Today's Featured ArticlesArchives. June-July, 2007

July, 2007
Corpse at The Brooklyn Museum of Art
The corpse had no broken bones, skull was intact, & it had a full set of teeth. There was no evidence of a vitamin deficiency or previous trauma. The bony tips of the fingers allowed examiners to rule out degenerative diseases. Dr. Lawrence Boxt, the director of cardiac MRIs &CT scans at North Shore University Hospital, as he surveyed images on a series of computer screens, said that "he" may have died a quiet, natural death. As Demetrios, a 2,000-year-old Egyptian mummy belonging to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, lay on the table of the 64-slice CT scanner, a cluster of art curators, conservators, medical specialists looked on, riveted by the macabre spectacle. While mummies have been subjected to CT scans for more than 2 decades, it was a 1st for the museum & for North Shore. The reason was to find out who Demetrios was, how he died, what his mummified remains might tell them about Egyptian funerary practices. Dr. Boxt dismissed one hypothesis. These were not the bones of an 89-year-old man, as some had inferred from the number inscribed, along with Demetrios’ name, on the ancient red shroud encasing his body. He was certainly far younger when he died: in his 50s at most. For now no one can be sure that the body had been switched, as sometimes happened in ancient Egypt, said Edward Bleiberg, curator of the Brooklyn Museum’s Egyptian, classical & ancient Middle Eastern art department. He did note that an intricately rendered panel portrait that was originally found atop Demetrios’ head depicts a middle-aged man, not an elderly one, supporting Dr. Boxt’s conclusion. The Brooklyn Museum of Art acquired the mummy & panel in 1911. The same year they were discovered in an archaeological expedition that the museum had helped to finance in Hawara, Egypt. For decades the panel has been exhibited in museums around the world. The red-shroud mummy itself (so called because of the unusual red pigment on his linen wrapping) had never left the museum storage rooms until now. Bleindberg said that as a work of art they don’t want to just show the panel but to put it back as it was intended. Curators have decided to reunite the mummy & portrait in “To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures From the Brooklyn Museum of Art,” a traveling exhibition of 122 objects that tells the story of Egyptian funerary practices that's to open next summer at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The museum has set out to learn as much about the mummy as possible. On a steamy afternoon in late July Demetrios was carefully packed & sealed in a plain white acid-free cardboard box marked with “Fragile” stickers & an arrow pointing upward so that the body would remain supine. Wheeled out of the storage room on a table, it was loaded on a truck for the 19-mile trip to N. Shore. Although the CT scan might be considered the modern equivalent of a Victorian unwrapping party, the bandages stayed intact throughout the procedure. Examining the body with the hospital supersensitive $1.7 million scanner was, as Dr. Boxt put it, like taking a loaf of bread & cutting it into slices. As each slice was magnified on the computer screens, the doctor described his impressions. The Art museum curators & conservators were especially curious to know whether an ibis, a bird sacred to the Egyptians, would be spotted inside the mummy’s cavity. The J. Paul Getty Museum in L.A. recently found a bird wrapped inside its own red-shroud mummy (one of only 10 in the world) & curators were looking for similarities. The Getty’s ibis had itself been mummified (perhaps as a sacrifice to the god Toth, whose head was an ibis) before it was inserted into the human corpse. The cause of death for the Getty’s mummy's also unknown. He's thought to have been just 19. No ibis was found inside Demetrios. Another question for the Brooklyn Museum of Art was whether the body had been laid out on a wood board before it was wrapped, as the Getty’s mummy & another from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, had been. It is extraordinarily rare to fine an embalming board wrapped into a mummy, said Marc Walton, a scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute. The CT scan showed that Demetrios indeed rested on an embalming board. Bleiberg said that the wood might have been cedar imported from Lebanon. He said that it’s higher-quality wood than grows in Egypt. Dr. Boxt also spotted a tiny mass in the mummy’ abdominal captivity measuring about 1.2 inches across. Curators & conservators suggested that it was a scarab. Bleiberg said that it could be evidence of the ancient Egyptian custom of placing a scarab over the heart with an inscription that instructs the heart not to act as a hostile witness when he is judged in the next world. Unusual was the absence of a heart. While in ancient Egypt most of the soft tissue was removed before a body was mummified, the heart was generally left intact. Bleinberg said that the heart acts as a positive witness at the trial of each person. And he doesn’t know why the heart wasn’t there. Herodotus, the 5th-century Greek historian, tells to leave the heart. A few weeks before the CT scan Dr. Walton of the Getty took a tiny fragment of the mummy’ shroud for carbon 14 dating, a process that should yield a date for the mummy’ fabrication in about 2 months. Using an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, he also analyzed the chemical composition of the red pigment used in Demetrios’ shroud. All of the red-shroud mummies're thought to be those of high-ranking Egyptians. Dr. Walton said that all had extraordinarily well-painted portraits & pigments that were not common. Demetrios’ panel portrait was decorated with a gold crown, now fading. His bones're an indicator of his status. Dr. Boxt said that either he had an easy life or was carried around a lot, he certainly didn’t do much heavy lifting during his lifetime.

Life & Death of Ingmar Bergman

Ingmar Bergman died at his home in Faro, Sweden, citing his daughter Eva Bergman. A cause of death was not immediately available. Through more than 50 films, Bergman's vision encompassed all the extremes of his beloved Sweden: the claustrophobic gloom of unending winter nights, the gentle merriment of glowing summer evenings, the bleak magnificence of the island where he spent his last years. Bergman approached difficult subjects such as plague & madness with inventive technique & carefully honed writing. He became one of the towering figures of serious film-making. Woody Allen in a 70th birthday tribute in 1988said that he was probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture. He was one of the world's biggest personalities. There were Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, Italy's Federico Fellini, & Bergman. Now he is gone. It is a great loss. Bergman first gained international attention with 1955's "Smiles of a Summer Night," a romantic comedy that inspired the Stephen Sondheim musical "A Little Night Music." "The Seventh Seal," released in 1957, riveted critics & audiences. An allegorical tale of the medieval Black Plague years, it contains one of cinema's most famous scenes - a knight playing chess with the shrouded figure of Death. Bergman said of his state of mind when making film that he was terribly scared of death. The film distilled the essence of Bergman's work - high seriousness, flashes of unexpected humor, striking images. In a 2004 interview with Swedish broadcaster SVT, the reclusive filmmaker acknowledged that he was reluctant to view his work. "I don't watch my own films very often. I become so jittery & ready to cry ... & miserable. I think it's awful," Bergman said. Bergman also was a prominent stage director. He worked at several playhouses in Sweden from the mid-1940s, including the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm, which he headed from 1963 to 1966. He staged many plays by the Swedish author August Strindberg, whom he cited as an inspiration. The influence of Strindberg's grueling & precise psychological dissections could be seen in the production that brought Bergman an even-wider audience: 1973's "Scenes From a Marriage." 1st produced as a 6-part series for TV, then released in a theater version, it is an intense detailing of the disintegration of a marriage. Bergman showed his lighter side in the following year's "The Magic Flute," again 1st produced for TV. It is a fairly straight production of the Mozart opera, enlivened by touches such as repeatedly showing the face of a young girl watching the opera & comically clumsy props and costumes. Bergman remained active later in life with stage productions and occasional TV shows. He said he still felt a need to direct, although he had no plans to make another feature film. In the fall of 2002, Bergman, at age 84, started production on "Saraband," a 120-minute television movie based on the 2 main characters in "Scenes From a Marriage." In a rare news conference, the reclusive director said he wrote the story after realizing he was "pregnant with a play." He said, refering to biblical characters that at first he felt sick. It was strange. Like Abraham & Sarah, who suddenly realized she was pregnant. It was lots of fun, suddenly to feel this urge returning. The son of a Lutheran clergyman & a housewife, Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born in Uppsala on July 14, 1918. He grew up with a brother & sister in a household of severe discipline that he described in painful detail in the autobiography "The Magic Lantern." The title comes from his childhood, when his brother got a "magic lantern" - a precursor of the slide-projector - for Christmas. Ingmar was consumed with jealousy, & he managed to acquire the object of his desire by trading it for a hundred tin soldiers. The apparatus was a spot of joy in an often-cruel young life. Bergman recounted the horror of being locked in a closet & the humiliation of being made to wear a skirt as punishment for wetting his pants. He broke with his parents at 19 & remained aloof from them, but later in life sought to understand them. The story of their lives was told in the television film "Sunday's Child," directed by his own son Daniel. Young Ingmar found his love for drama production early in life. The director said he had coped with the authoritarian environment of his childhood by living in a world of fantasies. When he 1st saw a movie he was greatly moved. He wrote of his passion for film in the 1987 autobiography that 60 years have passed, nothing has changed,it's still the sme fever. But he said the escape into another world went so far that it took him years to tell reality from fantasy. Bergman repeatedly described his life as a constant fight against demons, also reflected in his work. The demons sometimes drove him to great art - as in "Cries and Whispers," the deathbed drama that climaxes when the dying woman cries "I am dead, but I can't leave you." "Cries and Whispers" was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture, one of nine Oscar nominations Bergman received in his career. Sometimes they drove him over the top, as in "Hour of the Wolf," where a nightmare-plagued artist meets real-life demons on a lonely island. Bergman also waged a fight against real-life tormentors: Sweden's powerful tax authorities. In 1976, during a rehearsal at the Royal Dramatic Theater, police came to take Bergman away for interrogation about tax evasion. The director, who had left all finances to be handled by a lawyer, was questioned for hours while his home was searched. When released, he was forbidden to leave the country. The case caused an enormous uproar in the media. Bergman had a mental breakdown that sent him to hospital for over a month. He later was absolved of all accusations & in the end only had to pay some extra taxes. In his autobiography he admitted to guilt in only one aspect: He signed papers that he didn't read, even less understood. The experience made him go into voluntary exile in Germany, to the embarrassment of the Swedish authorities. After 9 years, he returned to Stockholm, his longtime base. It was in the Swedish capital that Bergman broke into the world of drama, starting with a menial job at the Royal Opera House after dropping out of college. Bergman was hired by the script department of Swedish Film Industry, the country's main production company, as an assistant script writer in 1942. In 1944, his 1st original screenplay was filmed by Alf Sjoeberg, the dominant Swedish film director of the time. "Torment" won several awards including the Grand Prize of the 1946 Cannes Film Festival. Soon Bergman was directing an average of 2 films a year as well as working with stage production. After the acclaimed "The Seventh Seal," he quickly came up with another success in "Wild Strawberries," in which an elderly professor's car trip to pick up an award is interspersed with dreams. Other noted films include "Persona," about an actress & her nurse whose identities seem to merge, & "The Autumn Sonata," about a concert pianist and her 2 daughters, one severely handicapped & the other burdened by her child's drowning. The date of the funeral has not yet been set, but will be attended by a close group of friends and family, the TT news agency reported

The Last Supper

The famous fresco is the focus of mythical speculation after author Dan Brown based his "The Da Vinci Code" book around the painting, arguing in the novel that Jesus married his follower, Mary Magdalene, & fathered a child.
Slavisa Pesci, an information technologist, amateur scholar, says superimposing the "Last Supper" with its mirror-image throws up another picture containing a figure who looks like a Templar knight & another holding a small baby. Pesci said to journaliss when he unveiled the theory this week that he came across it by accident, from some of the details we can infer that we're not talking about chance but about a precise calculation. Organizers said that websites www.leonardodavinci.tv, www.codicedavinci.tv, www.cenacolo.biz, www.leonardo2007.com had 15 million hits on Thursday morning. They were trying to provide a more powerful server for the sites. Pesci said that in the superimposed version, a figure on Christ's left appears to be cradling a baby in its arms, but he made no suggestion this could be Christ's child. Judas, whose imminent betrayal of Christ is the force breaking the right-hand line of the original fresco, appears in an empty space on the left in the reverse image version. Pesci also suggests that the superimposed version shows a goblet before Christ and illustrates when Christ blessed bread & wine at a supper with his disciples for the 1st Eucharist. The original Da Vinci depicts Christ when he predicts that one among them will betray him.

“Welcome to the 21st Century”

While a 1913 Mondrian is the show’s earliest work, nearly half were acquired after 2000. It allows 2 young assistant curators & one curatorial assistant — Ted Mann, Nat Trotman & Kevin Lotery — to spread their wings, under the supervision of Nancy Spector, the museum chief curator. It shows the Guggenheim, under Lisa Dennison, its director of 2 years, trying to look like a museum & make active use of its collection, rather than functioning mostly as a kunsthalle dedicated to traveling blockbusters. Finally, it offers a good argument for expansion of the local kind. Not in Bilbao, Berlin or Abu Dhabi, but right there in New York. That may be beyond the museum reach. But as a testament to what might be called the Thomas Krens legacy (he will be remembered as a builder of museums who failed to build where his museum needed it most ) this's partly a depressing show, symptomatic of the kind of museological missteps that have become par for the course in New York. We sometimes found themself wondering how various works might look on level ground, as opposed to in the museum’s sloping spiral, & with fair amounts of space. There’s a healthy vitality to this array of American & European works on the theme of space (a central issue to all art, but especially modern) & it raises worthwhile questions about the changing nature of museums, even if some of the answers're more palatable than others. It points to what might be called festivalist collecting: the acquisition of large, crowd-pleasing artworks that're entertaining and irresistible on a superficial level. It also reminds us that such works offer outstanding photo-ops. The show opens on the rotunda floor with “The Shape of Space,” Alyson Shotz’s immense shimmering curtain of plastic lenses, hand-cut and stapled together, which's the source of the show’s title. From afar it suggests a giant wind chime, but mainly it is a giant magnet for cellphone cameras. Dividing & multiplying its surroundings, it provides tiny, glimmering, beveled views of the museum rings, Central Park, an apartment building, traffic. It even projects its own visible shield, a second layer of floating reflections that seems solid but is not. Next comes Piotr Uklanski’s “Untitled (Dance Floor),” which's in fact a dance floor: an eye-popping grid of flashing light, colors and patterns synchronized to various pop tunes of the disco & rap variety. This work was better out in the world, in its original incarnation as the floor of Passerby, the bar Gavin Brown opened in the front part of his gallery when it was on W. 15th Street. According to the label, it radically subverts the normal functions and patterns of behavior of the museum, which is to say that it contributes to a certain mall-like atmosphere. It’s not often that you can look at a Mondrian while listening to Missy Elliott. The Uklanski is actually nothing new. A nearby label accompanying paintings by the Constructivist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy mentions that that artist began to experiment with immersive, time-based displays of colored light that viewers could literally enter at the Bauhaus in the mid-1920s. After this the show settles down, moving back & forth in time and in its concept of space, touching on psychology, commerce, landscape, history, politics, architecture and occasionally sex. Ricci Albenda’s bulging, implicitly fleshy built-in plaster reliefs insert a warped space into the very walls of the museum. The forms- positive & negative versions of the same design - resemble cartoonish versions of the Guggenheim’s architecture. But they are also somewhat female, which fits the museum’s womblike structure. Along the floor next to the Albendas, an unusual fluorescent-tube sculpture by Dan Flavin that curves out from the wall looks skeletal, like a bit of spine...

Prince's Free Album

Prince's new 10-track CD "Planet Earth" will be included with an upcoming Mail on Sunday. The album's not scheduled to go on sale until July 24. Miron said that no one has done this before. They have always given away CDs & DVDs, but this is just setting a new level. Paul Quirk, co-chairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association, said that Prince's decision "beggars belief." "The Artist formerly known as Prince should know that with behavior like this he'll soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores," he said, referring to a period in the 1990s when the funk star, born Prince Rogers Nelson, famously stopped using his name. Quirk told a music conference in London on Thursday that it is an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career. It is yet another example of the damaging covermount culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music. The practice of "covermounts," where newspapers strive to lure readers with DVDs & CDs, is used widely in the industry at a time when many newspapers're struggling to keep readers amid the distractions of online news & entertainment. Miron declined to say how many additional copies were planned by the newspaper, whose circulation is normally around 2.3 million copies, or how much the Mail on Sunday had paid to secure the deal with Prince. Prince's mew album comes before a run of 21 concerts he'll play in London this autumn. The concerts by the innovative funk artist, who created such groundbreaking works as 1984's "Purple Rain" & 1987's "Sign O' The Times" & has sold an estimated 80 million albums, will be the only shows he performs in Europe this year. Prince has signed a global distribution & marketing deal with Columbia, a unit of Sony BMG, but the UK arm of the business has pulled out of the distribution agreement. "Given the sheer number of copies we're talking about here it seemed the right thing to do for retailers to become exempt from the deal in the UK," said a spokesman for Sony BMG. HMV Chief Executive Simon Fox told reporters following the music & books retailer's annual results he thought it would be absolutely nuts to give the album away for free before its commercial release. HMV saw its profit more than halve as it battled cut-price supermarket & online sales. The Mail's Miron said the newspaper, whose recent CD giveaways include Peter Gabriel, Dolly Parton, Duran Duran & UB40, was not out to put retailers out of business. He said that they are living in the old days & haven't developed their businesses sufficiently. They can enhance their business. They are being incredibly insular & need to move their business on. The Mail on Sunday's owned by Associated Newspapers, a unit of Daily Mail & General Trust.

Comedy

Sahl helped break the mold for standup comedy, taking it from what actor-comedian Albert Brooks calls "the world of Henny Youngman & badda-boom" one-liners to a topical form in which comics suddenly began talking about things that mattered. Brooks said that every comedian who's not doing wife jokes has to thank him for that. He was the 1st, before Lenny Bruce, in terms of talking about stuff, not just doing punch lines. When Sahl arrived on the comedy scene in the 1950s, he was clearly the hippest guy in the room, dressed in a V-neck sweater when George Carlin, & everyone else, was wearing a coat & tie. Comic Richard Lewis, another Sahl acolyte, said that he remember seeing him on television at 12 or 11. He didn't know what to make of this guy. He was introduced as a comedian but he just seemed to look like a tennis pro. Pacing the stage like a caged lion, talking in a staccato, stream-of-consciousness voice that he sometimes punctuated with a nervous laugh, Sahl'd keep the jokes on current events flowing rapid-fire as he held that day's newspaper under one arm. The decades that followed have turned Sahl's thick, dark hair white & left his face lined, with a slightly frail look. Some things have remained constant, including the sweater & the newspaper. He jokes that he'll likely have to replace the latter with a laptop any day. The quick wit & the stream-of-consciousness delivery remain, with Sahl flitting from one subject to another. He's interrupted from time to time as admirers. Including a few doing double-takes, stop by to offer a quick hello. Condoleezza Rice's recent call for foreign fighters to leave Iraq suddenly pops into his head during a conversation on something else. Sahl wonders aloud whether that means she wants the Americans to leave, or does she simply not realize that in Iraq the Americans're the foreigners. Then it's on to President George W. Bush. "He's born again, you know. Which would raise the inevitable question: If you were given the unusual opportunity to be born again, why would you come back as George Bush?" Such jokes have Sahl's traditional liberal audience embracing him again after a years of estrangement. During the Bill Clinton years Sahl was ostracized for castigating the president as having left behind as his only legacy an affair with "that woman" Monica Lewinsky. Sahl's humor has always targeted the powerful, whoever they were. He's proud to have met & made fun of just about every president since Eisenhower. Sahl doesn't list favorites. He notes that he & Ronald Reagan became good friends. Richard Nixon, he says, liked being portrayed as a raving lunatic, once telling him that image intimidated other world leaders. Sahl shrugs & says that he has remained what he was when he left the University of Southern California (in 1950) with a degree in urban planning: "An independent, populist radical. After college he began writing jokes for comedians, taking to the stage himself. He recalls with a laugh that comedians were so dumb, they never understood the material. No one in the audience seemed to get it until he arrived at San Francisco's Hungry i in the mid-1950s. "It had 75 seats. It cost a quarter to get in," he recalled fondly. "I worked there for years & years." He became a star, making the cover of Time Magazine in 1960. Sahl's career has run hot & cold. He fell out of favor for several years when he became interested (some would say obsessed) with the Kennedy assassination. He spent years helping the New Orleans district attorney, Jim Garrison, investigate it. He still believes Kennedy's killing was the result of a government conspiracy. Sahl suffered his own personal tragedy when his only child, Mort Sahl Jr., died at age 19. He says that his kid was like a more human version of him, with great sense of humor. Now things are on an upswing. Jay Leno, Kevin Nealon, Bill Maher, Brooks, Lewis, other comics celebrated him at a tribute at LA' Wadsworth Theater. In the fall, Sahl'll begin teaching a class in critical thinking at Claremont McKenna College. There he hopes to turn a few of the school's students into the same kind of iconoclast he's, one who underneath it all still has a deep-seated affection for USA.

George Eastman
George Eastman, the man who brought photography to the masses & invented motion picture film, chosed to give much of his money (about $2 billion in today's market) to causes that made life better for the people of Roschester.
Despite dropping out of school at age 14 to help support his family, the founder of Eastman Kodak became a hometown hero.He left numerous local legacies, including the Eastman school of music, the Roschester Dental Dismary, which provided free dental care to children & adults in early 1999s.
His primary benefactor was the University of Roschester, which received about half of his fortune. The industrialist supported charities & organizations based on their long-term impact on the community. Among the recipients were Roschester Institute of Technology, the Memorial Art Gallery, the Roschester Red Cross, the Chamber of Commerce.
One of the top USA philantropics of his time, Eastman is the least known for his good works because he shunned publicity. His secretary documented his gifts on index cards, filed alphabetically in an oak box that's on display at the George Eastman House museum. It's the most complete record of his donations, from the dollar he offered a shoeshine boy to the millions he gave to universities. The $20 million he donated to Massachusetts Institut of Technology...
It was made anonymously, under the moniker Mr. Smith.
With his name attached to parkland & other area attractions (Durand-Eastman Park & Eastman Theatre, among others), who died in 1932, is part of the local lingo.
Anthony Bannon, director of Eastman House notes that the world thanks Eastman for mass photography & motion pictures, but people of Roschester also thank him for making Roschester 'the best city in which to work, live, & rise a family.'

Back To Sicko

Michael Moore's "Sicko," which opened nationwide Friday, is filled with horror stories of people who're deprived of medical service because they haven't been able to navigate the murky waters of managed care in the United States or they can't afford it.
It compares USA health care with the universal coverage systems in the U.K., Canada, France, and Cuba. Moore covers a lot of ground. Moor's numbers were mostly right, but his arguments could use a little more context. Journalists found surprisingly few inaccuracies in the film. In fact, most pundits or health-care experts they spoke to spent more time on errors of omission rather than disputing the actual claims in the film. Whether it's dollars spent, group coverage or Medicaid income cutoffs, health care goes hand in hand with numbers. Moore opens his film by giving these statistics, "Fifty million uninsured Americans ... 18,000 people die because they are uninsured." For the most part, that's true. The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention say 43.6 million, or about 15 % of Americans, were uninsured in 2006. For the past 5 years, the overall count has fluctuated between 41 million & 44 million people. According to the Institute of Medicine, 18,000 people do die each year mainly because they're less likely to receive screening & preventive care for chronic diseases. Moore says that the U.S.A. spends more of its gross domestic product on health care than any other country. That's true. The U.S. spends more than 15 % of its GDP on health care. No other nation even comes close to that number. France spends about 11 %, Canadians spend 10 %. Like Moore, journalists also found that more money does not equal better care. According to the World Health Organization, the French & Canadian systems rank in the Top 10 of the world's best health-care systems. The U. S. comes in at No. 37. The rankings,re based on general health of the population, access, patient satisfaction & how the care's paid for. If Americans,re paying so much & they're not getting as good or as much care, where's all the money going?
Moore spends about 1/2 his film detailing the wonders & the benefits of the government-funded universal health-care systems in Canada, France, Cuba, the United Kingdom. He shows calm, content people in waiting rooms, people getting care in hospitals hassle free. People laugh & smile as he asks about billing departments & cost of stay. Not surprisingly, it's not that simple. In most other countries, there're quotas & planned waiting times. Everyone does have access to basic levels of care. That care plan's formulated by teams of government physicians & officials who determine what's to be included in the universal basic coverage & how a specific condition is treated. If you want treatment outside of that standard plan, then you have to pay for it yourself.
Keckley says that in most developed health systems in the world, 15 % to 20 % of the population buys medical services outside of the system of care run by the government. They do it through supplemental insurance, or they buy services out of pocket." The people who pay more tend to be in the upper income or have special, more complicated conditions. Moore focuses on the private insurance companies & makes no mention of the U.S. government-funded health-care systems such as Medicare, Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Veterans Affairs health-care systems. About 50 % of all health-care dollars spent in the U.S. flows through these government systems. "Sicko" also ignores a handful of good things about the American system. Believe it or not, the U.S. does rank highest in the patient satisfaction category. Americans do have shorter wait times than everyone but Germans when it comes to nonemergency elective surgery such as hip replacements, cataract removal or knee repair. That's no surprise given the number of U.S. specialists. In U.S. medical schools, students training to become primary-care physicians have dwindled to 10 %. The overwhelming majority choose far more profitable specialties in the medical field. In other countries, more than 1 out of 3 aspiring doctors chooses primary care in part because there's less of an income gap with specialists. In those nations, becoming a specialist means making 30% more than a primary-care physician. In the U. S., the gap's around 300 %, according to Keckley. As Americans continue to spend $2 trillion a year on health care, everyone agrees on one point: Things need to change. It will take more than a movie to figure out how to get there.

June, 2007

The Russia's Comeback

 NeoPopRealism Journal
Russia has staged a remarkable comeback. Gone are the days, when the Kremlin depended on Western handouts to keep its economy afloat. Russia has emerged as the world biggest energy producer & supplies Western Europe with more than a 3rd of its natural gas, pumps more oil than Saudi Arabia. This country now is energy superpower. Russia has the 3rd largest reserve of foreign currency in the world, the biggest in Europe. It's established a stabilization fund, now worth more than $116 billion. It's paying off its foreign debts. There's a growing middle class, as wealth once held only by a few oligarchs begins to trickle down to ordinary Russians. Within a few decades Russia could emerge as a powerful economy, with Europe's biggest market. But this remains a nation fraught with uncertainty & problems. The fast pace of economic growth has left a dangerously wide gap between poor & rich. Transport systems, hospitals, schools, still suffer from acute under investment. Corruption is rife. Government officials in Russia take around $240 billion a year in bribes... It's as much as the national budget. Transparency international recently placed Russia 121 on it's list of least transparent places. Contract killings of politicians, bankers, journalists & of Kremlin opponents have rocked Russian society. It grabbed the international headlines. Russia's mired in a potentially devastating demographic crisis. Because of hi death rates, its population's shrinking of about 800 thousand people every year. The World Bank warns the country's shrinking workforce could curtail future economic growth. There's hope. Despite challenges & myriad problems Russia has proved itself a important & profitable recipient of inward foreign investment. Big brands - despite the risks --this vast nation of 11 time zones & enormous resources's simply too important for them not to be there. Russia's a country of great potential. And one which's better embraced by the rest of the world than allowed to turn away...

Art, Art... Conflicts

Home - NeoPopRealism Journal
The covert campaign targeting street art began 7 months ago. With blobs of paint, wheat-pasted art on walls in Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan & obscuring murals. Arcane messages were pasted at the sites. It was difficult to ask for an explanation. The author was not identified.
Adam Wallacavage/ Jonathan LeVine Gallery Shepard Fairey, whose work has been a target of the splatterings.
In November, during a panel discussion on women & graffiti that included a street artist Swoon, a figure wearing a hooded sweatshirt flung a sheaf of fliers using similar language from a balcony overlooking an auditorium at the Brooklyn Museum. This Swoon was among those whose work had previously been struck by paint. Some couldn’t help wondering whether the person who threw the fliers was also the Splasher, as the perpetrator of the paint attacks had come to be known. Magazines, web sites, newspaper articles reported about these splatterings. Some wondered about the identity & motivation of those responsible, but the Splasher remained anonymous. The most recent episodes came this month, in 2 incidents involving what seemed to be stink bombs lobbed at shows of street artists on the Dumbo & Lower East Side. Some in the art world believe the identify of the Splasher may have been revealed. Last Thursday night 24-year-old James Cooper was arrested at the Dumbo show after witnesses accused him of attempting to ignite a homemade incendiary device in a metal coffee canister. Mr. Cooper was charged with 3rd-degree arson, placing a false bomb, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment, harassment & disorderly conduct. He was arraigned & released on his own recognizance. That show featured works by Shepard Fairey. Artist had been one of the prominent targets of the street splatterings. Mr. Fairey said that there wasn’t yet enough evidence to tie Mr. Cooper definitively to the paint blobs, but he acknowledged apparent parallels. He said that maybe the stink bomb thing was their way of being disruptive without using paint & while penetrating a more controlled atmosphere. 2 days after Mr. Cooper’s arrest, a group of people showed up at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery in Chelsea, where a reception was being held for Mr. Fairey. Without identifying themselves, these people distributed copies of a 16-page tabloid with the title “If we did it this is how it would’ve happened,” with a cover photograph of an image created by Mr. Fairey defaced with paint. Inside were reproductions of the communiqués that were pasted next to the sites of many paint attacks & appeared to draw inspiration from the writings by the Situationists (a group of political & artistic agitators formed in the 1950s, & a 1960s anarchist group called Black Mask.) In often bombastic language those fliers condemned the commercialization of art & included statements saying that the wheat paste used to affix the fliers had been mixed with shards of glass. An essay in the paper given out at the gallery scoffed at those who had difficulty understanding the fliers & added footnotes clarifying parts of them. One of these footnotes stated that the tabloids had been dusted with anthrax. In a series of essays & in text that appeared under the headline “Interview With Myself” the anonymous authors said the splashings were committed not by a group of men & women, & offered some explanation of their motives. The authors wrote street art was a bourgeoisie-sponsored rebellion that helped pave the way for gentrification, & called it utterly impotent politically and fantastically lucrative for everyone involved. The writings criticized people prominent in the world of street art, including Awoon & Fairey Swoon, the art collectives Faile & Visual Resistance, Marc & Sara Schiller (they run a Web site about street art called the Wooster collective. Mr. Schiller said that there is a very strong viewpoint there, & there’s an element of interest he can’t deny. He said that he doesn’t agree with the perspective & he doesn’t think the assumptions're accurate. Previous incidents of agitprop were described. The authors claimed responsibility for assailing a mural in Williamsburg by the reclusive British artist known as Banksy, & for hurling paint at a billboard advertising sneakers on Lafayette Street made by an artist called Neckface. The authors're unidentified. It isn’t known for sure whether they're indeed the Splashers. An e-mail address was published in the paper. A message sent by a reporter to that address on Tuesday night went unanswered...

Out of Jail

Heiress Paris Hilton went out of a LA-area jail early Tuesday with a big smile on her face. She had served 23 days for violating her probation on a reckless driving conviction.With paparazzi & reporters swarming behind a police barrier, Paris beamed & wavedbut ignored shouted questions. She left the jail about 12:15 a.m. PT. Girl walked past sheriff's deputies into a sport utility vehicle where her parents waited. CNN affiliate KTLA-TV in Los Angeles reported that Hilton went to her grandparents' home in the Benedict Canyon area of Beverly Hills.The 26-year-old multimillionaire Paris Hilton was sentenced to 45 days for the 2006 probation violation. She had served about half the term, gaining some credit for good behavior. Paris Hilton is scheduled to give her 1st post-jail television interview Wednesday on CNN's "Larry King Live" show. NBC & ABC dropped rival offers last week. Paris admitted alcohol-related reckless driving inParis Hilton surrendered to authorities on June 3 to begin her January, & was sentenced to 3 years' probation. She was caught driving the following month on a suspended license. Superior Court Judge Michael Sauer rejected Hilton's defense that her publicist had misinformed her about the status of her license. She spent 23 days at Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, California.3days after Paris began her jail stay, she was released by the LA County sheriff to home detention with electronic monitoring because of an unspecified medical condition.
Paris was at home a little more than a day before the judge ordered Hilton back to jail to complete her sentence.She said in a statement that this is the hardest thing she have ever done. She has had a lot of time to reflect & have already learned a bitter but important lesson from this experience. Paris Hilton's probation'll end in March 2009, if she keeps her driver's license current & doesn't break the law.The city attorney's office has said that Paris can cut 12 months off that time if she does community service, which could include a public-service announcement, the AP reported.

The Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association's Technology Management Conference & Exhibit in New York

Who's Murex? They're a people company before being a software company. TheMurex team results from a careful & permanent international recruiting effort. Its highly skilled finacial & software professionals share a sincere dedication to team building, & value long term commitments, quality of work, quality of life & resourcefulness. Every day, thousands of users in banks, asset managers, corporations & utilities rely on Murex people & Murex solutions. Reuters delivers real time information & analytics enabling traders, salespersons & heads of desk to make quick, informed decisions & to keep a high level of visibility &control - at every step of the trade.WireCache provides a transparent unattended appliance that can offload operational databases by least a doubling of database performance.
Fortiva is all about "delete no more". Now your end users can keep all their email data without overloading your exchange server. By authomatically replacing attachments with a link to the archived file. Fortiva can reduce the size of your message store by up to 80%...
Real-Time Innovations (RTI) provides the talent to help you meet the challenges of developing complex networked applications. their team of experts helps you migrate project risk, increase productivity & deliver quality on a shorter schedule.
Nasdaq's Crossing Network just keeps getting better. Not only are the Intraday Crosses & Post-Close cross valuable new additions, but your 1st 6th months of trading are free.
BT Conferencing together with global partners now offer you this exceptional experience. It's now possible to create a virtual meeting environment that allows you to look across a boardroom table at life-size participants. while it looks as though they are in the meeting room with you, they could in reality be speaking to you from thousands of miles across the globe...
About Waters. For the past 5 years, Waters
magazine's global series of annual financial technology end-user conference & exhibition were met with an overwhelming response. Welcoming thousands of attendees from leading investment & commercial banks, buy-side firms, securities firms, insurance companies & other end-users of financial technology that rely heavily on technology to trade & deliver services to their clients - essentially providing a meeting point for senior technologists & the business line heads they serve.
American Telesis provides Wide Area Network solutions utilizing a Complete Suite of Data & IP Products, including Private Lines, Ethernet Private Lines, MPLS/IPVPN, Dedicated Internet Access, Frame Relay & Managed Services...
NYSE TransactTools is a global backbone for seamless & intelligent connectivity to the world's securities markets.
Bobsguide.com is the premier B2B guide to software & technology in asset management, banking & risk management...
WeyTec is your key to the financial world. You can clean up your trader's desk by replacing multiple keyboards with a single EK/HK2000, & control up to 6 Workstations with a single keyboard mouth. Also you can control & share a wide range of computers on multiple desks within a Videoswitch System... Welcome to NYC's 3 day exhibit at Hilton.

Who Said That Americans Don't Like Mika, Big Girls,Grace Kelly..?

Like many misunderstood artists, Mika had a chilhood that fostered a need for escapism. A civil war in Lebanon forced his family to move to Paris. Then he was just a year old. Then to London when he was 9. His father was held hostage at Kuwait' U.S. Embassy. The family trauma, Mika's budding dyslexia. bullying from classmates caused him to stop speaking & withdraw for a year.
He forgot how to write & read. It got to a point where he just shut down, stopped talking. He found solace in music, learned to play the piano. Soon Mika had regular gigs creating jingles for television commercials. Now he's one of U.K.'s most important new artists.
Lebanon-born, London-bred artist offers enough ammunition.
Mika's music's a hybrid of disco & outrageous throwback rock. It stands in opposition to nearly everything that's popular now. His album "Life in Cartoon Motion" sashays lyrically into strange ground, like the tribute to plump chicks "Big Girls", "Billy Brown", about a man cheating on his wife with another dude...
Mika's imagery sets him apart. His over-the-top stage shows're like a pop circus.
His album cover artwork's a trippy wonderland of color & characters that looks like the artistic upchuck of his idols Jim Woodring, Tony Millionaire, Robert Crumb.
Mika like the in-between of circuses. His extravaganzas're somewhere between seedy & suspended reality. It's not Vegas expencive. Circuses create this illusion of entertainment often out of cheap materials. All of his performances, for those same reason, don't use special effects. It's not very special if it doesn't come from the heart of the person.
In NYC Mika performed at the Nokia Theater, 1515 Broadway. All tickets were sold out.

Emmy-Winning Comedy Series ENTOURAGE

ENTOURAGE
Today NYC celebrates success of the Emmy-winning comedy series Entourage with celebrities guests & the red carpet. One of such guests is Billi Joel plus many others... Emmy-winning comedy series Entourage concludes its 3rd season & kicks off season 4 exclusively on HBO in June. The "Medellin" project's underway at last, & Eric & Vince have taken on new roles - as producers. Will their film be hailed as a critical masterpiece, or will it end up on the trash heap of broken tinseltown dreams? From executive producers Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson & Doug Ellin, the Emmy-winnng series ENTOURAGE concludes its 3rd season & kicks off its 12-episode 4th season exclusively on HBO, debuting new episodes on Sunday night (10:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT). Episodes of season 4 debut immediately following episodes of the new HBOdrama series "John from Cincinnati." Drawing on the experience of industry insiders, the hit comedy series stars Adrian Grenier as Vince, who is enjoying life in the limelight as a hot young actor; Kevin Connolly as Eric, Vince's half-brother Drama, whose own career has been eclipsed by Vince's success; Jerry Ferrara as Turtle, the least savvy of the group; Emmy winner Jeremy Piven as Ari, who served as Vince's aggressive, high-powered agent before getting fired, but has remained in the picture; and Rhys Coiro as egotistical director Billy Walsh. Also featured on the new episodes of ENTOURAGE're debi Mazar as Vince's publicist Shauna; Perrey Reeves as the long-suffering Mrs. Ari; Rex Lee as Lloyd, Ari's assistant; Emmanuelle Chriqui as Sloan, Eric's girlfriend; 7 Beverly D'Angelo as Ari's partner Babs. Guest stars in season four include Don Castellaneta, Stephen Gaghan & Anthony Michael Hall. June episodes: #42: "Adios Amigos" (seasons three finale), debut was Sunday, June 3. Other HBO playdates were June 4, 5, 6, 8. And the next - June 22. NBO2 playdates were June 4, 7, 9. The next - June 15.Vince (Adrian grenier) & the guys say goodbye to the mansion. Eric (Kevin Connolly) gets flack from the boys for staying with Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), while Drama (Kevin Dillon) gets fixated on a condo way out of his price range. The guysapproach Billy Walsh (Rhys Coiro) to direct "Medellin", but will they be able to settle on a budget & agree who gets the final cut? It's written by Doug Ellin, directed by Mark Mylod. Episode #43 "Welcome to the Jungle" has debute date Sunday, June 17 (10:00-10:30 p.m.) Other HBO playdates: June 18, 19, 20, 22, 29. HBO2 playdates: June 21 & 23. The season debut's a behind-the-scenes documentary about the filming of "medellin" on location in Bogota, Colombia. On the set, Eric & Billy clash over keeping the film on schedule & Billy developes an infatuation with Vince's Colombian co-star that becomes increasingly disruptive to the production. Meanwhile, Drama tries to angle for a part in the film,& Ari (Jeremy Piven0 provides color commentary from his LAoffice. Episode #44 - "The First Cut is the Deepest" has its debut date Sunday, June 24. Other HBO playdates - June 25, 27, 29, & July 6. HBO2 has playdates - June 28, 30. Drama plans a welcome-back party for Vince at his new condo, but his obsession with keeping the place pristine puts a damper on the festivities. Ari & Mrs. Ari (Perrey Reeves) learn that their son may not get into their daughter's exclusive private school. Billy's insecurities prevent Eric & Vince from seeing the 1st cut of "Medellin." Last August ENTOURAGE received an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Jeremy Piven)...

Zane's Steamy Sex Novels

The author, whose steamy sex novels set among black professionals have propelled her onto The New York Times list of best sellers, says that if she could do it over, she'd have chosen a less provocative pseudonym.About a decade ago, she was in an America Online chat room. She picked name Zane because it was the 1st thing that popped into her head. She liked the name.When she started writing erotic fiction in her spare time & e-mailing it to online acquaintances & riends, it made sense to keep calling herself Zane, she couldn't be sure who was reading her work. Then she developed a following & discovered she could sell a book. Zane was destined to stay Zane. Zane says that If she had known that it was going to end up being a writing pseudonym, she'd have picked something with a first & last name.There's only one successful writer of black erotica with a gender-neutral, one-syllable nom de plume. It makes people more curious about her -- the opposite of Zane's intent. She says that it was a total accident. It wasn't intentional, nother drawback: I'm on the bottom of all the bookshelves. But don't weep for Zane. The buyer of black fiction for Waldenbooks & Borders, points out, Zane gets a couple of shelves to herself. More than 2.7 million copies of her books're in print. She's a mainstay on the Essence magazine list of best sellers, & 2 titles, the anthology "Love Is Never Painless" & "Afterburn,"were New York Times best sellers.She has approved a script for "Addicted," an adaptation of her biggest-selling novel. It's about a woman who seeks counseling for sex addiction. She's negotiating a deal to turn a collection of stories, "The Sex Chronicles," into a cable-TV miniseries.She's a publisher who runs Strebor Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster with more than 50 authors, many of whom get a sales boost from their association with Zane. Not bad for someone who never planned to be a writer. Zane's the daughter of a theologian, she's an elementary school teacher, graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in chemical engineering. She says that whenever she had creative writing assignments & stuff in school, the teachers'd be shocked at what I turned in because it would be so far-fetched & so imaginative. Most of my teachers told me I should be a writer, she said. But she never took it seriously until I got bored enough to do it.Boredom hit in 1997. Then Zane was living in North Carolina. She was working as a sales representative. She began writing erotic stories to pass the time after her children went to bed. She has a 12-year-old daughter, a 3-year-old son, &19-year-old son.The stories developed a following on the Internet, & she self-published "The Sex Chronicles" before landing a deal with Simon & Schuster.Zane tapped into a market that craves her unvarnished,honest perspective on sexuality. Zane books send a "Sex and the City" - like message that it'sOK to celebrate your libido.The editor of Black Expressions, an online book club with more than 400,000 members that counts Zane among its most popular authors said that she's like the Dr. Ruth of our time.Zane's take on sex's hardly revolutionary. It should be pleasurable & safe. Communication's the key to more satisfying, stronger relationships. Her straightforward, conversational prose resonates in the black community.It's not openly discussed in most of our homes.Harold Fisher,a former Baltimore TV news anchor. one of a few men who joined dozens of women fans at a local book signing said, that her work goes right to the heart of modern sexuality. he said that we all have sex. We just need to relax about it.Zane's fans remember what book they read 1st & how they burned through the rest. They love her heroines, who're unafraid to use men for their own pleasure.In person, the 40-year-old author's equally assertive -- but she's no vixen. Stylish but not outlandish, with a youthful,round face & a comfortably fleshy figure, Zane looks like the suburban working mom that she's.She discusses her career & life in theundecorated, luttered offices of Strebor Books.Zane presents a mixture of reserve &accessibility. She answers the phone at Strebor, reads her e-mail & responds to as many messages as she can.At the same time, she guards her privacy. She did not allow herself to be interviewed &photographed until 2004, at the onset of her 1st book tour. She said that she came out then only because con artists were starting to host book signings claiming to be her.She's more comfortable now with her public, partly because as a publisher, she has to help her authors sell their books. She's not forthcoming with personal details. Now divorced, she speaks only vaguely about the man she's dating. She was dismayed in the past at previous revelations of her real name, which she asks not be published.She wants to spare her family, her father, from undue criticism.Zane has a good relationship with her parents, but she didn't tell her mother about her writing career until she had 3 titles on the Essence best-seller list. It took her father a while to warm up to the idea of his daughter writing erotica.Malaika Adero, her editor at Simon & Schuster said that connection with readers is the key to Zane's popularity. Adero said she writes erotica for today's female audience. She has a unique voice. This's not yesterday's kind of romance writing. She writes in the African-American vernacular. Zane writes in a language of everyday people doing what we do...
Tony Soprano

There was no decisive moment...Gandolfini had played gangster-in-therapy Tony Soprano - earning raves, clout & unsought celebrity - since the HBO drama premiered in January 1999. HBO is a unit of Time Warner. And now there's only one piece of unfinished business. The finale'll bring to a close a saga as powerful & oddly relatable as anything ever seen on TV. This conclusion, satisfying or disappointing, will surely leave "Sopranos" fans wanting more. But not Gandolfini. He says that the character has been with him for so long, it's a relief to let him go. No wonder. For 86 episodes, Gandolfini submerged himself in that fiendish, tormented character. He channeled the dark world of "Sopranos"creator David Chase. He was regularly summoned to his own psychic danger zone. The experience was wearing, he says. "The Sopranos" revolves around Tony, which meant Gandolfini had an exhausting workload. He said that he was allowed to be grumpy & tired and look like (crap). That was then. Whatever awaits Tony in the series- Gandolfini has already laid him to rest. Time after time, Gandolfini felt the end at Silvercup Studios in Queens, & on locations such as Tony's home turf of northern New Jersey. All during April, members of the large "Sopranos" cast would shoot their last scene with him, then leave forever. Then he'd shoot a last scene with another cast member, who would disappear. Gandolfini suddenly remembers his last scene alongside Steven Van Zandt, who since the beginning played Tony's loyal consigliere Silvio. Speaking to a reporter last week, Gandolfini, who recently signed a production deal with the network, was taking a break from screening footage for a documentary he's making about U.S. soldiers in Iraq who recover from near-fatal injuries. Dressed casually, the 45-year-old actor is down-to-earth & deferential, yet remains a formidable presence even without Tony's cockiness & mobster cred. His voice, while reflecting his NJ background, is richer, more robust than Tony's astringent delivery. Though famously press-shy ever since "The Sopranos" blindsided him with stardom, Gandolfini has consented to this rare interview. He misses no chance to deflect credit toward his colleagues. It was a two-way street, according to Michael Imperioli, who played Tony's hothead nephew Christopher, now dead (thanks to Tony's cold-hearted intervention) after a car crash a few episodes ago. Saying goodbye to the crew and his co-stars - yes, that was hard, Gandolfini concedes, even if saying goodbye to Tony wasn't. Also hard: no more of those magnificent "Sopranos"scripts...

The Level House Art Collection

The Level House Gallery (New York, June 1 - September 16) presents Aluminum Foil collection. Tom Friedman made numerous objects entirely with aluminum foil. He was born in St. Louis, Missori, 1965. Tom studied at Washington University, St. Louis (BFA), The University of Illinois, Chicago (MFA). His work has exhibited in museums, galleries worldwide, including Fondazione Prada, Milan; Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Gagosian Gallery, New York & Los Angeles, etc. He lives & works in Leverett, Massachusetts. Tom Friedman has created an alien environment made with aluminum foil that consist of 100 of precisely sculpted objects that're arranged into 10 discrete pieces. This assemblage's presided over by a jovial Aluminum Foil King, resplendent with a crown floating above his enormous head topped with cardboard tubes from aluminum foil rolls. Tom elaborates on this shower aluminum Foil Thing, an oval grouping of ordinary & surprising things. They're suspended from the ceiling & encircled by a model carracing track on the floor. 8 people work for Tom Friedman, helping to create that objects. Friedman has used a wide variety of materials, including paper, paint, spaghetti, styrofoam, eraser shaving, yarn, & his choice of aluminum foil for the Level House commission project was inspired by the building itself - reflective glass & aluminum. He identified for himself 4 basic elements: the material he choose, the process of altering the material, the form that it would take, &its presentation. He found that there would be an element of logic that would connect them...

Georges Rouault
paintingGeorges Rouault is back in our sights. A few months ago some of his work was at the Metropolitan Museum in a show about his wily dealer, Ambroise Vollard. Now a couple of dozen pictures're at Mitchell-Innes & Nash.At one time Rouault’s reputation rivaled Matisse's. His clowns & prostitutes were as ubiquitously reproduced as Ben Shahn posters. He had retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art in 1945 & 1953. When he died in 1958, at 87, the French government organized a state funeral.The French expression “jolie-laide,” applied to women whose beauty is of the unconventional sort, applies to Rouault, which half explains his vanishing. He’s an acquired taste. Clement Greenberg called him middlebrow. That was the other half of the explanation. The lesser works're overripe & formulaic. They’re hard to love for generations that have come of age since the 1950s.
Gallery show covering his long career invites us to reconsider his virtues. On the heels of the Met exhibition, where he left a vivid impression, its timing is good. Rouault was never chic. He was too moral, too religious, too tender, too popular. At his best he was touchingly strange, & a model of integrity. He was born in 1871, a child of the Paris Commune, the son of an artisan who built pianos. His grandfather was a postal worker & art collector. He introduced him to pictures by Courbet. He apprenticed as a teenager to glaziers. He never denied the obvious connection between the thick black outlines in his paintings & the leaded church windows of medieval stained glass that he helped to restore. Those outlines flattened & broke up his work into fissures & shards of glowing color against a generally gloomy background. This became his signature mode. The technique was partly a response to Cubism at the same time that it stressed frontality, gesture, light. We can see in this show, which consists mostly of minor works but has a few very good pictures, the luminosity of his palette and the awkward elegance of his line. Artist was the classic beefy-handed butcher who’s incredibly deft with a knife. His own phrase was “outrageous lyricism.” With his early, dashing brush marks, he created the appearance of spontaneity but which gave his work its appearance of raw, expressive energy, akin in fervor to that of German Expressionists like George Grosz or Max Beckmann. He said he saw his role as “the silent friend of those who labor in the barren field, the ivy of eternal misery climbing the leprous wall behind which rebellious humanity hides its virtues and its vice.” His subjects were mostly misfits, vagabonds. His natural forebears in social commentary were Goya & Daumier. He believed in the impieties of modern art as the most effective language of the day, yet was also deeply spiritual and revered the radical Catholic writer Léon Bloy, who recognized the inherent contradiction in Rouault’s position and didn’t much like his work.


Today's Featured Articles Archives. May-April, 2007...

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