Bruce Nauman’s neon sculpture, Human Nature / Life Death (1983) is a circle of words corresponding to the defining contradictions of human existence — life and death, love and hate, pleasure and pain — are trisected by the words “Animal,” “Human” and “Nature.”
In the aggregate, the words form a colorful, illuminated peace symbol. Human Nature / Life Death is anything but serene or amicable, however, and not only because of its content. As the words flash and darken erratically, Nauman’s neon devolves into a jumble of disjointed signs that break the continuity of the composition and jerk the eye across the wall.
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.
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.
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
Here are a few of out favorite pieces from this fun show!
Wall Portal B
Gallery View from the Opening Reception!
Foreground: Wall Extension B. Background: Helmut Portal
Above and below are, I think studies for Sonneir’s sculptures.
Dough Boy A and Wink
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.
Untitled (To Barry, Mike, Chuck and Leonard) 1972 – 1975 (All Photos By Gail)
Dan Flavin (April 1, 1933 – November 29, 1996) was an American minimalist artist famous for creating gorgeous sculptural objects and installations from commercially available fluorescent light fixtures. David Zwirner Gallery which represents Flavin’s estate, is currently hosting an exhibition of the artist’s significant Corner, Barrier and Corridor works from the late 1960s and early 1970s at its West 20th Street in New York. This is a must-see exhibit.
The exhibition at David Zwirner examines how Flavin established and redefined space through light constructions in three formats that were at the core of his practice. The artist’s “corner,” “barrier” and “corridor” works explicitly implicate their surrounding architecture while physically mediating the viewers’ experience and perception of space.
Above and Below: Untitled (to Sonja), 1969
Among the works on view will be a notable two-part Barrier in yellow and green dedicated to his wife, Untitled (to Sonja), 1969, which was first shown as Flavin’s contribution to the significant group exhibition Spaces at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1969-70.
Flavin’s installation comprised rectangular units of colored fluorescent tubes that formed two interior barriers that begin in the corners of the entrance wall and extend to the far end of the room, altering space with colored light and physically modifying the visitors’ experience of the room. This will be the first time it has been shown since the MoMA exhibition.
Also in the exhibition is a rare barrier that shines white fluorescent light into an empty room while rendering it inaccessible: Untitled (to Dorothy and Roy Lichtenstein on not seeing anyone in the room), 1968. This piece was first shown at the Dwan Gallery, New York, in 1968 and has not been exhibited since 1970. The work’s title makes reference to a 1961 painting by Roy Lichtenstein entitled I Can See The Whole Room!…And There’s Nobody in It!
A Corridor in Yellow and Pink fluorescent light from 1972-75, Untitled (to Barry, Mike, Chuck and Leonard), will also be presented. The work divides an architectural passageway into two mutually inaccessible, obstructed fields of color and light, playing on the viewers’ cognitive and physical perception of distinctly colored, opposite ends of the same space.
The show will also feature a room devoted to a sequence of four related corner constructions dedicated to the artist Barnett Newman: Untitled (to Barnett Newman) one-four, 1971, which highlight the four corners of the room by serially investigating the same rectangular form in different configurations of yellow, red, and blue fluorescent light. These works have not been on view in the United States since their first presentation in Flavin’s 1971 solo exhibition at the Dwan Gallery, New York.
Another work in the exhibition features the artist’s less-known use of circular light fixtures: Untitled (to a man, George McGovern) 2, from 1972, succinctly illuminates the corners of a given space in its wall-mounted triangular construction of warm white circular lamps.
Dan Flavin, Corners, Barriers and Corridors will be on Exhibit Through October 24th, 2015 at David Zwirner Gallery, Located at 537 West 20th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Mary Weatherford, Coney Island II (All Photos By Gail)
Well, the Matisse exhibit may now be only a memory, and Sturtevant’s Double Trouble only runs for 10 more days, but there’s still a fantastic contemporary painting exhibit at MOMA that you can see into April! Joy!
Dianna Molzen, Untitled
The Forever Now presents the work of 17 artists whose paintings reflect a singular approach that characterizes our cultural moment at the beginning of this new millennium: they refuse to allow us to define or even meter our time by them.
Matt Connors, Telescope
This phenomenon in culture was first identified by the science fiction writer William Gibson, who used the term “a-temporality” to describe a cultural product of our moment that paradoxically doesn’t represent, through style, through content, or through medium, the time from which it comes. A-temporality, or timelessness, manifests itself in painting as an historical free-for-all, where contemporaneity as an indicator of new form is nowhere to be found, and all eras coexist.
Charline von Heyl, Carlotta
A profligate mixing of past styles and genres can be identified as a kind of hallmark for our moment in painting, with artists achieving it by reanimating historical styles or recreating a contemporary version of them, sampling motifs from across the timeline of 20th-century art in a single painting or across an oeuvre, or radically paring their language down to the most archetypal forms.
Michael Williams, Does it Hurt to be Crazy
The artists in this exhibition represent a wide variety of styles and impulses, but all use the painted surface as a platform, map, or metaphoric screen on which genres intermingle, morph, and collide. Their work represents traditional painting, in the sense that each artist engages with painting’s traditions, testing and ultimately reshaping historical strategies like appropriation and bricolage and reframing more metaphysical, high-stakes questions surrounding notions of originality, subjectivity, and spiritual transcendence.
Mary Weatherford, North Chester Avenue
The Forever Now exhibition includes works by Richard Aldrich, Joe Bradley, Kerstin Brätsch, Matt Connors, Michaela Eichwald, Nicole Eisenman, Mark Grotjahn, Charline von Heyl, Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, Dianna Molzan, Oscar Murillo, Laura Owens, Amy Sillman, Josh Smith, Mary Weatherford, and Michael Williams.
Matt Connors, Variable Foot
The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World will be on Exhibit Through April 5th, 2015 at The Museum of Modern Art, Located at 11 West 53rd Street (Between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) in NYC.
Armory Show weekend passed without us paying it a single visit, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t see some art! Thrush Holmes’ More opened on March 6th as part of the concurrently running, VOLTA Contemporary Art Fair which was happening at various venues all over the city.
Holmes More features many large oil and spray on canvas works of flowers and plants that also incorporate minimal neon tubing accents. The artist’s distinctive “TH” signature can bee seen prominently displayed on all canvases.
These paintings are very colorful and reminded me of a more focused version of Basquiat. You can even recognize Basquiat’s iconic Crown symbol in a few of the paintings.
This show was my first exposure to Holmes‘ work, but based on this exhibit I am interested to see what he does next.
Thrush Holmes, More will be on Exhibit Through April 5th, 2014 at Mike Weiss Gallery, Located at 520 West 24th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.