Author Archive: Erin Courtney Devine

Erin Courtney Devine

Erin Devine received her Ph.D. in Modern Art, with a focus on art since 1980, from Indiana University. Her dissertation, From Translation to Transgression: The Feminism(s) of Shirin Neshat, offers a more nuanced understanding of Neshat’s work, exploring the history of veiling in Iran, Orientalist imagery, and the misunderstandings and misrepresentations of veiled women in the U.S. Devine’s methodology includes critical writings on gender in Islam and an Islamist society, a socio-political history of Iran in the twentieth century, and postcolonial understandings of transnational feminism and the exilic/diasporic subject, all important to fully articulating new interpretations of Neshat that refute accusations of exoticization. After receiving her Ph.D. in the fall of 2011, Devine relocated to the D.C. area, where she works as an artist and independent critic and scholar. In fall 2012, she was appointed Associate Professor at Northern Virginia Community College, where she teaches Humanities and Art History courses. Devine is currently working on a manuscript based on her dissertation, and continues the If I could say to America project that she began as an Artist in Residence at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris during the summer of 2012.

Madame Cézanne and “The Truth in Painting”

Paul Cézanne, Madame Cézanne in a Red Armchair, ca. 1877. Oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke saw the retrospective of Paul Cézanne at the 1907 Autumn Salon in Paris. Overcome by Cézanne’s “infinitely responsive conscience,” recognizable in the painter’s shifting fragments across the canvas, he returned to the exhibition daily until its close. In his writings on the exhibition, Rilke’s most jubilant praise was lauded to Madame Cézanne in a Red Armchair (ca. 1877).

Paris aime la photographie III

Eva Besnyö, Borgerstraat,1960 gelatin-silver print, 22,8 x 19,8 cm. Collection Iara Brusse, Amsterdam. © Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

When walking into Paris’s first retrospective exhibition of the photographs of Eva Besnyö at the Jeu de Paume, I was met with three mysterious images, visually linked by their askew perspectives. One is a self-portrait of Besnyö, who was born in Budapest in 1910 and broke free of Hungary’s provincial constraints to become a Berlin-based photographer at the young age of 20. The image of the woman in the portrait looks, in a word, contemporary. Unconventionally beautiful, Besnyö looks intensely into her medium format camera, hair tousled as her neck cranes above the view finder to which she is acutely focused, projecting an image of herself as an intense, slightly bohemian artist at work. Besnyö orchestrated this image of 1931 so that the viewer looks up to her from down below, and thus elevated before us is a powerful figure who directs our gaze and controls her own image long before similar strategies were conceived by feminist artists of the 1960s. It is from this point that the viewer commences into an exhibition of 120 prints by a photographer who has been given too little attention.

Paris aime la photographie II

The exhibition of Joel-Peter Witkin at the Bibliothéque Nationale is not a retrospective, but an arresting exploration of the photographer’s work over three decades. In collaboration with Witkin, the curators of Enfer ou Ciel (Heaven or Hell), on view until July 1, compare many of his most fascinating and well-known images to the library’s exquisite and significant collection of prints. Placed in an art historical context of similar imagery found in the prints of such artists as Albrecht Durer, José de Ribera, Rembrandt, Francesco de Goya, and Pablo Picasso, Witkin’s work is thus tangibly embedded within a tradition of symbolism and mythology, and the pondering of the human condition and its spiritual dimensions by great masters of Western art.

Paris aime la photographie I

Although Photo Month in Paris is November, exhibitions of emerging and renowned photographers seem to take place regularly throughout the city. If you are traveling to Paris, here are a few that will take you off the hard worn museum path and are worth the exploration.

Perhaps the premier outlet for photography in Paris, and an important venue for experimentation in the medium throughout Europe, is the Maison Européenne de la Photographie. Situated conveniently between the Pont-Marie and the St. Paul metro stops, it is just a block’s walk north from the Seine. Through mid-June, there are a variety of solo photo exhibitions on each of the gallery’s floors.

La Nuit des Musées, Paris

Leonardo da Vinci, The Madonna and Child with St. Anne. Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Each year, there is a cultural event in Europe, La Nuit des Musées, when for one Saturday night in mid-May participating museums throughout Europe are open free and late.

If you are in Europe in May it is an event definitely worth investigating, if not for the opportunity to enter museums free of charge then for the sheer experience of some of the world’s most famous museums after hours, surrounded by more locals than tourists. Another plus is that as part of the event, many of the museums have special events, such as concerts and guided tours. Attending, however, requires special planning. Paris, the city where I was located during their La Nuit des Musées, had 45 participating venues with 179 events. I utilized roughly the entire time span of the event, 6pm – 1am, and managed four venues.

A tip for our readers: How to get the most out of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review for the Arts.
What if I hate reading on computer screens, even tablets?
We get occasional inquiries from readers about whether we plan to launch a print edition of our arts journals. The answer is that we've given it some thought, and we're still thinking about it.
It is not only our older readers who object to reading them online. There are even some millennials who would rather read from paper. One of our readers got the simple idea of using the sites as sophisticated tables of contents. She prints out each article on three-hole paper and files them in a loose-leaf album. I've devoted a lot of time to finding the very best print and pdf facility there is. Just click on one of the icons at the top right of the article and print!
Click here to make your tax-deductible donation to The Arts Press, publisher of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review. Or click on the notice in the sidebar. The Arts Press is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of The Arts Press must be made payable to“Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.