(Andrea reviews a show of drawings and monumental sculptures in bronze and other materials by Barbara Chase-Riboud and finds them filled with historical, art historical and cultural references from across cultures and through time.–theartblog editors) In the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s (PMA ) stunning installation, each of Barbara Chase-Riboud’s five works from the series she dedicated to Malcolm X, stands in its own niche. She calls them steles, a term for upright, stone monuments inscribed with text, and a form that has survived from various ancient civilizations. Chase-Riboud’s steles are mysterious and imposing. Lit candles on the floor before them ... More » »
Mel Bochner; In the Tower at the National Gallery of Art (NGA, through April 29, 2012) includes thirty works on paper from the 1960s, most from the group known as Thesaurus portraits, and a room full of recent, large, colorful canvases for which the artist returned to the thesaurus as a starting-point. The use of language and block letters may suggest a conceptual and systematic order and rationality behind these forty years’ work; but dressed up as they are in the protective pedantry of word lists and generic typeface, they instead reflect the personal, idiosyncratic, probing, always intelligent and often ... More » »
Barry Bergdoll and Leah Dickerman’s Bauhaus 1919-1933; Workshops for modernity (2009, Museum of Modern Art, New York, ISBN 978-0-87070-758-2), the catalog for MoMA’s exhibition of the same name, would serve as an excellent introduction to the Bauhaus for a serious scholarly or general audience. The book, as did the exhibition, addresses the Bauhaus primarily as an educational institution, rejecting common usage of the term to describe a style, often associated with modernism in general.
If you’re still thinking there’s a big divide between art and crafts, the 7th International Fiber Biennial will set you straight. Much of the work reflects social and artistic concerns and all of it is beautifully made. The exhibit, at Snyderman Gallery, features fiber art from 61 artists, who come from as far away as Denmark and Korea, with 15 of them from the Philadelphia area. Among my favorites are two pieces about America’s long-term contentious issue–race. One is from a white artist, one from an African American artist, and as always, the subject is loaded with feelings.
Notes on the Unacceptable and the Ephemeral Post by Andrea Kirsh John Constable The White Horse, 1818-1819 Widener Collection 1942.9.9 I was in the National Gallery of Art yesterday; of course I went to the John Constable exhibition, which is extraordinary and should be seen by everyone interested in painting. But later I took some students through the modern galleries and we ended up in a room of early 1960s art, exactly two floors below the Constables. We are all so much heirs of Romanticism that it is worth remembering that in Constable’s day landscape painting, unleavened by Classical, religious ... More » »