Re: Proposed smaller garden, bigger museum (store; plus cafe) at the Frick: *NYT beat me to it (“The Case against a Mammouth Expansion,” M. Kimmelman, 7/30/14). The aspirations of grandiosity, while loosing sight of spheres, specialties, missions, best practices, (etc.) are now endemic to the field. MoMA’s garden is dwarfed by the addition that ruined the historical integrity of the institution and its core collection to give precedence to “spectacular,” outsized contemporary art. In the end it will also (as ALWAYS) mean raising public admissions (already at $20).* The Guggenheim (under Krens) started it in a big way (although the colossal failure in Soho didn’t get the detailed, aggressive panning it was really due). The Barnes could have turned the tide with a brilliant updated gem beyond the metropolis (like so many great small museums throughout Europe).
*It’s like the Met Opera financial “crisis” – and the “bewilderment” of opera board/administrators about attendance problems … in lieu of working with a production budget that allows reasonable ($) access to the majority public.
Obsessive, artistic madman (I mean that in the most revered art-sense of the term) Gaines has a show stopper in the current MoMA show, “Sites of Reason: Recent Acquisitions”: a multimedia installation including sound, video with text, and visually appealing, large-scale, hand-drawn sheet-music with lyrics. Gaines devised a system to create four related “scores” that equated and translated words of four political manifestos into corresponding musical notes (a la Sol Lewitt and an acknowledged influence, Hanne Darvoben, as well as Dadaist sound-meister John Cage). At the Studio Museum in Harlem, “Gridwork” traces the genesis of Gaines’s self-perpetuating stylistic modus operandi in dizzying, puzzle-like compositions from the mid-1970s-mid-1980s that recall the “counting” art of Roman Opalka as much as the Zen-focused detail of Buddhist mandalas, another acknowledged influence. The few with color also anticipate the pixilated “bit” mosaics of the pending (at the time) digital age.
Sugar city this summer, with Kara Walker’s mountainous mama at Domino;* including two pieces in the Sugar Hill (nabe) show, “If You Build It,” a group exhibition at a new apt. (main architect, David Adjaye) at 155th / St. Nich. Ave., organized by www.nolongerempty.org. (One is illustrated below; the other is a diorama-like, mini-metropolis of the sweet stuff by Irish duo, Brendan Jamison and Mark Revel, all over the web).
I picked up a signed multiple ($10!) by the esteemed Nari Ward – a “canned smile” — created in conjunction with a street project / “happening” documented in a video on view in the show – love it!
Lots of very interesting work. Loved the timely, poignant “monument” to immigrant journeys by Scherezade Garcia (below).
*Kara Walker, A Subtlety, installed May 10 – July 6, 2014; organized by Creative Time.
Re: Jeff Koons at the Whitney Museum: Has anyone mentioned Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden of mirrored balls on a lawn at the 1966 Venice Bienale (to which she had not been invited)?* For $2 each, she hawked them–“on sale: your narcissism”–until chased out by officials. (The piece has since been revisited and installed in various contexts by the amazing octogenarian, Kusama.) Narcissism is the great common denominator, as Koons’s not at all uninteresting bloated Brancusis remind us–and just as he predicts–over and over.
[Left: Snapping myself at the Whitney.]
*Images of the original Kusama in situ are copyrighted, though still in wide circulation on the web (google).
Snapshot reactions to contemporary art (mainly; not exclusively) exhibited in NYC (mainly; not exclusively), by Jody B. Cutler-Bittner (art historian, art educator). Search artists, galleries, museums, key words below, and "enter."