Art Stroll

Art Stroll: Where We Are – Whitney, NYC

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Whitney to see the Calder exhibition – which was fantastic- but I also took some time for the Where We Are exhibition with selections from the Whitney’s collection 1900-1960.

“Where We Are traces how artists have approached the relationships, institutions and activities that shape our lives. The Exhibition is organized in five themes: family and community, work, home, the spiritual and the nation. During the six decades covered in the exhibition, the U.S. experiences war and peace, collapse and recovery, and social discord and progress. The artists and their works suggest that our sense of self is composed of our responsibilities, places and beliefs. Where We Are is titled after a phrase in W.H. Auden’s poem “September 1, 1939”. The title of the poem marks the date Germany invaded Poland. While it’s subject is the beginning of the war, Auden’s true theme is how the shadow of a global emergency reaches into the far corners of everyday life. Where we Are shares Auden’s guarded optimism, gathering a constellation of artists, whose light might lead us forward.”

Ellsworth Kelly, 1961 – Red, White and blue – Oil on linen

Ellsworth Kelly’s earliest works of art were created in service to the United States, as part of a special camouflage unit in France during World War II. Kelly and his fellow artist-soldiers were tasked with fooling the Germans—using rubber and wood to construct fake tanks and trucks—into thinking the multitudes of Allied troops on the battlefield were much larger than reality. While this seems an unconventional early training for an artist, it proved a fitting one for Kelly. After his service, Kelly enrolled in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. After knowing this – doesn’t the painting now feel like a camouflage flag? ;)

Herman Trunk, Jr., Mount Vernon, 1932.  Oil on canvas

Jasper Johns, 1958 – three Flags, Encaustic on canvas

Johns saw the American flag as a symbol that is usually “seen and not looked at, not examined”. The execution and composition of Three Flags encourages close inspection. What do you think, is the middle panel actually fully painted with the flag or not? Apparently it is still a bit of a mystery although infrared hints it is incomplete.

Jasper Johns, 1959, watercolor and graphite on fond paper

Having just seen the Rauschenberg exhibition at MoMA this made me excited – and I love the mail-art.

George Grosz, 1947-48, Waving the Flag, Watercolor on paper

Marsden Hartley, 1914-15, Painting, Number 5, Oil on linen

Marsden Hartley began this work before the First World War, during an extended stay in Berlin. The painting is a memorial to Karl von Freyburg, a young German officer whom Hartley loved and who was killed in battle soon after the war began. The way he painted has the effect of a collage.

Jacob Lawrence, 1946 and 1947- War series – Tempura on composition board

I had never seen the war series by Lawrence before and it really grabbed me. He painted the series while serving during WWII. These paintings are timeless and the narrative is ingrained in our heads with wars we have experienced or know about.

I would like to go back and see the other paintings in the gallery in this series with more time- but it was quite full that day.

Archibald Motley Jr., 1948 – Gettin’ Religion, Oil on linen

Archibald Motley’s primary artistic inspiration were the inhabitants of Chicago’s South Side, a culturally thriving neighborhood at the time. In this night scene he captured the full spectrum of urban experiences.

Charles Demuth, 1930- Buildings, Lancaster – Oil and graphite pencil on composition board

Louise Bourgeois, 1941 – Quarantania 1941 – painted wood

Soon after emigration from Paris to New York 1938 Louise Bourgeois made this sculpture. Quarantania resembles a group of standing figures huddled together and reimagines people she has left behind in her native France. Additionally the five elements might also evoke sewing needles or weaving shuttles, tools used in her family’s tapestry restoration trade.

James Castle, Interior with Stove and below Shed, Soot and spit on found paper.

I had never heard before of James Castle who lived from 1899-1977, but boy did his story and his paintings touch me.  Castle was profoundly deaf from birth.

He never learned to speak, sing, read or write; largely unschooled and self-taught he developed his own techniques for creating works of art and used his art as a tool for communcation. To make his black-and-white-drawings, he combined salvia with soot from a wood-burning stove and used sharpened sticks, sometimes fruit pits,  to apply the mixture to his paper.

James Castle, 1910- 77 , artist’s books with sooth and spit on found paper

In addition to the numerous works on paper, James Castle produced hundreds if not thousands of handmade books. Using commercial food packaging or heavy paper as covers, he stitched together blank pages and filled them with drawings of letters, pictographic symbols, collections of mock photos and sketches based on advertisements.

He frequently made use of both sides of papers he found around the house- flattened matchstick boxes, ice-cream carton lids, envelopes and even his niece’s old homework assignment. Amazing!

 

Andy Warhol, 1961 -$199 Television – acrylic and oil stick on canvas

I love this – it hints of things to come but still shows an artist hand – Warhol’s.

Minnie Evans, 1935 – My Very First and My Second

Minnie Evans crated both drawings on Good Friday when she was 43 years old. She said a spiritual force compelled her to begin drawing – these are her very first drawings hinting at the subjects of her later work – biblical imagery, plants and fantastical bests.

Morris Louis, 1958 -Tet – Acrylic on canvas

Morris Louis learned the method of staining unprimed canvas from fellow artist Helen Frankenthaler. He had a really small studio and this canvas is massive. For a long time no-one really could figure out how he made these big paintings. Conservators found out that he would roll the canvas in portions and pour, and then re-roll the canvas and dry and then continue. So he never saw the entirety of the painting while working on it.

Joseph Stella, 1939, The Brooklyn Bridge

This looks so timeless again – I love this painting of the Brooklyn Bride.

It was a great exhibition, thought provoking and interesting. It is open now and does not have an end date yet. Check it out when you are at The Whitney!

Comments (2)

  • Kim

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    Wow! The technique used by Morris Louis was a surprise! How cool!

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  • Sue Clarke

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    The artist books by James Castle struck me the most. I can only imagine what it meant for him to be able to communicate through drawing.

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Art Stroll: Calder: Hypermobility at Whitney

Last Saturday my husband and I went to the Whitney museum to see the Calder: Hypermobility exhibition. In the early 1930s, Alexander Calder invented an entirely new mode of art, the mobile—a kinetic form of sculpture in which carefully balanced components manifest their own unique systems of movement. The exhibition showcases major examples of Calder’s work including early motor-driven abstractions, sound-generating Gongs, and standing and hanging mobiles.

We arrived right on time for one of the activations of the artwork which the Whitney performs on certain times throughout each day

and it was really my favorite to see these pieces in motion – check out the short one minute video below to see the two pieces above being activated:

Calder: Hypermobility from Nathalie Kalbach on Vimeo.

I loved the exhibition – there was something so playful and happy about all the pieces

and I was equally fascinating by the way they were assembled

the forms, shapes and use of color

as well as the really intriguing shadows

I loved seeing all generations being equally fascinated by the work.

and the shadows in motion

I loved the sculptures

and his use of different materials. BTW Calder called his non moving sculptures “Stabiles” .

Some of the pieces were electrical and I wished they would have been working at the the time I was there – guess I have to come back.

How does the one below not fall ….LOL- crazy !

All the elements and principles of art can be found in his work- it is so fascinating.

I loved this gigantic mobile on the wall

For a number of his work- like the one above – Calder intentionally designed the components to collide and even make a sound- which in I couldn’t hear in this one but assume it did make one :)

Each piece which didn’t move just by the moving air in the museum made me wonder how it would look moving. It is weird to see the work not in the way it is intended to be seen, at least once you realize it is intended to be moving…I wish there was a way to just keep them moving but I assume that from a conservatory perspective that would be really hard on the pieces.

I found the fish surprising in regards to the other work on display – but still cool- look at the two shadows

It was a perfect and wonderful day in NYC

The exhibition is on display until October 23, 2017 – make sure to check out the Whitney Website for the activation times – it is well worth to go and see this!

Hope you enjoyed the Art Stroll today!

Comments (6)

  • Hillel

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    No doubt seeing the calders together is delightful. If on Sunday for the 3pm and 4pm activation of the mobiles was something that could be seen behind a gaggle of viewer 5 to 10 people deep following a lady in a white coat, blue surgical gloves and dust protectors on her shoes pushing the sculptures with a stick around the exhibition room is “seeing”. Maybe Calder is chuckling about the spectacle ; from my vantage point the tourists not the mobiles were being activated.

    Reply

  • Florence Turnour

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    Wow that looks like a fantastic exhibit. I love Calder’s work so much. There was (and maybe still is) a mobile having in the National Museum of Art in DC that I used to visit when I lived out there. Thanks for sharing these pictures. I wish I could go myself.

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      It was really awesome Florence. Oh – I have to go the National Museum of Art in DC when I am around that area again :) Thanks for checking the post out :)

      Reply

  • Jean

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    Another great Art Stroll. Have always been fascinated with the structure, balance and movement of mobiles. Thanks for sharing.

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Art Stroll: Whitney Biennal 2017

The 2017 Whitney Biennal, the 28th installment of a survey of American art, features sixty-three individuals and collectives with various art styles. This Biennal has been highly controversial and after much consideration I decided to not show any of the most controversial pieces …simply because I haven’t made up my mind about them myself and it is really complicated. All I can say is that the work in question in the article I linked up to made me sick to the stomach. So I keep this Art Stroll more on the inspirational and fluffy side.

These wall hangings and sculptures by collaborative duo KAYA, painter Kerstin Brätsch and sculptor Debo Eilers are made of of melted plastic, leather straps, oversized grommets, paint and stainless-steel towel bars.

I liked the connection of sculptural and painterly work and the mix of materials.

I found them intriguing even if some people called those wall hangings a hot mess.

The cabinet above was also by them – it reminds me of lockers in a gym as well as a swimming pool at the same time. Also the piece below- which I assume is made with resin .

 

Kaari Upson …yep these are paper roll towels. Kaari turns stained paper towel rolls and upholstered furniture with the help of urethane, pigment and aluminum into lush sculptures.

OK- I lied- not all inspirational – LOL- this one on the left was just weird and gross and I don’t care if that makes me an idiot. This installation by Pope.L’s with 2,755 slices of bologna with a photo pinned to its walls – I didn’t get the whole thing – the explanation with the artwork revealed at the same time as being done using “made up data”. What’s the point?

OK- now …back to inspiration …The paintings in the gallery below are by Sarah Hughes.

Most of the paintings are done with oil, acrylics, enamel and dye. I love the vibrant colors!

The next group of paintings are by Carrie Moyer.

She begins a painting often by creating small collages from cut paper, pours acrylic  and then mixes in glitter.

I loved the texture and colors and shapes

Definitely one of my favorite artworks of the show.

The window and sculptures in this room are by Raul de Nieves

For this site-specific wok de Nievies covered the windows with “stained glass” panels which he created using paper, wood, glue tape beads and acetate sheets.

The sculptures are based on shoes …and amazingly beaded and and put together.

It was weird and beautiful.

That was it …. a very soft art stroll of an exhibition that was filled with controversial discussions and artwork which I did not show here. If you are going…you will be seeing a lot of different things and if you went, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Comments (2)

  • Sue Clarke

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    As I look at some of those wall hangings it occurs to me that I tend to look more deeply at art that disturbs me (that I’m not drawn to since it’s pretty and in “my” color schemes). These photos fit the bill. Disturbing art brings about some great discussions. TFS Nat.

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Sue, I agree, that art that is unusual or disturbing invites for a longer dialogue with the viewer. Unless it is smelly bologna slices …then that is just gross and makes you run- LOL.

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Art Stroll – Lucy Dodd at Whitney, NYC

Art Stroll Dodd Collage

A couple weeks ago I went to the Whitney for it’s open plan exhibition featuring Lucy Dodd. I stumbled across this exhibition through the Whitney’s Instagram feed and decided to take a short trip to the museum and have a late work start.

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It was located on the fifth floor which stretches out without any walls in between and offers some amazing views.

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I loved the shapes of the canvases, reminding of sails.

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Lucy used fermented walnuts, kombucha scoby, hematite, yerba mate, and pigments which she all collected while traveling to paint on raw canvas.

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The big canvases were painted on the terrace of the Whitney and the progress photo of this work was what I had seen on Instagram and made me investigate what was going on :)  You can spot and see the grid of the underlaying tiles of the terrace on the canvases. Dodd seems to use this method of creating a grid this way a lot.

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I loved the scale of the work and the movement visible in it.

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It makes me want to work big.

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Her use of different natural materials and the texture and marks they leave is also very intriguing. I enjoyed this exhibition and learning about Lucy Dodd’s work- she is now definitely on my radar. A well worth trip to the museum, I am so glad I discovered this on social media.

What is the most uncommon material you painted with? It would be branches and leaves for me but more as mark making tools.

Comments (2)

  • Sue Clarke

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    That 7th photo down from the top really catches my eye!!!
    Most unusual item used was a dog marrow bone (with the marrow eaten out already and washed of course).

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Hi Sue – a dog marrow bone- wow :) I wanna know what you did with it :) Thanks for visiting – hope you have a wonderful day! Nat

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Art Stroll: The Whitney Museum, NYC

ArtStroll

Finally, months after the Whitney Museum reopened, my friend Karen and I went to see the permanent collection and kind of breezed through the whole building to get an overview. The good thing is when you live so close you can do that as you can come back again :)

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One of the things that I noticed right away was the framing of the artwork at Whitney.

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(Florine Stettheimer, Sun, 1931)

I have taken several classes with Corey d’Augustine at MoMA and as an art conservator one of the things that are very dear to Corey’s heart is the topic of the frames of artworks. He made me aware of the fact that museums in the past often times have just discarded or destroyed the frames that artist had made or picked. The reason was that museums wanted to fit the frames to the museum’s aesthetics or whatever was hip at the time of the exhibition. The frame above on the painting by Florine Stettheimer was designed by herself and she had it specially fabricated.

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(Marsden Hartley, Forms Abstracted, 1913 – Frame painted by artist)

With lot’s of passion Corey would elaborate in his classes, why he thinks this was and is such a sin and while I kind of understood what he meant, I fully became appreciative of the frame “problem” when I went to the Whitney museum. It just dawned on me when I was looking at the first couple paintings in the collection.  I was totally AWARE that the frames were not overpowering the artwork, they were part of the artwork or made the artwork WHOLE. And there I tipped my imaginative hat to Corey thinking “thanks man, – I got it!”

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Paul Cadmus created the frame for his painting Sailors and Floosies (1938) and continued the graffiti depicted in the painting onto the frame. What a shame it would be if that frame would have gotten destroyed!

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Apparently the Whitney Museum wasn’t happy with the wrong frames that some paintings lived in and they had a framer built 20 new frames for paintings that were ill-fitted in their frames. In the linked article, the framer talks about the detective work on how to find out how the frames have looked like back in the days. What an interesting work and topic.

Of course there was other work that highly inspired my at this visit at the Whitney Museum:

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Alfonso Ossorio, Number 14 – 1953 . Ossorio developed a wax resist technique in the late 1940s to create layered abstract paintings. He would first draw using melted wax and then use water-pigments or ink on top which would be resisted by the waxed parts. He then scraped away pats of the hardened wax and repeat the process multiple time. While I have used different resist techniques- I never thought of repeating the process over and over …on my “play-list” now :)

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Al Held – Untitled – Oil, ink and printed paper collage on Life magazine . Can you tell why this intrigued me? I almost ran to the case and I might have elbowed my way through as it looked so much like an art journal to me. Love this!

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This is an gigantic piece by Mark Bradford – Bread and Circuses, 2007- Found paper, metal foil, acrylic, and string on canvas. It looks like a map – amazing. Bradford builds up a composition with layers of paper—often fragments of posters or ephemera salvaged from the street—that he soaks in water and combines with string, tape, and scraps of copy and magazine paper. He then sands down the collaged strata, and repeats the process in several layers.

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Of course there was way more inspiring art work – but this is for a different visit – there is only so much input you can handle when you visit a museum. I leave you with some wonderful views that are revealed when stepping onto each of the floors’ balconies of the Whitney Museum:

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Waving over to Jersey City!

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Watertower and roof gardens – <3

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Around the Highline.

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That was a fine visit – totally enjoyed the time there with Karen and cannot wait to come back many more times.

What do you think about the frames? Does this make you see frames in a new light?

Hope you enjoyed this art stroll too!

Comments (6)

  • Sue Clarke

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    I see what you’re saying about the frames and it is especially evident on Sailors and Floosies! I must say that I’ve often thought that the ornate gold frames take away from the paintings that I’ve seen in political offices.

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    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      I know- those super crazy ornate gold frames that have nothing to do with the painting itself either

      Reply

  • Cindy L

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    Thanks so much for sharing this Nathalie! I am definitely going to put The Whitney on my ‘To Do’ list the next time I’m in NYC. I had no idea about the history behind the frames but I find it fascinating and will always look at them in a different way in the future. As always, love the photos you share of the beautiful views too!

    Reply

  • Maura

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    Totally get the frame thing through your observations. Thanks for sharing.

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