Roblog

Louis at the Hirshhorn, Hopper at the National Gallery, and arachnids in between

September 28th, 2007 · 1 Comment

If you’re the type that keeps on listening when I get all worked up about abstract expressionism, you’ve probably heard me say some pretty hyperbolic things about Morris Louis’s artwork, the kind I’m sure I’d never repeat when properly composed.

Morris Louis exhibition at the Hirshhorn

Morris Louis probably made the most beautiful paintings of all time.

Ok, so, I’m not properly composed. Its only been five days since I saw the Morris Louis exhibition at the Hirshhorn. I don’t plan on getting properly composed be for a long time.

This really is a magnificent exhibition, although the first paintings are undoubtedly the most spectacular, so if you have any sense of occasion, do a U-turn when you get off the escalator and visit the exhibition backwards. Most of the time I get the feeling that Morris Louis was the first painter to elevate Abstract Expressionism to something that was visually compelling even if it was divorced from all that theory that Greenberg loved to talk about. Quite an accomplishment. It doesn’t hurt that ol’ Mo was based out of D.C.

(Granted, he did steal his whole concept from Helen Frankenthaler, but, hey, that just relates this back to Women and Western Art right?)
Speaking of that fascinating topic, when Molly and I left the Hirshhorn to go catch a lecture at the National Gallery, we went through the sculpture garden, (past Jeff Koons’s war on art, which is almost as offensive to the soul as it is to the retinas¹) whereMolly and LaChaise’s bug Molly and I had a discussion about how Gaston Lachaise’s concept of an idealized woman (physically empowered, sexually dominant but still an object of male gaze) relates to the patriarchal, which is generally based on weak subserviant woman. Plus, she found something interesting right in the center of his composition:

I also got to see the Edward Hopper exhibition, which was fascinating and comprehensive and one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen. Still, woowee, Hopper’s women are certainly rigid, and voyeristically sexualized. (Heather Carey has a great paper topic.)

When I was 10, Hopper was why I wanted to become a painter, but I have to admit, standing there in that crowded gallery, surrounded by polite middle aged ladies talking about how much they like Cape Cod, this painting gave me the willies.
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¹ I mean this. It’s so shiny that it’s physically paintful to look at.

Tags: Art · Art Exhibitions · Women and Art