TRUTH #1: I really didn't understand everything I saw at the Whitney Biennial
TRUTH #2: This pisses me off and embarrasses me at the same time
TRUTH #3: It takes work to stay current and to understand the context of the art worlds latest offerings.
Okay Whitney Biennial, I didn't get it.......at first. So...we went to NY for a few days to drop off some work at the "Bridge" show, which is a MUCH smaller venue that feeds off of the big deal show, The Armory Show. Let's just say right off the bat, NY is AMaZinG! It's a field day of sensory input and stimulation. The smells, the people, the density, the visuals, the food alone is just so damn good! Street pizza......yummmm, and so many restaurants, and the desserts and the wine and, and (I am drooling) the fresh bread, and the pasta, and the coffee and...well you get the picture, but I want to talk about art. Hey, let's eat and drink talk about art. I love that.
First Stop: The Whitney Biennial. We have gone before, and it was wonderful, somewhat challenging, educational, interesting, totally worth the trip. This year, the curators focused on younger artists, which is great. I must say, we both enjoyed it, but were doing some head scratching. I needed more information. Clearly. One thing that stood out to me was a short film showing 6 blind people walking up and touching an elephant for the first time. Strangely riveting. Their descriptions were so varied. I felt like I was learning something. I also loved a guy who filled containers with found stuff and and opaque resin. Then he sliced the blocks of "homemade terrazzo" into slabs. Compelling and strangely good looking. This same artist made simple glass containers, then shipped them via Fed X . He displayed them, with all their cracks and chips from transit, along with their Fed X boxes.
TRUTH #5: My favorite thing at the Whitney was the coat check guy. yup.
I couldn't see him at first, but I could hear him yelling in a deep, booming barkers voice: "Step right up" "What will it be" "Blue!" "Yes!" "Brown!" "Excellent Choice!" In between his shouting, you heard a giant and beautiful jingling sound, which turns out to be 1000 tinkling metal coat hangers, bouncing off each other as the huge "dry cleaner" type system swung overhead. It was melodic and perfectly choreographed. A surprise and a delight. It played out, over and over, with amazing enthusiasm. I smile just thinking about it.
have I lost my edge?? perhaps. The show was really enjoyable, and I did love being there in the swim of my tribe. I did feel like those other lookers were my peeps, and it was packed. It was interesting, but I wasn't moved. I want to be moved....and not by Fed X.
Can I just say, I like painting and there wasn't much of that. There was tons of installation, which I love, and more good video than usual. On the whole, this was more conceptual stuff. Which is great if you know the concept. And whose job is it to learn about the concepts??? YOURS and MINE! And how do you learn??? GO TO THE ARMORY SHOW!!!!!! Also, it helps to put an artists work in context, along side their peers and against their previous work. I, as it turns out, am guilty for not taking the time to educate myself. I even allowed all my art mag subscriptions to lapse. They were piling up, and I finally admitted to myself that I wasn't reading them, I was barley looking at the pictures and what about all those trees??
Thank God for the Armory Show. It was brilliant! AND we saw so much more work by the artists who were chosen for the Biennial. This was unbelievably helpful!!! It all started to make sense! I still didn't always GET it, but it was fascinating! a great big, heaping helping of creative thinking. Tons of talent and some bullshit too. all good.
I heard a great quote about art from John Waters today, He said, and I paraphrase, Art is the opposite of movies, with movies you want everyone in the whole world to like them. Art, if everyone likes it in the art world, then it's TERRIBLE. He said, "The art I buy is what first makes me angry. All great art you hate at first, you have to learn how to see it."
In 1913, at the very first Armory Show, a Matisse reclining nude caused a scandal. Now it's a masterpiece.
DOES ART EVER PISS YOU OFF?????
HOW DO YOU WANT ART TO MAKE YOU FEEL??