Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Of Hopper, Hockney, & Irwin

Hopper 3D, Flatiron Building, 2013
Hopper at the Flatiron Building
I'll get to who Irwin is in a few minutes but let's start with Edward Hopper whose exhibit I went to see yesterday with my friend Kate.  The Hopper exhibit was the draw for a visit to the Whitney Museum -- a place that I had never set foot in until yesterday.  I haven't been much of a museum goer in my years of living in NYC despite managing to visit museums in pretty much everyplace I travel to (most recently making a stop in Seattle with the express purpose of seeing the Chihuly Museum (some photos from that visit are in Vacation Mode).

This seems to be changing.  I'm even a member of the Metropolitan Museum (or was -- I think I have yet to renew).  What I liked about the Whitney is that having gone to see the Hopper exhibit, I was not too exhausted to visit the other floors and partake of their treasures.  I also liked that they allow non-flash photography for non-commercial, personal use (although they do note that there may be exceptions to this rule in their visitor policy).   That is a very cool policy and allows for some sharing of experiences which is, to my mind, what art is all about.
Sketch for Gas (1940), Edward Hopper, Whitney Museum 2013
Sketch for "Gas" (1940)

Edward Hopper:  The weekend's Hopper extravaganza actually started with a stop to see the 3D cutout that the Whitney had mounted in the exhibit space at the base of the Flatiron Building (the photo above).  Kate and I are of two minds that they didn't commission someone to imagine the painting in the reverse of the perspective Hopper chose.  I was in favor  of a painting on the other side of the cutout but am beginning to think that she is right.  We are both in agreement that we love how the "real" buildings filled out our photos.  The color in the above is of the painted side and the B&W is of the unpainted back of the cutout.

Young Boy & Edward Hopper Gas (1940), Whitney Museum 2013
Photographer at Work
Memorializing "Gas"
As for the Whitney exhibit, it was just heavenly showing as it did his artistic process.  As someone whose roots are more in the writing side of things than in the visual arts, I've never put much thought into how a painter might move from a sketch or an idea to a painting.  I've been to other exhibits where sketches are juxtaposed with the final painting but can not remember an exhibit with so many sketches related to a single painting.  Hopper would often sketch just a small portion of a painting as well as plotting out the whole painting.  The results?  Art in and of themselves.

David Hockney:  Sadly, Mt. Fuji and Flowers is perhaps the only Hockney painting that I would recognize on sight (maybe because I am pretty sure it was covered in my Art History 101 course in college).  I've always liked his work but just haven't run across a lot of it in one place.  I am going to have to watch out for him in the future.  The Whitney has his multi-channel video, The Jugglers, on display and i thought it was pretty extraordinary.  I'll leave it to the real art critics to dive deep into the piece.  For me, it just made me smile and want to watch the whole thing.  Kudos to Hockney for creating a piece that draws us in and wants us to watch it again, and again, and maybe even again.

Robert Irwin:  While on our way from Hopper to the 5th floor gallery, the elevator doors magically opened on the fourth floor of the Whitney and we caught a glimpse of a seemingly empty, very quiet room.  We bookmarked that we would stop back in to see what it was all about since it was obviously an exhibit (how else to explain the guard and the quiet museum goers).  It was!  In fact, it was a reprise of a 1973 exhibit at the Whitney by Robert Irwin, Scrim Veil -- Black Rectangle -- Natural Light.  I am wishing I had stumbled upon this a bit earlier in its run (it closes this Saturday and I doubt I'll get back before that happens) as it is one that I'd like to see on a day where the outdoor light is a bit more in transition as the interplay between the light and the art is what this piece is all about.  That and the silence.  There is something about this room that causes people to speak in hushed whispers if they even speak at all and so the room is almost silent.

I hope that this piece finds a permanent home in the "new" Whitney that is being built downtown.  I think it deserves one.

Robert Irwin, Scrim Veil -- Black Rectangle -- Natural Light, Whitney Museum 2013
 Scrim Veil -- Black Rectangle -- Natural Light (Whitney Museum 2013)

1 comment:

  1. Ooohhhh wish I was there (almost felt like I was, except without the tired feet).

    I LOVE Hockney...he's one of my faves!

    I had no idea about this VIDEO installation, that you took in: http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/DavidHockney?gclid=CKSeo7arn7kCFQJBQgodS3kAAg

    I have had this hanging (on/off) in my living room for YEARS...a requested gift (from my Mom), I think from Boston MFA Catalog, yrs ago.

    Nice, right?

    I recently bought a pre-loved Hockney art book, but I think I lent it to my Mom before I even enjoyed it -- but, I will upon it's return.