In this episode, Sarah and Sarah put on their detective hats to unravel the mysterious meanings behind Benjamin West’s painting, Helen Brought to Paris.
Music: Allegro by Zimbalista
After a considerable “summer” hiatus, the Art Attack is back! We kick off the new season with a gorgeous piece by Barbara Hepworth. Hepworth is considered to have been one of the first truly abstract sculptors and the piece, entitled Merryn, is a great example of her work. But more importantly, this little sculpture has us all hot and bothered. Listen to the episode to find out why! You can visit Merryn in the flesh at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Music by Hammurapi and Braids.
After visiting Ai WeiWei’s sculpture Fragments, the Sarahs keep the conversation going with a trip to the E Street Cinema for a viewing of the film Never Sorry, by Alison Klayman. The documentary paints a fascinating portrait of the dissident chinese artist, exploring his life, his artistic process, and his activism. The Boston Globe calls Never Sorry “one of the most engagingly powerful movies of the year” and we agree!!
In this episode, the Sarahs visit Ai Weiwei’s sculpture Fragments, at the Sackler Gallery. The sculpture is constructed of pieces of ironwood salvaged from Qing dynasty temples that have been razed in recent years to make way for new development. Fragments, and Ai’s Zodiac Heads at the Hirshhorn, are on display in advance of a retrospective of the outspoken artist’s works slated to appear at the Hirshhorn museum in October.
“We never bought anything because we thought it was important,” Mr. Vogel told the New York Times in 1992. “We bought things we liked. It’s not about price. It’s about feeling.”
What an absolutely wonderful and inspiring article in the Washington Post today remembering Herb Vogel, an unassuming art enthusiast who amassed a collection of works by some of the most important artists of the 20th century. This is absolutely the ethos that we are striving for with the podcast. Vogel was a postal worker with limited funds, and an unlimited passion for art. He and his wife Dorothy collected pieces that they liked and could afford, building relationships with artists in the process. He paid what he could, bartered with artists and set up payment installment plans. One of my favorite lines from the article: “Once, they received a collage from Christo in exchange for cat-sitting.” Herb and Dorothy’s example provides a perfect illustration of the idea that art can be accessible for everyone, and that you should allow yourself to be led by your own personal taste rather than by a sense of what is “supposed” to be good.
Mr. Vogel could not always articulate why he liked certain works of art more than others or what he looked for when collecting. [Megumi] Sasaki, the director of the 2008 documentary about the Vogels, ended up focusing the camera on his eyes, which instantly grew wide whenever he saw a new artwork that he admired.
“I just like art,” Mr. Vogel said in 1992.
If you’d like to learn more, there is a film about the Vogels, called Herb and Dorothy.
In which a bird lands on a statue. Also, the Sarahs take one for the team, getting to the bottom of exactly why we are so “meh” about this sculpture by Marino Marini. (Or, in Sarah C’s Italian translation, Marino! Marini!) Listen to this episode so that the next time you see a sculpture you don’t like, you can ignore it with a clear conscience.
This, and lots of other very excellent art works, can be seen at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Music: Bliss by SaReGaMa
In this special episode, we attend the opening of the Tryst Cafe at the Phillips Collection, and use the occasion to check out Brazilian artist Sandra Cinto’s eight panel piece One Day After the Rain, which can be seen in the new space. We also talk with Constantine Stavropoulos, owner of Tryst, about his new outpost and the role of art in his cafes and in life.
Music: Tema Club Eden by Selva de Mar, Shorttime and Longtime by Reman
Want to Buy This Museum?
Museums today tend to follow a fairly strict set of ethical and professional collections management guidelines. One of the most basic principles is that, as public trusts, museums must not sell off their collections for financial reasons. Stated simply by Marie Malaro, “the fact that a museum desperately needs money should not dictate that collection objects must be sold…”* Through the podcast we have often indicated that we consider the museum building to be a part of the institution’s collection.
The issue becomes complicated when an institution finds itself in danger of having to shut its doors, or becomes unable to care for its collection. Personally, I can’t imagine the Corcoran’s collection in another setting, but I do wonder if those protesting against the sale are willing to dedicate themselves to finding alternate ways of raising money for the museum. What are your thoughts?
The Art Attack at the Corcoran:
*Malaro, Marie C. A Legal Primer on Managing Museum Collections. Smithsonian Books, Washington DC. 1998.
In which Sarah C and Sarah D are thwarted in their valiant effort to see some street art. But we have a good conversation about it anyway! The piece is (was) Gadhafi Loves Leeza by Mr. CRO, aka Ray Noland. Noland is a Chicago-based street artist whose pieces provide playful and biting takes on figures from the headlines.
Check out Noland’s website, Creative Rescue.