Archive | Contemporary

Serpent-Web

The Plumed Serpent

Here we look at the subject of the serpent in Mesoamerican art, one a contemporary version of the Aztec motif by Robert Graham, the other two Aztec stone sculptures.  The plumed serpent was the symbol of Quetzalcoatl, one of the main deities of the Mesoamerican pantheon.

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Tony Oursler at Metro Pictures

I am not usually one for the new media in art, but some of it stands out, and Tony Oursler has been doing video installations now for years, and is the master of the genre. His new show at Metro Pictures, up until April 11, is well worth a look. The illusions he conjures are very compelling and are as much a testament to the rapid evolution of video technology as Oursler’s incredibly imaginative use of it. Below are photos I took on my iphone, the simplest camera in the world, and if they are compelling on these, you know they are in person. A forest of burning cigarettes greets you as you enter the gallery. As they are video projections, the tips appear to burn with a moving red glow of embers, and smoke rise. Pretty great, very compelling. On the floor are projected scratch of lottery tickets with a hand vigorously scratching off the numbers. Again, pretty great illusion, it reads really well. I have not been writing as much about contemporary art […]

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Chelsea, Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

I did my day in the city, going from the Vani exhibition at the new Institute for the Study of the Ancient World on East 84th Street, just West of Madison Avenue. Amazing new venue, and the show is quite enlightening. All excavated material, with the photos to prove it, objects that in another setting I would have been dubious of; here were incontrovertibly ancient. (see below) Then I went to Chelsea, and saw a few shows. Two stood out for me. These from the exhibition of Yinka Shonibare’s works at James Cohan Gallery. I learned about Shonibare first from a video installation at the same gallery from an exhibition of masks, and Shonibare’s work was an incredible video of masked dancers in 18th Century Court dress, but of a complexity and color never seen by me before. It was beautiful. So here I get to see his work close up, and the textiles are amazing. Strangely however, while these textiles are found in Africa, they were imported from Holland. I love Shonibare’s sense, very […]

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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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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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Gallery shows in Hudson, NY

Since I live here, in Hudson, I thought I should make some mention of what is going on in the art scene in my own town. It actually has blossomed in the years I have lived here, with a number of quite good and interesting galleries now open. I will only mention a few here, with more to come in future posts. Tony Thompson painting at Carrie Haddad titled, Kensett, clearly meant to evoke or inspired by the wonderful paintings by the artist of that name, one of the leading practitioners of the Hudson River School. Tony Thompson is well known to those of us who live here in Hudson, he has been here for quite a few years now, so I follow his work partly as a friend, but also I actually like his paintings. He has very good technique, and here he employs it in an odd way, doing a double image, one right side up, the other upside down. Between the two is a heavy application of oil paint to forming a […]

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The Shark at the Metropolitan Museum

The Met does not allow photography of the Shark, so I got this from Raw art Weblog, and think the blogger probably did what I had hoped to do but did not dare, just take a photo discreetly. He did dare, so I will use his photo, the best one I could find easily that shows the tank before the windows. This is not news, Damien Hirst’s infamous shark in formaldehyde is now on view at the Met and has been for about a month now. I went to see it on my day of going through the museum as I have heard about it for years, and while I have seen other works by Damien Hirst, had never this iconic piece. Pretentiously titled, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, it is a shark suspended in a beautifully built tank of blue green formaldehyde. It is important, whether one likes it or not, because of the impact it has had on the art world, and the tremendous attention it received […]

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Chelsea, Tuesday November 6th

I just took an overnight trip to the City, and started on Tuesday afternoon with a quick tour of Chelsea. I don’t try to see everything, I cannot sustain the interest, or the feet that long, so I hit the obvious galleries, mostly sticking to easy to get into ones on the ground floor. This fortunately includes the best galleries, so is an easy way to keep tabs on what is happening in the art world in a general way. While my first post might lead the reader to conclude that I hate the contemporary art world, this is not true. I actually am enjoying contemporary art more than I used to, I think in large part due to the fact that the art has changed in the thirty years I have been looking at it. Craft, skill, consummate and obsessive attention to detail seem to be in style again, in a range of materials and styles. Concept is still important but is no longer the only thing; the object at hand also compels the […]

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