As usual, posting is slow when I’m on travel. (We here at man don’t have a girl in Chicago.) Some recent posts for weekend reading:
Tyler Green Modern Art Notes
Archive for February, 2004
Posting will be slow again today because I’m on travel in Toronto. (On the plus side, look for a rare weekend post tomorrow.) News and notes:
- The Independent with more on how BritArt has been received in Tehran.
- If you’re in New York on March 3, head over to the Landmark Tavern to hang out with AJ bloggers Sandow, Teachout, Herman, Gann, Tobias, Russell, and Perreault. There’s more info at the top of AJ. I wish I could be there, but magazine deadlines are going to make that a busy weekend for me.
- Speaking of AJ, the WP’s Philip Kennicott wrote about Sam Bergman’s RoadTrip blog today. Fun reads, both.
- Steve Mumford has another Baghdad Diary up at artnet.
- Why can’t we have a Morandi show too?
The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art just opened a show of contemporary British art. Do you take for granted that there is a museum in your city, that there are artists who make and show art near you? Then don’t miss this story. An art tutor told The Guardian this:
“I’m sorry for the behaviour of my students. They’re very excited. We have to monitor every development in the art world in books and on the internet. It’s so wonderful to see it in person and actually touch it. We haven’t had the chance to do that very often. I spent time in class presenting the artists that are featured here today. It’s very exciting.”
Iran has one of the most active blogging communities in the world (yes, really). Most of it isn’t in English, of course, but I’ll keep my eyes open for some blogging on the show. (And maybe readers have some finds…)
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Peter Linett, the editor of Curator: The Museum Journal, floats a new Barnes idea. It’s the kind of idea that leads me to wonder if he’s been to the Barnes and if he’s been following the case closely.
In summary, Linett suggests leaving the Barnes Foundation where it is and opening a satellite space on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Linett writes that temporary exhibitions, archival material, artwork not on the Foundation’s walls in the Main Line and other historical materials could be shown on the Parkway. A “BarnesBus” could be run between the Parkway and Latch’s Lane.
A bus? A bus? Linett apparently hasn’t noticed that the Barnes neighbors hate cars, people, and anyone who isn’t bred into Lower Merion society. One can only imagine their response to buses cruising through their stuffy little neighborhood! (Either that or Linett has an admirably sick sense of humor. I’d love to see the shocked looks on the faces of the blue bloods as buses began belching exhaust into their leafy yards!)
Still, kudos to Eric Gibson and the crew at the WSJ for continuing to follow the Barnes story. The arts people at the WSJ have run more opinion pieces on the Barnes than the Philly Inky’s arts people.
UPDATE: Using this post as (part of his) context, Joseph Clarke discusses the role of the architect today.
As the mega-museums realize that traveling shows from their collections can be a major source of income, I wonder if the role of curators at those institutions is evolving. Is John Elderfield, for example, more valuable to MoMA as a collection guru who can package and create shows for multi-million dollar fees, or is he more valuable putting together a retrospective of the Delaunays?
This question is prompted by the MoMA in Berlin show, which opened this past weekend. The show is costing Berlin about $11 million, some of which is going to shipping, etc., but MoMA will still clear a tidy sum. The show visited Houston before traveling to Europe. I think MoMA earned $7 million for the Houston show, but I can’t find the exact amount. (Readers?)
As other museums see the money MoMA is making, will museum directors instruct their curatorial staff to try to send permanent collection shows on the road? Surely the Guggenheim has noticed that a permanent collection show outdrew Matthew Barney. Given their money issues… And what about the Whitney? The Met? SF MOMA? LACMA? MOCA LA?
Five artists I’d like to see curate a show:
Carol Vogel, MAN’s favorite New York Times reporter and quite possibly our very most-est favorite-ist reporter on the planet, has again buried the lede. In her story today about the Met’s expand-within-the-building plan, Vogel reveals that Met director Philippe de Montebello has apparently designed the improvements himself, acting as both the Met’s director and the Met’s architect and building engineer. This makes de Montebello’s $518,151 salary, his $94,469 in benefits and deferred compensation, and his $253,963 expense account look like a real steal! Here’s the key paragraph:
“[de Montebello] said he has spent years studying historic buildings — from Roman villas to the Colosseum — to come up with the most appropriate architecture for the new Roman Court. Mr. de Montebello also assessed every nook and cranny, from air shafts to stairwells, to determine how best to use the museum’s space to keep pace with its vast and growing collections.”
MAN’s questions for Vogel:
- Did de Montebello do any of this inspection while on his hands and knees? If so, does anyone have pictures? (MAN wants them!)
- Did de Montebello find any missing objects from the Barnes Foundation in any of the “nooks and crann[ies]” he “assessed?”
- Given de Montebello’s compensation package, shouldn’t he really leave air shaft examination to trained personnel?
This paragraph would never, ever pass muster in a story about Sen. Kerry or a Superfund cleanup. Obviously Vogel is engaged in a bit of sucking-up/museum director worship here. (If she’s not, I’m serious — MAN wants pictures of de Montebello sticking his mug into air shafts.) So why do Times editors allow such sloppiness in a front-page story about a museum?
Around the blogosphere:
What on earth are those things? They hang on a wall, they’re made of pictures and wood and screws and glue and clamps. They’re photos that have been built out, kind of like buildings. Kind of like buildings…
They’re sculptographic models or something. Whatever they are, they’re made by a Spanish New Yorker named Isidro Blasco who is now showing at DCKT Contemporary in Chelsea. Blasco is also featured in shows at The Sculpture Center and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Spain later this year.
Blasco’s work provides cross-training for the eye. As I stood in DCKT, every Blasco piece competed for my attention. My gaze moved up and down his constructions, in and out their crevices and across the terrain of their surfaces. This ocular journey was offset by the way my eye experienced the smoothness of each strip of photo-collage. Blasco’s larger work required me to walk around them in 180-degree arcs. My eye worked hard, I burned some calories getting from one side of the work to another, and I enjoyed a uniquely architectural look at photography.
Blasco’s strongest work plays with hallways and the verticality of staircases and fire escapes. Each is perfect for Blasco’s work: hallways provide great visual lines and recession, so Blasco makes them into concave constructions. Fire escapes and staircases are similarly active along a vertical axis, and Blasco builds them as our eye experiences them.
Blasco’s architectural approach to art-making is a product of his life experience. A native of Spain, Blasco’s work reflects a the claustrophobia of someone unaccustomed to the tight interior spaces of New York City. Blasco’s emphasis on architectural space is no surprise given that he is a dissertation short of earning a doctorate in architecture.
One of the fun things about Blasco’s work is how it exists as lots of different things at once. It’s photography — after all, the work is built with photos. It’s architectural model — the work is built with plywood and glue and screws and clamps. It’s sculpture — to completely see the work a viewer has to walk all the way around it.
Isidro Blasco is on view from February 6 to March 6 at DCKT Contemporary, 537 West 24th Street, New York, New York 10011. (212) 741-9955. Blasco is also included in a group show at The Sculpture Center, In Practice. It will be on view until April 6.
On Friday LAT’er Christopher Knight reviewed that Cathy Opie-curated Mapplethorpe show I’ve referenced on the right-hand side. Because Knight’s review is not online unless you contribute to the Kenneth Turan/Robert Hilburn Pension Fund (and, I suppose, Knight’s too) and because you’re about to hear a lot about Cathy Opie from me and others in the coming weeks, I’m excerpting:
“In 1993, Catherine Opie made a brilliant photograph that could be the poster image for the dramatic civil rights issue of gay marriage. A stick-figure drawing, like a child’s earnest scrawl, showed two smiling girls holding hands in front of a cheerful house. This sentimental image of innocent love had been carved with a knife blade into the freckled skin of Opie’s own back. Its bloody, scarified trail offers eloquent testimony to the complex visceral anguish within familial life.
“At Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Opie has organized a show of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-89), whose work would be historic if only because its frequent homosexual subject matter slammed the empty closet door and nailed it shut. Given her own photographic sensibility, she’s an ideal curator for his.
“‘Pictures, Pictures’ brings together 44 Mapplethorpe works from the ’70s and ’80s, arrayed with sharp insight and great style. Opie rarely strays far from ideas of home and communities in her own photographs; her Mapplethorpe show underscores similar – though differently constructed – ideas in his. Autobiography moves to the foreground.”
Around the blogosphere:
- Congrats to Greg and Jean on the birth of their first child. MAN excloo: The Kid will be blogging by Friday.
- Bloggy goes gallery-crawling.
- I don’t plug Conscientious often enough. It has a couple screens worth of good images and links up now.
- Anna Conti visited the San Jose Museum of Art and almost got hit by a car.
- On the occasion of, well, nothing, an interview with Jeff Wall in Bridge Magazine.
- I’m pretty sure that this Art Gallery of Ontario website is brand-spankin’-new.
Rick Joy is one of my favorite architects. He’s not well-known on the East Coast — so far all of his buildings with one or two exceptions have been built in the Southwestern desert — so I was thrilled to see that he was lecturing at the National Building Museum on Wednesday night. (More at Unfolio.)
You’ll probably hear a lot more about Joy in the coming months and years. While he’s best known for his desert houses, he’s building a home for Francis Ford Coppola and his wife in the California wine country, he’s shortlisted for the new Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, and he may be involved in Richard Meier’s West Side Highway project in NYC. (If you’re in Denver on March 15, Joy will be making an open-to-the-public presentation of his proposal.)
One of the interesting things about Joy is that he talks about minimalist visual artists providing a sourcebook of images and ideas for his work, not minimalist architects.
“It’s not about trying to be minimal,” Joy said. “It’s about trying to allow a sensory tuning-in to occur.”
In a design for an Aman Resorts property in southern Utah, Joy (and two collaborators) have designed a spa that is cribbed from James Turrell. Joy uses sheets of steel in a Serra-esque way: the viewer is aware that it’s steel but it’s somehow softer and more inviting than steel should be. When Joy builds a wall out of white drywall tilted up against a rammed-earth structural wall, it’s easy to see some McCracken in the idea.
Joy even sounds like a minimalist artist. He talked about his respect for materials, about rammed earth as being spiritual stuff, about loving the “honesty, integrity, and completeness” of his materials.
Perhaps because of his love for the desert, Joy treats the desert itself as one of his materials. (The rammed earth he uses comes from an Arizona company, so, in a sense, the desert is one of his materials.) Joy talked about how as he wanted visitors to his buildings to smell the sage of the desert on their way into the house. In the bedroom of one home, Joy built a little window on the floor so that the clients could open it and smell the star jasmine outside.
The interiors of Joy’s buildings, mostly homes, are visually minimal in the extreme, but are also sensually vibrant. Joy proudly showed off one project where, when you enter it, the ground crunches under your feet, water from a fountain fills your ears and the smell of daffodills wafts over you. Stairs are built to sound like distant bells as you walk on them. Cutouts in walls frame mountain views. (Joy’s work is thoroughly informed by Mies, from the cutouts to the use of glass.)
Joy’s buildings are designed to be visually neutral, even invisible. (He describes them as duckblinds in the desert.) At the NBM he talked about how he wanted his buildings to be so inocuous that they have the same profile as desert shadows. I noticed that none of the buildings he showed in his slide show were higher than the surrounding saguaro cactus. Detail is everything. Joy is so proud of his attention to detail that he took great pride in showing off a bathroom exhaust fan he’d designed.