Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1948-1988. The Museum Of Modern Art.

This large enticing but uneven retrospective of the late Brazilian artist Lygia Clark now at The Museum Of Modern Art has a lot to offer and its good to see the Moma displaying the work of a little known (in this country anyway) artist. I actually met her in the early 70’s but can’t recall much about it this meeting, except for her lovely smile that she threw at me from time to time, and I could easily apply that lovely smile to a large amount of the work in this sometimes thrilling sometimes annoying exhibition. Spread out in a graceful and welcoming installation that takes up 4 large galleries on the 6th floor the show opens with lots of her small tight abstract geometric paintings from the early 1950’s that are beautifully painted in subtle colors and are influenced by the Construtivists (her few very early representational paintings also in the beginning of the show are not very good). The paintings move on and change but are still small and abstract but more minimal and are mostly in black, white and gray and some might find these works too designed and corporate logo looking. In the next gallery are her many small abstract metal hinged sculptures that she called “Bichos” which means critters and are laid out on low plain plywood tables and were originally meant to be played with and changed into different shapes and arrangements by viewers, the Moma offers up a few of these for viewer participation which I didn’t partake in. This brings me to my aversion to participation art. Once in the early 70’s a long gone curator and very rich collector of photographs and photographers took it upon himself to pick up one of my boxes that was being shown in a gallery in Soho and thinking that just because it had loose particles in it, it was alright for him to pick it up and shake it. Needless to say he cause damaged and needless to say he heard from me. Even if this “accident” didn’t take place I would still not be a participator and usually flee from any works of art or performances that I have to be an active, unwilling and embarrassed participant. That said its in the final gallery that I had the most trouble but it does bring to light the misleading and unnecessary title of the show “Lygia Clark: The Abandonment Of Art 1948-1988. Here we are presented with her work that she did after she stopped making art (for a period of time) and started to devote her time and energy to art therapy and sensory perception pieces that she used in her treatment of psychotic patients. In this part of the show viewers can cut up long narrow rolls of white paper or put on her scary “sensorial masks” and body suits that look like something from a slasher movie or play with soft small fetishistic balls, rubber gloves and other weird things that look like objects you might find in a sex shop. This is a complex and demanding show, and easily one of the best exhibitions of the year, flaws and all.


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