I've talked about Neri some before, about how I don't love his statuary works, but the new exhibition at The Anderson is a remarkable presentation of his work, and especially his works on paper, that really move me.
Remember that thing where I said that Pop Art, and Thiebaud in specific, was about the staged nature of th eworld and capturing that in paint? Yeah, that's all about Flatland River, now on display at SFMoMA!
Funkadoobiest. That is what I would qualify this as. Wiley is a personal fave, and this is weird, but it is really in the deatils that this one feels, I dunno, whole.
There are words, there are unrelated (or at least lightly-related) images, and there's a weird fish. The overall effect is at once Surrealist, and stylized, like an Art Deco homage to the dreams of Man Ray. It's nothing like that in presentation, but it's a cool phrase that I've been wanting to use...
There is joy and terror and wonder and threat to this piece. I Love the effect it gives off, that there is life, and the connection to Heironymous Bosch, the master of mingling horror with frantic joy with existential angst with pure flippin' glee, only ramps it up a little!
There are many people in the history of art whose works I adore, but the one work of their's I have access to is not my fave. Martin Puryear is an artist who I have been a fan of since I came across his stuff at the MoMA years ago. Just about the only piece there that I did not connect with was Dumb Luck. The whole Dumb Objects thing is weird to me, and here the name seems to refer to the shape of the piece, roughly lock-like, but at the same time, calling to mind a shoe. Or a coffee cup. Or a pacifier. But it's none of those. It's a dumb object; it's of a form that is useless, dumb, functionless, like all art, right?
The problem for me here, and not with at least passingly similar works by the likes of Ruth Asawa, is that it has nothing beyond that. Yes, I get that it's kinda the point here, but there is making that point with something like Asawa's hanging 'baskets' that creates something in the space where it is exhibited, while this, this is just there, not just a dumb object, but an object that draws you in with the promise of 0% payoff.
And that's what Puryear is really good at! He draws, he leaves breadcrumbs for you to follow, but in his other work (and the 2008 MoMA exhibit demonstrates it beautifully), you don't feel like you've been led into a field and left alone. Here, that's what I feel, and it's annoying more than thoughtful.
A look at a piece in the Anderson that I completely over-looked... I mean saw beneath...
This is a painting of post-war America, moving forward, busy, hustling, streaming into the future. The flag shows that we were the winners, we had beaten back Japan, gone over and kicked Uncle Fritz right in the monocle! We were getting ready for the boom, the best years of our lives, of all lives, ever.
And yet, here, no one is looking at you. Every back is towards you, as if you didn't matter. As if you were the one being left behind.
This one hurts. It really does. It is a painful reminder that not everyone goes on to the bigger and the better and the best. Some of us watch the backs of those with ambition or connection or innovation or whatever. We are at the back of the pack, watching as the stream flows away from us, while we are the stones the creek flows over, maybe making a ripple, but often not even that.
Christopher Brown is a helluva painter. This work was created, then sanded, then re-painted, and thus it makes it feel imprecise, or perhaps more accurately, like a memory fading. By the time he painted it in 1992, the memory was fading, we were no longer that America of 1946, fresh off the bomb and V-E and every other cliche. We were still moving away, still reaching for a new tomorrow, but it was nothing like what those Pamplonaing away from us would recognise. The painting of 1992 would be the same idea, different clothing, different timing, but the same idea; not every one moves ahead.
Christopher J Garcia - Curator, Fan Writer, Podcaster, and a guy who just loves art.