Thursday, July 31, 2014

Last Call: Exhibitions Closing in August and Early September 2014

Swoon, Submerged Motherlands, 2014
Brooklyn Museum

There are only 5 more weekends until the end of the summer: Four more weeks of summer.  Here are the best museum exhibitions which will close in August and early September.  NB: Sigmar Polke closes this weekend, on August 3rd.

Sigmar Polke, Museum of Modern Art, through August 3
Other Primary Structures, The Jewish Museum, through August 3
Ai Wei Wei, Brooklyn Museum, through August 10
Swoon, Brooklyn Museum, through August 24
Charles James, Metropolitan Museum, through August 10
Lucas Samaras, Metropolitan Museum, through September 1
Futurism, Guggenheim Museum, through September 1
Degenerate Art, Neue Galerie, through September 1
Maria Lessnig, PS 1, through September 7
James Lee Byars, PS 1, through September 7
Gatsby to Garp, Morgan Library, through September 7
Master of Claude de France, Morgan Library, through September 14
Latin American Photography, ICP, through September 7
Guastovino, Museum of the City of NY, through September 7
Museum Starter Kit, El Museo del Barrio, through September 6

Fall 2014 Art History Study Groups and Tours will be posted later this August.

Best wishes for the rest of the summer,
Beth New York

Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Director
New York Arts Exchange

Monday, July 14, 2014

Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties at the Brooklyn Museum, closed on July 13

David Hammons (American, b. 1943). The Door (Admissions Office), 1969. Wood, acrylic sheet, and pigment construction, 79 x 48 x 15 in. (200.7 x 122 x 38.1 cm). California African American Museum, Los Angeles, Collection of Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum. 
© David Hammons

Yesterday was the last day of one of the best exhibitions of the Spring-Early Summer 2014 Art Season, on view since March 7th at the Brooklyn Museum. I hope you were able to catch Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties, tucked away on the 1st floor, behind the innovative - and a bit overambitious - exhibition Connecting Cultures, which displays the museum's collection.  Witness might have been better served in that very exhibition space.

Barkley L. Hendricks (American, b. 1945). Lawdy Mama, 1969. Oil and gold leaf on canvas, 5334 x 3614 in. (136.5 x 92.1 cm). The Studio Museum in Harlem, Gift of Stuart Liebman, in memory of Joseph B. Liebman, 83.25. © Barkley L. Hendricks. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

I have posted a few images that are on the exhibition website.  Click on the link provided here to access more other information about the show. 

Moneta Sleet Jr. (American, 1926–1996). Rosa Parks, Dr. and Mrs. Abernathy, Dr. Ralph Bunche, and Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr. leading marchers into Montgomery, 1965, printed circa 1970. Gelatin silver print, 1338 x 1034 in. (34 x 27.3 cm). Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of the Johnson Publishing Company, 426:1991. © Johnson Publishing Company, LLC

However, reading cannot substitute for the highly-charged impact of the total installation.   Immediately, upon stepping through the entrance to the exhibition, David Hammon's The Door (Admissions Office), 1969, confronts the viewer.  In this work, the artist used a greasy black ink on his body to smear the real glass of this real door labeled "Admissions Office." Hands raised above his head to convey a sense of frustration and despair, the figure stands behind this closed door, which bars full access to the other side - the side of opportunity, acknowledgement, respect, and participation in all that American life can offer.  Have we sufficiently dissolved these obstacles for African Americans?  Not really.   We still have a long way to go.

Norman Rockwell (American, 1894–1978). New Kids in the Neighborhood (Negro in the Suburbs), 1967. Oil on canvas, 3612 x 5712 in. (92.7 x 146.1 cm). Story illustration for Look, May 16, 1967. Norman Rockwell Museum Collection, Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Printed by permission of the Norman Rockwell Family Agency. © 2013 the Norman Rockwell Family Entities

Other works, such as Norman Rockwell's New Kids in the Neighborhood, 1967, also remind us of persistent injustices, such as the real estate market, which perpetuates de facto segregation.  Have we made progress to curtail these practices?  I don't think so.

Norman W. Lewis (American, 1909–1979). Untitled (Alabama), 1967. Oil on canvas, 4514 x 7312 in. (114.9 x 186.7 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gift of the Collectors Committee, 2009.45.1. © The Estate of Norman W. Lewis, courtesy of Iandor Fine Arts

The sad news about Witness is that the problems these artists address are still with us after 50 years of civil rights action.  Would that art could correct the ills of society. Well, it cannot, but at least, it came raise our awareness of issues that need our attention.  Witness certainly asks us to take stock of where we are now. 
Sam Gilliam (American, b. 1933). Red April, 1970. Acrylic on canvas, 110 x 160 in. (279.4 x 406.4 cm). The University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, Gift of The Longview Foundation and Museum purchase, 1971.11. © Sam Gilliam

The good news about Witness is that the curators Teresa A. Carbone, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of American Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Kellie Jones, Associate Professor, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University have created an artistically strong, as well as educationally important, exhibition.   Their catalog is still available at the Brooklyn Museum or online. It is worth studying in order to remind ourselves that indeed we should still try to overcome.

Best wishes for Bastille Day,
Beth New York

aka Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
New York Arts Exchange

Friday, July 4, 2014

Last Call: Kara Walker's The Subtlety, Domino Sugar Factory, through July 6

Kara Walker, A Subtlety, Creative Time 
Photographs by Beth S. Gersh-Nesic

At the behest of Creative Time Kara E. Walker has confected:

Kara Walker - A Subtlety

or the Marvelous Sugar Baby
an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant

Closed on July 4th -

Special Hours on July 5th and 6th: 11 am to 7 pm

316 Kent Avenue at South 1st Street
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 

Is it worth the schlep out to Williamsburg to wait on line for about 30 minutes to one hour in order to see a gigantic 21st century Sphinx attended by life-size sculptures of children carrying massive baskets or other heavy objects that remind us of exploitation, unwritten labor laws, and the misery of factory conditions for the benefit of the ignorant masses?   Yes - if only to stand in this cavernous space to take in the sweet smell of melting molasses.  It is the sweetness and the pungency of the subject matter that successfully packs a wallop in this ambitious installation.  One would want to experience the full impact in person in order to judge its quality and achievement.

 Photographs by  Beth S. Gersh-Nesic

We know that over the years, art has extended its reach to engage most of the senses.  This year in particular we have been treated to art that stimulates sight (of course), hearing (Camille Henrot, Ragnar Kjartansson, Roberto Cuoghi at the New Museum), touch (Lygia Clark at MoMA and, earlier this year, at the Jewish Museum), and taste (Chloe Bass's Tea Will Be Served, performed at the Neuberger Museum in March). However, few works of art address the potency of the olfactory experience, which scientists claim provokes deep-seated memories in the most visceral manner - far and away more than taste, M. Proust.

Creative Time's video and Art 21's video (see below) can do so much, but not enough to capture the excitement of being there.  (FYI: Confectionery is the art of creating sugar-based treats or "subleties.")

You have two more days - hop to it!

Happy 4th!
Beth New York

aka Beth S. Gersh-Nesic