Top 10 in DC – May 2012

I passed through DC on my way home from vacation this week  – it was an opportunity to connect with a couple clients, do some research on a series of prints I’d like to make (my own work) and also to touch base with a few artists. While I was there I went to 4 museums and about a dozen galleries. As always, I found a broad spectrum of things to interest me – ranging from the gallery of Whistlers and The Peacock Room at the Freer to Jay Musler’s incredible feathery glass art at Maurine Littleton’s Gallery to Mark Morgan’s quirky sculptures made of discarded detergent bottles at Arts @ 1830.

For me, the two most exciting shows this time around were the Miró exhibit over at the National Gallery and then a small exhibit of privately-owned Matisse & Picasso prints and drawings at Neptune Fine Art in Georgetown.

Now, if you haven’t seen the show over at Neptune, I am sorry to say it is coming down – Christine Neptune shares the space with her husband, Robert Brown. He will be up next, celebrating his own gallery’s 30-year success with works from his stable of artists’ – including the likes of Mel Bochner, David Nash, William Kentridge and Oleg Kudryashov.

Okay, so I am getting ahead of myself – the Matisse and Picassos…what a treat! The show consisted of about 3 dozen prints and drawings that belong to two different collectors – they are all in beautiful condition. My favorites were the obvious Nadia portrait and then two tiny little Picassos, rare little prints that were from editions of only 10 and 14, respectively.

I really wasn’t expecting to happen upon the gallery at all; I was headed next door  to see another show when I noticed the gallery. The townhouse is like so many in Georgetown, a nest of intimate rooms that stand above a rear courtyard..perfect for showing off master prints and illustrating how potential buyers might actually live with revered works. Coincidentally, a dealer I had met with not an hour earlier had recommended this gallery to me so I figured, “why not?” I am so glad I checked it out and will keep it in mind as a “must see” in the future.

The Miró exhibit  over at the National Gallery is blockbuster. The show consists of more than 150 works, covering a period of 6 decades. I personally love this type of show –   it is constructed to lead the viewer through the life of the artist,  showing the progression of works in the context of what was going on around the artist.

“The Ladder of Escape” highlights Miró’s loyalty to Catalonia throughout a lifetime of hardship: two world wars, the Spanish Civil War, and during Franco’s dictatorship. His story winds its way from farmlife of the 1920’s through periods of politically-charged explorations in surrealism ultimately to the self-referential symbols that together make the vocabulary for his fantastical, poetic later paintings.

I am enamored with the constellation of works – each one a puzzle, revealing itself slowly, taking the effort of the viewer’s attention to decipher.

My Top 10 this time around:

  1. Joan Miró at National Gallery
  2. Matisse & Picasso at Neptune Fine Art
  3. Peacock Room at the Freer
  4. Colby Caldwell at Hemphill
  5. Foon Sham at Project4
  6. Ai Weiwei’s Fragments and Hokusai: 36 Views of Mount Fuji at Sackler Gallery
  7. Renate Aller at Adamson Gallery
  8. Julia Fernandez-Pol at Morton Fine Art
  9. Jackie Battenfield at Addison Ripley
  10. K Silve at Susan Calloway Fine Art
  11. Getting to go visit Gail Vollrath and Brian Petro in their studios.

Foon Sham – Spiral Vessel

Colby Caldwell – How to Survive Your Own Death

Jay Musler – Blue State Bowl at Maurine Littleton

Joan Miro – The Ladder of Escape

Picasso – Toute la Vie (1960)

Julia Fernandez-Pol

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