Blog Archives

A great loss to my memories of Children’s Theatre in NYC – Remy Charlip dies at 83…

 

Abraham Remy Charlip  was an American artist, writer, choreographer, theatre director, designer and teacher.

In the 1960s Charlip created a unique form of choreography, which he called “air mail dances”. He would send a set of drawings to a dance company, and the dancers would then order the positions and create transitions and context.

He performed with John Cage, he was a founder member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for which he also designed sets and costumes, he directed plays for the Judson Poet’s Theater.

I remember him most as a co founder of the Paper Bag Players, one of the most important children’s theatres in the world.  He served as head of the Children’s Theater and Literature Department at Sarah Lawrence College,  was a winner of two Village Voice Obie Awards, three New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year citations, and was awarded a six-month residency in Kyoto from the Japan/U.S. Commission on the Arts. He wrote and/or illustrated 29 children’s books.

Charlip was the model for illustrations of Georges Méliès in the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret ( if you saw the wonderful movie “Hugo” you know this story), written and illustrated by Brian Selznick.

Great artist. Great loss. Fortunately he left so much behind.

 

The 163d Birthday of the greatest Trompe L’Oeil Painter…

William Michael Harnett,  1848 – 1892

The Old Cupboard Door

The Trompe L’Oeil (“fool the eye”) Movement  of the late 19th Century produced some of the most amazing paintings in a style so realistic that the images looked like three dimensional objects waiting to be plucked off walls. Of all the painters in this movement, William Michael Harnett, whose 163d birthday is today, was undoubtedly the most accomplished.

As a boy, I first saw one of Harnett’s paintings in the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Connecticut – The Faithful Colt (the Colt Firearms Company was in Hartford) , painted in 1890:

The Faithful Colt

From Wikipedia:

Harnett was born in Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland during the time of the potato famine. Shortly after his birth his family emigrated to America, settling in Philadelphia. Becoming a United States citizen in 1868, he made a living as a young man by engraving designs on table silver, while also taking night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and later, in New York, at Cooper Union and at the National Academy of Design. His first known oil painting, a still life, dates from 1874.

Another museum with a great Trompe LO’eil collection, including Harnett, was near my Connecticut home… the New Britain Museum. This is in its collection:

Still Life with Violin, 1886

So a Happy Birthday remembrance for William Michael Harnett, one of my earliest “favorite artists.”

A statement to remember from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

Mayor Bloomberg and his niece, Rachel Tiven

Speaking in support of gay marriage, Mayor Bloomberg uttered a 4 word phrase that I think should be spread on T-shirts and tattoos everywhere:

“Near-equality is no equality.”

Speaking at The Cooper Union, Bloomberg added:

“We are the freest city in the freest country in the world — but freedom is not frozen in time… I see the pain that the status quo is causing, and I cannot defend it”

Bloomberg was presented to the audience by his niece, Rachel Tiven, who is gay.