Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Changing Face of William Shakespeare; The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives at the Morgan Library



Want to know how to spot a real Shakespeare portrait? Then get thee to Mr Pierpont Morgan’s palatial pad of precious prizes.
Hint: wink, wink (*answer below).
It was my sister’s idea to visit the Morgan. Sarah is a bigwig of sorts at the Boston Public Library and is enthusiastic about all things librarian. I hadn’t been to the Morgan in many years and was only tepidly anticipating gazing on the Bards musty continence. 
Wrong again! This Morgan field trip proved to be an illuminating and provocative little adventure. Although the Morgan’s see through elevator and glassy, corporate looking atrium seem out of place architecturally, the library and his study have been restored beautifully. 
The current crowd draw exhibit is the Shakespeare portrait and is an intriguing but small collection of about 5 portraits. The one supposedly done from life features an amusingly youthful looking Willy in his mid 40’s with a full head of hair.
Maybe he just lived right.
(*I suppose some Shakespeare aficionados might know that he had a wandering left eye, but I enjoy discovering minutia about historic bigwigs that bring them up close and personal)
However the Diaries are the real eye openers here, and provide plenty of opportunity to visually wander through rambling, but revealing narratives of creative luminaries.
Although photography was not allowed I snuck in a phone photo of the Stuart Davis tome. His manifesto is professed in block lettering, perhaps informing his graphic interface with art.
Steinbeck complains about too many visitors and the loud phone ringing.
Einstein scribbles algorithms like sketches, etching out his vision of the universe.
Bob Dylan actually does sketch, a view out his window of an urban landscape evoking Matisse.
Many of the older diaries were written in tiny cramped script, I’d guess that paper and ink were precious commodities in the 17th century. The languid, flaccid handwriting, and copious piles of pulp used by 20th century diarists might have shocked those antique scribes.
Wastes not want not.









Stuart Davis diary


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