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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What is IBM’s “Think” Exhibition?

For the 100th Anniversary of IBM the company hosts an exhibition called “Think” in front of Lincoln Center.  The exhibit is nothing more than a public relations tool for the IBM Company, faceting the corporation as a global innovator for improving the lives of humans.  The feel-good exhibition used video, data visualization, and interactive media to spotlight technological advances. The entire experience compares to the Coca-Cola Corporation’s museum World of Coca-Cola, except IBM does not give out free sugary drinks at the end of the tour.

Aside from the obvious problems surrounding the quality of the information within the exhibition, the installation explores innovative curatorial practices.  The installation tracks sensors connecting to the surrounding environment to monitor traffic, pollution, and weather.  The most impressive aspect of the installation, are life sized touch activated screens, which allow the visitor to tailor the experience to their personal interests.  The interactive media broke down into clichéd categories like ‘Mapping,’ ‘Understanding,’ ‘Believing,’ ‘Seeing,’ and ‘Acting.’  The portals allowed access to sound bites of social innovators/scientists, mapping, visual time lines, and more data visualization.

This innovative viewing experience is what was lacking from the MoMA’s presentation of “Talk To Me.”  In fact, the exhibitions serve as perfect foils.  A highly interactive exhibit lacking critical content vs. An exhibition of human’s and objects with out innovative curatorial ideas to spark interaction within the exhibition.

The most telling differences between this exhibit and a museum or gallery show was the lack of credit given to the graphic designers, videographers, and curators.  When viewing the video, a small text box at the bottom of the screen invites the viewer to click and reveal the source of the video.  Sadly, instead of names the button simply revealed an IBM copyright.

But in the words of Mitt Romney, “Corporations are people too.”

“Think” is open to the public until October 23rd.

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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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Jennifer Dalton “Cool Guys Like You”

This afternoon I went to the Winkleman Gallery to see Jennifer Dalton’s exhibition “Cool Guys Like You.”  This show was a perfect storm for my NPR/Art History/feminist nerd aesthetics.   The show critiques media figures like Jon Stewart, Terry Gross, and Rachel Maddow, lack of female guests.  This thesis of the exhibition is revealed in press release:

“In 2010, the most lopsided show among you featured 17.5% female guests.  The most balanced among you still only featured 34% female guests.  The rest of you are in between, but mostly huddle around the more lopsided end of that spectrum. If I may be so bold, WTF?”

Despite the vaguely trite tone of this call to arms, Dalton sheds light on important issues within our daily digestion of media.  Instead of simply consuming the constant stream of information, Dalton reminds the audience of the importance of self-interpretation of the news and critical thinking.

For a small show, many different media categories were represented, like sculpture pencil drawings and photography.  The piece what Does An Important Person Look Like? consists of screen shots from The Colbert Report.  The screenshots break down into profession and then are color coded according to gender.  It becomes apparent that the majority of the guests are white, male, politicians, or actors. 

 

Dalton’s Idiocy and Assholery in Modern Political Scandals reveal an adolescent aesthetic, but reveal a telling graph of politicians involved in sexual scandals.  Despite the kitsch of the border, the drawing reveals the shocking frequency of politicians’ public disgrace.

The interactive quality of the pieces Cool? and Only in America (or, I Can’t Trust Myself) deal less directly with media, but reveal Dalton’s aspirations for people who consume media.   In the sculpture Cool? the viewer is invited to put their hand in a box and stamp it.  Before the stamping oneself, the viewer doesn’t know what image will be stamped.  The blind consumption of media is what Dalton’s wishes to recreate with this piece.

 

The witty exhibition reveals a gap in our cultural landscape.  The exhibition runs through October 15th, 2011. 

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Lower East Side Expedition

Last night in the Lower East Side heralded the start of the fall season for many of the gallery spaces.   I caught a few of the gallery shows, but mostly just enjoyed walking around the neighborhood.

 Aïda Ruilova, Goner, 2010

I viewed Aïda Ruilova’s video Goner at Salon94 Bowery (Sept. 7th-Oct. 23rd).  The particularly brutal video showed the artist in a domestic interior.  In an unclear fashion, the artist self mutilates or the figure behind the camera assaults her body.  The mixed metaphor of self-violence, mixed with aggression from behind a camera presents a piece that is difficult to watch.  The conventional beauty of the artists highlights the bloody assault.  Even though the artist intends to be shocking, it is hard to view the violence with out fixating on her personal beauty.

 

Andrew Gbur, Untitled, 2010

In an attempt to enjoy art which was less abrasive, I headed to Eleven Rivington to see the three person group show “Andrew Gbur, Keltie Ferris, Jackie Saccoccio” (Sept. 7th-Oct. 16th).   The artists all exhibited large scale paintings, with bright colors, and abstract forms.  Despite having the least amount of work in the show, Keltie Ferris dominated with her work [[[///]]].  In addition to being more formally developed, Ferris’ painting brought a spontaneous energy to the gallery.  The other works sitting beside the Ferris’ canvas seems underdeveloped or unimaginative.  It was nice to see large-scale works within a Lower East Side Gallery and be able to spend ample time with each work.   While the smaller spaces of the LES lend themselves to less monumental work, it is always refreshing to focus on large-scale colorful canvases.

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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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