The Arts Seen In New York

Well, the Missus and I went down to The Big Town for a few days, and here’s some of what we saw (not counting Eliot Spitzer on the Upper East Side after a run in Central Park – his, not ours):

Real Fake, an exhibition of new work by Liao Yibai, at the Mike Weiss Gallery in Chelsea. From the gallery’s press release: “By collapsing the concepts of ‘real’ and ‘fake’ through mash-ups of luxury labels, the appropriation of real fake brand names, and the creation of his own luxury brands; Yibai with wit and originality questions China’s rags-to-riches story of material obsession through his exquisitely detailed, hand-welded stainless steel sculptures.”

Hardworking staff translation: They’re a hoot.

The Mexican Suitcase exhibit at the International Center of Photography, which showcases a sampling of the 4500 recently discovered negatives shot by Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and Chim (David Seymour) during the Spanish Civil War. In the case of all three, the photos are a stunning display of photographic vision and courage. In the case of Taro, it was even more so.

“While covering the crucial battle of Brunete in July 1937, Taro was struck by a tank and killed.”

The Pitmen Painters, a wonderful Broadway production (via London) about a group of 1930s British coal miners who hire an Oxford professor to teach them art appreciation, only to discover that they themselves are artists. The play is a little preachy at times, and (as with so many contemporary plays) it doesn’t quite know how end, but over all it’s a terrific evening at the theater.

Representative sample:

Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 at the Museum of Modern Art, a knockout exhibit that unfortunately closed this weekend. But you can still see the exhaustive (and exhausting) Abstract Expressionist New York exhibits, of which there are many, through next April.

MOMA plug:

Drawn entirely from the Museum’s vast holdings, Abstract Expressionist New York underscores the achievements of a generation that catapulted New York City to the center of the international art world during the 1950s, and left as its legacy some of the twentieth century’s greatest masterpieces.

Well, you be the judge.

50 Years at Pace, a retrospective “highlighting the many artists, exhibitions, people, literature and ideals that have influenced its narrative over the past five decades.” (Take it from the hardlooking staff: It’s a lot more interesting than that makes it sound.) The exhibit features the work of everyone from Jean Dubuffet to Mark Rothko to Ren Magritte to Pablo Picasso to Pierre Bonnard, all mixed-and-matched in eye-catching combinations.

Chaos and Classicism at the Guggenheim, an examination of post-World War 1 art in France, Italy, and Germany.  From the Guggenheim website:

Following the chaos of World War I, a move emerged towards figuration, clean lines, and modeled form, and away from the two-dimensional abstracted spaces, fragmented compositions, and splintered bodies of the avant-gardes—particularly CubismFuturism, and Expressionism—that dominated the opening years of the 20th century. After the horrors visited upon humanity in the Western hemisphere by new machine-age warfare, a desire reasserted itself to represent the body whole and intact. For the next decade-and-a-half classicism, “return to order,” synthesis, organization, and enduring values, rather than the pre-War emphasis on innovation-at-all-costs, would dominate the discourse of contemporary art. Chaos and Classicismtraces this interwar classical aesthetic as it worked its way from a poetic, mythic idea in the Parisian avant-garde; to a political, historical idea of a revived Roman Empire, under Mussolini; to a neo-Platonic High Modernism at the Bauhaus, and then, chillingly, a pseudo-biological classicism, or Aryanism, in nascent Nazi culture.

The exhibit runs through January 9, 2011. It’s worth the trip.

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1 Response to The Arts Seen In New York

  1. Pingback: The Mexican Suitcase: WSJ’s Lost Luggage | Campaign Outsider

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