Daring Docent Dishes with Digital Adam at The Met

Digital Adam and the Docent reenact what Paradise was like before The Fall

Digital Adam and the Docent reenact what Paradise was like before The Fall

There’s no need to check into the Met after hours to see a classical statue come to life. In Renaissance gallery 504 on the main floor, a digital version of Tullio Lombardo’s 15th-century Adam is interacting with visitors and a knowledgeable Docent in Reid Farrington’s The Return performance through August 2.

The Return is quite a production and its illusions created in the Italian Renaissance gallery would make any animation fan jump for joy.

Classical Adam (the marble one) is installed prominently in the gallery where half the performance takes place. Its presence is a miracle, since the beautiful Renaissance sculpture totally shattered in a freak fall in 2002.

To repair it – a complex undertaking — Met team made a digital replica of all the pieces to decide how to fit everything back together again and spent years making it whole.

Tullio Lombardo’s Adam (1490-1495), which fell and shattered in 2002, but has been exquisitely repaired

Tullio Lombardo’s Adam (1490-1495), which fell and shattered in 2002, and is now repaired

Now, it’s Digital Adam who’s the fascinating co-star of the show, brought back to life by performance artist Reid Farrington who envisioned a tribute to the virtuosity of the Met’s conservation team who so flawlessly reassembled Tullio’s Adam.

The other half of the performance involves an improv actor, a motion sensor suit, and a crew of digital engineers and prop masters, all camped out on the stage of the Met’s auditorium in the Egyptian wing. As the stage actor moves in the auditorium, Digital Adam moves, speaks, answers questions, and holds up a Warhol and a Van Gogh inside his lifesize digital frame in the Renaissance gallery to the delight of the audience and his sidekick, The Docent. See photos on our Flickr feed.

The audience decides what part of Classical Adam’s renovation will get discussed next, but the witty duo soon veer off into other fascinating topics:

Actor in motion-capture portrays Digital Adam, whose image is simulcast at the right and in gallery 504

Actor in motion-capture portrays Digital Adam, whose image is simulcast at the right and in gallery 504

What does it feel like to always look good and never age? Does Classical Adam remember back to the marble quarry? Does Biblical Adam remember what Garden of Eden was like before the Fall? Adam’s clever responses reveal that his Eden experience was a lot about infinity pools and the good life.

At one point, Digital Adam invites the Docent to portray Eve in his telling of what happened after the Serpent appeared with that apple. Then the attention turns back to Classical Adam, as the Docent shows Lombardo’s thinking about that particular moment portrayed in marble.

Digital Adam shows drawing of where the breaks in Lombardo’s Adam occurred

Digital Adam shows drawing of the breaks in Lombardo’s Adam

These two need their own ongoing talk show about history, time and space in some corner of the Met. Until August 2, ask the information desk for The Return’s program and go marvel at both the gallery and the behind-the-scenes performances. Or go to the live stream on the Met Museum’s website.

After meeting Digital Adam, you’ll never again wonder about what’s going on inside Classical Adam’s cool, calm, beautiful marble head.

10 Things to Know About Pluto’s Star Turn This Week

In real time, AMNH astrovisualization guru Carter Emmart notes the moment that humans reached the furthest point of exploration on Pluto on the big screen

In real time, AMNH astrovisualization guru Carter Emmart notes the moment that humans reached the furthest point of exploration, passing beyond Pluto

The American Museum of Natural History hosted a sold-out event at the crack of dawn this week to give Pluto fans (and Dr. Neil) a real time, play-by-play of what was happening on the edge of our solar system.

Check out our Flickr feed to see the visualizations created by Dr. Carter Emmart’s team at the Hayden Planetarium and glimpse some of the (human) stars at Mission Control and others who weighed in via Google Hangout from planetariums from around the world.

Here are 10 essential things you should know:

Pluto’s photo from earlier in the week appears on the Google Hangout, showing the “heart” area

Pluto’s photo from earlier in the week appears on the Google Hangout, showing the “heart” area

1) It was a fly-by. The New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto. It didn’t land or orbit around it.

2) Pluto has a reddish tint. The new color photos show that Mars isn’t alone.

3) Pluto has five moons. New Horizons is looking for more.

4) This marks the furthest point of human exploration to date. It happened just before 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 14.

Just in -- the latest from New Horizons: July 17 photo of smooth frozen plains in Pluto’s “heart”

Just in — the latest from New Horizons: July 17 photo of smooth frozen plains in Pluto’s “heart”

5) The spacecraft, New Horizons, is the size of a grand piano. It traveled over 3 billion miles.

6) It took New Horizons 9-1/2 years to get to Pluto. It was launched January 17, 2006 and is expected to keep going out into space for another ten years. For the full story, click here.

7) The new photos confirm that Pluto is young and doesn’t have any craters (like our Moon or Neptune). Its 11,000-foot ice mountains are only 100 million years old (compared to the Rockies at 80 million years old). They formed during our Cretaceous period. More discoveries to come photos and data slowly stream in.

Fran Bagenal, New Horizons's co-PI, and Alice Bowman, the Mission Operation Manager — the first female Mission Operation Manager at APL Johns Hopkins

Fran Bagenal, New Horizons’s co-PI, and Alice Bowman, the first female Mission Operation Manager at APL

8) The transmission speed from the spacecraft is half the speed of an old dial-up modem. That’s why mission control will be receiving photos and other data from this fly-by for the next sixteen months or more.

9) Twenty-five percent of the people on the New Horizons project are women. Alice Bowman is the first female Mission Operations Manager at APL Johns Hopkins.

10) Dr. Neil keeps correcting people to call Pluto a “dwarf planet” but all of the scientists interviewed on the mission love it anyway. Some fans think it should be “grandfathered” into the solar system as an honorary planet.

Neil de Grasse Tyson reminds astrobiologist David Grinspoon at Mission Control to call Pluto a “dwarf” planet

Neil de Grasse Tyson reminds astrobiologist David Grinspoon at Mission Control to call Pluto a “dwarf” planet

Does Pluto have a molten core? What’s the topography of Charon? Are there geysers? Are there other moons? What’s going on with the Kuiper Belt? Stay tuned as New Horizons keeps going.

NASA has a TV channel featuring (now) daily media briefings on the photos and data and has a channel with all the updates on New Horizons, including links to new photos.

Also, tune into the New Horizons site hosted by mission control at APL Johns Hopkins. Next month, releases will be on a monthly basis.

Real-time visualization of how the New Horizons maps Pluto

Real-time visualization of how the New Horizons maps Pluto

Credit goes to Carter Emmart, AMNH’s director of astrovisualization, and the other creators of the Digital Universe for inventing this 4D open-source software and sharing it with planetariums around the world and applause for the scientists that made this expedition happen!

Nearly 11,000 people watched this live telecast from AMNH. If you have time, enjoy it for yourself by watching this YouTube recording of the event, currently at 46K views and counting:

 

Dramatic Live Steam Show Envelops Virginia Museums

The restored 611 arrives in downtown Roanoke behind the art museum

The restored 611 arrives in downtown Roanoke behind the art museum

For the last month, crowds in western Virginia have been turning out in droves to see the dramatic result of engineering, technology, and determination by several museums and volunteers to resurrect the biggest, fastest passenger steam locomotive to live out its former glory on the Norfolk & Western Railroad.

If the CEO of Norfolk Southern hadn’t sold his Rothko in New York in 2013 and donated $1.5 million of its record-breaking proceeds, this amazing steam revival might not have happened.

Waiting for the 611 at Evington, Virginia on its debut run

Waiting for the 611 at Evington, Virginia on its debut run

The Virginia Museum of Transportation is celebrating the culmination of efforts to “Fire Up the 611” and let this 100-mile-per-hour wonder rip through the foothills of the Blue Ridge and points east all month and hopefully into the future.

As the 611 made its way from its rehab yard at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, North Carolina, people lined the tracks to see the newly refurbished 1950s streamlined locomotive pull 17 passenger cars loaded with fans 140 miles north to its new home in Roanoke. The celebration of 611’s return has been going on all month, as the locomotive keeps making runs to Petersburg, Lynchburg, Radford, and other Virginia towns.

611 parked next to the O. Winston Link Museum

611 parked next to the O. Winston Link Museum

The 611’s Twitter feed lets everyone know when to expect it, although the piercing steam whistle and roaring sound are also sufficient alerts to anyone in a five-mile radius. Listen to its sounds on our Flickr video of its 45-mph pass through one lucky town and see photos its Roanoke arrival.

The 611 and its 13 sister locomotives (Norfolk & Western J Class) were produced after 1941 and pulled passenger trains through Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee until the late 1950s – around the same time that Rothko painted the canvas that would later benefit the 611’s resurrection. Since it’s retirement, this coal-fired steam engine mostly sat in the yard at the Roanoke museum, but had a brief comeback in the 1980s making a few tourist rail runs.

Inside the O. Winston Link Museum, showcasing Link’s spectacular photographs of the last days of steam on the Norfolk & Western Railroad

Inside the O. Winston Link Museum, showcasing Link’s spectacular photographs of the last days of steam on the Norfolk & Western Railroad

Norfolk Southern initiated a “21st Century Steam” initiative, and volunteers at the Roanoke museum began the “Fire Up the 611!” campaign. The NS CEO decided to jump-start the initiative with the $1.5 million from the Rothko sale, and volunteers put in over 8,000 hours to bring the magnificent machine back to life.

When the 611 steamed into downtown Roanoke on May 30, it stopped for photos and an official welcome right behind Roanoke’s contemporary at museum and in front of the O. Winston Link Museum, housing the work of one of the most acclaimed railway photographers of the 20th century in the former Norfolk & Western Railway Building.

Link’s 1960s portrait of steam locomotive fireman, Joe Estes

Link’s 1960s portrait of steam locomotive fireman, Joe Estes

Link, a Brooklyn-born commercial photographer, fell in love with steam locomotives that he knew were rapidly being replaced by diesel. He innovated nighttime lighting gear to capture dramatic shots of the steam giants coursing through the hills and crossroads of West Virginia and Virginia. Link recorded their sounds as well – recordings that continued to sell well for decades. Catch a glimpse of Link’s gorgeous images, equipment and recordings on our Flickr site.

After finishing its July runs, the 611 will be on display in the museum yard in Roanoke, parked alongside other giants of steam.

Sinclair Dinosaur Sneaks In and Out of Grand Central

Entrance to the show, featuring the 1964 monorail, transport of the future

Entrance to the show, featuring the 1964 monorail, transport of the future

Although he’s featured at the back, the famous Sinclair dinosaur from the 1964 New York World’s Fair has generated a lot of attention inside the New York Transit Museum’s show Traveling in the World of Tomorrow: The Future of Transportation at New York’s World’s Fairs, closing today.

Drawn in by the spectacular photo of the monorail, commuters and tourists visiting Grand Central have been roaming through the gallery and gift shop, checking out the photos, murals, and Dinoland movie that whisk them back to the transportation pavilions of the history-making 1939 and 1964 New York world’s fairs. What’s a dinosaur doing in the World of Tomorrow? It’s all about the car.

The 1939 World’s Fair was built on top of the Corona garbage dump during the height of the Great Depression, putting visionary architects and day laborers to work.

A 1964 New York Times photo of the Sinclair Dinosaur and Stegosaurus passing by the Empire State Building on their way to the Queens fairgrounds

A 1964 New York Times photo of the Sinclair Dinosaur and Stegosaurus passing by the Empire State Building on their way to the Queens fairgrounds

A futuristic subway station was built to deliver visitors to the fairgrounds from the A Line. You could enter a spaceship-shaped Flash Gordon amusement ride and watch the first 3D Technicolor movie ever produced inside the Chrysler pavilion.

The best was the legendary Futurama, where people could imagine a time where everyone owned their own car. The ride took them to the faraway year of 1960. Superhighways and curly exit ramps bisect acres of tall skyscrapers, with cars traveling on autopilot at the amazing speed of 55 miles per hour. Incredible!

Dinoland brochure from the Queens Historical Society

Dinoland brochure from the Queens Historical Society

Fast forward: The Sinclair dinosaur is part of the 1964 experience. By then, every family owned its own car. Sinclair’s long-necked, supersized Brontosaurus was a familiar icon to any family stopping to gas up along the newly completed interstate highway system, so why not mix a little magic, promotion, and science?

Sinclair built Dinoland and populated it with life-size replicas of nine dinosaurs. The exhibition has plenty of Dinoland souvenirs along with a movie clip of families seeing the Jurassic giant for the first time.

Robert Moses and Walt Disney look at the model of the 1964 World’s Fair. From MTA Bridges & Tunnels archives

Robert Moses and Walt Disney look at the model of the 1964 World’s Fair. From MTA Bridges & Tunnels archives

The show also pays tribute to the man who also brought another group of Mesozoic superstars to life inside the fairgrounds. Walt Disney designed four of the fair’s animatronics displays, including the robot cavemen and dinosaurs glimpsed in the Ford Motor Company’s “Magic Skyway” ride. There’s a terrific photo of New York’s Robert Moses alongside Walt, looking out over the model of the 1964 fairgrounds, and you can see the actual model itself, right inside.

Missed the show? You won’t see all the movies and hear the soundtracks that made the exhibition so exciting, but you can take a look at the galleries on our Flickr feed.

The 1964 car that everyone wanted — the Ford Mustang, which debuted at the fair

The 1964 car that everyone wanted — the Ford Mustang, which debuted at the fair

Poison Packs Punch at AMNH Night at the Museum Adult Sleepover

The sleepover site under the Blue Whale

The sleepover site under the Blue Whale

The first-ever adult Night at the Museum sleepover at the American Museum of Natural History last night was a hit, thanks to the enthusiasm and star power of Dr. Mark Siddall, the curator of the fantastic exhibition, The Power of Poison, closing August 10.

Early in the evening, Siddall mingled with sleepover guests at dinner in the Powerhouse and later in a series late-night talks from the Victorian theater inside the Poison show where costumed performers normally show visitors how to gather clues to solve a period murder mystery involving poison. (Think “I’ve got poison in my pocket” from A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.)

After dinner, the adventurers, some in costumes themselves, made quick trips with their stuffed animals to the cots under the Blue Whale and bounded up the stairs through the low-light galleries to reach the shark IMAX, live animal demos, fossil tours, and Siddall’s Poison briefings.

The Victorian theater inside Poison. Photo: AMNH/D. Finnan

The Victorian theater inside Poison. Photo: AMNH/D. Finnan

You had to pass through the always eerie Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians (hello, Komodo dragons!) to enter the magical kingdom of the Poison galleries.

Once inside, you were transported to a tropical rainforest, with golden poison-dart frogs under a dome, huge models of dangerous insects, and a toxin-eating Howler Monkey lurking on a branch.

Beyond the tropics, the show morphed into a land of make-believe…or was it? Tableaux with a sleeping Snow White, the witches of Macbeth, and the Mad Hatter were captivating, with the label copy bringing you back down to earth by explaining the role played by poisons and toxins in these scenes and what exactly witches’ brew contained.

Supplies for the toxic witches’ brew. Source: AMNH

Supplies for the toxic witches’ brew. Source: AMNH

A Chinese emperor (the one with the terra cotta army, no less!) ingests mercury in one diorama, thinking it’s going to give him immortality. Wrong move. Glancing down, you find out that as recently as 1948, mercury-laced teething powder was still being used on babies in the United States.

A spectacular illusion along the way is a magical set of Greek vases whose painted figures came to life to tell stories of how poison helped Hercules and doomed Ms. Medea.

The Magic BookThe lively vases are a prelude to the exhibition team’s greatest wonder – the Enchanted Book – a gigantic tome where ancient illustrations leap to life as you turn big, think parchment pages. Visitors could not get enough of that magic book. Somehow the AMNH digital team replicated it on the website, so click here to take a look at The Power of Poison: An Enchanted Book and turn the pages on line.

Here’s a glimpse of one story from the belladonna page, providing the backstory on how witches fly:

A lot of Siddall’s spectacular, magical, immersive, theatrical exhibition explains the science behind venoms, the “arms races” in the natural world, poison’s role in children’s stories, and how to analyze clues in solving murder mysteries.

Check out the Victorian-style introduction to Poison with Dr. Mark Siddall, its creator, and get a little taste of what the sleepover guests saw and heard.

To ward off any bad dreams about toxins or creepy crawlers, a lot of the late-nighters nestled in to watch vintage Abbott and Costello and Superman films and post Instagrams from the cozy, pillow-lined pit in center of the Hall of Planet Earth.

See the Today show’s recap (video after the commercial).

PS: If you can’t get to this show before August 10, download the iPad app, Power of Poison: Be a Detective that allows you to experience the last portion of the show. It’s been nominated for a 2014 Webby Award in the Education and Reference category.

Last Day for Art & Industrial History: Kara Walker’s “Sugar Baby”

Crowds surround Kara Walker’s monumental sugar sculpture

Crowds surround Kara Walker’s monumental sugar sculpture

The crowds lined up yesterday on Kent Avenue all the way beyond the Williamsburg Bridge, almost to Schaeffer’s Landing, waiting to enter the rusted, aromatic, tumble-down confines of the old Domino Sugar Factory on one of the last days to see Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety, or The Marvelous Sugar Baby”, commissioned by Creative Time.

Today is the last day, so take a look at history in person, on our Flickr page, or in the video below.

Security was in full force to keep the Williamsburg bike path clear and drivers were slowing down to ask, “What’s going on and what are people waiting for?” only to be told by patient fans, “They’re lined up to see art!”

Once inside, the marvelous, gigantic Sugar Baby sculpture was on hand to preside over the far end of the abandoned several-block-long 1851 industrial space that once refined over half the sugar consumed in the entire United States.

One of her many attendants throughout the factory

One of her many attendants throughout the factory

As readers of Friday’s front-page article in The New York Times knew, Walker was again pushing the buttons with her homage to the brutal history of the sugar trade from the 1700s until today by giving us an experience that isn’t really all that sweet. Witnessing Kara’s witnessing is what had people – including some elderly visitors on canes — flocking to the sticky-floored, slightly ominous space. You could smell the sugar and molasses before you even entered the door.

Leading up to the gigantic white sculpture, people encountered all sorts of molasses-children, toting baskets full of…well…looks/smells like molasses. The experience evokes everything that Kara wished for…history, economics, society, race, abuse, industrial profit, and industrial scale.

Take a look at how it was made, and read about the history behind her thinking. Click on this link to Vimeo, look on the Creative Time website to see her sketches and graphic inspirations, and be sure to check out the various stages of Kara’s 3D digital sphinx up close.

If you go to Brooklyn today, expect to wait about an hour in line; once inside, there’s plenty to think about.

Last Call for the Whitney Biennial Uptown

Detail of Elijah Burgher’s “The Pattern of All Patience 1” (2014), featuring magical symbols, installed on the second floor

Detail of Elijah Burgher’s The Pattern of All Patience 1 (2014), featuring magical symbols, installed on the second floor

It’s the last time the Whitney Biennial is holding its big, expansive, colorful, and provocative shindig on the Upper East Side, since it will decamp to its new riverside home at the foot of the High Line next year. Go before it ends on May 25.

It’s amazing to think that this is the 77th time that the Whitney has hosted either an annual or biennial show to showcase the best of American art, as controversial and impossible a task as that may be. This year, the Whitney threw in the towel in trying to showcase “the best” of what’s going on in contemporary art coast to coast. It just wasn’t possible given the expanse, diversity, and barrier-breaking works that American artists are cranking out right now.

Instead, the Whitney invited three innovative curators to choose what should be shown on each of three floors and around town. (Yes, there are offsite works, too.)

“Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column” (2013-2014) by fiber artist superstar Sheila Hicks

Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column (2013-2014) by fiber artist superstar Sheila Hicks

The divide-and-conquer approach works, resulting in a fun variety of media, installations, paintings, sculptures, textile art, performance, and collections-as-art. The team pulled it all together in only 18 months while still doing their day jobs at Chicago’s Art Institute, London’s Tate Modern, and Philadelphia’s ICA.

Visit our Flickr album and walk through the press preview with us, where several artists were on hand in the galleries with their work.

It’s a happier, lighter show compared to past Biennials, but that doesn’t mean that the artists ignore social commentary or darker sides of human nature. It just means that you won’t feel as though you need a graduate degree in Conceptual Art to enjoy and ponder the work you’ll encounter.

Highlights: Charlemagne Palestine has created a surprisingly spooky installation in the stairwell that features sonorous sounds emanating from speakers adorned with stuffed animals. LA painter Rebecca Morris has two bright, gigantic delightful paintings on the second floor, curated by Philadelphia’s Anthony Elms, which features several satisfying collections-as-art installations by Julie Ault, Richard Hawkins, and Catherine Opie.

Pterosaur and giant theropod are featured in Shio Kusaka’s third-floor ceramics display

Pterosaur and giant theropod are featured in Shio Kusaka’s fourth-floor ceramics display

Fans of NYC’s 1970s art scene (when Soho was still industrial) will be captivated by The Gregory Battcock Archive, peering at the ephemera collected by one of the decade’s most prominent art critics who died under mysterious circumstances in 1980. Amazingly, it was all found by artist Joseph Grigley wafting around garbage bins in an abandoned storage facility. Grigley’s created a disciplined, loving, and intimate installation of reclaimed Battcock mementos, memories, and letters with Cage, Warhol, Moorman, Paik, Ono, and other 70s superstars.

The top floor takes a down-home approach to some very enjoyable paintings, sculptures, installations, and ceramics. Midwest curator Michelle Grabner said that she wishes she could just camp out there for the run of the show. You’ll enjoy it, too — a dreamy installation by Joel Otterson, a monumental yarn pillar by uber-fiber-artist Sheila Hicks, a witty desk and bookcase by master woodsman-sculptor David Robbins, and shelf of delicate and whimsical ceramics by Shio Kusaka.

Knits with commentary by Lisa Anne Auerbach, including We Are All Pussy Riot

Knits with commentary by Lisa Anne Auerbach, including We Are All Pussy Riot

The third floor, curated by Stuart Comer (who’s recently moved to MoMA), features a lot of screens and digital media, essentially making you think about art in the age of the iPhone. As you step out of the elevator, you’ll encounter Ken Okiishi’s series of painted panels. Oh, wait! They’re actually abstract paintings on upended flat-screen TV displays – sort of like what would happen if Kandinsky’s Seasons were done at the Samsung plant.

The mixing of media keeps morphing in room after room of clever installations by Triple Canopy (antiques meet 3D printing) and Lisa Anne Auerbach (knitting meets social commentary, and zines meet the Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk). See Lisa’s work and listen to her explain her knitting:

There are dozens of other videos and audio guide stops posted on the Biennial web site (click on “watch and listen”), as well as bios of all the artists.

Alert: MAD’s own design biennial opens July 1.

Armory Show Stars on the West Coast of Manhattan

The Artforum Lounge on the Contemporary Pier

The Artforum Lounge on the Contemporary Pier

For four action-packed days, the art crowd made its way to the West Coast of Manhattan Island past gritty lots, warehouses, the ball fields of Clinton, and high-rises-under-construction to enter a white, light-filled glittery expanse of painting, sculpture, and champagne bars at the 2014 edition of The Armory Show.

This year, 205 exhibitors showed off the best in modern masters and contemporary upstarts. Walk through it with us on our Flickr feed.

If you’ve never been there, just know that the art fills two full piers (yes, where the cruise ships come in). You may think the Whitney Biennial is big, but The Armory promenade is vast.

On the Modern Pier: Chicago’s Alan Koppel Gallery gave tribute to original Armory Show in 1913 with several Duchamps, but most of the work is post-1940 by Modern superstars. Right at the start of the pier, Galleria d’Arte Maggiori positioned a nice rough-and-ready Mattia Moreni in kind-of a face-off with a pretty primitive Basquiat nearby.

Dramatic paper collage and charcoal work by Elaine de Kooning with two Picasso ceramics at Vivian Horan

Dramatic paper collage and charcoal work by Elaine de Kooning with two little Picasso ceramics at Vivian Horan

Frankfurt’s Die Galerie gave NYC glamour-icon Louise Nevelson a mini-tribute, and several galleries featured Marca-Relli’s painting/collages.

Best on the Modern Pier: Vivian Horan’s booth, dominated by a large Elaine de Kooning charcoal drawing with collage, but populated by two small Picasso ceramics that most fair goers didn’t even see, although they were practically out in the aisle. You don’t see Picasso ceramics too much, and they really added a nice touch.

Second runner-up was the Armand Bartos booth with a sharp Kenneth Noland, Andy’s chicken soup can under glass, and a no-holds-barred Stella. In fact, there were multiple 1980s 3D Frank Stellas leaping out from walls, demanding attention. Besides posing with the soup can, lots of visitors were snapping photos of themselves in front of Mr. Stella’s work.

1949 Hans Hoffman oil at London’s Crane Kalman

1949 Hans Hoffman oil at London’s Crane Kalman

Welcomed surprises: Even though he taught most of the post-war painters in New York, you don’t often see Hans Hoffman paintings, so it was nice to encounter one of his color explosions at Crane Kalman. And we’ve never seen the two super-early skinny Lichtenstein sculptures at Barcelona’s Galeria Marc Domenech booth. Guess they were made in those lean before-the-dots years on his path to Pop.

Susan Harris curated a great micro-show of 20th century female artists, mostly works on paper (e.g. Georgia O’Keefe, Kiki Smith, Lee Bonticou), all contributed by gallery exhibitors.

Richard Long’s 1994 Merrivale Circle at the Lisson Gallery

Richard Long’s 1994 Merrivale Circle at the Lisson Gallery

Although you could hike outdoors to get to the second pier along the West Side Highway, most were guided through a wormhole and down a flight of stairs to descend directly into the booths from 17 contemporary galleries across China – a great landing into a warren of booths featuring installations (watch out for the Roomba!), and user-friendly exercise equipment that the PRC makes available in public parks for citizen fitness.

From there, you enter the Contemporary Pier area.  Highlights: the whirling handbag piece (with real handbags) by Egill Saebjornsson at Reykjavik’s i8 Gallery, Richard Long’s stone circle at London’s Lisson Gallery booth, the completely constructed entry to Boesky Gallery, and Claudia Weiser’s cool wooden sculptures at Sies + Hoke (Dusseldorf).

Nick Cave Soundsuits at Jack Shainman

Nick Cave Soundsuits at Jack Shainman

A great place to end the journey was at the Jack Shainman booth, with its dramatic contemporary art exploring expressions from Africa, African-Americans, and global artists — the Nick Cave soundsuits and Richard Mosse’s spectacularly dissonant hot-pink infrared photograph of a waterfall in the continually disintegrating, war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

Take a look at the highlights here.

Fair goer relaxes on modernist egg chair under the watchful eye of Dali

Fair goer relaxes on modernist egg chair under the watchful eye of Dali

The Armory Show: One Ends, One Begins

Mr. Duchamp’s 100 year-old icon exits NYHS on Central Park West after seeing the show.

Mr. Duchamp’s 100 year-old icon exits NYHS on Central Park West after seeing the show.

Challenging, ground-breaking art from all over the world under one roof, fashionable crowds, and buyers looking for the next big thing. On March 6, the 2014 edition of The Armory Show opens at the Hudson Piers 92 and 94; but for art-history lovers, there’s just a few days more to travel back in time to experience the 1913 edition that inspired it all at the New-York Historical Society’s show, The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution, closing February 23. Check out the spectacular online exhibition site.

NYHS has gathered together 100 of the great art works that rocked Manhattan 100 years ago downtown at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington and 26th Street, where the Fighting Irish rented out their parade hall for a month to the newly formed Association of American Painters and Sculptors to show 1,400 works representing the latest trends in modernism.

One of the many postcards sold at the 1913 show’s merchandise table. Source: Smithsonian Archives of American Art

One of the many postcards sold at the 1913 show’s merchandise table. Source: Smithsonian Archives of American Art

Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse, Gauguin, and Munch were there in all their shocking glory – the first time many of these Europeans had been shown stateside. Take a look on the NYHS site and see what chaos ensued in the popular press. Even T. Roosevelt himself wrote an editorial about it.

NYHS not only shows us the work, but puts it all in the context of the times – the bohemian life in Greenwich Village, upstart galleries with an interest in the primitive and new, dissatisfaction with the confines of taste at the National Academy, and New York tastemakers yearning to make their mark on a world stage.

In the little low-light gallery next to the library, you’ll find all sorts of interesting ephemera – letters by the organizers of the show, registration cards with the insurance value of now-famous works, postcards for sale at the show, and a scrapbook of satirical telegrams read by the organizers at their celebratory dinner. This is where you can marvel at Gauguins selling for $8,100, Redon for $810, an oil by Braque for $200, a plaster Brancusi for $200, and Cezanne lithographs for $20 to $40. No wonder Stieglitz amassed such a great collection at these prices!

He had to have it. Stieglitz bought Kandinsky’s 1912 The Garden of Love (Improvisation Number 27) as soon as he saw it. Source: Metropolitan Museum/ © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris

Stieglitz bought Kandinsky’s 1912 The Garden of Love (Improvisation Number 27) as soon as he saw it. Source: Metropolitan Museum/ © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris

It’s interesting that the show would not have been such an affordable-art extravaganza without mega-dealer Vollard riding to the rescue, shipping crates of color lithographs and drawings to New York from Paris a scant three weeks before the show. Kuhn and his co-organizers devoted three galleries to works on paper. Works by Gaugin, Cezanne, Lautrec, and Munch flew off the walls, and when the show closed in New York, half of all the works sold had been supplied by Vollard.

Check out the price list and who-bought-what online. You can also probe the Smithsonian’s archive of Armory Show-related materials here.

The International Exhibition of Modern Art (a.k.a. Armory Show) installed in the 69th Regiment Armory at 25th & Lexington. Source: Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Kuhn family papers.

The International Exhibition of Modern Art (a.k.a. Armory Show) installed in the 69th Regiment Armory at 25th & Lexington. Source: Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Kuhn family papers.

The NYHS show is organized according to the original layout, including the grouping of Cubists with Mr. Duchamp’s iconic Nude Descending a Staircase, and the Fauve-Brancusi area – otherwise known in New York critic circles as the “Chamber of Horrors.” Looking at Matisse’s Blue Nude today, it’s hard to imagine that Art Institute of Chicago students found Matisse so shocking that they held a mock trial for him and burned it in effigy when the show arrived in the Windy City in April 1913.

And speaking of Chicago, the Armory Show was a huge success there – attracting over 180,000 art lovers, nearly double the attendance in New York. See the Art Institute’s gorgeous web site of exactly how everything looked in its grand galleries on Michigan Avenue. Everything really got the royal treatment. In turn, AIC can say it was the first museum in North America to show Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp, and Brancusi. No second-city status there.

Kuhn kept Picasso’s 1912 list of which artists should be shown. Source: Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Kuhn family papers.

Kuhn kept Picasso’s 1912 list of which artists should be shown. Source: Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Kuhn family papers.

Buy your ticket to this Armory Show before you buy one for the next one and feel what it’s like to walk through a turning point in American art history.

Must-See Skytop Panorama of NYC Past & Present at The Whitney

The installation view of T. J. Wilcox: In the Air, 2013. Photo: Bill Orcutt

The installation view of T. J. Wilcox: In the Air, 2013. Photo: Bill Orcutt

If you want to enjoy a beautiful view of Manhattan from the roof, don’t worry about the snow, rain, or cold weather. Go over to the Whitney Museum before February 9 and take in the film installation T.J. Wilcox, In the Air, that features a beautiful panorama (from the roof of Wilcox’s Union Square studio) that dreamily introduces six stories about the past and present of life, art, energy, fame, events, and cosmic forces that ebb and flow continuously below.

The big, in-the-round screen circles around you (duck and just walk into it), so you can really take in the view, all the way from the Battery to beyond the Empire State Building.

Still from T.J. Wilcox’s panoramic 2013 silent film installation, In the Air. Image courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures.

Still from T.J. Wilcox’s panoramic 2013 silent film installation, In the Air. Image courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures.

The film cycles from dawn to dusk, but along the way, Mr. Wilcox takes you on little journeys as you enjoy his movie panorama. The experience is one where you begin to see New York through his eyes, past and present together.

After a few minutes, one of his panorama screens fades you see a short, reflective, poetic, subtitled NYC story-movie. It’s a quiet experience — bringing you back to the Thirties when the Empire State Building was contemplated to be used as a zeppelin-docking station, to the present when 14th Street is one of the best vantage points to contemplate the out-of-this-world spectacle of Manhattanhenge, and the days of glitter, glamour, and grit of Warhol, Gloria Vanderbilt, and fashion-industry icon, Antonio Lopez.

Watching Wilcox’s Gloria Vanderbilt vignette from outside the installation. Photo: Bill Orcutt.

Watching Wilcox’s Gloria Vanderbilt vignette from outside the installation. Photo: Bill Orcutt.

He reminds you that Gertrude Whitney, the museum’s founder, long ago succeeded in a custody battle to care for little Gloria. The film takes you to her apartment and reflects on the fact that Gloria was “in the public eye from birth” and celebrates her vibrant artistic, business, and family accomplishments (re: plenty of shots of Anderson Cooper). Another mini-film focuses upon a nano-second in Warhol’s life, when his Factory crew unfurled Mylar balloons to welcome the arrival of the pope-mobile to New York City in 1965.

Weegee’s Variant of Untitled (Striking Beauty) is hung in an adjacent gallery. Courtesy: Whitney Museum

Weegee’s Variant of Untitled (Striking Beauty) is hung in an adjacent gallery. Courtesy: Whitney Museum

In his musing on the film about fashion-illustrator extraordinaire, Antonio, Wilcox reveals his surprise that Antonio’s studio was located right next to his own building, takes pleasure in asking us to gaze out over the community where so much magnificent art was made, careers enlivened, and life lived.

In a tiny back-room gallery, the Whitney has installed a few other reflections on skies over the City – Weegee’s lightening strike behind the Empire State Building and Yoko’s Sky TV, are two – but the big “wow” here is Mr. Wilcox’s ability to take us on a 35-minute journey in and among the streets and skyline that from his quiet, contemplative perch.

It’s quite a collage of memory, reflection, mythologies, politics, history, and beauty. Click here to see the Whitney’s slide show of the storyboards in Wilcox’s studio, and listen to him talk about it this beautiful work in this YouTube video: