Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I am a great admirer of hers and her work. You should also read her blog. Since she is in New York I will have the pleasure of seeing her exhibition in person. I recommend that everyone who can, take the same opportunity.
the current exhibition by our friend Soledad Salamé at the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
Exhibition title : Where Do You Live?
March 26 - May 10, 2009 The Reverse Ark: In the Wake
Baltimore-based artist Soledad Salamé is known for
evocative works that reflect her passion for the earth's
natural resources. In her paintings, prints, photographs
and large-scale installations, Salamé channels the energy
and beauty of water, plant, and animal life to create images
that speak of global forces on both a micro and macro
Salamé's newest work, Where Do You Live? is a dramatic
16-foot-long map of the Maryland coastline. Created using
a composite of images from Google Earth Salamé's map is
layered with elements of her extensive research on the
population, pollution, and water levels along the nearly
4,000 miles of Maryland's coast.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
You've got to love Bonnard! How can anyone not love Bonnard? Well Picasso didn't, but that's just something else to love about Bonnard. They both grew out of the same modernist roots, but while Picasso was creating his own style that so many subsequent artists embraced Bonnard branched out in a totally different direction that even Picasso couldn't appreciate. He was, and to some extent still is one of the most misunderstood artist of the modern era. He's considered by most to be the last of the bourgeois lyricists, and it is easy to initially see his paintings as playful decorative exercises, even "piddling" ones as Picasso said. But, if you keep looking you see how spatially conflicting and structurally complicated his images are. Complicated but never detailed, and slow but never labored. He also liberated color from subject matter in a way so radical that he has to be seen as one of the early modernists that prefigured abstraction.
One of the ways that he separated form from subject matter is that he almost never painted from life. Instead he worked from small spontaneous pencil sketches that had very little detail. Some look almost like Cy Twombly doodles. These gave him very little information to work from, thus forcing the painting to take on a life of its own. Bonnard sketched religiously, and kept a daybook with him at all times making visual notes of the things he saw. Most of those things are pretty mundane, but you'd never know from the drawings. There are a series of these day books in the exhibition that are absolute jewels.
The show focuses on his late interiors, but there are a lot of still lifes to be seen. I suppose a still life technically is an interior unless it's set up outdoors, but...whatever. Anyway, I think it's interesting because these are the same galleries that held the Morandi show a few months ago. I couldn't help but think how different Bonnard's still lives are from Morandi's in terms of pallet, composition, and general paint handling. In some ways though they're strangely similar in their intimacy, and the way they ask the viewer to slow down and navigate through the groupings of commonplace objects.
It is, however the larger more complex interiors that are the most effective and powerful. The way he combines and renders complicated objects and spaces, and transforms them into rich strokes of paint, bringing them back up to the surfaces of these larger canvases is endlessly fascinating. A still life on a table will be set next to a figure, next to a door leading to another room. Then there will be a window leading out to a terrace, which will in turn lead to a landscape. It's like he wanted to fit as many things into the painting as he possibly could for the sheer joy of painting them, and seeing how they play off one another. I noticed something about Bonnard a few years ago. The scale of his subject matter doesn't usually grow when he paints larger paintings. He just paints more things, like he's opening the lens of a camera to include more. So, it's not the scale but the structural complexity of the image that grows with the size of the painting.
One of the last paintings in the show is "Interior Dining Room" which was finished soon before the artists death. Bonnard never had any trepidation about using color combinations that were challenging to aesthetic convention, sometimes even garish or ugly. This late work is particularly ambitious in that sense. It's a near riot of color, more so than almost anything of his I've seen. That, combined with the severe distortion of the figures and objects in the painting show that the artist never grew complacent in his old age. This is a great show of an amazing painter. Anyway, that's what I think.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th ave at 82nd Raphael to Renoir: Drawings from the collection of Jean Bonna. through April 26
The Bonna collection is a pretty impressive one, and one that covers 400 years of drawing from the late Renaissance to the post impressionists. While it's called "Raphael to Renoir" it actually starts before the former and ends after the later. It also contains only one work from Raphael, and one from Renoir. Maybe the curator had a bias for alliteration. I don't know. It could just as easily be called "Nature and Religion in Drawing" because the subject matter is almost always one or the other, or both. Frequently it's one in the service or the other. It covers pretty much all facets of drawing during the period, from tight detailed studies to loose nearly abstract exercises.
The show is broken into three rooms. The first covers the late Renaissance where you'll see some prominent names like Del Sarto, Carracci, Raphael (of course), and a wonderfully elegant pen and ink drawing by Parmigianino. There is a lot of light handed virtuoso handling of the medium in this room, whether it's chalk, ink, or in a few cases watercolor . Most of this work was meant as studies for paintings, but several were created as independent artworks.
The second room moves to France and the Netherlands in the late 16th century to cover the more secular Baroque era. This starts with a couple of Claude Lorrain ink landscapes that are pure effortless poetry. That light graceful character fills the room, but is only equaled by the chalk drawings of Watteau, Boucher, and Greuze. I was also very conscious of the influence of the Commedia Dell' Art on the artists of the time. Not just on the French artists mentioned, but in a drawing by a 70 year old Tiepolo. Who was, coincidentally the only Italian in the room. At least I think it was a coincidence.
The last room covers the late 18th and 19th century, or late neo-classicism through post impressionism. If you're wondering how something can be both late and neo, just trust me. Almost all of the artists in this section are French, and apart from a few delicate drawings by Ingres, the handling of the materials gets more expressive, painterly and physical. There are a few furiously rendered ballet dancers by Degas, and a wonderfully spontaneous Cezanne watercolor that looks like it could have been drawn by the rain.