Thursday, June 27, 2024

Venice - Peggy Guggenheim Collection - Jean Cocteau: The Juggler's Revenge

“The lasting feeling that [Cocteau’s] work leaves is one of happiness, 
not, of course, in the sense that it excludes suffering, 
but because, in it, nothing is rejected, 
resented or regretted.” 
W. H. Auden 

Peggy Guggenheim Collection 
Jean Cocteau: The Juggler's Revenge

At the - Peggy Guggenheim Collection  - until September 16 - Jean Cocteau: The Juggler's Revenge - is curated by Kenneth E. Silvereminent Cocteau specialist and New York University art historian.  Brilliant, surprising, and multifaceted, the French artist Jean Cocteau - 1889-1963 - left an enduring mark as a draftsman, filmmaker, set designer, muralist, and jewellery and clothing designer. His poetry, fundamental expression of his unmistakable spirit, is characterised by mythological, circus-like atmospheres and a disorienting writing style that would always accompany his endless creations in the most diverse fields. 
Jean Cocteau in Piazza San Marco - 1956
Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Images

The exhibition space is also a tribute to the artist’s friendship with Peggy Guggenheim. It was he, actually, who encouraged the young Peggy collector to open the Guggenheim Jeune gallery in London in 1938. She reciprocated by hosting a number of Cocteau’s works, who at the time was a friend and artistic consultant to Marcel Duchamp. Cocteau then began to be a regular visitor to the New York patron’s residence in Venice, Palazzo Vernier dei Leoni, falling in love with the city. Guggenheim often said that words were a means of expression that Cocteau wielded with the virtuosity of an acrobat. The Juggler’s Revenge refers to his ability to move through the most disparate realms with an all-encompassing regard, perspicaciously attuned to aesthetics and history and able to synthesise them.
Jean Cocteau - Untitled Drawing - Peggy Guggenheim's Guest Book - 1956

"To speak to Cocteau, one had to go - to Paris - to his hotel in the rue de Cambon and try to talk to him while he lay in bed, smoking opium. The odor was extremely pleasant, though this seemed a rather odd way of doing our business...He was so beautiful, with his long oriental face and exquisite hands and tapering fingers, that I do not blame him for the delight he took in his image."
Peggy Guggenheim
Out of This century - Memoir

Jacques Lipchitz - Portrait of Jean Cocteau - 1920

PGC's director Karole P.B. Vail and curator Kenneth E. Silver

Jean Cocteau - Gondolier - 1956

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is an especially fitting venue to host this retrospective exhibition devoted to Jean Cocteau’s artistic career. He had a special love for Venice, a city with which he first fell in love and felt transformed by as a young man and to which he returned regularly for its Film Festival in the years following World War II
Edouard Dermit and Jean Cocteau on a Gondola - 1956c.
unknown photographer

Jean Cocteau, an influential French artist and filmmaker, found deep resonance with the mythological figure of Orpheus, an archetypal poet, musician, and risk-taker. This identification led him to adapt the Orpheus legend multiple times, making it a recurring and central motif in his work. Cocteau's most notable adaptations include a 1926 play and a trio of films: The Blood of a Poet - 1930 - Orpheus - 1950 - and The Testament of Orpheus - 1960. In Cocteau's Orphic productions, the mirror emerges as a pivotal element, symbolizing the boundary between life and death. One of the most famous scenes from Cocteau’s films shows his lover, Jean Marais, portraying Orpheus as he walks through a mirror, now transformed into a liquid portal leading to the underworld. 
Jean Cocteau - Orpheus - film still
Jean Marais traveling through the mirror to the underworld - 1950

Jean Cocteau - The Testament of Orpheus - poster - 1959

Jean Cocteau - Orpheus with Beasts - 1926

Jean Cocteau - Oedipus - or - The Crossing of Three Roads - 1951

Despite the widespread presumption of Cocteau’s homosexuality, he was nevertheless forced to play—in these pre-Stonewall years - a public game of in-and-out-of-the-closet. Refusing to hide his romantic partners or dissociate himself from gay friends - almost - ever pretending to an assumed heterosexuality, often alluding in his work to same-sex interest, Cocteau nonetheless refrained from ever “coming out” in the contemporary sense of the term. Nonetheless, it was by means of the visual, in his drawings, that Cocteau most frankly asserted his sexuality.  He also drew directly on physique magazines - the era’s primary, if coded, form of gay pornography that was largely produced in Southern California toward the middle of the century—making doodles of genitalia and pubic hair on their photographs of scantily clothed models.  
Jean Cocteau - Untitled - 1952
Graphite cover of Ardonis - The Art Magazine of the Male

The ambiguity around Cocteau’s sexuality is perhaps best exemplified by Le Livre Blanc - above - which, because of its homoerotic material, he first chose to publish anonymously and without illustrations in 1928. 
Jean Cocteau - The White Book - 1930

Jean Cocteau - Visit Venice - 1956

Cocteau and Guggenheim reunited throughout the years, he drew a caricature of Guggenheim in a letter and a cityscape in her guestbook - above. While in Venice, Cocteau also made a number of drawings showing the city’s gondoliers and some of its famous buildings like San Giorgio Maggiore
Jean Cocteau - Illustrated Letter - Portrait Of Peggy Guggenheim - 1956c

The Big Names Choose Ribet-Desjardins
Advertisement for Televisions with a Photograph of Jean Cocteau - 1959-1960

Copyright - Adagp/Comite Cocteau - Paris - by SIAE 2024 - courtesy PGC

Having often worked with ballet companies, music groups, and film crews, Cocteau was well-versed in artistic collaboration. As he became increasingly invested in popular culture and mass media, this cooperative spirit flourished. Fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli was one such creative partner: the eye-shaped earring he made with her - outfitted with a pearl tear -  is indicative of Cocteau’s own approach to jewelry, many of his later pieces showing humanoid or animal-like forms in Surrealist configurations. 
Jean Cocteau - Academician's Sword for Jean Cocteau - 1955

Copyright - Adagp/Comite Cocteau - Paris - by SIAE 2024 - courtesy PGC

Jean Cocteau - Fear Of Giving Wings to Courage - 1938

Jean Cocteau - The Great God Of Pan - Did I Love a dream? - 1958

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Tuesday, June 04, 2024

New York City - Superhouse - Paa Joe - Celestial City - Exhibition

Photo - Brian Ferry - Courtesy Superhouse

At Superhouse in downtown New York, the exhibition - Celestial City - the exhibition of new sculptures by the international acclaimed Ghanaian artist, Paa Joe.   Throughout a career spanning six decades, Paa Joe has explored Ghanaian beliefs on life and death. His carved wooden coffins, known as abeduu adeka, or proverb boxes, take the form of an object intended to glorify the deceased. Over the past 15 years, Paa Joe has transformed the folk craft tradition into Pop art, creating idiosyncratic renditions of daily objects for the global art market. For his debut solo show in New York, the artist chose to pay homage to the city itself creating a portrait of the Big Apple through objects emblematic of the five boroughs, which included two human sized coffins.
Paa Joe - Installation View  

Superhouse, the New York gallery founded and directed by Stephen Markos, specializes in contemporary and historical art, furniture and design. It stages exhibitions exploring material, technology, function, and narrative, featuring artists from Africa, the Americas, and Europe.
Stephen Markos

Paa Joe - Heinz - coffin - 2024

Paa Joe - container/box - 2024

Photos - Brian Ferry - Courtesy Superhouse

Paa Joe, is a member of the Ga community in Accra, Ghana, he was apprenticed with his uncle Kane Kwei, who pioneered figurative coffins in the 1950s. These bespoke coffins symbolize the deceased's identity, like an onion for a farmer or a sardine for a fisherman. After apprenticing from 1960 to 1972, Paa Joe established his own studio, Paa Joe Coffin Works.
Paa Joe - Yellow Cab - coffin - 2024

On show besides the two human sized coffins, scaled down works, providing a glimpse into the diversity of the urban New York. Replicas of Frank Lloyd Wrights's Guggenheim Museum and a Hermes Birkin bag - above - representing the prominent art and fashion industries. It also features exaggerated versions of a bagel, the Statue of Liberty, and a hotdog, symbolizing New York's migrate history, and the city's grittier side with an overflowing trash can and a subway rat.
Paa Joe - Birkin - container/box - 2024

Photo - Brian Ferry - Courtesy Superhouse

Paa Joe - Big Apple - 2024

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