After an incredibly disappointing trip to The Whitney to see this year’s Biennial (More like Bi-YAWN-nial), Geoffrey and I took advantage of already being uptown and walked three quarters of a mile along Fifth Avenue (such a gorgeous day it was) to The Guggenheim, where sculptor John Chamberlain — who just died in late December — has a fantastic career retrospective that made my heart go pitter-pat.
Background on Chamberlain from The Guggenheim’s always informative website tells us that the Artist moved from Chicago to New York in 1956 and shortly thereafter got the idea to utilize car metal as his medium. Unfortunately, a lot of people misinterpreted his creative re-use of a ubiquitous material in his sculptures as being a reference to the tangled mess of a car crash. Chamberlain “spent the rest of his life outrunning that association. His primary concern was and continued to be three-dimensional abstraction. More sensitive observers noted a kinship between his works and the dramatic modeling of Baroque art and sculptural drapery studies.”
Geoffrey took a few minutes to warm up to Chamberlain’s bold, colorful and flowy sculptures, but I loved them instantly. Considering that most of these works are made from car parts, it’s really astounding how each one is so different and has its own personality, even. If I lived on a huge estate with a ton of land it would be so cool to have one of these in the front yard, I think, or around back by the pool. The sculptures are organized chronologically from the earliest pieces at the bottom of the ramp to newer sculptures — some that Chamberlain completed shortly before his death — placed further up at the top of the rotunda. The shape of the museum really provides an ideal venue to show off these works, as many of them are very large and you can literally walk all the way around them and examine the work from all angles. Each one has its own story to tell.
Choices By John Chamberlain Runs Through May 13, 2012 at The Guggenheim Museum, Located at 5th Avenue and 89th Street in New York City.