DC/NYC 1011: Incredible, the Portrait Gallery.

One of my favorite shows ever in a museum was the one in the SFMOMA two years ago. It was a reduced Thursday admission and they had Avedon, I have never seen people so wild. The Black List  (above) has some of the same qualities. Large photos of the who’s who in African-American culture today. And the shots are great, and so is the show!

I got to see what Kara Walker looks like, you know the artist who does the silhouettes!

You must excuse me, when I refer to it as the National Portrait Gallery, for the structure very openly houses two museums: The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Both are wonderful (see shot directly below). It is a museum to go to if the others seem a little too artsy. It is progressive and interesting, yet see-able for people who may not like the standard art museums. The American Art museum is progressive and interesting almost always. The two museums merge and it is always fun to go and see what’s doing especially their exhibitions.

When I was young, I read Stein, like kids eat candy. Some of it was incomprehensible to me, young idiot that I was. But Melanctha still plays in my head, as I read it about 4 times and began to understand the cyclical structure sometimes used in the works of female writers. I still admire Stein, as she had the same kinds of perceptions Warhol had two generations later. Too much is made about her very impressive personality and not enough about her work. This show (no photos, please) are a series of 5 galleries including a photo of the sculptor Jo Davidson (who did a sculpture of her head) and I think the Lipschitz statue of her. I have lost my notes for the time being.

Isn’t it fun to watch people in museums looking over the work?

This bunch was going nuts in the Watch This! exhibit.

Those intriguing Alex Katz-like images (hm, when was Katz quite that intriguing?) in the Watch This! exhibition.

A two camera set up, where a guy makes a hole through a wall and then sticks himself through, as the footage is overlapped and shown simultaneously. Nice idea.

Included is yet another installation of Nam June Paik. This one, Megatron Mix (1995), I went and put some still together for a quick video to give you some of the flavor (directly below).

Ray Yoshia Partial Evidences II and Roland Ginzel Untitled

I might have been a little tired after all the National Aquarium, the National Gallery, the Hirshhorn and now all this, but I was a little less impressed by Made in Chicago: The Koffler Collection. As I had spent a good part of the day trying to be away from easel painting, here was a show of smaller, well crafted, nicely done images. It is kind of like that Breakfast at Tiffany’s party scene, with a very nice normal couple, you are trying to have a simple conversation with!

After all look at all the other work in this structure:

The 1903 Steinway piano with the painting America receiving the 9 muses by Thomas Wilmer Dewing

Louise Nevelson’s Sky Catherdral

Three views, The Curtain by George Segal

I temporarily lost my bearings when another patron became very concerned if I was using flash, when I used the automatic focus light to shoot the Segal. I know the National Gallery is the only one to allow flash in its museum, having abandoned the mid-20th century lightbulb-will-explode-theory so prevalent for years and continued into the 21th century. While light is not good for watercolor and tapestry, it has no effect on most sculpture. They used to advise putting oil paintings in the sun a little, to lighten the forever darkening varnishes.

Note the resemblance of the model.

Mickalene Thomas’ Portrait of Mnonja

The darling of New York, just keeps getting more darling. Mickalene Thomas images become more intriguing with their quilt like use of pattern and texture. Note (left) the wonderful use of texture in her work with the beading.



El Chandelier by Pepón Osorio

This piece has small toys interspersed, a lot like another piece I have just seen in the Renwick. It is a shame, I knew a boy at Pratt 40 years ago doing this kind of stuff, better than Conrad. I often think what became of him.

The idea of this installation is a good one, from someone who has worked on stage setting. Below, is my lame attempt again at trying to photograph the Hockney piece, set under changing stage light.

Snails Space as Vari-Lites: Painting as Performance               by David Hockney

I love how Jobs gained obligatory sainthood, not unlike Michael Jackson. The National Portrait Gallery, of course, complied. These two sat across walls from each other.


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