A visit to Frick Madison, the temporary new home of The Frick Collection. Then, a look at “Beth Lipman: Collective Elegy” at the Museum of Arts and Design, a mid-career survey of the Wisconsin-based artist’s practice over the past 20 years. And a profile of Claire Chase, an award-winning flutist and a champion of contemporary classical music.

View Transcript

[upbeat music] - [Philippe] Coming up on NYC Arts, a visit to the Museum of Arts and Design for a look at the exhibition that's Lipman Collective Elegy.

- You can see as her works become larger in scale, this kind of spread where you're looking at the sumptuous residue and detritus of a feast that wasn't cleaned up, it's just languishing there on the table.

And there are textiles and goblets and spilling food and books and all these markers of culture and civilization but simultaneously kind of pointing out this excessiveness.

- [Narrator] And a profile of flutist Claire Chase, who has had a remarkable career in the world of contemporary classical music.

[energetic flute music] - Density 2036 is the farthest thing from your grandmother's flute recital that I hope you can imagine. [laughs] [vigorous flute music] - [Narrator] Funding for NYC Arts is made possible by Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, the Lewis 'Sonny' Turner Fund for Dance, Jody and John Arnhold, the Ambrose Monell Foundation, Rosalind P Walter, Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown, Charles and Valerie Diker, the Nancy Sidewater Foundation, Elroy and Terry Krumholz Foundation, the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation and Ellen and James S Marcus.

This program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the city council.

Additional funding provided by Members of Thirteen.

NYC arts is made possible in part by First Republic bank.

- [Spokesperson] First Republic bank presents First Things First.

At First Republic Bank, first refers to our first priority, the clients who walk through our doors.

The first step?

Recognize that every client is an individual with unique needs.

First decree, be a bank whose currency is service in the form of personal banking.

This was First Republic's mission from our very first day.

It's still the first thing on our minds.

- [Narrator] And by Swann Auction Galleries.

- [Spokesperson 2] Swann Auction Galleries.

we have a different way of looking at auctions, offering vintage books and fine arts since 1941.

Working to combine knowledge with accessibility, whether you're a lifelong collector, a first-time buyer or looking to sell, information at swanngalleries.com.

[upbeat dramatic music] - Good evening and welcome to NYC Arts.

I'm Philippe de Montebello on location at the Frick Madison, the temporary new home of the Frick collection.

Located at Madison Avenue and 75th street, Frick Madison occupies the former site of the Whitney Museum of American Art, And more recently The Met Breuer.

The Frick collection will reside here for two years while its historic buildings on East 70th street undergo renovation.

One of the world's foremost collections of European fine and decorative arts, the Frick's holdings have grown over the decades, more than doubling since the opening of the museum in 1935.

The collection originated with industrialist Henry Clay Frick, who bequeathed his gilded age mansion along with its paintings, sculptures and decorative arts to the public for their enjoyment.

In a departure from the lavish domestic settings of the Frick mansion, works on view here have been placed most thoughtfully in the modernist building design by Marcel Breuer.

Unlike how they were shown at the Frick mansion, they are organized here chronologically and by region, allowing for fresh comparisons and new insights.

They include the works we are all familiar with from Bellini to Holbein, Velázquez, to Vermeer, Ingres, Fragonard, Whistler and so many more.

Recognizing that Marcel Breuer's creation of stone and concrete provides a very different museum experience, the curatorial team has embraced this modernist setting as a unique opportunity to see the collection in a new context.

They have maintained the core values of the Frick experience within these spaces and hope visitors enjoy a reframed version of the Frick collection here at Frick Madison.

On our program tonight, we visit the Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus circle.

The museum celebrates the work of all kinds of makers, craftspeople, designers, and traditional artists.

Their creative work ranges from the objects we use in our daily lives to rare works of art.

Currently on view is the work of two artists working in glass, each making works that challenged the distinctions between the fine and decorative arts.

Brian Clarke, the Art of Light, features innovative works of stained glass by the British artist.

He transforms this traditional practice, exploring both the bright and the dark possibilities of the medium.

Beth Lipman, Collective Elegy, includes objects crafted in metal and clay, photographs and video, and most notably, spectacular works of glass by this Wisconsin-based artist.

The exhibition highlights Lipman's ongoing concerns with issues of history, fragility and mortality.

NYC Arts spoke with curator Samantha De Tillio about Collective Elegy.

- Beth Lipman Collective Elegy is a collection of works by the American artist Beth Lipman.

It's a mid-career survey and look at her practice over these past 20 years.

The exhibition is not formally broken into any categories but there are various themes that permeate her work.

And one of those is this interest in the passing of time and mortality and death.

Margin for Error, Crib and Cradle uses two very familiar furniture forms to investigate the idea of the passage of time and the life cycle.

The crib is an infant crib form and it's sinking into the floor and propelling the inhabitant and forward.

And the cradle is actually an adult cradle modeled off of a form popularized by the Shakers that was used for rocking ill or moribund adults.

The work is really talking about the nakedness and vulnerability in which we inhabit both of those extreme aspects of the life cycle.

In a very direct relationship, The work that she is building is predicated on the still life tradition, the bringing together of disparate objects to create these tablescapes or images where objects are really taking center stage.

In 2000, in an exhibition co-organized by urban glass and the Brooklyn Museum, Beth chose a still life painting by Severin Roesen to make work after or inspired by.

Her artwork had a lot of the same elements, and then over the course of her career, she began to create her own assemblages of this kind of vocabulary of symbols.

She uses very monochrome, colorless glass.

Some cases she has worked in monochromatic black glass.

She's trying to really frustrate the eye of the viewer, so you have to look closely.

Her work is critiquing this incessant need to consume.

The viewer can't even really possess her work with their eyes because it's hard to discern the individual objects.

She traveled to the Netherlands and visited the Rijksmuseum and saw the still lives of the old masters.

The Dutch East India trading company was at its height during this period.

So goods were being traded around the globe.

There was a rise of a merchant class.

To be able to assemble a still life painting that included exotic fruits or goods that you wouldn't have gotten in your home country were just ways of assembling your wealth and showing your worldliness.

Critiquing consumerism as it relates to our contemporary culture through the still life and through these kinds of avenues of history is something that Beth is really interested in.

So these laid table installations will always have an arrangement of goblets, maybe covered jars, bread, fruit, things that are perishable goods.

These are all universal symbols that will be found in still life paintings, but then Beth combines them in her own way.

And you can see as her works become larger in scale, this kind of spread where you're looking at the sumptuous residue and detritus of a feast that wasn't cleaned up, it's just languishing there on the table, and there are textiles and goblets and spilling food and books and all these markers of culture and civilization but simultaneously kind of pointing out this excessiveness.

Underneath the table is this paleo landscape that includes ginkgos, ferns, the cycad plants that have been around for millions of years and continue to be around today.

There's the plant life underneath, there's cultural objects on top.

The cycad plants really burst through the tabletop and show this relationship between humans and the environment and the interconnectedness between us all.

The broken glass comes with it, and it's intentional.

She has a philosophy of breakages and the possibility for breakages kind of being a metaphor for, again, the fragility of life.

So she's not always upset if a little piece breaks here or there, but I will say nothing breaks here at the museum.

[laughs] That's in her own studio.

For her, that kind of like risk involved in the materiality itself is part of the process.

Beth actually named the exhibition Collective Elegy, thinking about this relationship between humans and the environment, and for me as we progress throughout this year, it really began to take on this idea of perhaps a collective dying off of the old ways and thinking towards a new future.

So while elegy can have negative connotations, I actually think of it as a fairly hopeful title.

[upbeat music] - For more information on cultural events in our area please sign up for our free weekly email at nyc-arts.org/email.

Top five picks will keep you up to date all year round.

And be sure to connect with NYC Arts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

[upbeat music] Claire Chase became enchanted with the flute at the age of three.

Her love of the instrument has inspired a remarkable career in contemporary classical music.

A founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble she has been a champion of new music around the world.

She's also in great demand as a soloist.

Chase was named a MacArthur fellow in 2012 and awarded the Avery Fisher prize in 2017.

She is currently in the middle of a 23 year commissioning and performance cycle called Density 2036.

Began in 2013, the project's goal is to create an entirely new repertoire for the flute, one that pushes both audiences' perceptions and the limits of the instrument itself.

Each year brings an ambitious new batch of music to the Kitchen, the contemporary and experimental art space in Chelsea.

NYC Arts spoke with Claire Chase about four of the commissions completed in 2019.

[soothing flute music] - Density 2036 was an idea that I had in 2012, inspired by Edgar Varèse's seminal 1936 flute solo called Density 21.5.

And my personal story with this piece is that my teacher, when I was 12 or 13 years old, wonderful, wonderful man named John Fonville came into my flute lesson and he put these two pages of music on the music stand.

And I said, 'this is weird.

'What is this?'

And he said, 'don't judge, do you want to hear it?'

I said, 'of course I want to hear it.'

So he said, 'okay, kiddo, stand back.' [laughs] I was like, I've never heard that before a flute performance before.

And he proceeded over the next four and a half minutes to completely blow my mind.

I had never experienced music and I'd never experienced the flute, I never experienced resonance that way.

Like whatever music that is, I don't know what we call that music, but I want to do that music.

And I wanna learn to transmit that kind of experience that John transmitted for me.

And the piece itself, I like to think of it as an anthem.

[upbeat flute music] It is brash at times.

They're screeching wailing sounds.

It's incredibly intimate and poetic and tender.

[dramatic flute music] That was written in '36.

What are we gonna be doing in 2036?

What will that piece be?

Or what will that collection of pieces be that will take the flute from its previous identity and hurl it into the future?

[somber flute music] What if I just decided to create an entirely new program of music every year between 2013 and 2036 with the idea that we would have one in one only one rule?

And that is that each year the cycle needs to be a complete departure from the last.

I've never imposed a theme.

It's very important to me that we're giving platforms to people from many different career stages who come from many different musical backgrounds who identify differently, and most importantly, who are pushing the art form forward.

It's a big team of people that work collaboratively on this.

We really care for every sound and every action that we hope will give the audience an immersive experience.

That is the farthest thing from your grandmother's flute recital that I hope you can imagine. [laughs] [upbeat flute music] The show opener, it's called Magic Flu-idity by Olga Neuwirth, the Austrian composer.

My duo partner is Nathan Davis who is an extraordinary percussionist, also a composer and sound artist.

Yes.

So the piece is reduced from a flute concerto that Olga wrote for me last year, based on Bach's 4th Brandenburg concerto, and so people who are familiar with the Brandenburg 4th will probably hear a little nods and winks to the original Bach.

[energetic flute music] And so if you could imagine an orchestral force winnowing down to just one little desktop.

So Nathan has quite a complex job.

[energetic flute music] It's devilishly difficult, but playing with Nathan is just a joy.

[energetic flute music] One more time.

[energetic flute music] So Pamela Z is an absolutely phenomenal performer, electronic pioneer, composer, a just hydra-headed woman of so many trades.

I was nervous when I asked her but I was so delighted that she accepted.

Eight, 11, 12, 15, 18, 36.

I visited her over the summer in her studio in San Francisco.

We improvised a little bit.

I made some sounds, she had me record some things and then she said, 'I wanna put you in my 'little recording booth and just interview you.'

And I thought, okay, maybe she's gonna use this for a podcast or something like that.

- [Pamela] , Eight, 11, 12, 15, 18, 36, 5,800, 2,000, 2,001, and, and.

[hissing flute music] - Then I got the piece and the entire tape part is my voice.

But she constructed little melodies with fragments of my voice and the flute part musicalizes those naturally musical elements.

- [Pamela] 2,001, and, and, and, maybe, like, I was, and, and, 2,001.

- I've also coached with this wonderful theater artist Saudi Sakara, who has helped me with the placement of the different stations.

You see the different flutes on stage, Big Bertha the contrabass flute has her own bed.

So Saudi has worked with me on telling this non-narrative story.

I mean, there are stories that I'm telling myself in my head, but the audience isn't supposed to follow things from A to B and B to C.

[mellow flute music] [mumbling in background] It's more like little vignettes that I think of as dialogues with your previous selves, and some of it's humorous and some of it is kind of demonic and dark.

[mischievous laughter] [energetic flute music] [mischievous laughter] Phyllis Chen is another composer, performer, electronic musician, instrument inventor.

[dramatic flute music] And so she wrote this piece based on my heartbeat.

She strapped a stethoscope to my chest and used that sound to construct the electronic part.

[energetic flute music] And then that electronic part drops out about halfway through the piece.

A person comes up on stage and affixes a stethoscope to my live heartbeat.

And I play the remainder of piece with whatever hummingbird heart is coming through.

[long flute note] To hear it pumped through a sound system and on subwoofers, it's quite a humbling experience.

[mellow flute music] Sarah Hennies is another absolutely incredible artist who works at the intersection of lots of different disciplines.

She's a beautiful percussionist in her own right and sound artist and composer.

And so this piece that she's written is part of a series that she's working on called the Reservoir Series, that deals with the idea of our unconscious as a kind of reservoir of feelings, many of which are unwanted and some of which are traumatic memories.

[somber flute music] The piece for us is called Reservoir to Intrusion, involves the flutist in the middle of the space and five or more voices that move in and around.

And I'm so privileged to be working with this phenomenal young group, Constellation Corps.

They are a group of philosophers, poets, movement artists, vocalists, theater artists.

[somber flute music and vocalization] We are interconnected whether we're conscious of it or not.

So the more conscious we are of how interconnected we are, especially in a situation of heightened awareness which our performance is, the more interesting things get.

It's dangerous to be that open for the performer and for the listener.

And it's especially risky with so-called contemporary music because we've never heard it before.

I love that high wire act.

I totally live for it.

[upbeat flute music] [upbeat music] - Thank you for joining us this evening.

I'm Philippe De Montebello on location at Frick Madison, the temporary new home of the Frick Collection.

Goodnight and see you next time.

To enjoy more of your favorite segments on NYC Arts, visit our website at nyc-arts.org.

[classical music] - Good evening and welcome to NYC Arts.

I'm Paula Zahn.

- I'm Philippe De Montebello at the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center.

[classical music] - Leonard, what a privilege to be able to sit down and talk with you.

- I love being here with you too, Paula.

- Where are we?

- We're at a moment to take nothing for granted.

- Well, it's a pleasure to be with Marcia Reven, the curator of this exhibition full of hope.

We are in the midst of some of the greatest sculptures by the iconic names.

- Classical and modern dance are extremely different.

And I have so much more to learn before I can really articulate the differences.

- And when I listened to Yip Harburg's lyrics in that, I suddenly thought, 'that's what I want to do with my life.'

- My pictures reside in very intimate, very private moments.

- My primary way of playing the piano is by improvising.

- You are in some respects on sacred ground.

- A woman came to see me perform and said 'how would you like to play Billie Holiday?'

- I think one of the essential things that we learned is that Matisse used pens to complete his work.

- You always are surprised when you're in opera you're doing a piece that's a hundred years ago and you think, 'Oh my gosh, this could be now.'

- The cardboard guitar is the very first of that moment of realization.

- Then suddenly you come and present something and you get applause.

Great, you know?

[classical music] [upbeat music] - [Narrator] Funding for NYC Arts is made possible by Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, the Lewis 'Sonny' Turner Fund for Dance, Jody and John Arnhold, the Ambrose Monell Foundation, Rosalind P Walter, Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown, Charles and Valerie Diker, the Nancy Sidewater Foundation, Elroy and Terry Krumholz Foundation, the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation and Ellen and James S Marcus.

This program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the city council.

Additional funding provided by Members of Thirteen.

NYC Arts is made possible in part by First Republic bank.

- [Spokesperson] First Republic Bank presents First Things First.

At First Republic Bank, first refers to our first priority: the clients who walk through our doors.

The first step?

Recognize that every client is an individual with unique needs.

First decree, be a bank whose currency is service in the form of personal banking.

This was First Republic's mission from our very first day.

It's still the first thing on our minds.

- [Narrator] And by Swann Auction Galleries.

- [Spokesperson 2] Swann Auction Galleries.

We have a different way of looking at auctions, offering vintage books and fine arts since 1941, working to combine knowledge with accessibility, whether you're a lifelong collector, a first-time buyer or looking to sell.

Information at swanngalleries.com.