Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture. We remind you that 16 years of back issues of eMusings can be found on our archives page.

It all began with Cezanne. Some 65 years ago I came upon a large poster book with images of Cezanne's rock paintings. The paintings became heavily annotated, as I spent endless hours in the dormitory dissecting, analyzing, and totally absorbed in the power of his geometry as expressed in paint. That admiration continues unabated today, so I am happy to see the Royal Academy in the U.K. mount an exhibition of the Rock and Quarry canvases.

The joy of watching David Hockney's works unfold before us is worth remembering in this exhibition at Tate Britain London. The reviewer speaks of Hockney's geometry combined with lust, of his courage in coming out when the subject was censored, and of the glory of his palette. Hockney commented about Los Angeles, “My God! This place needs its Piranesi… so here I am.” And here we are the fortunate viewers of his passion.

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston brings us "Radical: Italian Design 1965–1985, The Dennis Freedman Collection". Strict geometries blend gracefully with organic curves, all tinged with that marvelous Italian sense of design.

The French are disclosing a Ponzi scheme which they compare to Bernard Madoff, In this case, a man known as the King of Manuscripts is now being called the Madoff of France. It's not that the collector, Gerard Lheritier, and his company Aristophil, did not own authentic letters and manuscripts. The collection included some scribbled annotations by Sir Isaac Newton and a hand-written speech by John F. Kennedy. It's that Lheritier seems to have emulated the sale-by-tranch shenanigans foisted on the public by the wolves of Wall Street some recent decades ago. In this variation on a Ponzi scheme investors wsre buying not the rare papers themselves but an interest in the investment that the manuscripts represented. At its peak some 18,000 people put abot 1 billion US dollars into this dubious scheme. The investors claim that they were promised a return of 40% on their money. Aristophil and its owner claim not to have made any such guarantee. The promoter himself is currently free on a 1.2 million US dollar bail.

Christie's Auction House is offering works by Tom Wesselmann. Wesselmann orignally wanted to become a cartoonist but switched to fine art after moving to New York City and studying at Cooper Union. He eventually became one of the leading Pop artists of his generation. The artist published his autobiography under the pseudonym Slim Stealingworth in 1980 and later confessed that he wanted to be like Willem de Kooning. The culmination of his efforts is considered to be the Great American Nude series.

"Judd", on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, offers the first retrospective in 30 years of the artist's work. Judd worked with industrial materials like steel and aluminum, rejecting illusion and metaphor, and consigning his work to local craftsmen. These hollow rectilenear volumes became his signature mark, to which he added color in the last years of his life.

An interesting development has occurred in the venerable field of violin-making. A new hinged bow allows the musician to switch from single voice to 5-note chords. Called the Polychorde Bow, it is handmade from snakewood and offers a choice of bow hairs. It retails for roughly $1500. USD.

New buildings are going up in Shanghai's Bund district, known for its somber financial institutions. A new theater, for example, has a rotating exterior made of bronze-colored steel bamboo pipes. The stainless steel piping moves on electric motor tracks, revealing glass windows and a balcony. The striking facade is meant to emphasize Shanghai's prominence as a cultural city.

A graduate proposal at the London College of Fashion brings inflatable latex trousers to the menswear scene. Designer Harikrishnan uses as many as 30 individual panels so that color as well as monotone designs can be realized. An inflation valve at the bottom of the trousers is used to create the billowing design.

Portugese artist Joana Vasconcelos creates exuberant ceiling-hugging fabric sculptures composed of 22 sprawling limbs in exotic materials. Her current piece, Valkyrie Mumbet, hangs at the new MassArt Art Museum: the title honors Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman, whose court case helped make slavery illegal in Massachusetts in 1781. A visit to the MAAM site will treat you to another of Vasconcelos' wild imaginings.

If you could not get to Carnival in Rio this year, the next best thing is to feast your eyes on the online views of that extravaganza. Let your imagination run wild with these glamorous, glorious outfits. More images of the fierce and ferocious event can be seen here. The only thing you won't see are the tame and the timid.

The city of Lisbon in Portugal welcomes you with its own outdoor art gallery, large colorful murals by international artists painted on the sides of buildings. The displays are attracting thousands of visitors to the city.

Artist Elodie Antoine takes a fresh approach to the humble zipper. Using quiled fabrics and felt, she creates pieces that are organic, sensuous, and anatomical.

If you are an image junkie like myself, you will be delighted with this announcement by the Smithsonian Institution. They are offering 2.8 million high resolution images free of charge to the public. This step represents an extraordinary gift to the public. Both 2D and 3D images are available.

In 1519, Pope Leo X ordered that 7 of the 10 tapesteries commissioned for the Sistine Chapel be shown - the final 3 tapestries were completed after the death of Raphael. Recently, on the 500th anniversary of Raphael's death, the tapestries were exhibited at the Sistine Chapel once again for a few days and, remarkably, for the first time since the 16th century. Ordinarily the tapestries are kept behind glass in a dark corridor, so a rare opportunity was offered to see them in their designated environment. The author of this article describes the experience as "sumptuous" and "awe-inspiring", with an incredible level of detail. (Thanks to HG for this.)

c. Corinne Whitaker 2020