Saturday, February 28, 2009

guggenheim: the east/west show



hadn't been to the goog in
quite some time. the old corkscrew
looks fresh from the outside
after it's recent 3-year face lift.

the show is entitled
the third mind:
american artists contemplate asia,
1860-1989.
hence: the east/west show
photography unfortunately not permitted
above the rotunda...
so i, um, only took a few surreptitious shots...
here's the online exhibit

its strengths are many and, though
its ambition is overreaching,
you can't fault a show that offers so much.
Among the riches, works by Whistler, Steichen,
Steiglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Mark Tobey,
Robert Rauschenberg, Allen Ginsberg
(he recites Howl on the audiotour)
the beats, Fluxus...

Special pleasures - the joyful choreography in the
calligraphic works of Mark Tobey's 'white writing'
and the paintings of Brice Marden, the innocent charm
of Yoko Ono's instruction paintings and
the spontaneous magic of Robert Rauschenberg's
gold screen, (especially on learning it was 'performed' -
created at an event in Japan).

David Smith's gestural drawings and
the pencil drawings of John Cage delighted me
and I was moved by James Lee Byars'
the death of james lee byars :
the uncanny beauty in the proportion of the free standing room
covered in small squares of gold leaf,
not burnished to the surface but, rather, with edges
allowed to flutter with the gentle movement of air.

Winding ever higher up the spiral
both the air and the content seem thinner: Not
a fan of the sort of conceptual and performance work
that makes up the finale - pretension seems to rule
up there - I wander back down to meditate before
Ad Reinhardt's black painting and to swoon
before the exquisite Agnes Martin grid.
(detail below)

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