Tintoretto


After much effort, my daughter agreed that we could see the Tintoretto exhibit if we also saw the giant blue rooster.

While I didn’t get to spend as much time admiring the erotic paintings as I might have liked, because I had my little one with me, I loved this strange Last Supper.

Rather than a melancholy Passover feast, it looks more like a raucous meeting of philosophers from one of Plato’s more debauched dialogues.

And here’s the rooster.

The Phillips Collection


We visited the Phillips Collection the other day because, as it turns out, Tuesdays Through Fridays during the day, it’s free to visit the permanent collection (though not the special/temporary exhibits). While the little fragments we got to see of the exhibit of works by the Cuban artist, Zilia Sánchez, seemed very exciting, the permanent collection also seemed quite enough for the little one.

Like another favorite private museum in DC, the Kreeger, the Phillips Collection has some truly fantastic pieces, including a monumental Renoir that you probably saw in your  college art history text book. I used to go once a year because I used to have a subscription to the Folger’s poetry series and one reading per season would take place there.

While I have my favorite painting there (a smallish de Kooning), there were the little one’s. And the Richard Serra (you can guess which one that is) is fantastic, as is the Rothko room which also functions a secular chapel, a la… the Rothko Chapel in Texas.

Corot: Women


Even if the National Gallery of Art were not closed due a government shutdown (thank you, Trump), you couldn’t see this exhibition because it closed just before the shutdown. So you can feel… better about it?

Anyway, here are some cool pics from Corot: Women

Women Reading in the Country

The Repose

Reading, Interrupted

Acid Rain


We went to the National Museum if Women in the Arts the other day. I won’t lie. I picked the day because it’s free on the first Sunday of the month.

The little one was mostly unimpressed and distracted until she saw Acid Rain. She responded to it immediately. Her first reaction was to believe it was made of bones, which also feels like an emotional reaction rather than strictly perception. We spoke about it later and she told me it made her feel sad. Which, in one way, is bad, but she was having a reaction to contemporary art, which is more than most people ever have.

The Barnes Foundation


This was my first time visiting the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and it was a moderate disappointment.

Many years, while the old Barnes building was being remodeled (they moved to the current location when it became clear that the original building simply could never be made suitable for safely storing and displaying the collection), I saw a temporary exhibit of many of the collection’s works at the Musée d’Orsay and it left a strong impression (though I was also pretty young back then).

I added that parenthetical caveat because, seeing it again in its new home, I was left unsatisfied. It didn’t seem like they actually had much gallery space and the curatorial choices were downright baffling.

The galleries were small, but items were hung in the style of traditional eighteenth and nineteenth century salons, but those salons were traditionally in much bigger rooms, so the effect is different and feels cramped. Also, every room had a long of ironwork on the walls. Not sure why.

I am not sure because there are not placards identifying the pieces, only individual room guides, which I didn’t have the capacity to view because I had a child with me. She loves art, but she is still a kid and not inclined to wait around while her father reads booklets.

I am also a little baffled about the choices of why paintings were placed together. It seemed vaguely but weirdly thematic (a room of mostly paintings of children; a room of mostly women getting dressed/undressed). And, if we are honest, in the service of these presumed themes, a lot of second rate paintings were put out. I love many second rate paintings and second tier artists, but I want some context, which context was placed just out of my reach.

On the good side, it was family day, so the little one got to make a sketch book and see a lot of dancing (hip hop, tap, Indian, and Cambodian).

The picture near the top is by yours truly, the coffee philosopher. The rest were taken by the little one. Like her father did at that age, she has a thing for African masks.

Poetry East


I just finished reading the latest copy of Poetry East, one of my favorite poetry magazines.

One could criticize it by saying that it publishes too little work by new and emerging poets and too many by dead poets (like, Shelley levels of dead). But when you read it… well, it’s hard to criticize such a well put together publication with so much great poetry and beautiful (if not original) artwork.

This one (actually from Autumn 2017) features Carvaggio paired with passages from the Gospels (do you consider that poetry?). Ovid and Bernini. Facing pages with the Italian and English translations of Petrarch. Selections from American writers who visited Rome. English writers (the earlier mentioned Shelley, for example).

And yes, some new poetry. As part of three short poems collectively entitled Storyflowers, Suzanne Rhodenbaugh included this small gem, called Iris:

Once I was all lips and tongue.
Now I am a fist.

Can’t wait until the next issue.