Last week I got back from a week-long trip to New York; I went to check out the exhibits, visit friends and enjoy spending time in the city during the holidays.There is nothing quite like the hustle and bustle of Manhattan in December: the displays on 5th Avenue, the lights in Columbus Circle, the tree at Rockefeller Center, the ice skating in Central Park, the shoppers on Madison and down in SoHo. I fell in love with the tagliatelle Bolognese at Cibo e Vino on the Upper West Side and enjoyed the moules frites at MARKT down in Chelsea. An afternoon trek over to Murray Hill yielded a variety of cinnamons for me and a look at some 4,000 different spices at Kalustyan’s.
I practically ran myself ragged rushing through the museums and galleries to see as much as I could – this time at break-neck speed I went to 8 museums and about 50 galleries. Of course, the must-see for anyone who is going to be in NYC over the next few weeks are the Vermeers; 5 of them are on view in one room at the Met and 4 of them are at the Frick, including “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”
Other shows that really stood out for me were:
Christopher Wool at the Guggenheim – this is the artist I would want to be if I were not the artist I am. I loved his photographic documentation, his obsession with patterns, his judicious use of color and his obliterative erasures.
Chris Burden: Extreme Measures at The New Museum – This was the one show during my trip that made me really slow down to take it in. I guess I knew he was the guy who shot at airplanes and I vaguely remember hearing about when he crucified himself onto the Volkswagen beetle back in the 70’s. Beyond that, everything else was basically new to me. I am so, so glad I saw this because seeing his work really is like taking primers in performance art, installation art and modern sculpture.
Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital at Museum of Arts & Design – This exhibit is worth a look. It focuses on the rapidly developing area of digital fabrication and showcases best examples of printing, cutting and knitting.
Robert Indiana: Beyond Love at the Whitney – Most of us are familiar the iconic “LOVE” sculpture. This exhibit takes a look into Indiana’s career-long fascination with American identity and how that relates to justice and equality. I was particularly interested in his use of words and numbers to develop paintings that are symbolically complex.
Isa Genzken: Retrospective at MoMA – I am always interested in taking a look at artists that are better known outside the US than they are here in the States. This exhibit offers a chance to explore the work of one of the most influential female (German) artists of the past few decades. I was fascinated by her assemblages, but ultimately more in love with her sculpture.
- Ad Reinhardt @ David Zwirner – I was in love with these black paintings; they immediately reminded me of Rothko Chapel ( see http://myartlook.com/2013/01/08/the-menil-collection-art-in-context/), although I guess it is the other way around since he did these back in the 60’s.
- Kaws @ Mary Boone Chelsea – the 2-story “Companion” sculptures dominate the sky-lit gallery
- Thomas Demand: Dailies @ Matthew Marks – these images were sourced from Demand’s cell phone images. These photographs were all printed using a dye-transfer process that provides a richness to the colors and luminosity that is absolutely gorgeous.
- Brice Marden: Graphite Drawings @ Matthew Marks – 22 of his early works on paper.
- Nicola Hicks@ Flowers – Her sculptures of animals are amazingly expressive. They are generally made from plaster & straw and then cast into bronze.
- Michael Leavitt – Empire Speaks @Jonathan Levine Gallery – Imagine Hillary Clinton as a stormtrooper. This exhibit imagines many of today’s figureheads as characters from Star Wars.
- Peter Saul @ Mary Boone – These paintings from the 60’s & 70’s mix pop with absurdist humor.
- Willem de Kooning:Ten Paintings 1983-1985 @ Gagosian; I love the loose brushstrokes of the paintings – some of the telltale colors are there, but overall compositions are light and airy.
- Tony Feher @ Sikkema Jenkins & Co – I missed his retrospective at the Bronx Museum, so I was thrilled to get to see this show. A post-minimalist, his sculptures show his fascination with the aesthetic qualities of cheaply made, mundane objects like plastic patio tables, and pressed glass candy bowls.
- Cyprien Gaillard @ Gladstone – His fascination with progression/regression; evolution/decay; construction/destruction makes for one of the more compelling exhibits. Gaillard’s massive sculptures made of excavation machinery and carved calcite & onyx stand as giant fossils giving clues to the birth of a dystopian society.
- Simon Hantai @ Paul Rodgers/ 9W – this abstract painter was a contemporary of Pollock; he devoted himself to automating painterly gestures. By folding his canvases, he was able to achieve repetitive patterns that reminded me of cutouts.
- Christian Marclay @ Paula Cooper – this was a bit of a surprise for me. Marclay is known for his work with music & video, so I wasn’t expecting to see these vibrant screenprints. The splashes of color are emblazoned with sound bubbles (think comic strips that read “Wham!” or “Pow!”) which are actually onomatopoeias of paint being applied to the canvas: “Plop”, “Whoomph!”, “Splat!”
- Kelly Reemtsen @ De Buck Gallery there is something slightly sinister about these brightly painted women in vintage skirts. Firstly, they are all anonymous (we don’t see faces, or even their heads) and then they are all carrying axes and chainsaws and garden hoses. They are so cheerfully creepy!
- Richard Serra @ Gagosian Chelsea – only Gagosian could pull off installing these giant sculptures inside the gallery. I’ve seen them at LACMA and outside (the tuileries I nParis), but I have to say their scale takes on different significance inside the gallery.