Summer 2015 Art in the Museums

 Text by Owen Keogh, Residence Manager

Although it is the end of August and the school year is quickly approaching, many summer art exhibitions are continuing deep into September, and I have had the pleasure of finding time this summer to check out some of the bigger museum shows around the city.

Lately, I have been most interested in painting, and particularly how painters create their works – the end goal being some re-examination of my own photographic work with a painterly perspective, but also a more concerted effort to think about a medium that I had not thought about for a long time. (Hopefully some new work will come out of this!)

I began the summer seeing two great shows of painting, Alice Neel at David Zwirner and Thomas Nozkowski at Pace (unfortunately both have ended), and followed those shows with a visit to the newly re-opened Whitney Museum of American Art at its new facility at the southern end of the Highline on Gansevoort Street. To celebrate the re-opening, the Whitney’s inaugural exhibition America Is Hard to See features a selection of work from their permanent collection spanning over a century of American art. This is a massive show filling most of the museums new space with over 600 works of art, including monumental paintings by Edward Hopper, Jacob Lawrence, Lee Krasner, Jay DeFeo, Carroll Dunham, David Salle, and many, many others. This show may require multiple viewings, which is good since it is open until September 27th, and admission is “pay-what-you-wish” on Fridays from 7-10PM.

Edward Hopper, "Early Sunday Morning," 1930. Image courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art
Edward Hopper, “Early Sunday Morning,” 1930. Image courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Traveling further downtown, the New Museum hosts two exhibitions which serve as surveys of two artists’ most recent work: Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden (open through September 13th) and Sarah Charlesworth: Doubleworld (open through September 20th). Having seen Oehlen’s commencement speech at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago earlier in the summer – in which talked about skateboarding, Lou Reed, and the artistic pursuit of freedom – I was excited to see his show of enormous paintings combining digital composition, abstract expressionistic mark-making, and obscured figuration. Finding myself in the Charlesworth show as I descended the New Museum’s central stairway, I was delighted to find selections of her photographic work including her early conceptual appropriations as well as her more recent monochromatic still lifes.

Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden, 2015. Exhibition view. Image courtesy of the New Museum.
Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden, 2015. Exhibition view. Image courtesy of the New Museum.

Most recently, I visited the Studio Museum of Harlem for the first time to see Stanley Whitney: Dance the Orange (open through October 25th). Having first seen Whitney’s work in the group show Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Year One and this summer seeing a survey of his work from the ‘90s at Karma’s gallery space in the Nolita area of Manhattan, I did not want to miss this show of over 20 of his most recent works on canvas and paper. Drawing from the color field and minimalist movements, Whitney’s works employ bright, bold colors painted in an alternating grid and band pattern, each block of color influencing the next. Whitney is a master of color and each of his canvases is imbued with energy and agility – a great lead-in to coming school year.

Stanley Whitney, "Dance the Orange," 2013. Image Courtesy of the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Stanley Whitney, “Dance the Orange,” 2013. Image Courtesy of the Studio Museum in Harlem.

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