Susan Stamberg | KGOU
KGOU

Susan Stamberg

It's raining statues all across America. Artworks that have stood in public places for generations are being defaced or deposed, destroyed or relocated, as Americans confront attitudes on race and stereotyping.

Just after Sept. 11, I went to my favorite Washington, D.C., museum — The Phillips Collection — to look at still lifes. The one I remember best was a small oil by Édouard Manet, painted as he was dying. Peonies. So richly textured you could almost smell the flowers.

For Los Angeles sculptor Alison Saar, art came from both sides of the family. Her mother, Betye Saar, 93, is a well-known artist. Her father, Richard Saar, was a conservator and ceramicist. The sculptures and prints Saar makes echo themes her mother has touched for decades. Betye Saar's collages reflect the anger of the civil rights generation; her daughter builds on that history.

German sculptor Katharina Fritsch has a thing for roosters. She's responsible for the giant blue one perched atop the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., overlooking Constitution Avenue. "It brings joy, you know, to the capital," she says.

Why roosters? They intrigue her; she finds them interesting and sociable. "They have a language — they have 30 sounds for food," she explains.

Between 1871 and 1914, Paris enjoyed a long stretch without war. "It was a special moment — a particularly joyful and exuberant moment in Parisian history," says Emily Talbot. She's the curator of a new exhibition at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Calif., all about Paris' Belle Époque — or beautiful era.

Years ago, when artist John Sonsini began approaching Spanish-speaking day laborers in Los Angeles to ask if he could paint their portraits, he had some communication problems. "My Spanish was so poor," Sonsini admits.

First, he was introducing himself as an artista, a word that many Spanish speakers associate with a singer or dancer. But when he switched to pintor that didn't necessarily clear up the confusion — the men thought this professorial-looking, Italian-American with a salt-and-pepper beard was offering them a job painting houses.

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In his last years, as he was dying of complications from syphilis, artist Édouard Manet was in agonizing pain — but you'd never know it from his art. As he neared the end (he died at just 51) Manet was painting exquisite flower bouquets and vibrant portraits — vigorous, life-affirming canvases. The J. Paul Getty Museum recently collected paintings from the end of Manet's life in their exhibition Manet and Modern Beauty.

It isn't hard to imagine yourself inside an Edward Hopper painting — having a coffee at a late-night diner, or staring out the bedroom window at the bright morning sun.

Hanukkah Lights 2019

Dec 22, 2019

Hanukkah is a time to share light, miracles and faith. We discover new insights and heartwarming tales to share with those nearest and dearest to us.

Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz read original stories from authors Dvora Zipkin, Temim Fruchter, Ellen Orleans and David Ebenbach. Listen to the full special above or hear individual stories below.


For decades, I've managed to sneak my family's controversial, Pepto-Bismol-pink cranberry relish recipe onto the air, and 2019 will be no exception. This year I went straight to the source: Bobby J. Chacko, President and CEO of Ocean Spray.

To start off, I want to know: Has he ever stood in a bog? "Absolutely," he answers. "It's one of the most exciting feelings when you're in waders and in water and all you have around are cranberries."

Standing in a sea of crimson, up to his hips in berries and cold water, Chacko says he feels like a kid again.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Many people may think of pastels as a medium for kids in art class. But at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the "Touch of Color" exhibition celebrates the history of pastel from the Renaissance to the modern day.

These works of art are hard to exhibit — "They're very rarely loaned from other museums or to other museums because the medium is so delicate," explains National Gallery Director Kaywin Feldman.

Ingrid Bergman was a so-so typist. Katharine Hepburn's signature was indecipherable. Marlene Dietrich signed her letter to Ernest Hemingway as "Your Kraut."

A collection of letters, memos, telegrams and other written communiques from the golden age of Hollywood are collected in a new book. Letters from Hollywood, edited and compiled by Barbara Hall and Rocky Lang, is a delicious peek into very famous people's private lives.

A 10-minute drive from the White House — where immigration has a top spot on the President's "to-do" list — a museum has filled three of its floors with artists' reactions to displacement, relocation and flight.

Sculptor Augusta Savage once said: "I was a Leap Year baby, and it seems to me that I have been leaping ever since." Born on Feb. 29, 1892, Savage leapt from the Jim Crow South to public attention in the Harlem Renaissance, but is little known today. Now, her work is the focus of an exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, curated by Jeffreen Hayes and coordinated for the historical society by Wendy N.E.

Legend has it that when Jacopo Tintoretto was 12 years old, he was so good at drawing that he rattled Titian — the master artist of Venice, 30 years his senior. Young Tintoretto was an apprentice in Titian's workshop and — as the story goes — the old master gone away for several days, and when he came back he found some of Tintoretto's drawings.

The legendary Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard opened before there was a Hollywood sign. For 100 years now, stars, studio heads and writers have settled into the restaurant's red leather banquettes to negotiate, gossip, drink and eat.

Anyone who has dined at Musso's has an opinion about it — and after 100 years, that adds up to a lot of opinions. They include: "It's our favorite place to go for special events," and "We go for the martinis, not the food" and "The food's not bad, especially the chicken pot pie every Thursday."

André Previn, a celebrated musical polymath, died Thursday morning; he was a composer of Oscar-winning film music, conductor, pianist and music director of major orchestras. His manager, Linda Petrikova, confirmed to NPR that he died at his home in Manhattan.

There are three pianists involved in making the music of the Oscar-nominated film Green Book. The first is Don Shirley, who was popular in the 1950s and 60s, both in person and on vinyl. The second is actor Mahershala Ali, who portrays Shirley in the film but does not play piano. And so, the third pianist is Kris Bowers, who does all the playing for Ali in the film.

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