September 28, 2007

24 Hours in Cologne

The City of Cologne, Germany, is famous for 2 things - its magnificent Cathedral, the "Kölner Dom", and the perfume "4711 Kölnisch Wasser (Cologne Water)". But a recent stopover proved that there are many other interesting things to see and do.

Situated on the Rhine, just north of the former capitol of Germany, Bonn, Cologne has had a long and engaging history. Roman ruins can be found all over, as can examples of medieval and Gothic sculpture and more recently the scars of Allied bombings in World War 2.

However the most striking feature of the skyline and the very heart of the city is the Cathedral or "Dom". The massive spires can be seen for miles and visitors travel great distances to view this Gothic masterpiece. It is impressive indeed, both from the exterior with its gargoyles and flying buttress' and the interior's beautiful stained glass windows and various chapels. By sheer coincidence, I had the good fortune to be there during the "Dom Wallfahrt" a celebration of World Youth Day that offered a very rare opportunity to visit parts of the Cathedral that are usually off limits.

For a very limited time, pilgrims are permitted to view some of the generally restricted treasures including the "Mailänder Madonna (The Milan Madonna)", a 13th Century polychrome statue of a beautiful young Mary as Queen of Heaven, the "Gero-Kreuz (Cross of the Bishop Gero)" a crucifix on a golden sunburst dating to 970, and the breathtaking "Dreikönigenschrein (Shrine of the Three Kings") a temple of gold and silver that adorns the inner sanctum of the altar and is believed to contain the remains of the Three Wise Men.

The Cologne Cathedral is awe inspiring at any time but this was a special treat. Leaving the Dom via the South Exit, one can look up to the newly installed stained glass window by the German Contemporary artist Gerhard Richter. It is a very successful blending of ancient tradition with modern aesthetic and bodes well for the future of ecclesiastical art.

For a total change of venue, go across the Dom Platz to the Museum Ludwig and visit its collection of Modern, Pop and Contemporary art. The galleries feature excellent examples of work by Max Ernst (who was born in the area), Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenberg's "Mouse Museum" as well as a fine group of works by Russian Avant Garde artists.

A special exhibition "Balthus - Time Suspended" is on view until November 4 and offers a tightly edited selection of paintings and drawings from his watershed period 1932-1960. Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski 1908-2001) may not be everybody's cup of tea, but his provocative erotic paintings of very young girls have been both prized and scorned by collectors and critics since he burst onto the Surrealist scene in 1934. Although closely tied to Germany, Balthus' work is not to be found in any public collections here and this is the first solo exhibition of his work in a German institution. The curator, Dr. Sabine Rewald of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has secured loans of some of his most famous paintings including "The Street" 1933, "Therese Dreaming" 1938, and, "The Mountain" 1937, and visitors to the show seems entranced with the presentation.

A stroll through the extensive pedestrian zone give the tourist a good overview of the city and a feeling for its thriving downtown. But all this walking and viewing can work up an appetite! It's time for Oktoberfest 2007 and Köln is ready to celebrate! With beer halls set up under tents, outdoor concerts and entertainment everyone gets into the spirit. The local beer, Kölsch, tastes delicious sitting outside under the red umbrellas of the historic brewery Früh. Later, a move indoors to the communal tables in the dining room brings together traditional German food with friendly fellow diners and a lot more beer!

The high speed train Thalys now connects Cologne and Paris in under 4 hours. It's almost time to say auf wiedersehn and on to more adventures in Gaie Paris! See you soon!

September 27, 2007

Arp is Art

If you've ever been stumped by the 3-letter crossword puzzle clue "Dadaist", I'm going to do you a favor! The answer is "ARP" as in Hans or Jean, both the same person it just depends if you are in Germany or in France.

Today I am in Germany on an Arp excursion. Specifically, I am here to attend the opening of a brand new museum dedicated to the work of this founding member of the Dada movement and later a Surrealist. In the small town of Rolandseck, located on the Rhine river between Bonn and Koblenz, is the "Arp Stiftung", the Foundation that oversees the legacies of both Hans/Jean and his first wife, the artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp. For 20 years the Foundation has worked to provide scholars, collectors and institutions with information and expertise and serves as a central clearing point for all things Arp-related. Now their mission has expanded and last evening the dream of their late director, Johannes Wasmuth, was realized with the opening of a fabulous new research center and museum dedicated to the promotion of the work of the Arps.

Just as Hans and Sophie often collaborated on creating works of art, this new institution represents a remarkable professional partnership between the German Arp Stiftung and their architect of choice, the American Richard Meier. Years of planning and development have resulted in a temple to art that seeks to incorporate the magnificent vista into its contemporary art-filled interior.

Both the story and the setting are dramatic. The entrance to the museum is through the original train station for the town of Rolandseck. Built in the 19th Century, the station was an example of elegant design that had become obsolete and the property had fallen into disrepair. The Foundation acquired the rundown building, and the acreage on the hill above it, and set about converting it into a modern research and exhibition facility with a concert hall and café. They continued with the expansion by commissioning Richard Meier, of Getty Institute fame, to create a facility that could showcase not only their own fabulous collection of works by Arp, but rotating shows of predominantly German artists. Now, with the opening of the new white museum on the hill, the visitor travels through time and space, from the charm of the old station, via a tunnel and then a glass elevator bored inside the hill to emerge in the bright open modern building where one can overlook the Rhine while enjoying the art. What a combination!

The Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck is going to make a major splash in the both the art and architecture worlds! It was a privilege to be a part of the opening festivities and I would like to thank and congratulate the curator, Walburga Krupp, for a magnificent evening. Arp IS Art!

Hans Arp's Sculpture "The Bird" with the Rhine in the background

September 20, 2007

A Visit to China Institute

The entrance to China Institute's East Side townhouse is marked by two stone lions guarding a bright red door. It's hard to miss, and last evening the doors were open to welcome guests to a preview reception for their new exhibition "Buddhist Sculpture from China: Selections from Xi'an Beilin Museum 5th through 9th Centuries". This show is remarkable in that for the first time this important Chinese cultural institution has allowed major works from its collection of Buddhist art to travel outside the country. It is a fabulous show and is a true landmark for the New York China Institute Gallery.

Both experts and neophytes in Asian Art will be amazed at this presentation of over 70 magnificent sculptures and objects. The evolution of stylistic interpretations of Buddhist art over four centuries of dynasties is clearly seen in the superb examples on display. From the early Northern Wei Dynasty (circa 500) comes an impressive Shakyamuni on a lion throne flanked by Bodhisattvas - a stunning sculpture made of sandstone and red pigment. The Sui Dynasty (581-618) followed and is represented here with standing twin Guanyin Bodhisattvas carved out of white marble. Sculpture from the later Tang Dynasty (late 7th - early 8th Century) includes an eleven-headed Guanyin with 8 (left from the original 10) small Bodhisattva heads set in a crown-like arrangement on the primary head and is also made of white marble.

Like Buddha himself, who passed through many prior forms of existence before being born as Siddhartha, these sculptures evolved over the centuries as the themes in Buddhist art and religion developed.

China Institute was founded in 1966 by a group of American and Chinese educators with the goal of establishing a cultural and educational not-for-profit organization and ultimately a better understanding between the two worlds. Judging from the crowd enjoying lichee wine and dim sum hors d'œuvres after the viewing, the link between the United States and contemporary China is alive and well and thriving on 65th Street.

The exhibition remains open until December 8. I urge you to visit and be transported to another world!

September 15, 2007

Announcing Catalogue Number Two

I am pleased to announce the publication of my second catalogue!

Georgina Kelman :: Works on Paper presents "Catalogue Number Two", a selection of fine European and American prints, drawings and watercolors. Fully illustrated in color, this catalogue gives an overview of the type of art I specialize in and adore and offers original work by such American and European artists as John Taylor Arms, Sonia Delaunay, Paul Helleu, James Tissot and A.C. Webb. For more examples from my collection, please visit my website at If you would like to know more about the catalogue, you can contact me directly from this site.

It was a beautiful day here in New York, but summer is definitely over. I'm sad to see the end of long summer days, but the fall season awaits and it's going to be fun! Lots of new and exciting adventures and I hope you'll check back often. See you soon!

September 05, 2007

Une Journée à Paris :: Van Cleef & Arpels

The invitation arrived one afternoon in the dead of summer. A large envelope, hand-addressed, announcing a party to celebrate the centennial of the legendary jewelry store Van Cleef & Arpels.

Now, I'm not a Van Cleef & Arpels customer. I don't think I've ever entered the premises as the type of jewelry they carry is well beyond my budget and it's too intimidating to even look. But this invitation sounded like fun so I RSVP'd and took the M11 bus down Ninth Avenue to the Hammerstein Ballroom on the appointed day.

The place was easy to find thanks to the klieg light illumination and the scores of beautiful people alighting from their limos and posing for the paparazzi on the red carpet. Thankfully my name was on the guest list so I didn't have to slink off with my tail between my seriously under-dressed legs!

Once inside the fun really started. Greeted by trays of French champagne and fancy hors d'œuvres I felt much more in the spirit of the evening! When the party moved through the lobby and into the foyer my jaw dropped. Posed in "tableaux vivants" depicting the sights of Paris, were the most gorgeous models dressed in couture gowns and wearing the latest from the Van Cleef & Arpels collection of exceptional jewels. From the Jardins des Tuileries to the Place Vendôme, the mannequins posed in Lanvin, Valli, and Oscar de la Renta while modeling earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings and watches from the boutique's homage to the city of its birth, Paris.

The party continued into the ballroom that had been transformed into a combination runway and nightclub. Naturally there was a roped-off VIP area that required a password for entry, but knowing my limits I opted for the more common seating in front. The champagne continued to flow as the crowd filled in in anticipation of the evening's "special performance". Our patience was rewarded when a full fledged fashion show began. Brilliantly designed and choreographed, the Elite models strutted across the stage wearing a different selection of evening wear while showcasing Van Cleef & Arpels' 2007 collection of jewels. The effect was stunning.

The evening was an amazing surprise. I still don't know why I was invited, but I'd like to thank whomever was responsible for a fabulous time. I don't think I'll ever be a Van Cleef & Arpels customer, but maybe, if I win the lottery, who knows!