Monday, December 10, 2012

NYC exhibitions

Art Basel Miami Beach coincided with my trip to New York, so the galleries were very quiet. But there was still lots to see.

Pierre Cardin
Pierre Cardin dress, 1968
There were the secondary shows like the exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology, exploring the relationship between technological advances and fashion. It spanned quite a range: from split skirts for women cyclists of the late 19th century all the way to LED fabrics for today's "connected" fashionistas.

125 Icons JPG

The Pratt Institute has staged an impressive showcase of 125 products of its faculty and alumni, produced over its 125-year history. Included are the Chrysler Building, the Cuisinart, and the logo of Life magazine.

Self-Portrait: Marion Greenwood, 1954
Self-portrait, Marion Greenwood, 1954

The National Academy Museum had a fascinating show titled "Her Own Style: An Artist's Eye with Judith Shea". Curator and sculptor Shea chose more than thirty portraits of women artists from the museum's collection, to illuminate the place of women in the world of art, and what it has meant over the years to be a female artist.

There was even a display of Lion King costumes in the Theatre District.

Picasso, Woman in White, 1923

But the heavy-hitters were also on display. 

At the Guggenheim, Picasso: Black and White runs until January 23. Though I wasn't able to take photos, the Guggenheim offers an on-line gallery with some 22 works from the show.

Earlier paintings include those from the Blue and Rose Periods, which have surprisingly little colour. Picasso is quoted in the show as saying that colour weakens a painting. Some of his most powerful works, including Guernica, are painted with no colour at all. 

This reminds me of the importance of value in art: even when one uses colour, the darks and lights are critical to how the work is seen. I found it interesting too that some of the paintings on display are in fact charcoal line drawings on a background of cream-coloured oil paint. I was reminded of how lyrical Picasso's drawn lines can be.

Matisse, Laurette Seated on a Pink Armchair, 1916-1917

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Matisse: In Search of True Painting runs until March 17. The exhibit focuses on how Matisse would often return to a completed painting and redo it, in the exact same size, changing the composition or the style. He was frustrated that critics thought of his painting as spontaneous, without deliberation. To illuminate his process, he held a show at the Galerie Maeght in Paris, in December 1945, that featured six of his paintings. Accompanying each painting were a dozen or so black and white photos of the work in progress, showing how radical changes were made in the composition from day to day. The photos were as large as the paintings themselves. This show is especially interesting for those who work in series. Images from the show can be found here.

George Bellows, Cliff Dwellers, 1913

George Bellows was a member of the Ashcan School, an American Realist, and a contemporary of Edward Hopper. Seeing his exhibition at the Met was a revelation. "Featuring some one hundred works from Bellows's extensive oeuvre, this landmark loan exhibition is the first contemporary survey of the artist's career in nearly half a century." Bellows died at the age of 42 in 1925, and one can only wonder what he would have accomplished had he not died so young. I enjoyed his gritty cityscapes, depicting tenement life on the Lower East Side. 

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1967

Lastly, another exhibition at the Met, Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years explores the influence of Andy Warhol's work on his contemporaries and on artists of today, making a case for him as the Most Influential Artist of the 20th century. Yes, perhaps even more influential than Picasso. 

His themes of consumerist culture, of celebrity, of sexuality and gender, and of appropriation and his exploration of converging media all foreshadow today's art scene. 

Many works from the show are available here.

No comments: