Sunday, November 13, 2011

German Expressionists in Paris

Expressionism opposed to Impressionism? Painting visual appearances or the emotions they provoke? The question gets deeper with the exhibition at the Pinacotheque in Paris "Expresssionismus & Expressionismi, Berlin-Munich 1905-1920 Der Blaue Reiter vs Brucke" which opposes the two German Expressionist movements.

The paintings, one hundred and seventy in all, illustrate the difference between the two movements. Grouped by subjects (portraits, landscapes, travels, nudes...) with paintings from artists seldom shown like Gabriel Munter, Gontcharova, Von Jawlensky, Marc, Macke, Verefkin, Larionov, Pechstein and more.
Small dots next to the paintings, blue or red, identify which group the painter belonged too, Northerners from Dresden or Blue Reiders from Munich.

As I progress through this very didactic exhibition, I recognize the artists: Nolde with his heavy pasty, aggressive colors with the subject in the foreground taking over the canvas, Kirchner with his yellowish skin tones filling sharp black drawings, Werefkin with her poetic and dreamy paintings. Kandinsky is well represented with paintings assembled from far away places like "Arabes III" 1911, already abstract with the hazy figures melting in the background, on loan from the National Gallery of Armenia or "Improvisation 34" 1913, aquatic composition from the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Kazan, Tatarstan Republic (I had to look on a map to find Kazan). A productive artistic time in Germany is unfolding room after room in front of the visitor who can visualize the difference between the two movements: aggressive, primitive, fauvist, rebellious with Die Brucke, opposed to Der Blaue Reiter more intellectual, spiritual, with softer colors and lines, more thoughtful, appeased and also rebellious .
The exhibition has reached its goal and I am leaving with an understanding of these two German movements which lost too many of their members during WWI and then were banned by Hitler.

photographs were not allowed

public domain from top to bottom:

"Three Bathers" Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1913

"Sturmwind" Marianne Von Werefkin, 1915-17

"Schokko with Red Hat" Alexej von Jawlensky, 1909

"Der Traum" Franz Marc

Friday, November 11, 2011

A day at Prospect.2

The day started with a visit at the Longue Vue House and Gardens to look at Brandon Ballengee's installation titled Audubon's Absence. The eco-artist's statement did upset me "Responding to species loss, I cut the birds from historic John James Audubon prints". I had to verify, it is true! The artist did cut out the birds from original prints! The extinct species are now annihilated. The sound from Pasco is also supposed to bring silence instead of the calls from these extinct species. Due to some malfunction, it was not available the day of the visit.

To follow-up this disastrous start, I visited the Old US Mint. The display is sparse compared to Prospect.1, "The Night Club Portraits", 1973, black and white portraits from William Eggleston (1938), a photographer made famous by his color photographs occupy a whole room. A lengthy Gothic video about Mississippi's nightlife from the same artist can be viewed next also photographs from An-My Le shot in New Orleans and Vietnam.

Next (not included in Prospect.2), The Front featured Stephanie Patton's exhibition General Hospital. In her statement, the artist explains how she uses humor to overcome adversity, pain, disease and she succeeds in this endeavor with her soothing soft cushions, pillow-pills. Her one and a half hour video shows how to transform lemons into lemonade. It can be painful to watch and reminds us that life can be arduous. Due to its length, I was not able to watch the whole video, but I assume the lemonade was worth the effort.

At the CAC and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Prospect.2 and temporary exhibitions intermingle. NOLA Now Part I brings artists from New Orleans who are back (or never left) the city. I noticed the work from Dawn Dedeaux with her preserved but deformed portraits, time can deform memories. On the first floor, Alexis Rockman's large wall canvas depicts the species of the Southern swamps in a dark future. He is well -known for his vision of the world since his exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington DC last year. Ogden was bathing in Surrealism with the works of two local artists Ersy and Josephine Sacabo, respectively sculptor and photographer.

The afternoon started with one of the highlights of Prospect.2, Sophie Calle 's installation at the Pontalba's house on Jackson Square, a story of her (fabricated) life told with self-deprecating humor. Her possessions are spread around the eighteen century house, left over from her presence, but she is absent. The narratives accompanying the installation could be drawn from cheap airport novels. The Duchess of Pontalba was a strong character who made head ways for females two centuries ago. The artist's vision fails to reach her dimension.

After dark, Dawn DeDeaux's installation brings mystery to the courtyard on Royal in the French Quarter. Goddess Fortuna and Her Dunces In An Effort To Make Sense Of It All brings to life the book from John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces. One can look at the shadows behind the windows on the second floor like a show with ghosts in the courtyard for this very New Orleanian story. It is like plunging in the decor for a movie.
I read the book previously and recognized the crumpled bed of Reilly, the hot dog cart, the novel's characters, but the show can be enjoyed just as a visual pleasure.

Fortuna, a goddess from New Orleans

photographs by the author:

"The Night Club Portraits" William Eggleston, 1973

"Test Tubes. Family Legacy", Dawn Dedeaux, 2011

"Battle Royale", Alexis Rockman, 2011