Postcards from London

July 1, 2014

L1000344I jumped the pond for a few days and tackled as many exhibitions as my jet-lagged brain would allow. There’s really much too much to see in London in three days but I gave it a valiant effort. The highlight of my trip was Bridget Riley The Stripe Paintings 1961-2014 at David Zwirner, the Henri Matisse Cut Out exhibition at the Tate Modern, Adrian Ghenie’s Darwin Room at Pace London, early Jim Hodges at Stephen Friedman, and BANKSY at Sotheby’s. And I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around the lovely little Mayfair shops and pubs and enjoying all of the old-world charm London has to offer. Including a few pints of Guinness.

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The Magical Worlds of Tara Donovan and Sterling Ruby

June 19, 2014

If you want to feel as Alice did when she fell down the rabbit hole, experience the installations of Tara Donovan and Sterling Ruby. Both artists create larger-than-life works, of all media, that allow you to momentarily escape this world and enter another.

Tara Donovan hypnotizes you by the sheer scale of her work. For her sculptures, she takes a simple, everyday, material – pencil, button, styrofoam cup, tape – and then multiplies the quantity by, like, a million. With the abundance she stacks and compiles until the accumulation of identical objects is transformed into something biomorphic.

These materials aren’t so much disguised by her process, but combined in a way that allows their simpleness to guide the structure’s formation. For her current exhibition at Pace Gallery, Donovan has two installations: one, a mountainous range of stalagmites made entirely of 3×5″ index cards, and the other a shimmery anemone of clear plastic rods.  Up close you can definitely tell you’re looking at stacks of index cards (the likes of which I still have leftover from school) but from afar they meld together into a giant topography of forms that grew out of Donovan’s studio floor. The clear acrylic rods remind me of those things that come in new shoes to keep their shape. A pretty boring widget, really. But once amassed into these orbs, they come alive as sparkling organisms that appear to expand and contract in the gallery.
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Do the Polke

June 10, 2014

© 2014 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar. All works by Sigmar Polke © 2014 The Estate of Sigmar Polke/Artists Rights Society
© 2014 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar. All works by Sigmar Polke © 2014 The Estate of Sigmar Polke/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany

Stoned or sober, Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963-2010 at MoMA is a trip. But one worth taking. (And, for the record, I was sober.) His talent lies in his unselfconscious exploration of just about every medium available to an artist – painting, printmaking, video, performance, photography, sculpture, etc. By dabbling in a little bit of everything, Polke’s oeuvre evades market categorization and continues to keep us all guessing. The curators of MoMA had their hands full when organizing this retrospective and (smartly) opted to install the show chronologically. So I jotted some notes as I followed their timeline of Sigmar Polke’s career:

The most Pop-y of Polke’s works are those from the mid-1960s, such as the painting Girlfriends, 1965/1966 (above). Taking an image from an advertisement, Polke mimics and caricaturizes the commercial printing process of using small ben day dots of color to create a picture. By hand, he enlarges and exaggerates these dots just enough to blur the image and reveal irregularities that occur in this mechanical process. Like the work of fellow German Gerhard Richter, his is an effort to expose the dissemination of mass culture as a halftone half-truth, an illusion constructed to make people want for an ideal or a lifestyle or a product as they entered a new modern, post-war, era. These ‘Polke-dots’ crop up in other paintings and prints the artist made in the 60s and 70s, becoming one of very few unifying themes of his artistic style.

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Whitney Biennial

May 22, 2014

Zoe Leonard 945 Madison Avenue 2014
I procrastinated to the point of panic and caught the Whitney Biennial only days before it closes this weekend. While I do not wholly love everything in the Biennial, I definitely enjoyed navigating the course. The curators of the 2014 Biennial provide their take on the current state of American contemporary art.  Curators Anthony Elms, Stuart Comer, and Michelle Grabner have included highly marketable artists of varying age brackets – some even deceased – and some who will surely reappear soon.

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