Sunday, February 19, 2006
Raushenburg's ealry pieces from '55 to '57 really had the most impact. There was so much to enjoy and discover in this show. Of the 6-8 rooms of the exhibit, I found the first half to be the more adventurous and ingenious. I feel the paintings from the sixties lost their edge, and tended to be boring without the inclusion of other combined materials. Some of the better of these pieces felt like rehashing of Schwitter's work, but the large scale of the work at that point felt unnecessary beyond the chest beating they provided.
I enjoyed the Fra Angelico show, but he doesn't do it for me like Fra Filippo Lippi does. It is a little apples and oranges, but there you have it.
In Early February, I caught the Richard Tuttle show before it closed. I had not been familiar with his work. As I was reading various blog conversations at the beginning of the year stating that Tuttle was one of the two most influential artist on the present generation, I had to gauge whether I should be embarrased or not that I had not remembered seeing his work. I didn't reach a conclusion as to my level of embarrasment.
I am grateful that I did see the show. Not knowing what to expect entirely, I was surprised to see truly exquisite pieces that in there "lowliness" of materiality were quite elegant. My favorite pieces were a series of styrofoam fragments, each with a piece of red paper coming out of them.
This work feels like a virile heir to Rauschenberg's combines.
There were a series of works consisting of cardboard, and plastic that to me seem a very lyrical response to.... combines. And once again these pieces transended their lowly materials and to provide a transcendant art viewing experience.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
There is something about seeing Cy Twombly's work that always fills me with a sense of abundant joy for painting, and mark making - and makes me want to get busy doing so immediately. Twombly's Four Seasons are on display in MOMA's atrium in place of Monet's Waterlilies to much better effect. The Monet has been moved upstairs into a more contained room of its own that somewhat harkens back to its home in the pre-renovated museum. The thing that distracted me with the current hanging is that the two end panels are hanging at an angle slightly away from the wall (imagine a three fold card or a shallow bay window) This positioning casts two triangular shadows that are queer, and add an undesireable element.
The current installation of the contemporary galleries felt like a rabbit warren of rooms with are scattered among them. I found it a little disorienting, and difficult to maneuver with a lot of visitors.
My main objective was to see Janet Cardiff's 40 Part Motet. Arrayed in an elipse, are 40 speakers on stands facing the center of the room. I entered the space just before the piece ended and was able to experience the intense surround sound effect. After it ended, I stayed and waited to hear it in its entirety. The magic of the piece for me was created in the moments before the music began. For several moments, the room was silent, but here and there, one could hear individuals talking, perhaps a cough or such. I attributed these sounds to other visitors in the gallery initially, but I realized that they were, in fact, part of the piece. Once the music began, the space was entirely engaged as an organ of sound. As I sat with my eyes closed, vocals would rush out from one area or another. In elementary school we had this activity where all the kids in the class would each take hold of an enormous round parachute. We would raise or lower our portion creating waves in the material. A ball would be placed on the material, and jump around guided by the movement of the waves generated. This is the vision I was sitting with in my head as my eyes were closed - giant layers of sound fabric undulating, waving independantly, but in relation to the others. This was an experience I enjoyed. It could be categorized as an enhanced entertainment, and not art, but I guess it depends on where you draw the line.
Speaking of lines being crossed. I wandered into a portion of the contemporary galleries and saw this amusing, ingenious sort of stroboscope using Pixar figurines. The figurines were arranged on a wedding cake tiered turntable, and when spun in coordination with a strobe light, the effect was a three dimensional animation. It was inventive, entertaining, and a great appropriation of cultural paraphenalia.......Then I realized I had walked into a portion of the auxiliary exhibits supporting the Pixar series of films at MOMA. For an instant I felt scammed. The demonstration was no less inventive, but as it was essentially an advertising expo for a film studio, it should be treated as such, and presented in a manner that asserts the border between this activity, and that of the work that was exhibited in the adjacent galleries. There was wall text that described the details about the presentation, but the placement of this demonstration seems like a calculated aggrandizement of Pixar as a cultural treasure and an encroachment upon the terrain of contemporary art. There has been much written about this particular nod to Pixar by MOMA, but I had not really paid attention to it. Now, I can't quite shake off the taint of the pay to play implication of this particular endeavor
Also on view at MOMA that day:
The various states of Picasso's etchings of a bull, which have always stood as an important lesson for me on the topic of the search of the essential. Picasso starts at a finished product, and labors his way to the beginning.
Odilon Redon exhibit -Wonderfully weird imagery at times. Alway have loved his drawings. Lush blacks. There were many lithographs, and book illustrations which are great, but I find them flat and static in comparison to the drawings. It had been over ten years since I had seen several grouped together.
Elizabeth Murray - I'd only ever seen one or two examples of her work before. Not terribly interested in the content and color of the work, but I think they play a role to counterpoint the elements that are more interesting for me; the shape and compositions of multilple canvases. Certain of the shaped canvases, and grouping of others really cut through space, and created "real" presence.