I went to New York this weekend to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. We made time to go into the city to see some art over the weekend. I had heard there was a Yayoi Kusama show and I convinced my dad to wait in line with me to see her installation Festival of Life at David Zwirner Gallery. We had to wait a ridiculously long time in line (I think it was about 4 hours!) to get in. It was cold and my feed hurt from standing, yet I really enjoyed waiting outside with the hundreds of other people in line. In a city of millions, its heartening to do something as a group; to feel part of something bigger.
Once inside, we had to put on these funny white shoe protectors--liked socks for your shoes--so that we didn't get the art dirty. I felt like an art scientist.
The ridiculously long line was only to see the Infinity Mirror Rooms. The gallery was also showing a series of Infinity Net paintings. I knew of Kusama's dot paintings, but wasn't as familiar with the paintings on view. I really loved finding faces and other symbols hiding in the canvases. It was interesting how the repetition of the forms abstracted the figures; it reminded me of being multiplied by the mirrors in her installation pieces.
After the gallery, we went to the Whitney Museum. I love the new Whitney and there was so much to see there that I wish I had had another full day to spend in their galleries. The work was varied and there were so many pieces that resonated with me for different reasons.
We started on the 6th floor with Laura Owen's show. I didn't know much about her beforehand. Walking around her 60+ canvases, I admired her ability to push the boundaries of painting. She also has a quirky sense of humor, which made me want to read more about her work--specifically interviews where I could listen to her talk about her own work. Her paintings ran the gamut--I was intrigued by some, confused by others, touched by intimate moments in some of her paintings (like the image above, Untitled, 2000) and then put off by harsh colors in others. With some artists, I immediately know if I love their work or don't. With Laura Owen's work, I was often pulled in two directions simultaneously.
The exhibit An Incompletely History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney's Collection 1940-2017 is timely. We need more work that makes us confront our past as Americans and question our current policies. Two of my favorite pieces in the exhibition were William N. Copley's Untitled (Think/Flag) and Pyramid Up and Down Pyramid by Melvin Edwards.
I breezed by a lot of the work in the show Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney's Collection, 1900-1960, but lingered in the section called The Furniture of Home. The wall text read, "From a site of retreat to a repository for the objects with which we identify, the home can serve as a window into the period when an artwork was made, a stand-in for its inhabitants, or a symbol of the class of its residents." The awkward cropping of Charles Sheeler's Geranium, from 1926 caught my eye for a number of reasons and I stopped to look at it for a while.
Next, I saw Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World. The photograph the museum picked for publicity didn't excite me as much as the sculptures and other hand-made objects in the galleries. I really enjoyed the the way he combines and repurposes materials, includes language, reveals process and the overall installation of the show. Unfortunately, his work was on the second (or third?) floor and by the time I got to it, I was running out of time and had to rush through a lot of the galleries. Later, I found this short video online which illustrates how I felt hurrying through this exhibit.
Lastly, I rushed downstairs to see Toyin Ojih Odutola's show To Wander Determined. I was one of a few people in the gallery right before the museum closed and got to spend about ten minutes looking at her intimate drawings. One of my favorite images was Wall of Ambassadors (pictured above) because of the way each figure interacts within the different frames.
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2020 Member's Prize Show
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February 11-April 30, 2020
124 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA
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