While I appreciate Kandinsky’s place in the history of modern art, the Guggenheim show was still unsuccessful in making me a fan. I’ve never felt compelled by the majority of his paintings, and the show, the first full-scale American retrospective since 1985, certainly did not sway my opinion. Maybe it’s heresy to not die over such an exhibition.. I think the show was also similar to the recent Francis Bacon show in that having such a large quantity dulled down the work’s impact.
In any event, there are three smaller exhibitions strewn throughout the museum, which are definitely worth seeing, all of which employ an amazingly simple economy of means.
Anish Kapoor: Memory
Anish Kapoor, Memory, 2008. Cor-Ten steel, 14.5 x 9 x 4.5 m. Commissioned by Deutsche Bank in consultation with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin.
Memory, a site-specific sculpture by Anish Kapoor, is only partially visible from three different views. It’s essentially a hollow 24-ton Cor-Ten steel (think Richard Serra steel) egg, whose exterior can only be partially seen from two views, and whose pitch black interior can be seen from a rectangular hole in an adjacent gallery. It sounds simple enough, but the black void is so understated and beautiful. From a distance, it seems to be a black Ad Reinhardt painting, yet its close-range effects are closer to that of an Yves Klein monochrome. The gallery even contains a line which the viewer is not allowed to pass, which maintains the illusion of a two-dimensional space. Kapoor’s statement “I am a painter working as a sculptor” seems to encompass many of the interests at work here.
Intervals: Kitty Kraus
Kitty Kraus, Untitled, 2006. Ice, ink, light fixture, cable, and light bulb, dimensions variable. Courtesy Galerie Neu and the artist.
Kitty Kraus’s installation consists some sort of toxic seepage emanating from a burnt out lightbulb. Kraus placed a lightbulb within a frozen cube of ink, and allowed the heat to melt the ink, and eventually render the bulb charred and useless. The work’s sparse nature recalls its Minimal art fore-bearers, yet its spontaneity, adherence to chance, and use of small and commonplace objects places it closer to Arte Povera. The work is certainly not literal, yet evokes the current international sociopolitical situation.
Paired, Gold: Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Roni Horn
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled” (Golden), 1995. Plastic beads and metal rod, variable dimensions. © The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation, Courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.
I love Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s democratic use of simple, everyday objects. I was on the BQE two weeks ago and saw one of his bed billboards… I didn’t know they still existed..