I retain, but suspend, my personal taste to deal with the panoply of the art I see. I have a trick for doing justice to an uncongenial work: “What would I like about this if I liked it?” I may come around; I may not. Failing that, I wonder, What must the people who like this be like? Anthropology.
Jackson [Pollock] had said, “I am nature.” In her paintings, Lee [Krasner] recognized nature as within us, without us, before us, and after us. As a continuum. As a religion. Humankind formed a part of it, but not nearly so significant a part as it imagined. (pp. 631-632)—Mary Gabriel, Ninth Street Women (2018)
Alex Vadukul limns Sir Shadow, artist of the Bowery’s Whitehouse Hotel.
“A man with a million dollars doesn’t have what I have.
“All that matters to me is the next poem,” he added. “The next drawing. And I have to be ready to receive it. All the other stuff? That’s someone else’s problem.”
One of the most difficult things of all is not to have the painting be a depiction of the event but the event itself. That is the difference between great art and mediocre art. Most art looks like it is talking about something that happened some other place.—Grace Hartigan, quoted in Mary Gabriel, Ninth Street Women (2018), p. 487
One more building caught my eye: boarded up, carrying signs with a defunct URL, and graffitoed, the Hotel Jefferson patiently awaits restoration and a return to service.
I attended the Strange Loop conference in St. Louis this past week. I got a little time to have a look at the city, which I haven’t seen since I visited my departed friend Jim Wilson in University City many years ago. Ted Drewes is still there, although you can buy a concrete from a vending machine in the airport now.
Richard Serra’s quadrilateral Twain is not in great condition, and the landscaping around it is a bit lumpy and wild (perhaps by design?), but this iridescence caught my eye. And the framing of the courts building across the street is too perfect to have happened by chance.
I was sitting in the hotel, eating my breakfast, idly looking out the window, and I spotted a rather fancy looking building a few blocks away. “Let’s take a closer look,” I thought. “That looks interesting.” Oh, yeah. It’s the Wainwright Building.
I spent a little time birding for the Saint Louis specialty, unsuccessfully, alas. But I did add a light rail system to my list.
The Hirshhorn has acquired its first Tino Sehgal performance art piece, This You. Plans call for it to debut on Labor Day weekend.
I should bumper-sticker Della with the warning, “I brake for cable-stayed bridges.” This is the Penobscot Narrows Bridge: I’m standing on the approach on the Verona Island side; Prospect is at the other end. You can just make out the windows of the observation deck at the top of the far tower.
Kriston Capps profiles D.C. artist Kenneth Young, one of the Washington Color School painters (Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Alma Thomas, and others). He explores an unintended happy consequence:
… the collapse of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, … for better or worse, brought Young and many other Washington painters to greater prominence. The 2014 court-ordered agreement that dissolved the historic Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design—handing the collection over to the National Gallery and the college to George Washington University—divested hundreds of paintings by D.C. artists (and thousands of other artworks) to the nation’s official art treasury. When the East Building reopened in September, the new installation of the permanent collection included 43 artworks on view from the Corcoran’s holdings.
Sidebar: a timeline of the Washington Color School.
Pat Padua reports that Artomatic is coming back to Crystal City for 2017.
George Belcher watches the slow fading of New York diner culture.
After the Cafe [at 97th Street and Columbus] succumbed in 2005, I spent months looking for my next “third place.” Diner regulars can be particular. The ambience has to be friendly but not intrusive, the sound level low but not funereal, the smell a little greasy but not cloying, and the décor more utilitarian than fussy. I eventually settled in at the Metro [on 100th Street and Broadway].
How else can we explain the fact that there is no physical unity to the work of art? What does a urinal have in common with a work on canvas, or a song, or a building, or an altarpiece? Artworks are dead in themselves, like mere noise or useless stuff. We bring them to life by putting them to work in thought, conversation, and appreciation. They have power in the way that jokes have power, as moves in a game of communication and reflection. Maker and public jointly undertake the work that makes art possible.—Alva Noë, Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature, p. 137
I wish that I could put it on my upcoming list, but I will just have to enjoy it from afar: The Floating Piers, by Christo, is installed on Italy’s Lake Iseo through 3 July.