Roblog

Country Boy In The City (or “Gee, look at all dem buildins!”)

March 13th, 2008 · Comments Off on Country Boy In The City (or “Gee, look at all dem buildins!”)

img_4558.jpgOkay, here’s the scene: an obsessive art nerd (played by the plucky, intrepid Robert Lynn¹) goes to New York to check out the art “scene” for the first time, spending his final college spring break (painters gone wild!) visiting all the major galleries and museums. But wait! What if our hero turns out to be a flannel-wearing-redneck who has never been to a major city before!? Hilarity ensues in this classic fish-out-of-water story.

No, it’s not the description of a questionably green-lighted movie on an extended cable channel this afternoon², its what I did last week thanks to an undergraduate research grant. Besides the dirty subway and rude people, New York blew my mind, as expected. But I’ll let you just fill that in from every TV show you’ve seen and we’ll get down to the serious business of what I’m excited about:

cai.jpgCai Guo Chaing at the Guggenheim was a real sock-knocker-offer, but I couldn’t help but think about how awkwardly the work fit in the space (since it’s a retrospective, almost all of the work was originally site specific elsewhere). At best, the work was a gorgeous and impressive example of just how exciting high-budget contemporary art can be to all kinds of visitors, but at worst it was just derivative visual metaphors presented in the style of cheesy staged roller-coaster decorations (Frank Lloyd Wright’s balconies even force you to pass through them like a carnival ride). Undeniably, however, the video pieces and gunpowder drawings really had me engaged, beyond even the primal “Let’s Go Light Things On Fire!” element (which, by the way, can only do good things for art, as far as I’m concerned).

courbet.jpgSince Jasper Johns and Gustave Courbet are probably the two artists I’ve written the most about since coming to college, seeing their exhibitions at the Met was a pretty great way to encounter that museum for the first time (guess what: it’s big. like really big.). The Courbet was less exciting than I’d hoped—few of his major pieces were there (Stonebreakers is no longer extant and Burial at Ornans never gets loaned out) so it was heavy on early portraits and late landscapes (plus the obligatory naked lesbians). It was fun, though, to imagine walking through the show with Clement Greenberg babbling constantly about formal qualities and the birth of the avant-garde.

johns.jpg Jasper Johns Gray was more interesting to me–by redoing his work in gray, he takes his paintings from a shout to a stage whisper. Eerie and awesome. Fool’s House (left) was probably the highlight, but the whole show was full of work and little secrets I’d never seen or noticed before. [Update 4/27: I loved this show so much I shelled out fifty bucks for the catalogue, only to drill a hole in it for my recent sculpture The Most Valuable Things I Own]

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Color Chart at the MoMA was really heavy on post-modern conceptualism (starting with the forshadowing of Duchamp’s masterpiece Tu m’, which I’ll be blogging about more as the semester comes to a close and my paper on it takes shape), including some fantastic work by Carrie Mae Weems and John Baldessari repainting a room for every day of the week. Come to think of it, polite and orderly color grids or squares were pretty ubiquitous. This was a gigantic contrast to:

THE NEW MUSEUM: (In fact, I was so excited that I’m presenting on this to the Spore Collective, so I’ll blog my exhaustive research as that draws near…

until then,

Roblog

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¹ whose only credits to date include peeing on a cigarette butt in a video art piece

² stars: 1/5

Tags: Art · Art Exhibitions · New York · sculpture · Uncategorized