Louise Bourgeois‘ two hands engaged in an intimate caress sit incongruously on a roughly chiseled, seemingly unfinished base. In the early 1930s, Bourgeois studied with Charles Despiau, one of Auguste Rodin’s assistants; she may well have learned about Rodin’s marble sculptures of hands from Despiau. Later, in 1967-68, she traveled to Pietrasanta, Italy, where she discovered the same marble quarries from which Michelangelo sourced his material. It was at this point that Bourgeois adopted the medium. As the artist once said of the difficult task of working with marble,” you have to win the shape.” Her fight to conquer the block of marble is left visible here in this work from 1996.
Untitled (No. 2) was Photographed in The Met Breuer (former home of The Whitney Museum), in Manhattan, where it is part of the Museum’s Inaugural Exhibit, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible.
At least two people seem to have begun work on this paint-by-number still life — one diligent hand that carefully filled in the contours, and one that hastily scribbled outside the lines. Does Andy Warhol playfully imply that the viewer could join in to finish the work? The paint-by-number kits that proliferated in the 1960s held great appeal for Warhol. His intention to downplay artistic genius and instead create popular, reproducible images is reflected in the source: one of the then-popular Venus Paradise color-by-number kits. Using a projector to transfer the outlines onto canvas, he created this and four other “Do It Yourself” paintings. In all but one, he left large sections uncolored.
Do It Yourself (Violin) (1962) was photographed in the Met Breuer as part of the Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible Exhibit. The painting is owned by a private collector.
Disarming in its simplicity and stripped of all staging and framing devices, John Frederick Kensett’s Sunset on The Sea (1872) draws the viewer into a direct experience of nature in a depiction of a radiant sun suspended above the open ocean. Kensett resisted adding his characteristic small sailboats or landmasses to the composition; divorcing the scene from a specific location, he moved toward abstraction.
Seamlessly blending sea and sky, warmth and coolness, stillness and drama, the work seems to reverberate with Kensett’s earlier encounter with the atmospheric landscapes of the British artist JMW Turner, which the artist saw on his initial trip to London in 1840. Part of a group known as his Last Summer’s Work, it is probably Kensett’s most radical portrayal among his explorations of Connecticut’s coastal landscape and was found in his studio at the time of his death. The painting was mentioned at his memorial service, when it was described as “Pure light and water.”
Sunset on The Sea was Photographed in The Met Breuer (former home of The Whitney Museum), in Manhattan, where it is part of the Museum’s Inaugural Exhibit, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible. The piece is part of the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also in New York City.
Repository, 1961: Wall Cabinet containing pocket watch, thermometer, plastic and rubber balls, baseball, plastic persimmon, Liberty statuette, wood puzzle, toothbrushes, bottle caps, house number, plastic worm, pocket mirror, light bulbs, keys, hardware, photographs (All Photos By Gail)
The objects in this cabinet beg to be activated and handled. A key member of the Fluxus movement, George Brecht (1926 – 2008) choreographed events; more specifically, he turned objects into events by inviting the visitor’s engagement. Repository’s power relies on the strong stimulative nature of the items, and it could never be truly finished because the viewer and the event were always changing. Now that the work has entered an institutional context, however, the need to preserve it overrides the call to participation. Thus, the concept of discovery is forestalled by museum practice, leaving the eventfulness of Repository unfulfilled. Continue reading Modern Art Monday Presents: George Brecht, Repository→