Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dreams in the Abstract: Paintings 1933-2005

Interested in Abstract Art? This show is definitely worth checking out.

artnet Magazine - Sophie’s Choices

artnet Magazine - Sophie’s Choices
Looks like this show could be worth a visit, these paintings are so bad that they are good, if you get my drift.

Eye Level : New Blog on the Block

Eye LevelA new "blog" about American Art from the folks at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Is this a museum web site masquarading as a blog?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Marina Abramoviç: Seven Tough Nights in NYC

What a week… I just got back from the last performance of Marina Abramovic: the finale of her seven night run @ the Guggenheim. I was lucky to have been present for five of the seven nights. In my estimation, the last two performances were the most riveting. Too much to digest fully so I’ll write more after the dust has settled.

From November 9 through November 15, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Marina Abramoviç: Seven Easy Pieces,seven consecutive nights of performances in the Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda from 5 PM to 12 AM.
Since the early 1970s, Marina Abramoviç has pioneered the use of performance as a visual art form. The body has always served as her subject and medium, and the parameters of her early works were determined by her endurance. Exploring the physical and mental limits of her being, she has withstood pain, exhaustion, and danger in the quest for transformation. With Seven Easy Pieces Abramoviç reenacts seminal performance works by her peers dating from the 1960s and ’70s.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Marina Abamovic Performance@Guggenheim Museum

The opening night of the 7-day "performance marathon" by acclaimed artist Marina Abamovic on Nov.9th was a powerful and intense experience for anyone lucky enough to be in attendance in the famed Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda. An historic moment in contemporary art began with Ms. Abramovic re-enacting a piece by Bruce Nauman.
To be in the audience in that space felt like witnessing a comet that comes once in a lifetime. time stood still as the power and intense concentration of the artist on stage drew you into the her very breathing so riveting was her focus and energy. There was a hushed aura like being in the eye of a storm: the air was crackling with energy and you could feel the electricity in the room. A heightened awareness was transmitted by the artist to viewer in a way similar to that of a highly skilled musician playing a very difficult piece. The space could not have been more fortuitous to this performance as it allowed the audience to perambulate the circular stage and to also ascend the ramp and orbit the stage and view the performance-in-the-round. The proportionate relationships between Ms. A on the stage and the physical space around her demonstrated another facet of the harmony of spatial relationships that is any signature of Frank Lloyd Wright building, but especially so at the Guggenheim.
The idea that one performance artist can re-create the work of another is being likened to a band covering a song; the intention is to red-interpret the original work not re-create it. This may herald an entire new way avenue of expression in contemporary culture. Think of it: performances of famous pieces by artists could presage a flood of re-interpretations of the entire thirty-plus year canon.
The NY Times coined a wry headline:“Self-Mutilation is the sincerest Form of Flattery”

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Study for Two Sisters by John Graham

I couldn't resist posting this drawing which is a study for the sumptous painting currently on view at the Allan Stone Gallery.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Esoteric Beauties on Carnegie Hill: John Graham@ Allan Stone Gallery

I visited the Allan Stone Gallery just the other day and was knocked back by the proximity of two unparalled masterpieces of American Art: Two Sisters (on loan from MoMA) and Marya (in the collection of Allan Stone and incidently, Not for Sale). This show is the show of the season: you would be hard pressed to see better painting on view in NYC at any gallery of contemporary art. Perhaps you could to go to the Fra Angelico show (currently at the Met) or even the Hans Memling exhibit (currently at the Frick) to see such sumptuous, intelligent and compelling images but no recent painting is equal to what Graham accomplished over fifty years ago. These paintings have gotten better with age, as we catch up them. These images look surprisingly at home to 21st century eyes accomstomed to Henry Darger(kindred spirit), John Currin (who wishes he could paint this well) and the current fascination with the self-mutilation of performance artist Maria Abramovic.

I had been looking forward to seeing this latest show of Graham's work, the largest exhibit in New York in two decades; lingering impressions of that earlier exhibit still haunt my soul. The sheer force of these paintings which burst forth from under the shadow of Picasso and greatly influenced both Gorky and de Kooning impressed me with their virtuosity and utter weirdness. This show is not to be missed.

This from Jed Perl on John Graham:

"Esoteric forms of knowledge have had a special appeal for modern artists because they could provide a mystery or complexity that was otherwise missing in twentieth-century life, and these esoteric forms of knowledge were most often appealing when they were hyper-personalized, presented obsessively, paradoxically, so that esotericism became an especially stylized kind of individualism. Harry Smith’s Heaven and Earth magic has this quality;…so do the paintings of cross-eyed dames decorated with geometric emblems that John Graham, that old friend of de Kooning’s, was exhibiting in the 1950’s. looking at Graham’s paintings and drawings, you do not really know why there is a model of a dodecahedron placed right next to a particular woman, or why another woman’s face is covered with a grid of images of suns and moons. And yet this seems to be the way it has to be for Graham, and you may feel that this is the only explanation that is needed."

-Jed Perl New Art City, page 303