Tuesday, May 01, 2012

I went to some galleries

I went to some galleries today, well more than some, and I wish I could say that I loved everything I saw. I didn’t. In fact I saw very little that I did like. I guess I should start with what I thought was worth my time and maybe yours. The Bryan Hunt show at Danese has some marvelous pieces, beautifully crafted and intriguing. They kinda reminded me a bit of Brancusi which is funny because right before seeing the Hunts I saw a show of photographs by the master. Most of course I had seen before, and I love his work, but as photographs these are basically documentations of his studio and I could just as easily look at them in a book as I could on the white walls of a gallery.  Getting back to Hunt, I especially liked the sculptures that he’s call dirigibles and are attached to the walls way above the viewer and seem to float in space. Really nice stuff.  I can’t believe that Michelangelo Pistoletto is still doing the same boring mirror paintings that he’s been doing since 1962. I mean come on Michelangelo don’t you have anything new to say? I suppose if one has never seen one of these things that are images on top of a reflective surface then they might offer some amount of surprise and pleasure, but not for me. The Pier Paolo Calzolari double show at Pace and Marianne Boesky Galleries in which a wall was knocked down to join the two galleries has been touted as if the Berlin Wall had come down once again or detente was happening in Chelsea, big news big deal. It seems that it’s Italian month in Chelsea and Calzolari who was a member of the Arte Povera group in the late 60’s ain’t so povera anymore. The drama and surprise of these pieces have pretty much been removed by placing them in a blue chip gallery all cleaned up and snazzy looking. The point of these pieces was the rawness and use of the unusual and ephemeral materials that these guys used, but they have now been Paced up. Some of the pieces are still good and full of humor, but please don’t bother me with cute mechanical dogs trying to get behind a large door that is placed against a wall. The show of Ronnie Bladen’s early paintings from 1955-1962 at the Loretta Howard Gallery (this is fast becoming one of my favorite galleries) is a jolt because he’s known as being a minimalist and these oil paintings are anything but, plus I love the fact that he hid them away for years behind a wall that he built in his studio. These are big and colorful and have enough oil on them to keep the country supplied for the next 100 years. See this show. I also was very much taken with Brice Marden’s new paintings, which are small pieces of marble with oil paint applied to them. They’re as elegant as one would expect from him, but they also took me by surprise, not what I was expecting to see.  I really wish that I could say that I like Cindy Sherman’s photographs since everyone in the world seems to. I don’t. They bore me and I’m not moved or even annoyed by them. For me they are like billboards along the road, only without the depth that a billboard can offer sometimes, and I am going to avoid her show at the Moma like the plague. Also disappointing was the Gilbert and George extravaganza at Sonnabend. This is a dreary dull and dank show in which they fill the huge space with row after row after row of expensive looking framed works that use tabloid headlines from the British Press in bold red and black typeface along with some sappy images. Repetition guys do not necessarily make for compelling viewing. You can pick up a signed copy of the catalog for only $15.00, which is a statement about this work in itself. And then we have the great big Claes Oldenbury/Coosje Van Bruggen show at a different Pace space, that I was really looking forward to but I left very disappointed. The pieces are mostly props from a theatre piece they did from 1985-1990 and they have all the elements that we expect from Oldenburg, big scale, puns, great draftsmanship, but the fun is missing and so is the looseness of his imagination. Ok maybe I was expecting 1960 but these works are dead man, they just lay there like so many beached whales. Maybe too much money is not such a good thing for an artist to have, they start having their work fabricated and cleaned up. What I use to love about his work was his messy way of making things, taking stuff off the streets, and sadly those days are long goner. So I walked around looking at these huge representational things that were trying to look like big overgrown puppies that seem to be calling out to you to pet them. I didn’t.


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