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Ants, pairs and dead artists at PMA


Here’s a quick update from the PMA. I was there looking at the “Mavericks of Color Photography” show — excellent!! — see Libby’s post for more. My review will be in next week’s Weekly.

Where’s the local talent?

The big news is that the local presence in the Contemporary Galleries (first Tristin Lowe and then Edna Andrade) is now gone. See previous post for more. Let’s hope it’s temporary. I am very territorial I realize but I am truly committed to the idea of local art interwoven in the big concrete-floor galleries of the Contemporary wing (not the hallway outside the Video Gallery which is where is usually appears).

Apart from that, the museum’s got a French masters’ drawing exhibit up at the moment which I flew through and don’t have much to say about except that for me Seurat‘s drawings are the reason to go.

Odd couples, or maybe not

There are as usual several great pairings or groupings of works interspersed throughout the museum in corridors and passageways. I guess museums work it that way — making use of every available wall space. My eye was drawn to this pair in the Contemporary corridor:
A nice dreamy Balthus

and a fierce Dubuffet nude.

Dead artists society

Elsewhere, in the corridor between the Museum rentals shop and the coat check I noticed something I consider peculiar: a group of works by 20th Century artists whose commonality (with one exception) seems to be that the artists are all dead. Now of course museum collections are full of work by dead artists and so why this surprises me I don’t know. But like I say I couldn’t find any other thread that ran through the disparate group of works by Jess (died 2004), Jacob Lawrence (died 2000), William Nelson Copley (died 1996), Joan Brown (died 1990), Bob Thompson (died 1966), Alma Thomas (died 1978), Claude Clark (died 1943) and — the only one still alive — Bruce Nauman (born 1941).


Here’s the Brown painting, “Woman in Room” 1975. I had just seen a show of Brown works in San Francisco when Anna Conti and I stepped out to look at art. What struck me there — and it’s in this work, too, is Brown’s fashion sensibility. Even with a nude, there’s fashion. The high heels, the cigarette, the blue face mask. Fun.

This is Lawrence‘s “Taboo” 1963 which depicts two inter-racial wedding couples. It reminds me of Mexican day of the dead iconography.

Ant-e-room art

Finally, in the small anteroom outside the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, this nice group of three, a mini-show of bug art which is fun and summery — what bug does not remind you of summer? (and I apologize for my photos. The colors are too red.:
Yukinori Yanagi‘s “Wandering Position” 1997 shows the trail a wandering ant took as it tried to get off an etching plate. The artist followed the ant’s trail with an etching tool and incised the lines into the plate. The edges of the print are dense with lines because the ant repeatedly went there to escape. The image is a detail of the 5-color etching.

Ed Ruscha’s “Swarm of Red Ants” 1972 is a color screenprint from his portfolio “Insects”
ruscha, ed
Morris Graves’ “The Unregimented One,” 1958, is a 5-color etching with a martial formation of …June bugs? or beetles?
It’s nice and cool in the museum, so go hang out for a while.