I tested out my new knee during a few days in NYC going from one art venue to another. All went well! Next week I will take my new knee to Las Vegas. Here are just a few of the interesting and delightful art encounters I had in the Big Apple.
I started out at Hudson Yards, a huge development area with high-rise residencies; a large, upscale shopping complex; and a cultural art center overlooking the Hudson River at 34th Street. I started at the Vessel, an eight story open air architectural (public art) structure. My knee and my age qualified me to ride the elevator to the top while everyone else climbed the stairs to enjoy the views. (Only 6 people per time on the elevator that only ran every 15 minutes. The elevator is run by WiFi connection and when the signal is slow, so is the elevator!)
Next to the Vessel is the Shed, the cultural art center where I visited a retrospective exhibit of the work of Agnes Denes, a public artist, philosopher, intellectual, scientist, environmentalist, and draughts-women. I usually do not relate to conceptual art because I often find the “concepts” underlying the art frivolous, but not in the case of Denes. She believes that abstract concepts can be analyzed visually and she sets about putting data and abstract ideas into drawings/diagrams. These drawings are incredibly rendered with delicate ink lines on graph paper, so perfectly drawn that they look computer generated, but they are not. Finely detailed and labor intensive, she does not make mistakes – no erasing, no white outs! Along with the drawings are explanations of her ideas, which take awhile to absorb.
In one extensive series, she focused on pyramids and here is one of her drawings.
It appears to be drawn with rows of marks. On close inspection, the marks are figures, about 3/16th of an inch high. That is small!!
In addition to her drawings, she also has undertaken environmental public art projects. I was intrigued by a project that she undertook in Finland to reclaim a gravel pit. She made a Forest Mountain by mounding earth into a mini mountain and then planting 11,000 tree seedlings in a pattern that mimics the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower. People all over the world were invited to plant the trees and anyone who could not travel to Finland could have a seedling planted for them by a child. Each person who donated a seedling was given a certificate of ownership for the tree.
I also visited the complex of shops at Hudson Yards where I found a wall of interactive art created by Lara Schnitger. The surface of the wall was covered in a patchwork of sequin fabric where the sequins were of one color on one side and another color on the other. By moving your finger up or down, you can arrange the sequins to make marks on the wall. The wall was attracting lots of attention.
My marks: PAWTUCKET PUBLIC ART, a committee I chair.
Then I went to visit the newly remodeled and expanded MOMA. It was a delight to see many of the well known works from their permanent collection displayed in a new way along with many less familiar works. Three of the floors exhibit work within the time frames of 1880 – 1940’s, 1940’s – 1970’s, and 1970 to the present. Each of these floors have many galleries where the work is curated by theme, such as “Planes of Color,” “Out of War,” “Stamp, Scavenge, Crush,” etc. It is interesting to see and compare the works of several artists working with similar themes or formal properties. However, there were so many galleries on each floor that it was easy to get lost without a map! I explored 2 floors and could not absorb any more. It is a museum to visit and revisit many times!
On another floor were 11 installations created from a variety of media. I unexpectedly found one of them very compelling. At first it looked like just a pile of junk. But the more I examined it, the more I discovered an order made out of a great variety of things. The variety was intriguing and I found the order whimsical and precarious. Parts of it had lighting, other parts had mechanical movement, even some sound was generated with bubbling water. In the center was a moving pendulum. I am an artist that creates by arranging shapes, colors, lines, and textures in compositions where the relationships of these elements is important in conveying interest. I could relate to Sarah Sze’s very deliberate arrangements that look haphazard until one looks closely.
Then I ventured to the Met Breuer, the former location of the Whitney Museum. On two floors of the Breuer I viewed the paintings and drawings of another woman artist, Vija Clemins. Here paintings were rendered in gray paint and I did not find them very interesting. On the other hand, her drawings can be admired for their technical skill. Her favorite subjects are the surfaces of rippling water and night time skies. Using pencil or charcoal, she renders these subjects with compulsive detail. After looking at so many of her drawings, I left the museum with these images burned into my mind. I could not help but see ripples and starry constellations every where!
Sidewalk and tree bark along Madison Avenue.
The next museum I visited for the first time was the Neue Galerie, a museum of 20th century German and Austrian art. It is the private collection of Ronald Lauder of the cosmetic family. Two floors were devoted to a retrospective of the paintings and prints of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, an early 20th century German Expressionist. His work expresses the social decay of Germany at that time (1920) as well as Kirchner’s own troubled spirit. This is one of his best known works depicting a street in Berlin where the well dressed elite are depicted with blank stares and empty souls. (He was influenced by Munch and Van Gogh.)
And then on another floor are the Klimt’s, the best known one is the Woman in Gold. I have seen a number of Gustav Klimt paintings in Vienna, including the Kiss, but the Woman in Gold is perhaps his most glamorous.
I finished up my art adventure with a visit to the Museum of Art and Design where there were two textile shows. The first featured the fashions of Anna Sui, a designer known for her wonderful combinations of patterns and fabrics, textures and layers. She was one of the first designers to appreciate the Grunge look when young people were finding and combining thrift shop clothing in unconventional ways. Sui made it her signature look by addressing her style head to toe with headwear, accessories and footwear. It is a fun, luscious look!
On the left is a design board for one of her seasons.
Also on view at the museum were the textiles by Vera who believed that designer textiles should be available to everyone and were priced accordingly. She is probably best known for her lively designs on scarves and linens.
Wrapping up my visit were my rides on the new 2nd street subway. I was staying with my friend, Linda, who lives one block from the station that depicts Chuck Close portraits in tilework throughout.
Next week – Las Vegas!