Art I’m Loving: Christoper Wool

Today I finally made my way to the Guggenheim here in New York to see the Christopher Wool retrospective. I have always loved Wool’s work, which I’ve most often seen hanging in private collections. Recently, however, I have been happy to see his immediately-recognizable paintings popping up everywhere, including Christie’s recent record-breaking $691 million evening sale, during which a personal record was set for the artist, who’s Apocalypse Now sold for $26 million, blowing away the $20 million high estimate.

The current landscape of contemporary art is littered with artists who work  in a variety of mediums, however painting as a medium is often thought of as outdated. The reason I am so drawn to Wool’s work is because in his practice he consistently addresses the complexities of painting while playing with various processes. Wool emerged on the New York art scene in the 1980s, and the anarchic punk influences from around that time period can easily be seen in his work.

The Guggenheim exhibition aggregates works that showcase each of the distinctive processes he has explored over the course of his 30 plus-year career. In the late 80s he used “paint rollers incised with floral and geometric designs to transfer patterns in severe black enamel to a white ground.” What I love about this body of work is that he allows for imperfections on his canvases even within this mechanized framework. The show also displays a selection of his iconic text-as-subject series, in which he stenciled words and phrases in a geometric grid, “freely stripp[ing] out punctuation, disrupt[ing] conventional spacing, and remov[ing] letters.” In addition, the exhibition highlights some of Wool’s incredible silkscreens, a process most predominantly used by the artist over the past 15 years. It was during this time Wool also started incorporating his familiar looping lines, applied haphazardly with a spray gun.

If you haven’t had a chance to see this incredibly organized show, I highly recommend visiting before it closes on January 22, 2014. Below is a difficultly-edited selection of some of the pictures I took.

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I love how the works were hung – as if they are floating throughout the rotunda

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Paint roller patterns

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Spray-gun + paint = stunning

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A series of his stenciled words

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View of the installation in the rotunda

Art I’m Loving: James Turrell

So I know everyone and their brother has been raving about the James Turrell retrospective, an exhibition that debuted at LACMA earlier this summer and is now at the Guggenheim, where it is currently on view until the end of September. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go on a private tour of the exhibition last week, and I can attest honestly that it lived up to all the hype.

The retrospective marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in New York since 1980. This is not to say Turrell stopped creating new work over the past 33 years, he has simply been devoting all of his time to working on Roden Crater, a 5,400-foot-high extinct volcano near the Grand Canyon that he has been transforming into a visionary work of land art. The massive sculpture in works is inspired by the pyramids, Machu Picchu, and other ancient sites that toy with signature Turrell themes such as time and space.

So it’s no wonder that The New York Times and Time Magazine articles I cited above delve into how Turrell “knocked the art world off its feet” and “conquered the heavens.” His work is literally impossible to explain; instead, it is meant to be experienced and interpreted via visual interaction with his installations. Our tour guide explained how what one person sees while viewing an installation may be completely different than what someone else does because Turrell’s “materials” are not really “materials” at all in the literal sense of the word, but rather light, color, space, and perception itself. His pieces are almost always site specific.

We started our tour in the rotunda, where we viewed Aten Reign, a major new project that “recasts the Guggenheim rotunda as an enormous volume filled with shifting artificial and natural light.” The complete transformation of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed  architecture uses the natural void within the museum to create the most captivating play on light and space with gradating color I could stare at for hours. Though the rotunda is the highlight of the show, additional works from Turrell’s career are on view in the museum’s annexes. If you are in New York prior to September 25th, I cannot encourage you enough to head to the Upper East Side for this incredible show.

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My (sneakily-taken) Instagram of the rotunda

© 2013 Scott Rudd

A view from afar in the rotunda, showing how the color transforms the entire rotunda; © 2013 Scott Rudd

The first light installation created by Turrell

The first light installation created by Turrell, on view in an annex



Danh Vo Wins 2012 Hugo Boss Prize

Danish-Vietnamese artist Danh Vo has won this year’s Hugo Boss Prize, which includes $100,000 in cash as well as a solo exhibition in 2013 at the Guggenheim, which administers the biannual prize. Vo, who is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery in New York, had a solo show in New York at Artists Space in 2010 – the only solo show of his career in the Big Apple. That being said, Vo has contributed to an impressive roster of exhibitions across the globe, including the New Museum and Yokohama triennales (in 2012 and in 2008, respectively).

Founded in 1996, the Hugo Boss Prize was established as a forum for recognizing achievement in contemporary art. The six-person jury, headed by the Guggenheim’s chief curator and deputy director, Nancy Spector, selected Vo over an impressive roster of five other artists, including Rashid Johnson, who showed at Hauser & Wirth in New York earlier this year; Trisha Donnelly, who curated the current Artist’s Choice show at MoMA; Monika Sosnowska, whose Fir Tree (2012) is currently on view in Central Park as part of a show sponsored by the Public Art Fund; Tris Vonna-Michell, who showed at Metro Pictures last year; and Qiu Zhijie, who’s represented in New York by Chambers Fine Art.

Installation view of Danh Vo’s “Autoerotic Asphyxiation” exhibition at Artists Space, 2010 (via GalleristNY)