Occasionally, we are forced to venture beyond Brooklyn to see art.
“Josh Smith: Sculpture” is how the sign reads. Yet behind it is a conservatively installed exhibition of drawings, conventionally framed and tastefully spaced on Luhring Augustine’s neutral white walls.
“The house was more than a skin … an organism as alive as our own,” Lygia Clark wrote.
Contemporary artists and a few artists from yesteryear are exploring unorthodox and atypical ways to experience the contrast between black and white.
There used to be a time when curators could slap a label on a group of artists, claiming the work to be central, progressive, and an important part of their narrative of art history.
Between the proliferation of galleries in Bushwick and, to a lesser extent, Greenpoint, the small cadre of Dumbo galleries sticking it out, longtime heavyweights including the Brooklyn Museum and BRIC mounting ambitious shows, and Creative Time parachuting Kara Walker’s sugar sphinx into the Domino Sugar Factory, it’s been an exceptionally strong year for art in Brooklyn.
Every once in a while, a show comes along that offers a reminder of what it must have been like to see something new — old artwork that still brims with the energy and promise of revelation. Luhring Augustine’s exhibition of Michelangelo Pistoletto’s The Minus Objects is one those shows.
Since painters of any stripe, be it abstract or figurative, no longer work around master narratives, trying to tackle one big issue, it’s common to see group shows of abstract painting arranged around particular interests or strategies a select group of artists may share.
Luhring Augustine holds forth, a garrison mirage, on Bushwick’s Knickerbocker Avenue. After several hours of 56 Bogart bohemia, that grey facade, all frosted glass and sleek surveillance, seemed less sinister than inviting, the kind of place a down-to-earth oligarch might pass the time after putting their name down at Roberta’s.
There is something subversive about Philip Taaffe’s interest in how information can be preserved and transferred from one medium to another. Since the early 1980s, when he first began gaining attention, he has mastered a wide range of processes — including collage, linocut, woodblock, rubber stamp, silkscreen, marbling and decalomania — to capture images, symbols and signs from various sources and convey them to paper and canvas. Although many discrete steps go into making one of his layered paintings, the collection, preservation and transmission of bits of information are central from start to finish. Through his imaginative repurposing of minor art forms — collage, printmaking, and marbling — Taaffe has dissolved the barriers separating artisanship from painting, effectively redefining the latter.
Behind a curtain in the darkened gallery space at Luhring Augustine nine screens, each equipped with its own speaker have been arranged into two somewhat discreet areas. Eight of the screens feature the image of a single musician — a guitarist, pianist, banjo player, cellist, and so forth — and one screen offers a view of the porch of a large house where other instrumentalists, singers and assorted folks have gathered. Ragnar Kjartansson’s video installation titled “The Visitors” documents in a single take the 64-minute-long performance of one song.
This September, every gallery in Bushwick is opening with some of the strongest shows the neighborhood has ever seen. Here, we outline the best shows to see (which, oddly enough, is almost all of them), and when and where to see them. Bushwick has certainly grown into its own as New York City’s youngest art district, and this powerhouse lineup of September openers proves it.