The Unbearable Banishment: Don't you love surprises?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Don't you love surprises?

I paid a visit to the Whitney Museum of Art to take in their current exhibit, Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time. The Whitney has more Hoppers in their permanent collection than any other museum, so they trot them out on a fairly regular basis because they're crowd pleasers. (Which is to say, revenue-generators.)

I've read that some folks complain but I don't mind one bit. Call me pedestrian but I love Hopper's work. The idea (this time) is to pair a selection of Hopper paintings with works from other artists who were his contemporaries. I believe the intention is to give the viewer a feeling of the moment in time when these pieces were created. Initially, it sounded like kind of a flimsy premise but I think the exhibit is a success.

The majority of the painting on display are by Hopper but you also have works by Charles Demuth, Alfred Stieglitz, Ben Shahn, etc., etc. You'll see this beauty, which was painted by Hopper in 1921...

...hung near this fantastic photograph of Wall Street that was taken in 1915 by Paul Strand. The pieces really do work in concert with one another and I'd like to see the show again before it closes in April.

* * *

What I wasn't expecting was to be blown away by another exhibit running through February 13th; Charles LeDray: workworkworkworkwork. I'm a bit of a traditionalist and a snob when it comes to museum exhibits. I'm not much for contemporary art, so it takes quite a bit for me to take notice. LeDray, who I knew nothing of walking into his exhibit, is a sculpture who creates objects to small scale. It looks like painstaking work but the end result is a fun romp.

The best piece is this miniature men's clothing store. The clothing is hand-sewn miniatures. There's a round table with a selection of tiny ties splayed out as you might see them in Macy's. It's impressively detailed work.

One of the mediums he works in is human bone. Apparently, you can get bone on the market. Somewhere. Not New York, I'm sure. I think there's a deeper meaning attached to this wedding band on bone piece but my enjoyment is all right there on the surface.

This is a cricket cage carved from human bone. Again, what does it mean? I don't know but it doesn't rob me of any enjoyment.

LeDray created hundreds (thousands?) of tiny clay pots. There are three display cases. One has works done in all black...

...and another in all white. I would have liked to get a shot of the third case containing pots in a multitude of colors but the security guard was on to me. You can't really tell how small these are because there's nothing to reference the scale, but these are tiny, tiny pieces. I'm not sure how he accomplished this. If you happen to be in town visiting from a far-off land, it's worth your time and effort to visit this before it closes. I'm talking to you, Dinah.


Blogger kyknoord said...

Why am I not surprised that the pot exhibit appeals to you.

January 10, 2011 at 6:42 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

kykn: What? I like pots.

January 10, 2011 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Sausage said...

bone finger with gold band - fantastic. What every wife wants to see.

January 10, 2011 at 8:01 AM  
Blogger Jayne said...

A friend of mine, an artist, was at the Whitney a couple of weeks ago and she raved about the exhibit. I don't know if she saw LeDray's work. It's rather eerie, and I'm not sure how I feel about the medium.
But I love the miniatures - we have a Providence artist here in RI who also does this quite well. I can't imagine how one labors with those tiny things.
This makes me long for the days I spent in NY (a short, 6 month stint). I do get back from time to time but not often enough.
Your photos and commentary make me want to return to take in the exhibit, as well as the rest of this glorious city.

January 10, 2011 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

SF: I'm pretty certain it's an anti-marriage metaphor. Too late for you and I.

Jayne: The Hopper show really is nice (they always are) but if you can get to the city before it closes, the LeDray exhibit is a scream. The clothing is pretty amazing. RI isn't that far! Hop a train!

January 10, 2011 at 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear you, I hear you! Thanks for the preview.
Why would bone not be available in NY?

January 10, 2011 at 9:22 AM  
Blogger Jason Quinones said...

thanks for the exhibit tips. the ledray show sounds interesting.


for some i'm sure the metaphor "rings" true. pun intended.

wanting to go see the norman rockwell photo exhibit at the brooklyn museum but have yet to go but it's running for awhile so i'm sure i'll get around to it.

January 10, 2011 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Ms Scarlet said...

To misquote Mr Kinky: Why am I not surprised that the bone exhibit appeals to you.

January 10, 2011 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

MIT: Bones use to be inside somebody's body! Where would you go to buy that? The local pharmacy?

Jason: Can you believe that Norman Rockwell has an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum?! That's the guy I never thought would get any respect.

Scarlet: HEY! What is this?! Weed metaphor Monday?!

January 10, 2011 at 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Giving marriage the finger. Or the bone?

January 10, 2011 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...

A dear friend of ours goes to NYC tomorrow. We've suggested Five Napkin Burger for burgers ... (I've never been, but god does the burger look good on the front page of their website!). She'll probably be going to the Whitney. If the kiddies let her haver her way.

January 10, 2011 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

Imagine dusting them. I love the Hopper and its companion.
Did you read Damien Hirst's latest is a baby's skull studded with diamonds. Think I'll give that a miss.

January 10, 2011 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Dolce: Good question. Which finger is that, anyway? It could alter the meaning.

Ellie: How old are the kiddies? The younger ones tend not to take "no" for an answer. I've found.

Pat: Hirst is a nut. There's a big old white shark floating in a tank at the Met. Didn't he do a human skull in diamonds already?

January 10, 2011 at 8:08 PM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

I don't like Damien Hirst's work at all. But LeDray's looks really interesting

January 11, 2011 at 4:20 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

Hopper is one of my favorites but that LeDray exhibit looks right up my alley.

January 11, 2011 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Nurse: Hirst is just a show-off. I'm not sure if his work has any artistic merit to speak of. (Meanwhile, I'm still consulting while a piece of his art is owned by the Met. What the hell do I know?)

kono: It's even more impressive in person. And I'm not a big fan of contemporary art! There's another (contemporary) show at the Whitney that stinks.

January 11, 2011 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger Eryl said...

Love those bone pieces. The tiny pots remind me of Anthony Gormley's tiny people: he filled a whole room in the Tate with thousands of them, all looking toward the door, it was astonishing.

January 13, 2011 at 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Kathryn said...

Where does one order bones for an art exhibit anyway?

January 17, 2011 at 7:07 PM  

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