Metamorphosis Illusion: Houdini Exhibit at the Jewish Contemporary Museum, Mission Street

The title of this post is almost as long as the sentence below.  :

In the Metamorphosis, Houdini’s earliest famous illusion, the magician was bagged and then sealed in a trunk by an assistant who, seconds later, reappeared bagged and sealed in the same trunk while the magician stood free.

The exhibit was a collection of artifacts from which the magician himself remained stubbornly absent, as if he were in the midst of a vanishing act.

Self saw an actual straitjacket, circa 1915.  It was made of canvas, leather, and copper, and looked as tough as the hide of a rhinoceros.

She also saw something called a “Metamorphosis Trunk,” circa “late 19th century,” made out of wood and metal.  Here’s more about that fabulous trunk, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

Just a few feet from the exhibit entrance is a marvelous sculpture by Jacques Lipchitz (it reminded her of a Brancusi) called “Hagar in the Desert.”  She had seen the artist’s name before, but without dwelling on his background, his Jewishness. It takes a museum like this one to make her see the artist in context.

When self goes to a museum, she always searches for “birth and death” dates of the artists on exhibit and has come to the conclusion that visual artists (painters and sculptors, primarily) tend to live very long lives.  Lipchitz is yet another example:  born 1891, he died in 1973. (But then, there’s Frida Kahlo.  Self is always finding exceptions to any rule)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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