In the Galleries

Art in Town

Art in the Workplace

Campus Arts

Corrections or additions?

This review by Pat Summers was prepared for the

April 4, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Zimmerli’s Exhibit Duo

MoMA, BAM, and all you others, meet ZAM! If the name

suggests "sha-ZAM," that probably won’t hurt anyone’s

feelings,

although the acronym belongs to Zimmerli Art Museum — the

newly-expanded

Zimmerli, that is. And, since today’s museum renovations often include

creating a catchiness that starts with the proof-of-admission

stickers,

it’s ZAM, thank you very much.

A feeling of multi-tiered spaciousness and an awareness of pale

polished

wood floors and are among the first impressions inside the new ZAM.

Re-opened late last year, the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Museum (U.S.

1, November 22, 2000), easily accessible from the Princeton area via

Route 27 to New Brunswick, now features two large exhibitions:

"American

Impressionism: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum"

and "The Exotic Flower: Constructions of Femininity in Late

Nineteenth-Century

French Art." Both shows run through Sunday, May 20.

Known as the vanilla ice cream of painting — what’s not to like?

— the 51 American Impressionist works on view include some

surprises,

some pleasures, and some surprising pleasures. Among the former are

the textures and hues, as well as the very subject, of Ernest Lawson’s

"Gold Mining, Cripple Creek" (1929); altogether, not your

usual impressionist view of the world. Emil Carlsen’s "The South

Strand" (c. 1909) offers a large, peaceful scene, more sky and

clouds than sea, and all in mild and mellow shades. A beached dory

figures in the foreground, while more working boats head out to sea.

Two snow scenes are welcome reminders of the Impressionists-in-winter

exhibition held not long ago in Brooklyn — an atypical season

for plein-air painting, often with uncommon results. Here is Birge

Harrison’s "Winter Sunrise" (1890), with a pink-streaked sky

over graying snow and sky shades reflected in the water. Twenty-one

years later, Guy Wiggins’s "Columbus Circle, Winter" captures

blizzard conditions in the city: the whitened monument at the center

of industrial smoke and blowing snow, horse-drawn wagons, a single

stooped pedestrian, and a few motorized vehicles are to be seen.

Childe Hassam is represented by several pictures that include "The

South Ledges, Appledore" (1913), in which an invisible diagonal

line divides a woman sitting on the rocks from the sea she watches.

A tiny sailboat is visible at the horizon, and the total scene takes

on ever-greater realism when viewed from a distance. "Marechal

Niel Roses" (1919) is about shadows and reflections and a woman

with peculiarly interesting, lustrous hair, dress, and ring. Hassam’s

"Ponte Santa Trinita" (1897) shows one of the seven bridges

crossing Florence’s Arno River, where watery shades of green, blue,

and aqua, and a pale building all bespeak the effects of light that

is closely observed, convincingly rendered.

Altogether, the American Impressionism exhibition is a fine part of

ZAM to stroll through and think good thoughts about the world, and

color, and beauty. As part of a Smithsonian program to match

significant

paintings with appropriate historical frames, some of the images boast

elaborately gilded surrounds.

The second new show, "The Exotic Flower", comprises 151 works

of art. The title is also that of a poem by Armand Renaud and a

Goya-esque

illustration for that poem by Edouard Manet. Its subject is a woman

dressed in a black, Spanish gown with a lace inset at the bodice;

she wears a mantilla, and holds a fan in one hand, a flower in the

other. This is not the girl next door.

Manet’s image of soft, rounded, while yet mysterious woman epitomizes

the other depictions "of femininity" in this exhibition by

guest curator Lucy Oakley. Most of them were made by men, for men’s

delectation. And by and large they are meant to show, from men’s

perspective,

what women did and how they looked in late 19th century France.

Overall,

this is a frightening, if not also repellent, overview — one that

feminists of the late 20th century would readily recognize and

describe.

Expressions like objectify, sex object, women’s sphere, socialization,

anatomy is destiny, and woman as "Other" come to mind. In

this exhibition, all these concepts are vividly realized in works

of art grouped into eight sections and accompanied by a wall text

that eliminates any ambiguity.

Since, semantically speaking, neither the word nor the image is itself

the thing, these works of art reflect the needs and interests of their

makers. Technically well executed and often quite beautiful, they

can be seen as the period pieces they are, from a time that is gone

— but not forgotten. In that context, they might even be enjoyed.

The work of Mary Cassatt, included in both shows discussed here,

predictably

turns up in the first category, "From Childhood to

Motherhood."

Her "Mother and Child (Baby’s Back)", in drypoint, tenderly

perpetuates the golden-motherhood propaganda of the time, when women

were (or were desired to be) proper domestic creatures, devoid of

assertiveness or creativity, and content to keep the home fires

burning.

Clementine-Helene Dufau’s "Mother and Child" portrays with

watercolor and graphite a mother who looks so grim she seems to have

read the accompanying wall text about the socialization of women.

"The Elegant Parisienne" section introduces Antonio De La

Gandara’s lithograph, "Portrait of a Woman." The coat of his

huddled subject is drawn up around her face, and she looks mysterious,

even furtive. In contrast, his glamorous vertical image, "Woman

in a Black Dress," looks to be a fan-holding foremother of

Sargent’s

"Madame X." And "Woman Reading," an embossed

lithograph

by Alexandre-Louis-Marie Charpentier, shows the profile of a reader

covering her ears with her hands as if to foster concentration and

close out society’s intrusive, and influential, noise. (Shades of

Edna St. Vincent Millay’s sonnet xxxi: "What a big book for such

a little head!")

Georges Rouault’s ceramic earth mother-fertility figure,

"Bather,"

is pendulous and hippy; all sex organs — the dream of the

19th-century

man? Richard Ranft’s etching with aquatint, "After the Ball,"

shows a festive couple: the woman, nude except for long black gloves,

with a red cape over her shoulders; the man, fully clothed. These

are just two of the works in the exhibition’s third section, "The

Nude as Allegory and Reality."

A display case shows issues of the magazine "Le Nu

Esthetique,"

explaining that Jean-Leon Gerome, the famous academic painter,

thoughtfully

initiated this first-of-its-kind photo-illustrated journal as an aid

for those who could not afford live models. For about five years,

and for an ever-expanding audience, the publication provided images

of nude models in a variety of poses. Gerome’s altruistic gesture

— for which he deserves a posthumous "he’s all heart"

award — is now regarded as the beginning of soft pornography,

which led inexorably to today’s "skin magazines," such as

Playboy — or is that magazine also intended to help struggling

artists?

Written by curator Oakley, the show’s wall text explains

that "most nudes originated in the studio, in encounters between

active, creative, clothed male artists and passive, for-hire, naked

female models, a situation that echoed and relayed the general

asymmetry

of power between the sexes." The fact that, like it or not, this

is how it was then might lessen a viewer’s retroactive rage. Besides,

the first in a series of inexplicable redheads appears in this

section:

Charles Maurin’s image in color crayon on tissue of "Young Woman

Combing Her Hair."

Part four, "Objects of Desire/Objects of Fear," dealing with

love, sex, death, and the prostitutes of Paris, might be epitomized

by Leon Dax’s watercolor of a quietly sinister scene: "Encounter

in the Bois de Boulogne." A heavy-lidded, debauched-looking man

in coat and top hat faces a fashionably dressed woman (and the

viewer).

If this is "the male gaze that operates not only as a vector of

desire but also as a tool of surveillance and control," it is

frightening. Even if the woman is a stylish courtesan and this is

a business meeting, it is still chilling.

Charles Lapierre’s watercolor portrait of a "Woman in Soldier’s

Uniform" displays unlikely garb: open bolero jacket with puffy

sleeves and bare breasts — facing front, of course. Graphically

dramatic, "Death Wearing Furs," Eugene Delatre’s aquatint

with etching positions a death’s head wearing a blue, fur-trimmed

coat and feathered bonnet in the midst of a snowstorm — a perfect

image for animal rights activists. And Eugene-Samuel Grasset’s

lithographic

image of a "Morphine Addict" places a grimacing, shift-clad

woman with wild, long, dark hair in front of a bitter-lemon background

to plunge a needle into her leg. By this point in the exhibition,

that classic pedestal, so confining and undesirable for some women,

can begin to sound like heaven.

But in part five, "Performing Women," things start to pick

up, at least superficially, as images of women in the circus, theater,

cafe, concert, and dance hall take over. And, with six redheads

featured,

this section also marks the serious start of another "Red-Headed

League," to borrow from Conan Doyle. Is it redheads, then, who

really have more fun? The viewer has to wonder, given their frequency

here. An art-history question for some enterprising student: how

often,

when, and why, do redheads figure in artists’ representations of

women?

"Black Stockings," Henry-Gabriel Ibels’ pastel on gray paper,

vividly contrasts a yellow dress with black gloves and stockings,

and nearby is Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s more familiar lithograph,

"Le Divan Japonais." Betty Boop comes to mind with the two

lithographs and multiple red mouths by Hermann Rene Georges Paul

(known

as "Hermann-Paul") — "La Belle Otero" and "The

Barrison Sisters."

The show’s last three sections — "From Country to City: Women

at Work," "Women and Illustration," "The Rise of

Consumerism

and the Golden Age of French Posters" — are its least numerous

and, given their subjects, the most limited in range. Perhaps because

they evoke more visceral reactions from today’s viewer, the earlier

parts are much more interesting, if also horrifying, in what they

show and say. Suffice it to say that as long ago as 1896, with

Hermann-Paul’s

"Typewriters," the pattern of man as instructor, woman as

student was well under way. All six of these women are redheads,

though,

so maybe there’s hope for them.

In two mediums, two artists’ images of the American experimental

dancer

Loie Fuller are worth comparing. Theodore van Rysselberghe’s etching

of "Lois Fuller" shows a gracefully curtseying woman in a

multi-pleated dress in brown ink on pale tan paper. And Francois

Rupert

Carabin’s glazed ceramic "Loie Fuller" also shows a furling

garment, the dancer’s famous illuminated skirts, swirling around her

nude figure. A dozen or so bronzes of dancing women are on view in

nearby cases.

Later this year the art-agitated viewer will be able

to repair to ZAM’s new coffee shop for a reality testing caffeine

jolt. In the meantime, the museum already offers an enlarged shop.

Count on finding the usual booklet series on "famous artists for

kids" — how do you make Goya’s nightmarish visions

child-friendly?

— and chunky-bead necklaces, and T-shirts, not to mention

shrink-wrapped

sketchbooks advising the buyer to fill this with your own works of

art, then send it to some la-di-da museum and see what they say. Hmmm.

And be forewarned: those lovely bare floors are not soundproofed

against

those who clomp around in heavy shoes.

The mostly-bilingual catalogue (Japanese/English) for "The Exotic

Flower", drawn primarily from the collections of the Zimmerli,

which is also its sole U.S. venue, was published to mark "France

Year in Japan," where the show has already toured for two years.

The museum is also known for its Center for Japonisme, featuring

Western

art influenced by Japanese esthetics. Would that catalogue listings

for each of its 147 plates had also been printed in English, to

obviate

the need to flip back and forth.

Inside, with "Exotic Flower," ZAM is filled with numerous

images of women in circumscribed circumstances: women’s sphere in

the 19th century. Outside the museum are numerous student-women of

the 21st century. And the juxtaposition is striking. Every campus

woman should see this show and read the wall text. Then, blessedly

free-to-be "whatever," she will float from the Zimmerli with

new determination to make the most of her college experience, the

most of her life.

— Pat Summers

Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, 71 Hamilton Street,

New Brunswick, 732-932-8201. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday,

10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. $3 adults;

under 18 free; museum is open free to the public on the first Sunday

of every month.

Top Of Page
In the Galleries

Top Of Page
Art in Town

Medical Center at Princeton, 253 Witherspoon Street,

609-497-4192.

Dining room exhibition of watercolors by Charles E. Person, and

paintings

and pastels by Patrice Sprovieri. Part of the proceeds benefit the

Medical Center. On view daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. To May 16.

Numina Gallery, Princeton High School, Moore Street,

609-683-4480.

A student-curated show featuring prints and graphic arts by Miriam

Schaer, a New York City artist and teacher specializing in new

printmaking

techniques for one-of-a-kind and limited-edition books. All profits

from sale of works go directly to PHS art programs. Gallery hours

are Monday to Friday, 3 to 5 p.m.; and by appointment. Through April

6.

Princeton Racquet Club, 150 Raymond Road, 732-329-6200.

An exhibition of tennis and baseball images by Ed Tseng, a USPTA

certified

pro and self-taught photographer. His love for the two games has taken

him to tennis courts and baseball diamonds all over the world. To

April 25.

Top Of Page
Art in the Workplace

Gallery at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Route 206,

Lawrenceville,

609-252-6275. "Gold Medal Impressions," a photographic

retrospective

by photographer Richard A. Druckman. In the exhibit of 100

photographs,

Druckman explores athletes and the Olympic experience from the 1984

Los Angeles games to the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia. Gallery

hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and weekends and

holidays,

1 to 5 p.m. To April 8.

Johnson & Johnson World Headquarters Gallery, New

Brunswick,

732-524-3698. Works in oil by New Jersey artist Rosalie Hettenbach,

working in a style she identifies as Dynakinetic Impressionist Art.

"I want each viewer to feel as if they are enveloped in my

landscapes,"

says Hettenbach, "as if my artwork is jumping out at them

`kinetically.’"

She studied at the New Jersey Center for Visual Arts in Summit under

S. Allyn Schaeffer. To April 27. Free by appointment only.

Also "The Healing Garden Quilt Show," an exhibit of 27

handmade

quilts depicting plants that are being used or tested for the

treatment

of cancer, created by the Northern Virginia Quilters Group; to May

22.

Stark & Stark, 993 Lenox Drive, Building Two,

Lawrenceville,

609-895-7307. "Latent Images," an exhibition of photographs

by William Vandever curated by Gary Snyder Fine Art. Vandever works

in black and white, color, hand-colored, and digital photography.

Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To May 25.

Top Of Page
Campus Arts

Art Museum, Princeton University, 609-258-3788. "Le

Corbusier at Princeton: 14 to 16 November 1935," an exhibition

of sketches and works related to the French architect’s Princeton

residency; to June 17. Also, "A Tapestry by Karel van Mander,"

to June 10. "Seeing Double: Copies and Copying in the Arts of

China," an exhibition of Chinese art, to July 1. The museum is

open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

Free tours of the collection are every Saturday at 2 p.m.

Princeton University, Milberg Gallery, Firestone

Library, 609-258-5049. "Art Deco Paris: 1900-1925," a portrait

of the spirited, affluent Parisian society of the early 20th century

in 100 color prints, including a folio by Matisse. Open Monday through

Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday,

noon to 5 p.m. To April 8.

Middlesex County College, 2600 Woodbridge Avenue, Edison,

732-906-2566. "Trees," an exhibit by Sheila Eichenblatt,

featuring

paintings inspired by the Middlesex County area. Eichenblatt earned

her BS and MA degrees from New York University and studied at the

Pratt Institute and the Brooklyn Museum School. Gallery hours are

Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To April 20.

Rider University Art Gallery, Route 206, Lawrenceville,

609-896-5168. An exhibition of ink and watercolor paintings by Heng-Yi

Aixinjueluo, grandniece of China’s last emperor, who has won

recognition

and praise in international calligraphy and painting circles. Gallery

hours are Monday to Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.; Friday to Sunday, 2 to

5 p.m. To April 15.

One of China’s preeminent contemporary painters, Heng-Yi has developed

a unique style with Chinese ink and watercolor washes. "Her works

are elegant and graceful, pure and fresh and vibrantly provocative.

Her landscapes and floral still-lifes are detailed and richly

colored,"

says curator Harry Naar, who hopes to heighten awareness of China’s

ancient ink wash art.


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