*This is the second of three writings exploring how New York City’s art scene is layered between structures of curatorial courage and interpersonal relationships. Opportunity coexists for the connected and the artists that endure. The ceiling breaks from above while cracks highlight brilliance from below.
The walk from Penn Station to the Chelsea art galleries was cold and sunny. The plan was to roam from West 19th Street and meander like a river upwards to West 28th Street. Clustered in this influential metropolitan are numerous galleries. Art lives and thrives in New York City.
First stop was Lisa Yuskavage’s Babie Brood: Small Paintings 1985-2018 at David Zwirner Gallery. Upon entering the gallery, the artist Lisa Yuskavage was just beginning a talk with an adoring crowd. It was perfect timing to witness greatness. From the gallery’s website: “On view in Chelsea will be an extensive survey of Yuskavage’s small-scale paintings, organized in close collaboration with the artist. A constant and integral part of Yuskavage’s overall practice, the small paintings play a remarkably dynamic and protean role within it, as the artist has consistently employed this format to explore a wide variety of media, techniques, sources, and purposes…”
Nearby was the impressive Nick Cave’s If a Tree Falls exhibition at Jack Shainman Gallery. The artworks spoke to a world lost in a post-truth reality. According to the gallery’s website: “Cave creates a space of memorial through combining found historical objects with a contemporary dialogue on gun violence and death inflicted both by and within the black community. Large-scale installations include towers of welded magnifying glasses penetrating a sea of blackened hands, while wooden busts are encased within clusters of furniture indicative of colonial class structures. Cave magnifies the individuals behind what so frequently is deemed ‘black on black’ crime, forcing viewers to reconcile disinterest in resolution with the myopic vantage point often taken towards Black America…”
Highlights included Norman Lewis’ Winter Branches #3 artwork at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery and Sol LeWitt’s Large Gouaches exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery. Through line, both artists investigate the movement and reverberation of the natural world. Forced to breathe, I was pleasantly lost in translation.
Richard Prince’s High Times exhibition at Gagosian Gallery refused to be silenced. Prince’s work combines bold imagery and fearlessness to deliver a conceptual jab to onlookers. Gagosian Gallery: “Mining images from mass media, advertising and entertainment since the late 1970s, Richard Prince has redefined the concepts of authorship, ownership, and aura. Applying his understanding of the complex transactions of representation to the making of art, he evolved a unique signature filled with echoes of other signatures yet that is unquestionably his own. An avid collector and perceptive chronicler of American subcultures and vernaculars and their role in the construction of American identity, he has probed the depths of racism, sexism, and psychosis in mainstream humor; the mythical status of cowboys, bikers, customized cars, and celebrities; and most recently, the push–pull allure of pulp fiction and soft porn, producing such unlikely icons as the highly coveted Nurse paintings.”
Hauser and Wirth gallery is a consistent castle of conceptual depth and vigor. The multilayered grand space houses challenging and uncompromising artworks. Curation of artists Phyllida Barlow and Anna Maria Maiolino flirted masterfully with greatness. One word: impressed.
Hauser & Wirth: “For more than fifty years, British artist Phyllida Barlow has created sculptures and large-scale installations using a direct and intuitive process of making. She transforms humble, readily available materials through layering, accumulation, and juxtaposition, often drawing inspiration from her urban surroundings to reference construction debris, architecture, signs, fences, and discarded objects…”
Hauser & Wirth: “…Maiolino’s practice expresses a concern with creative and destructive processes. Working across a wide range of disciplines and mediums – spanning drawing, printmaking, poetry, film, performance, installation and sculpture – Maiolino relentlessly explores notions of subjectivity and self. Through fragmentation and abstraction, Maiolino’s surfaces are rich with metaphor, alluding to and questioning language, sexuality, desire and the unconscious…”
Art must linger and leave a lasting impression. Isn’t purpose wonderful? When visiting galleries, I want to learn something or anything new about the human experience. Mission accomplished one street at a time.