A dollhouse you can call home

Last week, I took my daughter to the Museum of the City of New York to see the Stettheimer Doll House and the breadbox-sized art performance installed inside. The dollhouse and its art show have both been at the museum since 1945, but only last year were they given a private room. And while my daughter was a little distracted when she saw Oscar the Grouch, in the hallway in the “New York’s puppets“I was completely mesmerized.

Commissioned in 1916 by Carrie Stettheimer – a wealthy New Yorker who ran fashion boutiques with her mother, Rosetta, and her sisters Ettie, an author, and Florine, a famous painter – 28 inch tall house, two… story, 12-room mansion, complete with bathroom and elevator, modeled after Andre Brook, the Tarrytown estate where the family gathers. Carrie spent 19 years decorating her interior with Empire wallpaper, Louis XV furniture and other delicate furnishings, even renting herself a private apartment to work on the project.

She also persuaded famous artists of the time, such as sculptors Alexander Archipenko and Gaston Lachaise, to contribute properly sized artwork. Most famously, Marcel Duchamp reprinted his “Nude Descending a Staircase,” the Cubist-influenced portrait of a moving body that shocked New York at the Armory Show in 1913. Drawing of 1918. his ink-and-wash version is more serrated and explosive than the original, just three and a half inches taller.

After her mother’s death in 1935, Carrie stopped building the house, and when she herself died nine years later, the items she collected were not intact. Before donating everything to the museum, her sister Ettie chose 13 drawings and postage stamp-sized paintings to hang as exhibits in the house’s large ballroom, as she believes her sister will want, and three sculptures to place nearby. (A few more hang in other places in the house.)

The first room you will encounter is the living area, which can be seen by removing the facade. They look as if their residents have just stepped out. There’s bacon on the stove and a pie on the ice; Last night’s mahjong tiles, handmade by Carrie, were still scattered across the library table. At first, it can be a thrill to look at all the rooms with God’s vision, or it can be comforting and cozy to imagine yourself inside. But when you start to count the details – the dumbbells and wringer in the master bathroom, the delicate cupboards in the fabric room, the Dreiser and Van Vechten titles on the library’s red lacquer bookshelf – you will quickly spot them. more than you can participate in. Meanwhile, around the rear, the art gallery is only partially visible through three French windows.

The new installation solves these problems by surrounding the house with magnified photographs of the interior, along with relevant historical documents. It’s a logical presentation, one that makes the secretive yet fascinating home more accessible without sacrificing its mystery, although I prefer the longer wall stickers to the QR codes. Ettie’s 1945 donation receipt states that with the house, she sent a doll, complete with a Saratoga trunk and trousers; and Carrie appear, in a reproduction of a portrait of Florine, as a glamorous flirt at a garden party.

The art exhibition began on the courtyard of the house, where Ettie installed the bronze sculpture of “Venus” by Gaston Lachaise and the bronze “Mother and Son” by William Zorach. Zorach’s voluptuous mother gazed at her partner with a worried expression, while the goddess, tucking her cloak behind her naked body, tried not to look at anyone. If you’re small enough to step into this miniature Stettheimer, you must cross between eros and purebred to do so.

But look at, at least, a portrait of two dancers by the Swedish painter Carl Spinchin hung above the fireplace. She, in a flowing pink dress, flew in the jet, while he, in a navy blue suit, waited beside her; around them are blocks of primary colors so bright that the pair is almost obscured. Eleven other framed drawings and paintings gather around Sprinchorn: Lachaise’s medley of evocative graphite nudes; Women bathing in sin, posing in a blood-red sky, by Marguerite Zorach; a sailboat facing the big waves; a Cubist pastoral setting; Duchamp’s “Nude”; and, in Louis Bouché’s “Mama’s Boy,” a child peering between heavy green curtains.

In retrospect, it is curious to note that Ettie Stettheimer, one of only three outstanding free-spirited women perfecting other people’s wonderful works of art, chose to hang a large proportion of her paintings. female nude paintings with works of only one female artist. But it’s also a brilliant trick, a time capsule within a time capsule that captures both the constraints and possibilities of life as a bohemian woman in pre-war New York.

Sprinchorn’s wide, square frame dominates the arrangement and shape of the other pieces – smaller, narrower – and their less flamboyant colors emphasize that fact. It’s like the dancers are the main characters and all the other pictures of their dreams. And what exactly is in their dreams? Both are preoccupied with female beauty, whether symbolic or concrete reality. But among the pictures on the right, besides the ballerina, there is also a splendid sailboat, a nude Lachaise posing in ecstasy, and Duchamp’s portrait of a woman in the form of a woman. pure electrical energy, all suitable enough for one to gracefully leap onto the stage.

To the left, next to the male dancer, only a sullen boy is looking from his bedroom – and another drawing of Lachaise turned away. The male dancer was really just standing there. The ballerina is where the action takes place.

Stettheimer’s Dollhouse

Through May 20 at the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan. 212-534-1672; mcny.org.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/20/arts/design/stettheimer-dollhouse-museum-city-new-york.html A dollhouse you can call home

Fry Electronics Team

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