Blog: NYC

Inspired By: A Great Day in Harlem

One of those wonderful weekends in August we took a walking tour through Harlem (and yes it is debatable if you would call all of those areas Harlem nowadays but historically that was the premise). I am following Keith Taillon on instagram and he was my highlight during the pandemic (and still is) . He decided to walk all of Manhattan during the pandemic and took us on this journey with lots of historic and fun stories and ever since he now offers walking tour, I knew I wanted to join- because you know I love my “Strolls Through the Hood” .

I am not giving away all of the tour …it would be impossible anyway- the wealth of information presented in a wonderful storytelling and knowledgable manner during the 3.5 hour walk is sheer too much for a blogpost. But I also think if you ever should be in NYC- just take a tour with Keith – he is worth every penny – and if you cannot, follow him and wait for his book to be published and then buy it ;) Anyway- here are some impressions, after we met at Grant’s Tomb on Morningside Drive.

Loved this iron fence – can’t get the artist looking for patterns out of me ;)

We strolled through the Columbia University Campus – behind us a row of fun students applauding the new students moving in …I cannot remember this kind of applause when I went to university in Hamburg, but then we are also not known to be outbursts of emotions up in North Germany ;)

Lots of amazing information about the campus and history of the campus which used to be the grounds of The Bloomingdale Asylum – where many wealthy, including the Vanderbilts – liked to “house” their nonconforming family members. Site note: The spikes on the entrance lamp are impressive no?

We spent some time around the impressive and interesting and well …unfinished Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The construction started in 1892 – and only 2/3 are done …I feel that is actually not too bad …given that European Cathedrals have always taken a long time and La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona started about 10 years earlier is also still unfinished …

There is just sooo much about this Church – Dizzy Gillespie and Aretha Franklin amongst others performed here, the facade. Def. want to come back and take a closer look when it is open and no red carpet blocks a closer look at the doors and statues (that is another story)

Next to the Cathedral is the Peace Fountain. There is a lot of stuff going on here- let me say I mostly took away something I didn’t know: “Giraffes are a Symbol for Peace” .. take that Picasso …done with the dove

Another interesting little stop amongst many was the Church of Notre Dame – built in 1916 …you wouldn’t know LOL

and decked with a replica of the grotto where the Heavenly Mother appeared to St. Bernadette in Lourdes, France in 1858. Impressive …

It was a wonderful day for a walk and seriously I wouldn’t have minded having a little cocktail afterwards on the ivy balcony of this gorgeous building later. Alas …we weren’t invited.

Wonderful town and apartment houses along our way and this one made me stop hard …as I recognized in the top of the window some Belcher Mosaic Stained Glass windows. Why? Well..we do have some too and I can now recognize them when I see them. Given that they were only made for a couple of years and with a really cool stencil technique, I am obsessed. Fear not …I will probably write in the future a whole blogpost about those windows, as ours are in terrible shape and need restoration.

I love how Keith made us look at those two houses showing the difference of eras – Brownstone on the left vs. Limestone more airy on the right.

Peeling paint over the facade

Lots of streets reminded me of our city- and my neighborhood. The history of Harlem is complicated, layered and …important to know about.

Keith was so kind to make a tiny detour to go to this stop as we do have the very famous photo “A Great Day in Harlem” hanging in our house. 57 Jazz Musicians gathered for a photo by Art Kane in front of this house in 1958. Amongst them Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Count Basie, and Lester Young.

As for the building – I wonder if the cornice was still there when they took the photos in 1958

My favorite part of the photo are the kids that just joined the fun :)

Astor Row was my favorite street by far on this walk – beautiful beautiful houses, wonderful street – I would move in in a hard beat!

Funny little creatures

Glorious houses on Sugar Hill – “

You must take the “A” train
To go to Sugar Hill, way up in Harlem
If you miss the “A” train
You’ll find you missed the quickest way to Harlem”

Besides the gorgeous stoop – look at those plants …#plantgoals

I felt sorry for the tree being caged in but isn’t it amazing how natures takes it back if you let it?

And last but not least a photo of Alexander Hamiltons house- not at it’s original spot – it was twice moved – but alas the house was saved.

It was indeed a great day in Harlem – I learned a ton, read a lot since I came back and I found it inspiring that there are others with a big thirst for the stories and buildings of their neighborhood are out there. This wasn’t the last tour I booked with Keith – that is for sure! Cannot wait for the next one :)

Comments (1)

  • Evelyn Kurz


    Great piece on Harlem!


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Inspired By: NYC, Summer 2022

BANG – July! What a month. For 14 days we had different visitors from Germany and I loved having my two best friends and my godchildren in our house especially after the initial visits were cancelled back in 2020. It was a great opportunity – given that we live right across from Manhattan, to go into the city and do some sightseeing and …it was the first time since the pandemic I could indulge in being a tourist in my own neck of the woods eh sky scrappers.

While it was crazy hot in the city, it was also very empty, it is always a bit calmer in the city during the hotter months but I would say we are nowhere near back to normal. You wouldn’t know though from this amazing view from the One World Trade Center.

The coolest thing about being a tourist in your own digs with actual tourists, is how it reminds you what is amazing and inspiring about the city. How many times have I just rushed back and forth the WTC train station without even taking everything in anymore.

Gorgeous sconce at the Manhattan Municipal Building- where also the subway station below is located. If you are near the Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan side – take a look around if you love architectural details – it is an eye feast.

Said subway station has Guastavino tile vaulted ceilings and I love love love those. I made me godchildren and their parents look at them. They might thank me later – LOL

Wowsers- I don’t think I have ever seen the Brooklyn Bridge this empty and that is not only due to the bike and pedestrian path being separated now. Finally- because …all visitors seem to forget that this is a major connection between Manhattan and Brooklyn and people NEED to get over there.

Look at those lines- so cool!

We spent a wonderful day in Harlem – starting with a little walk on the Harlem Walk of Fame.

While James Baldwin and Ella Fitzgerald clearly are known to everyone there are also some very famous other people that are worth exploring and ponder about.

The iconic Harlem YMCA!

I pointed the Maya Angelou quote out to my sweet godson who kept poking me, he didn’t miss a beat and quoted the lower sentence also by her right back at me. I miss him already !

OK this is cheating at it’s best …because this is actually a photo from Liberty State Park but …let’s face it peeps- we do have the best view of Manhattan …so don’t forget that and I make sure none of our visitors ever forgets that either ;)

With my bestie Sandra I went to the NYC Public Library- unfortunately it is mostly closed off nowadays – the main reading room at least is- but it is still a good fly in place if you need to cool down a little bit. Otherwise- you might want to just skip it for now and rather watch a movie at night in the wonderful Brayant Park next to it.

We also went to the Empire State Building and this display made me feel a little old. Nonetheless the displays and way they created the exhibition before you get to the platform was fun and I can totally recommend it for kids as well. Usually I would recommend to reserve tickets and also splurge some Express Line tickets- but hey it was so empty, we basically browsed right through without any reservation.

Different view- wave at the One World Trade Center and to Jersey City on the right.

Hello Handsome! Actual photo of me looking at the scenery!

I cannot even tell you how happy the stroll through the city made me- It was like seeing a friend after a long time and I was ready to just spent a lot of quality time with it.

Highline – you guessed it …pretty empty – I love the Highline at any time of the year and it is still one of my favorite ways to see the city.

Love the sentiment “I am not interested in competing with anyone, I hope we all make it” – DITTO!

Tell me you do not like this picture ? WHAT???? Get off my blog- LOL- just kidding ;)

OK that is a lot from the Highline but hey …I had a blast

And found this emoji Statue of Liberty –

The city always has little messages for you …obvious ones

and not so obvious……ok- you can stop looking – I actually do not know if there is a hidden message there other than…I NEED COFFEE.

Besides- have fun, and enjoy some outdoor time this summer maybe in a nearby city or our own time. If you are close to NYC come on over and enjoy a little empty nice social distancing allowing sightseeing. It is refreshing and inspiring. NYC is always worth a trip!

Comments (3)

  • Barbara


    Another set of great photos. It’s been a long time since I was last in NYC. The twin towers were still there and we went to the top. We also did the Empire State Building. King Kong and An Affair to Remember my fav movies involving that building. Never been to Harlem. Gotta do that. Thanks for sharing.


  • Kathleen Lee


    I always love these tours around HJ and NYC. I’m in Silicon Valley and enjoy seeing the other side of the states!


  • Nancy Gill


    Thanks for taking us along on your journey.


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Art Stroll: Random Galleries at Met Museum, NYC

Last month we went to see the Alice Neel exhibition at the Met and were incredibly lucky to be in an almost empty museum – so I thought I would share some more random gallery pictures with you.

To be honest the Modern Art gallery is never super crowded at the Met but never this empty and nonetheless it was a treat to be for several minutes absolutely alone with the artwork. My heart was so full after not being in any museum for over a year.

Rothko was singing…

Pollock was moving…

Nevelson was inviting us to Mrs. N’s Palace …

but then still decided to socially distance from the viewer.

Edna Andrade invited us for a “Summer Game” – which made me very happy

Sam Gilliam made me think rebellious thoughts on how to use canvas cloth …

And boy, Pollock was just super demanding… such an ego …but …

Can you blame him???

There I stood and just thought “wow …what a wonderful day this is”

Klimt’s Mäda Primavesi looked rather inquisitive as if to say “where have you been, it was really boring here!”

it was tempting to dance through the empty hall, and I think…

Serena knew that too – she gave me a little smile but asked to contain myself

And so I moved on …

And said hello to this magnificent statue

and details in stone…

And then it was time to leave …as there is only so much you can take in and Alice Neel’s exhibition was also already behind us. What a wonderful day this was. Weeks later I remain on a high, how much I missed this. I hope you enjoyed the Artstroll – cannot wait for the next one. 

Comments (2)

  • Andrea R Huelsenbeck


    It’s been so long since I’ve been to the Met. Thank you for sharing your photos. I hope I can visit–maybe next year.


  • Vee


    Your STROLLS are so FULL!! Your experience ‘feeds’ me in so many ways.
    You make me chuckle with your choice of words, you make me think abut the way you looked
    at something, you made me feel (dance) (boring), and you always inspire me.
    I ALWAYS want your strolls to go on! MORE, More, more


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Art Stroll: Alice Neel at Met Museum, NYC

Last weekend we were able to visit a museum in the first time in over a year. The exhibition “People Come First – Alice Neel” was calling us and after the first hesitation of the thought to be in a closed area with other people I bought some timed tickets for 10am on a Sunday morning. Boy was that the best decision ever. Besides the fantastic exhibition, this was a once in a life time experience at the Met …we entered almost every gallery alone …it was amazing and after such a long time of no artstrolls, seeing art in person was exhilarating. But let’s check out the fantastic Alice Neel exhibition.

“Fish Market”, 1947

Alice Neel was born in 1920 and died in 1984. The earliest of hier paintings in the exhibition was from 1920 and the oldest one from 1984. Alice Neel saw herself as a collector of souls – painting pictures of people not portraits. She was a political painter in the choice of who she painted, what she painted and the way how she painted.

“Mercedes Arroyo”, 1952

Mercedes Arroyo was a social activist in East Harlem. Neel declared in 1950 – echoing Arroyo’s principles “East Harlem is like a battlefield of humanism, and I am on the side of the people here”

“Futility of Effort”, 1930

This abstract painting is one of two experiences: of the loss of Neel’s daughter to diphtheria and a newspaper article Neel wrote about a mother who lost her child when sie was ironing in the kitchen next door, when her child choked on the bars of her crib. Motherhood and the struggles tied to it is a reoccurring subject of Neels paintings.

“Rita and Hubert”, 1954. Hubert Satterfield, a writer and his girlfriend Rita (we do not know what she did).

“Peggy”, 1949

Peggy was a victim of domestic abuse and Neel chose to represent her with the bruises and abrasions left by her boyfriend’s recent assault.

“Dominican Boys on 108th Street”, 1955

While we know those are boys I find them so adult-ish in their gaze and demeanor.

“The Black Boys”, 1967

Neel made this painting of the two young boys Toby and Jeff Neal and I love how you can see the boredom but also discipline to sit this through in those boys. I loved reading an article on how one of the brothers has just seen the painting of him in the very first time after it was finished at the Met and the background story.

“Richard Gibbs” 1968

So vibrant – what is he thinking?

“David Bourdon and Gregory Battcock”, 1970

Bourdon was an editor at Life Magazine, Battcock was an art critic. What a weird juxtaposition of someone in a suit comfortably sitting in an armchair and the other person in his underwear, on an ottoman.

“Jackie Curtis as a Boy” 1972.

Jackie Curtis was a prominent figure in Manhattan’s Lower East side and became very well known when entering the orbit of Andy Warhol. This painting was painted two years later than the one below. This painting reveals the other side of Curtis and play with gender.

“Jackie Curtis and Ritta Redd”, 1970

I love the torn panty hose showing the big toe!

Here you get an idea how empty the galleries were. It was amazing.

“Andy Warhol”, 1970

Andy Warhol was shot in June 1968 and he had many operations to save his life. He is exposing himself to the viewer – his scars, his corset, his eyes are closed, the man who always looked. A very vulnerable painting of Warhol.

“Nancy and Olivia”, 1967 – drawing from art history the subject of mother and child.

“Madame Roulin and Her Baby”, 1888

“Thanksgiving” , 1965

A funny painting and one that Americans well know! Neel was very well versed in art history – the reference below shows the same kind of loose brushwork and food painted into abstraction

“Still Life with Rayfish” ca. 1924 by Chaim Soutine

I did not only love how Neel captured her subjects but also how much humor there was in her paintings.

“Self-Portrait”, 1980

One of her only true self portraits where she is a main subject. Provocative to paint herself nude as an older woman. Neel emphasizes her professional identity by showing the tools of her trade in this painting as well.

“Black Draftee (James Hunter)”, completed 1965

Neel met Hunter on the streets of NY – he came for two sittings. The story goes that he was never able to return as he was called to the Vietnam War. Neel decided the painting is finished. This painting was so touching – for me today it told a different story as well .. the many unfinished lifes of Black Men in America!

“Nazis Murder Jews”, 1936

“107th and Broadway”, 1976

This a view of Neel’s final apartment on the the Upper West Side.I love this – the light, the shadow of the other building, the hint of the bodega on the corner. After looking at all the gazes of people Alice Neel painted, this gave me a little breathing time …maybe she used this view to rest a bit too from all the soul collecting she did, it must have been at times really exhausting.

A great exhibition – and if you are in the area, I recommend coming right at opening time of the museum with an already purchased timed ticket (New Yorkers of course for free). It was a wonderful experience and I felt safe the entire time.

Comments (3)

  • Jean Goza


    Oh Nat. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful experience. I did not know much about Alice Neel. Her painting style and how she captures so much expression and emotion is just incredible. I loved the article about Jeff Neal and how he finally got to see his portrait hanging in the museum. One of the other paintings that really stuck with me was “Black Draftee” (James Hunter). It does seem appropriate that Alice Neel considered it finished in this state. Your comment about the unfinished lives of black men in America is so spot on.
    Thanks again for sharing. I always learn so much on your art strolls.
    Good health to you…


  • Sue Clarke


    What an amazing collection. Every person’s face tells a story ( most serious at that). I love the Black Boys…yes, the boredom and discipline you noted Nat.


  • Rebecca Buchanan


    I cannot thank you enough for sharing so many images along with your thoughts from this amazing exhibition. I had read about it somewhere else and do not think I would be able to come to see it in person. Thank you again!


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Stroll Through the Hood – June 2020

DISCLAIMER: This Blog Post contains images that will show you that I am a supporter of the Black Lives Matter Movement.  Some might think of it as totally inappropriate to post, hate me for it, think this has no place on an art related blog or social media. If you have a problem with this, you might be better off looking at something else . Don’t email me to complain, don’t visit my blog or facebook anymore because I might post things like this again and that might get you in a grumpy mood..

Strolls through my hood get me out of my studio, they help me get unstuck and often I get inspired by what I see and get new ideas to create something. It is part of my philosophy about Artful Adventures in Mixed Media – which is the subject of my book. Here are some photos that I gathered in the last couple weeks – as New Jersey and New York are slowly going to Phase one and now to Phase 2 after the lockdown.

The first time I walked from uptown to downtown again after months of lockdown was weird and felt as if I would see things anew. I noticed all those “Give Up” graffitis and love how different versions of “never” appeared on top of them.

This spoke “untold story” to me.

I love all those little messages on the stoops – I wish we had a stoop – our house apparently used to have one as we could see from old tax pictures but in the 40s it was taken down from most of the houses in our streets.

On our bike rides during the lockdown my friends Cindy, Paula and I had discussed how going back to using the Path and Subway to go to NYC for work and other things made us quite nervous and so we decided to actually do it while things were still very quiet to ease ourselves back into it. It was good to figure out how much you actually touch etc. before everything is cramped again. It took about half an hour before I could find my subway card as I had totally forgotten which bag I had carried 3 months ago when I last rode the subway.

This is the WTC station – which is usually packed on a Monday at 10 am …pretty eerie. Now I am sure it is way fuller again as Phase 2 is of the reopening in NYC started and a lot of people from Jersey City as well are going back to work. I am not using the Path or subway unless I absolutely have to …like for a doctor’s appointment but at least I have thought about how to tackle this.

Just a couple days after the horrible the murder of George Floyd by Policemen this mural popped up in my neighborhood. It is really powerful.

I have thought long about breaking with the lockdown to go to the protests here in Jersey City, but I have made up my mind that and decided I would make sure to stay on the edges, distanced, with a mask and go if it would get too crowded.

After the protests I made sure to get tested each time and stay home until I received the test results.

The protests in Jersey City and all over New Jersey were peaceful and businesses would hand out masks, hand sanitizer and water. One of the protests to which 4000 people came, was organized by a local High School. It was amazing to hear the young organizers speak for hours about the issues. It made me hopeful for our future.

And they have a lot of humor too ;)

One of our little cafes , Crema, in the neighborhood created this clever booth in front of their window. It makes it easy to order and receive pastries, ice cream and coffee contactless . So clever. We are hoping that most of the small businesses here will make it …what a tough time this was and still is.

New Kicks – I thought I would have some custom made with my painting for my Stroll through the Hoods :)

Mingus has a new hangout spot …lol- he cracks us up.

Loved this message and the font on the plywood of a construction side.

Two beautiful houses – the one on the left beautifully restored, the one on the right falling apart and abandoned.

I love this building – it is also empty.

This is the original wallpaper in a dessert place that just opened up , all these storefronts that haven*t been used for ages, have amazing hidden treasures. I am so happy that the new place kept this.

Detail of a beautiful Art Deco Entrance – love the weathered colors that are still visible and isn’t it just amazing?

Little bike ride along this mural.

I hope you are all well – sending you Love!!! Until next month with hopefully more strolls through the hood.

Comments (5)

  • susan


    i always enjoy your strolls and it is great that you share them with us. some of us don’t get much scenery on our own strolls. i adore your brutally honest disclaimer! the birthday balloons and flowers made me tear up … great grief comes from great love. i love the chalk messages on the steps. someone has chalked loving and supportive messages in our grocery store parking lot. i enjoy your architecture and kitty pictures. your shoes! your shoes!!! i do believe this is my favorite stroll yet.
    many thanks!!!


  • Vee Zellers


    I love your strolls through your hood. you have made me much more aware
    of the beautiful architecture around in ‘my hood’. Your view of the surrounding is
    so interesting and makes me THINK!

    LOVE you shoes!!

    Please continue being safe and keep STROLLING.


  • rebeccavt


    I always enjoy your ‘stroll through the hood’ photos, but today’s post really touched my heart. Thank you for marching! And thank you for your care to test, etc. after each one (a testament to your care for others)–it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, too, for sharing about the UnMuted series on Instagram–still checking out all of those amazing artists. Last, but not least, always love seeing pictures of sweet Mingus. Wishing you many, many more happy and safe strolls!


  • Sue Clarke


    Great new kicks!
    The “we can’t breathe” is incredible and beyond sad into angry for sure!
    The pics of the two houses is sad, yet hopeful. I wish that the house on the right would get redone as well.
    I wonder if it was hard for the owners of the house on
    the left to make the decision to fix their home when the one next door is falling down? I wonder if that reflects on humankind.
    Peace and wishing you well Nat.


  • Deb


    Loved your post. Really poignant. Really enjoyed the photos. Loved Mingus and your new shoes are Amazing! Enjoy many more strolls in them!


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Swapped – Painting

A new finished painting which I call Swapped. I was intrigued by the story of the Morton F. Plant House, located on the prestigious Fifth Avenue in NYC.

Apparently Cartier wanted the building, and Plant exchanged it in 1917 for 100 Dollars and a double stranded pearl necklace worth about 1,000,000 Dollars at the time. Then the necklace “only” made 151,000 USD in 1957 at an auction, so I guess that swap didn’t really work out. And so there is a jeweler and watch store up to this day in the building. There are quite some weird real estate exchange stories in NYC …this is certainly one of them. I imagined the building being just an “ordinary” apartment building -it is still so beautiful and one could only guess at how many necklaces would be needed for such a swap today! These are the things that went through my head when I painted Swapped.

The painting is 24″x18″ in size, acrylic paint, spray paint and marker on canvas.

It is available in the store here and meanwhile waits for a new home on my living room wall.



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Art Stroll: Modern Art at the Met, NYC

Loved strolling a bit around to see some of the Modern Art displayed at the Met a couple weeks ago while I was there. I just recently saw a documentary about one of my favorite illustrators Christoph Niemann – follow his instagram feed, it is brilliant and makes me laugh! – and he said that “experiencing art is the gateway drug”. I agree – and here is some of fine substance ;)

Henri Matisse, Seated Odalisque, 1926

I have said so much about my love for Matisse’s pattern play …there …once again …swoon

Rufino Tamayo, Children’s Games, 1959

Love looking at this and discovering the shapes and scene.

Kouros, Isamu Noguchi, 1945 – Marble

Marc Rothko, No 16, 1960

Color inspiration anyone? Love it!

Willem de Kooning, Easter Monday, 1955-56

Texture Galore and collage elements – swoon

Joan Mitchell, Sunflower, 1969

I love the texture rich and voluminous flower painting – so gorgeous!

Alma Thomas, Red Roses Sonata, 1972 – Acrylic on canvas

This was so intriguing ! Speaking of making colors sing!

Creative art is for all time and is therefore independent of time. It is of all ages, of every land, and if by this we mean the creative spirit in man which produces a picture or a statue is common to the whole civilized world, independent of age, race and nationality; the statement may stand unchallenged.
-Alma Thomas, 1970

Spectrum V, Ellsworth Kelly, 1969


Claes Oldenburg, Soft Calendar for the Month of August, 1962

Canvas filled with shredded foam rubber, painted with Liquitex and enamel – I thought that was interesting – painted with “Liquitex” . But then I remembered that Liquitex was the first water-based acrylic paint created in 1955 – the name deriving from liquid texture hence the name of the company later. I have never seen a painting stating the material instead of acrylic paint with Liquitex – I guess having worked with them made me stumble upon this.

Jim Dine, Two Palettes, 1963

Oil, acrylic, enamel and charcoal on primed canvas

Pablo Picasso, Guitar and Clarinet on a Mantelpiece, 1915

It was especially great to see this painting as I was reading Matisse and Picasso: The Story of their Rivalry and Friendship and this painting plays a little “story” in the book. The book is interesting btw but not extremely great.

I love the Met but it is just such a hike to get there and it is always so crowded. Strolling through the Modern Art Galleries at the end fo the visit was a wonderful way to catch some breath after an insanely crowded stroll through the Hockney and Cornell exhibition. The next art stroll will probably come from a Museum in Japan …we will see ;) I hope you will join me!

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Art Stroll: Joseph Cornell at the Met, NYC

A couple weeks ago I went to the Met and one of the exhibitions I enjoyed in this art mecca was a small exhibition “Birds of Feather” Joseph Cornell’s Homage to Juan Gris. I loved this exhibition because it is about an Art Stroll – which was inspirational and turned into some beautiful art!

In 1953 Joseph Cornell saw Juan Gris’s painting below at an exhibition

“The Man at the Cafe” , 1914 by Juan Gris – oil on canvas with newspaper collage.

This painting captured Cornell’s imagination and he created 18 glass fronted boxes, two collages and one sand tray over the following thirteen years in homage to Gris. Here are just a few of the boxes:


“Josette; Juan Gris #5” ca. 1959-60

This ox is named for Josette Herpin, Gris’s companion. In 1959 Cornell dreamed of a blue cockatoo and explained in his diary that “Josette came to life” . Cornell knew of her two portraits by Gris, where she sits in a black armchair the contour of which mimic the projected shadows of Cornell’s first cockatoos. He was likely inspired by the blue hues of her bust-length portrait. for the colored silhouette in this box.

Untitled (Juan Gris Series, Black Cockatoo Silhuette) ca. 1959-60

Cornell’s interest in cut-and-pasted paper was a direct response to Gris’s collages.

The artist lined his cockatoo boxes with pages from 19th century French texts, which he found in Manhattan book stalls. The photo below is actually the back of one of the boxes -I love this!


Other elements that characterize the Gris boxes are fragments of floral wallpaper, marbleized paper, and commercial labels.


I love Cornell’s boxes- makes me really want to do more assemblage again. I also loved seeing the original inspiration and then so many different versions on how he spun the inspiration. The first box shown here still has some traces of the inspiration  – but only if you know about the piece by Gris – but you would not know with the other ones without knowing about the story. Fascinating, don’t you think?

Hope you enjoyed this art stroll- see you soon for another one :)


Comments (2)

  • Sue Clarke


    Pretty cool that Cornell was so inspired after seeing Gris’ art.
    I can see that they would be fun to view, but I have to say that it makes me ask the question:
    Why is that in a museum more than anything else that has been created?
    Interesting what is determined to be “worthy of a museum” art versus anything that someone around me might create.
    Just saying.
    I tend to enjoy art that makes me question it and evaluate just what the artist was trying to get across.
    Just my thoughts.
    Enjoy your weekend and thanks for sharing Nat.


    • nathalie-kalbach


      It is a good question- love it. I think you always have to see art also in context of art history. Joseph Cornell was a pioneer in using found objects to create 3D art and create assemblage pieces. Taking what once was used and beautiful and then regarded as garbage to create something new was still a pretty new concept and he was taking it a step further from Collage. He inspired many influential artists with his work like Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. What you see other artists doing today is what sprung from those roots. I think it is easy to forget how new and shocking some things were at certain times. But he who was a pioneer and inspired so many people after him, was also inspired of course by other artists- in this case by Gris who was part of the Cubism movement which again was CRAZY back then (and sometimes even for some people today) That is what fascinates me. I also think that those photos cannot convey the magic of his boxes – they are little wonder boxes. I love that you asked this question – I wonder myself with other art pieces a lot – but the greatest task is trying to find the answer or try to understand – wether it will be satisfying or not – it opens the world and makes us receptive to learn so much about so many things. That is what makes those Art Strolls besides the instant inspiration through color, texture, subject etc. so valuable for me.


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Art Stroll: Anselm Kiefer at Met Breuer, NYC

While at the Met Breuer I also strolled through the small Anselm Kiefer exhibition because as some of you might know I admire his work so much, the themes, the materials …. Some of the pieces I had just recently seen on an Art Stroll at the Gagosian Gallery , so I am not posting those again, but there were many other pieces that I loved to study.

Broken Flowers and Grass, 1980 – Gouache, acrylic, watercolor and shellac on photograph.

During the 80s Kiefer began reusing earlier self-portraits to create new works. Dressed in a crocheted gown, the artist presented himself as if asleep , but the broken flowers and grass cover his body as if he were dead and buried, the ultimate state of transformation.

The mixture of the photo and the crude painting on top fascinates me.

Aziluth, 2004 – painted photograph and collage on paper

Stunning- and guess how much I wanted to touch this piece. I just love the interplay of photo, collage and painting!

No touching of the one below:

Heavy Cloud, 1985 – Lead and shellac on photograph, mounted on cardboard

Kiefer has often used lead to represent something usually thought to be weightless. Here the title is a pun on “heavy Water” a synonym for radiation in nuclear reactors. Kiefer has pointed out that even though lead is used to “seal radiation” his Heavy Clout has “a radiation leak” symbolized by the yellow shellac streaks seeping form the bottom of the cloud in the direction of the bleak landscape.

Brünnhilde/Grane 1982/93 – Woodcut and acrylic on cut and pasted papers, mounted on canvas

Woodcut is a traditional medium in German art. Kiefer began to experiment with woodblock printing in the early 1970s and returned to it in the late 70s focusing on subjects related to German history and myth. Fo all theGermanic tradition evoked in his turn to the woodcut, his practice was nontraditional in his choice of a larger format and a visibly seamed composition. One of the artist favorite themes at this time was Grane, the sacred steed ridden by Brünnhilde, when she sacrificed herself on Siegfried’s funeral pyre at the close of Wagner’s opera Götterdämmerung.

The texture, the details, and then the size- just amazing!


His gigantic paintings are just breath taking- the texture – omg – I could sit in front of this forever. Unfortunately the hallway as the entrance to the exhibition where this was hung was so narrow that it was hard to take the painting in in total. Plus the museum was super crowded …even if not as crowded as in other galleries of the Met Breuer.

It was a very inspiring Art Stroll that let me think about more and different ways to integrate photos, collage and painting …printing …texture …all of it in my work. Hope you enjoyed the stroll as well :)

Comments (4)

  • Seth


    What? Wait? Kiefer is at the Met Breuer? Who knew? Oh yeah – Nat did. Will have to get there too see this. Thanks!


    • nathalie-kalbach


      LOL maybe I will ping you next time and we go together ;) It is a small but fine little exhibition – combine it with the MET to make the day worthwhile ;)


  • Kathryn Gallanis


    I too love Anselm Kiefer. Many years ago there was an exhibit of Kiefer’s large works at the Art Institute of Chicago. I was in awe of the scale and texture. There was hay and dirt in one of the works! I had never seen anything like it. The principle that art maybe isn’t supposed to last was also new to me. I went back several times and loved it. Thank you for the great visit.


    • nathalie-kalbach


      I agree- I love how he is working so much with the concept of transforming art! It must be such an liberating feeling to do art with that concept- I wish I was there yet :) Thank you for joining me on the stroll Kathryn!


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