The third week of Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival (BIPAF) was a giant celebration of such diverse styles that it was often hard to believe that it was all unified under the category of performance art.
The Seventh Regiment Armory, constructed at the end of the 19th century, was and remains the only such military structure funded by private monies, a final excess of the Gilded Age. It’s easy to read an obscene vulgarity into the opulence of its architecture, though we are reminded that it was meant to house the first volunteer militia responding to Abraham Lincoln’s call to arms twenty years earlier; it’s a spiritual birthplace of the Union Army. Out of noble purpose many excesses are forgiven.
The jade collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was once showcased in an opulent room in the style of Louis XV, with fifteen delicate glass cases presided over by a chandelier. But it’s vanished as if it were never there.
In a sensational front page story, today’s New York Times announces what the art world has long known: “Qatari Riches Are Buying Art World Influence.” Yes, the Qataris — and other Gulf monarchs — are rapidly amassing a motherlode of contemporary art, and in the process likely driving up art prices worldwide.
When Italian revolutionaries made an assassination attempt on Napoleon III in 1858, and it turned out that they’d been refugees in Great Britain, the British looked at their outnumbered army and rightly wondered if they should beef up their forces in comparison to the enraged French. One of these volunteer regiments came from an unlikely group: the Pre-Raphaelite painters.
The American suburbs are already surreal places, perfectly planned roads dotted with identical homes infinitely replicated across the country. In his two-year Suburban project, Australian artist Ian Strange radically transformed these places into something even more otherworldly with paint and flames.
The stately facade of Sir John Soane’s Museum sits on the northwest side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, a square, grassy park filled with young Londoners throwing frisbees, drinking beer, and flirting. The interior of the museum, at 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, is a strikingly different environment, a purposeful anachronism to the outside world. A unique collection of objects, Sir John Soane’s Museum is a place that reveals its namesake’s tastes and obsessions. Like the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, it was designed and arranged by its owner to outline specific aesthetic criteria.
This week, New York is fabulous and eclectic as always. There’s public art at City Hall, South Korean film at Socrates Sculpture Park, an animation block party all over Brooklyn, and the end of two summertime series.