Teaching with Contemporary Art

Under the Radar: Best of 2011, Part 2

Katharina Grosse, installation view of One Floor Up More Highly at Mass MoCA. Image: ContemporaryArtDaily.com

Following up on last week’s post, I’d like to conclude with a few more shows that flew under the radar in 2011:

“Katharina Grosse: One Floor Up More Highly” at Mass MoCA. Hated this show the first time I saw it and loved it on the second and third visits. Grosse teaches us, like many artists who work with installation, that an exhibit has to work on you before making a decision about whether or not you “like” it. Spray painting directly onto the walls as well as huge mounds of dirt and Styrofoam, this show had the effect of stepping into another world. And while Grosse sees her work as neither representational or abstract, one couldn’t help associating some elements with massive piles of dried pigment or hyper-enlarged ice crystals. Another thing I really enjoyed was how the installation changed dramatically depending on where you stood in the gigantic space.

“Dana Schutz: If The Face Had Wheels” at the Neuberger Museum. As much as it kills me to admit it, especially after what I wrote about him last year, Jerry Saltz really said it best: “Given the continued imbalance in the system, for a woman to paint at all is still a political act; for her to do so in a vaguely gestural figurative style is almost insurrectionary. The show proves that like all outstanding artists, Schutz probably has an extra wrinkle in her frontal lobe.” Besides, how can anyone resist “Shaking, Cooking, Peeing” as a metaphor for…. everything?

“Richard Serra: Junction/Cycle” at Gagosian Gallery. Serra’s two new sculptures at Gagosian left me with the same reactions I had experiencing his work for the first time many years ago. While feeling a little seasick I simultaneously wanted to walk and weave through the spaces, encounter other visitors unexpectedly and run my hands along the orange-brown walls that tilted and loomed in many of the tight spaces. Getting these two pieces into Gagosian’s gallery must have been one hell of a trick and I wonder if anyone has it on time-lapse video? That would be something to share with students.

“Glenn Ligon: AMERICA” at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Stepping off the elevator and into Ligon’s silkscreened photograph, Hands, was a tremendous start to a show that was both gorgeous and provocative. In so many of the works, both  literally and figuratively, America stared us in the face and then turned away, leaving us with nothing but space to reflect on where we are in this place and time.

“Laurel Nakadate: Only the Lonely” at MoMA P.S. 1. What I enjoyed most about this show was how Nakadate experiments with meeting strangers and role playing in order to create films and photographs. It literally made me fear for her safety but also admire that ability to inject herself into very different situations in order to make the work.

Happy New Year to All and THANK YOU for reading in 2011…