Impressions

Ecstatic Alphabet/Heap of Langauge and Tom Sachs

I am really blessed to live in NYC, as well as have days like today, when I can sample from some of its bounty.

Just as I was finishing up work early, a friend emailed to remind me about Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Langauge at MoMA, a survey of text-based art. A very well-edited selection of 20th c. works on paper and printed works are on view, followed by a larger gallery with bigger projects by contemporary artists.

Among the first half-dozen works viewers will encounter are:

I was hooked. My favorite discoveries in the modern section were:

Marcel Broodthaers. Un Coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard. 1969. // Source: moma.org.

Marcel Broodthaers. Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard. 1969. // Source: moma.org.

Marcel Broodthaers‘ version of Stéphane Mallarmé’s “Un Coupe de Dés…” Simple redaction rectangles on translucent vellum. Hints of what will come, and what has past, is visible. The book is time, and the open spread the present moment. It’s such a simple idea, but so well executed, that its elegance is quite profound. Being moved by simple gestures is always welcome.

Carl Andre‘s now now (1967). I have mixed feelings about Andre, but the textual/typographic gesture was so simple, yet so evocative of objects in space, that I really had a durational experience, to my surprise. (See it on page 2 of this exhibition PDF.)

There were many more works I enjoyed by Henri Chopin and Christopher Knowles. Of course, it’s really amazing and cool that Robert Smithson‘s Heap of Language is on view.

The contemporary gallery provided a nice opportunity to see Shannon Ebner‘s large photos of landscape interventions, as well as Tauba Auerbach‘s paintings.

Tauba Auerbach, RGB Colorspace Atlas (Volume 1), 2011, Digital offset printing on mohawk superfine paper, 3200 pages, linen, binder's board, acrylic paint Measurements for closed book Binding: Daniel E. Kelm and Leah H. Purcell at the Wide Awake Garage in Easthampton, USA Edition of 3 / SOTA/S 2011-036/1. // Source: StandardOslo.no.

Tauba Auerbach, RGB Colorspace Atlas (Volume 1), 2011, Digital offset printing on mohawk superfine paper, 3200 pages, linen, binder’s board, acrylic paint Measurements for closed book Binding: Daniel E. Kelm and Leah H. Purcell at the Wide Awake Garage in Easthampton, USA Edition of 3 / SOTA/S 2011-036/1. // Source: StandardOslo.no.

Tauba Auerbach, RGB Colorspace Atlas. (2011). // Source: Rhizome.org.

Tauba Auerbach, RGB Colorspace Atlas. (2011). // Source: Rhizome.org.

Most of all, Auerbach’s recent RGB Colorspace Atlas series was ingenious and visually lush. They’re books—blank, hardbound, filled with pages so that it forms a perfect cube. Then, it’s airbrushed to create an RGB colorspace. Six examples are on view—three closed, three open—and they’re breathtakingly beautiful.

Paul Elliman. My Typographies (2). 1994 Paul Elliman (British, b. 1961). My Typographies (2). 1994. Photogram, 11 x 14" (27.9 x 35.6 cm) Courtesy the artist. © Paul Elliman. // Source: moma.org.

Paul Elliman. My Typographies (2). 1994 Paul Elliman (British, b. 1961). My Typographies (2). 1994. Photogram, 11 x 14″ (27.9 x 35.6 cm) Courtesy the artist. © Paul Elliman. // Source: moma.org.

I also appreciated getting to know the work of Paul Elliman (British, b. 1961), whose Found Fount series is a series of typologies of odds and ends. (Fount/Foundry/Font, get it?) The objects are on view, but the photograms are also very enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I decided to switch directions in the studio and give text-based art a rest to see what would happen to my work. I was afraid that working with text might be too easy or formulaic, and result in art that is too quick a read. Ecstatic Alphabets/Heap of Language reminded me of the joy of elegant solutions—textual or not—and my love of the printed page.

The crowds were in full force for Free Fridays at MoMA, rewarding persistence and patience. About a mile uptown, I visited Tom Sachs’ Space Program: Mars, organized by Park Avenue Armory and Creative Time.

Tom Sachs. Creative Time/Park Avenue Armory. Source: CreativeTime.org.

Tom Sachs. Creative Time/Park Avenue Armory. Source: CreativeTime.org.

Tom Sach's Space Program: Mars. Source: Park Avenue Armory newsletter.

Tom Sach’s Space Program: Mars. Source: Park Avenue Armory newsletter.

It was my first visit to the Armory. I knew that art and antique fairs are held there, so I understood that it is a huge space. Still, nothing quite prepared me for turning the corner of the sole freestanding wall in the Armory, and seeing the expanse of space populated by precisely-lit installations/stage sets as well as various artist-made (or artist’s studio-made) space vehicles.

The show was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and I found myself at a loss for words. I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone, so I’ll leave you with the fragment M shared with me: “It’s so earnest.” The exhibition continues through June 17. I recommend attending a public program, such as the Demonstrations. And allow lots of time.

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Art & Development, Community

Artist-curated shows and alumni notes

Summer is supposed to be the low season for art, but this is San Francisco and we don’t summer in the Hamptons; the fog rolls in just the same. A few galleries have mixed up their programming with artist-curated shows.

“They Knew What They Wanted”
Katy Grannan, Shannon Ebner, Jordan Kantor and Robert Bechtle curates selections from Altman-Siegal, Fraenkel, Berggruen and Ratio 3. Go see this show for insights into four interesting artist-curators, pictures and objects you wouldn’t normally get to see, and some really great works, including a communal ballpoint pen drawing initiated by Arte Povera artist Alighero e Boetti at Ratio 3.

A similar work by Alighero e Boetti, Mettere al mondo il mondo 1972 -73 penna biro blu su carta intelata 2 elementi, cm 159 X 164 cad. Source: Archivo Alighero Boetti.

If you aren’t familiar with Boetti’s work, have a look at the virtual tour at Archivo Alighero Boetti.

Over at Patricia Sweetow Gallery, abstract painter Kim Anno curates a group show called “Everyday Mystics.” I wish I could have made out the images in Ricardo Rivera‘s projections on and alongside reflective objects like helmets and metal cups. The idea was neat. I overheard the owner mentioning something about the work being about communicating with outer space, so I figured it’s just as well I couldn’t tell what was going on, since I’m not the intended audience. The MP3 player embedded in the center of a spinning turntable is crafty and chuckle-worthy.

Ali Naschke-Messing‘s thread installations shined with glitter and glowed with fluorescence. Two large floor-to-ceiling works that exploited incidental marks and holes in the existing architecture. A series of wall-based works, which incorporated some sort of putty or plaster, were striking in their simplicity and efficacy. The works are formal investigations of site and form and volume; they’re also catalysts for subtle perceptual experiences. From a distance (and in photographs), the works are almost imperceptible; I almost didn’t see one until it was right in front of me. In person—and particularly with PSG’s abundant afternoon light—the density of thread creates vibrancy. They are more materially substantial than Fred Sandback‘s string intallations, but not by much.

Suné Woods contributes some moving black and white photographs whose imagery is memorably unstable.

Woods is a recent MFAs from CCA (class of 2010). Naschke-Messing was my classmate (class of 2007); I’m proud to have studied alongside so many bright, hardworking, curious, supportive and respectful artists. They change directions, start new projects, stay connected, and keep showing. This summer, shows around town by my classmates include:

Lindsey White: Equivalent Exposures install at Baer Ridgway Exhibitions, Source: http://www.baerridgway.com/

Through July 17
Lindsey White: “Equivalent Exposures”
Quietly humorous and deceptively simple photographs, videos and sculpture
Baer Ridgeway, SOMA, SF

Through July 25
Robin Johnston : “meditations on space and time” (two-person show with Chelsea Pegram, Mills MFA candidate)
Data-driven weavings and drawings
Swarm Gallery, Oakland

Just closed July 10
Amanda Curreri: “Occupy The Empty”
Installation, text, video, participation
Ping Pong Gallery, Dogpatch, SF

Opens July 16
Erik Scollon: “The Urge”
Queer porcelain fetish-based installation
Ping Pong Gallery, Dogpatch, SF

And internationally, new media artist David Gurman is a 2010 TEDGlobal Fellow, participating in the technology and ideas conference in Oxford, UK.

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