Cy Twombly

I was so sad to find out that one of my favorite artists passed away yesterday. Cy Twombly was an American artist well known for his large-scale, freely scribbled, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings. I loved how his works often blurred the line between drawing and painting and how he often quoted the poems, classical myths and allegories in his works.

I feel fortunate that when I went to The Modern Wing a few years ago, they had an exhibition of Twombly’s work that I was able to check out. It was wonderful to see a large collection of his works and catch a glimpse of his creative process over the years. I hope that they’ll do a retrospective of his work as a homage to his passing. The art world will definitely feel his passing.

Image: Cy Twombly, Leda and The Swan, c. 1962, Oil, pencil, and crayon on canvas, 6′ 3" x 6′ 6 3/4"

Lee Friedlander: America By Car

While visiting NYC last week, I was able to visit the Whitney Museum of American Art. Often referred to simply as "the Whitney", or “my boyfriend” by one particular fan, it focuses on 20th & 21st century American art.

While I was there, I was able to check out the Lee Friedlander exhibit: America By Car. While driving across most of the country’s fifty states in an ordinary rental car, the artist applied the brilliantly simple conceit of deploying the side-view mirror, rearview mirror, windshield, and side windows as picture frames within which to record reflections of this country’s eccentricities and obsessions. By capturing roadside bars, motels, churches, monuments, suspension bridges, and often his own image in this construct, it gives the impression that you get on a long road trip; images and scenery becomes hypnotic as it blurs together as you continue along your way, not quite remembering what you’ve already seen. Simply an inspiring exhibit, it’s going on until November 28th, so I recommend all those who are able to make the trip.

Image by Lee Friedlander

The Walker Art Center & Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Shawn and I will be heading up to Minneapolis this weekend. Among the things that I am most excited to see is The Walker Art Center & Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The Walker is considered one of the nation’s “big five” museums for contemporary art and has an amazing collection that encompasses Visual Arts, Performing Arts, and Film/Video. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the 1964 Exhibition that is going on right now:

“1964 focuses on works made during a period of tremendous upheaval and transformation politically, socially, and artistically in the U.S. In the year following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the country saw riots erupt in a number of cities; President Lyndon Johnson ordered the first bombings in North Vietnam, and the Beatles invaded with their first concerts and their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

In the art world, a number of impulses were gaining momentum. Claes Oldenburg and George Segal introduced elements of pop culture in their sculptures, and an explosion of consumerism reverberated in the paintings of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. The bravura gestures of 1950s Abstract Expressionism gave way to explorations of distilled forms, colors, and geometries in the work of Ellsworth Kelly, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and others. Meanwhile, Fluxus and other artistic movements were fusing together visual art, performance, music, film and graphic design; and a profusion of prints, multiples, artist’s books, and films was creating more open and democratic channels for disseminating art. With nearly 100 works, 1964 shows how the Walker collection mirrors this remarkably fertile moment in contemporary art.”

I’m also hoping that the weather will cooperate so we can check out The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. It’s located across from The Walker and is one of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the nation. The centerpiece of the garden is the Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985–1988) water sculpture designed by husband and wife Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. It also contains several Calders, as well as works by Jenny Holzer, Frank Gehry, and Henry Moore.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Photo courtesy Walker Art Center

Wall #1

My very talented friend Angi (check out her blog tabula rasa) posted some of her amazing photography on RedBubble for purchase. She has a great eye and captured some gorgeous images from her time studying abroad in Florence. (Jealous!) I particularly love her series capturing the walls of the city. The colors and textures look like they are some type of modernist painting. I snatched up the one shown above, but I’m already trying to decide my next purchase. Not only is she insanely gifted with the camera, she is also an amazing violinist! Talk about a one-two punch!

Image: Wall #1 by Angela Harris

Feral Houses

For all of those that share my love of dystopian images, please check out “Feral Houses” by Sweet Juniper. You will be blown away. James Griffloen and his wife are a couple that raises their children in Detroit, MI. He is an insanely talented photographer that focuses on the city’s urban decay. Check out his works here, they are not to be missed!

Image by JDG 2008-09

The Modern Wing

While down visiting at Club Ponderosa a few weeks ago, my mom and I decided to go down to the Chi and check out the Art Institute’s new Modern Wing. I have been dying to get down there since it opened back in May, but haven’t had a chance, so I was pretty pumped to see it. Let me tell you it definitely lived up to my expectations! Designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano, the Modern Wing provides a new home for the museum’s collection of 20th- and 21st-century art. The building is amazing. The way the light filters through the windows while still allowing you to view the Chicago skyline, it just blew me away. I also love how it is incorporated into Millennium Park. I sincerely cannot do it justice with a description, you must go check it out for yourself.

We only had a few hours to check out things, so we didn’t get to cover all of the collections. We did get to check out the Modern European Art Collection, Contemporary Art from 1945-1960, Contemporary Art from 1960-Present, and the Cy Twombly Exhibit. Sadly, we didn’t get to Photography or Architecture & Design, so I need to get back.

I loved every bit of what we saw, but two stand outs for me were the Twombly Exhibit and the works of Gerhard Richter. Both are favorites of mine, so it was great to see more than one or two examples of their work. I am already wanting to plan another trip so I can complete the rest of the Modern Wing as well as revisit some of the oldie but goodies the Museum has in it collection.

Image: Cy Twombly, Note III, 2005-2007, Acrylic on wood panel 96 x 144 in. (243.8 x 365.8 cm)

Giant size

Shawn and I won the colossal art book on Andy Warhol at the Arts Ball on Saturday night! The title, Andy Warhol Giant Size , is highly appropriate, both for the encyclopedic view of his work and life and for the physical size . . . over 15 pounds! I can’t wait to crack this open and dig in, but I am not quite sure where to read it. . . a book that is over a 16 inches talk is not really one you can cuddle up with on the couch.

Calder’s Circus

I read an article this morning about how the the Whitney Museum of American Art is putting on an exhibition of Alexander Calder’s early work, focusing on his miniature Circus (1926-1931). Why can’t NYC be a hour away? I need a tele-portation device . . . Scotty, beam me to the Whintey!

Alexander Calder was an American sculptor and artist most famous for inventing the mobile. He is considered to be a defining force of twentieth century sculpture. Many Chicagoans are familiar with his “Flamingo” sculpture in Federal Plaza, however the majority of his major works are centered around Philadelphia. I appreciate these large scale works, but my favorites has always been his earlier works of wire portraits and small-scale sculptures. Calder’s ability to capture the essence of the subject with a single line has always been breathtaking to me. I particularly love his miniature circus performers, which is the showcase of the Whitney exhibit.

Calder created a vast array of performers for his circus, along with scenery, props, and animals, from only wire, bits of wood, cork, and scraps of fabric. He would often put on a “show”, much like an early version of performance art, for friends, fellow artists, and audiences. This would become his calling card and helped him break into to art world.

His performance was immortalized in the 1955 film “Le Grand Cirque Calder 1927,” directed by Jean Painlevé. For those of you who have not had the chance to see it, please check out some of it here.

George Segal

Found out via today’s local paper that MMOCA opened “George Segal: Street Scenes” this weekend and will run until December 28th. Segal is well known for using plaster to create life-size figures that he presented together with elements from everyday environments, such as chairs, benches, window frames, and other building fragments. I particularly like how he incorporates his urban vignettes in public spaces and how people interact with them, in essence, becoming a part of the work and the work becoming a part of the community in which it is located.

The exhibition will focus mainly on the works that address commonplace aspects of the city from movie marquees to parking garages, diners, and buses. Starting in the 1970s and continuing through the 1990s, Segal’s work explored the reality of urban decay throughout the twentieth century, with many works focusing specifically on Manhattan’s East Village. Individuals in his works were shown lying on the ground or over subway grates, sitting on stoops, and crossing in front of walls covered with punk graffiti. The plaster or bronze figures are contemplative, sometimes forlorn, and always realistic. As curator Jane Simon states, “The exhibition reveals Segal’s fascination with the darker, seedier side of life.”

As one who is also sometimes fascinated by the darker, seedier side of life, I can’t wait to go check this out.


I need to fly to Paris this fall. Forget the Eiffel Tower, The Moulin Rouge, sidewalk cafes, and the brie. (Ok, maybe not the brie.) The reason I need to go is to see this exhibition of Jeff Koons’ work at the Chateau de Versailles. For those of you who did not take French. This is the royal palace of Louis XIV, “The Sun King”, and is known for its ornate decoration and a is considered by the country as a symbol of French royalty and a cultural treasure.

I love the idea of the juxtaposition between Koons’ works and the surrounding decor of the palace. Koons’ is known as the “king of kitsch” with works including large-scale sculptures based on balloon animals, blow-up pool toys, and assemblages of vacuums. Image his “Michael Jackson and Bubbles” sculpture surrounded by the gilded, rococo style of the Venus Salon and his “Lobster” sculpture hanging next to the ornate crystal chandeliers. . .

Being France, of course there is some opposition to the exhibit. Several dozen people demonstrated outside the palace gates, a protest organized by the National Union of Writers of France, a little-known, right-wing group dedicated to artistic purity in France.
The exhibition “strikes at the heart of a civilization” and “is an outrage to Marie Antoinette,” said Arnaud-Aaron Upinsky, the group’s chairman.

I would love to think about how Marie Antoinette would feel about seeing a giant assemblage of vacuum cleaners among portraits of royal women in the queen’s antechamber.