Sunday, November 20, 2005

NYC: Nov. 18th & 19th

I had a good time in Manhattan the last couple of days. I got into the city early Friday afternoon, several hours before Tracy got off work. In this time I was able to go through nearly every gallery in Chelsea. A queasy feeling lingered after going through so many galleries; it's like stuffing yourself with several bags of candy, you feel jittery and unsettled afterwards.
The best work I saw in Chelsea was at the New Museum. This artist, Brian Jungen, had cut-up and arrayed ubiquitous consumer products: plastic lawn chairs and Air Jordan's, into complex and beautiful art objects: ceiling hung whale skeletons and American Indian ritual masks. The work was well conceived and technically perfect. There was an undercurrent of social commentary, but the craftsmanship and beauty withheld any easy reading of a message.

Link to New Museum page on Brian Jungen
Other highlights included:
A series of large paintings by Lari Pittman which were different from his earlier work in that they depicted interiors and clusters of strange baroque furniture webbed in yarn, rather than the cacophony of collage elements he filled his earlier paintings with.
Very similar to Mr. Pittman's work in style, but not nearly as adventurous, are the screen prints of Ryan McGuiness who had a room at Danziger Projects.
Patricia Piccinini's show at Robert Miller Gallery addressees the impending rendezvous of designer genetics and consumerism. Her bloated mutant hamsters are certainly inventive, but I'm more a fan of the strange, leather, tent-like habitats she provided for them. The thing that really dragged the show down for me is that all of the pieces where somewhat flawed technically: the skin on the creatures was not quite as well done as on the sculptures of Ron Mueck, you could tell where the Photoshopping on the large format prints stopped and started, and the drawing in some of the graphite renderings was somewhat bunky. The show presented a compelling set of ideas, though.

1919, Pierre Bonnard, "The Green Shirt"
The next day, Tracy used her powers of Bronx Zoo employment to get us into the Met and the MoMA for free. I got to see the Van Gogh drawing show, an exhibit on 19th century occult photography, an Odilon Redon retrospective, and my favorite Bonnard painting. All of those shows were great. We ran out of time, so we didn't get to see the Elizabeth Murray show or the Richard Tuttle show. We ate dinner at an Indian restaurant in the Village that was either the inside of a Christmas tree, or a left-over James' Bond set from the '60s.
The following are some bronze sculptures we ran across at a MTA stop.
2001, Tom Otterness, "Life Underground"
Update 11/24: Link to NY Times videos of Mr. Otterness talking about his work.


Don Jason said...

Very good virtual tour of the Chelsea scene. Nice to get the highlights without the deadening irony of the rest of the stuff. I am looking forward to snooping around there myself in December. Then we shall combine our powers of villainy in PHILTHY!!!

Pete said...

YES!!!! My death-ray toting giant-robot zeppelins are nearly complete!