Todd Gray’s work draws from his archive of photographs amassed during the past forty-five years of his career. Taken in locations from Hollywood to Ghana (where he maintains a studio), these images have been selected by the artist to explore the complex interrelation of Blackness, diasporic identity, and historic systems of exploitation. For his ongoing series Exquisite Terribleness, begun in 2013, Gray collages photographs into a layered arrangements of thrift store frames, creating compositions of fragmented bodies. Many of the individual photographs that Gray uses for his collages were shot following his own creative visions; others, such as in Euclidean Gris Gris 2 (2018) were commissioned, including many he took as Michael Jackson’s personal photographer in the 1970s and early 1980s. Jackson is significant here for Gray not as a celebrity or figure of controversy, but as a global phenomenon whose almost mythic status serves to frame the complex issues explored in Gray’s work. Michael Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse in 1983 and then tried and acquitted for the crime in 2005. New allegations surfaced in a documentary released on HBO in early 2019.
Photographed as Part of The 2019 Biennial Exhibit at The Whitney Museum, NYC
Larry Bell has exploited the transparency and reflectivity of glass to great effect since the beginning of his career, when he inserted a square piece of glass into a painting and titled it Ghost Box (1962). Pacific Red II (2017)
Over the years, Bell has developed coating and laminating techniques in order to tint his sculptures or imbue them with metallic or smoky finishes.
Here on the Whitney Museum 5th floor outdoor terrace, Bell has installed Pacific Red II (2017), a work consisting of six laminated glass cubes, each measuring six-by-eight feet, and enclosing another six-by-four foot glass box.
The multiple surface interplay and respond to their urban surroundings, when glass towers abound.
Read more about the painstakingly brutal installation process of Pacific Red II, and see a video, at This Link.
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.