Tag Archive | Art

Modern Art Monday Presents: E.E. Cummings, Noise Number 13

Noise Number 13
Photo By Gail

E.E.Cummings (1894 – 1962) is best known as a poet, but he also worked as a painter, referring to the visual and literary arts as his “twin obsessions.” In a series of abstractions made between 1919 and 1925 — titled either Sound or Noise followed by a number — Cummings explored sensory crossover between aural and visual forms. In Noise Number 13, spiraling and conical shapes seem to expand and contract; each overlapping color (or noise) vie to stand out from the others.

Cummings’ painterly vision is also reflected in his poems, particularly those composed with complicated line breaks and non-traditional spacing on the page. Those poems must be looked at to be heard — and the converse might be said of experiencing Noise Number 13, whose throbbing configurations we can imagine hearing.

Photographed in the Whitney Museum of America Art in NYC.

Hew Locke, Koh-i-Noor, Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II

Koh-i-Noor,Hew Locke
Photo By Gail

For his mixed media assemblage, Koh-i-Noor (2005) Hew Locke (Scottish, born 1959) arranged thousands of cheap plastic toys and trinkets — disposable products of the new global economy — into one edition of a series of portraits of Queen Elizabeth II (entitled the House of Windsor Series), one of which was among the most extraordinary works in the Museum’s exhibition, Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean Art (2007). Locke, born in Scotland but raised in Guyana, created these works in response to ethnic tensions within contemporary British society, often growing out of Great Britain’s colonial history, with that history now brought home to Britain.

Koh i Noor Detail
Koh-i-Noor Detail

The title of this Silver work from the portrait series refers to the Koh-i-Noor  (“Mountain of Light”) diamond, once the largest in the world. Mined several thousand years ago, this uncut Indian treasure passed through the hands of many regional rulers and was likely cut during the seventeenth century, before ultimately being seized by Britain in 1849 in the name of Queen Victoria. The series also includes a Golden sculpture entitled El Dorado, and a Black edition entitled Black Queen.

Koh i Noor Detail

Darth Vader Jelly Belly Portrait

Darth Vader Jelly Belly
Photos By Gail

This fantastic portrait of Darth Vader holding a Light Saber was created entirely from Jelly Belly candies! Yummy! I wonder how long it took to create. Photographed by me at the Jelly Belly exhibitor booth during the Summer Fancy Food Show 2015 at the Javits Center in Manhattan.

Vader Jelly Belly Detail
Portrait Detail

Fred Wilson’s Guarded View

Fred Wilson Guarded View
Photo By Gail

Fred Wilson’s Guarded View (1991) aggressively confronts viewers with four black, headless mannequins dressed as museum guards. Each figure wears a uniform, dating to the early 1990s, from one of four New York cultural institutions: the Jewish Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Despite this specificity, the faceless mannequins underscore the anonymity expected of security personnel, who are tasked with protecting art and the public while remaining inconspicuous. It also addresses the racial dynamics of the museum space, in which the guards may be the only people of color present.

This work originally appeared in the Whitney’s then-controversial 1994 exhibition, Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, which would prove to be a defining moment for the burgeoning movement of identity politics.

Fred Wilson Guarded View

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks, at the Brooklyn Museum

Basquiat Unknown Notebooks Signage
All Photos By Gail

During his career, Brooklyn-born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960 – 1988) filled numerous notebooks with poetry fragments, wordplay, sketches, and personal observations ranging from street life and popular culture to themes of race, class, and world history. The first major exhibition of these notebooks, now on view at the Brooklyn Museum, features 160 pages of rarely seen documents, along with related works on paper and large-scale paintings.

Art

A self-taught artist with encyclopedic and cross-cultural interests, Basquiat was influenced by comics, advertising, children’s sketches, Pop art, hip-hop, politics, and everyday life. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks emphasizes the distinct interplay of text and images in Basquiat’s art, providing unprecedented insight into the importance of writing in the artist’s process.

Antidote

The notebook pages on display contain early renderings of iconic imagery — tepees, crowns, skeleton-like figures, and grimacing faces — that also appear throughout his large-scale works, as well as an early drawing related to his series of works titled Famous Negro Athletes.

Famous Negro Athletes 1981
Famous Negro Athletes (1981)

Highlighting the contributions of African Americans and exposing the racism embedded in America culture were ongoing concerns for Basquiat. He developed the subject of “Famous Negro Athletes” early on, and continued to depict baseball players and boxers throughout his career; many of these works are generalized portraits, and some represent specific individuals. In the above drawing from 1981, four black faces, loosely sketched and grimacing with gritted teeth, appear above a baseball and the title text.

Here are a few of our favorite pieces from the show!

All Beef Yellow
All Beef

The exhibit features two of these “sandwich board” paintings, where each side of the board reveals a slight modification on the theme.

All Beef White
All Beef

Famous 1

Famous (Above and Below)

Famous 2

Ideal

Untitled Crayon Drawings 1981
Untitled (Crayon Drawings, 1981)

Anti- Baseball Card Product
Anti-Baseball Card Product (1979)

Part of a series of collages alluding to commercial baseball trading cards, Anti-Baseball Card Product includes a photo-booth image of Basquiat and his then-girlfriend, Jennifer Stein. A PEZ candy wrapper, cut up and and reconfigured, shows Basquiat’s early interest in inverting text and experimenting with language as a visual element.

Before becoming an active studio artist, Basquiat made small collages from from photographs, bar codes, advertisements, fingerprints, discarded packaging and other found materials. He photographed these collages and sold them as postcards on the streets of Lower Manhattan.

This exhibit is enthusiastically recommended for both Basquiat completists and neophytes alike!

Basquiat, The Unknown Notebooks will be on Exhibit Through August 23rd, 2015 at at the Brooklyn Museum, located at 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York 11238-6052. Take the 2 or 3 Train to Eastern Parkway/ Brooklyn Museum.

Fear and Denial By Pepón Osorio

Fear and Denial
Photo By Gail

One of the foremost installation artists working today, Pepón Osorio here presents two cats wearing medallions that say, respectively, fear and denial. These oversize domestic animals (their scale accentuated by the small table they sit on) may say something about the exaggerated role that our fears and denials play within our own imaginations.

Photographed at the Brooklyn Museum.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Peter Blume, Light of the World

Light of The World
Photo By Gail

Peter Blume’s Light of the World (1932) delivers an allegorical critique of modernity and the unquestioning embrace of progress. The four figures are transfixed by the bright light of a fantastical lamp whose brilliance contrasts with the darkening sky overtaking a cathedral based on Notre Dame in Paris – a juxtaposition implying that the faith once reflected in Gothic architecture’s soaring spires had been transferred to modern technologies. Blume identified the mustachioed figure as a ventriloquist’s dummy – his personal symbol for the voiceless and impotent American worker – another hint of the societal pressures that keep us in thrall to technological progress, often against our best interests.

Photographed in the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC.