Monday, December 7, 2009

Program of Note

For those in the New York area, and possibly the rest of the country as well, PBS (channel 13 in NY) is showing The Rape of Europa tonight at 8. It’s an extremely powerful and informative documentary, depicting the brutish way the Nazis looted and destroyed art during their conquest of Europe, along with the painstaking, dangerous and risk-filled tactics Allied, mostly U.S., forces fashioned to save these treasures of the ages. It’s an often unknown chapter of the humanity we brought to the battle to free the bodies and culture of Europe. It will make you proud of our values as a country. On this day, December 7, it’s a delicate counterpoint to the typical Pearl Harbor Day war movies that clog the airwaves.

Central to the documentary is the story surrounding Gustav Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer and its return to its rightful owners. That picture now hangs in New York City’s Neue Galerie, dedicated to German and Austrian art. The picture’s cultural cousins, including The Kiss, from Klimt’s “golden period,” hang in the Belvedere Palace in Vienna, which our family visited in July 2007. It was there I had one of my most unfortunate museum experiences.

I wanted to point out to Gilda a detail on The Kiss. My enthusiasm carried my index finger a little too close for comfort. Actually, too close is an understatement. I touched the protective glass shield. Alarm bells trumpeted. I jumped back, aghast at my mistake. Our daughter Ellie, who works for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was mortified. My embarrassment was only slightly assuaged by the alarm bells set off a few minutes later by another unfortunate, uncoordinated visitor to the museum.

Frozen Water: The cold has definitely settled into White Plains. The water in the backyard birdbath froze last night. I had to chip away at the ice to extricate the agitator in the middle of the dish. The gentle ripples it made were not enough to keep the water from solidifying. Brrr....