Tag Archives: Hilton Als

TONI MORRISON — THE PIECES I AM

Navigating a white male world wasn’t threatening. It wasn’t even interesting. I knew more than them. — Toni Morrison

TONI MORRISON—THE PIECES I AM—the new documentary by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, now in theaters—is a joyous, exhilarating look at the life and work of a great American author, teacher, and editor who has always been happy to be labeled a “black writer,” a “woman writer.”

“I didn’t want to speak for black people. I wanted to speak to, and among…”

And it is shocking, in Greenfield-Sanders documentary, to come across such benighted critical voices as, say, Sara Blackburn’s in 1973, in America’s supposedly liberal newspaper of record:

“Toni Morrison is far too talented to remain only a marvelous recorder of the black side of provincial American life.”*

Removing the white male gaze as the dominant voice is a key element of Morrison’s practice, and she doesn’t hesitate calling out black writers who seemed to write to white audiences. Citing Ralph Ellison, she asks, “The Invisible Man? Invisible to whom?”

As a senior editor at Random House throughout the 1970s, Morrison discovered and championed books by Gayl Jones, Toni Cade Bambara, and Bettie Wysor (author of The Lesbian Myth). She also persuaded Angela Davis—then in her late twenties—to write her autobiography.

“Eventually I learned that the book she wanted to publish was the book I wanted to write… She helped me access my imagination in ways I continue to be grateful for today.” — Angela Davis

Song of Solomon (1977) was Morrison’s first best seller, and five years later she left her editor’s post to devote her time to writing and teaching. She’s professor emeritus at Princeton University, and often told her students, “I know you’ve been told, ‘write what you know.’ I don’t want you to do that. You don’t know anything.”

TONI MORRISON—THE PIECES I AM features interviews with Morrison’s friends and colleagues—Walter Mosley, Farah Griffin, Fran Lebowitz, Paula Giddings, Hilton Als, Sonia Sanchez, editor Robert Gottlieb, and Davis—as well as a rich selection of contemporary artwork by, among others, Mickalene Thomas, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, David Hammons, and Rashid Johnson.

TONI MORRISON—THE PIECES I AM

Music Hall

9036 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills.

Downtown Independent

251 South Main Street, Los Angeles.

Arclight Hollywood

6360 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.

The Landmark

10850 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles.

*Sara Blackburn, review of Sula, by Toni Morrison, New York Times, December 30, 1973.

From top: Toni Morrison, photograph from Toni Morrrison—The Pieces I Am; Morrison, photograph courtesy and © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders; Morrison with her sons Ford Morrison (left) and Slade Morrison in 1978, photograph by Jack Mitchell, Getty Images; poster courtesy Magnolia Pictures; Morrison and Greenfield-Sanders, photograph courtesy and © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. Images courtesy and © the author, the photographers, and Magnolia Pictures.

ALICE NEEL — FREEDOM

Two years after Alice Neel, Uptown, David Zwirner presents ALICE NEEL—FREEDOM, another great exhibition of the painter’s work, this time focused on Neel’s portrayal of the nude figure.

The show’s catalogue features contributions by Marlene Dumas, Helen Molesworth, and Ginny Neel, Alice’s daughter-in-law and the organizer of FREEDOM.

ALICE NEEL—FREEDOM

Through April 13.

David Zwirner

537 West 20th Street, New York City.

From top: Alice Neel, Pregnant Julie and Algis, 1967; Alice Neel, Degenerate Madonna, 1930; Alice Neel, Untitled (Alice Neel and John Rothschild in the Bathroom), 1935; Alice Neel, Bronx Bacchus, 1929; Alice Neel, Joe Gould, 1933. All artwork © The Estate of Alice Neel, courtesy The Estate of Alice Neel and David Zwirner.

HILTON ALS — A COLLECTIVE PORTRAIT OF JAMES BALDWIN

“Troubled times get the tyrants and prophets they deserve. During our current epoch, the revival of interest in author James Baldwin has been particularly intense. This is in part due, of course, to his ability to analyze and articulate how power abuses through cunning and force and why, in the end, it’s up to the people to topple kingdoms.

“As a galvanizing humanitarian force, Baldwin is now being claimed as a kind of oracle. But by claiming him as such, much gets erased about the great artist in the process, specifically his sexuality and aestheticism, both of which informed his politics.” — Hilton Als*

GOD MADE MY FACE—A COLLECTIVE PORTRAIT OF JAMES BALDWIN—a group show curated by Hilton Als, featuring the work of Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Alvin Baltrop, Beauford Delaney, Marlene Dumas, Ja’Tovia Gary, Glenn Ligon, Alice Neel, Cameron Rowland, Kara WalkerJane Evelyn Atwood, and James Welling—is on view through mid-February.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Metrograph and Als will present a series of films featuring Baldwin through the years, at home and abroad.

GOD MADE MY FACE—

A COLLECTIVE PORTRAIT OF JAMES BALDWIN*

Through February 16.

David Zwirner

525 and 533 West 19th Street, New York City.

HILTON ALS ON JAMES BALDWIN FILM SERIES

Friday and Saturday, February 1 and 2.

Metrograph

7 Ludlow Street, New York City.

See “The Energy of Joy: Hilton Als in conversation with David Bridel and Mary-Alice Daniel,” PARIS LA 16 (2019): 217–221.

From top: Marlene Dumas, James Baldwin, 2014, from the Great Men series exhibited at Manifesta 10 in St. Petersburg, image credit: Marlene Dumas and Bernard Ruijgrok PiezographicsBeauford Delaney, Dark Rapture, 1941, oil on canvas; Alvin Baltrop, The Piers (man sitting), 1975-1986, photograph; Richard AvedonJames Baldwin, writer, Harlem, New York, 1945, © The Richard Avedon Foundation; Ja’Tovia Gary, An Ecstatic Experience, 2015, video still; Jane Evelyn AtwoodJames Baldwin with bust of himself sculpted by Larry Wolhandler, Paris, France, 1975 (detail), gelatin silver print. All images courtesy David Zwirner.

CARSON MCCULLERS

A celebration of Carson McCullers at Film Forum tonight will include a screening of the Fred Zinnemann masterpiece A MEMBER OF THE WEDDING (1952), based on McCullers’ novel.

Opening the double bill, Karen Allen will introduce her 35-minute film A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD. (2016).

 

THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING and A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD

Monday, September 24, at 6:30 pm.

Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, New York City.

See: Hilton Als on McCullers

and: Library of America—The Collected Works of Carson McCullers

Above image credit: Columbia Pictures.

Below: Ethel Waters (left), Carson McCullers, and Julie Harris at the opening night party for the Broadway production of A Member of the Wedding.

Photograph by Ruth Orkin.

PARIS LA 16 — THE FASHION AND WRITING ISSUE — OUT NOW

The new print issue of PARIS LA—a tenth-anniversary special devoted to fashion and writing—is now available.

PARIS LA 16 includes interviews with Hilton Als, Chris KrausInes Kaag and Desiree Heiss of BlessTisa BryantFlorence MüllerMalik Gaines, Q.M. ZhangCommes des Garçons’ Adrian Joffe, Anelise Chen, and Bice Curiger and Jacqueline Burckhardt of Parkett.

Massimiliano Mocchia di Coggiola contributed an essay with artwork on dandyism, Ramon Hungerbühler and Fabian Marti talk about skate brands, there are pieces on Setsuko Klossowska de Rola, and Pierre Davis and No Sesso, Anne Dressen has written about contemporary jewelry…

… and portfolios and portraits by Cédric Rivrain, Cassi Namoda, David Benjamin Sherry, Wyatt KahnTobias Madison, Item IdemJean-François Lepage, Todd ColeMarie Angeletti, Will Benedict, and Katerina Jebb—who created the Michèle Lamy cover and a poster of Marisa Berenson—grace the issue.

Also: a reprint of Iris Marion Young’s landmark essay “Women Recovering Our Clothes.”

 

PARIS LA 16, published by DoPe Press.

Above: Inside covers, production PDF.

Below: Front and back covers, production PDF.