both protect and reveal what she will about her subjects.

You still have a few more days to see “Between Silver Light and Orange Shadow” at Lori Bookstein Fine Arts, 138 Tenth Ave. in Chelsea. Sisto’s idiosyncratic and unconventional portraits are on view through May 25.

See the artist’s Guggenheim Fellow profile here.

Tear, 2012

Red Sweater, 2013                     Blue Shirt, 2013

Snafu, 2011

Hat, 2013                                    Ear, 2013

At Midnight, 2010

Tattersall, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Enamel Coffee Pots

Are these not amazing—chips and all? The vintage/antiques world is so condition-crazy these days, that if an item is not “mint,” it’s practically worthless.

Pictured here are mostly cafetières, coffee pots (some canisters and teapots as well) which are mostly French (some Belgian and Dutch too). I consider them to be the anti-mint. And not to get all “shabby-chic” here, but I think they wear their imperfections quite well.

I’ll have you know that I traveled all the way to eBay France to get some of these images!

I snapped this handleless teapot at a flea market in  Zagreb.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Not Your Father’s Judaica

In 1903, gold/silversmith Israel Rouchomovsky traveled to the Louvre in Paris from his home in Odessa. There, under the watchful eyes of institutional experts, he replicated a portion of a superbly tooled ancient Scythian tiara the museum had purchased in 1896. Only then would the museum even consider the possibility, as skeptics had charged, that the “antiquity” which had been drawing crowds (and criticism) for the last seven years, might actually be the work of a contemporary craftsman. The tiara's creator, of course, was Rouchomovsky, whose virtuosic skill as a goldsmith had been exploited, unbeknownst to him, for the purpose of defrauding the museum.

Truly, nothing short of a mini series could do this story justice, as it involves shady antiquity-dealing brothers, anti-semitism, and the celebrated Scythian gold discoveries in Crimea. Not to mention the reputations at stake at the highest levels of classics scholarship, archeologly and the Louvre itself.

Blowup wall graphic of the skeleton at the Sotheby’s exhibit. 

The Louvre’s embarrassment was Rouchomovsky’s good fortune. It just so happened that while enjoying his newfound fame, he was able to further dazzle his fans with a recently completed pet project. Starting in 1892, Rouchomovsky began work on a fully articulated 3” gold skeleton (the secret is in the teeny-tiny ball bearings) and its very own elaborately decorated silver sarcophagus. This remarkable piece was displayed in the Paris 1903 Salon where it earned the artist a gold medal. Lucrative private commissions followed. Rouchomovsky, who as a  Jew in Russia was denied a merchant certificate, brought his family to Paris where he lived for the rest of his life.

Read fuller accounts of the story here, here, and a contemporary account of the Scythian tiara itself in the July 25, 1896 issue of  Scientific American. The piece makes sure to mention that the headpiece "is as brilliant as if it had just come from the workshop."

Last week’s sale of the Steinhardt Judaica Collection broke all sorts of records, and with good reason. I was fortunate enough to stop by on the last day of viewing before the sale, and though the exhibit is over, you may still see the images and read about them online.

If your idea of Judaica is silver filigree and seder plates, the collection provides plenty of reinforcement, but only as a background some extraordinary standouts.

Here are just a few …

Painted plaque inset with manual clocks for the times of prayer services
on weekdays and Sabbath. Romania, 1878 

Abraham Pavian, the artist, was actually the shamas, or caretaker of the synagogue. Among his responsibilities was probably the opening and closing of the building for services. Let's hear it for thinking beyond the grooved, black felt notice board with its changeable white letters and numbers!

Torah shield, Austria, late 19th century

This late 19th century, Austrian Torah shield is set with paste “gemstones” engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matzah tool, 18th/early 19th century

Micrographic Omer Calendar, Germany, c.1830

Menorah of chairs, Poland, early 20th century

All photos are from Sotheby's catalog.
Related Posts with Thumbnails