Tag Archive | minimalism

Donald Judd Retrospective at MoMA

donald judd at moma photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

Writing posts about exhibits in museums that are currently closed: this is now a thing that keeps content fresh when there is nowhere to go, unless a walk around the block counts as a cultural event. What can I say about Judd; the ambitious MoMA retrospective of a major force in contemporary art that was open for just over two weeks before Covid-19 temporarily shuttered this and other museums? Mostly, I feel fortunate that I took advantage of an opportunity to attend a Member’s Preview on February 28th, the Friday evening before the exhibit officially opened to the public. I made the trip uptown from my day job on Wall Street after putting in a full day, and I was pretty beat, but I was so excited to see dozens of works of art by Donald Judd all in one place that I figured it would be worth it. And it was.

Donald Judd at Moma Photo By Gail Worley

I’ve been fan of Judd’s minimalist sculpture since I was studying contemporary art in college, so I knew there was no way I was going to miss this exhibit — but I thought I had months to see it. It’s funny how things turn out. If I hadn’t visited MoMA that Friday, I would have likely missed it for sure. And that would have been a shame. It’s lucky also that I took as many photos as I did, because I hadn’t intended to even write about the exhibit, beyond maybe a featured piece or two in a Modern Art Monday column. Everything is different now.

donald judd at moma photo by Gail

Until things are back to some kind of normal, it’s a bit of a consolation that I can still bring my readers Art in the Time of Covid.  For those who aren’t already familiar with the artist’s oeuvre, let me provide you with basic background on Donald Judd and enhance your enjoyment of these exhibit photos by including text from Judd’s webpage at MoMA Dot Org. Enjoy!

donald judd at moma photo by Gail Worley

“I had always considered my work another activity of some kind,” remarked artist Donald Judd. “I certainly didn’t think I was making sculpture.” One of the foremost sculptors of our time, Judd refused this designation and other attempts to label his art: his revolutionary approach to form, materials, working methods, and display went beyond the set of existing terms in mid-century New York.

donald judd at moma photo by Gail Worley

His work, in turn, changed the language of modern sculpture. Bringing together sculpture, painting, drawing, and rarely seen works from throughout Judd’s career, Judd is the first US retrospective in over 30 years to explore this artist’s remarkable vision.

donald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worley

Donald Judd (19281994) began his professional career working as a painter while studying art history and writing art criticism. Among a new generation of artists who sought to move past the breakthroughs of Abstract Expressionism, Judd shifted from two to three dimensions, into what he called “real space,” relinquishing a focus on the artist’s gesture. In his constructed reliefs and wooden floor pieces from this time, he established a new type of object-making that rejected illusion, narrative, and metaphorical content.

donald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worley

By the mid-1960s, Judd commenced his lifelong practice of using industrial materials, such as aluminum, steel, and Plexiglas, and delegating production of his work to local metal shops. With the help of these specialized fabricators, he developed a signature vocabulary of hollow, rectilinear volumes, often arranged in series. In the following years, “boxes,” “stacks,” and “progressions” continued as Judd’s principal framework to introduce different combinations of color and surface.

donald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worley

Judd surveys the complete evolution of the artist’s career, culminating in the last decade of his life, when Judd intensified his work with color and continued to lay new ground for what ensuing generations would come to define as sculpture.

donald judd at moma photo by gail worley

donald judd at moma photo by gail worley

Judd was originally scheduled to run through July 11th, 2020, and I imagine there’s a slim chance the museum could reopen in time for people to still see this exhibit. But who can even say at this juncture.

donald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worley

Should the Donald Judd retrospective at MoMA still be on exhibit once the museum reopens, I enthusiastically encourage you to check it out. The museum is limiting the number of guests who can enter the galleries at one time, so that will definitely enhance your enjoyment of these unique, large scale works of art. Personally, I found the experience to be very zen, and heaven knows we will all be in need of both zen and art once this crisis is over.

donald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worleydonald judd at moma photo by gail worley

Christopher Chiappa’s Compositions at Kate Werble Gallery

Front Room Installation View
All Photos By Gail

When last we visited Kate Werble Gallery for one of sculptor Christopher Chiappa’s immersive exhibits, the place was covered wall-to-wall, floor-to-celing with Fried Eggs, and that was a good time. For his fourth exhibition at the gallery, Chiappa has installed in its front and back rooms two collections of what, on first glance, appear to be brightly colored, painted wooden tables. On closer examination, however, the at once familiar table shapes of Chiappa’s sculptures transmute and metamorphose into increasingly whimsical and delightful forms as you progress through the galleries. It’s a hoot.

Front Room Partial Install

With this show, Chiappa attempts a reset from past projects by returning to the most fundamental elements of abstraction: geometric shapes, solid colors, and line. His Compositions are made slowly, by hand; and his use of bright color serves to emphasize the assembly. The junctures between individual planes of wood are heightened by the sharp transitions in opposing colors and forms.

Blue Table

This one is my favorite. I think because of the Pink leg.

Red and Yellow Stacking

Mondrian Table

These works operate firmly within the gap of the simile. In color, shape, and temperament, they metabolize a succession of art historical reference points: Suprematism, Constructivism, Bauhaus, and Memphis Group. Like the Suprematists, for example, Chiappa uses the language of non-objective abstraction. However, instead of seeking to transcend the material world, he purposefully goes the wrong way around; he directs these forms back to the familiar.

Rainbow Table

Turquoise Table Set

As the tables become more abstract, you can play a fun game coming up with ideas of what the shapes remind you of.

Fed Ex Table

In this one, the use of Orange and Purple reminds me of the Fed Ex logo!

Bicycle Table

This one reminds me of deconstructed version of a child’s Tricycle.

Twisty Table

The Red Shape at the top of this one looks like a Fish trying to swim away. If you add in that Black Shape to the lower left, it could also be a Chicken.

Tangled Sculpture 2

In this, I see a group of friends of different races playing a game of One Potato Two Potato. See? Lots of fun. And I was by myself, so imagine how much more interesting it could be if you see the show with a friend.

Now lets check out the back room, where things get weirder.

Rear Gallery Installation View 2

Chiappa’s Compositions evolve without foreseen conclusion, evidence that repetition leads not to sameness but to difference. The early works remain closest to the basic form, and they gradually deviate further from the original. Though the parameters and materials remain the same, the final sculptures feel far removed from the first. The result is an autonomous object whose symbolic reference point has broken down altogether.

Target Table

I see a big Target.

Target Legs

Look at all those Legs!

Rocking Sculpture

Sculpture Collection

Blue Spire Sculpture

Blue Table Sculpture

Stacking E Tables

Compositions is a really fun exhibit, espcially for fans of minimalists like Ellsworth Kelly and modern furniture design. And you still hove lots of time to check it out!

Christopher Chiappa’s Compositions Will be on Exhibit Through June 2nd, 2018 at Kate Werble Gallery, Located at 83 Vandam Street, Soho, NYC.

Rear Gallery Installation View
Rear Gallery Installation View

Beverly Fishman: Dose at CUE Art Foundation

Untitled Anxiety
Untitled (Anxiety), 2017 By Beverly Fishman (All Photos By Gail)

CUE Art Foundation is currently hosting Dose, an exhibition of paintings by Beverly Fishman, curated by Soundsuit artist Nick Cave. The show is comprised of a series of luminescent, geometric forms that resemble the shapes of common pharmaceuticals. Straddling the line between sculpture and post-painterly abstraction, Fishman’s optically intense work functions as an avenue for social critique, probing the pharmaceutical industry’s aesthetic decisions and branding strategies.

Untitled Opioid Addiction
Untitled (Opioid Addiction)

Untitled Anxiety
Untitled (Anxiety)

Fishman has executed many of these pieces on a monumental scale. Finished in glossy sheens, their beveled edges throw fluorescent reflections onto the gallery walls. Her atmospheric pigments test depth in a three-dimensional space, deconstructing the illusion of color as a flat phenomenon, and evoking the corporate iconography of drug manufacturers.

Untitled Anxiety Detail
Untitled (Anxiety), Detail

Beverly Fishman Crowd with Nick Cave

Curator/Artist Nick Cave (seen in the above photo at the exhibit’s opening reception, in conversation with the woman wearing the pink down jacket) notes: “Narcotic Euphoria” is the best way to describe Beverly Fishman’s newest body of work. It is a chromium “call-to-arms” delivered with conversely sinister subtlety.

Untitled Opioid Addiction
Untitled (Opioid Addiction)

Untitled Opioid Addiction
Untitled (Opioid Addiction)

Cave continues, “It engages with the legacies of Frank Stella, Gary Lang, and Peter Max, all post Joseph Albers, who brought a hard edge to painting and exploited color to tap into an affective and human motivational state. But in this case, Fishman takes all that happens up in the viewer’s head and envelops the heart and pushes it through the entire nervous system.

Untitled Stacked Pills
Untitled (Stacked Pills)

Untitled ADHD Opioid Cocktail
Untitled (ADHD / Opioid Cocktail)

This exhibition uses the familiar, pharmaceutical shaped, and multi-faceted forms of “the daily dose” as the body for her work, so that her deceptively logical and internally vetted color combinations can “sound off” as the voice. Rumor has it that a urination device like Monkey Whizz inspred this piece. Her masterful and continually shifting use of contrasts — color, shape, and scale — define the spaces, both positive and negative, that seduce and induce the viewer into insensible understandings of themselves and the world’s exertion upon them.

Beverly Fishman: DOSE Curated by Nick Cave will be on Exhibit Through April 5th, 2017 at CUE Art Foundation, Located at 127 West 25th Street, Between 6th and 7th Avenues in NYC.

Beverly Fishman Signage

Untitled Opioid Addiction Missing Dose
Untitled (Opioid Addiction / Missing Dose)

Save

John McCracken at David Zwirner

Installation View
Installation View Left to Right: Galaxy, Rhythm, Flare. (All Photos By Gail )

Hey, do you enjoy the work of legendary minimalist artist John McCracken? I sure do. According to the obituary published in the New York Times when McCracken passed away in 2011 at the age of 76, “he was one of the few artists affiliated with the [Minimalist] movement who did not object to its name, and who made most of his work by hand: sanding and polishing his enamel, lacquer or resin surfaces until their colors achieved a flawless and reflective perfection.” Right now, David Zwirner Gallery, who has represented McCracken’s art for two decades, is hosting an exciting collection of the artist’s late career works, whose monochromatic, highly reflective surfaces are inspired in part by the West Coast’s car culture. Sigh. If you are in any way a fan, you will not want to miss this exhibit.

Flare, 2008
Flare, (2008)

The exhibition presents key examples from three discrete groups of work — leaning multi-part wall pieces, wall-mounted multi-part reliefs, and freestanding columns — that McCracken created outside of his iconic planks. On view are a selection of the artist’s Beam works, each comprising multiple tall narrow components that lean against the wall, first exhibited in his 2008 solo presentation at David Zwirner.

Installation View
Installation View: Space is on the far left

Song, 2008
Song

Some multi-part works, such as Space (2008), consist of a rhythmic combination of an array colors, here blue and green; while others like Song (2008) explore tonal, more subtle variations within a single color, in this case red. Still others are monochromatic.

Galaxy 2008
Galaxy (2008)

Rhythm, 2008
Rhythm, (2008)

Fire (Left) 2007
Left: Fire,  Right: Light

Titles are likewise employed as a pictorial metaphor in McCracken’s lesser-known wall reliefs, such as Fire (2007), created for documenta 12 in 2007, and Light (2004), which exist in the interstices of painting and sculpture.

Chord 2004

Above and Below: Chord (2004)

Chord 2004

Blue Arc, Red Mara, Black Wave, Green Siskiyou
Blue Arc, Red Mara, Black Wave, Green Siskiyou

In the front gallery you’ll find a grouping of four eight-foot tall freestanding columns, arranged in a configuration similar to the artist’s 2004 exhibition at the gallery, exploring the phenomenological relationship between work, viewer, and architecture through their outsized stature.

Blue Arc, Red Mara, Black Wave, Green Siskiyou

Reflection off of Wave, 2004
Reflection off of Siskiyou (1988)

Sculptures By John McCracken’s will be on Exhibit Through April 15th, 2017 at David Zwirner Gallery, Located at 537 West 20th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Signage

Light (Rear Wall)
Light (2004), Rear Wall

Carmen Herrera, Lines of Sight at The Whitney Museum

Installation Sculptures 2
Installation View (All Photos By Gail)

Most of the better-known artists of the Geometric Abstraction school of art — such as Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Noland, and Frank Stella — are men; but that doesn’t mean there were no equally talented  women artists working alongside these giants, just because we don’t know about them.

Red Orange Yellow

One such artist is the Cuban-American painter Carmen Herrera, who, at 101 years of age, is likely the oldest working professional artist in America. Right now, you can see a collection of Herrera’s work spanning three decades at the Whitney Museum, and it is pretty sweet. Carmen Herrara: Lines of Sight is the first museum exhibition of this groundbreaking artist in New York City in nearly two decades. Focusing on the years 1948 to 1978, the period during which Herrera developed her signature style, the show features more than fifty works, including paintings, three-dimensional works, and works on paper.

Yellow and Blue

Installation View

Lines of Sight begins with the formative period following World War II, when Herrera lived in Paris and experimented with different modes of abstraction before establishing the visual language that she would explore with great nuance for the succeeding five decades. Many of these works have never been displayed before in a museum.

Pink Black and White

Black and White Green

Blanco Y Verde
Blanco Y Verde (White and Green) Installation View

The second section of the show is an unprecedented gathering of works from what Herrera considers her most important series, Blanco y Verde (1959–1971). Nine paintings from this series illustrate the highly innovative way in which Herrera conceptualized her paintings as objects, using the physical structure of the canvas as a compositional tool and integrating the surrounding environment.

Green and White

Estructuras

With work dating from approximately 1962 to 1978, the final section illuminates Herrera’s continued experimentation with figure/ground relationships and highlights the architectural underpinnings of many of her compositions. This section includes four wooden sculptures — Herrera’s “estructuras”— as well as her brilliant Days of the Week, a series of seven vivid paintings.

Estructuras

For those who can’t make it to New York to see Lines of Sight in person, you can check out a new documentary, The 100 Years Show — which celebrates Herrera’s career  chronicles her preparation for the Whitney exhibit — which is currently streaming on Netflix.

Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight will be on Exhibit Through January 9th, 2017, at The Whitney Museum, Located at 99 Gansevoort Street, in Manhattan.

Installation Sculptures

Modern Art Monday Presents: Ellsworth Kelly, Green Blue Red

Green Blue Red
Photo By Gail

Minimalist pioneer Ellsworth Kelly passed away at age 92 on December 27th, and we miss him already. I was just out in LA and had the chance to visit the fabulous new Broad Museum, where I took the above photo of one of Kelly’s famous works. Throughout the late 1950s and early ’60s, Ellsworth Kelly worked with shapes and solid colors deployed flatly across single canvases. Finding inspiration in both nature and art, he was drawn to the oddity of forms and the various conditions that create visual interest in unlikely ways. In this spirit, Green Blue Red ( 1963) abstains from the balance and harmony of traditional painting and reflects an impulse to build a surface of visual tension out of the contrasts of color and shape and the containment of an edge.

Kelly’s works of this period depict the jarring difference between colors and the unusual placement of shapes, energizing the visual experience in creating and disorienting optical effect. The green rectangle and blue oval are vibrant and foreign against a red background. Kelly does not construct balance or resolve; he creates compositions that are alive in their idiosyncrasies.

Photographed at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles.

 

Keith Sonnier, Portals at Maccarone Gallery

Circle Portal A
Circle Portal A By Keith Sonnier (All Photos By Gail)

Maccarone Gallery is currently hosting Portals, 14 new wall-mounted neon sculptures by artist Keith Sonnier. Sonnier’s by-now iconic work is emblematic of a generation of artists who sought to liberate the artistic encounter from the formal constraints of Modernism to produce a sensory and emotional experience that also extended beyond the Spartan affect of Minimalism. The category of post-Minimalism, however, does not adequately describe both the unique wit and visceral impact that Sonnier’s work displays.

Gothic Portal
Gothic Portal

In his latest series, Sonnier  take the orphic allegory of the portal and explores its many different historical manifestations. Whether the portal serves as an entrance or an exit, the plane itself is a threshold — a doorway that contains both birth and termination. Taking this metaphor to its logical end, the works in Portals can be thought of as doorways to various different periods in human design — whether it be the neoclassical extension of a line into space or Romanesque arcading, each work is a luminous referent to specific architectural pathways.

Palermo Portal
Palermo Portal

The artist also displays a perversely delightful humor with the libidinous allegory of the portal as human orifice. Neon phallic protrusions punctuate the joints of these architectural gates, playing at the double-entendre embedded in the show’s title. Sonnier challenges the two-dimensionality of neon sculpture through twisting spatial arcs and juts that demand that the viewer change his or her own perspective to deduce what components of the work are exiting or entering. This tension between penetration and accommodation gives each work a wry corporeal undertone that is simultaneously abstracted by architectural allusions. Sonnier evokes art, the body, and architectural history in this polysemous suite of neon works.

Palermo Portal Detail
Palermo Portal Detail

Here are a few of out favorite pieces from this fun show!

Wall Portal B
Wall Portal B

Installation View

Gallery View from the Opening Reception!

Wall Extension B
Foreground: Wall Extension B. Background: Helmut Portal

Gros Bec
Gros Bec

Above and below are, I think studies for Sonneir’s sculptures.

Dough Boy A and Wink
Dough Boy A and Wink

Portal Nave
Portal Nave

Circle Portal B
Circle Portal B

Portals by Keith Sonnier will be on Exhibit Through December 19th, 2015 at Maccarone Gallery, Located at 630 Greenwich Street, NYC 10014.

Syracusa Portal
Syracusa Portal

Keith Sonnier Portals Poster

Pink Thing of The Day: John McCracken, Violet Block in Two Parts

Violet Block in Two Parts
All Photos By Gail

OK, so this is technically more like a “Pink-ish Thing,” since it’s called Violet Block in Two Parts. But, pinkish is close enough for me! This sculpture by the late great John McCracken is currently on display in the new home of the Whitney Museum, which I’ve managed to visit twice already since it opened in late April of this year.

Violet Block in Two Parts

The grid-like pattern you see on the sculpture’s surface in this photo is a reflection of the gallery’s ceiling.

Modern Art Monday Presents: The Absolutely Naked Fragrance By John McCracken

Pink Plank McCracken
The Absolutely Naked Fragrance, 1967, Plywood Covered with Fiberglass and Resin By John McCracken (All Photos By Gail)

John McCracken (American, 1934–2011) began producing his vibrant monochrome Planks in 1966. While the polished resin surface captures the aesthetic of surfing and car culture unique to Southern California in the 1960s, the title — The Absolutely Naked Fragrance — was drawn from advertising slogans in fashion magazines.

The work’s interaction with both the floor and wall is meant to call attention to the space occupied in the gallery by both viewer and object.

“I see the plank as existing between two worlds,” McCracken said. “The floor representing the physical world of standing objects, trees, cars, buildings, human bodies, and everything, and the wall representing the world of the imagination, illusionistic painting space, human mental space and all that.”

The Absolutely Naked Fragrance is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City

John McCracken Artist
Photo of a Photo of The Artist, By Gail

Hauser & Wirth Presents Selections from the Reinhard Onnasch Collection

Claes Oldenberg
Claes Oldenberg Model for a Mahogany Plug, Scale B. 1969 (All Photos By Gail)

Hauser & Wirth’s cavernous space at 511 West 18th Street is currently hosting a selection of works from the collection of Reinhard Onnasch. A celebration of Onnasch’s longstanding passion for art and collecting, Re-View: Onnasch Collection is curated by Paul Schimmel, celebrated post-war scholar and Partner of Hauser Wirth & Schimmel.

Christo Wrapped Road Sign 1963
Christo Wrapped Road Sign 1963

The exhibition focuses on the period between 1950 and 1970, decades when New York’s cultural influence was unrivaled and some of the most important artistic movements of the 20th century were born. On view will be iconic examples of Pop Art, Fluxus, Color Field, Assemblage, Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism.

Claes Oldenberg Soft Medicine Cabinet
Claes Oldenberg Soft Medicine Cabinet, 1966

The collection will be on exhibit through April 12th, 2014.