Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture. We remind you that 18 years of back issues of eMusings can be found on our archives page.

Although we are not traveling as we once did, and surely will again, the internet allows me to bring you excellence from around the world.

Let's begin with an extraordinary poem, wrtten by 14-year-old Adam Feldman (1):


A lone succulent

Lusting for water

Never enough to reproduce

Sunlight burns

Seasons change violently and quickly

Plush leaves during the summer months full of water

Let your leaf fall off

Let it propagate

For you do not have enough energy to bloom

To produce seeds

Therefore you must rely on a bird to knock off a leaf

Your future children in the hands of a foreign monster

You can only hope

That the monster will come and help you propagate

And not eat you

Your destiny impacted by a giant vicious beast

So you wait

Hoping for a hummingbird to come on by

So that you may not fail at your life's objective

To propagate

c. Adam Feldman 2021

Once again Christie's widens our horizons with a description of the reign of Fath 'Ali Shah, who took on the throne of Persia in 1797. It was apparently a 37-year reign of peace, reawakening a love of literature and the visual arts. We are treated to portraits, some executed in watercolor and gold, murals, and carved rock reliefs.

Magnus Enckell, 1870 - 1925, was admired in his native Finland for his experimentations and his interest in French painting. At one time he used a minimalist, ascetic style, almost monochromatic. At another he reveled in bold color palettes. Frequently you will find a sense of sadness, since homosexuality at that time was harshly criminalized. Dr. Marja Sakari, Director of the Finnish National Gallery, commented. "He was really showing a sensitive, fragile, sensual man, and that was quite new in his age". More of his sensitive work is available online, as well as a fuller description of his life.

Born in Argentina, Claudia Fontes creates fascinating ceramic figures that are pock-marked as though they were organic and breathing. Drawing attention to the surface in this way emphasizes the material rather than the figurative subject matter. She has really mastered this technique, as you can see in these additional pictures. In a series of quite small figures, called "Foreigners", she attempts to invoke a sense of being outside, being an "other", being somehow different, yet still maintaining a passion for being alive.

In a major announcement, the Louvre Museum and the Musee National Eugene-Delacroix report that they are putting their entire collection online. Some 482,000 pieces will be shown, whereas up until now only 30,000 had been available to the public. Works with a questionable provenance, like Nazi and colonial thefts are being investigated before uploading. The site, as you would expect, is beautifully organized, with sections like sculpture, textiles, jewels, paintings, etc. There is also an advanced feature that allows you to search by specifc criteria, and a thematic area for subjects like portraiture. Addions to the database are made daily by the Museum's experts, and will include works on loan to other locations. " Let's go to the Louvre" now becomes an entirely new experience.

In August, 2016, our site of the month showed you the work of Nicki de Saint Phalle. Always better known in Europe than the United States, Saint Phalle's work is now being shown at MOMA PS1. Peter Schjeldahl, eminent art critic at the New Yorker magazine, calls her work "ravishing" and her show "scandalously overdue". He describes her career as divided into two phases: one, feminist rage; and two, feminist celebration of womanhood. Saint Phalle's early years were violent and helllish. Upon meeting her, Gloria Steinem recalled thinking, "That is the first free woman I have ever seen in real life. I want to be just like her." Saint Phalle has always been one of my favorite artists. Her huge female bodies made of fibreglass and polyester resin, adorn the campus of University of California at San Diego.

Many of you, of course, have heard of the work of Yayoi Kusama, with her "Inifinity Rooms" and polka dot obsessions. Apparently, as a young artist getting started in Manhattan in the 1960's, she needed but could not afford a doctor. She found one, who was known for doing pro-bono work for fellow Japanese immigrants. Kusama paid him with artworks, and now three of those paintngs and eight works on paper are coming to auction. Kusama's life, with symptoms of schizophrenia and psychosis, has been well-documented, beginnng with her childhood preoccupation with nets and dots. Her first paintings as a child coincided with her early hallucinations. You may see some of her early pieces at the Hirshhorn Museum, like "One With Eternity".

Artist Willy Verginer brings us whimsical figures of young chidren with unexpected bands of monochromatic paint. He has stated, "This world and the whole connected system were so absurd that they made me reproduce an equally absurd situation." More of his charming wood sculptures can be seen here, along with a video of the artist at work.

Think sensuous. Think human bodies Think unafraid. Then you will understand the works of Doron Langberg. Born in Israel, Langberg now lives and works in New York City. You can see more of her passionate and intimate works at the Victoria Miro Gallery online.

Bisa Butler's dramatic and compelling portraits demand your attention. Click on any one of them and you will enter a slide show of many. Butler is being widely exhibited currently and rightly so. She writes about her work: "In my work I am telling the story— this African American side— of the American life. History is the story of men and women, but the narrative is controlled by those who hold the pen." Many artists are frustrated by "those who hold the pen". This woman may change that dynamic, if only for herself.

Pipilotti Rist is a dynamic multi-media artist specializing in video and film. In one installation at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) she encouraged visitors to lounge on a couch while the video was projected overhead. More of her images can be seen at the MOMA site online.

Have fun with Helen Beard's collages. Colorful, playful, and exuberant, they bring out the happy child in all of us. Click on "paintings", and you will see those same characteristics, this time focused on erotic views of adults and their adult pleasures. Her first solo exhibition in mainland Europe presented "The Desire Path" with more joy and bright colors.

Another Israeli artist, Sue Ela, features large elegant bronze scuptures with a feeling of dance and movement. Ela works primarily in clay and polymers in addition to bronze. Click on outdoor sculptures: The Royal Kingdom, and you will see some of them being installed. Outdoor sculptures: Modin Sculpture Park, shows you how inviting they are to young children at play.

The waterfront in Shenzen, China, will soon house a spectacular Opera House, designed by Jean Nouvel. Winner of the Pritzker Prize, Nouvel plans to use iridescent materials, like mother of pearl, in the entry foyer. Nouvel is also working on a cave-hotel in Saudi Arabia, after completing the National Museum of Qatar in Doha.

This 18th century marble sculpture will make you think twice about that material. Everything in the piece is carved from a single block of marble, including the netting. Commisssioned in 1754, it took seven years to make, and was destined for the Sansevero Chapel in Naples, Italy.

Gerhard Richter has just donated 100 of his works to a new museum now being built in Berlin, Germany. Included will be his Birkenau Series inspired by the Holocaust. The Museum der Moderne will house Richter's "creative response" to the horrors of World War II. The series consists of four paintings derived from photos smuggled out of the infamous death camp. They are on long-term loan to the Museum, ensuring that they will remain in Germany.

In an article titled "The Trouble with Being Tall", Science Daily looks into the giraffe's unique features. They are calling the giraffe exceptional and puzzling (we knew that, didn't we?) and "an outstanding case of animal evolution and physiology".

c. Corinne Whitaker 2021