Suffering From Realness

But, what exactly is Realness?

From an exhibition at MASS MoCA

North Adams, MA

September 1st, 2019

Rafa Esparza: Staring at the Sun

Then going about ”browning the white cube”.

Traditionally made by hand with dirt and other organic material such as clay, horse dung, hay, and water, adobe is among the earliest of human building materials. Due to their remarkable strength, sundried structures were extremely durable and functioned as some of the earliest architectural foundations for indigenous communities across the Americas. Adobe construction is still prevalent across the Southwest, a source of both strong and readily available building materials and income for the skilled laborers who use it.

Esparza explores adobe as both material and politics, creating what he has termed “brown architecture:” “My interest in browning the white cube — by building with adobe bricks, making brown bodies present — is a response to entering traditional art spaces and not seeing myself reflected. This has been the case not just physically, in terms of the whiteness of those spaces, but also in terms of the histories of art they uphold” (“Rafa Esparza,” ArtForum, November 21, 2017).” 

Art by Rafa Esparza @MASS MoCA

Acrylic on adobe panel (local dirt, horse dung, hay, Hoosic River water, chain-link fence, plywood)

North Adams, MA

September 1st, 2019

Rembrandt to Picasso: Five Centuries of European Works on Paper

Highlights

Brooklyn Museum

August 25th, 2019

A Crack in Everything

A visit to the Jewish Museum on the occasion of an exhibition devoted to the bard of Montreal; poetic and emotional, a little happy, a little sad and bittersweet, bringing back memories to some and bouts of nostalgia to others. It was suitably unphotographable but, luckily, there were more works by other Jewish artists around to ”save the day”.

Untitled (Tears), 2013 || Claire Fontaine
Claire Fontaine is a pseudonym that translates literally as ”clear fountain”. It may refer to Marcel Duchamp’s iconic 1917 Readymade sculpture Fountain, an inverted, signed urinal that is one of the founding works of radical modernism. ”Tears” is inspired by recorded memories of Ellis Island, which, beginning in 1892, welcomed (and also rejected) millions of people.
OY/YO, 2016 || Deborah Kass
Untitled, 1968 || Elaine Lustig Cohen
Book covers designed by Elaine Lustig Cohen
Untitled, 1969 || Elaine Lustig Cohen
Untitled || Elaine Lustig Cohen
Bob Dylan, 2007 || Abshalom Jac Lahav || From the series 48 Jews
Noam Chomsky 2007 || Abshalom Jac Lahav || From the series 48 Jews
Alan Greenspan, 2007 || Abshalom Jac Lahav || From the series 48 Jews
Monica Lewinsky, 2007 || Abshalom Jac Lahav || From the series 48 Jews

The Jewish Museum, Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, April through September 2019

August 17th, 2019

Cedar Grove, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site

If he who has travelled and observed the skies of other climes will spend a few months on the banks of the Hudson, he must be constrained to acknowledge that for variety and magnificence American skies are unsurpassed.

Thus spoke Thomas Cole, who was born and grew up in England, but once discovered the beauty of the Catskills he remained forever faithful – so much so, that he went on to found America’s first major art movement, the Hudson River School.

Study for ”Catskill Creek”, c. 1844-45. Oil on wood
View Near Catskill, 1828-29. Oil on wood panel
Sunset, View on the Catskill, 1833. Oil on wood panel
North Mountain and Catskill Creek, 1838 [detail]. Oil on canvas
The view across the valley to the Catskill Mountains that can be seen from the porch is one that Thomas Cole painted more than any other.
Wooden Painting Stretcher for Catskill Creek, c. 1840s. Wood and graphite on chalk

Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Catskill, N.Y.

July 26th, 2019

At home with Hopper

Where he was born and grew up, drew his first impressions and sketches, pictures that were imprinted on his memory working to make him the artist he became.

On the ground floor, an additional exhibition of works by Alastair Noble, inspired by Hopper’s boyhood fascination with yachts and other sailing boats; an installation of paper boats and poetic messages, a weightless flotilla flowing across the gallery.

Edward Hopper, 1933 photo by Louise Dahl-Wolfe
Edward Hopper, Truro, Massachusetts, 1960 photo by Arnold Newman
Talent ran in the family: Pencil drawing by the artist’s mother, Elizabeth Griffiths Hopper, Landscape, c. 1862
Edward Hopper, Deserted House on a Mountain, c. 1900, pencil
Edward Hopper, Yachting Scene, c. 1905, a rare early watercolour of what became Hopper’s lifelong passion for maritime subjects.

Edward Hopper House

Nyack, N.Y.

July 17th, 2019

BeWILDered

You just have to wonder: which part in this painting is responsible for the lions’ bewildered expressions? Is it the shock of the nude? The shrill tone of the flute? Am I, the spectator, that scary?

The Dream, 1910 || Henri Rousseau || Oil on canvas

“Entirely self-taught, Henri Rousseau worked a day job as a customs inspector until, around 1885, he retired on a tiny pension to pursue a career as an artist. Without leaving his native France, he made numerous paintings of fantastical jungle landscapes, like the one that fills The Dream.

Living in Paris, he had ready access to images of faraway people and places through popular literature, world expositions, museums, and the Paris Zoo. His visits to the city’s natural history museum and to Jardin des plantes (a combined zoo and botanical garden) inspired the lush jungle, wild animals, and mysterious horn player featured in The Dream. “When I am in these hothouses and see the strange plants from exotic lands, it seems to me that I am entering a dream,” he once said.

The nude woman reclining on a sofa seems to have been lifted from a Paris living room and grafted into this moonlit jungle scene. Her incongruous presence heightens its dreamlike quality and suggests that perhaps the jungle is a projection of her mind, much as it is a projection of Rousseau’s imagination.” [source: MoMA]

June 16th, 2019

Bodies of Art

@The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art

Night || Aristide Maillol || Bronze, 1902-9
Constantin Brancusi || Sleeping Muse || Bronze, 1910
Edgar Degas || The Tub || Bronze, Modeled 1888-89, cast 1920
Edgar Degas || Woman Bathing in a Shallow Tub, 1885 || Charcoal and pastel on light green wove paper, now discoloured to warm grey, laid down on silk bolting
Philip Pearlstein || Two Models with Bent Wire Chair and Kilim Rug || Oil on canvas, 1984

June 1st, 2019

Rainbows

“Camp is ‘those men and women…leaking laughter and tears while reliving their favorite nuances from…Off-key strains of Somewhere over the Rainbow.'” —J. Bryan Lowder, 2013

Burberry, Christopher Bailey Cape, A/W 2018-19
Salvatore Ferragamo Sandal, 1938, designed for Judy Garland & Gucci, Alessandro Michele Shoe, resort 2017
Bridget Riley, Elysium, 1973/2003 – Acrylic on canvas

Camp: Notes on Fashion @The Metropolitan Museum of Art, paired with Bridget Riley’s painting from the Met collection.

June 1st, 2019