Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Eleven Best Exhibitions of 2010

No doubt I missed some very good (and very bad) exhibitions during the year, but I don’t get to as many shows as I would like to. I’ve included some snippets from my reviews that I originally posted on my blog and facebook. No order of preference. Listed in the order that I saw them.

Otto Dix Retrospective-Neue Galerie
The newly arrived Otto Dix retrospective at the Neue Galerie here in New York City can be called a dreadful show ,by which I mean that much of the content and the images are indeed dreadful but not the paintings, drawings and etchings themselves, far from it. Dix’s art for the most part is superb, visually exciting but not easy to embrace and although some might find the work of this German Expressionist hard to take I thought it a terrific exhibition.

Henri Cartier-Bresson-The Museum Of Modern Art

There is no doubt in my mind that Henri Cartier-Bresson is one of the great photographers of the 20th Century. There is also no doubt in my mind that the very large and crowded retrospective of his now pulling in the crowds at The Museum Of Modern Art could have used some curatorial editing.

Leon Golub-The Drawing Center

This is a large show of very small works on paper which because of the subject matter was unexpected but excellent. The drawings are mostly all violent, and angry and many have explicit sexual images along with handwritten words and some have images of animals.

Lil Picard Retrospective-Grey Art Gallery

The show which is very nicely put together features probably the best pieces by her, and happily the show is not top heavy with her paintings which I thought the weakest of her art. I always liked her self taught looking assemblages and collages which are messy and full, and there are many of these in the show including her pointed cosmetic ones, all nicely installed. These are works that you want to pat on the head, maybe give a pinch to the cheek and a nice big hug.

Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield-Whitney Museum

His wonderful paintings shine. His nature moves and shimmers in the light and pulsates with the hot summer sun pouring down. Working almost exclusively in watercolors, (the one or two oils shown have a dead muddy static feel} Burchfield’s landscapes almost look animated and this effect is one of the things about his work that attracted me as a young artist. I had no idea that so many of his works were large, and the best of these paintings that Burchfield did in his later years are shown in the last gallery. These paintings knocked me out with their scale and radiance and proves that with age some artists just get better and better.

Rafael Ferrer-El Museo Del Barrio

I really enjoyed is the large retrospective of the art of Rafael Ferrer that is on now at El Museo Del Barro until the end of August. This tropical hot house of an exhibition is perfect for New York City’s hot tropical July weather. The show is loaded with Ferrer's lush colorful paintings along with some of his wonderful sculptures. One whole wall is covered with his masks painted and drawn on. brown paper bags, and the wall opposite it is full of small slate blackboards that he has drawn and painted on, they have a nice across the gallery conversation

Matisse. Radical Invention- The Museum Of Modern Art

The exhibit only covers 5 years of this extraordinary artist’s career so don’t go expecting to see a full retrospective but there are enough great paintings that I was pretty much satisfied. Even though I had grown up seeing many of these paintings since quite a few are from the Moma’s collection I was surprised by how large some of them are, but not by their unrelenting beauty. I spent a lot of time just looking at his surfaces and the large areas of luscious colors and unexpected line work that have influenced painters and artists ever since he painted them. I have never been a big fan of his sculptures and I’m still not, and the small etchings and prints could have easily been left out as far as I’m concerned, but why quibble when one has the chance to see lots of this great painter’s work in one place.

Sarah Sze-Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

I suppose some could and will accuse these works (and the artist) of being too theatrical, too clever and cute for their (and her) own good and whimsical beyond the pale. These many small elements forming big areas of chaos some might say are just intellectual window displays for FAO Schwarz with their 100’s and 100’s of small handmade objects, little clay do dads, drawings in space and delicate constructions that look like they are going to tumble down on you. I was so captivated by these sculptural enterprises on consumerism, popular science, architecture, silly moving machines, dreams and nightmares so cluttered and busy that I got lightheaded and had to take a slug from my water bottle. There are electric fans moving strings, lights shining on pieces of paper casting shadows, eclectic and eccentric reminders of Calder, Rube Goldberg, Art Povera, Dada and more

Judy Pfaff-Ameringer, McEnery, Yohe Gallery

I knew that Judy Pfaff’s show would be marvelous and it was. The gallery held maybe 4 of her large off the wall (I mean that both literally and figuratively) assemblage sculptural works that came into the space with a nice big smile and a lovely hello to me. Each piece was very individual, theatrical and densely packed with sometimes unusual materials and were rich in ideas with a fresh free style that I find unique and very appealing. I do wish that the space of the gallery was larger so she could have exhibited more of these pieces in fact I even asked the girl at the desk, if there were more works downstairs, no its only offices she said. Dejected I went home

Robert Rauschenberg-Gagosian Gallery

There is a very beautiful retrospective of sorts of Robert Rauschenberg that is as good as anything you might see in a small museum in a small city and I don‘t mean this as a put down. A mixture of combines, assemblages, paintings, and sculptures all colorful inventive and nicely installed. Some might find the work a little too clear and clean, but I’ve always loved his work. Curious and innovative to the very end of his life this is a wonderful show especially if you’ve never seen a large group of his work.

Anselm Kiefer-Gagosian Gallery

Inside each glass cabinet are large installations using many of Kiefer’s usual themes and images, trees, parts of landscapes, weapons of war, ships, mysterious fragments, relics and ruins. These are exhibits in a nightmarish gallery, or one of my dreams gone bad. They are also cinematic in scale and scope, they look like sets from some big time sci-fi or horror flick, the latest Avant-Garde hot ticket theatrical event, or a shopping mall full of cursed objects. Something has gone terribly wrong. So we are surrounded by sad bunches of things, of charred and burned books, girl’s white dresses scarred with shards of glass, parts of dead airplanes and more. Kiefer likes to hit us on the head with a big hammer, as if we’re not capable of understanding or feeling horror or sadness. There are also many very large paintings of his around the space that are probably his most familiar works, clumpy grey landscapes heavily covered with paint, leaves and twigs, and did I see teeth hanging on some of the paintings? Kiefer likes big. I don’t see how one cannot be impressed by these epic works, they overwhelm, but they are also chic, cold and comfortable and I can see why some people would be turned off by them. He keeps us at a safe distance 


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