When artists curate works by other artists, it creates a dialogue between artistic sensibilities. Often we are unsure if the artists personally know (or knew) each other, if they were influenced by each other, or if their collaboration was the result of a stimulating first encounter. And we start to look for clues—the visual and thematic links that join the artists in their uneasy union. Two gallery shows up now, Some Artists’ Artists at Marian Goodman and A Machinery for Living curated by Walead Beshty at Friedrich Petzel, provoke these questions of aesthetic preference, lineage, and influence. Similar to MoMA’s Artist’s Choice series, most recently overseen by Trisha Donnelly, the shows present intriguing, frequently surprising, connections between the selectors and selectees, generating an unresolved tension between two artistic practices.
Installation view of Some Artists' Artists at Marian Goodman. Photo courtesy Marian Goodman and the author.
Marian Goodman’s exhibition includes 23 international artists from countries spanning Albania, Cuba, Holland, Portugal, Taiwan, and the US. The selecting artists, established figures like John Baldessari, Tony Cragg, Tacita Dean, Gabriel Orozco, Julie Mehretu, and others, were not restricted in their choice of artists, yielding a pool both young and old, known and emerging. Interestingly, the gallery does not reveal who has chosen whom in its press release nor in plain sight in the gallery itself (you must inquire at the front desk). By leaving its curators anonymous, the gallery squashes any direct associations between artists, leaving the work to speak on its own.
There were a few standout pieces. I loved Edi Hila’s series of paintings depicting landmarks from his home country of Albania—in particular, this frothy pink painting of the Parliament building. Almost like Gerhard Richter’s blurry photo-paintings, Hila’s images allude to his country’s shrouded history, and are simply beautifully-rendered paintings.
Edi Hila, Parlement, 2011. Photo courtesy Marian Goodman and the author.
In Jessica Rankin’s Dear Another, the artist placed cut-up words in poetic juxtapositions against a spongy monochromatic backdrop that was inspired by constellations, and that to me resembles cellular globs.
Jessica Rankin, Dear Another, 2014. Photo courtesy Marian Goodman and the author.
Abraham Cruzvillegas’ Self-Portrait sculptures are tributes to the traditions of his native Mexico, while also referring to other forms of regional construction that combine generic manufacturing with unique handicraft. Using gravity and weight, Cruzvillegas strikes a precarious balance that represents the gap between local and foreign cultures.
Foreground: Abraham Cruzvillegas, Tectonic Self Portrait Thinking of the Possible Disappearance of the Baja California Peninsula and Reading Anthonio Gramsci's "Gli Intellectuali e L'Organizzazione della Culturea", 2014. Four Edi Hila paintings in background. Photo courtesy Marian Goodman and the author.
Lastly, Thomas Schütte’s startling Glass Heads are comedic takes on the heroic busts of historical sculpture.
Thomas Schütte, Glaskopfs (Glass Heads), 2013. Photo courtesy Marian Goodman and the author.
In his show at Petzel, A Machinery for Living, Beshty, a London-born photographer and writer based in Los Angeles, set out with an enigmatic agenda. Beshty’s own work explores the fraught relationship between photographic images and political issues. Using the camera as a social tool, he has focused on the decrepitude of shopping malls, abandoned buildings, and airports, examining the ways in which fact and fiction intermingle at these controversial sites. And from the first moment you enter the gallery, you get the sense that Beshty’s exhibition leads the viewer on a carefully choreographed journey.
Atelier EB, Manet. Photo courtesy Petzel and the author.
Atelier EB’s elaborately costumed mannequins are situated in two galleries, imbuing the gallery with a mysterious human presence, no matter how “fake.” The installation was meticulously arranged from every angle. Strange human silhouettes are presented against the purity of Josiah McElheny’s ceramics, angular tables, and the repeated motif of xeroxed hands in works by Jay DeFeo and James Welling. Welling’s chaotic tangle of wire hangers and Rachel Harrison’s whirling assemblage make a marked contrast to the mechanical precision of images like Christopher Williams’ cross section of a camera, and the ordered bookshelves of Thomas Barrow’s black and white photographs.
Petzel installation views. Photo courtesy Petzel and the author.
Jay DeFeo, Untitled, 1979. Photo courtesy Petzel and the author.
Christopher Williams, Cutaway model Nikkor zoom lens..., 2008. Photo courtesy Petzel and the author.
My favorite works in the show were the delicate “jewelry” pieces by DeFeo. Her talisman-like pendants made of wood, metal, glass, and wire dangle in the center of white window boxes that allow for views of the adjacent galleries—again creating mini vignettes that emphasize the graphic interplay of form, shadow, and light in the gallery space.
Jay DeFeo, Untitled, c. 1953-55. Photo courtesy Petzel and the author.
Instead of producing a traditional press release, Beshty included four statements on everyday life. Referencing class struggle, revolution, uneasiness, subversion, spiritual emanation, and enclosed rooms, the quotes suggest that there is a political charge to Beshty’s curatorial premise. He seems to be advocating for social awareness and activation over apathy and complacency. Just how this conflict is manifested in the art of Beshty’s artists, though, is what compels us to dig deeper and to look closer at their work.
Some Artists’ Artists is on view at Marian Goodman through August 22, 2014.
A Machinery for Living is on view at Friedrich Petzel Gallery through August 8, 2014.
Last weekend, while everyone was flocking to Central Park or decamping to the nearest beach, I found myself happy to be inside, in midtown Manhattan, admiring Spencer Finch’s installation, A Certain Slant of Light, in the atrium of the Morgan Library. Finch (American, b. 1962) applied 365 colored film gels to the windows and to glass panels that dangle in the center of the four-story glass courtyard. As the natural light changes throughout the day, the Mondrian-esque grid--inspired by calendars and medieval prayer books--shifts and sparkles. Finch will change his palette in conjunction with each season, various (secular) holidays of his choosing, and the movement of the sun, creating deliberate and scientifically conceived alignments and overlaps of light and shadow.
Spencer Finch, A Certain Slant of Light, 2014. Photo courtesy of the author.
Conflating human and natural cycles, Finch’s abstract installations convey the subjective and often subconscious nature of our perceptions and memories. He recently created an enormous curtain wall featuring 26 different shades of glass for the facade of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, an homage to Monet's Impressionist landscape paintings.
Spencer Finch, Johns Hopkins Hospital Project, 2009. Photo courtesy of mikebloomberg.com
His work reminds me of synesthetic artists like Kandinsky or Scriabin, or Olafur Eliasson, who uses scientific configurations involving light and color to produce startling sensory encounters. I also thought of William Lamson’s beautiful Solarium (2012), a greenhouse with caramelized sugar panes, temporarily installed at Storm King a few years ago.
William Lamson, Solarium, 2012. Steel, glass, sugar, plants. Courtesy the artist and Pierogi Gallery.
But what I found so compelling about A Certain Slant of Light was not necessarily its dazzling and emotionally evocative visual quality, but rather how the work gives a subtle examination of the function and effect of filters: the aesthetic, cultural, religious, and psychological transparencies that shape our lives. The museum atrium provides an apt framework for this multi-faceted investigation of how we approach our daily interactions and how we internalize these experiences, highlighting what may be foregrounded, imagined, or lost in the process.
Spencer Finch, Painting Air, 2012. Photography by Erik Gould. Courtesy of Spencer Finch.
Installation at Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence. More than 100 panels of suspended glass of varying reflectivity refract and distort the wall mural, which is an abstraction of Monet's garden at Giverny.
A Certain Slant of Light: Spencer Finch at the Morgan is up June 20, 2014 through January 11, 2015.
Special thanks to CodaWorx for featuring RxArt in their sixth issue of CODAmagazine, which is live and ready to be browsed! Healing Art showcases incredible design + art projects where teams create spaces of reflection, meditation, and healing. See projects from our very own “Jeff Koons at Advocate Children’s Hospital” to the “Vanished Berlin Wall.”
John Currin was born in 1962 in Boulder, Colorado and grew up in Connecticut, where he studied painting privately with a renowned traditionally trained artist from Odessa, Ukraine, Lev Meshberg. He is best known for satirical figurative paintings which deal with provocative sexual and social themes in a technically skillful manner. In his early career Currin set himself apart by painting controversial depictions of female subjects ranging from ebullient big-breasted girls to drab menopausal women. As the artist matures his increasingly complex depictions of the figure have continued to enchant, repel or more often create a peculiar combination of the two. He has been labeled variously as a mannerist, radical conservative, caricaturist, or simply prankster, but Currin continues to evade categorization.
His series of contentious and compelling paintings attest to his exploration and elaboration of the history of figurative art. His sources are as diverse as 1970s Playboy magazine advertisements, Old Master Portraits, and mid-twentieth century film. With such assorted inspiration he produced dubious yet beautifully rendered compositions that suggest a challenging and slippery new aesthetic rooted in the artifice and stylistic extravagance of High Mannerism.
Currin’s magnificent technical accomplishments that he achieves through a close emulation and study of the graphic rhythms, compositional devices, and polished surfaces of the sixteenth and seventeenth century European painting, combined with the artist’s edgy contemporary subject matter that is entirely his own, produces works of art that will forever rouse dynamic debate and discussion.
PORTRAIT OF THE WIFE AS A YOUNG ARTIST John Currin at work on a portrait of his wife, artist Rachel Feinstein, in his studio in New York City’s Flatiron District.. Courtesy of Vanity Fair.
2010, in conjunction with "John Currin: New Paintings" at Gagosian Gallery Madison Avenue
30 x 18 inches (76.2 x 45.7 cm)
Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery
Oil on canvas
48 1/8 x 34 inches (117.2 x 86.4 cm)
© John Currin
Photo by Rob McKeever. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery
John Currin. Moroccan girl. 2001. © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, RMN-GP / Georges Meguerditchian / John Currin. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery, New York.
Exciting things are in the works at RxArt. Yesterday, Diane had a successful visit at St. Mary’s Children Hospital in Bayside, New York. Everyone could not be more excited for Rob Pruitt’s upcoming interactive installation. Rob Pruitt was so inspired by the kids and the space, as were the staff and children for his presence and commitment to the hospital. We are looking forward to the project’scompletion, and working with both Rob and St. Mary’s Children Hospital for future projects.
Lee Bul’s installation Via Negativa II, at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York transports viewers into an alternate dimension. The visually complex, three-dimensional labyrinth adorned with mirrors immediately draws viewers in only to quickly lead them astray. Lost in a maze of mirrors, the viewer is left looking at fragments of oneself, and leaving them to question their existence in relation to infinite space and time. Experiencing the central chamber lined with illuminated mirrors reminiscent of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room is an overwhelming intense and an excitedly distorting experience.
Her installation is fantastically confusing and a stand out piece amongst the exhibition. Bul, a native of South Korea is known for her exploration of idealized conceptions of the human form embedded in architecture, and the perceptual and cognitive boundaries of consciousness. This powerful installation seeks to define the body and minds limits in striving to reach perfection, and is breath of fresh air in the realm of contemporary art. A must see!
Click above to experience Lee Bul's exhibition at Lehmann Maupin
( Images courtesy of Lehmann Maupin and Video courtesy of The Creators Project)
My first real contact with the arts was in my high school studio art program. I didn’t know anything about art history, but I knew that my favorite part of the week was walking into our two-floor studio with its giant windows, creaky easels, and brushes caked with paint. The studio was a safe haven that gave us a sense of community and belonging. For two hours, we didn’t have to think of anything except the canvas in front of us--how to get that perspective right, how to change a moving shadow, or how to mix the right shade of blue. Every day in the studio challenged me to think differently, and to question the way I saw the world around me.
During my last year in the program, each student was assigned an artist to research and present to the group. I was given Cindy Sherman. That night, I sat down with a giant monograph and began to flip through it. I was completely dumbfounded and exhilarated at the same time. I had never seen anything like it! Though I didn’t fully understand them at the time, Sherman's startling images awakened me to art’s unique ability to provoke and inspire. I ditched my plan to become a neuroscientist, and went on to study art history at NYU and Hunter College. And after working in museums for six years, I decided to return to school and begin my PhD in modern and contemporary art, with a focus on architecture and public spaces.
My initial passion for the arts, and for arts education, has not faded, nor has my belief in art’s essential role as a revitalizing force in people’s lives. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work for RxArt this summer, and to help fulfill its mission of touching and brightening as many lives as possible!
Kara Walker's installation at Domino Sugar Factory, fully titled “A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant,” will activate all your senses and take your breath away. Experiencing the melting sugar sculptures in this massive, historic space is moving, poignant, and disturbingly delicious.
Her site-specific work takes over the factory, not only in scale, but in concept as well. Walker beautifully communicates a political, historically significant work that is still relevant to our current time and culture.
(Photos taken from NY Daily News, by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
My name is Niki Gaines and I am from Old Greenwich, Connecticut. Ever since I was young, I have been completely immersed in the world of art, travel, and community service. I come from an artistic family and have followed in their footsteps through my passion for photography. With this interest in photography came a desire to expose myself to art across cultures and a variety of experiences. As I traveled throughout the United States and abroad, it became evident that I wanted to speak on social justice issues through my camera lens. Since a young age I dreamed of working at National Geographic as a photojournalist. It was not until college where I was exposed to a new world of experimental photography and participatory photography, which further fueled this desire. Studying community justice and policy studies alongside photography enhanced my understanding of the most effective ways for people to use art to create the change they wish to see in their own lives. I am also a Japanese studies minor and recently returned home from a semester abroad in Tokyo, where I immersed myself in Japanese culture and language. I am full of energy and thrive on new experiences, which is why I am so excited about this new experience with RxArt.
RxArt seemed like a fantastic opportunity as it allowed me to further understand the power of art to heal, and as a tool to reform the current health system. I look forward to being part of such an incredible and motivating organization, and changing the existing sterile nature of hospitals.
RxArt has finally broken into the LA art scene and will be making our way into West Coast hospitals with some of our favorite artists! On April 27th I made a trip out to Los Angeles, CA to introduce our mission to the rising art community in the art world.
DAY ONE, I touched down in LA on a bright Sunday afternoon, greeted by a clear blue sky 70 degree weather…a wonderful, and welcomed, change from drawn out cold in NYC. I had a chance to take a long walk on the beach, as one of my meetings got rescheduled. I couldn’t have picked a better way to start my west coast journey!
DAY TWO, following a visit to Gagosian LA for the Thomas Ruff show, Sam Falls gave me the tour of his new studio. I caught him at the perfect time…he had just moved in to his studio and would soon be off on a cross-country road trip, gathering inspiration for his next body of work. We are excited to announce that Sam will be working on a project with us at an LA hospital in the near future! He has also generously agreed to create a print for VIP ticket purchasers at our November 2014 PARTY.
Sam Falls and I considering his work in his new studio space.
RxArt’s valued friend, Alexandra Gaty took me to artist, Mark Hagen’s studio (who also happens to be her lovely husband). Cadogan Tate had already arrived and was crating work to be sent to NYC for Mark's first solo show at Marlborough (opened May 10th). I was fascinated by Mark’s explanation of how he achieved the gorgeous patina on the metal frames around his canvases--it includes Coca-Cola and electricity!
DAY THREE was filled with meetings and studio visits. I met with the art committee at an LA hospital to discuss the details of an upcoming RxArt project with Urs Fischer and Sam Falls…beyond exciting!
Robert Irwin installation at Cedars Sinai Medical Center LA.
Catherine Opie showed me her fantastic new work at her studio. Later, I visited the new Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery on La Brea where I saw the exhibition of works from the 60's and 70's by John Tweddle, curated by Alanna Heiss. I had the rare opportunity to spend 19 minutes (yes, exactly) in Turrell's immersive environment from his "Perceptual Cells" series. It was completely magical.
DAY FOUR began bright and early on the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank, where Alex Israel works. His stuccoed and spray-painted arched paintings, in various stages of completion, as well as several completed self portraits gave me a new perspective of his work. We enthusiastically discussed working together on a future RxArt project.
Alex Israel and I in his workspace at Warner Brothers.
DAY FIVE, my final day in the sun (and in the car), I paid Kathryn Andrews a visit at her studio. We talked about her work as well as the exciting prospect of creating a project for a pediatric hospital in NYC.
Next studio up was Friedrich Kunath's. His solo exhibition at Andrea Rosen had come down a couple days prior to my visit, and he was already working toward another show!
Alexandra Gaty and Friedrich Kunath during our studio visit.
I was particularly excited for my next stop, Mary Weatherford's show at David Kordansky. Mary’s first solo show was with me in New York City many years ago. What a beautiful show this was, everyone was thoroughly impressed.
Mary Weatherford show at David Kordansky Gallery LA.
RxArt is filled with excitement and anticipation of relationships with new artists, projects to come, and new RxArt friends/supporters. It is time to expand and we have found just the place to do it…thanks to the enthusiastic welcome we received on the West Coast we cannot wait for what is to come, and the lives we will be able to impact.
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