Tag Archive | Whitney Museum

Modern Art Monday Presents: Raphael Soyer, Office Girls

Office Girls
Photo By Gail

As an astute observer of Depression-era New York, Raphael Soyer (1899 – 1987) evoked the inner lives on anonymous city dwellers. His paintings frequently depict the new generation of female workers that he encountered in his Union Square neighborhood. Leaving the home for secretarial and clerical jobs, these woman depicted in Office Girls (1936) achieved an independence that was unprecedented for women of the period, even while unemployment remained high among men. While his artist colleagues usually portrayed these young women in optimistic terms, Soyer’s composition strikes a more ambivalent tone. Squeezed between a throng of rushing female workers and a glowering man, the central woman looks out at the viewer with a gaze that is at once weary and unflinching.

Photographed in the Whitney Museum on NYC.

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Larry Bell’s Pacific Red II at the Whitney Museum

Pacific Red II

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)

Pacific Red II

Pacific Red II

Over the years, Bell has developed coating and laminating techniques in order to tint his sculptures or imbue them with metallic or smoky finishes.

Pacific Red II

Pacific Red II

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.

Pacific Red II

Pacific Red II

The multiple surface interplay and respond to their urban surroundings, when glass towers abound.

Pacific Red II

Pacific Red II

Read more about the painstakingly brutal installation process of Pacific Red II, and see a video, at This Link.

Pacific Red II

Modern Art Monday Presents: New York Interior By Edward Hopper

New York Interior By Edward Hopper
Photo By Gail

New York Interior (1921) is an early example of Edward Hopper’s  interest in enigmatic indoor scenes, offering an unconventional view of a woman sewing, suggesting the impersonal, yet strangely intimate quality of modern urban life. We glimpse this private moment through a window, with the figure’s turned face and exposed back heightening her anonymity and our awareness of her vulnerability. The woman’s clothing and gesture are reminiscent of the iconic ballet dancers painted by French impressionist Edgar Degas, whom Hopper singled out as the artist whose work he most admired.

Photographed in the Whitney Museum in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Sextant in Dogtown by David Salle

Sextant in Dogtown
Photo By Gail

David Salle’s paintings juxtapose images from a variety of sources to startling and often provocative effect. In  Sextant in Dogtown (1987) Salle arranges disparate elements within a grid and in a manner evoking film montage, while combing a pastiche of painterly styles and subjects. Here, the act of seeing — or not seeing– becomes a subject in itself. A half-dressed woman, lifted from the artist’s own photography, is shown from different vantage points, her face always obscured. Above her, a cartographer uses an old-fashioned measuring device known as a “sextant.” Confronted with these disjunctive images and with no evident narrative, we are ultimately left to forge connections on our own.

While Salle’s work is frequently associated with the resurgence of figurative paintings in the 1980s, it is also linked closely to that of the Pictures Generation — artists who employed appropriation to explore the relationship between image and consumption.

Photographed as Part of Fast Forward: Painting From The 1980s at the Whitney Museum of Americana Art, on Exhibit Through May 14th, 2017.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Baron Sinister By Walter Robinson

Baron Sinister
Photo By Gail

Walter Robinson (b. 1950) took the subject of this painting, Baron Sinister (1986) from a cover illustration for a mass-market paperback, one of many low-end sources he raided in search of seductive consumerist imagery. The book’s protagonist — a secret agent — and his damsel-in-distress appear in a dramatic, suspenseful close-up, which Robinson has rendered in a hyper-expressive style. By making the figures larger than life, the artist exaggerates their idealized youth, attractiveness and heroism. Removed from their original context, and painted on an ordinary, floral-patterned bed sheet, the couple is transformed from cliche to archetype, as Robinson explores traditional notions of romance in the context of mass consumerism.

Photographed as Part of Fast Forward: Painting From The 1980s at the Whitney Museum of Americana Art, on Exhibit Through May 14th, 2017.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Night Bloom Still Life By Jonas Wood

Night Bloom Still Life
Photo By Gail

In  Jonas Wood’s (b, 1977) paintings, he often uses intricate decorative patterning to render ordinary objects that hold personal resonance for him. Some of the pots depicted in Night Bloom Still Life (2015)  were make by Wood’s wife, Shio Kusaka.   Thus, the painting  is just as much a self, or family, portrait as it is a still life. “You could call it a visual diary or even a personal history,” the artist has said. This  everyday quality, accentuated by flat planes of color and uniform detail, makes the spatial ambiguities in Wood’s work — such as the impossible perspective of the table — all the more disorienting.

Photographed in the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Charles Demuth, My Egypt

My Egypt
Photo By Gail

In the 1920s, Charles Demuth (1883 – 1935) painted a remarkable series of “Poster Portraits” depicting friends and fellow artists. Rather than capturing a physical likeness, these works conveyed the subject’s character through arrangements of commonplace objects rendered in the crisp style of advertisements. While Demuth did not include a self-portrait in the series, My Egypt (1927), produced during the same period, suggests a parallel effort to distill his personal and artistic concerns in symbolic terms. This depiction of a newly built grain elevator in the artist’s native Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was the apex of his quest to develop a dynamic geometric style that would herald America’s industrial prowess. By titling the painting My Egypt, Demuth equates the grain elevator with the ancient pyramids, but he also invites a more poignant, intimate reading. When he made this work, Demuth was confined by debilitating illness to his home in Lancaster. Calling the image his Egypt links his hometown to the Biblical narrative of Egypt as a site of involuntary bondage.

Photographed in the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.