Magnificent Splendor

Art and friends. Is there a better formula for lovely times? I think not. Works splendidly for me, since art and friends are two major components of my life. Last Saturday was an occasion of loveliness. Lunch at the Met with my mom, and our friends Damian, Kathi, and Susan. Fabulous day, delightful conversation, and a post-lunch stroll through the museum galleries to top off a perfect afternoon.

At Kathi’s encouragement, we went to the the Charles Engelhard Court to view a work of art that inspires her. It was Harriet Whitney Frishmuth’s sculpture, “The Vine”, and boy was it worth it. Good call, Kathi! This 1924 bronze piece dances, bends, and undulates in the center of the gallery, a spectacular marriage of artistic grace and athleticism. Flaunting the mother of all backbends, the Vine sculpture commands that room. Feminism at its finest ūüėČ Here she is, the gorgeous star of the museum’s American WIng:

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I copied the text description because it was an excellent read and provides a brief history of sculptor/dancer collaboration in the 20th century:

In the early twentieth century, sculptures of dancing women were produced in great numbers, inspired in part by the popularity of Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller, and Anna Pavlova. Frishmuth often turned to dancers for her sculptural themes and employed them to pose for her with musical accompaniment. Shown stretching upward and outward in imitation of a living vine, this lyrical nude balances on tiptoe in the ecstasy of performance, a grapevine suspended in her hands. The first version of the work, a statuette eleven and a quarter inches high, was enormously popular, cast in an edition of 396. In 1923, Frishmuth enlarged the sculpture to monumental scale, using Desha Delteil of the Fokine Ballet as her model.

The Vine girl from the other side:

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Desha Delteil was an amazing dancer and model, famous for her work with Frishmuth and her ability to hold unbelievably challenging poses. But I had to break away to offer humble reverence to the great, GREAT muse just a few feet away. The one and only, New York’s own Audrey Munson, hanging on the wall, carved into the Melvin Memorial. Rock on, Audrey:

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Still in the American Wing, more dazzling splendor, in the form of glass mosaic by Louis Comfort Tiffany. I took three pictures of this display, left side, center, right side:

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The Metropolitan Museum ensures that you are surrounded with beauty at every moment. That includes the lobby, where fresh flower arrangements are displayed every day to greet you when you enter and bid you farewell when you leave. We had sunflowers on Saturday! Somewhere in heaven, Vincent Van Gogh was smiling:

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13 thoughts on “Magnificent Splendor

  1. fredh1 says:

    Frishmuth and Delteil deserve to be better known!

    Check out this collection of photographs of Desha Delteil. The ones in the middle are the pose of “The Vine”:

    http://www.geh.org/ar/celeb/desha_sld00001.html

    • artmodel says:

      Fred,

      I agree. As an American woman sculptor, Frishmuth especially deserves to be better known.

      Thanks for the photo gallery of Desha. Great pictures. As an art model I am envious!

      Claudia

  2. Stephanie says:

    Claude, you’re killing me. How I wish I could have been there with you!

    Love,
    Steph

    • artmodel says:

      Stephie!!!!! I’m always making you feel bad ūüė• , pulling your native New Yorker heartstrings.

      I wish you could have been there with me too, friend. You and I spending a day at the Met together would be a fun, fabulous time.

      Love you and miss you . . .

      Claudia

  3. Jeff says:

    Claudia –

    Thanks so much for posting this! I’m ashamed to say that I’d never heard of Harriet Whitney Frishmuth before. That is a beautiful piece, and I must now find out more about this artist.

    Jeff

    • artmodel says:

      You’re welcome Jeff! She’s a beauty, isn’t she? The pictures may look good, but they can’t compare to seeing this sculpture in person.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Claudia

      • Jeff says:

        Yes, it is a beautiful sculpture, and I’m all the more saddened by the fact that I was at the Met just a few weeks ago, and don’t recall seeing it, though I know I made it to the American wing.

        Even more frustrating, my wife and oldest daughter are on their way to NYC right now and are going to the met.

        I’m amazed that Harriet Whitney Frishmush isn’t better known. Her works is beautiful. Sadly, to find photographs of most of her works, the only source I found were art auction sites.

  4. “Art and friends. Is there a better formula for lovely times?” Hum, I seem to be in a pensive mood today. Having left the city 40 years ago, I’d add nature to art & friends. On the other hand.. maybe art friends and the whole world? On another other hand, maybe just open eyes and open heart the really best formula for lovely times??

    • artmodel says:

      Jim,

      I like your pensive stream of thought. And I am definitely with you in the addition of nature to the mix. Whatever formula we use for lovely times, an “open heart” is absolutely key. Well said.

      Claudia

  5. Dave Rudin says:

    The Engelhard courtyard is, indeed, a beautiful place with many fine sculptures. Don’t forget the centerpiece by Gus St. Gaudens, either.

    As far as backbends go, “The Vine” has a very good one, but it can’t compare to what Shizuka Arakawa did when she won her gold medal in figure skating at the Olympics in Torino, doing her Ina Bauer move! (You can see some example here: http://media3.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/photo/2006/02/23/PH2006022301559.jpg and http://farm1.static.flickr.com/188/471206397_748ad8d225.jpg )

  6. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for sharing your lovely afternoon ūüôā (Have been on holiday and am just catching up with your blog. ) Hope you’re a bit cooler now! We’re still waiting for the summer over here in the UK – actually, I think summer must have been the one hot week we had in June …

  7. swatch says:

    That vine sculpture is beautiful – breathtaking – thank you for your caring photography and journaling.

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