Bruce Conner. The Museum Of Modern Art
It seems a shame to me that many artists don't live long enough to see their work and lives celebrated usually by the very institutions that at one time scorned and ignored them. The large Bruce Conner exhibition now on at that champ of scorn Moma is a perfect example of recognition come too late.
Conner who died in 2008 is for some a secret artist, a fellow traveler not a household name but still an artist with a deep following especially among other artists. I got to a member's preview yesterday and pretty much had the show to myself. I somehow wandered in through the end of the show and his career which is mostly made up of Conner's surrealist delicate engraving collages that are heavily influenced by Max Ernst, which is ok by me, better Max than Pablo.
So I wandered through this part of the show that is nice and quiet but really not by cup of tea, since I had in my mind his messy grotesque assemblages full of horror and decay. On my way to the decay I did see some of his good punk photographs and many Zen like ink drawings full of patience resolve and inkblots.Very soothing and delicate which is always good on a hot summer day.
Finally after the room of angels I came to the horrible stuff, and I mean that in a good way. These are the grotesque and nightmarish early large assemblages that are dark and grim, something out of a house of horror, dripping with ghosts and regret. A Coney Island wax museum of my childhood.
There is even a piece named for The Black Dahlia that L.A icon of murder and despair that still pulls us in after decades. Disgust lives long. Some of the large assemblages from the late 50's are more colorful and easier to take, full of girly girls and pinup jerk off dames from some of our youths, (notice I said from some of our youths, this is where I exit the bus), and a few of his late 50's assemblages like couch and child are almost too shocking to even think about let alone view.
As I was hanging out at the edge of the show, too older women stumbled in and looked confused by all of this. They asked a guard whose work was this, one woman said Robert Robert Rauschenberg (not a bad guess) and I corrected her since the guard was mute and unknowing. "Oh is he still alive"? No I said this is the Museum Of Modern Art. They wandered off to stand in front of one of the works and talk of lunch, and I slowly wandered back through the exhibition, the right way this time, liking the delicate collages and drawings more this time around. Through Oct. 2.