Tuesday, January 24, 2012

art looking or looking at art

Today on my skip to my lou jaunt through Chelsea I took in the magnificent exhibition Jean Dubuffet: The Last Two Years at The Pace Gallery. The large and spacious space is filled with about 20 of this art brute’s paintings that mostly are very large in size consisting mostly of the colors red, blue yellow and white in abstract swirls and shapes and painted with acrylics. The sheer beauty of these works, (and they are indeed beautiful) made me dizzy with pleasure and delight. The guard on duty was eyeing me weirdly maybe because I had a soft big old smile on my face and was lingering longer than is usual and that I kept going back and forth between the two galleries. I’ve always loved this man Dubuffet’s work ever since I was a teenager. Here was an older artist with a young artist’s daring do, and he still had this daring & do right up to his death. This is an exhibit that I might have to go to again before it comes down in March. The other show that I liked quite a bit, but with some very minor reservations was the complex and sometimes daunting The Wedding (The Walker Evans Polaroid Project) which was curated by Ydessa Hendeles, who calls it a curatorial composition. This is on view at the Adrea Rosen Gallery only until Feb. 4th. Hendeles who is also a wealthy collector and curator has brought together some intriguing objects including 83 of Walker Evans’s last works that are small color polaroids of buildings and structures + several photographs by Muybridge, Atget and bird photos by Roni Horn which are of taxidermied Icelandic wildfowl in close up and from the back. All are installed on walls that surround the main piece, the focus of the show, a large and beautiful mid 19th century birdhouse from England which is more like a playhouse than a refuge for birds. This lovely structure is surround by child’s settees designed by Stickley at the turn of the 20th Century that invite the viewer to sit for a while. It all gives the appearance of a stage set waiting for the play to begin and all told this is indeed an odd and intriguing installation that some might find dense and pedantic. In fact the gallery has piled on a counter in the front room small 35pg.very nice Spiral bound catalogs for the taking in which the curator goes to great lengths to explain the meanings behind the installation and the objects included written in a clear and casual text. Also on hand in the foyer of the gallery is an architectural model of a cooper’s workshop that sits on a Stickely child’s table, all of this is visually arresting but would this elegant installation work without a 35pg. Explanation of what we are looking at. The whole thing does have the feeling of being in a church and in the press release Hendeles writes how she has never come into the Andrea Rosen Gallery “without feeling the majesty of the cathedral-like architecture of its main gallery,” a feeling I might say I have never felt. So in spite of the several lousy shows that I also saw, this is a good time to check out Chelsea not only for these two exhibits but also for the Lori Ellison, Bill Jensen Wegee and Vivian Maier shows that are still on view.


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