Monday, November 30, 2015
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Also great is the Morandi show at David Zwirner of his small landscape like paintings of simple objects such as bottles, boxes and jugs set on tables that become pale and intimate landscapes that compel the viewer because of his use of simple objects and lush brush work using subtle color combinations. Heady stuff but also beautiful in its’very quiet and understated way. This was a painter who gave me much trouble when I was young, maybe they were too simple and subtle for me, but I’ve since come around or perhaps matured enough to grasp their great beauty. In the large downstairs gallery is a big exhibition of Cor-ten steel sculptures by the late sculptor Donald Judd and proves once again how beautiful minimal art can be. His work along with other minimalists influenced me in the sense that they gave me the freedom to make my crowded small pieces that were markedly opposite of what they were doing. When I first looked at Judd’s “empty” boxes my immediate reaction was to go home and make my own boxes which I did. These are remarkable sculptures elegant and surprisingly light in their feeling and quite lovely, and a nice companion show to the Morandi exhibition.
Also marvelous is the large Jean Tinguely exhibition at the Gladstone Gallery which will surely bring smiles to viewers. Most of these assemblages of found pieces of iron and such can be made to move by touching the foot to a bright red pedal in front of each piece. When they work and sometimes they don’t flowers and feathers spin, wheels turn with cranky movements and noise and stuffed animals jump up and down. Several of the works are monumental and a few were out of commission because of breakdowns which some would offer up as a criticism of the failure of works that depend on technology no matter how simple it is when there is a breakdown. I guess that’s true enough but I loved this show anyway.
The other show that I loved to bits was The Claes Oldenburg jam packed show at Paula Cooper. Titled “Things Around The House” with co credit given to his late partner Coosje Van Bruggen. Still this is all Claes with works going back to the early 60’s and beyond. There are great pieces here both soft and hard, large and small that hang, lean and sprawl across tables walls and floors. What was wonderful also is how close we can get to the works. Oldenburg is another of my major influences and I’ve written about how he gave me the freedom and permission to do what I wanted and in spite of poverty and lack of attention I have. This is a grand show full of humor color and ideas and this was an exhibition that I wanted to take home with me.
Also terrific if a little bit of Ripley Believe It Or Not was the Gil Batle show “Hatched In Prison” at Ricco Maresca which must be seen to be believed. I mean just the very idea of this guy taking ostrich egg shells and carving out intricate and beautifully detailed images of prison life is something that has to be seen up close and very personal. There are even magnifying glasses hanging on a wall for the viewer to use so they can get closer to them. Batle who served many years in various prisons where he won over the murderers and thugs with his talent for drawing and tattooing now tells his stories via these magnificent eggs that are presented under glass domes.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Mark Bradford at Hauser & Wirth.
There should be a special place in hell for galleries and the little shits who work for them who refuse to allow gallery goers the right to use their fucking johns. I'm talking to you Hauser & Wirth and that little pile of dung who had his face buried in his dumb phone who told me that the John was for private use only. Well fuck him and fuck your gallery and all the other galleries in Chelsea who are heartless and soulless and who can't be human enough to let us piss. I piss on you. Which brings me to some of the shows I saw today on this pissy rainy day.
I’ll start with the mediocrity that Hauser and his friend Wirth now have on view with splendid nothingness. I'm talking about the very large and empty canvases by Mark Bradford. Listen I just don't get it. I don't get how or why this guy is getting all this attention fame and lots of moola for these somewhat pretty but vapid wrapping paper (think Christmas) like dreck that got him a so called genius grant from The MacArthur Foundation. I have my guesses why this happened, but I'll keep them to myself for now Is this an example of what some critics are calling zombie painting, if so I get it because these things are dead and lifeless but still slightly breathing and coming at you.
He also did what seems like the obligatory "video installation" piece that are usually set up in some dark and very big space. This one according to the press release brings back the spirit of the discos and nightclubs of the 1970's and 1980's and evokes the period before AIDS changed everything. To be fair I didn't go into this installation because as I’ve said many times I stopped going into dark rooms after my pocket got picket in the back room of the Anvil back in the good old days of the 70's and 80's so I don't need Mr. Bradford to bring it all back for me. There is also a large (the press release refers to it as monumental) drape like work that is colorful and derivative (think Alan Shields) titled "Waterfall" that takes up space and just hangs there like some pile of rags left over from that other "genius" Oscar Murillo's work except his rags were placed on the floor. Hanging, or on the floor what does it matter, they’re just rags to me, no matter how pretty they might be.
I don’t know why some painters think that all they need to do is hang some piles of things in the middle of a gallery or drop them on the floor and bingo they have a great piece of sculpture all ready for the Moma to buy. The gallery and artist try to pass this stuff off as having political connotations which is bullshit. Again I quote from the press release “Bradford is admired for his uncanny ability to conflate the chaos of social and political forces with a particularly rigorous physical and conceptual approach to each canvas. Say what? These are easy decorative over the couch (granted you would need to have a very big couch and a very big wall) paintings and just because an artist is black and gay (Whoops I gave my MacArthur guesses away.my gay) does not make vapid work political and I think that this hooey and the blandness of the work is what really riled me up about these paintings never mind that I had to take a wicked pee. I will talk soon about the very good shows I saw today including some exhibitions of sublime paintings by Brice Marden and Giorgio Morandi and terrific shows of sculptures by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen and Jean Tinguely.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Thank you Oddball Magazine for this published drawing which is my 42nd appearance in the magazine
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Moma Hell hole
What ever possessed me to go to this hell hole on a saturday. I'll tell you. It was the last day of member's previews for Jackson Pollock a collection survey. Never again will I set foot in this place on a weekend. Never. While I was there I also saw the Soldier, Spectre, shaman, the figure and the second world war which is not crawling with art lovers and I thought it was a terrific little show that was drawn from their collection and full of artists who I was not all that familiar with. Also the gimmicky dumb ass stupid Ocean of Images New Photography 2015 which has more to do with show and tell than with photography. I mean some of this stuff belongs at the Brooklyn Museum or at the bottom of an ocean. Unclean unclean.
Simply irresistible. Who would have thought that this kind of movie would and could be made at this time and place. It stands as a sort of testament that intimate relatively small character driven and emotionally loaded films can still punch us in the gut and reward us emotionally and yes visually and spirituality as well and pull in the crowds both female and male. Maybe its partially because we are so starved for films that have stories to tell and don’t insult us with loud and vulgar comedy and superheroes who crash if not to the ground then certainly at the box office.
This little gem is based on a well received novel by Colm Toibin that I did not read, whose plot is simple and to the point. Young Eilis Lacey gets on a boat in Ireland to come to New York City, specifically Brooklyn of the title in the early 50's to make something of her life with the help of her loving and adoring older sister and a kindly priest in Brooklyn played by the great Jim Broadbent.
She arrives and is soon taking up resistance in Brooklyn at the old world tastefully decorated boarding house owned and run by the magnificent Julie Walters for young Irish women new to America. Walters is proper but with a salty streak and is somewhat ignorant of modern times who is ruled by her love of the Catholic Church and what is right and proper for Irish Lasses, and much of the marvelous humor in film takes place in scenes set at the dinning room table.
Eilis gets a job at an upscale Brooklyn department store (think A&S) but is so homesick and unhappy that it’s starting to affect her job performance and her daily life. One night at a dance held at the church hall that is dull, dim and dreary she meets a young goodlooking Italian plumber played to handsome perfection by a young actor named Emory Cohen who is unsurprisingly smitten with Eilis. The look and feel of the film is perfect in its use of period clothes, hair and details but not overwhelming, which might have had to do more with the budget than with aspiration along with the lack of the 1950’s still standing in New York City.
Most of the joy for me came from the superb performance by the beautiful Saoirse Ronan. Oh Saoirse I would give you a bucket full of Oscars for this performance along with lots of kisses and hugs. There are some minor faults with the film mainly the somewhat rushed and clichéd ending and a few dull and repetitive scenes in Ireland, but hey so what this is still one of the best films of the year and then there’s Saoirse.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Broadsided response to Syrian Refugees
Broadsided asked poets and writers to respond to art work that brought to mind or was done specifically for the refugee crisis. I submitted this notebook drawing that I did in 2014. Changes were made to it (my name was removed by me) and you can see the final broadside with the flash fiction by Nick Almeida at the link below.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Monday, November 16, 2015
The film is a popular success judging by the sold out screening I was at, and there was even mild applause at the end, whether it was for the film itself or that it was finally over. It wears it's history well in terms of journalistic expose films, but to compare it to Citizen Kane or even All The President's Men is ludicrous but thats what some of the critics are doing. I prefer my journalistic films to be a bit more lively and exciting (Zodiac comes to mind) which this one isn't, even though it tries hard with subtle bits of hanging treats and implied violence.
The film is best when the grown victims of the abuse and violence are interviewed, and it comes alive for a time. The cinematography has a grey brown blue washed out look which recalls the look of some of the American films made in the 1970's making it seem like the sun never shines in Boston.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
I finished up my workshop at the UFT where I teach art to retired public school teachers. I've been doing this for 11 years. This semester I added scrap-booking to the menu along with the theme of planes, trains, and cars. The work as usual was wonderful. One grandmother who never did art made extraordinary collages with a superb natural feel for color and design.