Thursday, May 31, 2007

Richard's Show

Liza's son Sebastian says the MOMA opening last night was full of hedge fund traders. There didn't seem to be many people from the art community. Or maybe there were, but they were just out numbered. Or maybe they are so much younger that I don't know anyone. There were many people but never any crush at the drink tables. Maybe because one of the sponsors was Moet Hennessy. The large pieces didn't seem "site specific." They look crowded. There wasn't enough space to get the "big picture". They look better at Gogosian's or on the street. Even in the expanded MOMA garden the pieces looked so squeezed in.Upstairs the prop pieces retained their power, though all surrounded by plexiglass. The white walls of the museum were a stark contrast.I miss the anger of Richard's Bush poster and the gritty presence of the thrown lead pieces. Was it the insurance companies or MOMA's lawyers who prohibited their exhibition?In the seventies I worked with Richard on several films. Shulea Cheang, David Shulman and I taped the trial of his piece, Tilted Arc, which was ultimately removed from Federal Plaza. Joel and I both testified to keep the piece in place.My family has had strong connections to Richard. Every summer I would trek to Cape Breton with my three boys (Ezra, Peter and Tovey) for time on the beach near Richard's place up there. Tovey was an assistant to Richard for over ten years. Tovey made many of his macquettes and drawings. Tovey probably has spent more time with Richard than he ever has done with his own father. The architecture of the new MOMA seems to swallow the art. Even Richard's art. The giant plates are beautiful and the interior spaces of the curves and elipses are sublime, but the sort of clutzy architecture of the MOMA overrides especially the pieces on the second floor.

The crowd at the opening seemed like extras on a movie set. But that is what the art world these days is like. Someone my age muttered: This is why we are occupying Iraq. Most of the board of directors have seats on boards of corporations immeshed in the war. The new officers of the MOMA board have connections with Israel. Can MOMA allow artists to honestly assess the world situation? I guess that is why the other show that is up is cartoons.

Coming home on the subway the crowd was so different and so diverse and not at all the same people at the MOMA opening.

For another point of view go to

The best sculpture idea I have seen recently was posted on e-flux: a proposal for a memorial to the Iraq War by Sam Durant.



by Donald Kuspit

"Titan of sculpture," we're told, comparable to -- no, greater than -- Michelangelo. Mentored by Jasper Johns, implying a "Greek hero-and-mentor myth," goes the story, suggesting the passing of the baton of avant-garde greatness from the older to the younger generation. (Serra is now 67; thus the truth of Adorno's wry view of the avant-garde as "aging youth.") Installing the works for the current Museum of Modern Art exhibition, he "looked a bit like a druid" in his "heavy olive-green coat with a hood pulled down over his head," implying that he's a high priest in the mystery religion of abstract art.

A clearly "dominating, master-of-all details personality," Serra is supposed to be greatest thing to hit sculpture since -- well, I already said Michelangelo, so how about the builders of the pyramids? They too are pompously Minimalist, their huge stones fitted together without mortar (like those of Machu Picchu, another favorite comparison of Serra fans) the way Serra's metal plates are held together by their own weight and careful placement, and thus in no need of binding solder. They too function as monumental architecture as well as autonomous sculpture. Both are self-contained yet inhabitable. People can move through Serra's curved sculptures, enveloped by them if not exactly interacting with them -- in the aftermath of the Tilted Arc disaster, Serra said "art is not for the people," but his giant sculptures seem to grudgingly acknowledge them -- and the huge pyramids house the bodies of dead people (Pharaohs, and thus more pretentious and presumptuous than the masses who visit the Serra exhibition).

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