Thursday, June 30, 2005

Freedom Tower Redux

"I feel better about this than the original," said the building's chief architect, David M. Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. "The building is simpler, architecturally. It is unique, yet it subtly recalls, in the sky, the tragedy that has happened here."

I feel better too. The original design with it’s asymmetrical tower intended to mimic and parallel the nearby Statue of Liberty seemed rigid and forced. The forms lacked elegance and seemed contrived and contorted.
The original design featured a torgued rectangle which is an inherently unstable design visually; this is not the kind of message you want to send in a structure on this site. The new design is much sleeker and the crystalline structure speaks of clarity and crispness.
According to Nicolai Ouroussoff, of the NY Times:
The new obelisk-shaped tower, which stands on an enormous 20-story concrete pedestal, evokes a gigantic glass paperweight with a toothpick stuck on top.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Resources@Abstract Art Dot Com

Abstract Art Dot Com
A good resource for seeing abstract painting and sculpture from 1960 to the end of the last century (not much in the way of 21st Century work).

An interesting take on the post-painterly abstractionists, color field painters, minimalists, geometric abstractionists, abstract expressionists and often-neglected (some say rightly so) groups: the lyrical abstractionists and abstract illusionists.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

More on Sean Sculley

"Bricks and Mortar" indeed, keeping the tradition of abstract painting alive:

For almost thirty years Sean Scully, at times single-handedly, has kept the tradition of abstract painting vital and renewed. Employing a vocabulary of horizontal and vertical forms that is deceptively reductive, the artist both humanizes and sanctifies the formal language of painting. Scully’s paintings envelop us physically with their internal structure and light. The artist’s recent paintings, known as the Wall of Light series, are inspired by and reference architecture and light and body and light, seeming opposites reconciled in the picture plane.

See images from the Galerie Lelong web site.


Friday, June 24, 2005

Pissarro's embroidery, Cézanne's brick-and-mortar.

Holland Cotter of the NY Times gets it exactly right in his description of the difference between the two 'Pioneers of modern Painting':Pissarro's embroidery, Cézanne's brick-and-mortar. Wish I said that...actually I tried to convey a similar distinction in my review (see below) but, truth be told, Mr. Cotter "laid it down and it stays down."

Funny, "bricks and mortar" is an apt description of the latest show by Sean Sculley@ Galerie Lelong in Chelsea going on right now.

“He has built a 9 x 12 foot stone wall of sweeping brushstrokes, with flashes of light for mortar.”
-From the Village Voice listings
Thru June 25th. 528 W. 26th Street, Chelsea

Thursday, June 23, 2005

William Kentridge@Prospeck Park

Among the very best concerts ever held in Prospect Park just ended.
The concert featured a performance by Hugh Masekela, the jazz trumpeter par excellance. After a spirited and moving set by Mr. Masekela and his band, an unprecedented presentation of a different sort took place at the bandshell.
William Kentridge presented 9 Drawings for Projection - a collection of animations accompanied by a string quartet conducted by Philip Miller.

Now I see the connection between Robert Gober’s latest work and the drawings on William Kantridge: the straight-forward hard-nosed graphic style is common to both.

William Kentridge: Quite the Opposite of Cartoons
by Philippe Moins

Soho Eckstein is a fat person; some kind of real-estate magnate. With his striped suits and pudgy features, you would place him somewhere between Bolshevik caricatures of capitalists and the expressionist images of the Weimar Republic.

Felix Teitelbaum we only see from the back--to begin with at least. Passive and dreamy, he's around for the rise of Soho Eckstein, and again for his downfall, which is the only time we see Soho in a more humane light. Around them, South Africa, confiscated by the whites, breaks free. Felix only becomes active when he deceives Soho by having an affair with Sarah Eckstein, the entrepreneur's wife. Even then, only his tongue is active, as if his sacred body dedicated all of its life to this substitute for sex.

In each short animation, Felix Teitelbaum progressively resembles his creator William Kentridge more and more, like those self-portraits from the Renaissance in which the artist depicts himself in one corner of the picture. However, there is also something of Kentridge in Soho Eckstein, this privileged white man who thinks that nothing can resist him, and builds massive monuments to his own work.

In a universe of devastated landscapes, wounded bodies, and out-dated means of communication (bakelite telephones, megaphones, and stadium-style loudspeakers) and measuring instruments (theodolites and sextants) signaling unknown shores, the heroes of this animated drawing evolve--and the term animated drawings can be taken in its most literal sense.

In contrast to the first episodes in which Soho and apartheid absolutely rule, where everything is either good or bad, black and white, as judged by our western viewpoint, a more subtle, moving and sincere point of view followed, culminating with Felix in Exile, History of the Main Complaint, and Weighing and Wanting.

The uncertainty of the times and the relationships between people is mirrored in the landscape and figures which are rendered in black, sometimes soft, sometimes hesitant, charcoal, drawn mostly in shadows and sketches rather than with well-defined details.

-Read more here.

Cézanne / Pissarro@MoMA: Two Thumbs Up

This tightly organized and focused exploration of the relationship between two precursors of modern painting makes for perfect viewing on a Summer's day. For us who have become accustomed to the radical simplifications and distortions of Picasso, these paintings seem tame and almost timid, yet it is the incredible and indelible influence of Cézanne that made Cubism possible in the first place.
A revelation of this show is how important Pissarro was to Cézanne. Many paintings by Pissarro directly inspired the paintings by the “Man-from-Aix”. Almost as Picasso and Braque would do in the next century, these two painters worked together to forge a new vision. Also like Braque and Picasso, it is difficult to tell who painted what at several junctures in thjeir shared output.
A general observation about the main difference between the two painters: in almost all cases (a major exception being and early still life by Pissarro in which the paint was laid on thick with a palette knife) Cézanne is the bolder of the two. Pissarro tended to break his forms into smaller units while Monsieur Cézanne tended towards a less nuanced and blockier application of paint. In fact, it is easy to see the appeal of divisionism or pointillism would have for Pissarro, who became a practitioner and fellow-traveller with Signat and Seurat.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

MoMA membership: the best deal in Town!

As I've said before, for 75 clams, you can't beat the membership @ MoMA... I just recieved 2 more guest passes (a toal of 4 this year). Considering the $20. admission price, what's not to like? I am planning to visit tomorrow (Wed.) to see the Freidlander show.

Update: just got back from MoMA; got in to the member's preview of the Cezanne/Pisarro exhibit: thumbs up, more to follow.

Monday, June 20, 2005

"Vermeer in Bosnia" : A Summer Read

I couldn't resist this book, the title alone grabbed me. I have always been a "Vermeer nut" and this book jumped off the shelf at the Superhero Supply Store in Park Slope.

Read an interview with the author, Lawrence Wechsler on the American Prospect Online.

One of my goals in life is to see all of the known paintings of Vermeer; there are about 35 of them. I estimate that I have seen a total of about 25-6 (there are 4 at the Met, 3 at the Frick and another 4 at the National Gallery); I sort of cheated by by getting tickets to the Vermeer show at the National Gallery about ten years ago…but the idea is to travel to all of the museums. It remains a goal. (I have seen The Art of Painting at the Kunthistorisches Museum in Vienna and The Lacemaker and The Astronomer at the Louvre).

Of course, there was a Vermeer painting stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum which may never be recovered…

Read more about Museums with Vermeer Paintings from the Essential Vermeer site.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Exhibits to See This Week: a personal listing

Okay, okay…things to do THIS WEEK:
I have a little time off to check out the following shows:
Wednesday or Thursday (Moma is closed Tuesday)
Freidlander @ MoMA:
First of all, if you haven’t figured out that the membership fee of $75. is the best deal in town, well I guess you like waiting in line to spend the $20. on admission. Being a member gets you in with no wait, (I even like the “members coat check”) and this year I received two guest passes…well worth the $75. Here’s the rub: I bet the membership fee rises next year to at least $100. You heard it first, here. Even then I may consider the membership but that depends on the exhibition schedule and how often I would plan to visit. Support the Arts! Join a museum!
About the exhibit, Freidlander promises to be a knockout, he's done it all in photography. I also want to check out the Highline exhibit about the planning and design of the elevated railway that courses through Chelsea and the West Villiage.

Wednesday or Thursday (The Whitney is closed Monday and Tuesday)

Remote Viewing (Invented Worlds in Recent Painting and Drawing) @ the Whitney:
A major overview of recent abstract paintings and drawings.
Did you know that there is an “Artist” or “teacher” category for membership at the Whitney that is only $40.? Nice deal if you plan to visit a few times a year, it’s a no-brainer…again, no lines and invites to member previews and other perks. With this year being a biennial
year, makes even more sense. I am always impressed with the way the Whitney smacks me out of my complacency with cutting-edge shows time after time. Last year’s standouts: Bill Viola, Tim Hawkinson and Ellen Gallagher all blew me right out of the water, absolutely right on.

Thursday or Friday (The BMA is closed Monday and Tuesday)
Monet’s London @ BMA

I know, I know Impressionism is so two centuries ago and I wouldn’t dare see this show on the weekend; the idea is to get there early on Friday (around 10 a.m.) and enjoy this pairing of Monet, Whistler, Derain and a host of photographs and stereographs.

Check back to see reviews of these exhibits; not bad pickings for a slow week in the city.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Flash Art By the People

Here's an interesting take on the Flash revolution:

Cartoons By the People For the People
— When Disney closed the doors of its Orlando, Florida animation studio in January 2004, many saw it as the death knell for traditional hand-drawn animation. Of the 18 big-studio animated films to be released this year, only a handful will be done in 2D animation and of those, only a couple will even make it into theaters, according to In 2001, the first Oscar for an animated film was given out and the 3D animated Shrek took the prize.

IMHO, I find a lot of the Flash animation that is out there to be "rude, crude and insensitive" but the fact is that Flash makes animation easy. Flash puts the means of production in the hands of the artist and changes the equation of studio/assistants/budget.

To see some of the Studio 827 Flash Art see "In the Bathroom"
created for the SEED Science and education web site.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Kindred Spirits: Bellamy/di Suvero@Storm King

If you’ve never been to the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, N.Y. do yourself a favor and take a day trip. The current exhibit reveals two kindred spirits in the most beautiful Hudson River landscape; while this does not replace the “Kindred Spirits” recently sold by the NYPL ( perhaps a void to large to fill), it may soothe the soul and provide a little respite from the heat wave.

“comprising more than eighty of Richard Bellamy’s photographs of the sculptures of Mark di Suvero and more than twenty works by di Suvero opens at the Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York, on June 8,2005. Richard Bellamy and Mark di Suvero is the first exhibition to bring together the work of these two close friends and, as the exhibition reveals, kindred spirits.”

Directions and info. to the Storm King Art Center

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

"The New Illiterati"

"It is not the person ignorant of writing but the one ignorant of photography who will be the illiterate of the future" - Lazlo Moholy Nagy

-Walter Benjamin "News About Flowers" from Art of the Twentieth Century A Reader edited by Jason Gaiger and Paul Wood. p.110

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Jim Nutt, Henry Darger et al @ Feigen Contemporary

An interesting mix of artists in the Life and Limb exhibit at Feigen Contemporary (535 West 20th St., Chelsea, through July 30th). With 26 artists in this show, it’s a mixed bag but there are enough quirky connections across media, decades, styles and genres to make for an interesting cocktail. My favorites here include the three early modern titans Max Beckman, James Ensor and George Grosz coupled with a few more contemporary nuts such as Jim Nutt and Henry Darger. This is a fun show for the summer doldrums.

Feigen Comtemporary site.

Lars Arrhenius
C-prints by Lars

London Underground, also by Lars

Check it out, fresh and funky C-prints of the London tube.
Lars has an interesting C-print in the Life and Limb show.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Iron deficiency in Bilbao Diets

This just in from the NY Times Arts discussion forum:
datsmi2 - 2:15 AM ET June 9, 2005 (#8821 of 8822)

Serra's new installation at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

At the recent opening of Richard's Serra's entire floor thru exhibition of his new installation at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao,Spain I observed a dozen or more desperate urchin poor children pushing up against Richard Serra's new sculpture kissing the surface hoping that the art would provide them with substance and succor and the needed iron they lacked in their diets. It was a truely inspirational sight to behold.

I wonder if they still use lead-based paints in Spain?

Recommended Viewing: Julio Gonzalez@ Instituto Cervantes

Richard Serra’s most recent extra large-scale steel sculptures are Janus-like in that they look both towards a new century and back at the last. These massive torqued ellipses, spirals and maze-like enclosures represent the culmination of the tradition of welded metal sculpture started by Julio Gonzalez and subsequently Picasso in the early-thirties of the last century.

Looking forward to this new century, Serra’s work seems to predict an Art that is industrial in scale, technological in means and unpredictable in effect. If you haven’t walked through the sculptures themselves you have not experienced the intense wonder and indescribable vertigo induced by such seemingly cold and impersonal slabs of rusted steel. I haven’t been to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain but it is definitely on the list. A close second would be a trip to see the Julio Gonzalez exhibit; easily reached with a Metro card.

Recommended FREE Event Through June 18
Julio González: Sculptures and Drawings
Instituto Cervantes Gallery
Tuesdays through Fridays: 12:30 to 6:30 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am to 1:30 pm
Sundays and Mondays: closed
Collection of the
Institut Valencià d Art Modern (IVAM)
Free admission
Instituto Cervantes at Amster Yard
211-215 East 49th Street
New York, NY 10017
Tlf:1 212 308 77 20
Read the NY Times Review of the Julio Gonzalez exhibit here.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

What Art to See in NYC: Late Spring into Summer 2005

Wowie-zowie! Late Spring in NYC and the Art world still offers many interesting exibits to see before the sleepy summer.
Springtime in Nueva York:
Here is my "to do" list, check back to see reviews and postings related to this rejuvenating and refreshing encounter with the best in museums, galleries and off-beat locales not-just-for-locals.
My short-list (not in order of prominence or priority):

Hilla Rebay: The Art of Tomorrow @ the Guggenheim Museum through Aug. 10.
Anyone with an interest in abstract painting and the development of abstraction in America should see this exhibit.
Remote Viewing (Invented Worlds in Recent Painting and Drawing) @ the Whitney through October 9th. If you are interested in some contemporary takes on abstraction head to the "uptown concrete bunker for difficult art during difficult times." BTW, the Whitney has won (in compromise) the bid for expansion after several false starts over the last decades; this is a good thing as we need the Whitney to kick around every other year for the biennnial mishmash.

The Whitney is Dead! Long Live the Whitney!

Did I fail to mention Monet's London at the Brooklyn Museum of Art? See this one on a weekday; Impressionism always draws crowds.

"the movement of abstract art...bears within itself at almost every point the mark of the changing material and psychological conditions surrounding modern culture." p.31
-Meyer Shapiro "The Nature of Abstract Art" from Art of the Twentieth Century A Reader edited by Jason Gaiger and Paul Wood.

On another planet entirely is Neo Rauch @ David Zwirner through June 18th. Read about it on another artblog.