Thrilled to share my personal essay just published in the Huffington Post, entitled
‘How An Encounter With The World’s Most Famous Vagina Painting
Changed My Life’
WHAT’S EVERYONE STARING AT? READ MY ESSAY TO FIND OUT!
One can find thousands of quotes about Paris uttered by famous people from the likes of Hemingway and Oscar Wilde to Carrie from Sex and the City. One of my favorite quotes has always been an anonymous sentence that said it all: ‘A bad day in Paris is still better than a good day anywhere else.‘ But seven days ago Paris experienced a day so bad that, to quote a friend, ‘our beloved city has been changed forever.’
However, I refuse to allow the senseless, despicable carnage that has dimmed the City of Lights to overshadow my Paris, the city of my birth, a city pulsating with art, love, sensory delights and a history marked by the pursuit of freedom and equality. The images below are mundane and similar to hundreds of thousands shared on Instagram or Facebook every day, but they are mine – visual snapshots that I cling to as I pray for better days. I urge you all to hold on to your personal memories of Paris so that we can collectively turn the lights back on again.
You have to hand it to the d’Orsay Museum in Paris. They know how to titillate the senses and draw the crowds with promotional material that whets the appetite and borders skittishly on the pornographic. Check out this commissioned video to promote their upcoming show inspired by the Marquis de Sade (whose erotic writings gave birth to the term sadism). Watch the 60-second video – it’s glorious!
I’m proud to announce that this documentary will be screened later this month at the Institut Courbet in Ornans, France to coincide with their annual copyist week in honor of Gustave Courbet. This is a huge validation of my work, and I feel quite excited about this exposure (no pun intended!). However, I was positively speechless when I found out that a trailer for my documentary had amassed close to 1,500,000 views (that’s right – one and a half million views) on the The Great Nude website that focuses exclusively on the nude in figurative art.
After feeling giddy about these statistics for a full ten minutes, I came down to earth when I realized that nothing actually resulted from all those views. Even if we dismiss one million of the views as voyeuristic lechers, out of the remaining five hundred thousand viewers you might think there would be one or two art critics, or gallerists or artists who might have contacted me with some exciting creative proposal. Nada. Not a one. Which begs the question – is there really a point to social media? So what if a gaggle of people have viewed the video? Does exposure really lead to anything concrete or positive? Maybe I’m missing the point. Love to hear from you.
For more about my work with L’Origine du monde click here.
Before saying au revoir to the City of Lights on a stormy summer’s day, I would like to mention three exhibitions that range from the grand to the understated.
1. Impressionist Works from Private Collections
Musée Marmottan Monet, until July 6th, 2014.
To mark the 80th anniversary of its opening to the public, the Musée Marmottan pays homage to fifty private collectors who have amassed a stunning pool of Impressionist works never before exhibited in public. The Impressionists created some of the most popular artwork in the history of art. Exhibited along with the usual suspects – Corot, Boudin, Manet, Monet, Degas, Morisot, Cassatt – I discovered Jongkind and Guillaumin. It was a particular treat to see the esquisse (preliminary sketch) of one of the most iconic Impressionist works – Edouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies Bergères. See the sketch and the more familiar finished painting below.
For an overview of images from the exhibition here is the French link.
2. Dans l’air mûr: Paintings and Sculptures by Rosy Lamb
Galerie Joseph, Marais district. Closed.
By far my favorite gallery show, Rosy Lamb is an artist’s artist. Her world is her studio, her paintings are gloriously painterly and her sculptures translate the immediacy of her hand. Her medium of choice is plaster – she paints with oils on plaster ‘canvases’, and sculpts in plaster. The grouping of sculptural work brings to mind the sculpture courts of the Louvre, but Lamb plays up the fragility of the plaster with an air of insouciance.
I feel very fortunate to have caught this show, as US-born, Paris-based Lamb has not exhibited for years and this exhibition was only up for four days. Wonderful little video of the artist at work here.
3. Micro exhibitions by Cirrus.
Streets of Paris, 2014.
I almost walked straight past Cirrus standing modestly on a Paris sidewalk behind what looked like an architect’s scaled-down model of a small apartment.
These model constructions are actually self-portraits. Cirrus has asked the people in his life to provide him with personal photographs or artworks of their choice. He then makes mini paintings of these collections and curates an imaginary art exhibition on a micro scale. These open-air works represent those closest to the artist and thereby present a slice of his intimate world.
I was fascinated by this totally unique perspective, and was completely awed by his dedication when I happened to pass by four hours later and saw him patiently explaining his work to other passersby. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paris revealed its creative soul to me in so many ways. As I take my leave I think about all the wonderful art I was not able to see, but just like the cherries I had to leave behind on my friend’s cherry tree outside of Lyon, I will leave some art for others to discover. One can’t be too greedy…
I have never understood hunting as a sport. The very idea of killing an innocent animal is repugnant to me. I rarely eat meat and I have been known to gently scoop up stink bugs and release them into the garden. But today my agenda in Paris was to visit the Museum of Hunting and Nature. The reason was twofold: I wanted to understand the history of hunting in France as part of the research I am doing on a book, and secondly I am always interested in how museums fold contemporary works into traditional collections to create a dialogue between old and new. The museum’s collection is grouped into hunting weapons, hunting ‘products’ like taxidermied animals, and artistic works related to hunting. The contemporary artist whose works are currently dispersed around the museum is Danish artist Lin Utzon whose father designed the famed Sydney Opera House. Lin Utzon’s Cosmic Dance exhibition at the Museum of Hunting has been heavily influenced by sparse nordic landscapes and her belief in the interconnection between every living creature and the common destiny we share. In the museum’s inner courtyard, her tall, sentinel ceramic forms (above) are set on a sea of black coals and make a startling introduction to her work. However, I find her black and white imagery even more interesting when set against hunting artifacts and the depiction of hunting throughout the ages. I suppose I can accept that hunting was part of the natural order way back when, but when an animal is pitted against a man with a gun, that just seems wrong. I silently asked forgiveness of some of the taxidermied animals but the one room covered in ‘trophies’ made me queasy. They were displayed in the same gallery as antique guns with beautiful mother of pearl inlays and other ornately decorated firearms. As my museum buddy pointed out, there was an uneasy juxtaposition of the dual beauty created by Nature and by Man. Utzon’s work at times seemed very graphic, almost Ikea-like, yet on the whole her oeuvre conveyed the nobility of Nature and provided an important reminder that the museum is called the Museum for Hunting and Nature. In one tiny little room, preserved animal parts were suspended in large glass containers, but the curator lightened the mood by including one jar containing a preserved teddy bear. In the same room a video of a unicorn was mesmerizing. Apart from the trophy room, the museum was beautiful and partially succeeded in conveying the sense of respect that hunters hold for their prey. One gets an understanding of the long history and ritual of hunting in French culture and in a way, I was able to see the connection between hunting and conservation. I was still having mixed feelings about the museum when I heard a distant but unmistakable roar of an angry crowd that makes one’s hair stand on end. I hurried out to the street to see what was going on and walked straight into a sea of demonstrators holding placards and yelling obscenities at the museum and its visitors – myself included. The manif (demonstration) was organized by the Society for the Protection of Animals, and where better to air their opposition to inhumane farming practices and hunting than the Museum of Hunting? I could not believe the timing of this event with my visit. I was already in two minds about the nature of the museum’s contents and to be confronted by hundreds of emotionally charged protesters violently opposing the existence of the museum at that very moment I finished my tour certainly shook me up. I overheard a passerby asking one of the demonstrators what sort of museum this was and the response was: “A museum for psychopaths and assassins”. When the procession of demonstrators and police cars finally moved on and the shouts of “Liberté aux animaux” died away, I snuck guiltily down the rue des Archives away from the museum whom only moments earlier I had looked at in a more favorable light.
I’m in Paris and I’m a sucker for the infinite ways the French incorporate beauty into their daily lives. They have been honing the Art of Living for centuries, and that’s partly what makes France and Paris in particular, so beautiful – the veneer of the present letting the light of the past shine through. I will let the images speak for themselves.
Most artists I know are incredibly busy people. We don’t really have a choice. In order to keep our heads above water we need to enter shows, write statements, send press releases, keep our blogs and websites up to date, court potential collectors, network, answer endless emails, attend gallery openings, prepare artworks for shipping, and – I almost forgot – keep producing art! To relieve some of the stress I tend to doodle mindlessly, and some of these doodles on wood have turned into tiny (2.5″ x 5″) little jewels thanks to a combination of pen and ink, acrylic wash and collage (see two examples above and below). I have fallen in love with the look of resin-coated work and have covered these small works with a gorgeous thick layer of resin. A good demo link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRZL2PyJkbA.
With all these demands, deadlines and distracting doodles, its important to keep one’s sense of humor. A substantial part of my work does have a wry humorous edge to it. Take for example my plate set entitled ‘Eat Well, Exercise Regularly, Die Anyway’ (see detail below). It was inspired by a random email of witty jokes and riddles and was eventually transformed into an installation with two place settings. It has now been included in an upcoming coffee table book called HUMOR IN CRAFT which can be pre-ordered on Amazon now.
Speaking of a very different book, I am beyond thrilled that my essay ‘I AM WOMAN’ has been published in a French anthology entitled ‘Dans le ventre des femmes’, hard to translate – think about the expression ‘In the belly of the beast’ but replace ‘beast’ with ‘woman’. The anthology was the brainchild of Parisian author and poet Maia Brami, who persuaded fifty writers and artists (myself included) to contribute their personal views on the uterus. My text and included image were based on my amazing experience in Paris in 2010. For French speakers, the book is now available directly from the publisher’s website http://www.bscpublishing.com/index.php/notre-boutique-en-ligne. I am particularly honored to be part of this project because the introduction was penned by no other than Eve Ensler, creator of the Vagina Monologues a ground breaking production which caused a cultural tsunami in its time.
Seeing as I am on the subject of women’s intimate attributes, I recently completed a painting along those lines entitled ‘Gatekeeper’ (see below) which was a companion piece to Back View currently on show at the international exhibit Au Naturel : The Nude in the 21st century.
Our fascination with the human body and its ramifications in contemporary art and art history is the focus of a wonderfully erudite online publication called The Great Nude. I am the publication’s roving features writer and would love to share my recent article on nude art on the Israeli art scene entitled ‘The Holy Land laid bare’. For my readers, this new winter edition is FREE if you log in with the Username : Lilianne and Password : Milgrom. There’s tons of great content and well worth a visit to the site.
I am also hard at work on my solo exhibition later this year called ‘Chez mes amis’, a series of paintings based on my friends in Paris, and the objects that surround them and define them. Here is a preview glimpse at a still life which is part of the Chez Magdalena grouping:
With all this pressure is it any wonder I have just applied for an artist residency in a little village in France? The thought of being sent off to indulge in the luxury of creation, without any distractions and in the company of other kindred spirits is very appealing. Artist residencies are highly recommended not only for one’s creative development, but also works as a big plus on one’s bio. Another great resource for all types of residencies and grants is http://www.miraslist.com/. Keeping my fingers crossed – I will be notified in the coming weeks.
For any purchase information please contact me at email@example.com.
It is very difficult to say which medium I prefer to work with – paint or clay. When I am painting, I lose myself entirely, and relish the rigorous mental demands which painting requires. I find that this sometimes surprises people. Contrary to the popular notion of painting as a relaxing pastime, I find myself totally exhausted after a day in the studio. After a month or two of painting my fingers start itching to get hold of some clay and create something I can hold and touch and manipulate. It is a much more physical and tactile experience.
The New Year seems to be bringing some much-needed attention to my two-dimensional work. Within the past few weeks no less than four of my paintings have been juried into various shows around the country. Compared with the cumbersome slide entry process of the past, the opportunity to enter juried shows by email has made the entry process rather painless.
My acrylic painting White on White from the Chez Grace Paris series was selected for exhibition in the international small format competition The Richeson 75. The paint was barely dry when I spontaneously decided to enter it into the competition which drew over 500 entries worldwide. White on White will be on exhibit at the Richeson Gallery opening February 11 and will appear in the catalogue of finalists.
Several years ago I did a series of six gouache paintings highlighting different parts of Israel. I love gouache as a medium, so versatile yet so under-appreciated. Yes, these are my feet as I kicked back on a family rafting trip down the Jordan River, which is actually deceptively treacherous. On a whim I entered this painting in a competition calling for River Art. Not only was it juried into an exhibition opening February 11 at West Shore Gallery, but it won Best of Category, and will be appearing in a book on rivers published by Sunbury Press! The only snafu is confusion over the title of the piece, which appears as Not a Care in the World instead of Rafting on the Jordan!
Break of Dawn is a large acrylic painting that has attracted quite a lot of attention. I would really love to do a whole series on pillows floating through black space. Lenny Campello recently juried this painting into the annual international show at Gallery West in Alexandria.
During my extended stay in Paris in January 2010 I was fortunate enough to meet fellow artist Yael Braverman who taught me her unique copper etching techniques. One of my first etchings entitled Waiting will be on exhibit next month in New York City at the Fifth Avenue gallery of the National Association of Women Artists.
My latest trip to Paris was a whirlwind of activity – cramming my days with art, looking at it and writing about it. I have added a second publication to my resume – Vingt Paris. At night I made the rounds of gallery openings or vernissages. It was not all work, work, work, although I love what I do. I did manage to fit in a fair amount of shopping, visiting with friends and wining and dining. One of my good friends suggested having lunch at La Coupole, seeing that was a famous hang-out for many a Parisian artist in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s including one Yves Klein.
I made a very exciting contact with a gallery in Paris that is interested in representing my work. Galerie Saphir is a small but well respected gallery in the 17th arrondissement. The gallerist, Francine Szapiro, has four galleries which she manages with her husband. Our first collaboration is already up and running – my small ceramic figurines can now be found at 69 avenue de Villiers, Paris! We are hoping that they will appeal as Christmas gifts….
We are also discussing introducing my paintings to her clientele. All very exciting. I have started a series I had in mind inspired by the home of one of my Parisian friends, Grace Teshima, whose Montmatre apartment doubles as a gallery. The salon is a beautiful light-infused space (see detail of one of my paintings below).
On a totally different note, I have been selected as one of 54 Jewish women artists from around the world to contribute to the artistic interpretation of the Torah. The project is called Women of the Book and is the brainchild of Shoshana Gugenheim, who is based in Israel. I will be receiving my piece of parchment mid-2011 and will begin working on my visual interpretation of my selected text at that time. So lots of work at the moment which should keep my mind off the coming Virginia winter…
Impossible to sum up the incredibly rich, stimulating, creative and exciting time I have been having so far in Paris. So lets just take the last 24 hours as an example. But first just a few photos to set the stage….
OK. So now you get the picture – no pun intended! Yesterday morning I turned up for ‘work’ at the Musee d’Orsay from 9:30 to 1:00 (I am going to be posting a separate blog detailing a very interesting art project I will be working on during the remainder of my stay. Essentially I have been authorized to be an official copiste at the Musee d’Orsay, hopefully capturing on video some of my painting as a type of performance piece). Following an intense painting session at the museum,a delicious lunch and coffee. I am not a coffee drinker, but the coffee here sure beats Starbucks! Then off to make my first ever prints from the copper engravings I have been working on. Just love the results and the impression the copper plate makes in the paper.
After a quick dinner of goat cheese, baguette, and radishes I popped over to another artist’s studio to meet her artist’s group for some champagne and dessert. Painters, photographers, sculptors, print-makers. Back to my own freezing loft to finish off a quick study of a striking looking woman who works at the museum and matches her outfits to her red and black striped hair.
Today I met some friends at the Grand Palais to see one of the most spectacular installations I have ever seen by Christian Boltonski. More coffee and then rush off to attend an opening of an exhibition by artist Gilles Hirzel at the Assemblee Nationale. Very chi-chi – had to be on the ‘list’ to get in. Very powerful works on canvas made from found materials. Don’t sit back yet. As evening settled in I was invited to yet another opening in the very chic Faubourg Saint-Honore. Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana and Dior stores rubbing shoulders with exclusive book stores and galleries and restaurants…Then a taste of Paris commuter traffic as I got a hair-raising ride back home. This weekend, I have an invitation to the unveiling of the next season’s Dior Menswear collection, another gallery opening and a dinner party. So sorry you can’t all join me! And oh yes, I did have to get a beret, didn’t I?