‘Camp,’ Burle Marx revisited

One of the great pleasures of attending exhibits with others is seeing the works, perhaps for a second time, through their eyes.

I recently revisited “Camp: Notes on Fashion,”at The Metropolitan Museum of Art through Sept. 9, with my cousin, stylist and personal shopper Michele Roque Tarazi, and while I still found the show something of a stretch – everything seemed to be camp – she saw things I never considered. For example, while I was skeptical about associating Louis XIV with camp since he used clothing and spectacle as instruments of power, she saw the exhibit’s connection between the idea of 17thcentury posing or preening – in French, se camper – and the modern concept of camp. I still think it’s a case of extrapolating, but then, I’m not a fashionista as she is. No surprise, then, that she enjoyed the show more than I did.

I had a better time, as far as exhibits go, a day later at the New York Botanical Garden’s The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx” (through Sept. 29) with my sister Gina Gouveia, a frequent WAG contributor. This is not as extensive as, say, NYBG’s look at Georgia O’Keeffe’s Hawaii was, but it is no less satisfying, particularly with its recreation of the Brazilian Modernist’s landscaping style outside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. That involves a garden with an undulating mosaic path, a water element and such tropical plants as Burle Marx’s beloved bromeliads. He was, of course, as much a visual artist as a landscape architect and that aspect is driven home in the bold abstract canvases in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library gallery, which my Modern art-loving sister particularly relished.

But Burle Marx was also a humanist whose Rio de Janeiro complex, a historic site today, teemed with life. On one floor of the library, you’ll find visitors busily coloring Post-it notes with pencils in various greens and blues, recreating the tiles of Burle Marx’s workshop. You’re then invited to place your personalized “tile” on the wall.

It’s a poignant reminder that life is short and though art is longer, it’s also fleeting.

For more, visit metmuseum.org and nybg.org.

Georgette Gouveia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *