Category Archives: Art

Andy Warhol: Shadows

 

Andy Warhol’s Shadows series is on view at the Hirshhorn Museum.  The entire series is owned by the Dia Foundation and is rarely on public view in its entirety.  The 67 silkscreen paintings are based on a picture of a shadow from Warhol’s office.  While Warhol asserts that the same image is repeated 67 times,  observation reveals two variations of the shadow images.   The paintings are a typical color palate of bright primary and secondary colors.  The painting are hung side by side,  without space in-between.  This long line of repetitive images creates the illusion of one continuous work which appears more like a film reel than a traditional painting.  This appeals to Warhol’s self definition as a painter and a film maker.

In the installation there is a quote from Warhol, which clashes with his artwork’s post-mortem monetary value.  Warhol says,  “The paintings can’t be bought.  The Lone Star Foundation is presenting them and they own them” (Painter Hangs Own Paintings,  NY, Feb. 1979).  Given Warhol’s focus on commodification,  I always wonder how he would feel to know that his artworks are blue chip investments and their market value often outpace global financial markets.  While it could be argued that Warhol was more interested in fame rather than wealth, it is curious that Warhol secured the purchase of the series to the Lone Star Foundation (now the Dia Foundation).  Warhol recongnized that the strength of the series is in the multiplicity of the shadow image.  Choosing to secure the series with the Lone Star Foundation is interesting,  because Warhol often denied that the Shadow series was art.  He often refered to the paintings as ‘disco decor.’ Apart from the Andy Warhol museum in Pennsylvania,  one of Warhol’s largest institutional legacies includes objects rejects as actual works of art.

 

All 67 paintings are on view at the Hirshhorn Museum until January 15th.

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Nick Cave “For Now” at Mary Boone Gallery

Confession:  I am obsessed with Nick Cave.

Nick Cave delivers more iconic “Soundsuits” in a new installation called “For Now” at the Mary Boone gallery in Chelsea.  The suits are scaled to the artist’s body and are wearable sculpture.   This installation is particularly enjoyable because Cave continues to explore alternative materials.  The construction of the suits separate into two categories: small interwoven sticks and gaudy ephemera from a sequined childhood nightmare.

The most impressive aspect of the exhibit is the fine tuned craftsmanship.  The overwhelming materials create a sensory overload.   Despite the trendiness of themes of shamanism within contemporary art, Nick Cave presents a truly breathtaking installation.

 

“For Now” is in conjunction with an exhibition at the Jack Shainman Gallery called “Ever-After.”

The exhibition at Mary Boone is on view until October 22nd.

Expect a comparison to the show at Jack Shainman Gallery next week on Monitor.

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Richard Serra: Junction/Cycle

Richard Serra’s show “Junction/Cycle” at Gagosian Gallery displays familiar curved steel plates and smooth curves.   Unlike the underwhelming drawing exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum this summer (Richard Serra’s Drawings: A Retrospective), “Junction/Cycle” reveals the continuation of the sculptures art audiences love.   The gallery is dominated by two oversized sculptures, expanding outward from Serra’s distinctive Torqued Ellipses.   Each of the sculptures had multiple pathways, entrances, and exists.  Unlike many of the Serra sculptures I am familiar with, the two sculptures allow the viewer to choose his/her own path through the work.  The element of choice allows Serra to organize the movement of people around the gallery space, but allows a personalized encounter with the sculptures.

Junction and Cycle almost invite the viewer to weave in and out of the sculpture.  The welcoming attitude of the sculptures is a marked difference from Serra’s more abrasive early work, for example Tilted Arc.  The rust of the steel made the sculptures appear more tactile, less cold.  The color of the rust provided the viewer with a less sterile experience.

The sculptures were so gigantic that they dwarfed the cavernous Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea.  The ceiling hovered above the sculptures making them seem more claustrophobic than usual, making me think that Serra based the height on the gallery space.  Despite the cramped quarters, it was a treat to see Serra’s new offerings.

Richard Serra’s “Junction/Cycle” will be at Gagosian Gallery until November 26th.

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Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects

The Museum of Modern Art attempts to inform the general public about what any owner of an IPhone already knows: how humans relate with objects changes rapidly.  The exhibition “Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects,” presents a muddled collection of technological innovations, toys, and data visualization. Unfortunately, the show lacked a thesis statement or opinion of the interaction of humans and technology.  While museums often struggle with showcasing innovative technologies in the context of fine art, “Talk to Me” lacked a strong curatorial voice or institutional opinion to provide a readable narrative of the show.

The curators struggled with the presentation of the work, because the majority of the work was inherently interactive and performative.   Instead of allowing the audience to fully interact with the art works, much of the work was displayed as artifacts from a piece of performance art.  Stagnant and often behind a layer of glass, the inventions were hard to understand and visualize.  To overcome this difficulty,  the curators overcompensated by bombarding the visitors with copious amounts of wall text and explanatory videos.  Even though many objects required explanation, the Museum of Modern Art should have stuck with its institutional character by allowing the pieces to stand-alone or with an interactive video.

Many of the objects within the show were witty, inspiring and truly innovative.    The exhibition included daily objects like an MTA subway card vending machine to beta prototypes of bank Automated Teller Machines.  Prayer Companion by the Interaction Research Studio at the University of London beamed current events to a group of cloistered nuns to provide them with material for daily prayer.  The Avatar Machine by Marc Owens allows the wearer to walk around with the perspective of their body from behind.  This is a common format in video games, which would create a truly out of body experience.

Things that the show chose to omit were the most baffling aspect of the “Talk to Me” exhibition.  Throughout the exhibition, there was no mention of social networking or an at length discussion of the Internet.  The show ignored the innovation of smartphones and the rising global impact of cellphone usage.   Also, the show ignored the politics associated with the innovations like open sourcing and the activism surrounding different interfaces of the Internet.  Even tongue and cheek video game displays like Gentrification Battlefield contained political undertones that were ignored by the copious mounts of wall text.

Despite the flaws that existed within the exhibition, it is extremely important for much of the art within the show to be institutionally recognized.  While the MoMA’s efforts were often a bit misguided, the existence of this exhibition is a step in the right direction for the museum to embrace alternative forms of digital media.

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Nira Pereg: 67 Bows

Nira Pereg brings political metaphor to the Hirshhorn Museum with her video 67 Bows.  The video presentation is located in the Black Box until November 13, 2011. The Israeli artists remains true to her documentarian roots with the haunting video.   Lacking a traditional narrative, the video reveals an interior of a flamingo sanctuary at a zoo in Germany.  The wide angled shots of flamingos contrast the audio of a gun cocking and firing a bullet.   Pereg edits the two elements together so the flamingo’s duck after the audio of the bullet. The contradiction between the beauty of the birds and the forcefulness of the audio imply multiple levels of violence.

With the flamingos metaphorically dodging bullets, Pereg questions the role of firearms in society.  Pereg handles this heavy-handed subject matter gracefully by enchanting the audience with the beauty of the flamingos.  At first glance, Pereg questions the hunter/prey relationship between humans and animals.  By filming the flamingos within the context of a zoo, Pereg questions the need for the animals to be protected.  In contrast to this notion, the reason zoos exist is to protect animals against human violence and the preservation of endangered species.

Pereg’s nationality provides an alternative avenue of interpretation, given the daily violence within Israel.  By anthropomorphizing the birds, Pereg invokes the human emotion of fear. The flamingos cower after the repetitive bullet noises.  The flamingos become a metaphor for the Israeli people. They live in a protected society, but still have to dodge bullets.

The strength of the video is the simplicity of the shots, the repetitive audio, and the looping images.  The messages behind the video become apparent by observing the video for a relatively short period of time.  The disparity of the audio and visual elements of the piece draws the viewer to watch the screen.  The beauty of the birds and a morbid sense of curiosity compel the viewer to keep watching.   Instead of repulsing the viewer, this video entices the viewer to observe and contemplate.

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