Thursday, December 27, 2007

Astraction, Color, and Light at the Albright-Knox

Whenever I'm visiting my parents I try to get to the Albright-Knox and see whatever exhibits they're showing. When I was younger they used to have these blockbuster touring exhibitions: Monet, Tissot, The Triumph of French Painting, etc. In more recent years they haven't done that, or haven't really seemed to do that, but some of my very favorite shows were dedicated to artists I'd never heard of before. My favorite show dedicated to an individual artist was the Frank Moore retrospective, Green Thumb in a Dark Eden, followed by Andrea Zittel's Critical Space. So I have no problem going to exhibits when I'm not really sure what I'm going to see. The exhibition I liked best, though, was called Fresh: Recent Acquisitions and showed off the pieces that the museum had collected in the previous four years. In some ways it might be telling that their most enjoyable exhibit was not a touring show but artworks from their own collection. Certainly it is true that their permanent collection outshined the exhibit I saw when I went yesterday.

They've been doing a project of late called REMIX the Collection. Upstairs they have the visiting exhibit and downstairs they have a display of works from the permanent collection that is in some way related. The current exhibit of permanent works is called REMIX Color and Light and it's showing in conjunction with The Panza Collection: An Experiment in Color and Light, which was probably my least favorite show I've seen here. It's not that I dislike abstraction, abstract expressionism, single-color canvases, etc. but I do kind of feel like there's a very fine line there between brilliance and crap. For the most part I found the Panza Collection mind-numbingly boring. In a succession of rooms I saw David Simpson with his huge, single color, opalescent canvases, Phil Sims with his huge, single color matte canvases that had more in the way of visible brush strokes and texture than the Simpson canvases, the smaller, canvases of Freudenthal in different dull tones, and the quite small canvases of Bianchi, all but one yellow one done in red and blue. Kill me now. I mean, there were parts of the collection that I found interesting, but for the most part I thought it was pretty bland. It's that sort of art that you're supposed to appreciate if you're intellectual and dismiss if you're too stupid to understand abstract ideas in art. Or at least that's always been my feeling about it. Anyway, the collection as a whole wasn't very interesting to me.

This was made even more problematic by just how much better the work they're currently showing from the permanent collection is. Rothko's Orange and Yellow alone is more interesting than anything in the Panza show.

They have one (or two) of Rudolf de Crignis's blue canvases that are fascinating. He uses layered colors and layers glazes of paint in orange, blue, green, and white to form a blue that's positively vibrating with light. It's actually difficult to look at and I found myself squinting. I took a photo--on the flash free museum setting, of course--but in it the painting did not appear to be a vibrant blue at all but a rather drab gray.

They show artists experimenting with light and in a great variety of other ways as well: using neon lighting, shadows, reflection, etc. If I were a particularly good blogger, I would talk about the artists or their artwork in a somewhat educated, but I'm not, so I'm just going to post some pictures of pieces I think are interesting. I didn't even think to write down names at the gallery. But they're all at the Albright-Knox, so should you find yourself in the fair city of Buffalo go check them out.
And a closeup...

This picture above is of the mirror room. Usually you can go in it but today it was cordoned off. Inside there is a table and chair which are also mirrored and thus hard to see in this picture. The picture below gives a somewhat better idea of what it feels like inside.

After leaving, I walked around to the back, which I think must have once been the front. The door there enters onto the second floor and is sometimes open. In the summer they have music at the bottom of the steps on certain days.

From there I walked across the street and into an icy Delaware Park, where I walked around a bit before going back to my car and heading back to the suburbs.

Note: The Frank Moore painting and the Rothko painting were found using google image search. The other pictures I took today. :)

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