Jennifer Bartlett’s latest exhibition Recitative at Pace Gallery shows the artist continually breaking down and rebuilding the base particles of art. In the enormous, open gallery installation, enamel-coated steel tiles spaced in rising and falling grids line the exterior walls. Each square holds its own combination of disparate elements of art, remixing line, shape, color and texture into an infinity of combinations. This central installation, “Recitative” (2009-10), is Bartlett’s longest painting composition ever at 158 feet. What at first appears to be a gallery-size abstraction coalesces into a didactic walk-through of art at the atomic level and a joyful celebration of what it means to make a purposeful artistic mark.
Could it be that the slick surfaces and lustrous finish fetish of high minimalism isn’t exactly suitable for the current atmosphere of economic austerity measures? Along with the painful recession consequences of mass job loss, gallery closings and the bloody fight over British arts funding cuts has come a suspicion of entities too big to fail: the black boxes of big banks and even bigger corporations. Taking this to the art world, I’ve been noticing an artistic suspicion of the hermetic perfection so glorified by minimalists like Donald Judd and Anne Truitt. Two current Chelsea exhibitions show artists taking down modernism and minimalism’s cold self-seriousness with the movement’s own weapons. In this first installment, check out Yuichi Higashionna’s Fluorescent at Marianne Boesky Gallery.
There’s no point in giving you a “review” of the mothership of art fairs in Miami, Art Basel Miami Beach, so I thought a photo essay with some observations were more appropriate.
I admit that I got a little bored after three hours of wandering around. I found myself seeing the same thing and getting the same numbness I get during marathon holiday shopping trips or walks through ancient souks … there’s only so much merchandise you can see in one stop.
It was still refreshing to see some galleries display the prices of their wares freely, and examples of excellent abstraction by names mostly absent from the art history survey books, but I was most shocked to discover what must be the most awful Basquiat I have even seen in my life.