Sunday, June 27, 2010


This Summer, the NOMA presents 40 artists with two characteristics in common, they are women and from Louisiana. The works cover the period from 1965 till 2010. The two rooms dedicated to this exhibition appear cramped, filled with sculptures and paintings.
There is art for every taste, Surrealist, Realist, Abstract... from known and not so well known artists.

The exhibit is interesting because of its diversity, which also makes it difficult to absorb.

Among all the artists, I noticed the work from Jesselyn Benson Zurik (1916), "the Madonna of the Chair", 1980. It is an interesting minimalist sculpture but it is already a late work for the Minimalist movement.

Another original work from Ida Kohlmeyer retains the attention. "Mythic Throne", 1986, combines painting and sculpture. One can find a flavor of New Orleans but also an early combination of high and low art which made Takashi Murakami well known in the 90s till the present.

Rayne Bedsole is represented by a collage of a silhouette againts a dark background. Her works make me dream. I especially like her boats, symbols of voyages, including the ultimate voyage. Her use of symbolism blends the Mythology of different cultures to create works telling the universal story of Mankind.

One of the limitations of such exhibition is that it presents a very narrow window of some artists career. For example, Lynda Benglis, a prolific artist, who expressed herself with strong messages to fight for women's representation, deserves a better display than one sculpture.

Of course, one of Lin Emery 's kinetic sculpture "River Tree" was at the center of the room. Her metal sculptures, with nature as the subject, are well-known in New Orleans.

Even with some informations about the artists printed next to the works, this exhibition stays superficial. Using a musical term, the works are too discordant to be appreciated in such closeness. One can ask the goal of the curator: to show a great number of women artists in Louisiana? Unfortunately, it just resembles another end of the year College or art school exhibition.

photographs by the author

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Black holes and spaceship

Lee Bontecou at the MOMA fills an entire room with three sculptures and a dozen of works on paper. This is the latest exhibition of the artist titled: "Lee Bontecou: All Freedom in Every Sense" which covers 30 years of the artist's career.
The room is centered around a mobile which occupies most of the space with its moving shadows.
The wall sculptures, which became the artist's signature in the 50s are made of steel and canvas taken from discarded conveyor belts. They are ominous with this black hole. The works are untitled to leave the imagination of the viewer wander.

These works represent the post-war period of the artist, when using discarded material was still a novelty.

The mobile (1980-1998) took 18 years to complete. It looks maybe like a vessel from outer space, some alien composition but contrary to the wall sculptures dark and threatening, it came from a happy fairy tale. I found it very decorative, elegant but with a message somewhat weaker.

Overall the exhibition did not meet my expectations, too few works were displayed to represent the artist. An overview of her works is available in this article.

photographs by the author

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

body and place

Walking on Broadway in Manhattan, I met Antony Gormley ...a sculpture, cast of the nude body of the artist, located accross the Flatiron Building.

The Madison Square area is the scene of an installation titled Event Horizon . Thirty one sculptures are perched on top of buildings, or just stand on the ground like this one.

The sculpture feels out of place expressionless, humanoid from another planet, with a stiff pose, frozen in space and the crowd keeps flowing by, unaware of this intruder.

It is almost a game...finding the sculptures. I see one, a small silhouette far away. I am looking at the sky, clouds, light and back to the street . The crowd appears different now, part of a bigger space. This scene in Manhattan is like a theater. I realize, the universe, the sky, the skyline, the buildings, the square, my space, myself are all intricate, we are all part of the same world at this instant. Of course, this awareness occurs only if the viewer is "playing the game', let him/herself be a participant. The intention of the artist is reached, to reawaken the bodily sense of self.
This installation is not intrusive. It can be ignored, and a large number of passersby are doing just that.

Am I looking better at the skyline of this area of Manhattan?...probably, I am discovering new angles, unreachable places.
The artist himself describes the goal of the installation: "The level of invisibility and the idea of the gaze, is the principle of the work; the idea of looking and finding, or looking and seeking, and in the process perhaps re-assessing your own position in the world."

This month, a major installation from Antony Gormley can be viewed at the White Cube Gallery also Critical Mass is displayed in Sussex and the artist is looking into exhibiting in Asia.

top photograph from the author

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Julia Street

This week-end was busy in New Orleans for the art lovers. Friday night was the opening of a new exhibition at the Garden District Gallery, titled "Treasures of the Gulf". Among the 18 artists represented, Bill Myers from Ocean Springs did retain my attention with his sculptures. Interesting compositions, well seated (on a pile of fake books usually), they are built of strong materials, but they appear fragile and bring a flavor of nostalgia. Each tells a story.

The same evening, I visited the studio of the sculptor-music composer Christian Van week early, his open house is next week.

Yesterday was the first Saturday of the month and the art galleries were opened late for their new exhibitions. At the Arthur Roger Gallery, one room was filled with art from local artists related to disasters...again. The work from Dawn Dedeaux "Broken" 2006-2007, sounds of laments coming out of a wide broken pipe is so timely.
Another work, from Jacqueline Bishop , titled "Tresspass"2003-2004 is premonitory.

The show "Field Recordings" was lighter at the Heriard-Cimino Gallery. In a dark room, the videos from Courtney Egan went through the lifecycle of a flower with "Repercussion", or made the Spanish Moss float on the wall. All these videos require precise synchronisation of the cameras and sometimes sounds.

The action was also in the street, a Jazz funeral for the dead pelicans went by. At the end of the parade, they left behind an installation?...street art?
photographs by the author

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

photographer, artist

Photographer, artist...
We are talking about Henri Cartier-Bresson (August 22,1908-August 3, 2004), French photographer, considered the father of photojournalism. A fourth exhibition (1947, 1968, 1987) of this world-known photographer, one of the founders of the Magnum Agency, is taking place at the MOMA till June 28.

Three hundred photographs were chosen by the curator who divided the impressive collection by themes: Modern times, Encounters and Gatherings, Beauty, Old Worlds, New World, , Portraits, Photo Essay... The visitor could be overhelmed, but the presentation is so well organized that one goes from room to room, eager to look at more photographs and travel in time and space.

Some of them in particular did touch me, they reminded me of a time when the weekly magazine Paris Match was in every household. These were the news, Cartier-Bresson's photographs bringing the other side of the world and they made me dream when I was a child.

The "eye" of the photographer captures scenes from Harlem, the French countryside, Montmartre, scenes from China, historic moments, everyday life, portraits from well known writers, philosophers... The world was waiting for Cartier-Bresson to create the event? Cartier-Bresson was listening to the world, knew how to be at the right place and the right time and click in cadence with the event, anticipating it.

Each photograph is a composition, this may be due to an early training as a painter. Later in life, Cartier-Bresson abandonned photography and went back to painting and drawing..

The magic of the little Leica camera...which appears big today.