The black model show at Columbia university’s new Wallach Art Gallery – nyc


Late post:

We arrived in nyc the Sunday afternoon post-thanksgiving with just enough time to hustle up to 129th street and broadway to see an art exhibit I really wanted to see (but is closed Monday and Tuesday.) For maybe 40 years, a poster of Manet’s “Olympia” has hung on my bedroom wall. I loved the audacious look of the nude reclining woman receiving flowers from a lover. Or so I believed that to be the story.

There is a lot more to it, as I learned from this show “Posing Modernity: The Black model from Manet and Matisse to Today,” which starts with a focus on the black maid who delivers the flowers to the white Olympia ( who I learned is a prostitute.) apparently the portrayal of the black maid is a milestone in the representation of black women, a more respectful and noble depiction than the past and one that paved the way for others like it to come. Matisse apparently also had a few favorite black models who he portrayed respectfully (or relatively). One of the major portraits displayed looked very familiar. Turns out it is a painting from the Des Moines Art Center. Thugs the second time something like this has happened this year (the first was at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark where I spotted a Dsm art center painting in a retrospective show of work by Gabrielle Munter.)

This exhibit also had some interesting modern Day pieces including several takes on Olympia. My favorite was a portrait of a black Olympia receiving flowers from a white maid.

The Gallery is basically in Harlem and we found a gentrifying block on broadway south of 125th with some small ethnic restaurants. Dinner was at Bella blue on the upper east side with our dear friends Myra and mike who made the trek in from Connecticut. Loved seeing them…and briefly their fab son Dan.

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