Exquisite Brevity

January 3rd, 2012

Entry to the Stieglitz exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.
~Thomas Jefferson

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is a haven for me.
Restorative, informative, inspirational, reassuring. An afternoon spent there last week provided all of the above. Plus a bit of serendipitous surprise.

The exhibit was Alfred Stieglitz’s private collection. For those who don’t know Stieglitz was a renowned photographer, Georgia O’Keeffe’s husband and the first gallerist to bring modern European art into America.

This was sure to be a winner of a show, chock full of familiar friends. The surprise was

Marius de Zayas charicature of Stieglitz

Marius de Zayas.

I spend so much time painstakingly and laboriously working on detail of light and shadow in my work. Marius de Zayas eliminates exactly that, abstracting form into an elegant essence. The brevity of line and shape that he uses would have astonished Jefferson. The elegance astonished me. An entire room full of his work was refreshing and fascinating.

I would love to have seen his show at Stieglitz’s gallery 291 of more than 100 cut out caricatures of New York’s elite.

Born in Mexico in 1880, de Zayas was a  expatriate, living in NYC in the early 20th century. He came from a privileged background, and fled to NY as a political exile.

Picabia, by Marius de Zayas. A few simple lines speak volumes. The portrait is so simple, yet complete.

He and his brother George began their careers as caricaturists for their father’s newspaper in Veracruz.

Stieglitz’s collector’s eye chose the best. The essence of form is distilled to a minimum with a nearly Zen concentration. There’s just enough value and line to tell us everything we need to know.

I love detail, texture and the nitty gritty of the natural world, but I’ll be looking at it a bit differently for the time being.

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