Filed under: DC, Review | Tags: Alfred Jensen, Dan Flavin, Eva Hesse, In The Tower, Matthew Smith, Mel Bochner, National Gallery of Art, Sol Lewitt, The Tower Gallery
As Mel Bochner tells it, his longstanding engagement with language was inevitable. His seminal Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant To Be Viewed as Art (1966) — a collection of notes and drawings from the likes of Dan Flavin, Alfred Jensen, Eva Hesse, Sol Lewitt, among others, photocopied and arranged into four identical binders — considers the rules and seriality of communication systems, if not written language directly. At the time, the work signaled a broader paradigm shift toward Minimalism and away from Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, while also heralding the text-based work that would come to occupy Bochner for much of the next 45 years.
The Tower Gallery at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is currently exhibiting a collection of Bochner’s recent Thesaurus Paintings and preparatory drawings alongside his early and precursory text-based Portraits (1966-1968). In the Tower: Mel Bochner thus presents the artist’s reprising of his earlier work — much of which forms the foundation of Conceptual Art and Minimalism — as big, bold canvases inflected with painterly subjectivity. Or as NGA curator James Meyer observed of Bochner’s recent paintings, “a kind of American Realism has entered Conceptualism’s back door.” - Matthew Smith, Washington, D.C. contributor
Mel Bochner | Die, 2005, oil and acrylic on canvas, 152.4 x 203.2 cm (60 x 80 in.), Courtesy Peter Freeman Inc., New York, © Mel Bochner 2011
Filed under: Art Fairs, Art Market, Art World | Tags: Aqua, Art Basel, Art Miami, Art Now, Fountain, Miami, NADA, Pulse, Red Dot, Verge, Verge Art Miami Beach
Hard to believe that it’s already that time of year, but the most highly anticipated art event is upon us again. This week the art fairs open in Miami, so we’ve compiled a quickie guide of our favorite fairs to help you along in your adventure.
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Brian Fee, Paul Kasmin, Walton Ford
Walton Ford‘s reputation for enormous (specifically life-sized) watercolors of animals executed in the highly illustrative, realistic vein of ornithologist-artist John James Audubon precedes him. I have expectations when approaching a new Ford exhibition: the works will be large; they will be fully realized; and there will exist some disarray, some violence that offsets the animals’ handsome portraiture. I’ve followed Ford’s work since 2005 and have seen his deft folding of dissent beneath a naturalistic veil, like Le Jardin‘s rugged bison fighting off a pack of chicly groomed wolves on a manicured garden. Or his 2009 exhibition at Paul Kasmin Gallery, his most distressing yet, which featured bizarre moments of animals in panic at the edge of human intervention. Ford focuses his exacting Audubon-style themes with pop culture in his latest exhibition at the gallery, I don’t like to look at him, Jack. It makes me think of that awful day on the island. And, yeah, they’re huge. - Brian Fee, Austin Contributor
Walton Ford | I don’t like to look at him, Jack. It makes me think of that awful day on the island, partial installation view, 2011, © Walton Ford, Courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery.
The exhibition’s title hints at one subject: King Kong, the original misunderstood monster, a silver-screen antihero. Ford paints the mighty Kong to scale, meaning a series of three works easily his most monumental yet, measuring 9-by-12 feet per sheet. That is huge…but they only encapsulate Kong’s great visage, filling each frame in varying stages of grief and fright, from teary-eyed dismay (I don’t like to look at him, Jack) to nostril-dilated, teeth-baring rage (It makes me think of that awful day) to wounded defeat, his lips bloodied, translucent tears and snot running down his face (On the island). Stand up close and effortlessly lose yourself in fields of undulating fur. Note the contrast of Kong’s wide, wan tongue against leathery, textured skin, like tractor-tire treads, and those bottomless eyes, conveying as much humanlike emotion as his super-sized expressions. Ford drew the separate works’ titles from a quote by Fay Wray on the original ’33 King Kong, reminding us her own feelings of a day she wishes she could forget, one that Kong loved so much. The trilogy covers the front gallery’s three walls for an almost totally immersive experience, within Kong’s grief as the unloved and unlovable.
Walton Ford | His Supremacy, 2011, watercolor, gouache, pencil and ink on paper, 59 5/8″ x 40 3/4″, © Walton Ford, Courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery.
Ford draws from a passage in Audubon’s memoirs for a second suite of watercolor drawings in the second gallery, depicting the naturalist’s childhood parrot’s death at the hands of an adult monkey. As Audubon never mentioned the primate’s specific species in his memoirs, Ford depicts it as mutable throughout six panels, “walking deliberately and uprightly toward the poor bird” according to Audubon. Ford synthesizes an unseen human element here, with the mischievous monkey leering over the parrot like a child play-acting (The Man of the Woods) or snatching it from a nest (His Supremacy), foregrounded by psychedelically bright blooms. Ford adds an additional, perverse elaboration within the fourth panel, du Pain au Lait pour le Perroquet Mignonne, as the monkey grasps at both the entrapped bird and his own erect manhood in a mix of frenzy and sexual delight. This leads to the parrot’s brutal decapitation as the monkey ejaculates and is summarily chained to a rock at the series’ denouement. The vividly colorful parrot, the monkeys’ variably textured coats, even the washed-out daytime sky’s gradual dip into concluding stormy darkness (…Forever Afterward Chained) receive Ford’s masterful, realistic treatment. His expert injection of Kong-sized pop imagery and his continued prowess at adapting and re-imaging Audubon’s world means we’ll probably never see “just” bird watercolors in Ford’s future body of work.
Walton Ford was born in Larchmont, NY and lives and works in Great Barrington, MA. His work is included in a number of collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. A survey of his work was organized by the Brooklyn Museum in 2006 and traveled to the San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas and the Norton Museum of Art in Florida in 2007. Ford’s midcareer retrospective debuted at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum Fur Gegenwart in Berlin last year and traveled to the Albertina in Vienna and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. I don’t like to look at him, Jack. It makes me think of that awful day on the island is his eighth solo exhibition at Paul Kasmin Gallery, on view through December 23.
Brian Fee is an art punk currently based in Austin, TX. His culture blog Fee’s List covers his three loves (art, film and live music) occurring in his other three loves (the Lone Star State, the Big Apple, and Tokyo).
Filed under: Chicago, Review | Tags: Chicago, Daniel Reich Gallery, Josh Reames, Kavi Gupta, Luce Gallery, MCA, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Saatchi Gallery, Scott Reeder
It is difficult to think about Scott Reeder’s work without the word “funny” coming to mind. The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago recently opened up with the Milwaukee-native’s first museum show that features his colorful, faux-naïve paintings of smoking fruit, symmetrical pirates, protesting pandas, and humorous still-lives: the usual suspects in Reeder’s art historical and pun-based visual jokes. The exhibition also includes Reeder’s newer untitled spaghetti paintings, made using raw and cooked noodles and spray-paint. Upon entering the MCA, visitors are confronted with a massive, two-story, raw spaghetti painting; commissioned specifically for the show. - Josh Reames, Chicago Contributor
More pictures after the jump! (more…)
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Bianca Beck, Brian Fee, Cheim & Read, Joe Fyfe, LeTableau, Rachel Uffner Gallery, White Columns
It is remarkable what a single gestural stroke or gouged marking can do towards turning a murkily colored abstract painting into something uncannily figurative, erotic, mortal even. In a long New York weekend, I knew I had to see Bianca Beck’s solo exhibition, the appropriately titled Body, at Rachel Uffner Gallery. I’d been taken by her inclusion in Joe Fyfe’s curated Le Tableau exhibition at Cheim & Read last summer, a cross-generational survey beginning with post-war European Art Informel action painters like Jean Fautrier and Hans Hartung and featuring contemporary responses. Beck wasn’t just among the youngest voices in the show, but her small-scale oil on incised wood panel work Baby was as intuitively aligned, and breathlessly enlivening, as the original Art Informel group. This new grouping of mixed media works and first-time sculpture finds Beck channeling that vivacity even further. - Brian Fee, Austin Contributor
Bianca Beck | Untitled, 2011, oil, ink, and burns on panel, 16” x 12”. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York.
Filed under: Video | Tags: Andrea Rosen Gallery, James Kalm, katy moran, Loren Munk
We are pleased to present another video “gallery visit” from James Kalm, aka the painter Loren Munk. In this installment, James provides “…a quick view of the new paintings by Katy Moran. Small, scrappy and authentic, these works seem to echo the influences of early American masters of modernism. Among those nuances are Ryder, Dove, and the assemblage works of Rauschenberg, Berman and Lauri. However these references never overshadow the uniqueness of Moran’s personal practice.” The video was shot at the Andrea Rosen Gallery during Moran’s solo exhibition in May and June of 2011.
Filed under: New York, Q&A | Tags: Alex Ebstein, Allison Schulnik, chunky, mound, New York, ZieherSmith
Stepping out of the ambient bustling of West 20th street into ZieherSmith last week, the outside world and its stimuli immediately evaporated. Through the gatherings of weary figures and overripe fauna of Allison Schulnik’s solo exhibition drifts the melancholy melody of Scott Walker’s “It’s Raining Today,” the source imperceptible from the entrance. Dramatically lit with small spots, and thick with the smell of oil paint, Mound (Exhibiting through December 17th), envelopes its viewers in a multi-sensory experience of nostalgia and theatricality. Chunky impastoed canvases depicting flowers, clowns, animals and hobos are displayed along with Schulnik’s works in other media. A small gouache painting on paper entitled “Funeral Party” hangs to the side of a small ceramic mammal and a head-shaped vessel.
In the main gallery space, “Mound,” a stunning stop-motion video, and the source of the soundtrack, is projected to fill an entire wall. Figures and landscape melt into one another, becoming at points, one large undulating mound. On the adjacent walls, similarly-scaled paintings, “Flower Mound” (100” x 148”) and “Idyllwild” (110” x 78”) are awesome in their size and craftsmanship. Schulnik moves seamlessly between media, and from large-scale to smaller, more intimate pieces like “White Flower” (ceramic and wood, 37” x 29” x 29”) with the same amount of detail and care. This tangible transition from painting to film to object brings us fully into the Schulnik world of comic/tragic ruffians, kittens and puppets. I had the opportunity to ask Allison a few questions about her show and the influences in her work… - Alex Ebstein, Baltimore Contributor
Allison Schulnik | Still from Mound, 2011, video, drawing, sculpture, box, 4:33 in length, Courtesy ZieherSmith
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Brian Fee, Josephine Halvorson, New York, Sikkema Jenkins & Co
Josephine Halvorson breathes life into marginalized and utilitarian surfaces and objects that most of us don’t just disregard on a daily basis, we’re even oblivious to their very existences. How often have you regarded a steam valve so closely that you could draw it from memory? Does your flat even have steam valves? Halvorson lovingly animates these neglected forms in What Looks Back at Sikkema Jenkins & Co (exhibition runs through December 4th), devoting one brushy oil on linen canvas per subject, rendering every curve and crack with equal attention. - Brian Fee, Austin Contributor
Josephine Halvorson | Steam Donkey Valve, 2011, Oil on linen, 18” x 23”, © Josephine Halvorson; Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
Filed under: Los Angeles | Tags: Ellen C. Caldwell, Ellen Caldwell, John Berggruen Gallery, Richard Serra, Works on Paper
At once heavy, inviting, bold, and unbalancing, Richard Serra’s “Works on Paper” at the John Berggruen Gallery have a similar effect to his well-known steel sculptures. While his larger-than-life sculptures welcome viewers through their vast curvatures, strange passages, and interactive fields, his works on paper do something similar, though on a much smaller and subtler scale. - Read and see more from LA Contributor, Ellen Caldwell, after the jump!
Filed under: Review, Seattle | Tags: 220.127.116.11, Erin Langner, Nola Avienne, Seattle, soil gallery
The richness of Nola Avienne’s work invites visual indulgence. Captivating the eye through highly textural, densely composed imagery, her sculptures and mixed media works hover within the classic duality of the beautiful and the grotesque without perpetuating clichés. The Seattle artist distinguishes her work through the use of unusual mediums, best known for her meticulously crafted sculptures comprised of iron filings. Some of these manifest as intricate forms reminiscent of lush, fungal-like organisms; others demonstrate the kinetic potential of their magnetic medium through geometric mechanisms that circulate quietly in slow motion. – Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor