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La Gioconda in an extraordinary adaptation · Kazan, Russia · Photo by Gerhard Guffler
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Shared art - Elevator door in Hotel Lebua at the State Tower, Bangkok, Thailand.
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Experts. National Museum of China in Beijing. Photo by Gerhard Guffler
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The german Masterpainter Philipp Weber in New York City
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Spectacular location: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, Spain
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Preparing for the photoshooting - young model in Seoul, South Korea
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Art that lives. Spanish children in front of a work of the master Antonio Castello Avilleira. Photo by Martin Llamedo
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Ad Reinhardt: Blue Paintings - David Zwirner Gallery, New York City
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Art, well-dosed. Devotional items at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
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Contemporary Art at the National Museum of China in Beijing
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Street Art. Bordeaux/France. New harbour area. Photo by Nyx
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Fantastic multi-media presentation by TeamLab (Japan) at Pace Gallery in Beijing · Photo by Erik Olsson
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The triple Helnwein. Discovered at Modernism, San Francisco · Photo by Jon Kim
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Hidden view to North Korea? Youngeun Museum - Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. Photo by Takashi Moto
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Exciting neighborhood: street art and commerce - discovered in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
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Escape · Fondation Maeght · Photo by Takashi Moto
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Discovery in a gallery in Stockholm: The daughter of the famous ceramist Leo Grilli from Gubbio, Umbria.
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Impressive typography in Seoul-Jikhalsi, South Korea · Photo by Takashi Moto
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In search of identity. Detail of Alexander Timofeev "Beginning" · Oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm, 2015.
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What does Marylin think? Impression from the Halcyon Gallery, London
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A wedge? Outstanding architecture! The new area in the Hermitage. Photo by Takashi Moto.
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Grandiose swing: Church of St. Michael, Hamburg. Photo by Gerhard Guffler.
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Sculpture of sitting men, France. Photo by Anja Helmchen.
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Lively streets in New York City. Photo by Mick Rogers.
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Accord. Städel-Museum, Frankfurt/Germany · Photo by Takashi Moto
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The truck. Christmas. New York City. Photo by Vince Ryan
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Currently out of Malaga/Spain: masterful sensitive drawing of the artist Aurelio Rodriguez Lopez.
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West meets east. Shopping in Guangdong, South Korea. Photo by Kwon KyungYep
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A touristic reminiscent of a great artist. Discovered at Central Park in New York City. Photo by Danielle Lemond
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Re-use: Work aid for the German painter Philipp Weber. Photo: Johannes Mencke
image of the week

David Levinthal’s Modern Romance Photographs

Viewing Film Noir Through a Different Lens

Media - 2018.3.71 - SAAM-2018.3.71_1 - 133830
David Levinthal, Untitled from the series Modern Romance, 1984, instant color print, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Shanti Boyle is an intern with SAAM’s Office of External Affairs and Digital Strategies.

Two out of the six series of images in the current exhibition, American Myth & Memory: David Levinthal Photographsfocus on the representation of women in the media, with a third, „Modern Romance,“ vying for a spot.  „American Beauties“ and „Barbie“ blatantly highlight antiquated conceptions of attractiveness, ones perpetuated and memorialized by media. On the other hand, „Modern Romance“ offers a blanket statement on film noir itself by containing more general subjects, such as a stadium or a street corner.

One subject in particular begs attention: the bedroom. This already-gendered space becomes a soapbox for talking about the portrayal of women in film noir and, more broadly, media, when viewed through the lenses of Levinthal’s camera. Three of Levinthal’s photographs in particular provide the perfect platform.

After the uplifting parables that Hollywood churned out during World War II, the postwar genre called “film noir” validated a country’s creeping sense of alienation. Having witnessed firsthand the atrocities of war, veterans and civilians alike were drawn to noir’s cardinal themes of paranoia and pessimism—not as an empty stylistic stance, but as recognition of a hard-won existential truth. The genre’s detached anti-heroes and bleak environments offer psychic respite from American boosterism run amok, and remind audiences that, in victory or defeat, we never leave our shadows entirely behind.

— Ann Hornaday, chief film critic, Washington Post

If you have seen the exhibition (and if you have not, it closes on October 14), you know which set of photographs I am referring to. Displayed apart from the smaller, dark snapshots, these high-exposure images certainly expose much while simultaneously obscuring the scenes. The photographs depict a woman in a bedroom. It is unclear whether or not the images show the same bedroom. Regardless, the women privately model in various postures. In one image, a woman undresses herself. In another, she lies nude on a bed propped up on an elbow, a Venus of Urbino with a Mid-Atlantic accent. The last scene contains a woman standing in a doorway in front of another figure who mirrors her. The other figure is amorphous, though in keeping with film noir tropes, we can imagine it to be either her lover or her enemy, but almost certainly a man. These photos, aided by high exposure and less-than-perfect perspectives, give a sense of spying through Norman Bates’ peephole in Psycho. The three Marion Cranes do not give any indication that they know they are being watched.

All six of the series featured in the exhibition are accompanied by commentary from a celebrity or expert in the field represented. Ann Hornaday, chief film critic of the Washington Post, shared her thoughts about film noir. Levinthal’s emphasis on voyeurism exemplifies Hornaday’s observation of national alienation following World War II. The film noir women became surrogates of anxiety, manifestations of a grudging reality that reflected how Americans felt about their own global visibility. The unsuspecting women in Levinthal’s photographs highlight the idea that someone is always watching. Their vulnerability in these scenes, fabricated by both society and the artist, represent the national emotion at the time. Yet Levinthal turns this representation on its head by making us—the museum-goers—voyeurs culpable for the alienation of the subjects.

Levinthal’s „Modern Romance“ removes the fantasy from film noir and illuminates the darkness from which the genre was born. Levinthal asks us to be skeptics of our history and to consider that what is American myth now does not determine what future America will remember as truth.

Art News: Ochre and the Iris by Mridul Chandra

A Visual Travelogue

“Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.” Annie Leibovitz

Inspired by nature, artist Mridul Chandra paints the world around her. Vistas of landscapes from her travels are translated on canvas. She says, „Painting from this vast canvas has been the ultimate challenge, expressing what is in front of me in a personalised semi abstract expressionist manner. The eye searches for a way to depict the real in an unreal suggestion, leaving you in a state of being in the ‘here-and-now’.“

Doni Tondo: Nudes and Nephilim

In recent years the five nude young men in the background of Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo have received as much, if not more, attention than the Holy Family in the foreground. There would appear to be no agreement as to who they are or what they represent. Among other things, they have been variously interpreted as angels without wings, sinners, penitents awaiting Baptism, figures from pagan antiquity, or figures from the Old Testament.

In a paper, entitled “Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo: Holy Family and Family Myth,” Andree Hayum concentrated on the scene in the background. She noted the many different interpretations offered for the five nude men, but found the source in the Old Testament account of the drunkenness of Noah. She saw an obvious connection between the young men and Michelangelo’s famous depiction of the Noah story on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel.

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