Dissing the Stedelijk Museum’s new Mels Crouwel–designed wing, New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman off-handedly compared the building to a “ridiculous” bathroom tub that suggested to him the sensation of “hearing Bach played by a man wearing a clown suit.” On the speed-rail ride back to Paris from a visit to the Amsterdam institution, it occurred to me that he completely got it wrong. Mels Crouwel did not give the museum a tub; he gave it a captivating sarcophagus, an often tub-shaped funeral receptacle designed to hold a corpse. And that is as it should be. After all, modernism is long dead.
Are the 60s still cool? Williamsburg says yes. This month’s 2nd Friday event convinced me that some things will never go out of style. For example, hot chocolate from Ella Cafe on a crisp November evening and the light sweet taste of cotton candy, thanks to the boutique and gallery Cotton Candy Machine. It also persuaded me that Williamsburg has a foot remaining in the 1960s. And it’s not just because everyone is wearing bull-horn black glasses.
The Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century purports to display “the radical transformation of the medium of drawing throughout the twentieth century,” but what the genre retrospective really does is to narrow the definition of “drawing” considerably, limiting works not by medium but by execution: almost every work in the show is non-objective. This festival of the abstract is visually impressive but conceptually lacking. Shouldn’t any century-long survey of drawing include some less academically austere work?