POSTED BY Katie R., ON May 24, 2011, Comments Off
This morning, Kay Rosen’s GO DO GOOD was unveiled at the corner of State and Washington Streets. The message—go do good—will permeate the loop this summer and calls on Chicagoans to engage in good deeds and works. In addition to the six-story sign, you’ll also see the message pop up in a variety of places, including street banners, the el platform at State and Lake, and on buttons worn by Art Institute security officers!
As you might remember, Rosen is known for text-based works that explore how we decode and structure language. Similar to the Art Institute’s Hug Hugh Ugh, GO DO GOOD uses just three letters, but cleverly creates a series of words that unfold to the reader over time. Check out more of Rosen’s visual wordplay in Gallery 293C at the Art Institute. Then, in the spirit of the work, do something nice!
Image courtesy of United Way of Metro Chicago
If you’ve noticed some rather psychedelic changes on the Bluhm Family Terrace of the Modern Wing, don’t worry, you’re not hallucinating. It’s a new installation by SoCal contemporary artist Pae White. For the very first time, White is transforming the terrace from a location for art to an art installation in and of itself.
The piece, called Restless Rainbow, references White’s interest in textiles, graphic design, and animation and effectively answers the question, “What would it look like if a rainbow fell from the sky?” The resulting vibrant, geometric pattern will completely cover the space, as if a rainbow collapsed on to the terrace. Above you can see a shot mid-installation, as the art installers adhere and smooth out the complicated graphics. The vinyl wrap will eventually cover all the visible glass walls with a spectrum of bright colors. Instead of using the space as a site for looking out at the city skyline, White invites visitors to immerse themselves in the polychromatic pattern of a fallen rainbow.
POSTED BY Katie R., ON May 04, 2011, Comments Off
The newly installed Vater Staat by German artist Thomas Schuttë cuts an imposing figure in the Modern Wing’s Griffin Court. Over 12 feet tall and made of bronze, the monumental sculpture dominates the space around it. The title, which translates to “Father State,” references Schuttë’s ongoing interest in the effect of totalitarian regimes on the human condition. Also, like many artists raised in post-war Germany, he is also responding to his native country’s history and politics, as well as the difficulty in creating public memorials. However, although the stoic figure overwhelms visitors walking by, the binding around his body renders him powerless.
POSTED BY Robby S., ON February 25, 2011, Comments Off
Last week, I sneaked into Contemporary Collecting: The Judith Neisser Collection a few days before the official opening. Like many people, I admit to bringing certain preconceived notions about what an exhibition comprised primarily of American Minimalist and Conceptualist art from the 1960s to present day would look like. While there was no shortage of stark geometric compositions by the likes of Blinky Palermo and Sol LeWitt, I was rather surprised by the wide range of artworks under the Minimalist and Conceptualist umbrella. The life-size nude drawing at the center of the exhibition by Marlene Dumas, in particular, forced me to reconsider my previous ideas about the collection. Judith Neisser’s rigorous selection of key works from these movements allows both the novice and the adept to not only see these largely misunderstood disciplines by virtue of their most essential artists, but also a diversity in practice that seems all the richer in light of its limitations.
Roman Opalka’s 1965/1-∞ (Detail 4135702-41622229) looks from afar like a white on white canvas composition similar to the works of Robert Ryman, also featured in this exhibition and explored in greater detail in a recent post. However, upon closer inspection, the texture in the composition is, in fact, sequential numbers meticulously handwritten to cover the canvas space. Part of a never-ending series of “details” which begin with number 1 and continue toward infinity, I couldn’t help but consider the artist’s experience in this seemingly tedious task of writing number after number, piece after piece. Also part of a series, Lucio Fontana’s Concetto spaziale il’oro e bello come il sole explores the use of monochrome and destruction as a force of creation. What deceptively looks like a thick block of gold-enameled metal is, in fact, an oil canvas hanging squarely on the wall with no frame. Holes, which appear to be melted through the otherwise plain, smooth surface, expose the wall behind it. In these works that force the viewer to consider both the composition and the process, a point converges where Minimalism and Conceptualism meet.
Few disciplines force us to question the nature of art like Conceptualism and, likewise, few movements raise the ire of the public so dramatically. Sherrie Levine, who gained notoriety in the 80s for photographing public domain photographs by Walker Evans and then copyrighting the photographed photos, expands upon her notion of appropriation with a cast bronze sculpture of a steer skull, clearly evoking while updating iconic O’Keeffe imagery. A marble bench by Jenny Holzer shares one of her engraved take-it-or-leave-it truisms, which range from the droll (“DYING AND COMING BACK GIVES YOU CONSIDERABLE PERSPECTIVE”) to the doleful (“TORTURE IS BARBARIC”). Holzer neither subscribes to nor disowns her readymade adages. Rather, the often playful statements interact with the permanence of their inscription, forcing us to not only to question Holzer’s advice but the presentation of subjective opinion as art.
Many of the pieces from Judith Neisser’s rich Contemporary collection are promised gifts to the museum and include, among others, works by Roni Horn, Cy Twombly, and Donald Judd.
I’ve never really been a fan of the lovey-dovey hearts-and-flowers aspects of Valentine’s Day. Which is probably why, despite there being many more seemingly appropriate works to celebrate today in the museum’s collection, on this particular day I’m choosing to highlight Kay Rosen’s spare black-and-white painting 4-1/2 Oxen.
It takes a moment (or maybe more than a moment) to “get” Rosen’s paintings. In this case, 4-1/2 Oxen refers to the word “ox” (as in the animal) written precisely 4.5 times—four and a half oxen. But one of Rosen’s primary interests is how we deconstruct and reconstruct language, so she might have guessed that one of the first ways that viewers might “read” this painting would be to latch on to the XOXO, a series of letters that commonly signifies love.
Rosen holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics from Northwestern University and her preoccupation with language runs deep in her work, which often contains synonyms, homonyms (as in the museum’s Sic [Sic] Sick), and wordplay (as in the museum’s Two Eiffels, among others). Such attention leads the viewer to acknowledge how they’re interpreting and connecting letters and words. For example, in Torsos Rot (one of the least romantic titles possible), did you read it as “TOR” “SOS” “ROT” or as the title of the work, “TORSOS ROT”? Did you read it as a palindrome? And how does your reading/viewing of the work change because of how the letters are written: three letters on three lines? It’s an overwhelming amount of information presented in seemingly simple terms.
So, Happy Valentine’s Day? At the very least, I hope you all have a little “XOXO” in your life.