Sunday, December 11, 2011

New York

I have certainly been keeping busy at work. It seems as though a new show opens just about every other week at MoMA. As such, there is a steady flow of objects coming through the lab that need some form of attention. Due to a large influx of lamps in the lab, I have been learning about wiring and electrical systems. Also, I have been honing my x-radiography skills thanks to Lynda Zycherman’s experienced instruction.

Outside of work, I have been doing the rounds at a few of the major NY museums. I went to the Guggenheim to check out the Maurizio Cattelan exhibit. When I first walked in, the exhibition of his work (all hung from the ceiling) looked like a jumbled mess. However, as I made my way up Wright’s spiraling ramp, it became evident that Cattelan had set up a series of vignettes for his viewers. I couldn’t help but draw connections between Cattelan’s work and that of Ron Mueck and Evan Penny. They all create hyper-realistic figural sculptures that are distorted in some way, often in scale.

After the Guggenhiem, I walked down to the Met. I wanted to see the new Islamic galleries. They were beautifully done, as is everything at the Met. It seems as though Faberge is everywhere lately. I had just seen a show of mechanized Faberge at La Vieille Russie. Meanwhile, the Met had a display of three imperial eggs, as well as Lilies-of-the-Valley Basket, a floral masterpiece. I was pleased to see that the recently deceased Lucian Freud was being honored with a gallery of his work. Though, my favorite exhibit was Stieglitz and His Artists: Matisse to O’Keeffe (along with the associated Photographic Treasures from the Collection of Alfred Stieglitz). It is hard to imagine what the art world would look like today without the influence of Stieglitz. Not only was he an influential photographer, but he also promoted many of the household names that came from the early 20th century including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Constantin Brancusi, Gino Severini, Vasily Kandinsky, Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Charles Demuth, and Arthur Dove.

Today, I finally made it to the Brooklyn Museum. I have visited their conservation labs twice, but never seen their collection. (I live in Astoria, Queens, so getting to Brooklyn is quite the journey, especially when many trains are not running on the weekend.) However, the experience was well worth the wait. The fourth and fifth floors were my favorite, as they housed the contemporary art, decorative arts, and special exhibitions. I had never seen Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party (possibly the most important feminist work) in person. It made a dramatic statement that was only amplified by being spot-lit in a dark triangular room. I was glad to see that the special exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture (which began at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery) included A Fire in My Belly, a four-minute excerpt from a video made by David Wojnarowicz. The video includes a brief clip with ants crawling on a plastic crucifix, which offended Republicans in Congress and caused the Smithsonian’s director to remove the video from the show. I view the re-installment of the video as a triumph of free artistic expression. You can watch the video below.

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