You know, I am such a sucker for anything that lights up, and I was utterly captivated by Chasing Rainbow, an LED sculpture on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. The circuitry behind the lighting allows it to change color and patterns continuously, but of course I wanted to capture as much pink as possible!
From Moma Dot Org:
A brilliant yellow Madonna, a set of skeleton feet, a grey giant leaning obdurately on his club, a green and boyish-looking St. Michael slaying the dragon, a pitch-black snake—these and other figures make up a curious cast of characters currently on view in MoMA’s Sculpture Garden. Figurengruppe (Group of Figures) is a tightly arranged ensemble of nine sculptures by the German contemporary artist Katharina Fritsch, first conceived in 2006–08 in painted polyester and recast in 2010–11 in durable lacquered copper and bronze for outdoor display.
Fritsch is best known for fastidiously crafted figures, animals, and everyday objects placed in unexpected arrangements and juxtapositions, uncovering new, sometimes unsettling meanings about our past and present histories. Often painted in striking colors, her work invariably commands attention — and MoMA’s Figurengruppe does not fall short of that. The figures’ polished, silky surfaces, beaming colors, and choreographed arrangement are spellbinding and puzzling, their mute stance and inscrutable veneer tempting us to search for some larger narrative.
There are hints and clues about what inspired certain characters, but ultimately any fixed meaning remains stubbornly elusive. The artist has explained, for example, that the Madonna is based on cheap souvenir figurines sold near church pilgrimage sites in Germany and France, albeit without the lemony dress. Religious symbolism is present, but the dazzling color unhinges the worshipped item from a prescribed context, de-familiarizing her into an object that can bear other potential storylines or associations. (Fritsch also produced the Madonna as a small-scale multiple, creating a more widely available, high-art doppelganger of the commercial souvenir.)
The skeleton feet go back to a childhood dream in which the artist, as a four-year-old, fled a burning house only to encounter a pair of skeleton feet. These in turn relate to a shoe-fitting practice offered in German shoe stores through the 1960s whereby an image of one’s foot bones would be created using an x-ray contraption. Anecdotal memory plays a part here, but seeing the rigorously crafted set of bones can just as easily bring to mind some disembodied creature out of Edward Gorey’s morbid tales or a commonly encountered object from an archeologist’s lab.
The female torso takes its cue from a 1926 Expressionist sculpture by a man named Ernst Conze that used to stand in the garden of Fritsch’s childhood home in Langenberg, Germany; now painted white and reduced in form, it has been lifted from its past into a present-day setting. In fact, mid-century German parks and public gardens have been a recurring theme in Fritsch’s practice, in some works even serving as visual backdrops. In a way this tactic is preserved in MoMA’s current display—the newly re-installed Sculpture Garden makes for a fitting tableau, situating Figurengruppe within a diverse congregation of cohorts that include Auguste Rodin’s St. John the Baptist Preaching (1878–80), Aristide Maillol’s contemplative female Mediterranean (1902–05), Max Ernst’s King Playing the Queen (1944), and Tom Otterness’s sleeping Head (1988–89), among others.
Taking a look at some of the artist’s source material can offer access points into the group’s oblique presence. What I find most captivating, though, is the friction between the sculptures’ smooth, almost generic look and the rich and quasi-narrative worlds that unfold beneath their surfaces. It’s a space where our intellect or attempt to rely on a logical framework loses its tight grip, conjuring instead images from the realms of history, memory, myths, and fairytales. These aren’t necessarily cheerful, but they do make us ask questions — maybe even reveal some of our own skeletons in the closet.
– Posted by Eleonore Hugendubel, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting of Sculpture
Oh, what fun it was to discover one of Tom Fruin’s Watertower sculptures inside an art gallery instead of out in DUMBO or somewhere off the BQE! As it turns out, Fruin’s current exhibit, Color Study, over at Mike Weiss Gallery marks the very first time that the artist’s architecturally-scaled public works have been shown in a gallery context. Super fun!
The Watertower is constructed from found scrap metal and colored Plexiglas in a patchwork design that also incorporates facsimiles of cigar bands and the word “Ecstasy” repeated at intervals across it’s colorful and endlessly captivating surface, which is illuminated from the tower’s interior.
The wall sculpture above (of which there are several on display at Mike Weiss) will give you an idea of the grid that Fruin builds on for his colored Plexiglas creations. Check out the one below:
This patchwork of colors relates not only to the surface of the Watertower but also to Fruin’s earlier project series, Drug-Bag Quilts, in which the artist used found drug bags, stitched together with thread, to create quilt-like wall hangings. Talk about an interesting way to upcycle!
Color Study also includes a set of Swings with Cigar Band Seats which are suspended from the gallery’s ceiling (not shown) and the above lanterns, one electric and one powered by a small fuel tank.
And last but not least, Fruin has created this illuminated-from-within, Stained Glass replica of what looks to me like the cluster of flame from Lady Liberty’s torch. Astounding.
Color Study presents enchanting and unique artworks the likes of which you aren’t going to see anywhere else in the Chelsea Gallery District, so don’t let yourself miss this one!
Tom Fruin’s Color Study will be on Exhibit Through October 18th, 2014 at Mike Weiss Gallery, Located at 520 West 24th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.
You only have a few more days to check out Strani Incontri, an exhibition of new works by Italian artist Alessando Gallo over at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery. This is Gallo’s first exhibit at LeVine, but his work will probably look very familiarly if you know the art of Mike Leavitt, who also shows at LeVine.
Gallo merges elements of the real world to create a surreal one teeming with the possibility of strani incontri, or strange encounters. His hybrid sculptures embody human behavioral patterns and physical attributes from the neck down while unseemly animal heads mock the human disposition and comically question our relationship with the natural world.
Gallo’s artistic process is deeply rooted in realism and he begins by photographing a model from all angles. He then uses those photographs, as well as images from his sizeable archive of animal wildlife books, as references while sculpting.
The mutant species Gallo creates are then placed in typical human circumstances, such as riding the subway or checking their tablet on a park bench, and are so accurately crafted that their presence is unsettling yet familiar.
Themes of loneliness, isolation and boredom are abundant in Gallo’s work due to the inclusion of an animal presence in the mundane minutia of urban life. Every culture has associations between animals and emotions, which are evident in adages such as ‘happy as a clam’ or ‘stubborn as a mule’, and Gallo views his sculptures as psychological portraits relating to these emotional states.
Regardless of their distortion, Gallo’s characters exemplifying human nature by humorously embodying our values and vices.
Alessandro Gallo’s Strani Incontri will be on Exhibit until October 4th at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 W 20th Street, 9th Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
When it comes to my taste in Contemporary art, two things that always draw me in are clever appropriation and subversive absurdity. I just love that shit. And that is part of the reason I had such a good time at this exhibit called I Went to School with Someone Called Jonathon Monk, which is over at the Casey Kaplan Gallery. You should check it out.
For this extremely fun and cerebrally stimulating exhibit, artist Jonathan Monk (whose first name is intentionally misspelled in the exhibit’s title) interprets significant biographical events in his own life by filtering his art projects through the works of artists that have influenced him. Or something like that. According to the Press Release, Monk’s work “is a continuing engagement with notions of authorship and identity, as he recasts iconic works of art with a consistent and incisive humor.” Take a look at the above photo, for example.
In the gallery’s front room, you’ll see the above pictured work entitled A Copy Of Deflated Sculpture No. 1, which any art fan can tell immediately is a knock off of an iconic, Jeff Koons Inflatable. What you might not know is that the sculpture is “a facsimile of Monk’s subtly deflated copy of Jeff Koon’s iconic inflatable bunny, exhibited in his 2009 exhibition with the gallery, The Inflated Deflated.” Does your brain hurt yet? Mine does.
Here are additional works we enjoyed!
Together Again But Always Alone (2014) is a miniature statue of Paul McCartney dressed in a paint-smeared Santa suit, which references artist Paul McCarthy’s 1999 performance piece, Tokyo Santa. So genius.
Figurative Sandwich (2014) features two Black and White prints (Vintage foundation garment ads) on either side of a sheet of Radiant Plexiglas, which possibly references the works of Dan Graham.
You’ll Never See My Face In Kansas City (2007) Enamel Paint on Volkswagen Type I Beetle Hood.
From One State To Another (Sewn Together To Make A Whole) (2014), Souvenir scarves from every American state sewn together in the shape of the country, a reference to the embroidered maps of the late Alighiero Boetti.
Mistakes Have Been Made (2014), Marble Sculpture of Child’s Skull-Shaped Eraser.
From the Year I was Born Until the Year I Left America (2014), 31 C-prints mounted on Medium Density Fiberboard.
Three Part Piece (Untitled Wood Destroyed). Taking a lost, early wooden sculpture by American minimalist Carl Andre as its starting point, Monk displays the work in three variations – a charred replica, a photograph of its original condition, as well as video documentation of the work burning (seen in the photo above).
Worleygig.com Highly Recommends This Exhibit!
I Went to School With Someone Called Jonathon Monk will be on Exhibit Through October 18th, 2014 at Casey Kaplan Gallery, located at 525 West 21st Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin (1827–1901) created this realistic sculpture of the Head of Medusa around 1894. This piece is on exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, which I visited in August of this year. Below you can see a photo of the wall against which it hangs and get an idea of how it is displayed. They do a nice job of staging everything at the MFA, that is for sure.
Bruce Nauman (born December 6, 1941) is a contemporary American artist, whose practice spans a broad range of media including sculpture, photography, neon, video, drawing, printmaking, and performance. His bold red and green neon tubing sculpture, Silver Livres (1974) — the livre being a former currency of France — is currently on long-term loan to the Museum of Modern Art from it owners, Ealan and Melinda Wingate.