Sol Lewitt Inverted Spiraling Tower (left); section of the Odili Donald Odita mural, Forever (right).
It was just going to be one post on the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). This is the second one, the first was devoted to classic and more traditional. As one passes out of the older part of the structure, you get into one of 3 floors of contemporary and global work.
Since it feels like I am reviewing the contemporary and global part of the museum, I will break it down this way:
There are certain things we have come to expect. Here I did not see a Sheeler, a faux pas, perhaps. I also did not see a Rothko, what kind of a museum is this? Well, in my ideal museum, you see the conversation between the curator and the buyer might be like this:
Curator: Now that I’m stuck with that Katz–
Buyer: At least it’s little–
Curator: A self portrait–talk about a f***ing ego!–What can you get me that is modern, kind of abstract–?
Buyer: I can get you a Joan Mitchell–
Curator: Yeah, she’s hot now, that’s good. Good that goes formula with Hofmann.
Buyer: What do you mean “goes formula. . .?”
Curator: You never show a Mitchell without Hofmann. Never show Giacometti without Dubuffet. But what about an early Pollack?
Buyer: You can’t afford it. We already have a Krasner–
Curator: You mean that pink and brown thing? It looks like that thing in the Modern–what’d she run out of paint that week—?
Buyer: I can get you a Stella–
Curator: What do I want with Joseph Stella in a modern collection?
Buyer: Frank Stella.
Curator: But it can’t be too big.
Buyer: We were thinking of this one.
Curator: I rather have an Albers. Okay, Stella, I guess. What else? We need a Nevelson, not too big, we don’t have room for some of her *expletive* .
Buyer: There was a lovely gold one, stand alone.
Curator: Absolutely not! It has to be black. It’s not a Nevelson if it’s not black!
Alex Katz’ Self Portrait; Frank Stella’s Scramble Ascending Yellow Values, Descending Sprectrum; Hans Hofmann’s Still Life; Louise Nevelson’s Cascades – Perpendiculars XVIII; Lee Krasner’s Breath; Joan Mitchell’s Untitled
When I think about the High in Atlanta, and dozens of bullshit museums in Europe that don’t let you photograph, I get disgusted. In Egypt in the old Cairo Museum, you were not allowed to take a camera in. They were so dumb, even with all the armed guard crap. They never figured girls with telephones would be recording King Tut’s sarcophagus.
The Taylor-Wood piece is meant to shock (I think). I found it strange that this piece was put in with the large post-Hurricane Katrina shots. Having lived through 2004, in what we in Florida call Year of the Hurricanes, it is hard to photograph disaster. Disaster has a certain ordinariness to it.
No one who has not been in the situation shown, will never fully comprehend the horror when looking back. It is like when I went to the historic center and witnessed the devastation of Atlanta, you really can’t. In the first shot, houses seem normal, even the electrical lines seen intact, except for those cars-hm? And that is the point disaster begins to make you think. And that pretty Impressionistic image, belies broken cars, debris and remnants of real peoples’ lives.
Just to show you a layout of the rooms.
I have been looking for work by my professor, William T. Williams, for years. Anything I learned about color, I learned from him. I was a real jackass in those days. It took me two years for his lessons to take in my brain, just after I dumped my painting classes and got serious with graphics and printmaking. I was pleased to see his work. And I am proud he kept plugging on.x
William T. Williams’ Sister of Eastern Star
Biggers is wonderful at what he does. He is a first rate draughtsman, and often overlooked because he is stuck in that category of “African American” artist. Sorry, it was a lousy shot, but this is unlike some of his other work, where this is pure caricature, compare to Leonardo’s grotesqueries or Marinus van Reymerswaele‘s The Lawyer’s Office which also are subtle grotesques (in that one catch the hands, though, beautifully articulated and less boney than Dürer’s).
Isn’t it great to see small works sometime. The little Manet in Peaches, these sketches done by the masters. The cabinet by Gauguin, who always acted so pompus, humanizes him.
When I think of two French artists of the old school coming to the U.S., I think of Matisse with Barnes, then I think of Degas. The ghost of Edgar’s everywhere, as grandpere was here in NOLA. One finished, one sketch and one loose painting, which I love! Any day with Edgar is a great day! Ooh la lah, like the Frenchwoman said in DeGaulle airport 30 years ago!
Another wonderful draughtsman is Käthe Kollwitz. There are several drawings and prints. Help Russia is a larger lithograph, wonderfully done by a master of value. If you like her work, click here.
Franz Xavier Winterhalter‘s Young Woman in a Ball Gown
This type of painting used to find its way on the book jacket covers (remember them) of American versions of French novels. It struck me that the work owed a lot to Ingres with the hair, hands and that tactile sense of the cloth.
Amedeo Modigliani ‘s Portrait of a Young Woman
I wanted to bend over and kiss this painting. Look between the two works to understand how the perception of beauty is captured from one era to another. That lovely face, that Modigliani is so famous for capturing in his work.
Chinese sculpture and Japanese screen paintings are almost expected within historical context. And so many museums do this so well. Here is a little of their fare. I know, you are going to compare this to the Freer, but remember this is only a taste. The Hōshuku is a really another look into beautiful draughtsmanship and subtle color with the quail!
Umberto Boccioni x Unique Forms of Continuity In Space and Plate with Sacrifice of Isaac, Urbino Italy
Holy cow, Umberto in a setting other than the Modern! Housed nearby is a beautiful piece of Renaissance glazeware in mint condition! This place starts to remind me of the Fitzwilliam without the lovely little Constable sketches.
Dale Chihuly. The piece on the left is wonderful (forgot to photograph the name), especially what goes on with the shadows. The one on the right is part of two shown, this one is Multicolored Persian.
You will see contemporary next to old world, and all of it is good, it just depends on what you want to see.
WHO ‘DA THUNK IT?
If you have to go into concept art, make it big and make it splashy. Since I saw stuff back in Chicago back in the early 2000s, I have become unaffected by C-prints. At least they are in focus, would be something Arthur Fried might have said. But they’re as dull as those loops that the museums keep showing, which are real bullshit. Here concept and delivery work rather nice by Huan.
Andy Warhol’s Diamond Dust Shoes
I’ve been reevaluating in my head Warhol. I think it started when I saw the show at the Hirshhorn last year. I began to remember that Warhol lived on a lot longer than the 60’s and that he was exploring not only concept, but new visual territories as well.
Maurice de Vlaminck’s Vase of Flowers and Chatou le pont (The Seine)
Vlaminck is another one I have been rethinking. The more I see his work, the more I realize that he and Derain are only asides in their work in Fauvism, and that Braque is almost forgotten as a Fauve, and Matisse is the big wheel, because it captured what would become his style.
Wayne Thiebaud’s Salmon Rose
There is a little Tissot, you hardly see him anywhere in the States. There is also an interesting Wayne Thiebaud. There are five Conrads in all, but these are the only two that photographed well enough that you could see them. And then on top of all this great stuff comes the stuff museums are made of. So all of this wonderful stuff, and that is only a part, since some photos looked so caca, I wouldn’t be caught dead publishing them.
Joseph Conrad’s Untitled (Romantic Hotel Chiarina) and Napoleonic Cockatoo.
Pablo Picasso’s Still Life with Candle (top left), Juan Gris’ Still Life with Cut Lemons (top right) and Georges Braque’s Nature Morte avec Fleurs (Still Life with Flowers) (bottom).
And what may fast become a rather wonderful portrait by Picasso, who did so many enduring ones, including painting his life partners. Like Henry, he had at least 6, but not all legitimized, we see here his second and last wife. This is very similar to the Dora Maar’s, but here with Jacqueline, there is both happiness and intellectual painting going on!