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Archive for the ‘New York’ Category

NYC

31 Jan – 1 Feb 2004 : New York City, USA

On the return flight from Louisville (Kentucky), I had to transit at Newark Airport. Since the wait time was more than half a day and this was as close as I could get to New York City, I decided to extend one night stay in New York. From Newark Airport in New Jersey, I took  the airport express to NY Port Authority Bus Terminal.  I had redeemed a free night stay at The Westin New York at Times Square. Standing centrally at Time Square, this beautiful and elegant hotel is located at the corner of 43rd Street and 8th Avenue. 

It is relatively easy to move about in New York City, you can instinctively follow the city “grids”. The horizontal grids are the “streets” (e.g. 43rd street, 44th Street, etc) while the vertical grids are the “avenue” (e.g., 5th Avenue, 8th Avenue, etc). 

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Times Square 

Taxi is very expensive in NYC. For US$49, I bought a 2-days City Sightseeing Bus Pass, which allowed me to hop-on & off the bus unlimitedly at various destinated stops. 
 
The bustling Times Square is well known for its many Broadway theatres, cinemas and superb signages. Perhaps, this is one reason why New York is known as the city that never sleeps. When New York Times set up its new headquarters at 1 Times Square, its inauguration was celebrated with fireworks display. This started a New Year’s eve tradition which still continues today.
 
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Broadway 

As the name implies, Broadway is a wide avenue in NYC which runs through Manhattan. This long avenue is famed as the pinnacle of the American theater industry. Unfortunately, time did not permit for me to catch a matinée of Cats or Phantom of the Opera. 

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Empire State Building
 
Made famous by classic movie King Kong, the Empire State Building represents the American’s ambition to build towers that reach for the skies. It was dubbed as the “8th world wonder” at the time it was built on 5th Avenue; the building is 381m (or 1250 ft) tall and was one of the last skyscrapers built before the Great Depression.
 
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Central Park
  
The Central Park sits in the heart of Manhattan between 59th and 110th street and between Fifth and Eight Avenues.  This urban park has several lakes, theaters, ice rinks, fountains, playgrounds and many other facilities. It is also home to the Central Park Zoo and the Metropolitan museum of Art.  Since the entire park was engulfed by thick layers of snow, there was not much I could explore in the cold winter.

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Chinatown 

NYC has one of North America’s largest chinatowns in the lower portion of Manhattan. Founded in the 1870s, the Chinese immigrants packed the streets with authentic Chinese restaurants, unique art and handicrafts and ancient Chinese herbs. It was here, film director Stanley Kwan set the background for his acclaimed movie Full Mooon in New York.  The story revolves three Chinese women with vastly different backgrounds get acquainted and become friends amid the social desolation of New York. I was swept away by a movie scene whereby the trio (played by Sichin Gaowa, Sylvia Chang & Maggie Cheung – all my favourite actresses!) drowned themselves with liquor on the rooftop, in order to escape from the reality.

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Harlem 

In contrast, Harlem is a neighborhood, occupied mainly by African-American.  With prolonged marginalization and economic deprivation, Harlem is often associated with high rates of crime. I was told to keep off this area as I was alone. 

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US Custom House 

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House was built by the federal government (1902 – 1907)  to collect duties for the port of New York. The Custom House now exhibites new works of contemporary Native American artists.

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General Grant National Memorial

Better known as Grant’s Tomb, the General Grant National Memorial is the mausoleum of  war hero, Ulysses S. Grant and his wife. Ulysses Grant led the American Civil War (1864 to 1869) as a general and became the 18th President of the United States in 1869. If you are an architecture and Civil War history lover, this should be in your checklist while in NYC.

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Museum Mile 

The Museum Mile is a lovely stretch along 5th Avenue, filled with museums and other fine arts institutions, such as Guggenheim and Metropolitan museum of Art. For an art fanatic like me, Museum Mile is a must. As I only had time to visit one museum, I chose the Metropolitan Museum of Art as I had already seen some of the Guggenheim works in Singapore exihibition.

Guggenheim Museum: 

Located on 5th Avenue,  the Guggenheim Museum houses an important collection of modern arts from world famous painters, such like Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky, Gauguin and van Gogh . The collection was started by Solomon R. Guggenheim in the late 1920s. The unique building was built by famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. In fact, it was his last completed project before he died in 1959. Surprisingly, there were some blunt architecture “flaws” which make one wonders if they were made intentionally. For example, the spiral shaped building makes some artworks have to be viewed at an angle and some of the walls are so low that some big paintings cannot be displayed properly.
 
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The Museum of the City of New York:

The Museum of the City of New York looks like a Colonial American mansion with its large red-brick building with white stone columns. It was established in 1923 to collect, preserve, and present original materials related to the history of New York City.

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Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most extensive and prolific art museums in the world. It was founded in 1870 by a group of New York citizens (including wealthy businessmen, artists and philosophers) who wanted to share their love of art with the masses. Spreading out over 250 room, the museum has more than 2 million works of art kept in 22 curatorial departments. They include American decorative arts; American painting and sculpture; Ancient Near Eastern art; arms and armor; arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; Asian art; the Costume Institute; drawings and prints; Egyptian art; European paintings; European sculpture and decorative arts; Greek and Roman art; medieval art; modern art, musical instruments; and photographs. 
In short, there were so many works to see that I need to tell the visit separately.
 
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Suspension Bridges

There are three suspension bridges built across the lower East River – Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Williamsburg bridges.

Brooklyn Bridge: 

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most magnificent landmarks in New York. The construction started in 1869 and took 14 years to complete. It was the first steel-wire and longest suspension bridge in the world and connects to Long Island. The architect, John Roebling died soon after the design of the bridge. His son, Washington, took over but he fell sick during the constructions and died after the inauguration. 

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Pier 17, South Street Seaport :

Pier 17 at South Street Seaport offers a stunning view of the East River.  The 19th Century brick buildings has a massive visitor center, shopping mall with great restaurants.

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Manhattan Bridge:

The Manhattan Bridge is  the last suspension bridge built across the East River to connect Lower Manhattan with Brooklyn on Long Island.  

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It was a short visit to New York. I covered a lot of grounds and yet left several stones unturned. As the plane took off from New Jersey and the landmarks disappeared from my sight, I exclaimed: What a lovely city!  

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31 Jan 2004: New York City, US 

Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York  

The MET Store is one of my favourite places to shop for birthday presents. Its wide selection of reproduced art collections, bookmarks, jewellery and accessories often make them perfect gifts for all occasions. Today, I am visiting the MET Museum in New York… The MET was originally set up by rich individuals to allow art to reach out to the masses. Metropolitan Museum houses a comprehensive works of great artists such as Monet, van Gogh and Picasso.

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John Constable  

Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Grounds (1825) | In 1822, John Fisher, bishop of Salisbury, commissioned John Constable to paint the version of this composition now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. (Fisher and his wife are visible at lower left in all versions of the composition.) In July 1824, he asked Constable to revise it, whereupon the present canvas was begun. Infrared reflectography reveals that it started with an outline traced from the first version, and that the artist then improvised directly on the canvas, painting in the sky and opening up the foliage arching over the south transept to give the spire a more dominant role in the composition. In Constable’s estate sale, this work was described as “nearly finished.” It is indeed a study for the final version, completed in 1826 (Frick Collection, New York).  

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Count Ugolino and His Sons (1865–67) by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux |  Dante’s Divine Comedy has always enjoyed favor in the plastic arts. Ugolino, the character that galvanized peoples’ fantasies and fears during the second half of the nineteenth century, appears in Canto 33 of the Inferno. This intensely Romantic sculpture derives from the passage in which Dante describes the imprisonment in 1288 and subsequent death by starvation of the Pisan count Ugolino della Gherardesca and his offspring. Carpeaux depicts the moment when Ugolino, condemned to die of starvation, yields to the temptation to devour his children and grandchildren. Carpeaux’s visionary composition reflects his reverence for Michelangelo, as well as his own painstaking concern with anatomical realism. Ugolino and His Sons was completed in plaster in 1861, the last year of his residence at the French Academy in Rome. A sensation in Rome, it brought Carpeaux many commissions. Upon his return to France, Ugolino was cast in bronze at the order of the French Ministry of Fine Arts and exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1863. Later it was moved to the gardens of the Tuilieries, where it was displayed as a pendant to a bronze of the Laocoön. This marble version was executed by the practitioner Bernard under Carpeaux’s supervision and completed in time for the Universal Exposition at Paris in 1867. The date inscribed on the marble refers to the original plaster model’s completion.

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Claude Monet  

Bridge Over a Pool of Water Lilies (1899)
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The Parc Monceau (1878)
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Path in the Ile Saint-Martin, Vetheuil (1880) |  I have to take a picture of this beautiful painting, simply because I owned the replicated work (bought it from a Vietnamese artist many years ago) hanging at my wall

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The Regatta at Sainte Adresse (1867)

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Edgar Degas  

The Dance Class (1874) | When this work and its variant in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, were painted in the mid-1870s, they constituted Degas’s most ambitious figural compositions except for history paintings. Some twenty-four women, ballerinas and their mothers, wait while a dancer executes an “attitude” for her examination. Jules Perrot, one of the best known dancers and ballet masters in Europe, conducts the class. The imaginary scene is set in a rehearsal room in the old Paris Opéra—a poster for Rossini’s Guillaume Tell is on the wall beside the mirror—even though the building had just burned to the ground. The painting was commissioned in 1872 as part of an arrangement between Degas and the singer and collector Jean-Baptiste Faure. It was one of only a few commissions that the artist ever accepted, and the painting was delivered in November 1874 after two years of intermittent work.

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Wassily Kandinsky  

The Garden of Love, Improvisation Number 27 (1912) | Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky moved to Munich to study painting in 1896. There, he became one of the founding members of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a loose association of artists formed in 1911 to promote a new art, one that would reject the materialist world in favor of the world of emotion and the spirit. The following year, when the artist painted “The Garden of Love,” he also published his influential book, ¦On the Spiritual in Art¦. In accordance with his belief in the primacy of the inner, spiritual world, Kandinsky’s art was abstract, meant to be expressive of our preconscious selves, before the intervention of reason. By dematerializing the external appearance of his subject, without eliminating all visual reference to it, he could reveal the subject’s essence. Kandinsky often used musical terminology to describe his work. The “improvisation” in the subtitle of this painting suggests “a largely unconscious, spontaneous expression of inner character, the non-material nature.” The specific source for the imagery in “The Garden of Love” is most likely the biblical story of Paradise and the Garden of Eden, one of several Old and New Testament themes addressed by the artist. The imaginary landscape revolves around a large yellow sun in the center of the composition, which pulses with rays of red. The garden is occupied by three abstract pairs of embracing figures: a reclining couple above the sun, another at the lower right, and a third, smaller pair seated at the left. Surrounding them are several animals—certainly a snake and perhaps a grazing horse and a sleeping dog. Kandinsky, who was a master of watercolor, successfully achieved similar effects in his oil paintings. Here, large areas of bright, transparent color fill the space amorphously, their fluid motion fixed by various linear accents painted in black that represent the ground, a fence, and dark patches of rain.  

 
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Fernand Léger  

Woman with a Cat (1921) | As a young man in France, Fernand Léger was apprenticed to an architect (1897–99), then worked as an architectural draftsman (1900–02) and a photographic retoucher (1903–04). He studied art at the École des Arts Décoratifs and the Académie Julian in Paris. Along with Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris, Léger ranks among the foremost Cubist painters of the teens. Even after the height of Cubism, his paintings continued to utilize pure color and to employ forms that had been simplified into the geometric components of the cone, cube, and sphere. After World War I, when Léger became friends with Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant, who were leaders of the Purist movement in Paris (ca. 1918–ca. 1925), his work exemplified the “machine aesthetic.” “Woman with a Cat” belongs to a group of monumental female figures — some reading, others drinking cups of tea — that are emblematic of the artist’s new grand figure style from his “mechanica” period of 1918–23. These works might be seen as preparatory for his large masterpiece “Three Women (Le Grand Déjeuner)” of 1921 (Museum of Modern Art, New York) and its two smaller variants. Léger also painted variations of the single-figure composition and made a slightly smaller, nearly identical version of “Woman with a Cat” (Kunsthalle, Hamburg). Motionless, hierarchic, and frontal, this colossal creature seems made of some undefinable rubberized substance. The powerful large nude woman, painted in grisaille, is composed of spheres, cones, and tubes. She leans against billowing pillows — one off-white, the other a black-and-yellow diamond pattern. A yellow blanket protects her lap, upon which rests an open book and a cat. Her mane of black hair covers half of her white spherical face. The stark simplicity of the composition is matched by the reduced palette of red, yellow, black, and white.  

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Amedeo Modigliani

Reclining Nude (1917) | Born to a once-prosperous Jewish merchant family in Italy, Amedeo Modigliani grew up in a cultured but financially strained environment in Livorno. A severe bout of pleurisy ended his formal schooling at age fourteen, and he was plagued by poor health for the rest of his short life; he died of tuberculosis at age thirty-five. From 1902 to 1906, Modigliani studied painting with the Italian artist Guglielmo Micheli (a proponent of plein-air painting) and visited Capri, Naples, Florence, Venice, and Rome. In 1906, he moved permanently to Paris, where he frequented artists’ gatherings and became friends with other expatriate artists living in France, such as Chaim Soutine and Moïse Kisling. Modigliani was a prolific artist, producing some 420 paintings, innumerable drawings, and 31 sculptures between 1906 and 1920. The artist is best known for the works created in Paris between 1915 and 1919—portraits, in which a few telling details achieve a striking likeness, and nudes. His celebrated series of nude reclining women, begun in 1916, continues the tradition of depictions of Venuses from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century, but with one significant difference: the eroticism of the earlier figures is always couched in a mythological or anecdotal context, whereas Modigliani dispenses with this pretext. Consequently, his women appear unabashedly frank and provocative. The two dozen or so figures in the series—never his mistresses or friends but always professional models—lie on a dark bed cover that accentuates the glow of their skin; they are seen close-up and usually from above. Their stylized bodies span the entire width of the canvas, and their hands and feet often remain outside the picture frame. Sometimes asleep, they most often face the viewer, as does this gracefully built model in one of the artist’s most famous paintings of the series.  

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Marc Chagall  

The Marketplace, Vitebsk (1917) | Chagall’s early years in Russia were a source of inspiration for much of his later work, as were his memories of the Jewish rituals and community he knew there. Working in Paris from 1910 to 1914, he quickly became absorbed into the city’s artistic life. He studied the works of old masters in the Louvre, and discovered the work of the most advanced modern artists in the city’s galleries. His own talents were recognized—in 1913 he exhibited in Paris with the Cubists, and the following year had a one-man show in Berlin. Having established an identity for himself in Europe, Chagall returned to his home in Vitebsk (in western Russia) in 1914 to marry his childhood sweetheart Bella Rosenfeld. Village scenes like the one in this picture, which the artist described as “churches, fences, shops, synagogues—simple and eternal, like the buildings in the frescos of Giotto,” became the subject of his paintings. Painting a square in Vitebsk, Chagall contrasts the grandeur of the gigantic Baroque basilica against the more modest architecture of the storefronts and stalls. The dramatic perspective and the intersecting planes and angles of the buildings are used skillfully to move the viewer’s eye around the busy scene.  

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The Lovers (1913 – 1914) | Fairy-tale details of a Russian town can be seen through the window of Chagall’s imaginary scene of his room in Vitebsk, painted in Paris. The lovers represent the artist with his fiancee, Bella Rosenfeld. Mainly self-taught, Chagall developed a unique style that blends sentiment and fantasy- an effect the poet Guillaume Apollinaire called “supernatural.” 

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Pablo Picasso  

Reading at a Table (1934) | Pablo Picasso was born in 1881 in Malaga, Spain, and grew up in Barcelona, where he associated with a large group of artists and writers that gathered at Els Quatre Gats café. In 1904 Picasso settled in Paris and became friendly with artist Georges Braque, with whom he developed Cubism, and writers Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire. Picasso’s painting style changed many times throughout his career, and he produced a range of images from classical figures to radical abstractions. He exhibited widely and is considered one of the most important and influential figures in twentieth-century art. Besides being a prolific painter and draftsman, Picasso was also an accomplished sculptor and printmaker and produced ceramics and theatrical designs. He died in Mougins, France, in 1973. In 1927, when he was forty-five, Picasso met Marie-Thérèse Walter, a seventeen-year-old French schoolgirl who became his mistress. In retrospect their relationship seems the happiest and least public of Picasso’s many amatory alliances, and no other woman is more intricately woven into the fabric of his art. In this painting of Marie-Thérèse, the time is night and the scene is intimate: she sits reading at a table in a room illuminated by only a small lamp. One hand gently holds open the pages of her book while the other touches her garland-crowned head with fingers that resemble feathers. The space of the room is compressed, but the resulting distortions are never severe. Sinuous rhythms absorb the straight linear accents of the table, and the exaggerated height of both table and plant emphasizes the young woman’s childlike appearance. Her pale blond hair and blue-white skin make her look especially ethereal within this dark and deeply colored interior. The canvas, one of several similar compositions Picasso painted of his mistress, is a poem by a man in love.  

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The Dreamer (1932)

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Mandolin, Fruit Bowl, and Plaster Arm (1925)  

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Seated Harlequin (1901) | This early masterpiece by Picasso represents the first appearance of this theatrical character in his work. By 1905 such clowns frequently inhabited his Rose-period pictures of itinerant circus families. In the late 1910s and 1920s, the image of the harlequin was transformed through the fractured planes of Analytic Cubism. Here, however, the broad, flat planes of color and thickly outlined shapes show a decorative, even Fauvist, influence. This picture is also an early example of what is termed Picasso’s Blue period, in which he uses blue and cool tones to create austere, melancholy images. Most often Picasso’s works from this period portray social outcasts from the city’s streets and cafés: beggars, prostitutes, the blind, and itinerant families. While the harlequin in this early composition is dressed in whiteface and a conventional parti-colored unitard, his averted gaze and contemplative, melancholy demeanor are in marked contrast to his traditional role as a clown. Holding two fingers to his cheek, he rather epitomizes the thoughtful introvert. The café setting, enlivened with bold floral wallpaper and accoutrements for smoking, further heightens his isolation from his surroundings and from everyday pleasures. Here, as elsewhere, Picasso has revealed the private sadness behind the public face of this character—an interpretation that has greater resonance when one considers that the artist often regarded his clowns as representations of his alter ego. Painted in Paris in the autumn of 1901, the somber mood of this picture might reflect Picasso’s own profound feelings after the recent suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas.  

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Still Life with a Bottle of Rum (1911) | Picasso painted Still Life with a Bottle of Rum during the summer of 1911 in Céret, the small town in the French Pyrenees that was so popular with poets, musicians, and artists—especially the Cubists—before World War I that it has been called the “spiritual home of Cubism.” One is hard-pressed to see the bottle of rum indicated in the title of this work, which was painted during the most abstract phase of Cubism, known as “high” Analytic Cubism (1910–12). In the upper center of the picture are what seem to be the neck and opening of a bottle. Some spidery black lines to the left of it might denote sheet music, and the round shape lower down, the base of a glass. In the center, at the far right, is the pointed spout of a porrón (Spanish wine bottle). This is one of the first works in which Picasso included letter forms. It has been suggested that the ones shown at the left, LETR, refer to Le Torero, the magazine for bullfighting fans—Picasso being one of them—but they might simply be a pun on lettre, French for “word.”
 

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Cavalier and Seated Nude (1967) | Picasso’s alter ego grasps the baroque nudity of a young woman in this variation on the theme of the artist and his model. Picasso, who painted this work when he was eighty-six, used the historicizing figure of the rakish musketeer to paraphrase the flourid brushwork of Old Master paintings.  

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Georges Braque  

Still Life with a Pair of Banderillas (1911)| Braque joined Picasso in Céret, a small town in the French Pyrenees, sometime during the last two weeks in August and first week of September 1911. By that time, their works had become difficult to tell apart—a phenomenon that the artists actually strove to achieve, by not signing their paintings. During the last phase of the style known as Analytic Cubism—also referred to as “high” or “hermetic”—Picasso and Braque broke down their forms ever more. Thus their compositions consisted mainly of large, abstract planes and diagonal lines. The sober palette of grays, browns, and blacks—some opaque, some not—often applied, as here, in short brushstrokes to create a dappled effect, enabled the planes to overlap and merge with one another in a shallow, relieflike space. Some tenuous links with reality survive where images of naturalistic objects, or parts of them, are incorporated in the composition. The banderillas of the title, which cross each other diagonally and horizontally, are the most recognizable objects in the picture. During the bullfight, these dartlike, steel-barbed, wooden sticks decorated with paper are inserted into a specific muscle of the bull’s neck by the matador’s assistants, the banderilleros, to injure and weaken the animal. The letters ORERO stand for the bullfighting magazine Le Torero, references to which also appear in contemporary works by Picasso, as in Still Life with a Bottle of Rum, painted at the same time in Céret. Braque, unlike Picasso, was not a bullfight enthusiast, and he probably included these tauromachian allusions—the only ones in his oeuvre—as a tribute to his friend.  

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Vincent van Gogh  

Sunflower (1887)    

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Cypresses (1889) | “Cypresses” was painted in late June 1889, shortly after Van Gogh began his yearlong voluntary stay as a patient in the asylum in Saint-Rémy. The subject, which he found “as beautiful of line and proportion as an Egyptian obelisk,” both captivated and challenged the artist: “It is a splash of black in a sunny landscape, but it is one of the most interesting black notes, and the most difficult to hit off exactly that I can imagine.” Van Gogh’s initial fascination with cypresses resulted in three paintings: two showing the “big and massive trees” at close range, in vertical format (this and one in the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo), and a majestic horizontal view, “Wheat Field with Cypresses” (on view in the adjacent gallery), which he later repeated in two variants. 

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First Steps, after Millet (1890) | In fall and winter 1889–90, while a voluntary patient at the asylum in Saint-Rémy, Van Gogh painted twenty-one copies after Millet, an artist he greatly admired. He considered his copies “improvisations” or “translations” akin to a musician’s interpretation of a composer’s work. He let the black-and-white images—whether prints, reproductions, or, as here, a photograph that his brother, Theo, had sent—”pose as subject” then “improvised color on it.” For this work of January 1890, Van Gogh squared-up a photograph of Millet’s “First Steps” and transferred it to the canvas.

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Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (1887) | In 1886, at age thirty-two, Van Gogh arrived in Paris “not even know[ing] what the Impressionists were.” By the time he left, two years later, he had cast off the muddy palette and coarse brushwork that had characterized his earlier efforts and embraced the latest developments in painting. Here he demonstrates his awareness of Neo-Impressionist technique and color theory, using the back of a Dutch peasant study he had taken with him to Paris. Van Gogh produced more than twenty self-portraits during his Parisian sojourn. Short of funds but determined nevertheless to hone his skills as a figure painter, he became his own best sitter: “I deliberately bought a good mirror so if I lacked a model I could work from my own likeness.”

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Source of Information: Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

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1 Feb 2004: New York, USA

Battery Park

Immediately after breakfast, I headed straight to Battery Park to catch a ferry to Liberty Island. Showered under the clear blue sky, I was greeted by a bright and warm sun. As I crossed the snowy white park, it was all empty and bleak, among the tall, leave-less trees and hungry pigeons. 

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Located at the tip of Manhattan, Battery Park was given its name because a “battery of cannons” was set up here to defend the city. Over the years, the area was strengthened with fortification and the Castle Clinton was built to protect of this city from the War of 1812 (between US and Great Britain).

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The East Coast Memorial is a memorial to commemorate US servicemen who died in Atlantic Ocean during World War II. A total of 4,609 names are inscribed on both sides of eight 19-foot-tall granite pylons. The pylons are arranged in two rows of four each. Between the two rows stands a bronze statue of an eagle, erected on a black granite pedestal.

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Ellis Island

I boarded the Staten Island Ferry here and began the ride to Liberty Island. At the mouth of the Hudson River is Ellis Island.  It was the main port of entry for immigrants entering the United States from 1892 to 1954. Today, the Main Building on this island served as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

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 Liberty Island

As we approached Liberty Island, we caught sight of the famous lady, dressed in a stola ( traditional garment of Roman women) with a radiant crown and sandals, holding up a torch with her right hand and carrying a tablet in her left arm. The date of the Declaration of Independence JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (4 July 1776) is inscribed on the tablet. This most recognizable icon of the United States is the Statue of Liberty!

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The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French government for the centurial birthday of America’s Independence. It was designed by a young French sculptor, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, who modeled the face after his mother. The steel framework was made by Gustave Eiffel, the architect who built the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The monument is 46m (151 ft) tall high and there is a staircase inside the statue where you can walk up the 354 steps to the crown to get a nice view over New York City. Unfortunately, the staircase was closed to the public since September 11, 2001.

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During this trip, I made friend with a student from Beijing – Hu Jun. He is studying in New York and grabbed the weekend to see the Statue of Liberty during his vacation break. As always, I am glad to meet Asian friend on the road. 

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My stay on Liberty Island was brisk as I had to catch a late afternoon flight to Singapore. As the ferry left the island, I saw this halo surrounding the statue from a distance. My sincere wish that this invisible force protects America against another terrorist’s attack.

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