DAILY PIC: I’m a big fan of taking quilts seriously, as art. The only problem is that I almost never see a new quilt that seems worthy of being so taken. One exception comes from the New York designer Chris Rucker, who has made a series of quilts from old moving blankets. (He is also known for the furniture he has cut from junk lumber.) Like the famous Gee’s Bend quilts assembled out of old work clothes, Rucker’s textiles keep a compelling link to their origins. And I love the idea of an artwork that can protect itself.
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DAILY PIC: One of the most exciting trends in art today is the breakdown, at very long last, between established media and categories – between fine art and photography and craft, for instance. In an exhibition now at Show Room gallery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the New Yorker James Hyde, best known as a painter, has merged acrylics, ceramics and photography, all combined in single objects. It’s surprising how such a simple move – on view here in a piece called “On Over” – can still leave viewers usefully adrift. It’s as though we need to find new eyes for taking in Hyde’s painteramicography.
DAILY PIC: The problem with staring at an old chestnut like “The Scream” – since last night, the auction world’s record holder – is that it takes too much work to think or feel anything fresh. (I wrote about my final encounter with the Munch in today’s Daily Beast.) That’s why, at the same Sotheby’s preview where “The Scream” was on view, I got way more pleasure from doping out this utterly obscure abstraction painted in 1914 by the absolutely unknown Belgian futurist named Jules Schmalzigaug. He seems to have been in almost on the ground floor of modernism, but somehow he fell through its cracks. Schmalzigaug committed suicide in 1917, when he was only 34, but instead of that tabloid death launching him to fame, it cast him into oblivion. One more thing: Schmalzigaug’s piece is on sale in today’s afternoon sale, with a high estimate of only $350,000, so there’s still a chance to nab it before his stock rises. (And I’m not even asking for a cut.)
Daily Pic: There’s at least one thing in common between Edward Weston, the great modernist photographer, and Walt Whitman, the proto-modernist Romantic poet: They both can feel a bit overripe. In 1941, however, when Weston was asked to illustrate Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” it brought out the best in both. Westman’s images, more four-square than usual, feel as committed to the American scenes they show as to how they look as photos; the poems also seem to care about those scenes, now that America’s set plain before our eyes, and seem less caught up in the words used to describe them. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts is soon to launch a show of the Weston/Whitman project’s images and outtakes, and I’ve compiled a selection of them at TheDailyBeast.com. (Photo courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)