Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Very Long Shortcut

     I have loved and been moved by this painting and the Marcel Duchamp pun that is the basis for its title ever since EVER SINCE.   

    (That expression sounds vaguely Bob Marley-esque to me and I'm pleased to employ it on New Year's Day.  Miss you a lot, Bob.)  

    Simple-seeming, almost crude, M’Amenez-Y (the painting) conveys to me concentrated mystery, charm, mirth and some romance.  (If you know me, you’ll recognize that I score higher on the “mystery sensitivity scale” than on any of the others, where I’m basically clueless.)  

    Francis Picabia’s painting is quietly lively, unforced, unpretentious and, in an untraditional way (like other Picabia works), highly original and masterful.  

   I think it would have been great to have met and known Francis Picabia.  If you like this, as I hope you do, possibly you'll like THIS also.  

    In 2012, I will try to complain less and I hope I will have less to complain about.  Happy New Year!

Francis Picabia, M'Amenez-Y, 1919-20, Museum of Modern Art, New York


  1. I have a very limited knowledge of art (fine and otherwise), so I felt compelled to do some background reading about this painting since it is so complex (at least to me). I have appreciated your wide-ranging knowledge and interests - ACRAVAN has piqued my curiosity and has opened many new doors these past few months.

    Yesterday, I started reading Joan Didion's Blue Nights, and couldn't get very far because it was such a downer. One passage did strike me, though. She writes that she had considered "happiness and health and love and luck.... as 'ordinary blessings'", before she realized how extraordinary they are. Hopefully, the New Year will bring all of these things to you and Caroline and Jane. Happy New Year! Nell

  2. Thanks so much and happy New Year to you and your husband. We're here in Tuxedo Park nursing a dog with a cold and trying to anticipate great and productive things. M'Amenezy-y is, as you've discovered, one of Picabia's Dada-period works. He's a fascinating artist and person, highly imaginative and energetic, who really captures your attention. The painting is usually on view at MOMA. It's terrific. For a number of reasons, the 20th century seems a lot more vital to me than the 21st century so far. (Oh -- by the way, I was an art history major, so this is sort of the lens through which I view the world.) Heading to a New Year's Day party in Scarsdale later. All these many years, I have never, ever been to Scarsdale. Curtis

  3. Nell, one more thing. Recently, I saw Joan Didion on television. I think she was discussing a new project. Obviously, a highly intelligent woman, she downcast quality clearly conflicted with the chirpiness the broadcasters were looking for and the interview seemed to end prematurely on a highly unresolved, unsatisfactory note. I didn't blame Ms. Didion. Her answers were direct and articulate. She may even be (or have been) the life of some parties. But not this one. Curtis

  4. Hey Rachel -- Welcome Home! Happy New Year!

    Love to you and your family from

    Curtis, Caroline and Jane

  5. Didion certainly doesn't strike me as the chirpy type, particularly as of late, so I'm not surprised that there was noticeable dissonance during that TV interview.

    As for the 20th century, it had its downs and ups for me. Barry and I are about to turn 61 (yikes) in a couple of weeks, and like Nellie in South Pacific, I remain a cockeyed optimist. I have no idea why.

    By now, you have been to Scarsdale (unlke me), and I hope you enjoyed yourselves at the party!

  6. Yes, we're home. Lovely party, but it turned out to be in Mamaroneck! Westchester is still largely unknown to me, and that's ok. The Didion interview was really odd, but interesting, as it always is on live tv when things go wrong. My own New Year's take on South Pacific is more tied to the hope that of being able to wash certain bad influences "out of my hair" and consigning useless entanglements with the past to the past. Tomorrow (a national holiday) is the first day of the rest of my life (or something like that). Curtis

  7. Mamaroneck! Another town I haven't been to. The name must be of Native American origin. Many of the towns in Viginia have names of English or Scottish derivation: Dumfries, Burke, Lorton, Fairfax. However, Manassas is just a few miles away. There are a lot of Civil War enthusiasts around here. But I ramble. I've had a pleasant week. Barry has been working from home, which is unusual for him, and I'm loving having two cats!

    By the way, Happy First Day of the Rest of Your Life! Also, I've never thought complaining is a bad thing, but I do hope you'll have less to complain about moving forward.

  8. & now I know where your high-school yearbook quote came from ;-)
    Have a Wonderful New Life (or New Wonderful Life?)
    Here's to the best 2012 ever!

  9. Hi Jon. You too. We've been thinking of you. Need to catch up. Yes, it's been following me around (or vice versa) for a long time. Curtis