Lisa Kereszi

Houdini, Pantheon, from Pictures of Ink series by Vik Muniz

Houdini: Art and Magic at The Jewish Museum 1109 Fifth Avenue (at 92nd Street) New York, NY 10128 October 29th - March 27th, 2011 Artists include, Matthew Barney, Vik Muniz, Raymond Pettibon, and also ephemera on display, which includes historical photographs and films as well as posters and original props. The audioguide is worth a listen, narrated by Neil Patrick Harris, with commentary by the curator, as well as magician David Blaine, and Vik Muniz speaking about the confluence of art, photography and magic for the entry about his piece: "Houdini, Pantheon," from his "Pictures of Ink" series. He says, "If you think of Houdini as a man of art, you have to think of him as a man of science. As most artists in the past, he is always working at the edge of technological development. He knew the latest thing that was invented in technology.

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Robert Frank. City Hall Reno, Nevada.1956

 

What is it about November and the birth of great photographers? On November 9th, 1924, Robert Frank was born in Zurich to Rosa and Hermann Frank, and grew up to be one of the most influential, important photographers in history. "It is always the instantaneous reaction to oneself that produces a photograph." -Robert Frank

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Patti and Robert at Coney Island by Kate Simon

November 4th was Robert Mapplethorpe's birthday, Patti Smith told audiences in New Haven today at a series of special events at Yale. These sessions included a master class on visual art and influences (see below), a discussion about her early life and advice for the young (with tea!), a film screening of the Steven Sebring documentary about her, "Dream of Life," with a Q&A and then, the finale: a reading from her book about the pair and their lives around Pratt and then in the Chelsea Hotel, "Just Kids," which included three live songs. She said it was his birthday party. This day is also the day her husband, Fred Sonic Smith of MC5 died in the Nineties. Funny how these things happen. Today was also the release date of the "Just Kids" book in paperback, with 16 new pages added. This post is far shorter than it deserves to be, because words cannot describe the day. A few take-aways follow.

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Dr. Harvey Cushing

Recently the Yale Medical School opened the doors to a permanent, brand-new exhibition in a converted sub-basement underneath the research library. You pass through a series of hallways and doorways and access points, down winding stairs, past a giant's skeleton, and swipe a card the librarian has given you, and enter a darkened room; motion detectors sense your presence, and lights fade up. You are surrounded by brains in jars, punctuated with amazing photographs made from glass plate negatives not by a professional photographer, as far as we know, but very likely by the very doctor who collected the specimens in formaldehyde.

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Announcing a benefit auction for The Young Photographers Alliance, a new nonprofit that supports photography students with scholarships, mentoring programs and internships. The silent auction held during the award ceremony has now been extended through an online auction, which is open for bidding through October 28. Artists include Henry Horenstein, Amy Arbus and others. Please take a moment to view and bid on the photographs available here: http://www.youngphotographersalliance.org/auction

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 Zoe Leonard

Through January 9th, 2011, a 2008 installation piece by Zoe Leonard is on view at Dia: Beacon in the Hudson Valley. I spent a lot of time looking at her obsessive collection of postcards of Niagara Falls, which covered a long wall in the otherwise mostly Minimalist, abstract art mecca. It was nice for me, a photographer, to get sucked in by figurative representation, after room after room of solemn, thoughtful, quiet conceptual art. (The other area I was able to get sucked into in the same way was the Bernd and Hilla Becher exhibition, also a serial suite of images.) The Leonard work consists of thousands of vintage postcards depicting Niagara Falls, arranged in several groupings of cards that are printed with exactly the same image. The identical picture is repeated, over and over again, but with the subtle gradations of tone as a major subject: the ink is sometimes yellowed, due to age and wear and tear, or due to press differences.

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