Good reads in the Inky and Times

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Yesterday was a red letter day in art writing in the print media.

The New York Times ran a terrific article, Framing the Message of a Generation by Holland Carter, comparing two exhibits, “The Pictures Generation, 1974-1984” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and “The Generational: Younger Than Jesus” at the New Museum. What seduced me was his lead on how some work gets canonized, other work not.  But then he went on to discuss the whole idea of dividing art by age and how the two shows succeed and fail at this.

Kerstin Bratsch, Untitled 1 from Psychic series, at the New Museum's Younger Than Jesus exhibit 2007 oil on paper, 72 x 105 inches
Kerstin Bratsch, Untitled 1 from Psychic series, at the New Museum’s Younger Than Jesus exhibit 2007 oil on paper, 72 x 105 inches

The Philadelphia Inquirer also knocked itself out with two articles on the Venice Biennale, both by Peter Dobrin. (The Inky links expire in 6 months).

The front-pager– Art Museum on a grand stage: Its Venice Biennale show advertises Philadelphia’s global stature. In neon.–is about the current Biennale, which opens June 7. The focus is on who’s representing America–artist Bruce Nauman and what his work is all about–and the role of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as the curating institution.

Bruce Nauman, The true artist helps the world, neon, 59 x 55 x 2 in. (149.8 x139.7 x 5 cm), edition A/P, awaiting installation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Bruce Nauman, The true artist helps the world, neon, 59 x 55 x 2 in. (149.8 x139.7 x 5 cm), edition A/P, awaiting installation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

My favorite mysterious fact–the first Biennale, in 1895, attracted 200,000 visitors and it hasn’t gotten much bigger.

Dobrin writes:

The Biennale, an early foray into cultural tourism, has played to big crowds since 1895 – falling as low as 76,000 in wartime 1942, peaking in modern times in 1980 at 365,000, but most often drawing around 200,000.

I don’t exactly get why attendance has stayed flat, given the world population and the ease of modern travel. I suppose it could be something so simple is there was less to do back then. But my own best guess is that art made itself irrelevant so much of this century, wandering off into intellectual and theoretical byways that have not much to do with ordinary concerns and tastes.

Then there’s the entertainment section article–Philadelphia in Venice–a historic tale of Philadelphia art in the Biennale. It too made for some good reading with funny tidbits on who was in, who was out, and other historic hoo-ha. It served as a good sampling for Holland Carter’s point about fairness and art historical records. Fun!

Tags

bruce nauman, kerstin bratsch, new york times, philadelphia inquirer, philadelphia museum of art, venice biennale 2009, younger than jesus

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