Earth Day, 2020

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), Earth Day, 1970 (822.2002) (This poster was made for the first Earth Day, 50 years ago today.)

NASA, Earthrise, December 24, 1968 (2016.23.1)

Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts-Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders-held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft. Said Lovell, “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.”


Unidentified Photographer, [View of Earth taken from Apollo 8], December 29, 1968 (2012.99.3)

On a clear day both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are visible in this view from Apollo 8 spacecraft. The large, most prominent land mass is the bulge of West Africa. The portion of Africa near the equator is dark and cloudy, but the more northerly portions are clear, showing the prominent cap at Dakar and the Senegal River in Senegal; Cap Blanc and the Adrar plateau in Mauritania; the wide expanse of desert in Algeria and Spanish Sahara; and at the far edge, the Atlas and the Anti-Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Clouds cover the easterly coast of South America. (2012.99.3).

NASA, [“Nearly full Earth showing Africa, Middle East, Europe and western Asia from the Apollo 11”], July 16 1969, (2476.2005)

Apollo 11 view of Earth taken shortly after lift off on 16 July 1969 from a distance of 180,000 km. Most of Africa can be seen at the center of this image, as well as parts of Europe and western Asia, partly covered by clouds, and most of the Middle East. Apollo 11 was in translunar insertion at the time of this photograph, on its way to the historic first moon walk on 20 July. The Earth is 12,740 km in diameter. North is at 11:00. (Apollo 11, AS11-36-5355)

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Happy Day Before Earth Day Day

Marilyn Bridges, Pathway Into Infinity, Nazca, Peru, 1979 (448.1983)

Marilyn Bridges, Pathway to Infinity, high overview, Nazca, Peru, 1988 (2009.95.6)

Marilyn Bridges, Nazca, Peru, “Concorde”, 1979 (450.1983)

Marilyn Bridges, Feathers, Nazca, Peru, (447.1983)

Marilyn Bridges, Birdman, Nazca, Peru, 1979 (446.1983)

Marilyn Bridges, Valley of the Volcanos, Andalgua, Peru, 1989 (2009.92.27)

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“Lunch is Served”… at the museum

Dale Rooks or Ray Platnick, [Lunch at the Museum of Modern Art, New York], August 1942 (2016.19.191)

LUNCH IS SERVED: This Summer the Museum started serving lunch in the garden, found it surprisingly popular. Price $1, but as much as you want of everything.

PM, August 7, 1942

How to Spend This Gasless Week End: Relax at the Museum of Modern Art…

Of the two bright spots on 53d St. (the other is the Stork Club, of course), we think you’ll find the Museum of Modern Art less expensive, as much fun, and educational as well as entertaining. Tape on doors is air raid safeguard.

Undoubtedly the best quarter’s worth around New York these days is to be had at the Museum of Modern Art, at 11 W. 53d St. Not only can you gaze at the Museum’s excellently displayed exhibits to your air-conditioned content, but you can go to the movies; dine, lounge or sip drinks out in the sculpture garden; use the excellent library on films; follow the lecture tours around; bring your children to the Children’s Gallery.

And, if you’re a Museum member (this can be accomplished for the small sum of $10 a year, and includes admission at any time for you and wife or husband, if any, reserved seats at the movies, invitations to the openings of all exhibits, and your choice of one of the free publications offered, as well as a reduced rate on the others), you have the use of the penthouse lounge room, and its very fancy terrace.

The Museum, in deference to late workers, is now open from 12 to 7 p.m. daily, and from 1 to 7 p.m. Sundays.


PM, August 7, 1942

… Between Pictures, Try a Drink in the Restful Garden

ROAD TO VICTORY: America at War-soldiers, and the men and women behind the soldiers-you see their story unfold in photos by American photogrpahers, with captions by America’s poet, Carl Sandberg.

BAMBI [The Evolution of a Film Character]: Up in the Children’s Gallery, these days, they’re showing how a Disney cartoon is made, with Bambi as the subject. This shot at the very beginning, shows the Disney plant at Burbank.

LIBRARY: The Museum’s library, one of the finest in the country only recently has been opened to the public. Hours 12 to 7 on weekdays, 1 to 7 on Sunday.

LUNCH IS SERVED: This Summer the Museum started serving lunch in the garden, found it surprisingly popular. Price $1, but as much as you want of everything.

IN THE GARDEN: Lunch is served from 12:30 to 2, tea from 4 to 6, but wine, beer, and soft drinks are…
Photos by Dale Rooks and Ray Platnick

The “Road to Victory” exhibition was on view at MoMA from May 21–October 4, 1942. Little known fact: Weegee’s photo, [Afternoon crowd at Coney Island, Brooklyn], July 1940, was included in the exhibition.:

Presented less than six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Road to Victory, with its clearly propagandistic aim, was an unusual exhibition for MoMA. Photographer Edward Steichen, then a lieutenant commander in the US Navy and later an influential curator of photography at the Museum, organized this arrangement of enormous, freestanding photographic enlargements and murals. Featuring a cross-section of American life, from rural panoramas to scenes of preparation for war, it was intended, according to the press release, to “enable every American to see himself as a vital and indispensable element of victory.” The majority of these uncredited photographs came from federal programs such as the Farm Security Administration.

Lunch at the museum was a cold buffet in the outdoor garden at MoMA. The garden was redesigned to accommodate the popular lunchtime eaters and teatime drinkers. Shrimp salad and cheese cake are on the menu in the photo above. (One dollar in August 1942 had the same buying power as $15.64 today.) Afternoon tea cost 35 cents, (same buying power as $5.48 today; the 25 cent admission has the same buying power as $3.91 today). Gasoline was rationed in New York during most of the United States’ involvement in World War Two. Many civilians were limited to three or four gallons a week. Highlighting local cultural institutions was a useful service. Undoubtedly museums, even during (deathly) difficult times, can be “fun, and educational as well as entertaining.”

It’s lunchtime!

Frank Navara (1898-1986), [Coffee Pot Restaurant, Bremen, Indiana], 1939 (33.1986)

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John Pfahl (1939-2020)

John Pfahl (1939-2020), Moose and Arrow, Grand Teton National Park, WY, From “Altered Landscapes,” September 1977 (427.1984)

John Pfahl (1939-2020), Outlined Boulders, Red Rock Canyon, CA, From “Altered Landscapes,” March 1976 (424.1984)

John Pfahl (1939-2020), Bagel Pile, South Buffalo, New York, From “Altered Landscapes,” October 1976 (419.1984)

John Pfahl (1939-2020), Blue Grid, Pembroke, New York, From “Altered Landscapes,” October 1975 (425.1984)

John Pfahl (1939-2020), Red Setters in Red Field, Charlotte, NC, From “Altered Landscapes,” April 1976 (426.1984)

John Pfahl (1939-2020), Haystack Cone, Freeport, Maine, From “Altered Landscapes,” September 1976 (428.1984)

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“Joy of Living”

Just Let Me Look at You, Kenny Baker; Harry Sosnik And His Orchestra; Jerome Kern; Dorothy Fields, 1938. From the RKO-Radio Picture “Joy Of Living”.

You are there, exciting and fair
While I’m so dull tonight
Seems there’s a lull tonight
What can it be?

Graceful words are suddenly rare
Speeches are lost for me
But if emotion stills my lips
At least my eyes can see

Tonight just let me look at you
Don’t talk, don’t break the spell
You’re so sweet, so terribly sweet
So much a part of me
Dear funny face, that I love so well

Your smile
Such an enchanting smile
It’s made my whole world right
Oh, darling, stand there all alone for a moment
Young and gay and bright
Don’t talk, just let me look at you
Just let me look at you
Sweetheart, tonight!

Your smile
Such an enchanting smile
It’s made my whole world right
Oh, darling, stand there all alone for a moment
Young and gay and bright
Don’t talk, just let me look at you
Just let me look at you
Sweetheart, tonight!

Weegee 1899-1968, [Police and bystanders with body of Stanley Sandler, a passenger in an automobile that crashed into a Third Avenue El pillar and caught fire, New York], April 16, 1942 (965.1993) [gelatin silver print, 12 x 9 in. (30.5 x 22.9 cm)]

Weegee 1899-1968, [Police and bystanders with body of Stanley Sandler, a passenger in an automobile that crashed into a Third Avenue El pillar and caught fire, New York], April 16, 1942 (119.1992) [gelatin silver print, 14 x 11 1/8 in. (35.6 x 28.3 cm)]

(PM, April 17, 1942)

Around 4:30 AM on Thursday, April 16th, 1942, Frank Whalen (a 32 year old resident of Astoria, Queens) was drunkenly driving north on Third Avenue with Joseph Mahoney (a 32 year old resident of Astoria) and Stanley Sandler (a 23 year old resident of Astoria). Just below 42nd St., Whalen’s car crashed into a pillar of the Third Avenue elevated railway. The car “bounced from pillar to pillar of the elevated structure and finally, all but demolished, came to a stop and burst into flames at 42nd Street.” (The New York Sun, April 16, 1942, p. 5). Whalen and Mahoney were able to jump out of the car and suffered relatively minor injuries. Sandler was in the back seat and “his body was thrown clear of the wreckage.” He landed on the street.

Whalen was arrested for vehicular homicide and felonious assault. He resisted arrest and attacked an on-duty police officer, Patrick Flannery (resident of Sunnyside), who was nearby.

(Long Island Star-Journal, May 21, 1942)

Whalen was held in the nearby Bellevue Hospital’s prison ward. He was denied bail and “arraigned in Manhattan Homicide Court on charges of homicide and driving while intoxicated and in Manhattan Felony Court on a charge of slugging Patrolman Patrick Flannery.” (Long Island Star-Journal, April 25, 1942, p.12.) In May 1942, Whalen was sentenced to 70 days in jail for drunken driving. Whalen had a criminal record, he was arrested twice for grand larceny.

Father Thomas McNulty gave Sandler, partially covered in newspapers, his last rites on the sidewalk below the Tudor Theatre marquee that read “Irene Dunne in Joy of Living also Don’t Turn Them Loose.”

PM, Friday, April 17, 1942, p.7

Car Hits 3d Ave. L – One dies, Two Hurt

1. Few minutes before photo, this car was going north on Third Ave. near 42nd St. It smashed into L pillar, burned to this wreck.

2. Wheel of car rammed curb 40 feet from car body. Stanley Stanley, Astoria, died in wreck. Car was driven by Frank Whalen, Astoria.

3. Whalen, injured, battled with cops after recovering from shock of crash. He was handcuffed, forced into ambulance by officers.

4. Under double-bill movie marquee, body of Stanley, was covered with newspapers and coats by policeman. Technical charge of homicide was lodged against Frank Whalen, who was taken to Bellevue Hospital for observation. Another passenger, Joseph Mahoney, also was hurt.
PM, Friday, April 17, 1942, p.7

PM, Friday April 17, 1942, pp.6-7 (photos by Martin Harris, Alan Fisher, And Weegee)

The story on the opposite page from Weegee’s four photos, “This Yorkville News Dealer Knows His Customers,” is about a news dealer on East 86th St. who was selling “Nazi papers.” PM reported that “Yorkville still full of Nazis who miss their old Bund paper, the Weekruf und Beobachter, which the Government banned the first week of the war. Lately they’ve been turning to Social Justice for the kind of things they like to read.” (PM, Friday, April 17, 1942, p.6.) Some of the publications were published before the start of the war. Social Justice was prominently displayed

(New York Sun, April 16, 1942)

On April 21, 1942 The New York Times reported that the number of traffic accidents in New York City declined in 1942, as compared with the previous year. In the first few months of 1941 there were 465 accidents, resulting in 7 deaths, and 544 injuries. In all of 1941 there were 239 people killed in auto accidents. In the first few months of 1942 there were 335 accidents, resulting in 10 deaths, and 384 injuries. On January 1, 2019 The New York Times reported that “The total number of people killed in traffic crashes in New York City fell to 200 last year, down from 222 deaths in 2017 and the lowest level since the city began tracking such deaths in 1910.”

(Long Island Star-Journal, April 25, 1942)

You Couldn’t Be Cuter, by Ruby Newman And His Orchestra; Ray Morton; Jerome Kern; Dorothy Fields, 1938. From the RKO-Radio Production “Joy Of Living”.

Weegee (1899-1968), [Police and bystanders with body of Stanley Sandler, a passenger in an automobile that crashed into a Third Avenue El pillar and caught fire, New York], April 16, 1942 (2184) [original Eastman Kodak, 4×5 inch negative]

Weegee. Naked City, New York: Essential Books, 1945, pp. 88-89

This man covered up with newspapers was killed in an auto accident. The driver of the car was arrested, but put up such a terrific battle…cops had to put handcuffs on him.
Weegee. Naked City, New York: Essential Books, 1945, p. 89

On this day in history, 78 years ago today, PM published Weegee’s “Joy of Living” photo.

A slightly different version, presumably made seconds after the photo in PM, was published in Weegee’s Naked City, (recently republished by Damiani and ICP). The “This Yorkville News Dealer Knows His Customers” story opposite of “Car Hits 3d Ave. L – One dies, Two Hurt” in PM, and the presence of a man wearing a military uniform in the “Joy of Living” photo, illustrates that most of Weegee’s best-known photos were made on the home front. In fact, almost all of the photos in Naked City were made during World War Two.

The “Joy of Living” movie was released in 1938 and starred Irene Dunne (1898–1990) and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (1909–2000). (There was a Horn and Hardart restaurant diagonally across the street from the Tudor that was a popular and cheap place to eat for families that lived in the neighborhood on weekends. The Tudor was one of many movie theaters in the neighborhood, all have been demolished.) In April of 1942, if any of the 7.5 million residents of the Naked City had gone into the Tudor Theatre, 650 Third Ave., (originally named the Tuxedo Theatre, renamed for nearby Tudor City) and watched the double feature, they would have seen this delightful scene:

“Joy of Living,” 1938

You couldn’t be cuter
Plus that you couldn’t be smarter
Plus that intelligent face you have
A disgraceful charm for me

You couldn’t be keener
You look so fresh from the cleaner
You are the little grand slam
I’ll bring to my family

My ma will show you an album of me
That will bore you to tears
And you’ll attract all the relatives
We have dodged for years and years

And what’ll they tell me?
Exactly what’ll they tell me?
They’ll say you couldn’t be nicer
Couldn’t be sweeter, couldn’t be better
Couldn’t be smoother, couldn’t be cuter
Baby, than you are

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Charlie Chaplin Intime

Voila, May Reeves, “Charlie Chaplin Intime,” May 12, 1934 (2007.71.68) p. 1

Voila, May Reeves, “Charlie Chaplin Intime,” May 12, 1934 (2007.71.68) pp. 8-9

Voila, May Reeves, “Charlie Chaplin Intime,” May 19, 1934 (2007.71.69) pp. 10-11

Voila, May Reeves, “Charlie Chaplin Intime,” May 26, 1934 (2007.71.70) pp. 10-11

Voila, May Reeves, “Charlie Chaplin Intime,” June 2, 1934 (2007.71.71) pp. 12-13

Voila, May Reeves, “Charlie Chaplin Intime,” June 23, 1934 (2007.71.74) pp. 12-13

Charlie Chaplin was born, on this day, April 16th, 1889, in London. The weekly profiles of Chaplin in Voila in 1934 by May Reeves (author of The Intimate Charlie Chaplin) were published when he was making some his greatest films: “City Lights” was released in 1931 and “Modern Times” in 1936.

Vu, “Charlot en Europe,” February 25,1931 (2011.7.28)

Vu, “La Vie de Charlot,” April 1, 1931 (2007.84.17)

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“…She sings very loud, but good.”

Weegee (1899-1968), [Dora performing at Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York], April 1944 (14254.1993)

76 years ago tomorrow, April 16, 1944, PM published a photo of Dora Pelletier, an entertainer at Sammy’s. The photo and the accompanying words were the work of Weegee, a freelance photographer. Weegee’s reporting on Sammy’s for PM evolved into the picturesque and amusing 10th chapter, “The Bowery,” of Naked City. (Recently republished by Damiani and ICP). Other great photographers, like Lisette Model, Erika Stone, Lee Sievan, Alfred Eisenstaedt, etc. also made photos at Sammy’s, but it seems likely that Weegee spent more time and felt more at home at Sammy’s. And Weegee lived only a few blocks away, across from police headquarters. Perhaps, Weegee was attracted to Sammy’s in part because of the colorful characters; mixing of social and economic classes; loud, imperfect, and passionate performers; the nightly (apparently) wild or (perhaps) weird, photogenic, circus-like atmosphere; a poignant mixture of happy and tragic, fun and sad; a timeless escape; and a good place to work. Almost all of Weegee’s coverage of Sammy’s was made during World War Two.

PM, April 16, 1944, p. m4

Dora Pelletier singing loud and good at Sammy’s:

Inexpicably Dora Pelletier’s last name is not used in the article. She sings “I Want a Girl (Like The Girl That Married Dear Old Dad)” (Harry Von Tilzer, composer, and William A. Dillon, lyricist, 1911). The song was only about 33 years old (and the photo was made almost 78 years ago).

Weegee reports on Sammy’s, the Bowery

At No. 267 on the Bowery, among the missions and the flop houses is Sammy’s, the poor man’s Stork Club, the only saloon on the Bowery having a cabaret license. There is never a cover change. There’s no cigaret girl – a vending machine puts out cigarets for a penny apiece. There’s no hatcheck girl – patrons prefer to dance with their hats and coats on. But there is a lulu of a floor show, according to Weegee, who covers Sammy’s for us.

Weegee (1899-1968), [Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York], December 1944 (2384.1993)

The place was opened 10 years ago by Sammy Fuchs as a regular Bowery barroom. Three years ago a well-dressed man wearing a monocle began dropping in. He would sit at a table by himself and drink. Then Sammy got curious and asked the fellow how come. The fellow answered, “I am an English lord who is tired of the stuffy and formal drinking places uptown and prefer the Bowery, where I know I will escape my friends.”

Weegee (1899-1968), [After the opera, Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York], ca. 1944 (14222.1993)

It grew and it grew
Sammy figured there must be hundreds of characters like that, so he enlarged his place, took out the cabaret license, put in an orchestra and entertainers and the place began to grow. Now Sammy has just taken over the building next door to double the capacity of the place.

Weegee (1899-1968), [Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York], ca. 1944 (253.1996)

As customers arrive from uptown in cabs they are besieged by a bunch of panhandlers asking for a dime for a glass of beer. They get it, too. The place is jammed, the uptown crowd mingling happily with the Bowery crowd.

Weegee (1899-1968), [Sammy Fuchs and Ethel, queen of the Bowery, Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York], ca. 1943 (2023.1993)

Jimmy Durante once dropped in and gave a free show; also Irving Berlin and wife. (Mr. B. got his start in the Bowery, you know.) Toward midnight some odd types drop in for a quick one. There is a woman called Pruneface; a man called Horseface; Ethel, the Queen of the Bowery, who generally sports a pair of black eyes “that nature did not give her,” (according to Weegee); a man with a long white beard called The Bishop who, old timers say, is looking all over the Bowery for the man who stole his wife 40 years ago.

Weegee (1899-1968), [Performer and dancer at Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York], ca. 1945 (14290.1993)

Weegee says that one evening “while I was at Sammy’s absorbing the atmosphere and drinks, a midget walked in. He was about three and one-half feet in height. I invited him to have a drink with me. He said he had just arrived from Los Angeles where he had been working for the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., walking the streets dressed as a penguin advertising Kool cigarets. The midget was flush and started buying me drinks. He proudly showed me his social security card and told me that he was 37 years old, and single, as the girls were only after money. After the seventh round of drinks this midget got boisterous and offered to fight any man (his size) in the house.”

Weegee (1899-1968), Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York, December 1944 (14302.1993)

Scotch at $1 – and why
Sammy told Weegee the other night that the new 30% Federal tax hadn’t affected the volume of business. A sign over the bar says “Drinks of Scotch, $1.” Sammy gave Weegee the breakdown for the figure.

Drink of Scotch: $.75
Thirty per cent tax: .23
City sales tax: .01
Extra: .01

Total: $1.00

Weegee (1899-1968), [At Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York], ca. 1944 (14307.1993)

The extra penny is added because Sammy’s cash register doesn’t add odd numbers. Bowery drinkers don’t mind paying a buck for a drink of Scotch, says Weegee, because it makes them feel important and besides they are helping the war effort by contributing the tax money to Uncle Sam. Sammy sells beer for 15 and 20 cents, rye for 55 and 65.

Weegee (1899-1968), “At midnight both the elite and bums have left Sammy’s on the Bowery; only a milk-drinker remains while Sammy counts the receipts.” 1945 (14305.1993)

Sammy greets his patrons at the door. He frisks some of the Bowery ones if he spots a bulge on their hips. They sometimes try to smuggle in a bottle of smoke (straight alcohol) to drink in the washroom. Sammy is wise to the chisellers, but he is a friendly fellow.

Weegee (1899-1968), [“New Year’s at 5 in the morning in a night club, I found this 3 year old with his parents welcoming the New Year with milk.” Being carried by a woman with a camera], 1943 (14228.1993)

“I know Sammy gave $100 without being asked for it for a woman in the neighborhood who died and there was no money for for the funeral,” Weegee told us. “He also takes care of customers’ valuables. I also saw him turn men away from his bar, telling them not to drink till their day off. I saw one woman at the bar give Sammy her wrist watch and $30 to save for her until the following day.

Weegee (1899-1968), [Cat sleeping, Bowery, New York], ca. 1944 (14363.1993)

“Sammy is sector commander of the air raid wardens in the neighborhood and has contributed $5000 worth of equipment. He is known as Mayor of the Bowery and his ambition is to become Mayor of New York City.”
PM, April 16, 1944, pp. m4-m5

PM, Sunday, April 16, 1944, pp. m4-m5

Weegee (1899-1968), [Dora at Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York], April 1944 (14255.1993)

I Want a Girl (Just Like the Girl that Married Dear Old Dad), American Quartet; William A. Dillon; Harry Von Tilzer, 1911

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Happy Birthday Robert Doisneau

Robert Doisneau (1912-1994), [A Parisienne scans a poster outside Communist Headquarters in the Paris 14th arrondissement], 1945 (1415.2005)

Introduction. Robert Doisneau spoke at ICP on April 23, 1981, this is before the start of slide show. Speaking of pictures…

Robert Doisneau (1912-1994), [Camouflage, Paris], 1944 (344.2002)

Robert Doisneau (1912-1994), [Paris], ca. 1944 (237.2003)

Paris. Robert Doisneau speaking (ICP, April 23, 1981) about why he photographs in Paris.

Robert Doisneau (1912-1994), [Paris], ca. 1944 (239.2003)

Robert Doisneau (1912-1994), [Metro, Paris], 1944 (348.2002)

Robert Doisneau, ICP, on April 23, 1981.

Robert Doisneau (1912-1994), [Hairdresser], ca. 1944 (242.2003)

Time. Robert Doisneau, ICP, April 23, 1981. Standing still is an economic way to travel.

Robert Doisneau (1912-1994), [Le Manège de Monsieur Barré], 1955 (168.1981)

Robert Doisneau was born on April 14, 1912, 108 years ago today.

The best one. Robert Doisneau, April 23, 1981, at ICP, during this presentation of words and images there was a lot of laughter…

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Happy 150th Birthday Metropolitan Museum of Art

Alan Fisher, [Tapestries exhibited at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York], 1941 (2012.121.32)

PM, March 6, 1941, pp. 18-19 (photos by Alan Fisher)

PM Photographer Agrees With Moses About Museums…

Early this week Park Commissioner Robert Moses said some unpleasant things about the city’s museums. They were musty, he announced in a report to Mayor LaGuardia, and their “sacred” atmosphere “intimidated… not only public officials but the public generally.”

To check the Commissioner’s charges, Alan Fisher, PM photographer, visited New York’s most venerable museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then, for comparison, he went to the new Museum of Modern Art. He came back strongly pro-Moses and these pictures show why.

The Metropolitan, Alan Fisher said, gave him “museum indigestion… If it would just clear out 50 per cent of the exhibits and buy about 5000 baby spotlights it would have a wonderful show. As it is now, they make no attempt to point out anything to you. It’s cluttered and gloomy and I felt as if I had to whisper all the time.”

[Photo captions:] Compare this overcrowded exhibit room at the Metropolitan with the Museum of Modern Art’s simple presentation of Navajo blankets on the opposite page, top right. Francis H. Taylor, the Metropolitan’s new 37-year-old director, agrees with Commissioner Moses that “…the people have had their bellyful of prestige and pink Tennessee marble. the museum must not be… a place where the old can go and sit to serve an apprenticeship for the cemetery.”

This tapestry hangs in one of the great marble halls of the Metropolitan, often called America’s Lourve. Tired visitors must sit on uncomfortable benches like this. No smoking is allowed except in the museum restaurant. Note the cluttered presentation of objects in the gallery.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been housed in this imposing old structure on Fifth Ave. at 82nd St. since 1880. Admission free.

This unimaginative arrangement of Greek and Roma statuary doesn’t compare very favorably with the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition of Indian Art on the next page. Nut Mr. Taylor, its director, plans many rearrangements as well as modernization of the building.

PM, March 6, 1941, pp. 18-19 (photos by Alan Fisher)

…After Comparing Metropolitan and Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art had just the opposite effect, he said. There all exhibits were presented and lighted dramatically in an atmosphere of warmth and spaciousness.

Comm. Moses blamed much of the mustiness on directors who represented an aristocratic, conservative tradition.

In 1940, 886,771 people visited the Metropolitan and 585,303 visited the Modern. But: the Modern charges 25 cents a day everyday, while the Metropolitan charges 25 cents only on Mondays and Fridays (this year there’s no charge at any time). An average of 818 people paid a quarter to visit the Met on days when admission was charged. An average of 1632 paid a quarter everyday to visit the Modern. Obvious conclusion: more people are willing to pay 25 cents to go to the Modern than to visit the Metropolitan.
PM, March 6, 1941, pp. 18-19

[Photo captions:] The Museum of Modern Art moved into this modern five-story glass-and-white marble building at 11 W. 53d St. in 1939. Admission 25 cents.

One critic said of the Museum of Modern Art’s current exhibition of Indian Art: “It is seldom our privilege to encounter installation so consistently beautiful, so constructive, so helpful, so appropriate, so dramatic.” Exhibition like this makes museum-going an adventure as well as an education. During spring and summer the Museum exhibitions in its grey-and-yellow pebbled back yard, where visitors can buy ice-cream and Coca Cola.

The great window dominates the front of the building, which was designed to give a maximum amount of light and feeling of spaciousness. The Museum was founded in 1929.

Most striking arrangement in the Indian exhibition is treatment of these Haida Indian masks. Highlighting from below in a completely dark room emphasizes their sinister symbolism.

A huge photo enlargement dramatizes the little stone figure on the stand. Moses thinks technique like this would take the mustiness out of city museums.

The exhibition that PM was gushing about at MoMA was “Indian Art of the United States,” January 22–April 27, 1941. The wildly well-attended exhibition (almost as popular as Picasso) featured underground burial chambers, totem poles, a sixty-foot mural, and much more. Of course the Met weathered Robert Moses’s and PM’s (and Alan Fisher’s) criticism and is one of the best and most popular museums in the world. More than three million people visited MoMA in fiscal year 2018. Somewhere in the ball park of seven million people visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in fiscal year 2019.

Garry Winogrand (1928-1984), [Stairs of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York], from “Women are Beautiful,” 1975 (499.1983)

Tod Papageorge, Metropolitan Museum of Art Opening, 1977 (882.2000)

150 Years of Art, Community, and Ideas
When The Met was founded 150 years ago today, on April 13, 1870, it had no art and no building. It began simply as an idea—that art can inspire anyone who has access to it.

Happy Birthday 150th Metropolitan Museum of Art!

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Lunch Time!

Walker Evans (1903–1975), Lunchroom Buddies, New York City, 1931 (printed 1974) (50.1981.k)

This glass plate negative was made on Second Avenue in Manhattan.

Inscription on negative envelope: ‘LUNCHROOM BUDDIES [underlined] // New York about [crossed out] 1933? // Glass neg. 6 1/2 x 8 1/2″ // pub. Hound & Horn vol. VI no. 3 // (Apr. June, 1933).’ Metropolitan Museum

Lee Sievan (1907-1990), Free Manicure with Your Lunch, New York, 1940s (36.1990)

If you were in Midtown Manhattan in 1940 and wanted a cuppa tea and wanted to have your fortune told, there were a boatload of options. You could have gone to the Gypsy Cauldron Tea Room (156 W 44th St.), Gypsy Restaurant Tea Room (432 7th Ave.), Gypsy Sandwich Shop (740 Lexington Ave.), Gypsy Tea Shoppe (2390 Broadway), Gypsy Tent Tea Room (559 5th Ave.), or the Gypsy Wagon Tea Room. Or, there were three Gypsy Tea Kettles (503 5th Ave., 431 5th Ave., 200 West 50th St.). Near Union Square was Gypsy Den Tea Room (106 East 14th St.). In the Village was Babita’s Gypsy Tea Room (55 Greenwich Ave.). If you were terrific at tasseography and could read the tea leaves (or coffee grounds) correctly then you would have known that one of the Gypsy Tea Kettles would survive as a business for over 60 years.

In the spring of 1930, on Fifth Avenue, across from the New York Public Library, the first Gypsy Tea Kettle opened:

It began as a spot for women to pause from a day of shopping, buy a sandwich and a cup of tea, and have their tea leaves read. In the intervening decades, social history, economics and the mercurial vagaries of popular taste have reshaped the basic premise to the point that, in defiance of its name, it no longer employs Gypsies or offers tea-leaf readings, having long since replaced them with tarot cards. The result is a peculiarly New York hybrid of fortune-telling boutique, refuge from the cold, just-for-a-lark lunchtime stop and psychoanalytic institute.
Adam Green, New York Times, “From Tea Leaves to Tarot Cards,” January 1, 1993, p.C1

The tea leaf readings were offered for free because it was illegal to tell fortunes for money. The postwar years were the most successful for the Gypsy Tea Kettle; telling fortunes for money was now legal. By 1975 readers at the Gypsy Tea Kettle were using playing cards to tell fortunes for $1.50, not including tip, and offering free tea readings from a 60-cent cup of tea. Sandwiches and cookies were also available. Curious customers would have their fortunes told in green vinyl booths. The owner of the Gypsy Tea Kettle for over forty years did not believe in fortune telling or readings and never had one. (Leslie Maitland, The New York Times, January 31, 1975.) Eventually the Gypsy Tea Kettle abandoned reading tea leaves and started reading playing cards and tarot cards. And they didn’t stop for over sixty years.

You don’t need a fortune teller to predict: if it’s not lunchtime now, it will be soon, and it’s probably lunchtime somewhere. Are you receiving a free manicure and/or free tea cup reading (25 cents is worth about $3 or $4 today) with your lunch? What’s your lunch today?

It’s lunchtime!

Free(?) newspaper reading with your lunch:
The New York Times, “For Those Who Dare Seek the Future, No Lack of Soothsayers“, Leslie Maitland, January 1, 1975
The New York Times, “Psychics’ Clients In Business Suits“, Sherry Sontag, July 14, 1985,
The New York Times, “From Tea Leaves to Tarot Cards“, Adam Green, January 1, 1993,
The New York Times, “The Storefront Psychic: A Peek Inside“, Erin St. John Kelly, May 14, 1995

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