Friday, April 6, 2012

Weekend Picks. Maharaja, Walker Evans, Herstory, de Staebler

Asian Art Museum: 'Maharaja: The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts' opened in October and now, sadly, it's time to say goodbye. I can't believe that six months have passed!

Kipling wrote that "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet" but the Asian Art Museum has done an excellent job of bridging that particular gap with their current exhibit, 'Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts. '

"Maharaja reveals the extraordinary culture of India's kings. It showcases different aspects of royal life through rich and varied objects from India and the West," said Jay Xu, Director of the Asian Art Museum. "With lavish artistry and exquisite craftsmanship, each object in the exhibition tells a story within a broader historical context of royal life and ideals, patronage, alliances, and court culture."

Curated by the museum’s Qamar Adamjee, “Maharaja” spreads over three large galleries on the main floor.

The show glitters with more dazzling jewelry than the crown jewels at the Tower of London. Take the Patiala necklace, designed (or rather re-set) for the Maharaja of Patiala between 1925 and 1928 by Cartier. The largest commission ever filled by the Parisian jewellers, it consists of five strands of huge diamonds, with the light yellow 234.61 caret De Beers diamond as its central pendant.

Don't let the dazzle distract you from the a history lesson that is an integral part of the exhibit. Maharaja follows two thematic arcs: the religious and secular duties of India's rulers, who hailed from separate and competing fiefdoms; and the worlds of the maharajas themselves as they evolved from autonomous leaders to "native princes" under British control after the Sepoy Mutiny in 1858.

This coming Sunday is also a Target free Sunday with free general admission and a lot of family programs.

Original review:

African-American barber shop. 1930's.

Cantor Arts Center. This weekend is the last time to see the exhibit on American photographer Walker Evans (1903–1975), whose direct and unsentimental images of life on small-town streets, New York subway riders inspired generations of photographers and helped shape contemporary art.

The 125-plus-piece exhibition opens with three modest self-portraits taken in Paris (1926) and a small collection of formal, modernist studies of New York skyscrapers (late 1920s). This is an artist finding himself, doing the things he's been told are important. But once he got beyond these predictable exercises in narcissism and conventional wisdom, Evans found his footing, roaming the streets of New York City to see what his camera could find, taking anonymous portraits of New York subway riders.

The exhibit includes some of Evans's most indelible images were shot in 1936 in a settlement just north of Greensboro, Alabama. In particular, Evans and author James Agee spent several weeks at the four-room cabin of cotton sharecropper Floyd Burroughs and his wife, Allie Mae, whose image was featured in Evans's 1938 American Photographs exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and again in 1941 for Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which featured Agee's text and 31 of Evans's photographs from the 1936 trip.

Explore the exhibit on line at:

Pacific Art League:  40 Watts: Illuminating Herstory is a collaborative exhibition among the Northern California, Peninsula and South Bay Area chapters Women's Caucus for Art (WCA) to celebrate the Women's Caucus for Art's 40th Anniversary.

Reception Fri, Apr 6, 5:30-8:30pm

Norton Gallery, Pacific Art League
668 Ramona Street
Palo Alto, CA, 94301

de Young Museum: Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler

For more than 50 years, Stephen De Staebler (1933–2011) created figurative sculptures primarily from clay—a medium derived from the primordial earth. Drawing inspiration from fundamental childhood experiences with nature, a transformative adolescent encounter with mortality, and adult studies in the histories of art and religion, he explored and extended a tradition of human representation that includes the religious monuments of ancient Egypt, the Renaissance humanism of Michelangelo’s finished and unfinished figures, and the modern existentialism expressed in the works of Alberto Giacometti. Matter + Spirit, installed in the American art galleries, includes 55 of De Staebler’s works.

 If he had lived in ancient Greece, he would have been another Phidias, one of the greatest sculptors of ancient Greece. De Staebler's slabs of fused clay and other materials are modern in technique but ancient in feeling. The works created exist at the confluence of memory and spiritually, a particularly Northern California feeling toward nature that transcends geographic boundaries.

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