Travelling with the Art Student

OK, so we’ve been away from home for just over a week, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much art in so short a time. Such is life when shared with an Art Student. Here’s a partial list of the artists we’ve seen so far, in Los Angeles and New York, with many more to come.

  • James Turrell: just one piece, Ganzfield, one of his gorgeously reorientating immersive light works
  • Chris Burden: Metropolis II, a fabulous model city with thousands of tiny model cars; and a piece outside the LA County Museum of Art consisting of refurbished light poles
  • Archibald Motley, an African American from early last century: lots of scenes of nightlife, and a beautiful, genuinely sexy portrait of his wife
  • Mark Grotjahn: what can I say? I like his asymmetrical butterfly-shaped abstractions
  • Francis Upritchard, a New Zealander exhibiting at the Hammer in LA: small figures of humans and dinosaurs (separate from each other). I especially liked a figure that had cyclone fencing patterns imprinted on its skin, which along with its quasi-Arabic costume made me think of the inner injuries done by the many current imprisonments and detentions of middle-Eastern people – the piece is called ‘Nincompoop’, so my reading may be miles from the artist’s intentions
  • Jim Hodges: an exhibition called Give More Than You Take, work ranging from a stretched ski mask pinned to a wall and silver-chain spider webs to a vast monochromatic tapestry image of sun shining through clouds. Also some beautiful drawings of flowers
  • Mario Garcia Torres: a performance piece in which an actor representing Alan Smithee, the pseudonym used by directors who don’t want their name associated with films over which they have lost artistic control, speaks about his curious non-existence/existence
  • Michael Arad & Peter Walker: the 9/11 Memorial, great cascades of water disappearing down into a void
  • Ruud van Empel, a Dutch photographer: beautiful composite images created seamlessly from hundred of individual photos – technically staggering, but I was creeped out by the images of naked young women
  • Ai Wei Wei: new work – a half lifesize maquette of himself showering while a prison guard watches closely; some antique vases painted with car enamel; a selfie he took at the moment of his recent arrest
  • Tom Otterness: besides the little figures in odd crannies of the 14th Street Station, we saw an axhibiton at the Marlborough Gallery, Creation Myth, cartoonish sculptures in which a female figure creates a male figure, in bronze, marble, and big in steel; also some same-sex kissing (actually two cones kissing, and two spheres kissing, but we knew what he meant)
  • Brian Rutenberg: Saltwater, featuring very thickly applied paint in stylised landscapes
  • Federico Uribe: Drawn in Pencils, portraits created in
    coloured pencils – the pencils themselves cut up and put together pretty much as sculptures. Also one ‘painting’ in shoelaces. Uribe is from Colombia
  • Russian-born Alexander Kaletski: Red Carpet, a series of witty paintings featuring a red carpet with a whiff of the connotations of red from his past in the USSR
  • Group Zero, a huge exhibition at the Guggenheim: avant garde European work from the late 50s and early 60s by Heinz Mack (who was into shiny metal in a good way), Otto Piene, Yves Klein, etc. Light, burnt canvas, nails, a collection of cupcake holders … So much that is being offered as new now was explored in Europe then
  • V S Gaitode (1924–2001): also at the Guggenheim, an Indian modernist who did really lovely, quiet abstractions
  • Judy Chicago: The Dinner Party – amazing to think that if one Elizabeth Sackler hadn’t endowed her Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Art Museum, this work might never have been seen after its first showing. It’s absolutely stunning in any number of ways
  • Chris Ofili: I’d seen a couple of this English artis’s Madonnas with elephant dung before. He works in brilliant colours, and it was one or two of the huge portraits with elephant dung ornamentation that most spoke to me here. For some reason the New Museum chose to exhibit one whole big room full of paintings in near darkness. People with better night vision than mine may have been able to see them
  • Jim Lambie: a floor in a gallery on 18th Street in Chelsea near our apartment is just like the one that featured in this year’s Biennale of Sydney. It was like meeting an old friend who wears too much make-up

And there are local tours, a visit to Queens and a trip to Philadelphia still to come!

2 responses to “Travelling with the Art Student

  1. how wonderful!


    • Hi Rebecca. Yes, it’s a real binge. And I left out the big concrete Picasso near some high rises on Bleeker Street, andGeorge Segal in the Port Authority Bus terminal and also in Stonewall Park


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