The term “active shooter” is one we hear too often in today’s news. Here, Heap of Birds uses this contemporary phrase to characterize massacres committed by United States troops against Native Americans in the 1800s. Each of this work’s panels contains six lines of text evoking the violence of not only this country’s history but ongoing acts of oppression against Indigenous communities. The prints on the right are “ghost prints” of those on the left, made by using the residual ink remaining on the printing plate after the first print was produced. For the artist, these prints recall the “ghosts of a whole culture.”
In the video below from the museum, the artist discusses the work with two of MoMa’s curators.
Artist Claes Oldenburg passed away this week at the age of 93. He was most famous for his large scale sculptures of everyday objects, many of which were produced with his wife Coosje van Bruggen, who passed away in 2009.
While primarily working in sculpture, early in his career in the 1960s he also created “happenings”- theatrical art related performances and collaborations with other artists in his circle. In 1985 he returned to performance and along with van Bruggen, architect Frank Gehry, and writer Germano Celant presented Il Corso del Coltello (The Course of the Knife) in Venice, Italy. In 2021, Pace Gallery in NYC, as part of the two gallery exhibition Claus & Coosje, showed work from this performance, pictured below.
From Pace’s website about the performance-
This ambitious event involved the creation and embarkation of a sea-worthy sculpture in the shape of a giant Swiss army knife. With oars protruding from its red-enameled hull as if from a Viking longship, the image of Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s Knife Ship sailing the Grand Canal has become iconic, while the massive kinetic sculpture was later shown in the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and finally at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
With so much of Oldenburg’s work, the examination of the ordinary object engages the viewer with what they might previously taken for granted and gives them a chance to look again with new eyes. There is also something lighthearted and fun, as well as investigative, about his body of work.
(image via Whitney Museum’s website)
The Whitney Museum has a video showing the process of assembling his soft sculpture Giant BLT(Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich) 1963, which involves putting the sandwich together piece by piece.
For more on Oldenburg, MoMA has a tribute that includes the words of people who knew him as well as his own. His 1961 artist statement is wonderful and worth reading in its entirety, here is the opening section-
I AM FOR
I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum.
I am for an art that grows up not knowing it is art at all, an art given the chance of having a starting point of zero.
I am for an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap and still comes out on top.
I am for an art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary, or violent, or whatever is necessary.
I am for all art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.
I am for an artist who vanishes, turning up in a white cap painting signs or hallways.
The Guardian’s obituary is also worth a read for more information on the artist’s history.
As part of MoMA’s Opening Season, they are showing Betye Saar’s 1969 work, Black Girl’s Window, along with several of her works on paper.
The exhibition “explores the relation between her experimental print practice and the new artistic language debuted in that famous work, tracing themes of family, history, and mysticism, which have been at the core of Saar’s work from its earliest days.”
William Eggleston, Tennesee (image via Metropolitan Museum of Art)
There are two great photography exhibitions happening in New York. William Eggleston’s Los Alamos, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is comprised of seventy-five of his dye transfer prints from color negatives made between 1965 and 1974. The color in these images is incredible as is his ability to evoke feeling from work that is deceptive in its simplicity. Enhancing the exhibition are a series of quotes from the artist located on various walls, which offer a glimpse into his process and philosophy.
The Museum of Modern Art’s Stephen Shore exhibition includes work from his entire career- his start as a teenager meeting with Edward Steichen, time spent with Andy Warhol at The Factory, his large format images from around America, and finally his work in Israel and his current Instagram. The body of work is impressive and where Eggleston’s work feels like it’s creating a dreamworld from the mundane, Shore’s work seems to present things as they are in true documentary form. Pictures of meals and hotel rooms force the viewer to look at things they usually take for granted in a new way. Not to say that there aren’t images like the large format work, that present an idealistic beauty. Also included, and especially charming, are his stereographs- presented at a small table the images become three dimensional as you peer through the viewer.
Stephen Shore, Amarillo, Texas, July 1972 (1972) Image courtesy 303 Gallery
Stephen Shore, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California, August 13, 1979 1979. image courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art
The dead baby boy USA, Berlin, December 2015 / Shadow of baby, Berlin, December 2015 (image via Matthew Marks Gallery)
Motherlove: Ayla and Tjioe in a Berlin bar, New York, June 2016 (image via Matthew Marks Gallery)
Nan Goldin currently has two exhibitions in New York City. The Museum of Modern Art is showing The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, a slide show of almost 700 images Goldin took documenting her life and the lives of those around her, starting in the 1970’s and continuing through 2004. The show has taken place in various iterations throughout the years and includes a soundtrack with music from The Velvet Underground and James Brown among others. While it plays you watch the people in these images party, fight, get married, have children, and sometimes, like Goldin’s good friend Cookie Mueller, die, all in a span of about 45 minutes. It’s hard to see these photos and not be left wanting to know more as you are drawn into this intimate world. This exhibition runs until 2/12/17.
It’s interesting to see the work at MoMA and then to see Nan Goldin:blood on my hands, at Matthew Marks Gallery. It is the first public exhibition of her drawings as well as her new “grid” photos. The small drawings come from diaries Goldin has been keeping since childhood. They are often disturbing but the content adds insight into the personal life and thoughts of someone who has already shared so much. You can also see parallels in the drawings and her photo work, in terms of both content and style.
The photos in the exhibition are large pieces, each created around a specific color, and each taking up a wall in the gallery. The images that combine to make them are from different places and time periods and yet they flow as if they were always meant to be arranged with each other. The results are more contemplative then her other work and an interesting progression. This show closes 12/23/16.