Arts History Update for late March 2016

16 Mar

Arts History Update for late March 2016 by David Cummins

Ludwig Wittgenstein 1889-1951 was an Austrian secular Jew, and widely acknowledged during his lifetime as a genius in many pursuits, best known for his two books one published during his lifetime Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (German 1921 English transl. 1923) and the other published posthumously as a collection of his essays and other writings on a variety of topics Philosophical Investigations (1953). The latter supplants and replaces the former as these later works differ in significant ways from the Tractatus and reflect his mature thought.

It is rare for a philosopher’s life to equal his thought, but Wittgenstein’s life and experiences were so unusual and significant that one must conclude that his philosophy was an outgrowth of his life experiences. To put it succinctly he was an over-bright tormented individual, and he was such a charismatic dynamo that he tormented anyone who came in contact with him. The love/hate relationship that so many Brits had with him is reflected by their writings and memoirs describing him as perfectly awful and marvelous, mostly at the same time.

Those descriptions by others have been collected in two volumes at 1,138 pages Portraits of Wittgenstein (Ian Ground & Francis Asbury Flowers III editors, Bloomsbury Academic Press 2015 updating expanding and revising the earlier 1999 edition) $408.75

Portraits of Wittgenstein is a major collection of memoirs and reflections on one of the most influential and yet elusive personalities in the history of modern philosophy, Ludwig Wittgenstein. Featuring a wealth of illuminating and profound insights into Wittgenstein’s extraordinary life, this unique collection reveals Wittgenstein’s character and power of personality more vividly and comprehensively than ever before.

With portraits from more than seventy-five figures, Portraits of Wittgenstein brings together the personal recollections of philosophers, students, friends and acquaintances, including Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, F. R. Leavis, A. J. Ayer, Karl Popper, Friedrich von Hayek, G. H. von Wright, Rush Rhees, Freeman Dyson, G. E. M. Anscombe, Iris Murdoch, Mary Midgley and Mary Warnock. These authors testify to the life-long influence Wittgenstein had on the lives of those he met. Their fascinating memoirs, reflections and commentaries, often at odds with each other, reveal Wittgenstein’s kindness, and how much genuine friendship meant to him, as well as his suffering and despair. They show too how the philosopher’s ruthless honesty and uncompromising integrity often resulted in stern advice and harsh rebukes to friends and foes alike.

Now revised and updated, Portraits of Wittgenstein includes new selections, revised contributions, photographs, maps and introductory overviews that provide historical context to Wittgenstein’s relationships with his intellectual and social circle. This collection of valuable and hard-to-find material is an indispensable resource for scholars and students of the life and work of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Son of a wealthy Austrian industrialist in iron and steel, he had three older sisters and four older brothers. Three of those brothers would commit suicide and the fourth was a concert pianist who lost his right arm in The Great War and commissioned works for left hand piano by Ravel, Prokofiev, Hindemith and Korngold. Ludwig studied engineering in Berlin Germany and Manchester England and was interested in airplane propellers. His passion was mathematics and he studied Bertrand Russell and Gottlob Frege. He visited Frege at University of Jena at Jena Germany, who advised him to visit Russell in Cambridge England. Ludwig showed up at Russell’s office in October 1911 [age 22] where they discussed philosophy for several months. Russell wrote of the experience saying the Austrian engineer was “rather good” but “very argumentative and tiresome”. Another quote by Russell is “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts”. Ludwig’s father died in 1913 and Ludwig inherited a fortune that he gave away in the next several years.

When the War began in 1914 Ludwig enlisted in the Austrian Imperial Army and fought on the eastern front in Galicia [not Spain’s Galicia but the Galicia that extended from Krakow Poland in the west to Lviv or Lwow in western Ukraine in the east] and in Italy where he was captured and served time as a prisoner of war. During his days in the POW camp he worked on the Tractatus later published in 1921 after the war ended. Ludwig returned to Vienna in 1918 and worked to prepare himself for a career as a primary grades school teacher. He was teaching in a rural school in Lower Austria when a British philosophy professor Frank Ramsey came by one day. They talked. Ludwig hit a student one day and was dismissed from employment in 1926 so he went back to Vienna and designed and built a house for one of his sisters Haus Wittgenstein (Stonborough House). The house is a Modernist masterpiece and is currently owned by the Bulgarian government used as an embassy building that allows visitors to walk through.

In 1929 Ludwig age 40 returned to Cambridge England and was advised that he needed credentials to be admitted or employed. He submitted the published Tractatus and it was read with astonishment. He was granted a Ph.D and employed on the Cambridge faculty. He would ultimately resign in 1947, contract cancer in 1949, and die in 1951.

During his tenure at Cambridge he was never happier than when he was absent for long periods writing and thinking in remote spots in Norway and Ireland. He was a social relic separated forever from the turn of the 20th century Viennese society boyhood/young adulthood that didn’t any longer exist for anyone. Lady Ottoline Morrell 1873-1938 was the wife of a Liberal Party Member of Parliament and she was a literary and political hostess and patron of writers and artists including Wittgenstein, who met other patrons and supporters through her.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (1953 English translation reissue 2004) Texas Tech Library B3376.W563 P53275 (transl. Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe, 4th revised ed. Wiley-Blackwell 2009 German and revised English translation facing each other) $27.81 hardcover. Lubbock Public Library 193.9 W831P Adult Non-Fiction

At Investigations section 133 Wittgenstein says “The real discovery is the one that enables me to break off philosophizing when I want to. The one that gives philosophy peace, so that it is no longer tormented by questions which bring itself into question. Instead, a method is now demonstrated by examples, and the series of examples can be broken off. Problems are solved (difficulties eliminated), not a single problem”.

Peter Michael Stephen Hacker, philosophy professor emeritus at University of Kent interprets this passage of Wittgenstein as follows: “We are told that once this discovery is made, philosophy will no longer be tormented by questions that bring itself into question. That discovery will enable a philosopher like Wittgenstein or you or me to break off doing philosophy when s/he wants to. Why is that significant? Because foundationalist conceptions of philosophy are always vulnerable. If the task of philosophy is to demonstrate that all knowledge rests on indubitable foundations [as Descartes said] then any discovery of knowledge that is independent of such foundations will bring the whole enterprise crashing down. If the task of philosophy is to disclose the metaphysical structure of the world, the enterprise will collapse if the very idea that the world has a metaphysical structure is shown to be chimerical. If philosophy aims to show how synthetic a priori propositions are possible [as Kant thought], it is called into question if the notion of a synthetic a priori proposition is indefensible. In the great system-building philosophies of the past, nothing could be validated until everything was validated. So the philosopher could never rest from his/her labors and could never settle anything permanently. Now, Wittgenstein declares, a new method has been found, a method that will enable one to solve philosophical problems piecemeal and to put their solutions in the archives. When such problems have been solved, the philosopher can break off philosophizing secure in his/her knowledge that the problems have been settled.”

Wittgenstein wanted us to subject a problem to rigorous conceptual scrutiny and analysis. He wanted us to strip away confusions by our conceptualizing and analyzing. His style is often referred to as analytical philosophy or philosophy of mind.

Wittgenstein (1993) film directed by Derek Jarman.


Lilla Cabot Perry, From the Garden of Hellas: Translations Into Verse From the Greek Anthology (John W. Lovell Company 1891) 142 pages $28.95 used hardcover $10.57 paperback new (Forgotten Books Classic Reprint Series 2015). Here are 80 paintings online by Lilla Cabot Perry who lived 1848-1933 to age 85. Google Books has it online

Lilla Cabot Perry, Impressions: A Book of Verse (Copeland and Day 1898) 81 pages online at

Portrait of Kahlil Gibran (1899) when Gibran was only 16 years of age. The Lebanese-American artist, poet and writer would write The Prophet in 1923 and become known to the planet. Those of us who’ve read those poetic essays have never forgotten them. Gibran was an emigre from Lebanon when that country suffered a tragedy, so often was repeated in the Middle East region to this very day.

The Poacher (1907)

Mrs. Henry Lyman [Elizabeth Cabot Lyman] (1910)

Meditation (? in a private collection)

Portrait of Colonel David Perry, 9th U.S. Army Cavalry Regiment by Robert Henri (1907) Colonel Perry was a member of Lilla’s husband’s family Of course that family goes back to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry 1785-1819, the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812 who famously said “don’t give up the ship” and “we have met the enemy and they are ours”.

She was a Cabot, a Brahmin family in Boston Massachusetts so esteemed that it was said the Lowells speak only to the Cabots who speak only to the Lodges who speak only to God a reference to Boston snobbery.

The Athenaeum has 86 painting online by Lilla Cabot Perry

Lilla Cabot Perry’s mixture of social realism and impressionism is remarkable.

There was a retrospective exhibition of her work at Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester New Hampshire September 6 – October 5, 1969, then at Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York City October 10 – 25, 1969, then New Jersey State Museum November 29 – January 11, 1970, catalogue 28 pages

Another retrospective was held at the Mongerson Gallery in Chicago October 12 – November 30, 1984. catalgoue 12 pages.

A catalogue by Meredith Martindale, Lilla Cabot Perry: An American Impressionist (National Museum of Women in the Arts 1990) 164 pages Texas Tech Library ND 237.P375 A4 accompanied an exhibition there September 1990 – January 1991. National Museum of Women in the Arts opened in 1981 Perry’s page


The Whitney Museum of American Art that opened in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan, New York City last year, has a fifth floor gallery space that has an open glass wall to the west overlooking the Hudson River, and to the east looking inward to the city scape. There are no interior columns or rooms or room dividers. It is an open space intended as such for temporary exhibits and installations. The Open Plan exhibit February 26 – March 13, 2016 was Andrea Fraser’s Down The River, an audio sound installation recorded at Sing Sing Prison northward on the Hudson River.


The Whitney Museum is New York’s newest architectural landmark, enjoying a high-visibility location along the Hudson River and at the end of the High Line. Its glass-walled lobby welcomes the public with a promise of transparency and access. Inside, visitors find airy, light-filled spaces and terraces opening out to endless views. Public spaces share glass walls with offices, exposing functions often hidden from view. Yet, nowhere is the openness of the museum more dramatically constructed than this 18,200-square-foot space.

Thirty-two miles to the north, in the town of Ossining, Sing Sing Correctional Facility is also located on the Hudson River. It is surrounded by thick, high walls topped with razor wire and movement into, out of, and within the maximum-security prison is strictly controlled. Inside, inmates serve sentences of up to life without parole in six-by-nine-foot cells. Sing Sing’s A Block, almost six hundred feet long and with six hundred cells, is one of the largest prison housing units in the world.

Since the 1970s, the United States has experienced a boom in both museum and prison expansion, with the number of each institution tripling nationwide. During the same period, studies estimate that museum attendance has grown by a factor of ten while the prison population has exploded by 700 percent, making the United States the world’s largest jailor. Beyond this parallel growth, museums, and in particular art museums, would seem to share nothing with prisons. Art museums celebrate freedom and showcase invention. Prisons revoke freedom and punish transgression. Art museums collect and exhibit valued objects. Prisons confine vilified people. Art museums are designed by renowned architects as centerpieces of urban development. Prisons are built far from affluent urban areas, becoming all but invisible to those not directly touched by incarceration.

And yet, despite (or perhaps because of) their extreme differences, art museums and prisons can be seen as two sides of the same coin in an increasingly polarized society where our public lives, and the institutions that define them, are sharply divided by race, class, and geography. The gulf that separates art museums and prisons, and our exposures to them, is a product of this polarization and may also help to perpetuate it. Down the River brings ambient sound recorded in Sing Sing’s A Block to the Whitney’s fifth floor to link museums and prisons across this social and geographical divide.”
—Andrea Fraser


The Blue Angels U.S. Navy/Marine Corps Pilots Air Shows in 2016 include April 23-24 Naval Air Station Fort Worth Texas Air Power Expo and October 22-23 Wings Over Houston Air Show


Once the home of James B. Duke, his wife Nanaline and daughter Doris Duke, the mansion on Fifth Avenue’s Museum Mile is now the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University at 1 East 78th Street. [Central Park is bordered on the east by Fifth Avenue and on the west by Central Park West from 59th Street to 110th Street].The exhibit Mental Earth by Charles Simonds goes up April 1 – May 13, 2016 in The Great Hall of the IFA. This sculpture, pictured in another setting was a challenge because the James B. Duke building is a land-marked building and nothing can hang on the walls or from the ceiling. Professor J.J. Lou, a professor in NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering was brought in to to solve the problem that large-scale artworks present, a risk to the viewing public because they need to be properly supported, braced, and/or anchored while at the same time blended into the environment for the art. That meant suspending a 500 pound ceramic

sculpture from the edge of a second floor balcony without interfering with the land-marked building in any way. The sculpture floats effortlessly out and over the middle of The Great Hall. On opening day April 1 at 6:00 pm the artist Charles Simonds will talk with art professor Richard Shiff followed by a reception.

Yes you guessed it, Lou created a self-correcting balanced counterweight on the balcony, self-correcting because if the tension cable shifts or air movement shifts the sculpture, the counterweight must adjust immediately lest the sculpture becomes unbalanced and crashes down into The Great Hall or the counterweight crashes through the floor of the balcony.

The Museum Mile begins north of the Institute of Fine Arts NYU with The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, Neue Gallerie New York 1048 Fifth Avenue at 86th Street, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Avenue at 88th Street, National Academy Museum and School 1083 Fifth Avenue at 90th Street, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum 2 East 91st Street, The Jewish Museum 1109 Fifth Avenue at 93rd Street, Museum of the City of New York 1220 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street, and El Museo del Barrio 1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street. That’s the Upper East Side district.

The Upper West Side district is anchored by The American Museum of Natural History between West 77th and West 81st Streets on Central Park West, and by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (1961 onward) two blocks west of Central Park at West 66th Street and Broadway. Lincoln Center includes Avery Fischer Hall, Metropolitan Opera House, David Rubenstein Atrium, David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, David Geffen Hall, Alice Tully Hall, The Julliard School, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center and Samuel B. and David Rose Building. Performance spaces within this complex and at nearby associated spaces abound.

American Folk Art Museum is at 2 Lincoln Square. Nicholas Roerich Museum is at 319 West 107th Street, Children’s Museum of Manhattan is at 212 West 83rd Street, and New York Historical Society Museum & Library is at 170 Central Park West at West 77th Street.

North of that is Columbia University at Morningside Heights with the main entrance at West 116th Street and Broadway bounded on the west by Riverside Park [adjacent to Hudson River] and on the east by Morningside Park that extends from West 110th Street to West 123rd Street East of Morningside Park is Harlem.

Back in the day when I was a student at New York University, it had its original campus in the Bronx in the University Heights district between W. 180th Street and W. 183rd Street, between University Avenue on the east and the Harlem River on the west. Bronx Community College, City University of New York, now operates on that campus. Fordham University was a short distance east between E. 190th Street and E. 198th Street, east of Webster Avenue and west of New York Botanical Garden in Bronx Park. There is a University Heights Bridge that crosses the Harlem River from Upper Manhattan into West Fordham Road in the Bronx.

West of the University Heights Bridge is Fort Tryon Park overlooking the Hudson River and The Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, obtained from an endowment and land grant by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

For those new to the city Fifth Avenue is the dividing line between West and East numbered Streets. Rockefeller Center is on the west side of Fifth Avenue at W. 49th Street in midtown but the building across the avenue to the east is on E. 49th Street.


West Texas Watercolor Society Spring Membership Show is at the Buddy Holly Center Fine Arts Gallery 1801 Crickets Avenue Lubbock from Friday March 18 – Sunday April 24, 2016 Tue-Sat 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Sun 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm The juror is Lindy Cook Severns from Fort Davis Texas and here is some of her work

West Texas Watercolor Society website is



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: