Tag Archives: sculpture

THE ICE AGE IN TECHNICOLOR

Like meteorites fallen from the sky, in a random fashion, amongst the trees, with nobody harmed, luckily. Whatever their origin, they come from a very colorful constellation.

Katharina Grosse, German artist, is transforming the MetroTech Commons Plaza in Brooklyn in a quite dramatic way. A cluster of fiberglass sculptures seems to have appeared from somewhere…or nowhere. Their positioning between the rigid rows of trees on the plaza, makes one wonder how on earth they got there. They seem to embrace the little forest. Or is it vice versa? Is it the trees that are springing up amidst the sculptures?

Rigid in material, they are organic and floating in form. Like huge chunks that have broken off from the glacier, drifting, slowly melting. But then again, from a very color rich planet.

JUST TWO OF US, MetroTech Commons, Brooklyn, through September 14

 

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IN ONE STROKE

For its opening on Thursday the Friedman Benda Gallery has been turned into a place of worship. Or so it seems.

Korean artist Byung Hoon Choi shows his most monumental work till date. His basalt sculptures look like signs or symbols, rather than…benches. The already thin line between practical design and pure art of his earlier work (art furniture) seems to have been erased completely, in one stroke.

Choi achieves a delicate balance between opposites. The rough and the polished melt together. The sculptures’ sinuous forms could definitely refer to the basalt’s liquid form as lava thousands and thousands of years ago.

The benches are graphical, as if written by hand, in one brushstroke. It is not clear if the accompanying brush paintings are preliminary studies for the sculptures, but they clearly show the (calli)graphic intention of the sculptor.

Some sculptures are dark and primitive, while others are light and modern. The way the exhibition is lit up only enhances this duality: one room is a white box with overall bright light, two other rooms are kept darker and focus more on the sculptures with spotlights.

Throughout the rooms there’s a feeling of tension between minimal lightness and a more dramatic sense of boldness.

Already because of their unconventional shape, it must be fun to sit on these benches. But I think I’d rather sit on the grass and watch how these sculptures write their presence against the landscape.

 

IN ONE STROKE / Byung Hoon Choi – Friedman Benda Gallery, Chelsea New York City

OPENING Thursday February 27 – through March 29, 2014

 

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MEANDERING THROUGH RICHARD SERRA

 

At its 21st Street location, the Gagosian Gallery is filled up completely by this single new piece by Richard Serra.

It shows the artist’s familiar style of undulating steel plates, like the permanent collection at the Guggenheim in Bilbao and Dia:Beacon in New York.

The curves of the plates allow them to stand freely. The first approach is to walk around it. The impact is of massive substance.

Like in all his monumental work, Serra is inviting the visitor to enter his sculptures. Two narrow corridors between two plates lead to three circular inner chambers. The changing angles of the walls seem to play tricks with one’s balance. The passageways alternately open up towards the sky or narrow down to a cavernous trap.

Walking around and through this sculpture, it feels like a never-ending journey, a loop of light and shadow. The continuum of Richard Serra’s exploration of space.

 

 

INSIDE OUT – Richard Serra at the Gagosian Gallery

522 West 21st Street, New York City, through January 25, 2014

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WALKING THROUGH RICHARD SERRA

 

The Gagosian Gallery is not known for low-scale exhibitions. And seeing Richard Serra’s work inside a gallery makes you think how in the world they have managed to bring his huge sculptural works into the galleries.

These new works occupy the whole space and transform it into labyrinths. They are all centrally staged and define the space in different ways.

INTERVALS is composed of slabs of steel of different sizes, forming corridors to walk through. The variable height ensures an infinity of views and approaches.

GRIEF AND REASON stand in the middle of a room and are imposing masses. You walk around them like a grave, like a monument, like a rite.

7 PLATES, 6 ANGLES is a zigzagging line of again weatherproof steel. It dictates the way you walk through the hall. Every angle seems to hold a promise, around the corner.

The tall plates form sharp angles that draw the eye to an infinite point. They are inviting as a road that leads forward. But instead of leading somewhere, after a few steps, one finds himself trapped in a sharp corner. As enveloping the sculpture can be, at some point you have to turn back and take the road in the opposite direction, the only road that leads somewhere.

Richard Serra’s monumental work takes on a whole different perspective on the scale of the human body and the environment. Serra likes to engage the viewer/visitor and make him move and interact with the sculptures. As minimal his work can be, as deep the impression it makes.

 

Richard Serra at the Gagosian Gallery

555 west 24th street, New York City, through January 25, 2014

 

 

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THE ROUGH AND THE POLISHED

 

There is a last chance to see the High Line in its ‘natural’ state. All in the name of art.

Swiss-born sculptor Carol Bove, living and working in Red Hook, Brooklyn, is showing seven works on top of the untouched last section of the elevated rail track.

Works like ’14’ and ‘Cow Watched By Argus’ blend in perfectly with this industrial relic of last century. At some point it looks as if Carol Bove has used some rusty beams of the railway itself. They represent orderly decay, the passing of time, the elements claiming their toll on all things manmade.

These sculptures, composed of iodized I-beams, refer constantly to the linearity of the rails that go partially hidden under the overgrowth.

In another work, ‘Visible Things and Colors’, the use of concrete and the beehive-like metal structure seem to repeat the surrounding city with its compartmented buildings, yes, even the windows and wagons of the trains that are parked beneath.

‘Monel’ is a piece that almost goes unnoticed. A huge slab of metal, weathered and showing damages from hurricane Sandy, lies flat on the train rails. A tombstone? A reminder that, inevitably, parts of this stretch of the High Line is to disappear once restoration will be completed?

As discreetly as these works may want to merge with the surroundings, as eye-catching are Carol Bove’s white spiraling sculptures, also included in this open air exhibition.

The rough materials of the first ones stand in perfect harmony with the state of decay of the wooden sleepers. On the other hand, the highly polished curves of ‘Prudence’ and ‘Celeste’ are like a new wave. They are movement, a transition to the future. To the renewed High Line.

The High Line may be undergoing a substantial transformation. But it’s standing its ground, high and tall, like the “h” of ‘A Glyph’.

 

(To view this open air exhibition, organized by the High Line Art Program, registration online is required)

(Carol Bove is simultaneously exhibiting works at the MOMA)

(See also my previous post The Wild West Side of Manhattan)

 

 

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DISTORTED REFLECTIONS OF PERFECTION

Has it ever happened to you?

You’re invited somewhere and when you get there the people who invited you are not ready. They still have to shower, peel the potatoes and put the roast in the oven.

This was the case at the inauguration of the new Jeff Koons exhibition at the David Zwirner Gallery. The invitation read 6pm. On the door it said 6.30pm. But the anxious crowd was kept waiting outside much longer than that. A truck pulled up and everybody had to clear the way. A huge crate was handled with care and wheeled into the gallery. A last minute addition to the collection? Eventually the dismantled crate was brought out in pieces and finally people were let in, welcomed by David Zwirner who opened the door himself!

The crowd rushed in, as in a first come first served event. Surely suspense had been building up. But once inside, there was like a general feeling of “That’s it?”.

Jeff Koons has introduced a blue glass ball as the common element throughout his new collection. The glass ball is a familiar feature that Koons remembers from the front yards of his younger days Pennsylvania. It’s a shiny and fascinating object that reflects its surroundings in a distorted way. It offers a different look on reality. And at the same time a glass ball speaks to the imagination.

The blue balls are combined with white plaster Greco-Roman sculptures. The matted surface of the white sculptures stands in blatant contrast with the dark blue shine of the glass balls.

The surprise effect is there. Our eyes are not used to see classical sculpture combined with anything else. Classical sculpture is complete and does not need anything added to it. In this way, the glass balls look like foreign objects, not belonging to the sculpture, as if they were bubbles that have collided accidentally with the figures.

In some cases the balls look extremely odd. In some cases the balls are added in a most unnatural and unbalanced way (against the principles of antique sculpture!). Sometimes, and again very oddly, this off-balance seems to work. But other times the ball just seems to dangle precariously from the sculpture and risks to become a disturbing element.

The artist even adds to the surprise by incorporating a few sculptures that have nothing to do with ancient gods or mythology : a birdbath, a series of mailboxes,…a snowman. Surprise? Confusion?

What is clear is the fact that Koons is the most successful American artist since Andy Warhol. And as a living art legend, he certainly works in strange ways this time.

Gazing Ball – Jeff Koons, David Zwirner Gallery, 525 West 19th street, NYC, through June 29, 2013

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