Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Met, Chelsea Galleries and Some Reading Suggestions

By Charles Kessler

It’s a slow time for art in New York -- relatively speaking, of course. There aren’t many good exhibitions around, and no blockbusters. On the other hand, there aren't as many tourists, and kids are back in school, so the museums aren't as crowded as usual (except for the always hectic MoMA). Now is a great time to enjoy New York museums' permanent collections. 

I was looking forward to an undistracted contemplation of Cezanne's Card Players, a painting I visit almost every time I go to the Met, but dammit, the painting was taken down! But wait a minute..., it was removed in preparation for an exhibition of Cezanne’s card player paintings and drawings that opens February 9th. Yaaay! It’s an exhibition that began at the Courtauld Gallery and got rave reviews from London critics.

And of the million other things at the Met, be sure not to miss two great Madonna and Child paintings: a touching Andrea del Sarto that will take your breath away that’s on loan to the Met, and a newly restored Filippino Lippi whose bright colors will knock your socks off. Well, I guess that sounds unpleasant -- but I'm sure you'll like them.

Andrea del Sarto, Madonna and Child, c.1530, Oil on wood, (Lent by Mrs. Alfred Taubman)

Filippino Lippi. Madonna and Child, ca. 1485. Tempera, oil, and gold on wood, before and after restoration

Chelsea is in the midst of the winter doldrums, but there are a few shows worth the trip:

It's good to see Ellen Gallagher at Gagosian on 24th explore a number of fertile directions in her first exhibition in New York since her Whitney Museum show in 2005.

112 Green Street: The Early Years (1970-1974) at the David Zwirner Gallery on 19th is a museum-quality survey of one of New York’s first artist-run galleries. Most of the work is by Gordon Matta-Clark, as it should be since he was the driving force behind the gallery as well as one of the most interesting artists of that period. But it was also good seeing an Alan Saret "gang drawing" (made with fistfuls of colored pencils) and one of his wire sculptures. Saret pretty much dropped out of the art world in the mid-80's, and I've seen very little work of his since The Drawing Center did a retrospective of his drawings in 2007.

Alan Saret, Four Piece Folding Glade, 1970, wire, 144 x 60 x 36 inches
The Andrea Rosen Gallery has three good exhibitions, including an excellent video program curated by Rebecca Cleman and Josh Kline of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI). I can’t get the overly fancy Rosen Gallery website to display information about the exhibitions, but here it is if you want to give it a try: Andrea Rosen Gallery

For those unfamiliar with EAI, it’s a Chelsea-based repository of more than 3500 artist-made videos. Their mission is to foster "the creation, exhibition, distribution and preservation of video art, and more recently, digital art projects.” Individuals can make an appointment to view work in their collection free of charge. I did, and, with the help of the knowledgeable Rebecca Cleman, I learned a lot about the history of artists’ video.

Brice Marden at Matthew Marks on 22nd presents solid, handsome work, but work that’s too much like what he’s been showing since his  “Cold Mountain” show at DIA in 1991.

Because of the yucky weather, I haven't seen as much art as usual lately; but, as a result, I’ve had time to read more than usual. Here are some of the better things I've turned up:

Joanne Mattera has come up with practical alternative ways for artists to exhibit their work and rates them according to how desirable the DIY venue:
Joanne Mattera Art Blog: Marketing Mondays: "Where Can I Show?" Part 1
Joanne Mattera Art Blog: Marketing Mondays: "Where Can I Show?" Part 2

Paper Monument, a semi-annual print journal of contemporary art, in association with n+1, published a droll, yet accurate and useful book on art etiquette: I Like Your Work.  Excerpts posted here include instruction on proper introductions, and net etiquette. Here’s a sample of my favorite, how artists must dress:
Artists must first of all distinguish themselves from members of the adjacent professional classes typically present at art world events: dealers, critics, curators, and caterers. They must second of all take care not to look like artists. This double negation founds the generative logic of artists’ fashion.
Both Paper Monument and n+1 are well worth checking regularly for some of the best writing you’ll find on the net about politics, literature, and culture.

The Guardian has an insightful interview with Cindy Sherman here. And finally, this ArtInfo interview with Glenn Lowry on Why MoMA Needs to Grow — Again is yet more vindication of my complaints about MoMA’s new building.

Charles Kessler is an artist and writer based in Jersey City

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