Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mixed Feelings

Yesterday, was a gorgeous day for a trip to the Dia:Beacon Contemporary Art Museum in Beacon, NY. Lynda Schlosberg, a fellow AIB graduate student and I made the trip together. As one of the worlds most distinguished collections of contemporary art, all the names we read about in Critical Theory were on view. Some of the most successful and famous contemporary work is shown there.

Works by: Bernd & Hilla Becher, Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlain, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Michael Heizer, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd, On Kawara, Imi Knoebel, Louise Lawler, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, An-My-Le, Bruce Nauman, Max Neuhaus, Blinky Palermo, Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman, Fred Sandbeck, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Andy Warhol and Lawrence Weiner were on exhibit.

Let's see, that's five women out of twenty six artists. Pathetic for 21st century contemporary Art representation, but still better than none.

But that's not what I really wanted to talk about in this post. I noticed my mixed feelings for the art work. On the one hand, I quite enjoy the intellectual cleverness and on the other, I want more from the work. Much more and couldn't fight the feeling of being conned and ripped off. Was I really looking at five vertical florescent light bulbs grouped together in Dan Flavin's work, as art?

Hmm, let's see there is line, color, form, value, shape, space, repetition, pattern and creative use of materials. Ok, it must be art and the cleverness made me want to run to Home Depot, immediately.

The simplicity of Fred Sandbank's stringing yarn anchored at various points to create floor to ceiling planar shapes would be a fantastic way to teach budding art students about Kandinsky's point, line and plane. The physical sensation of seeing these large planes outlined with just common red yarn made me feel giddy. It was such a simple idea and I liked it.

Yet, I wondered did it belong in a museum? I wasn't alone. I watched the faces of other visitors as they wandered around Robert Smithson's large menacing blue green shards of broken glass piled in a heap

and John Chamberlain's crumpled parts of metal automotive and carnival parts welded together in sculpture.

It gave visitors plenty to think about. Luckily, for the ones unable to see past the obvious, Dia:Beacon provided nicely designed laminated cards with the artists bio, dates and accomplishments. Finely crafted artists statements and essays schooled perplexed viewers in deep philosophical thought. It was worth the price of admission, even if the art didn't grab you.

I disagree with "idea" as being the most important aspect of a work of art, as Conceptual Artists do. But, I did marvel at the supremely obsessive and intellectual systems displayed in the work of Sol LeWitt's Drawing Series. The collaboration necessary to execute LeWitt's wall drawings with sets of simple and not so simple instructions were genius. Equally amazing is that these instructions were viable without him being present, so much for the antiquated idea of the masters touch. The results of human collaboration is what impressed me along with LeWitt's quote: "One should be intelligent enough to know when not to be too intellectual."

Going from Agnes Martin's subtle canvases that whisper to Blinky Palermo screaming red, yellow and black paintings almost hurt my eyes.

Parents with children walking under works composed of neon light lined stick figures with large penises flashing on and off made me wonder what do little kids think of this work or did they see it at all?

Mixed feelings and all, I was exhausted after a fine day of looking at the best art in our contemporary world.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring Fever

In the spirit of improv, lighthearted fun, what happens when people do the un-ordinary and unexpected in public? It's fascinating to watch human behavior as the unexpected jolts us out of our unconscious behavior.

With the flavor of candid camera, check out this video as one of the largest train stations in the world comes to a halt. People freeze in place for five minutes in Frozen in Grand Central Station. The reaction of those not "frozen" were filmed.

The group responsible is called Improv Everywhere. They "cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places". Their mission Mobile Desktop had me laughing on the floor. Enjoy and Happy Spring everyone!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Blast from the Past

"Going down to NYC to see the WACK! Art and Feminist Revolution Exhibition was like...very heavy, man. Over four hundred female artists exploring feminist themes from the decade of the groovy 70's. Man, those chicks were pissed... complaining broads are such a turn-off ! I mean, like the girls used their bodies to make ART, if you could call it... art and..."

Ok. Ok. I'll stop. My third paper is written on this exhibition. Click on this WACK link to download the paper for a different read of this show.