Mourning ensemble, 1870-72, American, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Martha Woodward Weber, 1930. 

I am so pleased that the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art has once again presented a fall exhibition and that the lower level galleries are firmly back in use! Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire is a fantastic installation and felt very much to me like a total work of art, with gorgeous period music in the background and a 19th-century female silhouette slowly moving along the wall. The years considered are 1815 to 1915 and the dresses are marvelous. I especially loved seeing a mourning dress worn by Queen Victoria herself which, of course, gave one a very real sense of her stature. There are three paintings on silk, one of which is a portrait with embroidery, that I found rather enchanting. But my favorite pieces, however, were the jewelry, stunning and so romantic — rings and necklaces with locks of hair or miniature portraits that quite intimately honored the departed.   

Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire is on view through February 1, 2015.      


Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov performing Don Quixote at Lincoln Center. Photograph Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of live performances we are lucky enough to experience. Back in Saratoga Springs this week, we went to see the magnificent Bolshoi Ballet perform Don Quixote at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The costumes and sets were exquisite, the orchestra superb, and the performance thrilling. The speed, extension, artistry and athleticism of the dancers was tremendous, and quite unique to this company. And Ekaterina Krysanova, who danced the role of Kitri, truly took my breath away. Perfection.  


It’s true, last Friday night we were indeed at the Katy Perry concert in Brooklyn. As you might imagine, the production value was beyond, beyond — the costumes, the fireworks, the guitar players on wires, and the BALLOONS. And Katy herself is a seriously great performer. Very girly, very colorful and very joyful, my daughters declared it the best concert of their lives. I have to agree, she has set the bar rather high…   


Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle in Christopher Wheeldon’s This Bitter Earth
Photograph by Paul Kolnik,

We were in Saratoga Springs just one night during the New York City Ballet’s residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center July 8 – 12. I must say, if we could only be there one night, this was definitely the one. The program consisted of four contemporary chamber works, none of which we had seen, all of which we loved. Vespro and Todo Buenos Aires were fantastic. I was thrilled to finally see Angelin Preljocaj’s first work for NYCB, La Stravaganza, after being completely taken with his Spectral Evidence last fall. However, the highlight of the evening for me was Christopher Wheeldon’s This Bitter Earth. Performed by Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle and set to haunting, gorgeous music by Max Richter mixed with Dinah Washington’s vocals from the 1960 song of the same title, the whole is completely brilliant. And to see Wendy Whelan perform one last time on that hallowed stage before her retirement this fall, in this perfect piece created just for her, I actually have no words. I’ll never forget it.   


The Bicycle Film Festival is once again in full swing in New York City. Now in its 14th year, this super cool festival not only celebrates the bicycle on film, but also in art and music, and is a powerful voice in promoting the urban cycling movement. One of the most anticipated annual events in the festival is an exhibition called Joyride. Held at the Marlborough Broome Street gallery, it opened last night and features works by emerging artists as well as major contemporary artists such as Kiki Smith, Urs Fischer, Francesco Clemente, Alex Katz and Richard Prince, each with the bicycle in mind. Check it out.

The Bicycle Film Festival runs through June 29 —

Joyride runs through August 3 —   


Fortunato Depero, Skyscrapers and Tunnels (Gratticieli e tunnel), 1930. MART, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome. Photo: © MART, Archivio Fotografico

What looks to be an amazing exhibition is opening today at the Guggenheim Museum. Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe is a major multidisciplinary installation including fine art, film, fashion, design, performance, architecture and the written word (to name a handful) from this tremendously influential, avant-garde movement that essentially revered the new — technology, speed, industry, youth, urbanism. The first show devoted to Italian futurism in the United States, it includes more than 300 works organized chronologically over its 35 year period, and is poised to be one of the standout exhibitions of the year. I know where I’ll be this weekend.

Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe runs through September 1 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum


I love going to the opera. I adore the beauty and spectacle of it all, the total work of art. The Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus certainly did not disappoint. Set in fin-de-siècle Vienna, there was definitely a Gustav Klimt aesthetic in place, most evident in Act II, a glorious, glittering black and gold New Year’s Eve ball. Delightful and fun, the perfect way to spend Saturday night. 

Die Fledermaus runs through February 22.


When the Academy Award nominations were announced this morning I was really hoping The Crash Reel would be included for Best Documentary Feature. And although it wasn’t nominated, it most definitely is, in my opinion, one of the finest documentaries of 2013. Twice Oscar-nominated director Lucy Walker tells the story of champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce (son of glass artist Simon Pearce) and the half-pipe crash on New Year’s Eve 2009 that resulted in a traumatic brain injury that forever altered his life. This intimate, powerful, intelligent, beautifully edited film is remarkably multidimensional and reaches far beyond snowboarding and the risks inherent to extreme sports. And the soundtrack is genius.


Photograph by Erin Baiano/New York City Ballet
When we first wrote here in anticipation of Angelin Preljocaj’s new work for New York City Ballet, we never could have predicted what it would be. Now that we have seen Spectral Evidence, we can tell you it was magnificent. The choreography, set to vocal music by John Cage, was primal and powerful and quite unfamiliar for that stage. The costumes by Olivier Theyskens were a perfect compliment to the movement and to Preljocaj’s starting point for the creation of this ballet, the Salem witch trials. Spectral Evidence is by far one of the most exciting, impactful and important contemporary pieces I have seen NYCB perform, included on this list are Red Angels and DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse. The great news is it will be performed again this winter!


Angelin Preljocaj photographed by Lucas Marquand-Perrier

We just purchased our fall New York City Ballet tickets! The one ballet I am most looking forward to is the new work by French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj that will premiere on September 19. This, his second commission for NYCB, is a collaboration with Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens who has created the costumes, no doubt extraordinary. And it is set to music by the great American composer John Cage. The use of Cage’s music is brilliant and I expect a sort of American coming home. Before founding his own company, Ballet Preljocaj located in Aix-en-Provence, Preljocaj traveled to New York in 1980 to work with Merce Cunningham. Cage and Cunningham were of course partners in both life and art for over forty years, and very much like them, Preljocaj is one of the most avant-garde artists working in his medium today. I cannot wait.