First Retrospective in 20 Years of Master Photographer Irving Penn, Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty, Opens February 24 at Nashville’s Frist Center

Irving Penn (1917–2009), known for his iconic fashion, portrait and still life images that appeared in Vogue magazine, ranks as one of the twentieth century’s most prolific and influential photographers. The first retrospective of his work in 20 years, Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty conveys the extraordinary breadth and legacy of the American artist and will be on view at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts from February 24 to May 29, 2017.

penn_young_boy

Irving Penn. Young Boy, Pause Pause, American South, 1941, printed 2001. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of The Irving Penn Foundation. © The Irving Penn Foundation

Organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Merry Foresta, the museum’s curator of photography from 1983 to 1999, the exhibition contains more than 140 photographs, including the debut of 100 photographs recently donated by The Irving Penn Foundation and several previously unseen or never-before-exhibited photographs. Penn’s renown as a fashion photographer is matched by the recognition of his innovative and insightful portraits, still lifes, nudes, and travel photographs. The exhibition features work from all stages of Penn’s career, including street scenes from the late 1930s, photographs of the American South from the early 1940s, celebrity portraits, fashion photographs, and Penn’s stunning late color work.

penn_bee

Irving Penn. Bee, New York, 1995, printed 2001. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of The Irving Penn Foundation. © The Irving Penn Foundation

In a career that spanned nearly 70 years, Penn’s aesthetic and technical skill earned him accolades in both the artistic and commercial worlds. He was a master of both black-and-white and color photography, and his revival of platinum printing in the 1960s and 1970s was a catalyst for significant change in the art world. He successfully crossed the chasm that separated magazine and fine-art photography, narrowing the gap between art and fashion. “Penn adopted a workmanlike approach to making pictures,'” says Frist Center Chief Curator Mark Scala.But even in his most commercial images, he upended convention with a penchant for formal surprise.”

penn_woman_in_moroccan_palace

Irving Penn. Woman in Moroccan Palace (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), Marrakech, 1951, printed 1969. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist. © Condé Nast

Schooled in painting and design, Penn eventually chose photography as his life’s work. His portraits and fashion photographs defined elegance, yet throughout his career, he also transformed mundane objects—storefront signs, food, cigarette butts, street debris—into memorable images of unexpected, often surreal, beauty.

penn_miyake

Irving Penn. Issey Miyake Fashion: White and Black, New York, 1990, printed 1992. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of The Irving Penn Foundation. © The Irving Penn Foundation

Continue reading

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Presents Exclusive U.S. Broadcast Premiere of Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, February 21 on PBS During Black History Month

First Feature Documentary On The Author/Activist Features Exclusive Interviews With Dr. Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Common, Bill And Hillary Clinton, And Others

Year-Long #InspiringWomanPBS Online Campaign Launches This Week At pbs.org/americanmasters

1

Dr. Maya Angelou on the set of “Oprah’s Master Class,” circa January 2011. Credit: OWN

Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” Dr. Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928-May 28, 2014) led a prolific life. As a singer, dancer, activist, poet and writer, she inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought that pushed boundaries. Best known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Random House), she gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before. The first feature documentary about her life, American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, premieres nationwide Tuesday, February 21 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) during Black History Month as part of the 31st season of THIRTEEN‘s American Masters series. PBS Distribution will release the film on DVD the same day, with additional bonus features, and on Digital HD February 22. The film title is based on one of our favorite poems by Dr. Angelou, “Still I Rise” from her poetry collection And Still I Rise (Random House).

2

Dr. Maya Angelou, circa late 70s/early 80s. Credit: Getty Images

MAYA ANGELOU

Dr. Maya Angelou is best known for her best-selling autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (Random House), photo taken November 3, 1971. Credit: © WF/AP/Corbis

With unprecedented access, filmmakers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack trace Dr. Angelou’s incredible journey, shedding light on the untold aspects of her life through never-before-seen footage, rare archival photographs and videos and her own words. From her upbringing in the Depression-era South and her early performing career (1957’s Miss Calypso album and Calypso Heat Wave film, Jean Genet’s 1961 play The Blacks) to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana and her many writing successes, including her inaugural poem for President Bill Clinton, American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise reveals hidden facets of her life during some of America’s most defining moments. The film also features exclusive interviews with Dr. Angelou, her friends and family, including (in alphabetical order) Diahann Carroll, actress; Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State; Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the U.S.’ Common, hip-hop artist/actor; Jules Feiffer, writer/cartoonist; Nikki Giovanni, writer; Louis Gossett, Jr., actor; Guy B. Johnson, Dr. Angelou’s son; Quincy Jones, musician/producer/composer; Robert Loomis, Dr. Angelou’s editor; Don Martin, dancer/opened for Dr. Angelou; Louise Meriwether, writer; Eugene Redmond, professor of English literature; Valerie Simpson, singer/songwriter; John Singleton, director; Cicely Tyson, actress; Alice Windom, friend/roommate in Ghana (1963-65); Oprah Winfrey, global media leader/philanthropist and Alfre Woodard, actress.

Photo of Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou, circa 1970. Credit: Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

5

Dr. Maya Angelou called Sonoma, California, home in the late 70s/early 80s. Credit: Magnum

“It was a unique privilege to be the first filmmakers to tell Dr. Angelou’s full story and exciting to uncover stories that most people hadn’t heard,” said co-director and co-producer Bob Hercules.

10

Louis Gossett, Jr., is interviewed in “American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise.” He and Dr. Angelou were part of the casts of off-Broadway play “The Blacks” (1961) by Jean Genet and TV miniseries “Roots” (1977). Credit: © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders | Photo credit required at all times.

The film reflects on how the events of history, culture and the arts shaped Dr. Angelou’s life, and how she, in turn, helped shape our own worldview through her autobiographical literature and activism,” said co-director and co-producer Rita Coburn Whack.

6

Dr. Maya Angelou. Credit: Getty Images

11

Dr. Maya Angelou. Credit: Ron Groeper

Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou, San Francisco, CA, circa 1970. Credit: Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS. Courtesy of Caged Bird Legacy

It is bittersweet that Dr. Angelou takes her rightful place in the American Masters series posthumously,” said executive producer Michael Kantor, Co-Executive Producer and American Masters series Executive Producer. “We are fortunate that Bob and Rita captured these insightful interviews with her just prior to her death so we can all learn from her wisdom firsthand.” Continue reading

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Tells the Story of Legendary Bluesman B.B. King During Black History Month on PBS

B.B. King: The Life of Riley Premieres Nationally Friday, February 12 at 9 p.m. (check local listings)

Features interviews with Bono, Eric Clapton, Aaron Neville, John Mayer, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Ringo Starr, and more

B.B. King, born Riley B. King, was one of the most influential and celebrated blues musicians of all time. From his roots as a sharecropper’s son, working in the cotton fields of Mississippi, he rose to become a living legend — the most renowned blues singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer of the past 40 years — earning the moniker ‘King of the Blues‘. King’s story of struggle and triumph is chronicled in American Masters: B.B. King: The Life of Riley, premiering nationwide during Black History Month on Friday, February 12 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listing). Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman narrates and appears in the film.

 B.B. King performs on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Kevin Nixon

B.B. King performing on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Kevin Nixon

Made with the full cooperation of The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Mississippi, B.B. King: The Life of Riley was filmed in locations across America, as well as the United Kingdom. Award-winning Producer/Director Jon Brewer worked on the film with King for two years. Filming was completed shortly before King passed on May 14, 2015.

The bio-doc explores King’s challenging life and career through candid interviews with the man himself, his family, longtime friends, and fellow music contemporaries such as Bono, George Benson, Eric Clapton, Aaron Neville, John Mayer, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Ringo Starr, Johnny Winter, and more.

Born September 16, 1925 on a plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi, near Indianola, King was raised by his maternal grandmother, Elnora Farr in nearby Kilmichael. After she died, his father brought him to live in Lexington. There, for the first time, King experienced segregation. A mob hung a black boy and dragged him behind a car to the courthouse in Lexington. King witnessed the boy being dragged; it was an image he would never forget. Like so many blacks of his generation, King was subjected to bigotry, racism, hatred and denial. But he never allowed it to destroy his spirit or his music.

King candidly reminisces about memorable people in his life such as preacher Archie Fair, the first person he heard play an electric guitar; cousin Bukka White, who taught him about being a blues singer; the musical influence of bluesman T-Bone Walker and French jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt; his stint as a disc jockey where his radio names (Beale Street Blues Boy and Blues Boy King) were eventually shortened to B.B. King; and how and why he came to name his guitars Lucille. A bittersweet moment in the film is King’s reflection on marriage. King had two wives, Martha Lee Denton, and then Sue Carol Hall. The failures of each marriage were attributed to King’s relentless touring schedule.

Rare archival footage is interspersed throughout the film, including his 1968 performance at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West where he was billed with some of the hottest rock stars, who idolized him and helped to introduce him to a young white audience.

Among the highlights from the film is footage of King’s collaboration with Bono, where King reveals that he “does not do chords,” and the story behind King and Eric Clapton‘s recording of Riding with the King. Though he made an exception for Clapton, King admits he doesn’t like to play acoustic guitar.

The ‘King of Blues,’ who delighted audiences around the world with such classic R&B hits as Three O’ Clock Blues, Paying The Cost To Be The Boss, Every Day I Have The Blues, and of course his most popular cross over hit, The Thrill Is Gone, died at age 89. The city of Memphis, where he had performed so many times, held a funeral procession for him down Beale Street, with a brass band marching in front of the hearse, playing When the Saints Go Marching In.

Play the best that I can. Reach as many people as you can, as many countries,” says King. “In other words, I’d like the whole world to be able to hear B.B. King sing and play the blues.

B.B. King became America’s most recognizable and influential blues musician,” says Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters. “The thrill isn’t really gone yet – I think anyone who sees this film will be thrilled and inspired by this legendary artist.”

"American Masters," THIRTEEN's award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America's most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation's landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

“American Masters,” THIRTEEN’s award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation’s landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

Continue reading

World Renowned Soundsuit Artist Nick Cave “Blankets” Shreveport, Louisiana

The Shreveport Regional Arts Council and Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau announce details of Cave’s eight-month artist-in-residency program in Shreveport

Louisiana is no stranger to the colorful and the outrageous, whether it is embodied by the celebration of Mardi Gras or the spicy local cuisine. It’s no wonder that Soundsuit artist Nick Cave thinks the northwest corner of this flamboyant state is the perfect place to bring his elaborate, symbolic and engaging art.

Nick Cave refers to himself as “an artist with a responsibility.” His work is grounded in civic consciousness. His Soundsuit art is exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum of Modern Art, Crystal Bridges Museum, the Trapholt Museum in Denmark and he works around the world in London, Paris, China, Jerusalem and Australia. His current exhibition, “Here Hear” at the Cranbrook Museum near Detroit, is creating social change as Detroit discovers Detroit.

But why Shreveport, and why now?

I like the neighborhood in which I will work in Shreveport,” said Mr. Cave. “It’s a nine-block area called Shreveport Common that is completely uncommon because of its amazing quirks and diversity. My work here will be like nothing I’ve ever done, a brand new idea. It will be about change and about being proactive. I hope that it will be the mortar that unifies this neighborhood and that helps the rest of the world recognize who is here and see how we value and recognize that they matter.

Shreveport Common was named the 2015 National Development Council’s #1 Community Development Project in the Nation. Cave is coming to Shreveport Common as an artist-in-residency with The Shreveport Regional Arts Council to work with residents in the care of social service organizations within Shreveport Common. Over an eight-month period, Mr. Cave will work alongside local artists, choreographers, dancers, musicians, spoken word artists and filmmakers to engage the social service residents to weave and construct elaborately beaded blankets that symbolize their “hidden stories,” the ones seldom heard in our nation’s disenfranchised communities.

Mr. Cave’s work in Shreveport will culminate with a performance at the Shreveport Memorial Municipal Auditorium on Sunday, March 20, 2016.

People throughout the Shreveport community will be encouraged to take part in the Nick Cave experience by participating in fun, public “Bead-a-Thons” to help string beads for blankets to be used in the March 20 performance. They will also have the opportunity to spontaneously experience Nick Cave “INvasions” on Shreveport street corners and at local landmarks. These INvasions are often a part of the Nick Cave “Soundsuit” experience and have been performed in locations including Grand Central Station, Detroit and Denver.

Mr. Cave’s Artist-in-Residency program in Shreveport and the finale performance are funded, in part, through a grant award from the National Endowment for the Arts to the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.

To find out more about #NickCaveBlanketsShreveport, the local artists with whom he will work and the Shreveport Common social organizations that he will impact, visit the Shreveport Regional Arts Council’s website at http://www.shrevearts.org.

PBS’S AMERICAN MASTERS 2015 SEASON AIRS AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE: A HISTORY

Ric Burns’ New Documentary American Ballet Theatre: A History Premieres Nationwide on THIRTEEN’s American Masters Series Friday, May 15 on PBS in Honor of the Company’s 75th Anniversary

THIRTEEN’s American Masters series teams up with Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Ric Burns to co-produce a new documentary about the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in honor of its 75th anniversary.

American Masters – American Ballet Theatre: A History premieres nationwide Friday, May 15, 2015 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and delving into the rich history of one of the world’s preeminent ballet companies, Burns combines intimate rehearsal footage, virtuoso performances and interviews with American Ballet Theatre’s key figures: artists pivotal to the company’s formation, including Alicia Alonso and the late Donald Saddler and Frederic Franklin; contemporary luminaries, including dancers Susan Jaffe and Julie Kent, choreographer Alexei Ratmansky and artistic director Kevin McKenzie; past and present stars Misty Copeland, Gillian Murphy, Marcelo Gomes and Hee Seo; dance historian and author Jennifer Homans; and prominent dance critics Anna Kisselgoff and the late Clive Barnes.

Alicia Alonso in “Swan Lake.” Credit: Photo by Maurice Seymour

Alicia Alonso in “Swan Lake.” Credit: Photo by Maurice Seymour

The story of American Ballet Theatre, and the breathtaking rise of dance in the U.S. over the last three-quarters of a century, is one of the most inspiring stories in the cultural world,” says Burns. “Ballet is the most poignantly ephemeral and expressive of all the arts, both earthbound and transcendent. And ABT, indisputably one of the greatest dance companies in the world, has torn down an incredible number of barriers, welcoming choreographers of every kind and dancers from around the world.

American Ballet Theatre’s Corps de Ballet in “La Bayadere.” Credit: Photo by Buddy Squires

American Ballet Theatre’s Corps de Ballet in “La Bayadere.” Credit: Photo by Buddy Squires

Gillian Murphy warming up for the Black Swan variation in “Swan Lake.” Credit: Photo by George Seminara

Gillian Murphy warming up for the Black Swan variation in “Swan Lake.” Credit: Photo by George Seminara

Gillian Murphy receives last minute coaching from Kevin McKenzie and Clinton Luckett. Credit: Photo by George Seminara

Gillian Murphy receives last minute coaching from Kevin McKenzie and Clinton Luckett. Credit: Photo by George Seminara

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) is recognized as one of the great dance companies in the world. Few ballet companies equal ABT for its combination of size, scope, and outreach. Recognized as a living national treasure since its founding in 1940, ABT is the only major cultural institution that annually tours the United States, performing for more than 450,000 people. The company has also made more than 30 international tours to 43 countries as perhaps the most representative American ballet company and has been sponsored by the State Department of the United States on many of these engagements.

When American Ballet Theatre was launched in autumn 1939, the aim was to develop a repertoire of the best ballets from the past and to encourage the creation of new works by gifted young choreographers, wherever they might be found. Under the direction of Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith from 1940-1980, the company more than fulfilled that aim. ABT’s repertoire, perhaps unmatched in the history of ballet, includes all of the great full-length ballets of the 19th century, such as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, the finest works from the early part of the 20th century, such as Apollo, Les Sylphides, Jardin aux Lilas and Rodeo, and acclaimed contemporary masterpieces such as Airs, Push Comes to Shove and Duets. In acquiring such an extraordinary repertoire, ABT has commissioned works by all of the great choreographic geniuses of the 20thcentury: George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp, among others.

In 1980, Mikhail Baryshnikov became artistic director of American Ballet Theatre, succeeding Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith. Under his leadership, numerous classical ballets were staged, restaged and refurbished, and the company experienced a strengthening and refining of the classical tradition. In 1990, Jane Hermann and Oliver Smith succeeded Baryshnikov and immediately established an agenda that was dedicated to maintaining the great traditions of the past while aggressively pursuing a vital and innovative future.

In October 1992, former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Kevin McKenzie was appointed artistic director. McKenzie, steadfast in his vision of ABT as “American,” is committed to maintaining the company’s vast repertoire, and to bringing the art of dance theater to the great stages of the world.

Over its 75-year history, the company has appeared in a total of 136 cities in 45 countries and has appeared in all 50 states of the United States. In keeping with ABT’s long-standing commitment to bring the finest in dance to the widest international audience, the company has recently enjoyed triumphant successes with engagements in Abu Dhabi, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Havana, Tokyo and Beijing. On April 27, 2006, by an act of Congress, American Ballet Theatre became America’s National Ballet Company®.

Isabella Boylston, Joseph Gorak and Thomas Forster executing a variation during class. Credit: Photo by George Seminara

Isabella Boylston, Joseph Gorak and Thomas Forster executing a variation during class. Credit: Photo by George Seminara

As we approach our 75th year, it is a tremendous honor to have Ric Burns and American Masters illuminate ABT’s history in such a rich and meaningful way,” said Rachel Moore, CEO of American Ballet Theatre. “I am certain the expertise and care Ric and his team have devoted to this film will offer a fresh perspective on our art form and serve as a fitting testament to this cultural institution.

In 2007, Misty Copeland made history by becoming the third African-American female soloist and first in two decades at American Ballet Theatre. She is interviewed and performs in Ric Burns’ new documentary “American Masters: American Ballet Theatre.” Credit: Jade Young

In 2007, Misty Copeland made history by becoming the third African-American female soloist and first in two decades at American Ballet Theatre. She is interviewed and performs in Ric Burns’ new documentary “American Masters: American Ballet Theatre.” Credit: Jade Young

Continue reading

The Jewish Museum in New York Present Chagall: Love, War, and Exile

First U.S. Exhibition Exploring Darker Works by Marc Chagall Created During World War II, September 15, 2013 – February 2, 2014

From September 15, 2013 through February 2, 2014, THE JEWISH MUSEUM (1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, New York City) in New York will present CHAGALL: LOVE, WAR, AND EXILE which, for the first time in the U.S., explores a significant but neglected period in the artist’s career, from the rise of fascism in the 1930s through 1948, years spent in Paris and then in exile in New York.

Marc Chagall, "Self-Portrait with Clock", 1947, oil on canvas, private collection. ©2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Marc Chagall, “Self-Portrait with Clock”, 1947, oil on canvas, private collection. ©2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985), one of the foremost modernists of the 20th century, created his unique style by drawing on elements from richly colored folk art motifs, the Russian Christian icon tradition, Cubism, and Surrealism. Beginning with the evocative paintings from his years in France, CHAGALL: LOVE, WAR, AND EXILE illuminate an artist deeply responsive to the suffering inflicted by war and to his own personal losses and concerns. Although he never abandoned a poetic sensibility, his art of the 1930s and 1940s reflects the political reality of the time. Most unexpected is the recurring appearance of the figure of the crucified Jesus as a metaphor for war and persecution. By the mid-1940s, Chagall returns to joyful, colorful compositions expressing the power of love. The exhibition includes 30 paintings and 24 works on paper, as well as selected letters, poems, photos, and ephemera. Continue reading

American Documentary | POV Wins MacArthur Foundation Award

$1 MILLION AWARD RECOGNIZES AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY AND ITS GROUNDBREAKING PUBLIC TELEVISION SERIES, POV, FOR EXTRAORDINARY CREATIVITY AND EFFECTIVENESS

AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY | POV is one of only 13 nonprofit organizations around the world to win this year’s MACARTHUR AWARD FOR CREATIVE AND EFFECTIVE INSTITUTIONS. The award, which was announced today, recognizes exceptional grantees that have demonstrated creativity and impact, and invests in their long-term sustainability with sizable one-time grants. AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY | POV will use its $1 million MACARTHUR AWARD to build its cash reserves and complete an infrastructure upgrade.

According to MacArthur, the Award is not only recognition for past leadership and success but also an investment in the future. Organizations will use this support to build cash reserves and endowments, develop strategic plans, and upgrade technology and physical infrastructure.

POV Logo (Photo Credit: American Documentary, Inc.)

POV Logo (Photo Credit: American Documentary, Inc.)

Furthermore, for these Awards, the Foundation does not seek or accept nominations. To qualify, organizations must demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness; have reached a critical or strategic point in their development; show strong leadership and stable financial management; have previously received MacArthur support; and engage in work central to one of MacArthur’s core programs.

AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY, INC. (AMDOC) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets and is often a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic-engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation. Continue reading