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The first time I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art was like waking up in fairyland. There is no other museum quite like this palace of wonders on the east side of New York’s Central Park. It magically brings together an ancient Egyptian temple, 18th-century salons and some of the greatest works of Rembrandt and Vermeer, among other delights, in airy, well-lit galleries with regular views of the tree-filled park.
Yet what truly marks this museum out from European cousins such as the Louvre and – until now – London’s National Gallery is that it takes for granted a fact that still causes endless tensions in the UK: the rightful place of modern and contemporary art alongside the treasures of the past.
This season’s big exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum is a survey of Andy Warhol’s living artistic influence. This is not an unusual project for a museum whose permanent collection includes, as well as El Greco’s View of Toledo, such modern American masterpieces as White Flag by Jasper Johns.
When I first visited New York, this easy intimacy of old and new transformed my view of art. In Britain, art fans have a habit of being dogmatic “conservatives” or “modernists”. The Metropolitan Museum embodies a much richer way of seeing art: the new grows out of the old, the old is renewed by the visions of today.
But Brits may be about to become Americans, at least in the way we experience art. London’s National Gallery is launching a quite new approach to the relation between art and its history. This museum whose permanent collection culminates around 1900 is adopting an approach that may even make the Metropolitan envious. Its director will be speaking at Frieze Masters, the new art fair from the makers of Frieze that claims to bring together old and new. The NG has thrown its weight behind this venture. Meanwhile, it is about to show the last works of Richard Hamilton and put on its first ever photography exhibition.
Walter De Maria’s “The 2000 Sculpture,” an expansive array of plaster rods laid out in 20 rows 164 feet long, will have the floor, literally, for six months at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Resnick Exhibition Pavilion, starting Oct. 1.
The work may not be familiar to LACMA’s public, but the surroundings are familiar to the work, which occupied the same spot during the summer of 2010, when curators used “The 2000 Sculpture” to help fine-tune the new venue before its opening that fall.
“The sculpture provides an ideal way to test the Resnick Pavilion’s capacity to deal with large-scale work in the context of its architecture,” is how museum director Michael Govan put it at the time, in a post on LACMA’s “Unframed” blog. “The installation of a monumental work as we acclimate this building gives us the chance to test new strategies in anticipation of future projects where we may choose to use the entire space for major installations.”
The J. Paul Getty Trust is gearing up to organise a sequel to its successful collaborative project, “Pacific Standard Time (PST)”, in “five or six years’ time”, says the trust’s chief executive and president James Cuno. “We recognise that [it] is just too good to let drop.” In the meantime, he says, the trust plans to keep the momentum going by organising smaller projects on related themes with “half a dozen cultural institutions”, which are to be announced, under the title “Pacific Standard Time Presents”.
“We are just starting conversations with the lead partners of PST”—the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) and the Hammer Museum—Cuno says. The trust filed a trademark application for the name “Pacific Standard Time Presents” with the US Patent and Trademark Office in April.
The rumour mill in Los Angeles is turning about a possible theme for a sequel. The original event was “ten years in the making”, as Cuno points out, and grew out of a project to rescue and research artists’ archives. Therefore, the Getty has been reluctant to force a theme so early in the planning stages. But there has been speculation that the next collaboration could have a wider geographic sweep, to include other regions in California, or expand further to incorporate the whole of the Pacific Rim. When asked to comment, Cuno says: “We’re just beginning the conversation.”
Helen Stoilas and Javier Pes. Museums
The Art Newspaper
Showcasing major works from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, this exhibition will illustrate the Clark’s holdings of French 19th-century art, with particular emphasis upon Impressionism.
Masterpieces by Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Sisley and Morisot, as well as an exceptional group of more than twenty paintings by Renoir, will be included. The collection also embraces important works by pre-Impressionist artists such as Corot, Théodore Rousseau and J-F. Millet, as well as examples of highly polished ‘academic’ paintings by Gérôme, Alma-Tadema and Bouguereau.
The 70 works in the exhibition will be presented by genre, in order to reveal the range of subject matter and diversity of stylistic approach in French 19th-century art. The groups of works will include: landscapes and cityscapes; marine views; genre paintings depicting scenes of everyday life; nudes; still lifes; portraits – including self portraits of artists central to the exhibition such as Renoir and Degas, and paintings reflecting the contemporary interest in Orientalism.
Royal Academy of Arts
Painting is a lot of things: resilient, vampiric, perverse, increasingly elastic, infinitely absorptive and, in one form or another, nearly as old as humankind. One thing it is not, it still seems necessary to say, is dead.
Maybe it appears that way if you spend much time in New York City’s major museums, where large group shows of contemporary painting are breathtakingly rare, given how many curators are besotted with Conceptual Art and its many often-vibrant derivatives. These form a hegemony as dominant and one-sided as formalist abstraction ever was.
But that’s another reason we have art galleries. Not just to sell art, but also to give alternate, less rigid and blinkered, less institutionally sanctioned views of what’s going on.
New York Times
Phyllida Barlow’s installation at the New Museum, siege, doesn’t waste any time telling you who’s boss. Post-industrial, post-modern — post-everything but post-sculptural — it all but pushes you back inside the elevator.
Its title isn’t kidding either. The scale, mass, texture and color of the installation’s seven components (all untitled but with descriptive subtitles: “21 arches”; “crushed boxes”; “hanging container”; “broken stage”; “balcony”; “massed sticks, bound tubes, bunting”; “compressed stockade”) lay siege to the entirety of the gallery space.
The New Museum’s fourth floor, with its cramped floor plan and impossibly high ceilings, is a difficult space to control, but when an artwork succeeds in activating it, the effect can be overwhelming.
At this year’s Triennial, the same gallery housed exceptional pieces by two young sculptors, Danh Võ (“WE THE PEOPLE,” 2011) and Adrián Villar Rojas (“A person loved me,” 2012). Phyllida Barlow’s massive work supplants the brashness of youth with a seasoned pensiveness, but her forms are no less audacious.
Nor are they any less revelatory: while Barlow, at 68, is more than thirty years older than Võ and Villar Rojas, she is virtually an unknown quantity in New York. Having exhibited for decades on the other side of the Atlantic, mostly in her native Britain, this is her first museum show the United States.
She has therefore emerged on the New York scene as a full-blown master, a true syncretist who fuses every movement of the past fifty years — from Arte Povera to Minimalism to Scatter Art to the latest junk aesthetic — into a variegated practice emphatically her own.
MoCA is currently hosting the first ever historical, thematic museum exhibition tackling Land Art. The exhibition, titled “Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974″ features work from over 80 artists which was created in the years leading up to when Land Art was fully institutionalized.
“Land Art” is also known as “Earthworks, ” a term Robert Smithson coined in the late 1960s; these movements refer to massive scale, site-specific works of art that are use earth as both canvas and medium. Since the works often rejected the museum tradition as the only respectable way to experience art, this complicated things for any institution attempting to stage an exhibition, but MoCA was up for the challenge.
Curated by Senior Curator Philipp Kaiser and co-curator Miwon Kwon, the show features work from Land Art’s founders and giants including Robert Smithson, Christos and Jeanne-Claude and Richard Serra. Yet lesser known artists from hailing from the United Kingdom, Japan, Israel, Iceland, Eastern and Northern Europe, as well as North and South Americas populate a majority of the exhibition.
On the face of it, Bob Dylan’s surreal, sardonic, incendiary poetry has little in common with artist Josiah McElheny’s professorial aesthetic – a sensibility that traffics in science, self-consciousness, and shiny surfaces.
McElheny makes art deliberately, methodically, and critically.
But Dylan cries out for quotation on many occasions, I find. And McElheny’s compelling show at the Institute of Contemporary Art, “Some Pictures of the Infinite,” just happens to be one of them.
“Inside the museums,” sang Dylan in “Visions of Johanna,” a twangy, portent-filled song from the great 1966 album “Blonde on Blonde,” “infinity goes up on trial.”
The same verse goes on, of course, to give us the unforgettable images of Mona Lisa with the highway blues (“you can tell by the way she smiles”) and – in a climax of inspired rhymes – a jelly-faced woman with a mustache saying, “Jeez I can’t find my knees.”
But it’s that notion of museums putting infinity on trial – staking their own claims on timelessness, insulating their contents from the endlessness of the outside world – that lingers in the puzzled mind, and which seems so apposite to McElheny’s “Some Pictures of the Infinite.”
It’s a show, after all, about infinity. It’s also about museums, mirrors, modernism, multiverses, revolution, the Big Bang, and much more.
Seattle Art Museum now boasts one of the country’s largest collections of Australian Aboriginal art—more than 100 vibrant, modern paintings from the world’s oldest living culture. In a way, the artwork comes to the city by accident. In 1985, while on a business trip to Australia, Seattle’s Margaret Levi was hit by an Australian Post courier car; she recovered and was awarded a settlement in 1992, which she and her husband Robert Kaplan—both art lovers—dedicated to acquiring a museum-worthy collection of indigenous paintings.
And let it be said: They have great taste. The Aboriginal artwork covers the walls (literally—these pieces are massive) with a wash of colors that seem to be squeezed from the earth: rich oranges, browns, greens, pinks, and yellows, covering everything from canvas to bark. Though the pieces are modern, created from 1970 to 2009, the artists use a centuries-old language of artistic expression to address contemporary issues. With the same pinpoint-perfect swirls and crosshatches used to paint rock walls or bodies during ceremonies, the artwork reflects recent Aboriginal history across the country, from the central and western deserts up into the Northern Territory. And it’s a complicated past.
The Chihuly Garden and Glass, a permanent, museum-sized attraction in the shadow of Seattle’s Space Needle, is opening this week to considerable fanfare. Though welcomed by some as a characteristically eye-catching Dale Chihuly project, and tied to collective hopes of revitalizing the downtown district and attracting tourists, many have derided it as a vanity project, pointing to the fact that the Garden is a for-profit institution with no curator that will take up space that might otherwise be dedicated to city parkland for public use. The real whipping boy, however, has been Chihuly himself, an artist whose showmanship and relentless self-promotion have brought him more than his share of invective and verbal pies-in-the-face. Some of our favorites, after the jump.
“It’s terrible. The Bridge of Glass is terrible. And I never wrote about it when I was in Tacoma because I was worried that someone would try to kill me. It has completely revolutionized downtown Tacoma, but as art it is a complete failure.” Jen Graves, “Dale Chihuly Makes His Own Weather,” Seattle Stranger, February 16, 2006.
“The exhibition is about as critically limp as a museum can get, failing to provide any context or history to the artist’s work and instead content to simply show the work as is, an amusement-park glass menagerie that too often looks like a 5 year old’s acid trip.” Kyle Chayka, “Dale Chihuly Mounts World’s Biggest Bong Retrospective,” Hyperallergic, June 14, 2011.