Tyler Green Modern Art Notes
Archive for August, 2011
It’s the last week of summer, which means that the fall museum exhibition season is right around the calendar. Here’s what I’m eager to (try to) see over the next few months. This list does not include new-museum openings or any of the dozens and dozens of Getty-funded Pacific Standard Time exhibitions, which will receive their own preview-post at a later date. Did I miss something? Pile on in the comments.
Charline von Heyl at the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia. How important a painter is Charline von Heyl? This 20-year survey will feature just 18 paintings plus collaged works on paper will help those of us who are intrigued by von Heyl’s work begin to decide. Catalogue. Curator: Jenelle Porter (ICA Boston). Opens: September 7. [Image above: von Heyl, It's Vot's Behind Me That I Am (Krazy Kat), 2010.]
Sepember 11 at PS1. A 9/11-oriented show featuring… Diane Arbus? According to the museum the exhibition “brings together more than 70 works by 41 artists—many made prior to 9/11 — to explore the attacks’ enduring and far-reaching resonance.” That could work — and it might not. Catalogue. Curator: Peter Eleey. Opens September 11.
de Kooning: A Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. The most-anticipated show of the season, bar none. Catalogue. Curator: John Elderfield. Opens: September 18. [Image below, right: de Kooning, Pink Angels, c.1945, Collection of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Los Angeles.]
Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series at the Museum of Modern Art Fort Worth. This exhibition of the 20-year series of work that many consider to be the pinnacle of American abstract painting has been long-anticipated. Catalogue. Curator: Sarah C. Bancroft (Orange County Museum of Art). Opens September. 24.
More American Photographs at the Wattis Gallery at the California College of Arts, Full Color Depression: First Kodachromes from America’s Heartland at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. I’m kind of amazed that it’s been three years since The Great Recession began but no American museum or kunsthalle has looked back to the Farm Security Administration archive for a look at how photographers depicted economic calamity. Now two are. The Wattis will pair work from the 1930s and 1940s with a series of commissions from living artists and the Albright will show color photographs taken by the FSA team. The Wattis show opens: October 4. The A-K show opens: October 21.
Caravaggio and his Followers in Rome at the Kimbell Art Museum. In which the curators discover a previously unknown Italian artist named Caravaggio. Catalogue. Curators: David Franklin and Sebastian Schutze. Opens October 16.
Detroit Revealed: Photographs 2000-2010 at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit “ruin porn” has become a big hit on the interwebs and in $125 coffee-table books. There has to be more to post-automotive-industry Detroit than artfully photographed decaying buildings, right? This exhibition promises a fuller view of post-Motor City Detroit. Catalogue forthcoming. Curator: Nancy W. Barr. Opens October 16.
Timothy O’Sullivan: The King Survey Photographs at the Art Institute of Chicago. A major 2010 exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum of all of O’Sullivan’s survey work (plus some work allegedly inspired by O’Sullivan) was a mite underwhelming. Perhaps a narrower, more in-depth look at O’Sullivan’s work from a single survey expedition — presented by all-star curator Keith F. Davis — will be more revealing? Catalogue forthcoming. Curators: Davis and Jane A. Aspinwall (Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art). Opens October 22. [Image at left: O'Sullivan, Pyramid Lake, c.1867-69, collection of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.]
Crime Unseen at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, Chicago. Photography offers a record and evidence, but it does not always offer truth or context. This exhibition, which features seven artists, including Deborah Luster and Angela Strassheim, examines the photographic presentation of dramatic, disturbing events. Opens October 28.
The Air We Breathe at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The battle for marriage equality for gays and lesbians has been one of the fastest-moving civil rights struggles in American history. SFMOMA will show work by 30 artists and eight poets engaged with the issue. Catalogue. Curator: Apsara DiQunizio. Opens: November 5. [Image: Martha Colburn, Untitled, 2011.]
Diego Rivera: Murals for the Museum of Modern Art, at MoMA. The museum mines its own archive to revisit its second monographic show, a 1931 Rivera exhibition. Catalogue. Curator: Leah Dickerman. Opens: November 13.
Jenny Saville at the Norton Museum of Art. The first Saville survey in an American museum will feature just 30 works — 15 paintings and 15 works on paper. Curator: Cheryl Brutvan. Opens on November 30.
Mark Handforth: Rolling Stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami. The museum will install Handforths not just in its galleries but throughout South Florida. Curator: Bonnie Clearwater. Opens on November 30.
Today is the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s strike on New Orleans. Some highlights from MAN’s coverage of artists responding to the storm — and to the Bush administration’s incompetent response.
- MAN’s Q&A with Robert Polidori after the publication of his book “After the Flood.”
- Richard Misrach’s “Destroy This Memory” was also a photographer’s examination of the post-Katrina devastation, but it couldn’t have been more different from Polidori’s book. I looked at Misrach’s project [at right] and detailed its moving narrative.
- One of the most acute responses to Katrina and the Bush administration’s bumbling came from Mark Bradford. Here’s a contextualizing look at Bradford’s Help Us, and here’s me expressing disappointment that it wasn’t included in the traveling survey exhibition of his work.
- Since I first saw Richard Hughes’ contribution to the 2008 Carnegie International, I’ve increasingly thought it references Katrina.
- So is the LAPD going to knock on Ed Ruscha’s door to ask him about Norm’s or the Los Angeles County Museum? That’s the next step after what they did last week when painter Alex Schaefer painted a bank on fire, reports Bob Pool in the LAT.
- Karen Rosenberg reviews the Philly Museum’s small Rembrandt show and finds the artist’s emphasis on humanity.
- As MAN first reported, Seattle’s Herbert Steiner was one of the three bidders on the Spiral Jetty site-lease. Jen Graves explains who he is and why he has commissioned land art in the West.
- Holly Myers takes a look at what’s sure to be one of the hits of the fall exhibition schedule: The installation of this landmark, unseen-for-40-years Ed Kienholz at LACMA.
- Speaking of LACMA, Randy Kennedy in the NYT on LACMA’s coming Asco retrospective.
Every day MAN’s Tumblr “3rd of May” features art that is in some way relevant to our lives. I try to use it to demonstrate how artists are (and have long been) engaged in the world around them. So today that means one thing: Art about storms! Expect lots of posts. Visit often. Follow. (And feel free to nominate paintings/etc. here, in the comments!)
After initially saying that it would stick to its original plan for premiering Christian Marclay’s 24-hour film installation The Clock, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has made significant changes to how it will debut the work. [Image: A still from The Clock.]
The MFAB announced this afternoon that it plans to premiere The Clock on Sept. 16 at 4pm, when any museum visitor may attend. Previously the museum had planned to debut the work on Sept. 17 at 7pm as part of a $200-per-person opening event at the museum’s new wing for contemporary art. That initial plan was criticized by many art lovers in a Boston Globe article and was pilloried elsewhere, including here on MAN. Eventually Marclay issued a statement in which he objected to the MFA’s plan. The museum recently acquired the work in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada.
The MFAB’s press release explains the change:
For the 24-hour premiere, The Clock is included in Museum admission during MFA hours—from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Friday, September 16 and 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 17. Overnight from 9 p.m. (September 16) through 10 a.m. (September 17), when only The Clock will be on view, guests will be admitted free of charge. There are no reservations and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The Loring Gallery will be arranged with couches and room for standing to accommodate a total of 48 visitors. For more information, please visit [here.]
As noted above, originally the MFAB planned to charge $200 to see a portion of The Clock as part of the Sept. 17 festivities that will formally open the museum’s new contemporary art wing. The MFA planned to charge admission on a sliding scale, starting at $200 for entry at 7pm on Sept. 17, ending at 7am on Sept. 18, when entry to the MFA will be free as part of a ‘community day.’ As a result, regularly admitted, non-$200-level visitors would have had the opportunity to see only half of The Clock when the MFA debuts the work. (Visitors who pay less than $200 as part of the MFA’s sliding scale would have been able to see slightly more of the piece.)
The MFAB is also planning a completely free 24-hour screening between 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 9, through 4 p.m. on Columbus Day, Monday, October 10.
The museum said that the change in plans was not specifically a response to Marclay’s statement.
At what point in an artist’s career is a career-length survey useful and revealing? Ten years in? Twenty?
It seems to me — I have no data to support this — that the trend is for commercially successful artists to attract curatorial interest earlier and earlier. As a result, there’s been something of a curatorial rush to perceived market quality.
I thought of this issue yesterday as I started to put together my list of interesting, try-to-see fall exhibitions. “Dana Schutz: If the Face Had Wheels,” a “ten-year survey” of Dana Schutz’s paintings and drawings, will open at the Neuberger Museum of Art on September 25th. It is curated by the Neuberger’s Helaine Posner and will travel to Denver and Miami. [Image: Schutz, Swimming, Smoking, Crying, 2009. Collection of Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas.]
Is that too soon for an exhibition to be scholarly, contextualizing or, well, meaningful? Late last year the Wexner Center for the Arts and curator Christopher Bedford launched a traveling Mark Bradford survey. That show is now at the MCA Chicago. I started thinking about the whole ‘too soon?’ question in my first post on that show.
It was immediately apparent that ‘The Canoes,’ a new Nancy Rubins sculpture installed at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, was the hot topic in town. Even before I’d seen the piece, which is actually titled Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Monochrome I, Built to Live Anywhere, at Home Here (2010-11, at left), I knew that the Albright had a hit on its front lawn.
Rubins’ eye-catching sculpture is a controlled explosion of shining boats held together by stainless-steel wire. In part because of their icy silver color, the canoes appear frozen in place, about to burst outward or fall to the ground. A couple of times while standing across the street from the Rubins I realized that I was holding my breath, waiting for the sculpture to finish whatever action seemed to be going on. I had to remind myself that the work isn’t kinetic.
Stainless Steel is the latest Rubins to press 21st-century chaos upon late 20th-century sculpture, to reject the rigor of Donald Judd’s shapes and surfaces or Kenneth Snelson’s orderly and carefully calibrated forms. Judd and Snelson’s work inspires a very particular kind of wonder and admiration: How can their objects be so meticulously perfect? Rubins’ work, especially this Albright-Knox sculpture and its bombastic cousin at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (below, left), forces a viewer to wonder how such imperfection came together — and how it holds together. Rubins’ best pieces — and this is one of her absolute best — inspire a motivating sense of wonder: As I walked around ‘The Canoes,’ I tried to figure out how it ‘worked,’ what held it together. Sure, the piece has a sturdy base and lots of apparently high-tension wire that holds the individual canoes in place. But still, how the heck…
Part of Stainless Steel’s presence comes from the way it plays off of the Albright’s 1905 Edward B. Green building, a heavy, grounded, orderly neo-classical pile. One is button-down, the other bursts. The juxtaposition recalls the way Rubin’s breakout hit, Worlds Apart (1982), must have stood out in tidy, neo-classical Washington, DC. [At right: The A-K's Green building, via Flickr user davehogan.]
Another key element that gives energy to the sculpture and the museum ‘behind it’ comes from where supervising curator Heather Pesanti and A-K director Louis Grachos chose to put it: Between the museum’s three-building mini-campus and Elmwood Avenue, the main drag that runs between Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Delaware Park and downtown Buffalo. The Albright is set well back from the street and behind a parking lot and is easy to miss or to not think about if you regularly make the trip from the city’s ritzier neighborhoods or its inner semi-beltway down toward the urban core.
Not anymore. ‘The Canoes’ is sculpture-as-guarantee that Buffaloans will remember that their art museum is there, that it is doing and showing things, that it is alive. In fact, the Rubins seems to have been part of a concerted strategy: The headline of the museum’s acquisition-announcing press release was “Monumental New Sculpture Will Transform Elmwood Avenue.” As such, Stainless Steel is a manifestation of a kind of three-dimensional museum strategy that seems to be on the rise: Public sculpture that rejects plop for pop, public sculpture that both the museum and artist hopes is populist enough to entice a drive-by public into the museum. (Think of LACMA’s crossover hit Urban Light, which was made by Rubins’ husband, Chris Burden.)
This is an especially important strategy for the Albright-Knox, a museum which, like its city, has had its struggles in recent years. Buffalo was once one of America’s ten biggest and most-important metropolitan areas. Now it’s the same size as Fresno, Calif. The primary still-extant reminder of Buffalo’s glorious past is its architecture — perhaps only Chicago has as more great early-20th-century buildings than Buffalo — and its art museum, which has one of the ten best collections of modern and contemporary art in America.
But instead of self-consciously providing Buffalo a point of greatness around which to rally, the A-K has struggled to define itself in recent years. (Everyone in Buffalo seems to know that it is a home to great American architecture, but in my experience residents seem much less aware that the Albright is anything special.) Several years ago the A-K sold off its best non-modern/contemporary art in an effort to devote its limited resources to what it has done best for the last few decades, modern and contemporary art, but handled the situation poorly. Last year it hosted the worst and most problematic exhibition any significant American art museum has shown in at least a decade.
Fortunately, through the administrative bungling the museum’s curators have continued to buy and exhibit significant art. Few American art museums are as dedicated to exhibiting their collections as is the Albright. While this focus is an obvious necessity for a cash-strapped museum, the A-K has done it particularly well. Witness its recent installation (and promotion) of a particularly fantastic late Sol LeWitt wall drawing or its strong, ongoing installation of video art from its collection.
Here’s hoping ‘The Canoes’ is an indication that the Albright-Knox is getting back to what great art museums should do: Acquiring and exhibiting great art — and using it to make lasting connections with the museum’s hometown audience.