August is the “off season” for the contemporary art world in New York City. Most galleries close to prep for their much anticipated fall shows (find a preview at the bottom), and I use the time to reflect on the past year.
Great art impacts you beyond the time you stand in front of it. So, months after these gallery exhibitions have closed, here are three artworks that I can’t forget, and continue to alter my perception of the world around me.
1. Marina Abramović: “Generator” at Sean Kelly Gallery
Extreme performance artist Marina Abramović made headlines in 2010 with her retrospective at MoMA that included the motionless artist on a chair for nearly 8 hours a day (no breaks) for over 2 months. Check out the powerful trailer for a documentary about the experience. Her newest work however, on view last fall at Sean Kelly Gallery, presented literally “nothing”… and it was amazing. You (and every other visitor) were blindfolded and given noise-canceling headphones before a staff person escorted you into the large empty gallery space, abandoning you to stand or navigate for an unrestricted amount of time. The first step was terrifying, but the following 30 minutes was one of the most intense and wondrous experiences I’ve had in years. Discovering walls, other visitors (!!!), and my own process of curiosity was a heart-pounding adventure in silence. See more images from the show.
Images above: Marina Abramovic and installation shot of “Generator” at Sean Kelly Gallery © Marina Abramovic. Courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.
2. Steven Pippin: “Insignificant” at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise
Gavin Brown’s Enterprise opened a new location in the Lower East Side last fall, presenting a workbench with a single pencil balancing on its point. This was NOT an illusion: no strings, no magnets, no glue, no holograms, and no fans. Artist Steven Pippin created a small robotic platform that monitored the pencil 24/7 and adjusted it in real time to compensate for the pencil’s lean. The movement was so precise and quick that the machine maintained the pencil’s balance indefinitely (except for 1 or 2 days when the mechanism glitched and had to be repaired, unintentionally proving how real and difficult this was). See it in action on my Vine and more photos on MouseMagazine.
Image above: Steven Pippin “Insignificant” installation at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York, 2014. Courtesy Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York.
3. Adam Magyar: “Kontinuum” at Julie Saul Gallery
Photographer Adam Magyar changed my view of the subway (my daily commute) with his brilliant exhibition at Julie Saul Gallery last spring. For the films, Adam rode various subway trains with a SUPER high-speed camera pointing out the window as it pulled into stations around the world. The result captured vacant stares, slow blinks, rippling newspapers, and the flicker of fluorescent lights. Each film is a beautiful and universal portrait of our time, and a reminder that life happens while we wait. It was nearly impossible to walk away from these 10-15 minute films in the gallery, but thankfully you can check out 2 minute samples on Vimeo of Tokyo, New York, and Beijing, and Berlin (my favorite).
Image above: Adam Magyar, still from “Stainless – Xidan, 2014 (Beijing)”. © Adam Magyar, Courtesy Julie Saul Gallery, New York.
The galleries are re-opening soon!!! Here are my five “most anticipated” New York gallery exhibitions this fall. Feel free to add your own in the comments in case I missed any! All of these open either 9/10 or 9/11 – Check links for full details.
1. Chuck Close @ Pace Gallery – My favorite painter of all time. The reason I started studying art.
2. Sarah Sze @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery – The master of MILLIONS of tiny things.
3. Christian Marclay @ Paula Cooper Gallery – A silent film about sound? Yes please.
4. Dan Flavin @ David Zwirner Gallery – Don’t be shocked if you find me sitting on the floor for this exhibition of light.
5. Ron Nagle @ Matthew Marks Gallery – His small ceramic sculptures are extremely underrated, and #1 on my fantasy art collection wish list.