I took one look at yesterday’s site stats and realized that there wasn’t much point in continuing to publish this week. So we’ll see you on Jan. 2, 2007.
Tyler Green Modern Art Notes
Archive for December, 2006
1.) Dada at the National Gallery. The most important American museum exhibition in many years. An intensely anti-war show at the foot of the U.S. Capitol. When no one raised a stink about it we should have known it was going to be an anti-war year at the polls.
2.) Robert Rauschenberg’s Combines at MOCA. Forget the Met’s airport-conveyer-belt presentation (which opened a week before the end of 2005), MOCA’s installation of Paul Schimmel’s show was superb; the work as fresh as ever.
3.) Amy Sillman at Sikkema Jenkins. The best contemporary painting show of the year. If Sillman were a younger male, then museums would be falling over themselves to show her work. (Similarly: Marilyn Minter.) Sillman should have already had a Hirshhorn Directions-level show somewhere.
4.) Courbet and the Modern Landcape at the Getty. It was a banner year for Courbet in the US as the Wadsworth and FAMSF both acquired major canvases. (Both purchases were first reported on MAN.) If you saw only the Walters presentation of this show, you missed the show.
5.) The Bloch-Bauer Klimts at LACMA. With a building project underway the museum could put together “just” $150 million (likely a museum-record offer) and lost out on adding these great works to its collection. Still, the Stephanie Barron installation out-did the Neue Galerie’s show.
6.) Robert Adams at the Getty. How strange is it that NYTer Michael Kimmelman complains about mad money in the art market… but then reviews (and end-of-the-year-lists) a commercial gallery’s Robert Adams show instead of the Getty’s wonderful, more comprehensive exhibit? Adams’ photographs expose the contradictions that we’ve placed built into the American West.
7.) Societie Anonyme at the Hammer. A year after MoMA opened, this show was a welcome reminder that art history doesn’t follow a single timeline. Wonderfully installed, too.
8.) The freebies: Indianapolis, Baltimore, the Walters, and more. In a year that saw $24 tickets for (legit, non-Tut) museum shows, many museums became free and many more re-dedicated themselves to staying that way.
9.) Robert Polidori’s After the Flood. Painful and powerful. Best in book form, where the sheer weight of it all is stunning.
10.) Steven Cantor’s What Remains. This documentary about Sally Mann is a moving portrait of an artist’s life and challenges.
(Note: I reserve the right to go wobbly by adding to this list after I see several current NYC shows. And I could have linked to lots of MAN coverage of these 10 shows/etc. but I thought that would get a little dense. There’s plenty in the archives via the search feature though.)
We could see it in our site stats: Christmas in the art world started yesterday at about 3pm. So we’re off too, back on Tuesday, Dec. 26 with MAN’s 2006 top ten list. (If something really big happens we’ll probably pop back on.) Next week we’ll also feature a Q&A with an artist who had a show make that list, and news of Menil Collection acquisitions. Until then, some blogosphere plugs:
- Edward Lifson discovers that Big Brother was using public art to watch us. Yikes.
- I wish I’d lived downstairs from Nam June Paik.
- Photography: Poetry or science?
- Art, life, same thing, right?
- Did the Smithsonian American Art Museum place art from its collection on Desparate Housewives?
- The Getty and the Met will be scanning books and putting them online.
Last month MAN was first to tell you about Paul Mellon’s Bonnard-heavy bequest to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Today we’re first to reveal that the Mellon estate also gifted (at least) 23 works to the National Gallery of Art. The works recently entered the museum’s collection. (As you likely know, Mellon’s father Andrew created the NGA. Odd: He picked his son-in-law David Bruce to be a founding trustee — not Paul.)
Included in the Paul Mellon gift:
- Four Morandi still lifes;
- Seven Bonnard oil paintings (I haven’t seen any JPEGs, but from scanning the list it appears that Mellon’s best Bonnard went to VMFA);
- Two Delacroix studies;
- Two Bonheur bronzes;
- Two Barye bronzes; and
- Single works by Manet, Jongkind, Fantin-Latour, Cezanne, Sargent and Braque.
Some notes: The Manet is a portrait of novelist George Moore, likely unfinished. (According to the Met, the only complete Manet portrait of Moore is in the Met’s collection.) The Sargent, an 1882 portrait of Beatrice Townsend, is pictured above. Oops: I had written that a Hopper was in the Mellon gift. It wasn’t. This Hopper print was an NGA purchase.
Later this morning I’ll have news of some National Gallery of Art acquisitions (think MANfaves), but first… I should have linked to this yesterday but I got to my NYT rather late:
Randy Kennedy has a wonderful story (with equally wonderful pictures in an NYT pop-up slideshow) about the post-WWII Army and civilian teams that searched Europe for art stolen by the Nazis and the Texas oilman trying to make sure their story is told. Among the nuggets in the story: We should look forward to a documentary film based on Lynn Nicholas’ superb The Rape of Europa, one of my ten favorite art books.
Kennedy doesn’t name the film, but it’s also titled The Rape of Europa. Marguerite Rigoglioso wrote about it for the Stanford alumni magazine back in October. The film’s website is here.
Related: Ed Winkleman brought Kennedy’s story into the present.
This morning’s LAT has the news that the Michael Govan-co-curated Dan Flavin retrospective that opened at the National Gallery will make a stop at LACMA next May. Govan helped put the show together when he was at Dia; now he’s LACMA’s director. (At LACMA Govan has watched a new Renzo Piano building go up, mandated a major change in Piano’s expansion plan, and has avoided talking to MAN.)
From our wish-list of retros: How about a Govan-and-Ann Temkin-curated Donald Judd retro for 2008 or 2009? It could start its US tour at LACMA, then to MoMA, then to…?
- The Art Institute of Chicago is starting a podcast — but will only do a new one every six weeks;
- From the best blog published by an artist, a week on the use of snow in art. And when you see what the author/artist has picked you’ll smack yourself for not having thought of some of them yourself;
- Painter Gerald Murphy’s favorite matchbox used how? (The painting, Razor, is in the Dallas Museum of Art’s collection. The matchbox, well, click the link…)
- Yesterday we noted that MANcrush Lead Pencil Studio has a bunch of museum shows coming up. Today we know where some of them are: the Weatherspoon Art Museum, the Boise Art Museum, SF’s Exploratorium, and maybe the Kemper.
- The tables of Art Basel Miami Beach. Yes, the tables.
- I’m really enjoying the new blog written by Seattle P-I art critic Regina Hackett.
Don’t miss: Yesterday’s Anne Truitt news.
Stan Kaplan at Mary Goldman Gallery: Kaplan’s abstract paintings were as good as any abstract painting I saw in Miami this year. He understands color, how to use it, and how to play color against color. (He is, after all, a California artist. Except, apparently, to the Rubells.) His colors are as Diebenkornian as ever, but now I see bits of Kandinsky. But what I mostly noticed in his recent work is a firmer understanding of how to build a painting, how to move the eye through an abstraction. In the painting here the two verticals on the right-hand side emphasize the frenzy of color on the left. Rigidity meets creative chaos.
Sarah Morris at Jay Jopling, Hetzler: Morris is the queen of archibstractionists, artists who mine modern and contemporary architecture for source material. (It’s one of the hottest memes in contemporary painting — I counted no fewer than two dozen painterly archibstractionists in Miami.) Morris’ fantastic paintings, with their strong lines, their shiny, light-repelling colors are as impenetrable as the coldest modernist architecture. But once you get past the glare of her household gloss everything in her paintings makes sense. Has Morris been making the same paintings for five or six years? Yes. I wonder what’s next…
Frank Nitsche at Max Hetzler: Nitsche may be my favorite mid-career German painter. In recent years he’s built tightly compressed, flat, abstract paintings that weren’t much bigger than a couple feet by a couple feet. At Hetzler’s booth he showed a painting that was much larger, maybe five feet by three or three-and-a-half. And it still worked.
Hugo Markl at Andre Schlechtriem: Markl’s four-rectangle, marker pen-on-paper grids recall Sol LeWitt’s ubiquitous colorful squares. But instead of lock-stepping into LeWitt’s rigid systems, Markl begins to reject them, questioning order, classification and rigidity. The result is colorful bursts of vaguely ordered disorder. The hint of an underlying system remains, but its being interrupted by wavy lines, seemingly random black horizontals, the inability of lines to remain parallel to each other. A subtle metaphor for a world watching systems — from Enron to global climate — collapse?
Lari Pittman at Regen Projects: I don’t know if Pittman belongs in this post, but oh well. It seemed like everybody in the main fair had a Pittman, but the best of the bunch was at his hometown Regen Projects. Like so much of Pittman’s post-9/11 work it was a scary painting, one that seemed to question torture’s role in contemporary society by juxtaposing a torturee against a tranquil, domestic scene. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Pittman is the painter of contemporary American issues.
Some other favorites: At Lelong, Kate Shepherd isn’t a light-and-space painter, but she’s certainly a color-and-space painter; John McLaughlin was plenty popular in the main fair with at least three galleries showing wonderful hard-edge works (earth to curators…); at Gregory Lind Sarah Bostwick showed an interesting take on the archibstraction trend: sculptural relief; at Elastic, Per Martensson’s paintings took interior space in a Morandi-esque direction.
Related: Art in Miami: Riffing on earthworks (complete with a just-added Ian Burns photo).
Really good stuff this week:
- The LAT’s Christopher Reynolds profiles new Getty boss James Wood.
- Why they go to Miami: Jen Graves says that one Seattle gallery in Aqua sold over $105K in art in two days, including pieces to seven museums.
- Former MoMA photo curator John Szarkowski talks with Holly Myers and Tom Christie about the state of photography.
- Patricia Johnson writes in the Houston Chronicle about the MFAH’s Helio Oiticica show. Who knew the MFAH did shows that didn’t involve dogs or the NFL’s Houston Texans?
- I’ve been meaning to link to this since Miami: Mark Stryker on how the Detroit Institute of Arts cleverly scored a new Whistler.
- Kyle MacMillan of the Denver Post is happy to see a Francesca Woodman monograph.
- The Denver Art Museum’s pricey new lecture series has some nice gets.
- Say what? It is? Huh?! Maybe if NPR paid a little more attention to visual art they wouldn’t make mistakes such as this.
From the everything-old-is-new-again file: At left is a detail from Friday’s NYT Arts & Leisure front page featuring Turkish artist Serkan Ozkaya’s section-front-as-art-as-section-front. You can see the PDF of the entire page here. The Ozkaya/NYT collaboration is essentially Singin’ In the Rain-style reflexiveness, updated for, well, last Friday.
In the same paper (and, of course, in Ozkaya’s drawing) NYTer Randy Kennedy crisply explains how Ozkaya’s drawing came to be. Kennedy writes with appropriate suspicion, slyly noting that Ozkaya regularly appropriates other artists’ appropriations.
Add another one to the list: I’d guess that neither Kennedy nor Ozkaya knew about the Los Angeles Times’ Calendar section front from Sunday, May 18, 1997 (back when newspapers were just beginning to use the ‘net). The LAT section-front is a drawing by then-little-known painter Dave Muller. Like Ozkaya’s piece, Muller’s drawing was tied to the opening of an exhibition: Sunshine & Noir, Art in LA, 1960-1997 at the Louisiana Museum near Copenhagen. The LAT image is wider because back then the Sunday Calendar section was printed in tabloid form.
The process that Muller and the LAT used sounds extremely similar to the Ozkaya/NYT process: An LAT page designer did the layout, which was then sent to Muller who used it as a model for a pencil drawing with gouache. Muller sent the finished drawing to the LAT, which dropped in the photograph at left (Ruben Ortiz-Torres’ 1991 Santo Nino Holy Kid, Guanajuato, Mexico), and which filled in some subheds at the extreme top of the page. The result was the Sunday section-front reproduced above. (The crease is not Muller-created — it’s part of the two-day-old photo of the nearly ten-year-old page.)
Related: Time magazine digs the trend too. Check out F. Scott Schafer’s photo of Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert in this week’s issue. The PS1 show referenced in Kennedy’s story. Speaking of Muller, he has a show up now at Blum & Poe.