Why hello there! I’m back from a six-day school trip to the big apple and officially celebrating an end to my recent blogging hiatus with a delicious little NYC photo diary for you! I’m splitting it up into three parts because I took quite a few pics *surprise surprise* and this is actually pretty bare-bones given all that we saw!
We started out classy and hit up the Met. And, I gotta say, it was just as monumental as my previous visit — only in an entirely different way. This time around I was totally taken by works that I probably wouldn’t have glanced at twice during my last visit when I was my second-year-art-school self. I was particularly inspired by a series of excellently crafted exhibits focused on antique French and English interior decor of centuries-past and another related feature titled Metropolitan Vanities: The History of the Dressing Table. The absurd over-design, superfluous details, and altogether unnecessary accouterments adorning the furniture — however dainty or robust — were fabulous nuggets of sculptural inspiration. Those dressers, foot-stools, candelabras, and chairs, likely possessed just as much attitude as the people who utilized them in another lifetime. Fabulous.
My other Met highlight was definitely the Oceania exhibit. Again, another previously overlooked collection. It featured works from indigenous regions of Papa New Guinea, New Zealand, and other lesser known neighboring islands. It was mind blowing on a number of levels. The rigor of engineering and the thoughtfulness of the construction of all of the works — both the sculptural objects and the functional large-scale pieces (some being massive canoes)— was simply inspiring. The works in this exhibit were constructed purely of primitive natural resources, yet their sophistication, strange humor, and ingenuity was remarkable.
Next we made for the MOMA. An easy first or second choice on my hypothetical ‘you-only-have-one-day-to-see-art-in-NYC’ list. We had to motor through the place pretty quickly in light of all the smaller galleries we wanted to see over the course of the week, so I mainly hung out with the work that really informed my development as a drawer and sculptor (mostly in the way of ’60s minimalism). Also, not to mention, the Isa Genzken retrospective! It was pretty awesome — especially her large sculpture works from the 70’s *see pics*. The rest was a bit watery, although I do enjoy Genzken’s constant exploitation of divergent, tenuous and often kitschy materials. If nothing else, her more recent work was highly visceral.
Hats off also to the MOMA’s David Platzker, curator of the department of Drawing and Prints, who took the liberty of providing a brilliant mini-lecture and tour for our small group on a small feature exhibit titled There Will Never Be Silence which focused on the nature of negative space and spatial perception; specifically the assertion that empty space can be perceived to possess it’s own physicality. This conceptual idea has been a strong area of interest for me over the past four years, so I was positively delighted to see a curation that happened to speak so poignantly to a very abstract, yet simple curiosity that I definitely shared. This exhibit included works by Fred Sandbach, Robert Morris, John Cage, Rauschenberg, Duchamp, and many other favorites of mine. I highly recommend it!
The Upper East Side. Thankfully our very connected graduate advisor, Paul Walde, was gracious enough to play tour guide for us in a sea of intimidating smallish galleries precariously situated in very old and very beautiful residential buildings with faintly visible, unwelcoming signs, and even more unwelcoming employees à la Leo Castelli. Okay.. it was terrific and provided a really fantastical if not slightly freeky glimpse into the upper echelons of the high end art market. It’s brilliant but sort of depressing — the level of hostility your met with combined with the sorts of works that get to live in those galleries, some brilliant, some…dare I say… boring. Yes boring, or maybe just over rated? Okay, forgive the subjective art rant.. But of course there were some obvious standouts — A.R. Penck’s Felt Works 1972-1995 being one of them. I loved these soft sculptures! Also, an absolutely delectable work by Robert Morris called The Breather, which, as you may have guessed, actually inflates and slowly deflates itself in a quite human way. The perfect large-scale replica of a hairy fat man’s belly rising and falling while asleep.
We topped off the end of Tuesday with an indulgence or two at F.A.O. Schwartz. Yes, they have doll-sized gummy bears, and yes, I nearly bought one. Seven big kids in a candy store. Eeeeek!