Archive | December, 2007

Montreal

Graffiti on the side of a building on St. Catherine St. I was taken by the scale of the image, against the relatively human scale of the buildings that typify Montreal, which is much more human scale than NYC. After visiting my family for Christmas in Vermont, I thought I would take myself on a little vacation to Montreal, since I was two thirds of the way there; that is how far North my family is. I went to Montreal for the first time last summer for just two nights, and totally enjoyed it; of course the main attraction are the gay strip bars, which are unlike anything in the States. There I worship before the altar of another sort of beauty, than usually reviewed in these pages. But in addition to the wonderful freedom Montreal offers, it also has some really good art to be seen. I have only begun to explore the art there, focusing mainly on the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which is pretty big, and has allot to see. But […]

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Chelsea Galleries, December 2007

Again hardly a comprehensive tour, just a few highlights. Yan Lei, Color Wheel, 2006, acrylic on canvas. Robert Miller Gallery Yan Lei is a Chinese artist, and since Chinese art is all the rage, I guess every gallery now needs to feature some. The show as a whole is strange and disconnected to me, but I enjoy these color wheel paintings, which are truly hallucinogenic, the next images will make that more evident: Here is another one of the color wheel paintings. As you approach the paintings, because they are quite large, nearly ten feet square, your eyes do strange things, and I felt like I was looking through a fog, my eyes felt as if they lost their focus. In fact, the paintings are sort of blurred, the boundaries between the different color rings are not distinct, and blend into each other. The effect was a little alarming, and my friend Charlene took a few minutes to get over it. Whether this clever manipulative trick deserves credit as great art is a question, but […]

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Best window in Hudson this holiday

Windows of Mark McDonald’s Gallery 555 Warren Street, Hudson This extraordinary stained glass window is featured for the Holidays and I think it is just beautiful. It comes from a Miami Beach hotel, The Caribbean, designed by Murray Dixon in 1941, but who did the glass is unknown at this time. I love the waterlilies, which seem to be a favorite theme for artists, one just needs to think of Monet’s which are so admired. Here we see them close up and gigantic, and I find them oddly peace inducing. Perhaps because they also are like the lotus, revered of the Egyptians and the Buddhists, as a symbol of spiritual transformation, the roots in the muck, the flower reaching for the heavens. Pretty exalted stuff for a tourist hotel, which just goes to show, great art can often be found where design is.  

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The Pit, and the Chocolate Santa

my intrepid friend Charlene descending into the Pit, an installation at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in NYC Like all New Yorkers, I read reviews, and this caught my eye, Holland Cotter’s review of the artist Urs Fischer at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise. Here I will quote a bit:”The piece, titled “You”, calls up many references from the past and the present: from Michael Heizer’s earthworks to Chris Burden”s institutional underminings to Monica Bonvicini’s simulations of the same. …….(it goes on and on about obscure references)….You have to stoop – an implicitly humbling posture – to enter and exit, as if at the door of a shrine or a tomb, and only one person can pass through at a time.”   Intriguing I thought, I like tombs and shrines, I want to see this. What also impressed me was another review, I think it might have been on NPR, but not sure, that stated that it cost $250,000., to excavate that pit, and then of course it will be filled and cemented over again after the show. This […]

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the New Museum on the Bowery

By now everyone has heard of the New Museum, which just opened to the public, down on the Bowery. Watch out, this will be the next hot neighborhood, at least that is what is predicted by many. The building is odd, a stack of boxes off center, they look like they could topple. The skin of the building is in fact a metal mesh of large proportions, much like the mesh that plaster is put on, but much larger and of aluminum or steel. It does not read in the photos, but inside, looking out you can see the edges where they cut openings in it over the windows. Not sure what the mesh is supposed to do, but it is an interesting surface. Inside the museum, which officially has 60,000. sq. feet, does not feel that large. Each box is not particularly big, and you take an elevator up to the top gallery space and we walked down the stairs. I was not permitted to take photos inside, which is a shame, some of […]

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Highlights of the Hood Museum at Dartmouth

While we often think of America as being art poor when compared to Europe, there is actually quite a lot of good art tucked away in unexpected places. Small fine colleges frequently have very good museums, and Dartmouth has one that measures up to its high academic reputation. While not large, it is a satisfying museum with some very wonderful art. While the approach, above, is not very welcoming, inside it has great exhibition spaces. At the entrance to the exhibition galleries I found this very curious juxtaposition, an abstract form of a black glazed vessel in front of the greatest treasure of the museum, the Assyrian relief panels. While at first I thought this vessel must be ancient it turns out to be a pot by a Kenyan born artist Magdalene Odundo. Currently living in England she is a professor of ceramics at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College in Farnham. No surprise, her work is inspired by ancient vessels and are so difficult to make, according to the information on […]

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Orozco at Dartmouth

My stepfather Stan Yarian in front of the huge fresco murals by Orozco at the Baker Library at Dartmouth. The section seen here is the Coming of Quetzalcoatl, who was the great bringer of civilization in Aztec mythology. Described in their myths as a white bearded man, he is the large central figure with the pyramid temples of Teotihuacan, and flanking him are images of the ancient Aztec gods. When I went to see my mother in Vermont, I decided to go to Museums on the way, I did the Clark on trip there, and the Hood Museum at Dartmouth on the way back. The great discovery of the tour of Dartmouth were the incredible mural paintings by Jose Clemente Orozco: The Epic of American Civilization. Painted in 1932 and 1934 they are a huge ambitious series of fresco wall paintings on the history of the Americas from the Indian point of view. Daring for its time, this subversive native view was made possible by a tutorial fund set up by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, but […]

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Hudson Find

I was walking down Warren Street the other day and passing the windows of Rural Residence, and looked in the window and saw a framed watercolor that caught my eye. English or American, 1824, page from a Personal Journal.   Not usually my sort of thing as at first glance this appears sentimental, something about it grabs me. It is superbly well drawn and executed the flowers are identifiable, botanical in accuracy of depiction, the colors vibrant, and the penmanship of the poem is just beautiful. This anonymous page from a personal journal reaches across time to touch us now; there is something amazing about someone executing the exquisite watercolor and composing this poem for their own private pleasure, this was not distributed and who knows who may have ever seen it during the authors lifetime. The flowers are cut out and glued down on the fine paper the journal is on, so this is a sort of collage. I wonder if in fact the flowers come from a book or printed illustration of some […]

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Most incredible thing I saw last week

Bronze head of a sacred Bull. Roman, ca 1st Century A.D. from Octodurus, in Switzerland.  This monumental bronze head is nearly two feet tall at least, and is displayed on a very tall pedestal giving it real majesty. On loan to the Metropolitan Museum from the Gallo-Roman Museum in Martigne Switzerland, this is apparently the finest Roman bronze found in Switzerland. What strikes me about it is that it looks Near Eastern and hardly looks Roman, the treatment of the hair on the forehead is so spiky, each lock is a pyramid, almost flame like, in a stylized non naturalistic manner more akin to Persian or early archaic Greek sculpture than Roman. It apparently had a third horn in the center of the forehead, as a marker of its sacred nature, as if the sheer energy of the piece did not already make that plain. It really is a beautiful and arresting sculpture and wonderful to see. What strikes one about this head is the sense of the sacred found in nature, which the Romans […]

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Critical Mass exhibition in Catskill, NY

Patrick Terenchin in his gallery, on the wall are the Frank Faulkner drawings. Ending this weekend is a small exhibition of pencil drawings by Frank Faulkner, a long time resident of this area who has redone many houses in Hudson and Catskill, and who has a shop/studio space now on Warren Street, Smoke and Mirrors. The venue for the show is a new gallery in Catskill, Terenchin Fine Art, which is a beautiful clean exhibition space on the North end of Main St. Frank Faulkner is best known for abstract heavily textured paintings combining organic shapes, leaves, branches, with abstract elements. Very beautiful they remind one of a forest floor with leaves and branches embalmed in bitumen. This current drawings are however a break from this in that they are of penises, not abstractions but closely observed and detailed drawings from life. Frank has been recruiting and drawing wee wees, as he calls them, for about two years now, building up a body of work that eventually may find their way into a book. He […]

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Christies Sale results

To be fair to the other premier auction house in the world, Christies, I will cover the results of this weeks sale. Christies had no great stars this time, unlike Sotheby’s Guennol Goddess. The attendance after that spectacular sale the day before was sparse it was reported by an attendee, and the bidding anemic. However, even so, some pieces sold quite well, although there were some major disappointments. Roman silver skyphos, two views. Lot 158, estimated $700,000. to $900,000. failed to sell. In person the preservation of detail is not so good, it appears worn and unclear, even though the quality and complexity of the iconography indicates the highest level of production.  Primary amongst those was the failure of the Roman silver skyphos to sell. In the results you get online, if an object does not sell, is passed in auctioneer terms, its number simply is not there in the results. Judging by that, it did not sell, which given the high estimate, about one million dollars, must be a blow. Some other major lots […]

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the Guennol Goddess sold.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the goddess exceeded all expectations, selling for $57,161,000., including buyers premium, at Sotheby’s. That is fifty seven million dollars, when I thought the estimate was ambitious at 14 to 18 million dollars. To me, that is a frightening amount of money; while I think the object is priceless, this is enough money to fund a small nation, to remake a museum, or city in the US, it is allot of money. It is abstract, which might be the whole point, when it comes to objects of world class importance and unquestioned provenance, the money is meaningless, nothing is too much. I went to the reception at Sotheby’s on Monday evening and the theatrical display of the goddess complimented the little video about it on their website. They created a room with panels of cloth, with huge blow up images of the figure in front of it, you entered behind one such image to go into a black draped room, in the center of which was a black stand with the goddess […]

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