Ruth Leon recommends… The Frick’s final Cocktails With a Curator – Arrangement in Black and GoldRuth Leon recommends
The Frick’s final Cocktails With a Curator – Arrangement in Black and Gold
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I’ve been hoarding the Frick’s Last Cocktails with a Curator but I’ve finally come to the end of them and here is the very last one. Xavier Salomon, Chief Curator (with a hopelessly long official title he endlessly repeats) takes us on a riveting journey around James McNeill Whistler’s Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (a title nearly as long as Xavier’s) and, as ever, his apparently effortless art scholarship blends facts and description perfectly.
The official title of the painting is Arrangement in Black and Gold, a title which, like many of the artist’s works fails to mention its subject, but it’s a portrait of one of his best friends. Whistler met the eccentric poet and aristocrat depicted in the painting in 1885, and they soon become fast friends, with Montesquiou sitting for the portrait in 1891–92, making it the most modern work on display at the Frick.
Even regular visitors to museums and art galleries rarely get to meet the curators who select and take care of the paintings we look at. This series gave us the opportunity to meet and get to know two of the most knowledgeable and I, for one, am most grateful for everything this sessions have added to my sum of knowledge about art and art history. I keep complaining about the cessation of this wonderful series, Cocktails With a Curator, but my wails of protest have fallen on deaf ears.
Past episodes remain available on the Frick’s website for us to rewatch and enjoy. So now all we can do is thank the Frick Collection in New York for having entertained and educated us throughout the pandemic and hope that, one day, we’ll see Xavier Salomon and Aimee Ng again on our screens.
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