Archive for June, 2008

Lenny

Storing and Moving Artwork and WWII Tunnels

“Humboldt Storage and Moving Co. in Canton has been transporting people’s most prized possessions for more than 100 years.

But when the company was asked to make a high-profile, cross-country delivery of a $135 million painting by Austrian artist Gustav Kilmt in 2006, Humboldt CEO Howard Goldman saw a prospective niche in storing, moving and managing fine art collections.”

So it begins an interesting article by A.J. Bauer from the GateHouse News Service.

Mind’s Eye, a division of Humboldt devoted entirely to moving, storing and managing collections of fine art and collectibles is also our sponsor and backer, and a few weeks ago I had the interesting experience of touring their spaces, and personally seeing the spectacular care and attention that they give to the emerging art of … ah… moving and storing art.

We’re all sort of snobs, even if we deny it, and I must admit that I was expecting to find only fine art being stored in custom made, climate controlled, impregnable room-sized walk-in safes.

I found that, but I also found them being used to store rare wines, family heirlooms, collectibles, and of course, blue chip art.

And I think that this is the tip of the iceberg, as more and more people focus their attention on the business of collecting artwork. According to the article, the company already “has plans to build an additional 3,000 square feet of climate-controlled storage vaults within the next three months, and expects an expansion of an additional 32,000 square feet in the next few years.”

In the next few months I hope to relate my own experiences with moving artwork as I continue to do art fairs all over the nation. It’s a fascinating aspect of the new boom of the art fair business, with galleries and private dealers moving artwork all over the world, from fair to fair. This is in fact, a very special and unique slice of the business of moving and storing artwork.

I am also curious to discover more about museums that are running out of storage space, which I think is the case with the various Smithsonian museums in the nation’s capital. As I am led to believe (and maybe this is all urban legend), a lot of this storage takes place in underground chambers under the National Mall in Washington, DC. These chambers apparently were originally built during WWII to store our national treasures in case the Germans or Japanese ever bombed our capital. Perhaps I will do a little digging research in this area to see if it is true and if an interesting story comes out.

More later…

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Comments (2)

Bill

Knocking heads in the lobby of Yale University Art Gallery

People have become very friendly at Yale Art Gallery since they moved the information desk to the center of the first floor. I never found the place unpleasant to begin with, but I almost expected aromatherapy and a neck-rub after the radiant greetings from security and the desk crew during my recent visit. What a sweet bunch!

You’ll find a number of interesting pieces in the lobby nowadays, but three pieces in particular, lying in fairly close proximity one to another, have needled at me in the week or so since my visit: Ann Weathersby’s “Untitled” from 2002, Robert Arneson’s “Last Gasp” of 1980, and Zhang Huan’s “Ash Head No.3” from 2006.

Weatherby1

Ann Weathersby, Untitled, 2002

If, like me, you spent too much time in front of the TV during the 1970’s, you probably thought “Brady Bunch,” on first look at Ann Weathersby’s “Untitled.” But Sherwood Schwartz would have balked at the sterility of this arrangement. It’s a cheerless piece, nine naked and emotion-free portraits like so many Caucasians caught sitting on examination-table paper, waiting patiently for the doctor to arrive, examine, and modify their Prozac dosages. The stark lighting and lack of any other visual stimulus drove me to look for scars and other hints at imperfect living, but I couldn’t find any.

Weatherby_detailUntitled detail

In contrast to the preservation of the Kodak moment seen in family photos (I realize this might not be a family), these images preserve, like taxidermy-sporting museum cases, specific arrangements of anatomical elements. I view “Untitled” as a meditation on the shapes and forms of flesh as it changes through life, and, simultaneously, a joke about the futile yet persistent sense we have, against all knowledge, that our physical existence has any real endurance.

Arneson_lastgasp

Robert Arneson, Last Gasp, 1980

The chuckles are more on the surface in “Last Gasp,” which flanks Ms. Weathersby’s “Untitled” to the right. In this piece Robert Arneson decapitates himself and sets his bearded head, mouth agape, on a pillar-like pedestal. A wash of bluish glaze drips down from the pedestal top like so much rancid, deoxygenated blood. The hair feels plastered down as if in a final stress-induced sweat, and the beard reads less like hair than like so many maggots feeding on Arneson’s putrifying flesh. He’s made other self-portrait heads on pedestals, but unlike them “Last Gasp” comes off as a true death depiction through the ‘pose,’ the slack jaw and dead look in the eyes. It reads as a comic meditation, the artist laughing while brooding upon the limits of his own existence, both physical and cultural. In what might be a supreme act of self-effacing humor, Arneson presents his own severed head as a trophy for his enemies.

ZhangHuan_AshHeadNo3Zhang Huan, Ash Head No.3, 2006

Flanking “Untitled” to the left is “Ash Head No.3,” by Zhang Huan. Cut like a classic statuary portrait, the head of an Asian male lolls very slightly to one side atop a simple three-legged pedestal. It’s not clear to me whether the subject is deep in meditation, asleep, or dead, although from reading of Huan’s Buddhist influences I suspect it may not matter. The nature of the ash puzzled me at first, until I saw this video:

“Ash Head No.3” is composed of the accumulated meditative acts of thousands of devoted Buddhists. It exists because of a persistent, pervasive human need to face mortality and to somehow grow beyond it, to master existence and its limitations. There’s an irresolvable tension at its root, the refusal of flesh to accept what it is and the ironic ability of the human psyche to comprehend and to yearn for something tangible beyond the limits of flesh. I’m reminded of sutras in which readers seem to be encouraged to become trickster-heroes, to outwit reality through understanding and subverting the illusions it puts forth as truth. A portrait is an illusion of sorts, the molding of form into a recognizable mass. “Ash Head No.3” appears as though it might tumble back into a heap of incense ash at any moment, making it a telling portrait of human identity, composed as it is of so many disparate temporal elements cohering through ego’s pervasive illusion.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Comments (3)

Lenny

“Living Without Them” at the Katzen Museum

Installations… because I’ve seen so many of them, after a while they begin to repeat themselves, and thus it takes a lot for an artist’s installation to really impress me.

Having said that, if your’e in the Washington, DC area anytime until July 27, you just got to drop by the Katzen Museum of the American University and see the installation “Living Without Them” by Lilianne Milgrom/Saul Sosnowski on that gorgeous museum’s first floor.

Because the Paris-born Milgrom and I had exchanged words years ago about our experiences in living and being in the Middle East, she asked me to write some words about her installation for the museum’s brochure, and I did so after viewing her plans and a video about it.

It still didn’t prepare me well enough for the actual visual reception that my maind received when I saw it installed at the Katzen.

When I was in my late twenties, I had the honor to wear the uniform of a naval officer in the United States Navy, having worked my way up to a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) from a Seaman Recruit. One of my most memorable images from my naval career resonates with Lilianne Milgrom’s installation on a personal and visual note, and thus why I think that my voice, as a critic, writer, artist and curator, coupled with my own history as a young Navy officer in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983 gives me a special set of eyes to interpret “Living Without Them.”

There is so much stuff in rubble; it all looks so big and solid on television, but until you get your hands on a chunk of cement or twisted steel, and pull, and pull, and pull, to try to move something out of the way, at the same time that you are listening to cries and screams from those trapped below, you become superhuman.

You are in shock, and rubble moves.

Milgrom knows this, and her installation shows it. And it is because Milgrom lived in the very volatile Middle East for many years, and like the poet Jose Marti wrote: “I know the monster well, for I have lived in its entrails.”

art by Lilianne Milgrom

Milgrom lived in the paradoxical world of the Middle East, where bombings, bombs and their after effects were daily common life. And her psyche and her artistic persona were forever shaped by terrorism and a world where murderers are often heroes to some and demons to others.

Her knowledge shows in the acid perspicacity of her installation, which is coupled with the power of words from Prof. Sosnowski – at first they shock us with a solar plexus punch of destruction.
from installation by Lillianne Milgrom
Then the floating porcelain pages, gently moving in the aftermath of an explosion deliver an anti-punch that is exponentially multiplied over that of the power of the explosion itself. It plants on the mind of the viewer the violence of the act, which maybe sought to kill ideas that went against the bomber’s belief.

“Ideas cannot be killed!” shouts Milgrom in this work – “you can kill people, you can kill poets, you can kill artists, you can kill women who refuse to hide their faces, but ideas will survive and even dance in the death wind of your violence, and in their dance they will spread and multiply.”

And they will use your terminal actions to ensure their infinity and their germination.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Comments (3)

Admin

Join The ARTtistics

We are currently seeking someone to join our ARTtistics blog. If you are interested in blogging for and building art ambassadors read on. The opportunity has some great benefits;

1. Become part of the Mind’s Eye Team and be sponsored to your favorite art events.

2. Write independently about whatever you like from wherever you like.

3. Get paid for writing about what you love.

To learn more click here

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Leave a Comment

Lenny

Bad Things Galleries Do To Artists & Bad Things Artists Do To Galleries

A bad thing that unethical galleries do to artists:
Unethical galleries all over the nation and in most countries will take in a piece of artwork by an artist, and when the price is discussed, the gallery says: “What’s the price?” and the artist says: “$1000″ The gallery nods OK and the artist leaves, knowing that if sold, he’ll get $500 (most galleries in the US charge 50% commission — in NYC some are as high as 70%). The gallery then sells the piece, but for $2,000, sends the artist a check for $500 and pockets the extra $1,000. That is why artists should insist on having a contract with a gallery, and the contract must specifically address that the artist will get 50% of the actual sale price.

A bad thing some artists to do galleries:
A good reputable gallery is a work of love, with gallerists usually running the business by the skn of their teeth. And when a gallery gives an artist a show, they go through all the various multiple expenses associated with doing so (rent, electricity, staff salaries, publicity, ads, post cards, opening reception catering, etc.) - usually before a single work of art is sold. So far the gallery has put forth a considerable investment in presenting the artist’s works - all because the gallerist believes in the artist’s work. An interested novice collector meets the artist at the opening and expresses interest (to the artist) in buying some of his artwork. The artist, wishing to stiff the gallery for their commission says: “See me after the show and I’ll sell it to you directly and save myself the gallery commission.” This is not only unethical, but it’s also guaranteed to ruin the artist’s reputation in the city, as these things always come out in the wash, and soon no gallery will exhibit any work by this artist. Remember, when a gallery gives an artist a show, and nothing sells, the artist still walks away with all his/her work, and maybe even a review, plus the art has been exposed to collectors and the public. The gallery gets to pay all the bills, even though no sales were made.

I will continue to post these “bad things” - coming from both the dealer’s side and the artist’s side, as a good dealer-artist relationship is a symbiotic relationship always anchored in trust and good communications.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Leave a Comment

Admin

Things to do in Canada when you’re dead or have a cat

In Toronto they have really good veggie-dogs that you can buy off of street vendors.

I haven’t been MIA. I’ve been in Canada for the last couple of days. Toronto specifically. Before I even exchanged Washingtons for Queens I started reading artfag, which is now my favorite reading material in all of the art world. Here’s a little excerpt, though you should read it all, and everything else

“Ladies and gentlemen, we realize that the following may not be the best thing for a critic of any stripe (let alone a stripe so platonically ideal as ourselves) to admit, but we are nothing if not truthful; as soon as we received the notice for the “Love/Hate: New Crowned Glory in Toronto,” exhibit at MoCCA, we were prepared to make the full swing to the right of that titular forward slash and hate every bloody inch of it.”

When I read it I had never thought about The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art before, but after reading I began to love/hate it like I would an old college chum whom I’m insanely jealous of. The question for me was; would Toronto live up to such great criticism?  

In many respects the answer was sadly no, but in all fairness the majority of my gallery hopping occurred on Father’s Day and many of the places I attempted to visit were closed. Below I have laid out my Canadian odyssey:

Nancy Davenport’s “Bombardment” (photograph)

 

THE POWER PLANT

Not Quite How I Remember It

Most internet searches and guide books for arts and culture in Toronto, Canada will have you believe that all roads lead towards The Power Plant. It seems like a promising exhibition space for contemporary art, and takes an hour or less to get through. Admission is free for the summer right now. 

The exhibition I attended explored artist’s re-enactments of the past. I enjoyed the “documentary” photographs of Nancy Davenport, but thought the entire show belonged to Diane Borsato’s three channel video installation, which was a recreation of three famous performances; Bonnie Sherk’s Public Lunch, in which the lady sedately eats a meal while ravenous tigers devour raw meat next to her, Joseph Beuys’ Coyote: I like America and America likes me, in which JB isolates himself with some felt and a cane in a room with a coyote, and Maria Abramovic’s Dragonheads, in which the lady sits surrounded by ice and covered in boas and pythons.

Diane Borsato with kitty cat /Joseph Beuys with coyote.

The twist in Borsato’s piece is that all of the bad-ass hard-core parts of the performances (i.e. the snakes, the coyote, and the tigers) are replaced by a kitty cat. My slightly mean reading of this is that artists of today find it impossible to live up to artists of the past, my other reading of this is that it makes the legendary work of Beuys, Sherk, and Abramovic seem more then a little ridiculous. 

“Bitch Killin’ Machine” (photograph) by FASTWURMS.

 

PAUL PETRO SPECIAL PROJECTS

Wild Things

This exhibition was a bit silly. I was happy to be introduced to the work of FASTWURMS, which is the trademark and joint authorship of Kim Kozzi and Dai Skuse.

A good interview and flicks of some of their work can be found here

A “gum blonde” by Jason Kronenwald

 

LE GALLERY

A Fresh Pack of Gum Blondes

I was very excited to see these works of Jason Kronenwald; portraits of blondes crafted from gum, until I saw them in person. I discovered that the “paintings” were so covered in acrylic resin that you couldn’t even tell that they were made of gum. If something is made of a food-product I want to see it rot. (Don’t worry Jason, I’m sure I am in the minority with that opinion.)

I tried to visit TPW and  XSPACE and did visit AWOL gallery (if you can’t say something nice. . .). Toronto has many back alley’s (mostly off Queen’s Street) full to the brim with graffiti, and it’s a beautiful city for just walking around. I found many things to appreciate without ever walking into a gallery. 

C’est tout. 

 

 

 

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Comments (1)

Lenny

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts scores big Luce Foundation grant

The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded a $200,000 grant to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for reinstalling and reinterpreting its collection of historical American art – from painting, sculpture and works on paper to the decorative arts of furniture, silver, glass and ceramics.

VMFA is in the midst of a massive expansion project that will add more than 165,000 square feet of space to the existing 320,000-square-foot museum. The expansion, expected to be completed in late 2009, will increase the museum’s gallery space by 50 percent and will cost $130 million.

Brideship (Colonial Brides),
“Brideship (Colonial Brides),” circa 1927-1928, by Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889-1975)

“This pending transformation offers us an unprecedented opportunity to rethink the overall shape, display and interpretation of the museum’s holdings,” says Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s director.

The largest amount of the permanent-collection gallery space in the new wing – approximately 11,200 square feet – will be devoted to the exhibition of VMFA’s current American collection, more than doubling its previous footprint.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Leave a Comment

Lenny

I’ll be on NPR next week

Kojo Nnamdi

Next week I’ll be on NPR at the Kojo Nnamdi Show discussing the Greater Washington and general Mid Atlantic area visual arts and artists and art stories.

I do this several times a year and it’s always an adventure, as a lot of times the prepared stuff goes out the window when people call in with questions. Like when someone called a few months ago and entangled me into a discussion about tattoos as an art form.

If you are in range of DC’s WAMU 88.5 FM, then tune in on Thursday, June 26 around noon.

If you have any questions or art issues, you can call Kojo during the show at (800) 433-8850 or you can email him questions to kojo@wamu.org.

And yes, I have two tattoos.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Leave a Comment

Lenny

Report from the Affordable Art Fair in NYC

Just back from New York where I took part in that city’s version of the Affordable Art Fair. In the past I have described this fair as being on the front battle lines of the art world, since its aim and price points (artwork from $100 - $10,000) tend to focus the event on both emerging collectors on a budget and savvy collectors of all kinds looking for regional emerging artists and good deals on established artists of all levels.

The fair opened on Wednesday night with a press preview and then a collectors’ preview, and according to the fair’s effervescent and hardworking director Laura Meli, it was the largest opening in the fair’s history.

Held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York’s W. 18th Street, the fair packs galleries from all over the US, Europe, Latin America and Asia into two halls, and it is the New York version of a successful formula that sees Affordable Art Fairs take place in Bristol, London, Sydney and Amsterdam. Curiously, there’s no Affordable Art Fair in Miami.

Preview night was indeed packed, and because our booth was next to one of many free bars, there was a good flow of people, mostly young and mostly drinking, throughout the night.

In the past (I have done this fair before) good sales do take place on this overcrowded night, and although the sales were a bit slower than I remembered, we did manage to sell several oil paintings by Norfolk-based artist Sheila Giolitti as well as a few of my own drawings.
Erosion by Sheila Giolitti
“Erosion,”Mixed Media on Wood by Sheila Giolitti

With price points ranging from $200 to $2,000, the sold work was at the lower end of our price scales, which were dominated by Cuban artist Sandra Ramos gorgeous oil paintings ranging from $7500 to $10,000. We also spent a long time talking to a curator from the Met, who was admiring Ramos’ works and was very well-versed in them. We also had sales of photographs by Cuba’s talented Cirenaica Moreira, whose work ranges in price from $800-$1200.

The rest of the fair saw pretty much a pattern emerging in both sales (at least from the gallerists anecdotal reports) and in people and traffic.

As far as sales, they appeared to be brisk and constant, and the wrapping line for purchased artwork was long nearly every hour of the fair. We saw all sorts of work being sold, and certainly size seemed to matter; the more acreage that buyers got for their buck, the more it seemed to move.

As with any fair, location is key to success, and many dealers in the larger of the two halls were complaining that the new entry pattern, which forced visitors to enter the fair through the smaller hall, rather than through the building’s main entrance. This entry pattern ensured that the people flow initially went to one hall and made the second, larger hall, a secondary (and thus more visually overloaded) destination. One of the galleries on this new traffic pattern (in the first hall) told me that they had doubled last years’ sales by Friday night.

And it did seem that most of the people action took place in the smaller hall and the large areas around the two hall’s connecting hallway. Once visitors entered the maze of booths in the main hall, traffic dissipated significantly by the time it got to the rearmost walls.

In fact, sales seemed so brisk in certain geographical parts of the fair ,that there were people lining up in some of the galleries on the people-path, actually waiting to buy art. Galleries in the rear walls were a bit less busy, but there seemed to be artwork moving nonetheless.

For example, Parisian gallery Envie D’Art, located at a prime location where all foor traffic had to walk by, reported that they had nearly sold out their entire booth on preview night!
Sujeto/Objeto by Ruby Rumie
Teselas: Getsemani Sujeto / Objetoby Ruby Rumie

New York’s Angela Royo Latin American Art was also having resounding success selling panels from a 5,970 piece installation by Colombian artist Ruby Rumie. Each panel held 25 of the miniature acrylic, lacquer and resin pieces – sold for $2,000 each – and by Saturday she had sold out. Rumie’s fascinating work, according to the artist is “a representative section of a historical neighborhood on the Caribbean coast of Colombia… Due to the pressures of the real estate market, this neighborhood will soon disappear. I have created a record of its people with a painted silhouette of each adult, elder, child and adolescent member of this neighborhood, 5970 people in total.” It is a brilliant work of art.

As the weekend progressed our own trend continued to establish itself: a lot less foot traffic and sales focusing on the lower priced items on the booth. By the end of the fair Giolitti had nearly sold out, with only two paintings left from the fifteen or so that she had brought to the fair. I also continued to sell my lower priced drawings in the $200 range, but none of the higher priced drawings were moving.

We did manage to sell the very last print from Cuban artist Sandra Ramos’ set of 50 mixed media etchings of “La Maldita Circumstancia del Agua Por Todas Partes” (The Damned Circumstance of Being Surrounded by Water).

 La maldita circumstancia del agua por todas partes
“La Maldita Circumstancia del Agua Por Todas Partes.” Mixed Media etching by Sandra Ramos

This is Ramos’ iconic piece from her very dissident series from the 1990s and her first work to enter the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). It was also used as the cover for Holly Block’s indispensable bible of Cuban art, “Art Cuba: The New Generation.” The piece was acquired by a member of the board of the Newark Museum.

At $5,000 for the work, it was our biggest sale of the entire fair.

We’ll be back next year, although we intend to get the largest size booth available and thus hope to be relocated to the main traffic areas of the fair. Although much has been written about the brakes being applied to the art market, it is my impression that at this art fair, and at these price levels, the buyers were still out looking for good art at a good price.

One final kudo to the organizers and worker bees of the fair, they really worked their arses off to make the complex operation of running an art fair work efficiently and well, and my only constructive criticism to them would be to return the entry point to the building’s intended entrance, thus affording either of two halls an equal chance of being selected for the first and most important viewing.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Comments (3)

Bill

Everyday Monuments: The Photographs of Jerome Liebling, at Yale University Art Gallery until September 7

Yale University Art Gallery sometimes hosts exhibitions curated by students, and this is one of them, although I couldn’t find the names of the students involved. Sorry, guys!

As you likely knew, Jerome Liebling is a filmmaker, photographer and teacher. From his website:

While a professor of film and photography at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Liebling began what was to be a longtime collaborative relationship with filmmaker Allen Downs; over the following two decades, they produced several award-winning documentaries, including Pow Wow, The Tree is Dead, and The Old Men.

The only film to which I could find substantial external reference was Pow Wow, which is described on Boston Public Library’s website thusly:

Using concealed telephoto lenses, the University of Minnesota band is photographed while rehearsing. They wheel and careen to form the figures which look so effective on the playing field, but are more like a Mack Sennett comedy at close range. A film by Allen Downs and Jerome Liebling.

That, and the fact that successful documentary filmmakers such as Ken Burns have trained under Professor Liebling, suggests an interest in documenting and re-contextualizing events. It’s interesting how this interest can be seen in the images selected here.

The photographs in this exhibition seem to provide an overview of Liebling’s work, a sampler of sorts. If memory serves, they’re not arranged chronologically or by subject. As for any continuity that bridges the five decades covered in forty-plus images, the handout suggests an emphasis on surface, in a single paragraph that borders on artspeak gobbletygook. For example:

Although grounded in tactility, the rawness of Liebling’s photographs departs from mere physicality and begins to reveal the more intangible underpinnings of his artistic endeavor. As Liebling depicts (a variety of subjects), he reframes surfaces as creative spaces that reveal the range of human productivity and the depths of the human capacity for creativity itself.

The illusion of tactility is present here in abundance, but all rawness is subsumed, in my opinion, by the artist’s masterful technique and his obviously very careful selectivity. All images are plumb, posed, and, in the case of photographs documenting the homes of famous New Englanders such as Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson, they’re dusted, polished and ready for ticket-holders. As for reframing surfaces as creative spaces that reveal the range of human productivity, I suspect it may be the caffeine talking.

What interested me most about this show is the way that many images either echo or prefigure various personalities and developments in the popular and fine art of 20th century America.

The children in Liebling’s photographs from the 1940’s are well-dressed and well cared for, and remind me of Hal Roach’s “Our Gang” comedies from the 30’s and Hummel figurines, those made-in-Germany decorations common to American homes of the time.

Jerome Liebling, Butterfly Boy

Jerome Liebling, Butterfly Boy, New York City, 1949, from the artist’s website

Butterfly Boy, New York City, is adorable in every which-a-way. I want to give this dapper guy an ice cream, tell him a funny joke and make him laugh. If there’s any hint of the intricacies of growing up in the city, perhaps it’s his coat ‘wings,’ extended as if to try them out for the first time; they’re more bat than butterfly, and portend adolescent dives through the glow of streetlamps.

Some relationships between Liebling’s work and American painting are glaring. The subject of Miner’s Wife, Hibbing, Minnesota, from 1983, sits perfectly within the wooden frame of a screen door, her every feature flattened by the worn screen into a Grant Wood painting. The image seeks a worker’s socialist revival, but the woman’s expression betrays the realization that this is not forthcoming. Morning, Monessen, Pennsylvania, out-Hoppers Hopper. The shirtless Counselor, Camp Taconic, Hinsdale, Massachusetts, photographed in 1980, is an image worthy of Paul Cadmus, complete with erotic undertones.

These similarities come off almost as homage, and strike me as an interesting counterpoint to Post-Modern appropriation, particularly its photographic incarnation with its attendant cynicism, that drove the previous story of art to its end. Clearly this is a body of work that maintains a faith of pictures, and this, for me, is the one point of continuity that rides effortlessly through the five decades shown.

In spite of the exhibition’s title, Liebling’s photography, at least as represented here, hardly monumentalizes the everyday. But, much more in keeping with its small scale, this work is quiet, masterfully self-assured, and, at its best, like the small barn in Barn, Foliage, Hadley, Massachusetts, it casts a long and interesting shadow.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Comments (3)

Minds Eye Copyright © 2008 ART-tistics Blog. Powered by WordPress.