TIO NYC: A Chelsea Afternoon
On Tuesday we toured the High Line,the public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues. En route, New York’s very own Bill de Blasio had a cameo.
Following the walk, we stopped at a few Chelsea galleries with our friends from New Zealand. Our lunch stop was at Tia Pol, a favorite rustic space perfect for the traditional tapas it serves, (205 10th Avenue at 22nd Street).
Here are a few highlights of the day.
“Design Radical,” a show up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s satellite venue, the Met Breuer, (through October 8), contextualizes the boldly shaped and colorful designs of Ettore Sottsass, founder of the radically whimsical Memphis School.
Organised by curator Christian Larsen, the exhibition brings together work spanning the late Italian architect and designer’s 60-year career – including furniture, machines, ceramics, glass, jewellery, textiles, paintings and photography, presented beside pieces old and new from which Sottsass adapted forms, colours and patterns into his unique style.
Also architectural drawings – including of the 1989 house in Ridgway, Colorado, he designed for art collector and dealer Daniel Wolf.
Who is married to Maya Lin.
The Sottsass show is interesting, at least academically, because the polymath’s influence continues to ripple through postmodern design. But here Sottsass serves as a sequé to a show featuring Maya Lin, whom Telluride claims as a “local” or local-ish, because she and her husband, the aforementioned Daniel Wolf, divide their time between New York and their Sottsass home in Ridgway.
At 21, while studying at Yale University, Maya Lin was chosen to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Since then (1981), The acclaim that followed has chased the artist – while the artist herself has been chasing water.
“I’ve always been pretty fixated on water. Maybe it’s because it exists in multiple states, and you can never understand it in nature as a fixed moment in time. The new show coming up at Pace is called Ebb and Flow,’ and it’s also about that. At one point I said,’Can we stop time? Can we freeze a moment in something that is always in flux?For some odd reason, I’m very interested in the shifting flux of things,” Lin told Interview just prior to the opening of the show.
“Ebb and Flow” (again) at Pace Gallery, 537 West 24th Street (through October 7) is one of several must-see shows up in Chelsea right now.
And Lin’s latest installations and sculpture is the polar opposite of Sottsass for its eloquent minimalism. The show features 11 new installations and sculptures that continue the artist’s ongoing investigation of water in its different states and includes wall and floor pieces made from recycled silver, glass marbles, steel pins, and marble. The show marks Lin’s fourth exhibition with Pace since she joined the gallery in 2008.
DC Moore, 535 West 22nd Street, features the exuberant still-life paintings of Janet Fish (through September 30).
A still life (plural: still lifes) is any work of art that depicts mostly inanimate subject matter, especially commonplace objects which may be either natural or man-made.
The genre has its origins in Greco-Roman art, but really came into its own in the 16th century, especially in the Netherlands.
In general, the rise of still-life painting in the Northern and Spanish Netherlands (mainly in the cities of Antwerp, Middelburg, Haarlem, Leiden, and Utrecht) reflects the increasing urbanization of Dutch and Flemish society, which brought with it an emphasis on the home and personal possessions, commerce, trade, learning—all the aspects and diversions of everyday life at the time.
Fish’s show, “Pinwheels and Poppies,” offers a rare and wonderful opportunity to view major works produced by the artist from 1980 to 2008. The alliterative title refers to the joie de vivre with which Fish revitalized the genre of still life painting in the years following her introduction to the New York art world in the late 1960s.
Committed to an intense, expressive use of brushstrokes and the verisimilitude of objects, while paying homage to Van Gogh and Cezanne, Fish’s canvases are covered with untamed spirit and irreverent wit, with each object animated by color and light.
In Fish’s words, “I see light as energy, and energy is always moving through us. I don’t see things as being separated—I don’t paint the objects I paint one after the other. I paint through the painting…”
Janet Fish was born in Boston in 1938, but grew up in Bermuda, a vibrant place to which she purportedly attributes her own fascination with bright light and intense color.
Fish attended Smith College and received her MFA from Yale University in 1963. She currently lives in New York City and rural Vermont. The landscape of Vermont and the garden she maintains there often figure prominently in her paintings.
Ad Reinhardt was a prominent American abstract artist, writer, critic, and educator. Although commonly associated with the Abstract Expressionists – the movement that came into prominence after WWII, when the epicenter of the art world shifted from Paris to New York – Reinhardt’s work had its origins in geometric abstraction. The artist, however, sought to purify his painting of everything he saw as extraneous to art, thus rejecting the movement’s expressionism. Although Reinhardt was in turn rejected by many of his peers, he was later hailed as a prophet by Minimalists, who revered his spiritual landscapes.
Organized by the Ad Reinhardt Foundation, “Ad Reinhardt: Blue Paintings,” at the David Zwirner Gallery, 537 West 20th Street, (through October 21) presents the largest number of the artist’s “blue” paintings ever shown together. Drawn exclusively from museum and private collections, this is the first exhibition devoted entirely to this body of work since the artist’s 1965 solo show at the Stable Gallery, New York, over 50 years ago. The presentation focuses on works made between 1950 and 1953, in addition to related earlier canvases from the 1940s.
The perceptual demands of the compelling works are intense and reward sustained looking: the blues in Reinhardt’s paintings appear to change before our eyes, influenced by subtle shifts in color within each canvas and in neighboring works.
Reinhardt paired tones of blue that are so similar that it may take some time to see they are not the same, creating resonant compositions that challenge the limits of perception.
In bringing these works together, this exhibition affords a rare opportunity to experience one of the greatest 20th-century painters thinking in color.
This museum-quality show is a must.
Upstairs in the same gallery is a show of the work of Ruth Asawa, (also through October 20), one of the finest sculptors you never heard of.
The exhibition brings together a selection of key sculptures, paintings, and works on paper spanning Asawa’s influential practice, as well as rare archival materials, including a group of vintage photographs of the artist and her work by Imogen Cunningham.
Asawa is best known for her extensive body of looped-wire sculptures that challenge conventional notions of material and form through their emphasis on lightness and transparency, which she began making in the late 1940s while still a student at Black Mountain.
Although Black Mountain College, the legendary postwar incubator for the avant-garde, launched the careers of many twentieth-century luminaries who would eventually enjoy international renown, the sculptor Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) never quite became a household name—instead, her oeuvre has so habitually been relegated to the household. When the artist debuted her wire sculptures in New York in the Fifties, critics dismissed them as decorative or housewifely. “These are ‘domestic’ sculptures in a feminine handiwork mode,” wrote one critic in a 1956 ARTNews review. Because Asawa worked with common materials, twisting copper and iron into undulating forms, her art is often scoffingly associated with that art-world anathema: “craft.” And so a three-room exhibition of Asawa’s works at David Zwirner cannot help but feel restorative, an opportunity to reassess both the expansiveness and consistency of her vision.
Asawa sought to evoke “transparent geometries” found in nature: the scales of a butterfly wing, a spiderweb, a wasp’s nest, or a reef of coral. Although most of what’s on display is from the mid-century, the show spans four decades. Its focus is rightfully placed on the suspended wire sculptures for which she is known. Made with a looping technique Asawa perfected after learning basketry in Mexico, the sculptures here are given the negative space they need.
In the largest room, these works hang from the ceiling by wire and appear to levitate over a white, peanut-shaped stage. Included in the exhibition is a handwritten letter from Asawa to her husband, the architect Albert Lanier, in which she thought to mention that she enjoyed biology. “I laugh with the sun, and mist that tries so hard to seduce the mountains,” she wrote. Many sculptures bring to mind the chaotic symmetries and certainties found on an atomic level. Smaller mobiles also hang above the stage: orbs of various crocheted metals—brass, copper, gold-plated—that resemble homemade cosmogonies. Unlike other mobile sculptors like Alexander Calder and Joan Miró, Asawa is rarely considered a playful artist. There is an openness to wonder found in her attitude toward scale. This wonder radiates from two later works—wreaths of prickly brass and bronze festooned in different rooms—that are reminiscent of supernovae, of something from which life could begin.
Yet the universal implications of Asawa’s work are owed to the particularities of her struggle. After government agents tore Asawa’s father away from the family in 1942, the Asawas were relocated to a Japanese-American internment camp in Rohwer, Arkansas. In camps across the nation, detainees were often deprived of furniture, utensils, and blankets, and were forced to produce these items themselves despite the scarcity of materials. For many, craft became a prerequisite for survival. It was at Rohwer that a teenaged Asawa first learned to weave, making camouflage nets to be used in the war…
Obsessive compulsive was invented here, all contemporary variations on the theme of the pointillism of Seurat and the pixelization of Roy Lichtenstein.
The Yossi Milo Gallery, 245 10th Avenue at 24th Street, presents the work of Nathalie Boutte. “Crossing-over” is up through October 21.
From the gallery:
Crossing-over will feature 22 of Boutté’s most recent collages comprised of thousands of small strips of Japanese paper cut by hand and assembled into feathery rows. Sometimes burned, shaded with ink or covered in typed letters,the paper’s tint accounts for the details in each image. Theartist’s exclusive use of handcrafted cutting and pasting techniques is largely influenced by her graphic design background, having studied in a pre-digital era when mechanical pencils, rotrings and cutters were the primary work tools. The source material informs each created work: the look of a Daguerreotype is simulated using off- white or sepia paper, while white and brightly hued sheets mimic an Autochrome’s vivid colors. While abstract up close, at a distance the strips combine to replicate iconic images such as Malian photographer Seydou Keïta’s famous portrait, Man Holding a Flower, or Russian writer Leonid Andreyev’s portrait of his son as a sailor.
Through her research into early photographic archives and her literal and metaphorical blurring of traditional portraiture, Boutté’s works expose and interrogate representational biases of the time. In African Choir, based on an 1891 photograph in the Getty Images’ Hulton Archive, Boutté questions the Victorian depiction of foreigners and heathens…
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