Saturday, January 19, 2008




Such conservative tastes.

I went up to the Whitney yesterday to see the Kara Walker retrospective before it closed. Arrived at noon; the galleries don't open on Fridays until 1 pm. I was not aware of this. So I walked over to the Met, paid my five bucks to get in, and walked around to murder an hour.

Whipped through the newly-opened European painting galleries, mid-to-late 19th c. The Impressionist and all of that stuff. I found a few paintings that appealed to me due to their modest size and subject matter. They are (from top to bottom):

William Nicholson, Primulas on a Table, 1927
Jean Beraud, The Church of Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, Paris, 1877
Gustave Caillebotte, Le Pont d'Argenteuil,
Eugene Boudin, On the Beach, Dieppe,
1864

Man, I feel like such a conservative when - I'm - old - I - shall - wear - purple dowager but these paintings are so simple and humble and....they're just not trying to be anything other than paintings. They are records of painter processing what they see, nothing more. (Yes, an argument could be made about the beach and street-scene paintings being a lens through which we can view mid-19th c. French bourgeois blah blah blah, bling bling blah...but that's really more the purview of the art historian.) I don't connect with a vast majority of contemporary art: I feel frozen out because it seems the artists no longer allow themselves to be humble: bombast and extravaganza are the norm, and generally shoddy work is propped by framework of intellectual justification.

(Caillebotte's been sneaking up on me for the past decade years. He's an Impressionist-y but he's done a lot of odd, morbid still-lifes of butcher shops, chicken carcasses, beef tongues, etc. I really like the guy.)

Also spent some time in the Asian art halls of the Met. Quick quick, in and out but always good.

Kara Walker was pretty damn good. The silhouettes are flawlessly executed both technically and conceptual, weird violent poetic stuff. I'm less a fan of the projections which I thought were clunky but some of the videos made up for it.

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