SOFA New York: Standouts Part I

19 Apr

I took a quick spin through the Sculptural Objects & Functional Art Exposition (SOFA) at the Park Avenue Armory this weekend. There were a lot of interesting booths, but four artists stood out from the pack. Here’s a look at the first two that really impressed me.

Joost van Bleiswijk

Van Bleiswijk is a young Dutch artist that transforms classic objects into striking works of contemporary design. His pieces reveal a wide range of influences, including religion, ancient art and the game of chess. These interests were especially apparent in the gold glass pieces on display at SOFA. The works simultaneously recalled chalices, chess pieces, and antique lamp bases. The metallic glass, however, made the forms feel incredibly new.

Michael Eden

I fell in love with Michael Eden’s work the minute I spied the tangled forms of his Wedgewood-inspired ceramics from across the expo floor. I pointed out each of his pieces as I walked through the booth, gasping, “All the best ones are by Eden!” A former potter,Michael Eden translates his knowledge of the ancient art into the digital age. He designs his works with computer imaging software and uses 3D printing technology to produce the final product. Watch him explain the complex process in the YouTube clip below.

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The Dinner Party

15 Apr

I have had the pleasure of seeing numerous iconic artworks in person. I rarely get “startstruck” by the big names anymore. That’s why it was such a wonderful treat to see The Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum recently.

I remember when I first learned about The Dinner Party in my high school AP Art History course. (How cool is it that my school offered Art History?) The piece was my first exposure to both feminist art and installation art, the two main areas that would eventually inform my graduate research. Because these two fields played such a large role in my education, The Dinner Party showed up repeatedly in my coursework. Viewing it at the Brooklyn Museum was a big deal for me and the piece did not disappoint.

The Dinner Party is a massive multimedia installation created by Judy Chicago in the late 1970s. It took 6 years and hundreds of collaborators to bring Chicago’s vision to life. The piece is a triangular banquet table with 39 place settings, each designed for an important woman from history. Each place has an embroidered table runner and ceramic plate decorated with imagery specific to the woman that they commemorate. The table sits on a white tiled floor with the names of 999 additional women inscribed in gold. The piece celebrates 1,038 individuals in total. This expansive survey of women’s history is so significant because it was created during a time when women were still largely marginalized from the historical narrative.

The Brooklyn Museum’s display begins with a series of 6 Entry Banners that introduce the color palette and symbols of the ceremonial banquet. The banners bear quotes that convey Chicago’s vision of equality.

When you enter the banquet “hall,” you find yourself at the place reserved for the Primordial Goddess, the oldest of Chicago’s guests of honor. The guests are arranged chronologically, allowing visitors to move forward through history as they circumnavigate the table.

The open triangle shape of the table is a symbol of equality and femininity. Chicago celebrates the feminine even further through the vaginal shapes echoed in the ceramic place settings and the use of traditionally female arts such as sewing, needlework, and weaving. By elevating these domestic arts to the realm of high art, Chicago validates the artistic accomplishments of women throughout history.

There is a series of Heritage Panels placed outside the installation. The panels outline the 999 women whose names are written on the tiled floor. The names are organized by the place setting they correspond to.

Like most installation art, The Dinner Party is one of those works that needs to be viewed in person. Seeing images of the table and the individual place settings did not compare to being in the space. The Brooklyn Museum has created a really special context for the piece. The room hums with an energy that can’t be sensed through photographs.

The Dinner Party is on permanent display at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art on the fourth floor of the Brooklyn Museum. Some of Judy Chicago’s other works are currently on exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design and the Hebrew Union College Museum.

Cheap Fix: First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum

12 Apr

This Joint is Jumpin'

Hubs and I crossed the East River recently to experience one of the Brooklyn Museum’s infamous First Saturdays. The monthly event is a cheapskate’s dream: free music, lectures, performances, and art all under one roof. Plus there are lots of inexpensive restaurants and bars nearby. Pocketbooks, rejoice!

The museum crams a lot of entertainment into the six hour program. April’s lineup included a jazz band, a screening of Wuthering Heights, a life drawing session and several curator talks, among other activities. However, many of the sessions have ticketing restrictions.  The Brooklyn Museum’s website lists the times that tickets are made available for each event. I highly recommend that you find yourself in line at the alloted time. We really wanted to see the Kenny Muhammad concert, but the tickets were gone before our 5 train had even hit City Hall.

We decided to ease our disappointment with some dinner. The museum cafe is open during First Saturdays, but we were in the mood for something a bit more substantial than wraps and sandwiches. There are several great restaurants on Washington Avenue, just across the street from the museum. We decided on a small family-owned Greek spot named Teddy’s. It was crazy delicious.

Pitstop at Teddy's

After getting hyped up on hummus and red wine, we started our tour with the reOrder installation by Situ Studio. The glowing mushroom structures have transformed the Great Hall into a sci-fi plaza for patrons to congregate and hang out.

reOrder by Situ Studio

Next we made our way to the third floor. If possible, I highly recommend taking the stairs to navigate the many floors of the Brooklyn Museum on First Saturdays. The line for the elevator was long and slow. The third floor is the sight of the First Saturday dance parties. This particular weekend the hilarious DJ duo Andrew/Andrew held court, playing a range of pop favorites.

Andrew/Andrew

We bypassed the dance floor to catch a glimpse of the Egyptian galleries. However, it was really hard to appreciate ancient art with the steady thump of Rhianna in the background. We eventually abandoned our cause and moved on to the fourth floor. I was really excited to see the Lorna Simpson exhibit and the permanent display of The Dinner Party.

The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago.

By the time we left the fourth floor, the museum was really crowded. The third floor dance party was in full swing and the lobby bar was swarmed.

Club Brooklyn Museum

We had a great time at the Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturday. We loved the performances, the people watching, and the dancing. The only thing we didn’t really enjoy was the art. The museum is just too crowded to really engage with the exhibitions during First Saturdays. I suggest that you visit the event in search of fun and save another day for your in-depth perusal of the galleries. Besides, it’s kind of cool to have a night at the museum that revolves around everything but the collection.

The next Target First Saturday will be on May 7th. Check the Brooklyn Museum’s website for updates about the night’s activities.

State of the Blog: Goal!

8 Apr

 

Mysteries Yellow and Blue by Kenneth Noland.

In January I outlined some blogging resolutions to help Art Binge flourish in 2011. Resolution #2 was to reach 5,000 views by June. Well, folks, we have skyrocketed past 5,000 views with over a month to spare!

Thanks for your continued support of Art Binge. Keep reading and posting in the comments. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the New York art scene. Many more posts on the way!

Last Chance: Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand

7 Apr

The Flatiron by Edward Steichen, 1904.

This weekend is your last chance to view Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand at the Met. The exhibition highlights the work of the three masters of early photography. The show is split into three galleries, giving each artist his due. The relationship between the three contemporaries, however, is thoughtfully interwoven between the three spaces.

My favorite pieces were Stieglitz’s Georgia O’Keefe portraits and Steichen’s ethereal landscapes.

Georgia O'Keefe - Hands and Horse Skull by Alfred Stieglitz, 1931.

Georgia O'Keefe - Hands by Alfred Stieglitz, 1919.

Georgia O'Keefe by Alfred Stieglitz, 1918.

While I had studied Stieglitz’s portraits in my Art History courses, Steichen was a real discovery for me. His grainy, hazy photographs are captivating.

Woods Interior by Edward Steichen, 1899.

Balzac, Towards the Light, Midnight by Edward Steichen, 1908.

The Big White Cloud, Lake George by Edward Steichen, 1903.

Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand closes on Sunday, April 10th.

Related Reading

  • A history of Pictorialism in America from the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
  • The NY Times review of Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand from November 2010

I Want to Go to There

5 Apr

Planning a trip? Live outside of New York? See if one of these fabulous exhibitions will cross your path this Spring.

Detroit

  • This is the last week to catch Fakes, Forgeries & Mysteries at the Detroit Institute of the Arts. The show explores how the museum solves questions of attribution, authenticity and value using research, science and technology. The curatorial team has selected over 60 works of art to illustrate the various mysteries that have puzzled the DIA staff throughout the years.

Philadelphia

  • Can’t visit Paris in springtime? Head to Philly for the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Paris Through the Window: Marc Chagall and His Circle. The exhibition examines the group of artists that gathered in the Montparnasse neighborhood of Paris during the early 20th century. The narrative focuses on Marc Chagall and his relationship with other émigré artists of the period such as Alexander Archipenko, Amedeo Modigliani and Jules Pascin.

Indianapolis

  • There has been a lot of discussion about the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s retrospective of outsider artist Thornton Dial’s work. And for good reason. I had the pleasure of viewing several of his artworks at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in 2007. I would love to see this comprehensive display. The exhibition, Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial, features over 70 of the Alabama artist’s paintings, drawings, and found-object sculptures.

Paris

  • Oh, you guys. The Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art’sVaudou exhibition has all the trappings of a real blockbuster show. The catalog is glossy and the website uses an unnecessary amount of Flash animation. Best of all, the objects are enthralling. The nearly 100 Voodoo sculptures are presented as contemporary art objects, spotlighted in an environment crafted by Italian designer Enzo Mari. The overall effect is supposed to be very haunting.

Happy travels!

Alligators in the Big Apple

3 Apr

The History Channel is promoting the new season of Swamp People with a public art marketing campaign that brings to life the old “alligators in the sewers” myth. The show’s marketing team has placed a number of very realistic alligator sculptures around New York City. The reptiles are depicted slithering in and out of manholes in a number of high traffic locations.

Have you spotted a sewer gator?