Last night I attended an opening for Gravity & Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui at the Brooklyn Museum. The show opens today and runs through August 4. I brought my handy lo-fi Blackberry camera so be ready for some awesome shots! They let anyone snap away as long as there was no flash.
The exhibition originated at the Akron Art Museum and will travel to the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa followed by the Bass Museum of Art, Miami, Florida. It would be worthwhile to see the exhibition in all 4 locations since El Anatsui gives the curators, exhibition/installation managers and art handlers free rein in how to install the pieces. If you look at the photos of the pieces in Akron you will see they are not quite the same in Brooklyn. They are the same artworks but just draped and reconstructed in different ways. More
Currently on view at The Met is a small, focused exhibition African Art, New York & the Avant-Garde. The photo above best describes what the show aims to do: put you in the home and atmosphere of the art patrons who were bold enough to collect African art juxtaposing it with Modern and Contemporary art just after the New York Armory show in 1913. There are approximately 40 masks and sculptures from West and Central Africa along with photos, paintings, drawings and sculpture by Charles Sheeler, Alfred Stieglitz, Constantin Brancusi, Francis Picabia, Diego Rivera, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, among others.
I wish that everyone would go see it, especially a nasty man who came into the gallery (full disclosure: I work in an art gallery that specializes in antique tribal art from Africa and Oceania) and told me that all the masks and figures look the same and there is no way that Picasso or Matisse were influenced by African art. I cited Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907, as an example but he refused to believe me. The Museum of Modern Art who owns the painting even states on the gallery label next to the painting:
“Picasso drew on sources as diverse as Iberian sculpture, African tribal masks, and El Greco’s painting to make this startling composition.”
Needless to say the man walked out of the gallery unconvinced and I felt a little sad for him because there are so many things in the world that are influenced and tied to each other, as disparate as they seem, if he would only open his mind a bit. Anyhoo. More
Today Mickalene Thomas’s first solo museum exhibition opens at the Brooklyn Museum. It is great, and so is the Bk Museum’s website for the show. There’s a playlist Thomas has created and a slide show of the installation.
The show is subtitled “Origin of the Universe,” which is a reference to the Gustave Courbet painting “Origin of the World.” Thomas also interprets another iconic French work, Edouard Manet’s “Le dejeuner sur l’herbe” to fun effect. If she has made works of interiors or landscapes before, I’m not familiar with them, and saw some for the first time last night. A few of the interiors I loved but the landscapes were okay. I love when she has models and combinations of textiles, patterns, textures in the paintings. She’s represented by Lehmann Maupin here in New York. They will have an exhibition of work opening November 1. More