Met up with a good friend today and made our first stop Yoshitomo Nara at the Asia Society. "Nobody's fool" is a charming three-floor exhibition of installation, sculpture, painting, and drawing. Though I have a slight distaste for most Neopop, I was struck by the utter sincerity and completeness of Nara's vision as well as the excellent craft of his paintings. After Nara, we made a quick stop by the Frick to see an excellent exhibition of drawings by Goya and Ribera. The following stop was to see John Currin's latest paintings on the sixth floor of the Gagosian franchise on Madison Avenue. As always, Currin perplexes by mixing impeccable craft with his snide vision of beauty and ugliness. The ultimate goal for the day was Messerschmidt show of portrait busts at the Neue Galerie. (Here I'll defer to the NYT review.) I've chased these heads all over Europe and this was a rare chance to see so many in one place. The surprise treat of the day was the concurrent display of postcards from the Wiener Werkstatte. Thanks to A. for the great day!
Yesterday I learned that a good many New Yorkers eat Thanksgiving dinner in Chinatown. (Not a surprise really, since a good many people can be found doing anything in this city at any given moment.) Today while much of America (NYC included) was hunting for bargains, I spent the better part of the day trolling Chesea for art. (Doorbuster sale: 5 million off your first five installations!) Right away I stumbled across a Maine favorite, Dozier Bell, and her show of show of tiny, gray-- and very romantic--landscape drawings. Romanticism seemed to a dominant theme with a major exhibition of Anselm Kiefer just down the block At a previous exhibition at Gagosian, he left the space quite open to see paintings, with enormous, but low-lying sculptures of rolling concrete and steel. Kiefer's current show seems to be a return to form using his most familiar shattered glass and lead. The space was quite packed with vertical sculptures, paintings, and people. Mood and expectation greatly affects the viewing of art and I was in a rare good mood that put me quite of tune with Kiefer's relentless and somber reflection on the Holocaust. The equally cheerful crowds did not help as one couple posed for snapshots next to the photos of saluting Nazis and offered their own rendition. I made a pledge to return and went on to something more lyrical in the form of show of recent large works by Brice Marden. Though his current paintings are almost as gray as Kiefer's, the looping movement of Marden's lines was more in accord with my energy. The chief distraction here was in the form of the artist himself, who was standing in the center of the gallery inspecting his show at the time. While I have utmost respect for Marden as a living legend, I really had nothing to pester him about. So I let Brice be and moved on to the next venue. The timing of Kim Dorland's work in Mike Weiss Gallery seems to make it a parody of Kieffer. It is a smaller carnival of painting and sculpture, featuring dripping landscapes of white aspen and taxidermy wolf covered in purple paint. I had to chuckle at the bravura incompetence of his technique with off bits of yarn tacked on here and there and 3-inch deck screws used for emphasis, it is gleefully bad . There was lots more to see from photo-installations with cracking Tesla coils, to simple drawings, with only a few galleries on holiday. Too much to relate and I'll have no doubt more the next day.
Kim Dorland Lavender Wolf, 2010 Oil, acrylic, screws and yarn on taxidermy 44 x 66 x 21 inches
Arrived in Manhattan late last night. The Fung-Wah bus took forever to get in allowing me enough time to get pretty engrossed in The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. ..so much so that I had a late start on the day reading and then stopping for a haircut to trim off some of the Portland shag. (Scruffy won't do in NYC.) Galleries seemed to be closing early for the holiday but I did make it to Mary Boone before closing and caught their current exhibition of works on paper by Francesco Clemente. While I've never been a huge fan of his work, the small works on paper were particularly nice and quite complex, as was some of the larger watercolors.
After, I took a leisurely walk to Grand Central, reminiscing about my old commute to Madison and 59th and enjoying the holiday lights along the way.