Notes on the Past

August 13, 2014

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I recently traveled to Greece for the first time and was completely blown away by the Acropolis in Athens. As an art history major in college, learning about the Parthenon and all of its High Classical attributes adorning the columns, pediments, and friezes, was paramount to a proper understanding of subsequent art and architecture. But that was looking at slides and reciting facts for an exam. Actually standing there, grasping the physicality of its scale, the enormity of its impact on Ancient Greece, is an entirely different experience. Taking fifteen years to construct, the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, was completed around 432 BC.  In the centuries to follow the monument witnessed wars and changing reigns, suffered collateral damage from a cannon blast, lost marbles from looters, and served as a temple, a mosque, and a church. Today, the Parthenon remains (albeit partially) an emblem of Greek mythology, of Western civilization, a pinnacle of classical Greek architecture, and a symbol of the ideals of democracy, order, and philosophy. These pillars are preserved to remind us of an era that fostered the ideas we still reference today – the Socratic method, the Pythagorean theorem, and Plato’s Republic to name a few.
This and the other incredible temples on the Acropolis were and are undoubtedly architectural wonders.  Part of the mastery and perfection of the Parthenon, though, lies in the imperfections – the optical illusion of straight lines and right angles actually comes from the slight curving and tapering of each column, deliberate imprecisions to make the temple appear lighter and more beautiful.
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou sayst,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
– John Keats Ode on a Grecian Urn, Line 46-50

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Art Fair Rewind

May 13, 2014

Hans-Peter Feldmann + Anish Kapoor @ Massimo Manini

I hit 5 fairs in 3 days and have the blisters to prove it… Each fair had its own vibe and some standout artworks worth mentioning here:

FRIEZE: I began with Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island where shiny sculptures by art stars like Anish Kapoor, Jeppe Hein, and Tomás Saraceno mingled with the playfulness of Yinka Shonibare MBE and KAWS. Kapoor and Hein are perennial art-fair favorites. Their highly polished curved reflective sculptures draw collectors in like magpies, myself included. They alter your perception of space and your own sense of scale changes in relation to them. (Side Note: the fabulous Shoes by Hans-Peter Feldmann express exactly how my own feet felt after hours of walking in heels. Ouch!)

Jeppe Hein @ 303 GalleryTomas Saraceno @ Tanya Bonakdar

KAWS @ PerrotinYinka Shonibare @ James Cohan

The works of both KAWS and Shonibare operate within the context of contemporary culture and globalization. However, while KAWS is rooted in animation proliferation Shonibare is rooted in post-colonial identity. From afar, Shonibare’s work looks like a massive woven textile – a reference to his Nigerian heritage – but up close we see it’s constructed using small plastic toys and figurines collected here in NYC.

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Frieze New York

May 8, 2014

Jack Pierson @ Cheim & ReadJack Pierson @ Cheim & Read

Frieze Art Fair 2014 has officially descended upon New York! Of all the art fairs clamoring for our attention these days – and there are LOTS – Frieze New York is my favorite. The fair kicks off a busy month in the New York art world, abounding with major auctions, gallery openings, and museum galas.

Even with more than 190 national and international galleries exhibiting, Frieze is totally doable in a couple of hours and you don’t feel like you’ve hiked Everest afterwards. The atmosphere is lighthearted, especially given that Frieze takes place in a giant tent on Randall’s Island, and galleries always take a bit of a risk by mixing in the young and whimsical with the established regulars. (And, most importantly, Frieze New York has great coffee and restaurant options from NYC’s favorite spots like Momofuku and Frankies, so no need to fear for low blood-sugar moments!)

Here’s a preview of works I’m excited to see later today!

Anna Gaskell SVETA #5 2013 @ Galerie Gisela Capitain

Jacqueline Humphries UNTITLED 2011Joseph Kosuth Wittgenstein Series 1989

above: Anna Gaskell SVETA #5 2013 @ Galerie Gisela Capitain; left: Jacqueline Humphries @ Greene Naftali; right: Joseph Kosuth @ Vistamare

Tim Rollins and K.O.S. @ Maureen Paley

 Peter Vermeersch Untitled 2011Bettina Samson Silver Nuclear Dust I

above: Tim Rollins and K.O.S. @ Maureen Paley; left: Pieter Vermeersch @ Carl Freedman Gallery; right: Bettina Samson @ Galerie Sultana

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