Tag Archives: Morgan Taylor Long

Saatchi Gallery: New Art from Germany and Richard Wilson

Over the Thanksgiving holiday,  I traveled to London to visit family and used the time to check out visual arts in London.   I was particularly excited to experience the Saatchi Gallery, which is owned by Charles Saatchi the legendary London based collector.    Known for acuqiring very contemporary works,  his large private museum exhibited GESAMTKUNSTWERK: NEW ART FROM GERMANY.  This was mildly disappointing to me, because I had traveled to Berlin in June and felt like I had a handle on what was new in Germany.  

If this is the zeigiest of young German artists,   the nation has a whole lot more to worry about than the Euro Zone crisis.  A large majority of the work was what I would like to classify as hipster art.  Large assembilages of neon shapes, ironic house hold applicances,  and objects with vauge political associations.  

For example,  the section of the exhibit devoted to Isa Genzken consisted of large sculptures made of found objets.   Her work toyed with the idea of the impact of art history on contemporary art and was heavily indepted to Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau. 

 Isa Genzken, Geschwister, 2004

The best part of the Saatchi Gallery was niether young nor German.  A wonderful piece by the English artist Richard Wilson filled the basement gallery space.   The entire floor of the gallery was filled with a pool of crude oil about 4 feet deep.  Akin to Walter De Maria’s Earthroom in New York,  visitors were not allowed to walk into the gallery,  but simply peer into the vast gallery space to observe the beauty of the oil.   The insallation 20:50,  was originally exhibited in 1987.  

Richard Wilson, 20:50

The surface of the oil was enticingly smooth.   It almost looked like a polished plastic surface.  The major aspect that altered the viewer to the media was the smell that emitted from the oil.   When looking at the installation it made me think of how important oil is to our global economy and politics,  but how rarely it is seen in large open quantities.  This was the first time I observed the physical qualities of oil, like the thickness of the liquid the smoothness of the surface. 

Richard Wilson, 20:50

Even though the artist created this installation in 1987,  it remains especially pertinient given the continuing environmental problems caused by oil in recent memory.   As a person very familiar with the Gulf Coast of Florida,  I tend to percieve oil as a destructive force instead of a beautiful liquid.  

This tension between the beauty, the environmental problems,  and the technological necessity of oil makes 20:50 the most impactful work of art I have encoutored in a long time.   If you make it to London,  GESAMTKUNSTWERK: NEW ART FROM GERMANYis up until April 2012.  

Richard Wilson, 20:50

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Of Lamb: Matthea Harvey and Amy Jean Porter

Last night I had the joy of listening to the poet Matthea Harvey at NYU’s Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House.   Harvey read her work, Of Lamb, that contained 100 illustrations.  Harvey read her poetry accompanied with a power point presentation of Amy Jean Porter’s illustrations.  The words and images continued to amuse me throughout the reading turning form lighthearted humor to twisted self reflection.   The written and visual componets occupied an uneasy ambiguity.  Was this a children’s book for adults?  Harvey said that she was comfortable creating for an audience of an indeterminent age.  

The words are built from an erasure of Lord David Cecil’s A Portrait of Charles Lamb.  Harvey used white out to transform the exsisting words into a narrative arch about Mary and her little lamb.  Amy Jean Porter’s illustration prove equally implusive,  with the large number of pages.   The drawing reflect the words on the page,  echoing Harvey’s whimiscal and disturbed narrative.  

Amy Jean Porters illustrations were shown at the P.P.O.W. Gallery this summer.  Harvey and Porter’s book Of Lamb is available from McSweeny’s.

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Do Ho Suh: Home Within Home

This Saturday I went to Lehman Maupin Gallery to see Do Ho Suh’s Home Within Home a delightful show that combined two of my childhood passions, art and overly decorated dollhouses.  Entering adolescence, my love of dollhouses faded as my commitment to art blossomed.  If you knew me before middle school, you are aware of my extremely large, messy, interior decorated dollhouse where I spent countless afternoons parading my Barbie collection.  That is why I was pleasantly amused by Do Ho Suh’s exhibition and especially the sculpture Fallen Star.

The highly detailed house is split in half, displaying impressive amounts of craftsmanship.  The bifurcated home shows humorous details, like a cut turkey in an oven and a sullen teenage boy’s lair.  What is quaint about the home is that the interior mimics real furniture from the Ikea catalog.

 

The interior of the home is destroyed in certain areas, because of the surprising detail that the viewer finds when circling the sculpture.  In the back of the home is a traditional Korean house smashed into the back.  A parachute extends out of the back of the Korean home. This sculpture recalls obvious metaphors of cultural identity and struggle to sustain a Korean American identity.  While these over arching themes are not new to Do Ho Suh’s work, the large-scale representation is an impressive step forward in craftsmanship for his body of work.

Do Ho Suh standing in front of Fallen Star

Home Within Home at the Lehman Maupin Gallery closed Saturday.

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Leonardo Erlich: Two Different Tomorrows

Leonardo Erlich’s Two Different Tomorrows confronts gallery visitors about ordinary spaces.   Based conceptually around the idea of different time zones and spatial disorientation, Erlich uses the form of the elevator to explore what the artist calls a “shifting sense of reality.”  The show consisted of 5 large installations and sculptures.

 

The highlight of the exhibition is Elevator Maze,  which consists of grid of mock elevator interiors.  The elevator doors are open, which allow the viewer to step inside the interior.  In each individual elevator interior,  the viewer has the illusion of standing inside a mirrored space (because the left and right  walls have mirrors).  The viewer doesn’t register that the immediate reflections on the left and right are in fact real spaces until another person walks into the sculpture. The piece reveals an interesting tension between technology and illusion.  The repetition in the mirrors is like an ode to the gridded repetition of Minimalist sculptures.

For Example:

Erlich, Elevator Maze, 2011

Another piece that created a disorienting allusion was a simulation of the interior of an elevator shaft.   The installation called Elevator Shaft tilted the vertical structure on its side.  This gives the viewer the feeling of physically walking down the walls towards the top of a moving elevator.   The realistic installation proved to be the most realistic out of all of the Erlich art works.

Erlich, Elevator Shaft, 2011

The show is an ambitious exploration of spatial experience,  but there is also a poinient tension between high and low technology. In the sculpture, Stuck Elevator, Erlich created a fully realistic replica of an elevator complete with an submerged interior elevator chamber.  However,  the illusion was ruined by the painted panel on top of the open door.  The painted panel revealed the pulleys and gears of the elevator,  but appeared neither realistic nor convincing.  Also,  instead of using a real video of the clouds in the piece, Double Skylight (The Clouds Story) the hyper perfect clouds were created in aftereffects.

Erlich, Stuck Elevator, 2011

Leonardo Erlich’s show Two Different Tomorrows closed this Saturday at Sean Kelly Gallery.

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WPA Biennial: Options 2011

The Washington Project for the Arts presents it’s biennial “Options.”   The exhibition features young artists from the Baltimore/Washington DC area and functions as a survey of unrecognized talent.  Stefanie Fedor is the curator.  The show included a impressive range of media including,  sculpture,  drawing, audio, mix media, and video.

Heather Boaz, Jacket and Shoes

Heather Boaz,  Dress, 2011

One of the most impressive offerings in the show is by the Baltimore based artist Heather Boaz.  Her artworks Jacket and Shoes combine traditional clothing with metal hardware.  The wearable sculptures brings a new perspective to the dialog between domestic objects, clothing, and femininity.  In Shoes,  the metal handles are fixed to the soles rendering the boots useless, pushing the object into a more sculptural form.

Artemis Herber, Stems, 2011

Artemis Herber constructed two sculptures Rusty Shelters and Stems.  The large cardboard constructions contain multiple parts.  The sculptures have smooth and simple lines, but their large size makes the viewer feel diminutive.  Especially in Rusty Shelters,  the combination of color with the shape and quality of the cardboard created a irresistible tactility that is rare is a cardboard sculpture.

Artemis Herber,  Rusty Shelters, 2011

Jimmy Miracle shows a group of sculptures,  but I am especially taken with his piece Meditations.  While the larger work Beam is derivative of other artists,  the small scale containment makes Meditations a original statement.  The clear plastic containers which house the multicolored string,  provide a reflective surface and allow different perspectives of the string to reveal themselves.

“Options 2011” is on view in Washington DC until October 29th.

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Olek: Astor Place Cube

Here is a video of one of my personal favorite’s Olek crocheting the cube at Astor Place.

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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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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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