Last week, the hubby and I watched the world premier of the Martins ballet, one of 7 new ballets that are part of the Architecture of Dance festival at the NYC Ballet this season.  The main draw for us was that Santiago Calatrava, one of my husband’s two favorite living architects (the other being Richard Meier), is a collaborator, having designed the scenic background that will be on stage during the program.

Another reason we wanted to see this ballet is because our buba (it is what we are calling our baby while we are waiting to find out whether it is a boy or a girl) is already on its 17th week, and according to our What to Expect app, buba can now hear from inside my belly, hooray (but now I need to lay off even accidental profanity)!  We’ve always heard that exposing the baby to classical music during pregnancy begets a smarter, mathematically-inclined child, and as always, the hubby wants to do everything that can possibly give buba an advantage when he or she comes out.  This I find sweet most of the time, and a few times quite irritating too (like when I am asked to eat black beans because they are considered a power food for baby, when as most expectant moms know, you really cannot afford to add to the whole ‘gas’ situation).

Anyways, the show was quite worth it (worth the price of the tickets, worth the hubby’s rushing to leave work to make it to Lincoln Center on time).  Martins’ new ballet Mirage was sandwiched between The Prodigal Son and the Western Symphony, which was a great idea because you get warmed up and get more receptive before the new ballet, and the Western Symphony cheers you up on your way out.  The ballet itself was brilliant, the dancers movements were choreographed perfectly to this — there’s no other word for it — sculpture, that also moved.  The collaborative work was so seamless, it became hard to tell if it was the dancers you had come to see or the great piece of art that was meant to be a  background, but certainly commanded attention.  And then when they threw some lighting effect onto Calatrava’s sculpture at the end, I truly felt like I had witnessed a breakthrough in the world of ballet.  Although who am I to say, I have only seen a handful, and of that handful my favorite had been Sleeping Beauty, which probably says I do not have as educated a taste level as the critics.

Now if only buba could also already see and not just hear 🙂  Oh well, hopefully they will start to do more collaborations with architects for him or her to see in a couple of years.

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It’s my lunch break at work and I am busy putting together an envelope to send to my mom and dad.  In it is a copy of the handout at the New New York 2001 – 2010 exhibition and a photocopy of an article in New York magazine on the same said exhibition.  The hubby’s name is listed in the handout, as he was part of the group of Architectural League members who shot photos around the city to capture the ‘changing face’ of New York.

We attended the opening reception for the exhibition last Friday, which I was pleased to observe, had enough attendees to warrant people stepping out of the show floor for some air.  Needless to say, I was exceptionally proud of the hubby, as even though I have been to many art shows and auctions, I have never actually had a work on display 🙂

Kandinsky on the color Yellow

December 11, 2009

“Yellow is disquieting to the spectator, pricking him, stimulating him. Yellow can be raised to a pitch of intensity unbearable to the eye and spirit.” Quoting the artist from the book Spiritual in Art is how the audio guide discusses Kandinsky’s Impression III. In case anyone wonders in the future how we came to the decision to have a yellow baby room, I am noting down that it was not from any sense of practicality (yellow’s gender-neutralness), but from our being captivated by this particular oil painting by Vasily Kandinsky.
We saw the Kandinsky show at the Guggenheim on the 21st of October, coincidentally also the museum’s 50th anniversary. The festive spirit of all the visitors standing in line to get in (the line had rounded the block before 11am) certainly helped the tiny bit of anxiety I usually face as I walk in this particular building. We all of course acknowledge Frank Lloyd Wright’s brilliance in designing this 20th century architectural icon, but the physical effort needed to walk up that spiral ramp whilst your brain is processing various works of art has never been a small matter for me.
And this is how I was able to ascertain the impact of Impression III. Considering that the painting was sequenced in the middle of the exhibition, which meant I had already walked up a considerable amount and had seen a number of great works, Impression III’s wide expanse of black on a background of bold yellow woke up my slightly fatigued mind like a jolt of caffeine. I was invigorated enough to muster the strength to finish the walk up to see the rest of the show, instead of deciding to leave the rest for another day.
The work left such an impression (pardon the pun), that we started searching for a book on Kandinsky that would have an image of the painting. Our hunt produced a book by Thomas M. Messer, first published in 1997. I went directly to the page of the book discussing Impression III to read what was written on the work in an attempt to figure out what it was that forcefully caught my attention. It is written that the work’s predecessor, Impression II, was painted in 1911, two days after Kandinsky attended a New Year’s concert in Munich. It would be safe to assume that both works were inspired by Kandinsky’s experience of being at that performance.
Messer writes that the black on the yellow may represent “the artist’s identification of black with negative attributes.” While I do recognize that everyone has a bit of darkness in them, I suspect that my interest has more to do with my obvious attraction to black and gold combos (such as my love for a gorgeous black leather bag with goldtone metal accents, or admiration for all jewelry pieces with gold and onyx). And so despite this possibility of a negative connotation, we are determined to find a print of this particular work that will one day be on the wall of our nursery. A room that will be decorated predominantly in yellow, which will go with the yellow STOKKE we had long ago planned to get for our future babies.
As for the rest of the exhibit, while my interest in seeing Kandinsky at the Guggenheim stemmed from encounters with Abstract Expressionist works at the gallery that gave me my first job in New York City, I left the museum an exhilarated (if a bit tire) fan. I would therefore like to end with some text from the exhibition that may help in the appreciation of the artist’s works.

As identified by Kandinsky, there are three types of paintings designated by their associations with music:
Impressions – based on real life subjects
Improvisations – spontaneous and unconscious images from the artist’s inner life
Compositions – formally developed formats often preceded by many studies.

Guggenheim turns 50

October 21, 2009

Moms with babies posing in front of the Guggenheim

It was such a wonderful 65 degree morning today that no one minded the long line to get in the Guggenheim.  The museum opened at 10am, but at 9:15, the line had already rounded the corner.  Perhaps it was the free admission (everyone loves freebies), but there was a general happy and celebratory spirit in the air as people discussed Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius while waiting to enter and see the Kandinsky show (more on this exhibit later) and the other exhibitions currently on view.

After a couple of hours I had to force myself to leave due to exhaustion (I always find the walk up to take a toll) and a strong caffeine craving.  As I walked out, I could not help but snap a photo of this group of moms and their babies posing in front of the 50th Anniversary sign.  I got a pleasant rush from knowing that some of the next generation are getting started early in appreciating the arts.  That, and the babies were just so adorable!