Hedda Gabler, National Theatre (Lyttelton), London — ‘Precise’

With each other at final: Henrik Ibsen and Joni Mitchell. Ivo van Hove’s production of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler for the National Theatre contains several excerpts of Mitchell’s “Blue” (as well as Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” and Nina Simone’s of “Wild Is the Wind”) to emphasise the concentrate on relationships rather than person personalities. This is not a production about Hedda’s character, her impulses and flaws, but about her interaction with absolutely everyone else.

Ruth Wilson’s Hedda is not the familiar fiery, uncontrollable figure of arrogance on the contrary, she spends a lot of the time buttoned up. 1 can see the bitterness and discontent, but also a sense of circumscription and confinement which is practically a organic procedure. Patrick Marber’s precise, deliberate version has her describe her marriage to the uninteresting Tesman as a result: “I required to settle [down] I settled for him.” Kyle Soller’s Tesman, too, is far from the usual tweedy nerd he’s basically fundamentally insufficient for Hedda. And as for Judge Brack — generally portrayed as a middle-aged sexual opportunist who takes an chance also many — right here Rafe Spall is an precise modern of the Tesmans, and is moreover sinister and repeatedly physically abusive. In van Hove’s vision, it is not Hedda’s more than-involvement with her old flame Eilert Lovborg (the underrated Chukwudi Iwuji) that propels her downfall, but Brack’s uncaring predations.

Jan Versweyfeld’s set is his characteristic blend of minimalism and detail: a stark loft-style apartment with practically no furniture, save an upright piano to link with the Mitchell song’s arrangement and occasional discrete notes heard at other occasions. But it does include several buckets of flowers for the newly returned Tesman, flowers which Hedda later flings around the stage and even staples to the walls. There are no doors characters enter and exit by way of the fourth wall. Crucially, this indicates that at the close of the play Hedda cannot viably retreat offstage for her final breakdown and suicide, and so it happens onstage virtually in a blind spot between the other characters’ gazes.

Van Hove may overdo the Brack-is-to-blame point of view, but his stripped-down method, with a baseline of near-screen naturalism until certain intensity is required, performs beautifully at reinvigorating Ibsen.

To March 21, nationaltheatre.org.uk

Section: Arts


Peter Pan, National Theatre, London — overview

From left, Paul Hilton, Madeleine Worrall and Marc Antolin in ‘Peter Pan’ © Steve Tanner

With its pirates, fairies, fights and flights, it is small wonder that Peter Pan remains a staple of the festive season. But at its heart is also a deep poignancy: there is wistfulness in the truth it considers that all youngsters should grow up and grow old — and a reminder that the alternative is far sadder. A recent staging at London’s Open Air Theatre brought that sadness to the fore by setting the story against the 1st planet war.

Sally Cookson’s rich, nuanced production doesn’t go that far, but it brings out that bittersweet tone and is streaked with nostalgia. In Neverland the lost boys live in a pre-digital globe, exactly where tin cans are pressed into service as telephones, a bicycle pump becomes a walkie-talkie and a skateboard turns into a boat.

And, as the production bowls through the story, the performances deftly bring out the psychological layers in the story. Paul Hilton’s Peter is a gangly, wild, man-boy in a tight green suit that fitted him when — both fascinating and slightly sad. Madeleine Worrall’s Wendy is a wonderful blend of common sense and girlish excitement — in her we see the lady inside the girl, just as in her father (Felix Hayes) we see the boy inside the man. The staging is complete of such ironies: reminding us, for instance, that when kids play, they usually play at getting adults (soldiers, pirates, nurses), and that adults are usually far more childish than their juniors. Meanwhile the doubling of Anna Francolini as both the loving Mrs Darling and a sinister female Hook adds to the questions about conformity, maturity and ageing.

It is also masses of fun. Cookson reaffirms the connection amongst play and a play: the large Olivier stage right here is turned into a giant adventure playground, a celebration of the ingenuity of invention and the joy of storytelling. There can be few who don’t shiver at the method of the crocodile, composed as he is of bits of corrugated iron and a saw for a tail. There can be few too who do not really feel a pang of envy as Peter and Wendy soar and swoop over the stage. And when, finally, the audience is necessary, it is so keen to play along that the clapping to revive Saikat Ahamed’s grumpy little Tinkerbell begins extended prior to Peter has even asked for support.

To February four, nationaltheatre.org.uk

Section: Arts


Jackie Wullschlager on Picasso at London’s National Portrait Gallery

Representation and transformation, or power and sex? Picasso, over seven decades, turned those close to him into a pyramid of broken angles (his girlfriend Fernande Olivier), a puzzle of cubist forms (his dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), arabesques of ripe, bulging shapes promising pneumatic bliss (Marie-Thérèse Walter, an additional lover), a Maori carving studded with nails and scars (his three-year-old daughter Paloma), a Sphinx folded into sheet metal (his wife Jacqueline Roque).

These are amongst scores of nevertheless astonishing metamorphoses of the human kind starring in the National Portrait Gallery’s Picasso Portraits. Portraiture was central to Picasso’s concerns, so this lively, engrossing show is inevitably a retrospective in miniature. It is also psychodrama. For the artist who acknowledged that “every act of creation is initial an act of destruction” juggled types, disconnected and rearranged characteristics, with a prodigality that opened up undreamt of possibilities for 20th-century painting, in techniques that had been necessarily ruthless — formally, aesthetically, emotionally.

You see the cruelty, as properly as the comic impulse, at after in the initial salvo of post-Impressionist portraits produced on a go to to Paris in 1901, when Picasso was not but 20. Brushed in broad gestural strokes the much better to highlight a grotesque countenance, “Bibi la Purée” depicts in jarring colours a pathetically grinning elderly Montmartre tramp. As biting is the large-scale portrait of jowly middle-aged writer Gustave Coquiot with lascivious expression and twirling moustache, black eyes boring into a frieze of writhing nudes in harsh electric light, which we see as a mirror reflection behind him.

A virtuoso composition about searching and voyeurism, this was a thank you for a flattering review, and drew on the myriad giants — Degas, Pissarro, Toulouse-Lautrec — who were still living presences in the fin-de-siècle French capital. The NPG stages an impressive laboratory of experiments to show Picasso exhilaratingly playing out such influences. The melancholy “Fernande with a Black Mantilla” co-opts both symbolism and a Spanish identity for his Montmartre girlfriend. The blue period “Sebastian Junyer i Vidal” exaggerates the bulbous forehead and shocked mien of Picasso’s friend and positions him alongside a scrawny prostitute — replacing a dog — to evoke Degas’s alienated genre image “L’Absinthe”.

‘Woman in a Hat (Olga) (1935) © Succession Picasso/DACS

In 1906 the Picasso we recognise breaks by way of: Philadelphia’s spare, raw “Self-portrait” constructed in enormous, blocky types reminiscent of Cézanne — who had just died — but going further in simplification and flattening. The clenched fist declares strength, the face like a carved ancient Iberian mask with its stylised eyes and hypnotic gaze implies a magical connection with the premodern art that would be foundational to cubism. The illusions of classic representation are gone.

The work’s immediate, figuring out precedent was the monumental portrait of Gertrude Stein — the NPG’s most important omission — on which Picasso laboured from 1905-06, placing a comparable mask head on a realistically delineated body. “Everybody says that she does not look like it but that does not make any difference, she will,” stated Picasso, and so she did. Picasso understood currently “there are so many realities that in attempting to encompass them all one ends in darkness. That is why, when one particular paints a portrait, one particular should stop somewhere, in a sort of caricature.”

‘Maya in a Sailor Suit’ (1938) © Succession Picasso/DACS

The cartoonist’s power is everywhere here, running through whiplash drawings — preening Cocteau as a cuboid dandy former acrobat Nusch Eluard with claw-like hands, lithe as a cat Picasso himself at 90 decreased to a staring skull — to the quixotic redeploying of idioms from his own and Old Master paintings with which Picasso primarily sustained the figurative endeavour.

The NPG unpicks the legend that Picasso changed his style each and every time he changed his woman, emphasising rather a protean restlessness of manner. His very first wife, icy Ukrainian ballerina Olga Khokhlova, starts as a remote neoclassical beauty: the statuesque, naturalistic “Portrait of Olga Picasso”, whose restrained chromatic harmonies and delicate brushwork surprised absolutely everyone and won the Carnegie Prize. As the marriage unravels, she becomes a post-cubist joke in “Woman in a Hat (Olga)”: ashen and toxic green geometric segments, holes for eyes, mouth a turned-down black slit, all created more piteous by a jaunty purple hat.

‘Portrait of Olga Picasso’ (1923) © Succession Picasso/DACS

This was painted in 1935, following the birth to Marie-Thérèse Walter of Picasso’s daughter. The marvellous “Maya in a Sailor Suit”, crudely painted in a pastiche of children’s art, areas the shrieking toddler astride a log with a butterfly net, a cap signed by her father and a vagina-shaped knot amongst her legs, and offers a moment of light relief in the principal gallery dominated by a battle of the muses.

Walter and her successor Dora Maar came to physical blows in Picasso’s studio, and they tough it out here, as well. Blonde, supple, submissive Marie-Thérèse is transformed into bright, eroticised patterns — Picasso’s answer to Matisse’s odalisques — in works such as “Woman in a Yellow Armchair”, but looks perpetually sad (“I usually cried with Picasso,” she said.) By contrast Dora, tense, tough, intelligent, is depicted in broken planes and austere wartime colours harking back to Picasso’s Blue Period. “They’re all Picassos, not a single is Dora Maar,” she complained. But Picasso certainly chose her for her prospective to become the “Weeping Woman” of the second globe war.

‘Gustave Coquiot’ (1933) © Succession Picasso/DACS

In “Woman in a Hat” Maar’s face is a spiral of violent corkscrew twists and her torso is fused with a wooden chair suggestive of an instrument of torture. The sinister motif is reprised in MoMA’s “Woman by a Window” (1956), portraying Jacqueline in abbreviated linear type melded to her favourite rocking chair whose curves rhyme with the art nouveau architecture of Picasso’ s Villa La Californie. Regal, rigid, vigilant, her huge eye scanning studio, garden, viewer, Jacqueline is a postwar neurotic, a monarch-mistress surveying her domain, an archaic goddess.

Enthroned by Picasso, Jacqueline colluded magnificently with her art-historical manipulations: she becomes a harem figure right after Delacroix, a version of Manet’s “Lola de Valence” and, in rippling contours and elongated kind paying homage to El Greco, Picasso’s future widow, wreathed in funereal garb in “Jacqueline in a Black Scarf”. This was painted when she was 27 and had just moved in with Picasso. As his actual widow 30 years later, Jacqueline shot herself. Walter also committed suicide after Picasso’s death, even though Maar, following a breakdown, became a religious recluse with the explanation “After Picasso, only God”.

Even though neither definitive nor supplying new insights, this show is a extremely great recapitulation of how Picasso as a god of forms vitalised portraiture right after photography, unpacking the expressive potential of cubist fragmentation via miracles of deformation to proclaim that painterly distortion is truth.

National Portrait Gallery, London, to February 5 npg.org.uk Museu Picasso, Barcelona, March 16 -June 25 2017

Photographs: Succession Picasso/DACS

Section: Arts


Family members Heirloom, National Treasure: Uncommon Images Show Black Civil War Soldiers

  • A yellowish brown photograph of Sgt. Hiram White. Sgt. White is wearing a buttoned-up jacket and a kepi in the portrait. He is leaning to his right and his kepi is on the left side of his head. His name is inscribed below the photograph on the same page.
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    A yellowish brown photograph of Sgt. Hiram White. Sgt. White is wearing a buttoned-up jacket and a kepi in the portrait. He is leaning to his appropriate and his kepi is on the left side of his head. His name is inscribed beneath the photograph on the exact same web page.

    Earlier Subsequent

    Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Present of Aneita Gates, on behalf of her son, Kameron Gates, and all the Descendants of Captain William A. Prickitt
  • A yellowish brown photograph of Sgt. Isaiah White. He is wearing a buttoned-up jacket with epaulets on the shoulders and a kepi. A bugle insignia is on the front of his kepi. His shoulders are straight and he is directly facing the camera. His kepi is on the left side of his head. His name is inscribed below the photograph on the same page.
    Hide caption

    A yellowish brown photograph of Sgt. Isaiah White. He is wearing a buttoned-up jacket with epaulets on the shoulders and a kepi. A bugle insignia is on the front of his kepi. His shoulders are straight and he is straight facing the camera. His kepi is on the left side of his head. His name is inscribed under the photograph on the exact same web page.

    Earlier Subsequent

    Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Present of Aneita Gates, on behalf of her son, Kameron Gates, and all the Descendants of Captain William A. Prickitt
  • A black-and-white photograph of John Walls. He is wearing a buttoned-up jacket with epaulets on the shoulders and a kepi. His kepi is on the right side of his head. He has a shoulder strap on his left side. His name is inscribed below the photograph on the same page.
    Hide caption

    A black-and-white photograph of John Walls. He is wearing a buttoned-up jacket with epaulets on the shoulders and a kepi. His kepi is on the correct side of his head. He has a shoulder strap on his left side. His name is inscribed below the photograph on the very same web page.

    Previous Next

    Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Aneita Gates, on behalf of her son, Kameron Gates, and all the Descendants of Captain William A. Prickitt
  • A black-and-white photograph of James Tall. He is wearing a buttoned-up jacket with epaulets on the shoulders and a kepi. He is holding a rifle and his left hand is visible in the picture. He is leaning slightly to the right side of the picture.
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    A black-and-white photograph of James Tall. He is wearing a buttoned-up jacket with epaulets on the shoulders and a kepi. He is holding a rifle and his left hand is visible in the image. He is leaning slightly to the right side of the picture.

    Preceding Subsequent

    Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Present of Aneita Gates, on behalf of her son, Kameron Gates, and all the Descendants of Captain William A. Prickitt
  • A black-and-white photograph of George H. Mitchell. He is wearing a buttoned-up jacket with epaulets on the shoulders and a kepi. He is also wearing a shoulder strap on his left side. A rifle rests against his left shoulder. He is leaning slightly to the right side of the picture. His name is inscribed below the photograph on the same page.
    Hide caption

    A black-and-white photograph of George H. Mitchell. He is wearing a buttoned-up jacket with epaulets on the shoulders and a kepi. He is also wearing a shoulder strap on his left side. A rifle rests against his left shoulder. He is leaning slightly to the right side of the picture. His name is inscribed below the photograph on the same web page.

    Earlier Subsequent

    Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Aneita Gates, on behalf of her son, Kameron Gates, and all the Descendants of Captain William A. Prickitt
  • A black-and-white photograph of William H. Morris. He is wearing a buttoned-up jacket with epaulets on the shoulders and a kepi. His kepi has a leather chin strap resting on the brim and is on the right side of his head. His name is inscribed below the photograph on the same page.
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    A black-and-white photograph of William H. Morris. He is wearing a buttoned-up jacket with epaulets on the shoulders and a kepi. His kepi has a leather chin strap resting on the brim and is on the correct side of his head. His name is inscribed below the photograph on the exact same web page.

    Prior Next

    Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Aneita Gates, on behalf of her son, Kameron Gates, and all the Descendants of Captain William A. Prickitt

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Every single of the pictures in Capt. William A. Prickitt’s album could match in a locket: headshots of 17 black soldiers who served beneath the Union Army officer in the course of the Civil War, most of their names handwritten on the mat surrounding the photos.

At just two inches tall, the square, leather-bound album itself could be simply misplaced amongst the much more than 35,000 artifacts it will join at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens this week in Washington, D.C.

Its size belies its historical significance: It really is a uncommon instance of original photographs of African-American soldiers whose identity is documented.

“That is quite rare,” says Michele Gates Moresi, a curator at the museum. “And to have a group from the very same regiment with that information. There are photos of African-American soldiers with their troops that are accessible. Some of them are panoramic. We have a couple in our collection, but you don’t always know who’s who.”

The pocket-sized photo album of Capt. William A. Prickitt includes 4 albumen prints and 14 tintypes of 17 African-American Union soldiers from the 25th Regiment, United States Colored Troops (USCT), Company G. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Aneita Gates, on behalf of her son, Kameron Gates, and all the Descendants of Captain William A. Prickitt hide caption

toggle caption Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Present of Aneita Gates, on behalf of her son, Kameron Gates, and all the Descendants of Captain William A. Prickitt

The photo album stayed in the Prickitt loved ones for generations — it was passed down to the youngest child in the loved ones. Prickitt’s great-grandaughter Aneita Atwood Gates says she heard the stories about the captain — that he was born in 1839 in New Jersey and was a teacher just before he joined the army and ultimately came to serve as a captain in the Union Army’s newly formed U.S. Colored Troops.

By most estimates, about 200,000 black soldiers served in the Union Army. All of the commanders of the U.S. Colored Troops, or USCT, have been white.

Gates hardly ever saw the album while increasing up, but it ultimately was passed down to her. When she started taking care of it, she kept it tucked away in a box on a laundry space shelf.

Gates says she and other loved ones members were stunned when a military magazine published a story about it and they discovered the significance of their miniature family members heirloom.

“We just assumed that there have been other of these albums out there. Up to then, it was just this great little treasure we had,” she recalls. “But then it was like, oh my gosh, I’ve got a responsibility, a key duty.”

Gates says there was great cause why her great-grandfather wanted the pictures of the black soldiers in his firm. In 1864, Prickitt and his troops were sent to defend two forts in Florida. There, he became really ill with dysentery — the camps were unsanitary — and some of the soldiers took care of him.

“The guys saved my fantastic-grandfather’s life,” Gates says.

Gates says she and other descendants are content that the soldiers saved her great-grandfather — who was in his 20s, unmarried and childless at the time. But that they do not know a lot beyond that.

“It is like the biblical stories,” the 72-year-old Gates says. “They don’t have time to go via all of the specifics, they just give you the essence.”

Aneita Atwood Gates looks through an album of her great-grandmother’s side of the household, which includes a image of her excellent-grandfather William A. Prickitt, noticed right here. Cheryl Corley/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cheryl Corley/NPR

Gates, who lives in Petersburg, Ill., says her loved ones was torn at initial about donating the Prickitt album to the Smithsonian. They feared it would be lost in a museum so huge, and another museum closer to property wanted it, too. And the family members lastly realized it was valuable to the captain, who carried it in his pocket.

“I know all the men had to think a lot about him, and he of them, or he wouldn’t have had this tiny album of them, with all their pictures, and he would not have meticulously written their names in it, and that is what makes it so particular,” Gates says.

There are 18 pictures in the album, both paper prints and tintypes, of the 17 soldiers who served in Organization G. A single of the soldiers is pictured twice: He carries a gun in one photo, but not in the other. All are in uniform. Some put on hats with the insignia of a bugle — the designation for infantry. The names and ranks of all but one particular soldier accompany the pictures, written presumably by Prickitt.

A friend of the Gates family initial contacted the Smithsonian. Shayne Davidson is an artist and amateur genealogist who has drawn portraits of the soldiers and written a book about them.

Initial, she started researching the Gates family members tree and then dug up details about the black soldiers employing military records and census info. The youngest was about 15 the oldest was almost 50, Davidson discovered.

Some of the guys have been born totally free some have been slaves. Two of the males have been enlisted by their slaveholder. Slaveholders could be paid as much as $ 300 for enlisting men, and the slaves won their freedom, if they survived.

Not only did Davidson find out about the background of the soldiers, she in fact identified some of their descendants, like Vanessa Tall Bryant of Nashville, Tenn.

A photo of James Tall is amongst the images in the Civil War album. He is Bryant’s grandfather — not wonderful-grandfather.

Bryant, who is in her early 50s, says Tall lived a extended life, married three times and had 16 youngsters, fathering some, like her dad, at an elderly age. James Tall was 77 when her father, Sigel, was born in 1922.

When he enlisted during the Civil War, James Tall was really young, Bryant says.

“He was a slave near Murfreesboro, Tenn., and as a teenager he was sent by his slave owner to truly shoe a horse at a neighboring farm,” she says. “Even though he was there, the person that was shoeing the horse talked to him about the Union troops that had been around the area and told him he might want to take that chance to ride out.”

He took the chance and joined the Union Army.

Portraits of George W. Davis (left) and Sgt. Stephen Johnson. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Present of Aneita Gates, on behalf of her son, Kameron Gates, and all the Descendants of Captain William A. Prickitt hide caption

toggle caption Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Present of Aneita Gates, on behalf of her son, Kameron Gates, and all the Descendants of Captain William A. Prickitt

Bryant first heard of Prickitt when her family’s search of military and pension records listed him as one particular of her grandfather’s commanding officers. She discovered out about her grandfather’s photo in the Prickitt album a year following her father — James Tall’s youngest kid — died at age 91.

“I believe he recalled a photo getting on the fireplace on the mantel in his house, a small tintype. When he was a kid, that property burned so that image did not survive,” Bryant says. “So it was a very emotional moment thinking that, wow, you wish your dad could have been here to see it.”

Bryant says she plans to travel to Washington to see the album. Aneita Gates, Prickitt’s excellent-granddaughter, says now everyone will be in a position to see the members of the 25th regiment of the USCT.

“Offers me goose bumps,” Gates says, “to share this small story of an officer and his males.”

Gates says that is what her family members wanted: a national stage for her fantastic-grandfather’s miniature album of black Civil War soldiers.

Arts &amp Life : NPR


Mae Reeves&#039 Hats Hang At National Museum Of African American History And Culture

A visitor views a partial recreation of Mae’s Millinery, a Philadelphia hat shop that after served Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne, at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Ariel Zambelich/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ariel Zambelich/NPR

African-American females have been wearing fancy hats to church for generations. That tradition is getting celebrated at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which officially opens in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24. Vintage turbans, caps and fascinators that span a half-century are on display — all from the shop of 1 lady.

Her name is Mae Reeves.

In 1942, a time when couple of girls have been becoming entrepreneurs, Reeves opened what would grow to be a Philadelphia institution with a $ 500 bank loan. Her hat shop, Mae’s Millinery, helped dress some of the most well-known African-American women in the nation, like iconic singers Marian Anderson, Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne.

Reeves hung her hat above the retailer, raising her household in the very same creating — 1st in downtown Philadelphia and later West Philadelphia.

“You do what you got to do,” she mentioned, reflecting on the early years of operating her enterprise in an interview with the Smithsonian recorded after the museum acquired a collection of her hats. “I had to perform with my household and make a living also. So I did it, and I am quite proud of it.”

Donna Limerick, daughter of Mae Reeves, wears her favorite hat designed by her mother. The original is housed at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, so she wears a replica. Ariel Zambelich/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Downstairs, buyers ranging from white socialites to black domestic workers kept the money drawer ringing. Reeves’ daughter Donna Limerick, a former NPR producer, remembers putting on a black dress and pearls as a teenager to support her mother sell hats created of blue tulle, pink organza and purple feathers.

“In the course of Mother’s Day and Easter, when females would just come one soon after the other, that bell would just ring, ring, ring,” Limerick says.

Reeves’ hat organization aids paint an extraordinary portrait of the Wonderful Migration, according to Paul Gardullo, a curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Mae Reeves and her husband Joel pose with her hats at Mae’s Millinery in Philadelphia, circa 1953. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from Mae Reeves and her children, Donna Limerick and William Mincey, Jr. hide caption

toggle caption Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from Mae Reeves and her children, Donna Limerick and William Mincey, Jr.

“Consider about this: You’re speaking about amidst of a depression, amidst of Jim Crow, a young woman who has moved from the South to the North, and she produced a good results of herself really from nothing at all,” Gardullo says.

And numerous of the females who wore her hats had been attempting to make much more than just a style statement.

“For black females who grew up in the Jim Crow era, as my grandmother and my mother did, hats were a way for them to take ownership more than their style, a way for them to assert that they mattered,” says Tiffany Gill, author of Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry.

A Philadelphia resident, Gill says she nonetheless hears women talking about how they used to save money to purchase a hat from Reeves’ shop. It was a center not just for black fashion but also for civic life on election days.

“My mom would permit them to bring these huge machines into her tiny little hat shop, so individuals in the neighborhood could vote,” Limerick recalls.

Each city, Gill says, once had at least one particular popular, black-owned hat shop where African-American buyers could typically find far better service than at white-owned shops.

“When I see older females who nevertheless wear hats to church on Sunday or bring them out on unique occasions, it really is just a reminder to revere that generation and the ways they asserted dignity when to be black and to be a woman was some thing that brought about ridicule,” Gill says.

(Clockwise from leading left) Ochre-colored rolled brim suede hat with feathers purple tulle cap with pink and purple feathers blue and white hat with blue tulle streamer red feather lamp shade hat. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from Mae Reeves and her children, Donna Limerick and William Mincey, Jr. hide caption

toggle caption Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Present from Mae Reeves and her youngsters, Donna Limerick and William Mincey, Jr.

They’re a generation that Reeves helped dress with pride.

“I like to make them quite,” Reeves explained with a chuckle in her interview with the Smithsonian.

Prompting her mother, Limerick asked, “So several females came to your hat shop and when they left, they sure looked gorgeous, did not they?”

Mae Reeves created this green raffia lamp shade hat with silk and polyester. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Present from Mae Reeves and her children, Donna Limerick and William Mincey, Jr. hide caption

toggle caption Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Present from Mae Reeves and her children, Donna Limerick and William Mincey, Jr.

“Oh yeah,” Reeves answered.

The hat shop closed in 1997 and a handful of years later, Reeves moved into a retirement home.

“When she left, her final words were: ‘Don’t touch something in this hat shop! I am coming back to make a lot more hats,’ ” says Limerick, who later arranged for the shop’s contents to be donated to the Smithsonian.

Reeves is turning 104 in October and can no longer practice what for her was much more than a craft.

“It was a calling for me, one thing that I loved to do, making them colorful,” she told the Smithsonian. “That is why they came from everywhere to get something different.”

The National Museum of African American History and Culture has recreated a portion of Reeves’ shop, total with its original red-neon sign, sewing machine and antique furniture. And she’s arranging to go see her hats again, this time in the nation’s capital.

Arts &amp Life : NPR


The Suicide, National Theatre, London — ‘Some very funny moments’

THE SUICIDE by El-Bushra, , Writer - Suhayla El-Bushra after Erdman, Director - Nadia Fall, Designer - Ben Stones, Lighting Designer - Paule Constable, Video Designer - Andrzej Goulding, Music - Danilo 'DJ' Walde, The National Theatre, London, UK, 2016©Johan Persson

It’s refreshingly various, that’s for certain. The National Theatre requires Nikolai Erdman’s 1928 comedy and refashions it as contemporary satire, in which a single poor sap’s woes become the focal point of a disconsolate, austerity-reduce, hashtag-fixated Britain. It can be entertaining and wise: Suhayla El-Bushra’s script has pith, venom and some very funny moments and Nadia Fall’s staging brings a surreal, jagged, hip-hop style to it, breaking up the action with freeze frames, drum solos and large selfie projections. But it’s also pretty hit-and-miss – it drifts perilously in locations, the style feels uncertain and the cast often struggle to hold the comedy airborne.

Sam Desai (played extremely engagingly by Javone Prince) is in a miserable state: his advantages have been sanctioned, his marriage is turning stale, he lives in a cramped flat with his overworked wife and oversexed mother-in-law. In a moment of despair, he threatens to end it all. That would be the end of it – had some tiny busybody not filmed his howl of pain on a smartphone and flashed it around the globe. Soon Sam has grow to be a lead to célèbre: a host of individuals come smarming by means of his door to persuade him that carrying out himself in would certainly be the ideal thing – for them.

Exactly where the original takes on Stalin’s Russia, El-Bushra brings us a host of modern scourges. There’s the exhausted social worker who wants to use Sam’s demise to protest against cuts to mental wellness solutions, and the would-be councillor who spies a chance to cut them additional. There’s a preening urban poet, a vacuous hipster café owner, a cheating girlfriend and, loudest of all, Patrick: a trustafarian film-maker (Paul Kaye, outrageously vain and funny) who desires to make Sam the symbol of all that is wrong with society. Quickly Sam is getting the time of his life – so lengthy as he promises to finish it at noon.

Behind all the comedy there are of course serious political points: about suicide among young males, about welfare cuts, about a society where even despair can turn into a USP (it’s no accident that the action takes place in the battered Clement Attlee creating and one scene shows Margaret Thatcher busy monetising heaven). There are too a lot of targets and broad caricatures, nonetheless, and the production labours to preserve it all afloat and to sustain the tone. It’s at its greatest on the twitchy solipsism of social media. “I’d strike quickly,” Patrick’s earnest girlfriend (Lizzie Winkler) advises Sam. “Before men and women get bored.”

To June 25, www.nationaltheatre.org.uk

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Goya portraits at the National Gallery

A servant braids the hair of a lovely young lady in a white dressing gown. Her face glows by the light of a single candle on the table exactly where her husband, Infante Don Luis, plays cards — a game of patience, solitario in Spanish. He is 31 years older than her, and simply because she is only the daughter of a cavalry captain, their marriage has cost him his position at court: his brother the king has exiled them to a remote country estate.

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A gaggle of retainers, including a dandy secretary with cheeky grin and dashing headband, watch the card game. Don Luis himself, vacant features a play of vanity and doubt, looks ahead uninterested, yet his detached expression pulls in all spectators as nervy witnesses to his insecurity.

“The Loved ones of the Infante Don Luis” (1783-84), Goya’s very first royal picture, opens the National Gallery’s exceptional exhibition Goya: the Portraits and, like so significantly else about the painter, is a paradox. What requires centre stage is the marginalisation of a prince, as Don Luis the man actions out of the public role assigned him by history. So does Goya: into the composition he has ambitiously inserted himself. He sits before a blank vertical canvas, subverting a straightforward portrait into this horizontal panorama of a hierarchy disintegrating.

A century soon after “Las Meninas” (1656) — Velázquez as model is in no way far more than a breath away all through this show — Goya dethroned monarchs and created immortal the architects, bankers and civil servants of the Enlightenment. He depicted reforming minister of justice Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos with sparkling eyes and mobile mouth but posed right after Dürer’s “Melancolia I” (1514), a troubled intellectual bowed by the cares of workplace. He imbued economist Francisco de Cabarrús, delivering a radical speech in a fur-trimmed lime suit, with the lively, exaggerated gestures of Velázquez’s buffoon Pablo de Valladolid.

However authority competes with disorder: in red silk and pearly waistcoat, the prime minister “Count Floridablanca” (1783) is resplendent as the sun itself, responding to supplicants — such as, wittily, Goya himself — in the shadows. “The Count of Altamira” (1787), a small particular person and director of a liberally inclined bank, adopts a commanding posture as well, sitting at a yellow-draped table — except it is as well high for him, and he appears like a trapped, awkward doll. Never thoughts: he is, exceptionally, reunited right here with “The Countess of Altamira” — mask face, sparkle of pink satin — and their son Manuel, both from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The boy holds by a string a pet magpie, with Goya’s calling card in its beak, attended by two murderous-searching cats.

The show marks the deep shift in influence from kings to citizens, heralding the birth of civil society

Privilege and tension, manage and freedom, flattery checked by honesty, tradition infused with urgency: everywhere, Goya’s ambiguity and infinite nuances mesmerise. How he inaugurated the modern day portrait, where human personalities and interior universes shine via the most stately charades of pomp and energy, is not only one particular of art’s excellent stories but, as the National Gallery unravels in this once-in-a-generation exhibition, also marks tremendous social modify: the gradual shift in influence from kings to citizens heralding the birth of civil society.

There are outstanding loans: ten masterpieces from the Prado, and the last-minute arrival of the stellar pair “Charles IV in Hunting Dress” and “María Luisa wearing a Mantilla” in the gilt wood frames in which they have hung in the Palacio Actual in Madrid because 1799. These allow us to adhere to this sweeping drama amongst a tight band of Spanish aristocrats and intellectuals in the shadow of the French Revolution, and to appreciate the improvement of Goya’s artistry in chronicling it.

The informal hunting portraits with which the two kings, bulbous-nosed Charles III — intelligent, well-known, famously ugly — and dim Charles IV sought to seem approachable, for instance, are separated by a decade. The former is stiff even though charming, the latter a miracle of light flowing, flickering, animating the unimaginative, portly, affable monarch who wanted absolutely nothing much more than to be left to ride with his hounds.

No excellent tragic painter was ‘more absorbed, in his untragic moments, by fashion than Goya’

Fifteen years later, the portrait of his despotic son “Ferdinand VII in Court Dress” (1814), brilliantly expresses restrained dislike in the language of ostentatious formality. Although his pose is respectfully full frontal, Ferdinand’s head is offset to his left, his chain and robe hang off-centre, so that he appears twisted — physically, morally — rather than upright as he stands squat on flabby legs and feet. Goya lavishes his most radical brushwork — darting blobs, dots, drags of paint — on the sumptuously brocaded robe, scintillating in contrast to its unprepossessing owner. Alongside hangs a portrait of Ferdinand’s proper-hand man, the Duke of San Carlos, who, swaggering back on a cane that fails to propel him forward, imitates the gestures of a stuttering old soldier ridiculed in the satirical print “Capricho 76”.

Living so long — he died in 1828 aged 82 — Goya caught the ebb and flow of political regimes and person alter. The hopeful child “Luis María de Borbón y Vallabriga” at his geography lesson in 1783 is, by 1800, a pensive, below-confident young cardinal. A vibrant-eyed daughter in “The Duke and Duchess of Osuna and their Children” (1788), whose exquisite green-grey harmonies mirror family members closeness, becomes the reclining figure, navel provocatively visible, in gleaming white silk, the energetic folds contrasting with her motionless classical pose, in the daring “The Marchioness of Santa Cruz” in 1805.

No great tragic painter, Robert Hughes noted in his biography, was “more absorbed, in his untragic moments, by the minutiae of style than Goya”. He dresses up himself, a bullfighter in 1 self-portrait right here elsewhere, his sensitivity to the erotic frissons of fabric blends with acute psychology.

He leavens the heaviness of Queen María Luisa (1799), plump, toothless, nonetheless incorrigibly flirtatious, with delicate touches — pink bow, fan subsequent to her heart, mantilla into her hair — to recommend her pathos at ageing, a pathos enhanced right here as she faces the magnificent Duchess of Alba in Goya’s most famous portrait (1797), in Britain for the 1st time.

Tall, slender, fine-boned, La Alba too wears the mantilla, with gold-embroidered blouse and red knotted sash: passion blazing through black filigree lace. This is sex as power: her expression is chilly, her gestures imperious as, one particular hand on her hip, she points with the other towards words traced in the sand at her feet: “Solo Goya”.

Only Goya: a painter’s sexual fantasy about a haughty patron, probably, but above all a proud reference to his supremacy as artist. Sand slips like time, the duchess died a few years right after this portrait we care about her and her whole world only due to the fact a genius evoked for ever how they thought and felt. This is the most enjoyable, profound, spectacular show of the year.

‘Goya: the Portraits’, National Gallery, London, to January ten

nationalgallery.org.uk

Slideshow photographs: Fondazione Magnani Rocca, Parma, Italy Colecciones Reales, Patrimonio Nacional Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Courtesy of The Hispanic Society of America, New York Minneapolis Institute of Art Duquesa del Arco Private Collection, Spain

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Section: Arts


The Face of Britain: The Nation Through its Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London — evaluation

Simon Schama curates an exhibition that explores British portraiture through themes

Self-portrait by Gwen John Simon Weston by Nicky Philipps

Self-portrait by Gwen John Simon Weston by Nicky Philipps

“The faces which look out at us from the past are the surest indication we have of the which means of an epoch.” So stated the art historian Kenneth Clark, and I think Simon Schama would almost certainly agree with him. A new exhibition curated by Schama, The Face of Britain: The Nation Via its Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London, shows above all that portraits, be they painted, drawn, printed or clicked, are about some thing much more than a simple likeness they are a reflection of the time and situations of their creation. And, in fretting about the ephemerality of today’s selfie-snapping, I suspect that Schama is attempting to put his finger on the meaning of our personal age.

Schama’s central thesis on portraiture, which he also develops in a book and forthcoming BBC2 series, is that it emerges from a “triangular collision of wills amongst sitter, artist and public”. For the most part this is accurate, although art historians and curators have a tendency these days to see “tension” everywhere. A literal example of such a collision is Graham Sutherland’s doomed 1954 portrait of Winston Churchill, the story of which is engagingly told in the exhibition with preparatory studies and archive footage.

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The portrait was commissioned by the Homes of Parliament. Sutherland, a gifted, perceptive but rather stubborn artist, chose not to stick to the suggestions (if he knew it) of the wonderful 18th-century portraitist Joshua Reynolds: if a painter “cannot make his hero speak like a great man he must make him appear like one”. Rather, Sutherland saw before him an old, occasionally shambling man prone to dozing off. So that is what he painted.

Sutherland’s portrait was also truthful for its time. Churchill hated it. To everyone’s discomfort, the presentation ceremony went ahead, broadcast on television from Westminster, where Churchill mocked the picture by calling it a “remarkable example of modern art”. In these days, to contact art “modern” was one thing of an insult. Some years later, Clementine Churchill’s private secretary burnt the painting, to her employer’s delight. (Or so the story goes Harold Wilson utilised to claim it was not destroyed, and, touching the tip of his nose, would add: “I know exactly where it is.”)

Churchill had wanted a lot more manage over his image, like most holders of power. Elizabeth I directed Nicholas Hilliard to show her face with “no shadow at all” — that is, no wrinkles. And the exhibition showcases two instances of Margaret Thatcher’s portrait meddling she insisted on smiling for Helmut Newton’s camera in 1991, in case not doing so produced her appear “disagreeable”, even though for Rodrigo Moynihan’s oil portrait of 1983/85 Thatcher not only changed the colour scheme, but even the depiction of her eyes. Her interference is blamed by the National Portrait Gallery for “a compromised painting that speaks of artistic flare extinguished”, even though in truth it is tough to see much artistic flare in Moynihan’s work usually.

The exhibition reveals a lot of such entertaining tales, and there are gems worth seeing. The self-portraits by Gwen John and Lucian Freud are among the ideal you will see, and they prove — perhaps inconveniently — that portraitists excel when totally free to ignore the demands of paying sitters. Nicky Philipps’ portrait of the Falklands veteran Simon Weston, for example, is that uncommon thing: a good modern portrait in oil. And the wit of James Gillray’s satirical caricatures still resonates today.

There are limitations, nonetheless, and they are mainly self-imposed. Like the series and the book, the display explores the history of British portraiture not chronologically but by way of themes “power”, “love”, “fame”, “self” and
“people” (as in “ordinary people”, not posh ones). In the book (and doubtless the series) the thematic approach works when it is held together by Schama’s wide selection of portraits, his enthusiasm, and some of the best writing on British portraiture I have read. But take Schama away, replace his energetic presence with wall text and labels, and the themes at times fail to provide.

What ought to have been a defining moment in the gallery’s mission to showcase British history by means of portraiture is alternatively an inconsistent, somewhat forced display. That it is spread about the developing in separate rooms (or in curatorial-speak, “interventions”) does not help. And nor do the themes look always to make sense. The Chandos portrait of Shakespeare is often a pleasure to see, specifically when rival Shakespeare portraits are “discovered” almost weekly. But it fits oddly right here in “fame” (and by the staircase), for Shakespeare was not a celebrity in his lifetime in the way we would recognise today. Certainly, the Chandos portrait is so in contrast to history’s vision of fame that 19th-century viewers felt the require to tinker with it, giving Shakespeare longer hair to make him look much less like an accountant and much more like a playwright.

The gallery says the exhibition “has been created in wider discussion with National Portrait Gallery curators”, and at occasions the display does really feel like the operate of a committee. Nowhere is this much more apparent than in the “Introductory” section, where the 5 themes are introduced as follows: Margaret Thatcher for “power” the abolitionist William Wilberforce for “fame” George Leigh Mallory (by Duncan Grant) for “love” the 19th-century black actor Ira Aldridge for “people” and a self-portrait by the Scottish painter Anna Zinkeisen for “self”. These are all fine portraits, but such box-ticking shows how subjective a thematic interpretation of British portraiture must be.

This is not, as a result, the face of Britain as it truly existed. Right here you will discover no imperialists, no rich merchants, and surely no slave traders. As an alternative, it is the face of Britain we want had existed inclusive, romantic, and (mostly) agreeable. From within this thicket of political correctness, we struggle to draw any broader conclusions about the history of the British face, or the artists who developed it. But perhaps that is not the point. For these curated faces inform us a lot more about present ideals than past realities.

npg.org.uk

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Section: Arts


Our Country’s Great, National Theatre (Olivier), London

Cerys Matthews’ music lends beauty to Timberlake Wertenbaker’s play about the 1st convicts to land in Australia

From left: Jason Hughes as Ralph Clark, Jodie McNee as Liz Morden, Peter Forbes as Robbie Ross in 'Our Country's Good' at the National Theatre. Photo: Alastair Muir©Alastair Muir

From left: Jason Hughes as Ralph Clark, Jodie McNee as Liz Morden, Peter Forbes as Robbie Ross in ‘Our Country’s Good’ at the National Theatre. Photo: Alastair Muir

Botany Bay, 1788, and a lone Aboriginal Australian — half-naked, lithe — watches the Initial Fleet drift “on to the sea”. He is bemused by the interlopers with their half-dead prisoners and beastly ways. He is in tune with his landscape. He dances.(Choreography: Arthur Pita.)

Our Country’s Excellent is a play about a play performed by convicts in Australia. On one level, it is an optimistic ode to the redemptive energy of theatre.

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But optimism is in small supply at the Olivier. In Nadia Fall’s production the mood is punishing, corporal and capital — spare the noose and ruin the convict — and the gore is quite graphic. So graphic that paler shades are lost: so what if a young lieutenant misses his mrs? Who cares about kangaroos?

Beauty is not lost, even so. Timberlake Wertenbaker’s text contains practically no music, but Cerys Matthews has supplied some — and Josienne Clarke sings like a haunted angel. It is spellbinding.

Likewise the design by Peter McKintosh: blood-red, sea-blue, it goes up and down and round and round a strip of canvas hangs in the centre — a ship’s sail, dirty tents, a curtain for a theatre and the backdrop, a painting by Shane Pickett — an exquisite Aboriginal landscape which the stinking, pink-skinned colonials are not equipped to read.

It is a fine ensemble. Tadhg Murphy’s hangdog snitch is a terrific bag of angst Lee Ross plays Robert Sideway with excellent mirth and dignity Jodie McNee’s Liz Morden is a study in hurt and Debra Penny’s witty “Shitty” Meg lives up to her name in style.

It isn’t steamy in between the young lieutenant (Jason Hughes) and the convict Mary Brenham (Caoilfhionn Dunne), and more’s the pity. Each characters are cut from muted cloth, but if we are to think in the miracle powers of plays, their passion have to be passionate.

Fall is right to emphasise the nasty bits because the nice, hopeful bits — when a flogged man says, “when I say Kite’s lines I overlook everything else”, for instance — frequently sound trite. Right here is a almost excellent production of a nearly fantastic play.

To October 17, nationaltheatre.org.uk

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Section: Arts