New Museum’s opening in the Bowery — let them eat jelly beans!
Roberta visits the debut exhibit of the New Museum at its brand new building on the Bowery, and calls the inaugural show, "Unmonumental," a shot across the bow -- "Un-MoMA," "Un-Christies" "Un-Sotheby's" and "Un-Market."

My stash of free candy from the free public opening of the New Museum of Contemporary Art yesterday.
My stash of free candy from the free public opening of the New Museum of Contemporary Art yesterday.

The only eye candy at the New Museum of Contemporary Art yesterday was the red and white chewables put out by opening sponsor Target. The candy did for the belly what the art could not do for the eye, soothed and provided fun, a sugar bounce and some happy ambiance during the museum’s 30-hour free opening extravaganza.

Apart from that, the New Museum’s inaugural show, Unmonumental — a curatorial shot across the bow — rounded up every difficult, aesthetically-forlorn and anti-art piece it could muster for the first exhibition in its new boutique-architected building in the Bowery. Not only is the show unmonumental it’s “Un-MoMA,” “Un-Christies” “Un-Sotheby’s” and “Un-Market.” This show differentiates itself from the mainstream of contemporary art being shown uptown and in Chelsea, and it doesn’t want to please. But it does want you to think about what’s going on in the world and in the world of art. It’s not a pretty show but it’s one that had to happen and I’m glad it has. (They wouldn’t let me take pictures but you can find some at the museum’s website.)

Many of the pieces on view have materials (to say nothing of content and message) that won’t play well in the market place, primary or secondary at a time when, for example, Jeff Koons’ bauble, Hanging Heart, recently sold for an unbelievable $23,561,000.

Photo by Cate Fallon
Photo by Cate Fallon. Drape hung over an East-facing window had this great pattern on it. This is a shot of the skyline from the inside seen through the drape. The skyline views are wonderful up on the 7th floor!

As a dj spun some vinyl in the 7th floor party space and people scooped out the goodies with gusto, the ambiance was cheery and frolicsome. And the views of the Manhattan skyline offered by the wraparound outdoor walkway — terrific. You’re up above seagull level and the view of the bridges, the Chrysler building and the rooftops in every direction will quickly make the New Museum’s 7th floor lookout a destination for every New York skyline enthusiast.

Photo by Cate Fallon
Photo by Cate Fallon. Hallways are great in this building. This pink-hued hallway holds the gender-non-specific bathrooms on the party floor.

Cate and I were lucky to get in to the place since we hadn’t snagged tickets ahead of time (sold out when I looked several days ago) and were standing in line waiting for the standby slots to open up. But somebody hadn’t used their 2:30 reservation so we got their two tickets and walked in through the gauntlet of security guards in red Target jackets or basic art black coats and suits.

Above the seagulls
Looking down upon the seagulls. Click the picture to see the one lone seagull in this shot looking down on the Bowery.

Exterior, New Museum, opening weekend, 2017
Exterior, New Museum, opening weekend, 2017

The building is interesting, its metal mesh covering very seductive from afar. Up close the mesh looks a little ugh and utilitarian except when seen from inside looking out, as in the Resource Center where it lends a touch of exoticism to the view (enhanced with the fabulous Mac computers on swivel stands that were drawing lots of oohs and ahs.

Computers in the Resource Center

Mac computers on swivels for people to use in the Resource Center while sitting on the ledge and looking out over the skyline. Sweet!

Photo by Cate Fallon
Photo by Cate Fallon.

Candy bins stocked with red and white candies courtesy of Target.

More photos at flickr. See them in the tiny artblog slide show in the left column (also, how do you like that slideshow feature–is it annoying or is it helpful/useful?). And read all the commentary–buckets of ink on the building in Paul Goldberger’s piece in the New Yorker and, for example, a great snarky look at the architecture at curbed. Thanks Joy Garnett and newsgrist for that heads-up…and Roberta Smith’s nice review of the show in which she calls Isa Genzken’s Elefant — on loan from our town’s Mari and Peter Shaw, see post with picture of the piece — the most beautiful piece in the show. After seeing the show I’d say the Genzken is the only beautiful piece in the show.

Note: Unmonumental — which is an object show — has no painting in it, but the curators plan to install some in January in what they’re calling Collage — The Unmonumental Picture.

I think it’s great the museum is being so anti- in its innaugural show in its new building. It’s important to get some discussion going on art that’s being made because the artist has something to say beyond do you like me and will you buy my work.


candy, new museum of contemporary art, unmonumental



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