Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Diego Rivera Conservation Committee Walkthrough

Leah Dickerman, curator of paintings and sculpture, and Anny Aviram, paintings conservator, led a walkthrough of the exhibition Diego Rivera: Murals for the Museum of Modern Art for the Board of Trustees’ Conservation Committee. Transporting thousand-pound murals to MoMA was no small undertaking. Anny worked with engineers and packing experts to devise a method to safely transport the murals. Also, Anny and Cindy Albertson (painting conservation fellow) did research into Rivera’s working methods.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Armory Show

I attended the preview of the Armory Show, which is a leading international modern and contemporary art fair. Pier 92 was dedicated to modern art and Pier 94 focused on contemporary. I found the contemporary pier to be the most engaging. As I walked in, I was confronted by a moving white mass, which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be a performance piece with two people rolling around and being birthed from a womb-like textile. The Nordic Countries were featured this year. Crowds were lured to the Nordic section with “free stuff” – Scandinavian artist-designed pencils, pens, posters, even toilet paper. After walking down aisle after aisle, I began to pick up on trends. The work of Ai Weiwei and Cindy Sherman was everywhere, as galleries tried to capitalize on Weiwei’s current headlines and Sherman’s ongoing retrospective. Also, shoes, op-art, and sparkles abounded. After the preview, I attended MoMA’s Armory Party.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dia: Beacon

Housed in a former Nabisco box-printing factory, Dia:Beacon is an impressive 240,000 square foot exhibition space for art from the 1960’s to the present. A presentation of Sol LeWitt drawings was being executed when I visited. Dia erected galleries identical in scale to those in which the first versions of the black, red, blue and yellow drawings were shown. My favorite work was actually outside the museum in the west garden. Louise Lawler’s Birdcalls is an audio work in which she recorded prominent artists doing their best avian impersonations. I was upstairs in a gallery of Louise Bourgeois’ work when I saw The Quartered One hanging in front of me. Coincidentally, MoMA’s edition of the The Quartered One had just been delivered to the sculpture lab as my upcoming project!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Upstate New York

Olana was the home of Frederic Church that overlooks the Hudson River. Works from Church’s personal collection are hung on the walls of the house; however, the house itself is the true draw. Inspired by Church’s travels to Beirut, Jerusalem and Damascus, the main residence is a mixture of Victorian and Persian styles designed by Calvert Vaux. The house is perched on a hill, overlooking the 250-acre designed landscape. Though I did not have time to go inside, I also visited Clermount, the Vanderbilt Mansion, and Frank Gehry’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. Clermount was home to seven generations of the Livingston Family, including Robert R. Livingston, Jr., whose many accomplishments include drafting the Declaration of Independence, negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, and developing steamboat technology with Robert Fulton. The Vanderbilt Mansion is a 54-room country home designed by McKim, Mead & White in the Beaux-Arts architecture style. At both estates, I noticed that the outdoor sculptures had been wrapped in plastic for the winter. At Bard College, Gerhy’s performing arts building with its undulating metal roof stands in stark contrast to the rest of the architecture on the campus. However, the building worked surprisingly well aesthetically in its wooded environment.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bowery Galleries

I visited several galleries in and around the Bowery. For me, the highlight was the Sperone Westwater gallery, which had two related group shows on display entitled Marble Sculpture from 350 B.C. to Last Week and Portraits/Self-Portraits from the 16th Century to the 21st Century. Gian Enzo, co-owner of the gallery, put together the show which juxtaposed antiquities with modern and contemporary works. For instance, an Ionian Grave Relief from the 4th century B.C. and a human-scaled statue of Icarus by Tommaso Bonazza from the 18th century were adjacent to pieces by modern and post-war artists, such as Richard Long, Saint Clair Cemin, Jean Arp, and Joseph Kosuth. Unfortunately, the old and new paintings were separated into two different rooms, so the exciting juxtapositions that were present in the sculpture show were lacking among the paintings.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Ungovernables: 2012 New Museum Triennial

The Ungovernables, the second triennial exhibition at the New Museum, features thirty-four artists all born between the mid-1970’s and mid-1980’s. The museum’s explanation of “the ungovernables” was very convoluted, required reading several paragraphs, and in the end did not get a strong message across. However, the work on display was quite exciting. Monumental in scale, Adri├ín Villar Rojas’ A Person Loved Me was a standout piece. From afar, the work appeared to be a space machine made of concrete. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was composed of unfired clay (with many cracks) on top of an armature. I was also captivated by Hassan Kahn’s Jewel. Originally shot with 35 mm film, the work was transferred to HD video and played in a dark room. The video features two Egyptian men, one in casual and one in business attire, engaging in an awkward dance-off to a Shaabi song that Khan himself composed.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tenement Museum

Being that my last name is “O’Banion,” I decided to take the Irish Outsiders tour at the Tenement Museum. The tour began with an extended discussion of outhouses – the tour guide explained the findings of an archaeological dig on the site of the tenement house. Then, I was led to the restored home of the Moore family, an actual Irish-Catholic immigrant family that moved to New York in the mid-19th century. In telling the story of the Moore family, the guide used both objects and music. The guide used a tortoise-shell comb when describing how children needed to maintain proper hygiene to attend school. I questioned the accuracy of a luxury item in the home of such a poor family. While I enjoyed being on a focused tour, I would have preferred to see more of the tenement building. I suppose I will have to visit again!