Exhibit Information

Whitney Museum of American Art

Address 945 Madison Avenue @75th Street
New York, NY 10021

Click here for quick directions
Phone Number 212-570-3600

Website http://www.whitney.org

HOUDINI: Art & Magic

Opening: 29 October 2010 - Closing: 27 March 2011

HOUDINI: Art & Magic



Many popular Vaudeville & Variety Artists of the early 20th Century have now been forgotten: George M. Cohan, anyone?


For that matter, whatever became of Doug Henning? [He died, but Houdini lives on & on…]


One name stands out from all of these, a Man who became a Legend: Harry Houdini!


The interesting new show at the Jewish-Museum is the first—in an Art-Museum—to throw the spotlight on Houdini, not only as a Stage-Magician & a famed Escape-Artist, but also as an Inspiration to Contemporary-American-Artists.


Notably Matthew Barney


Barney’s Cremaster 2, with Norman Mailer as Houdini—is worth a one-minute film-clip in this show, but an entire Sealed-Chamber is devoted to his Cremaster 5: The Ehrich Weiss Suite. Houdini’s birth-name was Ehrich Weiss.


In this Installation, SEVEN LIVE KITE JACOBIN PIGEONS deface Houdini’s Coffin. As if this were an actual Outdoor-Gravesite, exposed to the Natural-World.


This Artwork teaches us that Nature Endures, while Life Is Fleeting. Barney’s Pigeons remind us of Houdini’s Fate, as well as of Human-Mortality!


These modern artworks do help pad-out the show, but Houdini’s Posters, Escape-Photos & Film-footage, as well as his actual Handcuffs—a case full of them, Straight-Jacket, Escape-Trunk, Milk-Can, & reconstructed Water-Torture Cell are far more interesting.


Of course, it was good to be reminded—by the Movie-Poster!—that the recently-deceased Tony Curtis played Houdini on the Silver-Screen. Alas, neither Ehrich Weiss nor Bernie Schwartz could escape from the Coffin-of-Death

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