Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Season Begins

Well, summer is officially over. It's not the sight of geese flying south or the leaves turning color but the sight of Chelsea galleries jammed to overflowing at the start of the new season. I, for one, did not find much pleasure in the experience. Was I alone? It seemed so desperate and overcrowded. The art was in third place most of the time and I just couldn't find the right rhythm to be looking at the work. I don't know if it's the financial and economic challenges on my mind or a slow transition from the easy/lazy summer days. It just didn't feel right. But there were pleasures to be found. A few thoughts on a few shows......

The new Vik Muniz show at Sikkema/Jenkins is remarkable. It showcases all of his trademark cleverness and fine craft but turns it on its head. Instead of creating a creating a photo from a made object, he has made a sculptural object from a photo. The photo is of the back of a famous painting after which Mr. Muniz and his team obsessively re-create the markings, stamps, tape, and labels that mark the provenance of all works of art. To see these recreations leaning with their putative masterpieces on the other side feels like a museum turned inside out. It also remarks wittily on our desire for authenticity and connoisseurship over any aesthetic concerns. What's on the back has become more important than what's on the front. Cool.

Von Lintel has an interesting show called "More Than Words". I was disappointed that the actual show didn't quite live up to the potential of the description of the show, but I was happy that they tried. It was good to see that the smartly curated group/theme show was not dead as we move into the Fall. Standouts for me were the typed works of Lee Etheridge IV and the drawings of Mark Lombardi. Both are artists I know well from their showings at Pierogi, Brooklyn. While Mr. Etheridge's work recalls typed work of Carl Andre, I feel that it's a new, graphical direction that stands on its own.

Wonderful Minor White retrospective at Howard Greenberg. I have loved this artist's work since I first discovered photography. Though I don't believe that his devotion to eastern philosophical principles adds much to the work, I do believe that the work stands on its own without that philosophical overlay beautifully. The abstractions are wonderfully created in camera. Some of them are so arcane that it's hard to believe that they had no post production in the darkroom. I find it hard to understand that the abstractions and constructions of Aaron Siskind, Frederick Sommer, and other from the Chicago I.D. school have found such favor with collectors while Minor White's work remains largely unknown. Mr. Greenberg chose to supplement this show with a small selection of the great artists who have been influenced by Minor White. It was a lovely frame to show the legacy and influence of a great artist and teacher. Must see.

I'm happy to see that Yancey Richardson has added Hiroh Kikai to her roster. She has a small showing of the city portraits on view. Though I don't believe this is his strongest work nor the best way to see this series, I'm happy to know that Yancey chose him. I eagerly look forward to a more comprehensive show in the coming years.

My dear friend Cornelia Hediger had her debut NYC show at the up-and-coming Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn. I am thrilled for her. It's dramatic and personal work that is well worth the trip to the other side of the river.

The always smart and engaged Becky Smith of Bellwether Gallery has a show of Zoe Beloff. The show is of maquette theaters using archival videos, mirrors, and stagecraft to unsettling effect. Take a look before you read the press release. It's interesting to have an impression of this work BEFORE you know the whole story.

Last, and not at all least, was a photograph by Christopher Rauschenberg at the newly named Michael Mazzeo Gallery (formerly Peer Gallery). Sometimes an artist taps into emotion that is so pure, so raw, so honest, that it takes your breath away. Mr. Rauschenberg has done that here.

Link to the photograph and the wall text from the show.

Just reading that makes me tear up. Seeing his brilliant, simple, honest photo, I thought about a poem I know by Joshua Beckman from his cycle "Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter"

At the news of your death
not a good poem was written
not in your country or mine
not by any of the famous poets from anywhere,
no, we all just sat down and had a good cry,

We could all have a good cry at the sight of Chris's photo. Wow.

1 comment:

  1. Howdy Evan,

    loved Cornelia's show. We've actually become good friends since then and I can't wait to see more of her work soon.

    Whenever you get that overcrowded feeling again in Chelsea, stop by my gallery (not mine as in owner, but mine as in represented by) in the L.E.S. on Clinton. It's the Collette Blanchard Gallery. ex-director over at Von Lintel. The space and collette are amazing. My show just finished, but there is a new exhibit curated by Mickalene Thomas on display.