Sunday, November 26, 2006

making connections

while this weekend has mostly been full of good food and friends, I've also had a few deadlines looming this week which means I've had to sit in front of the laptop more hours than I would like. it also starts to make me feel loopy after a while and my mind begins to wander. case in point: yesterday's visit to lacma to see the magritte exhibit. I dragged chris to the museum, and he was clearly dismayed by the lines, the prices, the crowds, and the screaming children, so I have to give him credit for his patience and perseverance. (note to parents: sure, we applaud your attempt to expose the kids to "high culture" but leave the screaming babies at home. same goes for the kids who lay sprawled out on the floor of the exhibition).

I've been mulling over how I feel about the exhibit. I've never been a huge fan of magritte, but then again, I was never as familiar with him as I was with surrealists like dali, de chirico, miro and man ray. I think I gave him short shrift - he was far more clever, more highly conceptual, less interested in freud than many of his contemporaries (all pluses in my book).

I loved the exhibition design by baldessari. let's just get that out of the way. its site-specific, smart, and absurd in a way I think magritte would have loved. I loved the idea of relating magritte to the conceptual artists of the 60s and 70s (and 80s and 90s too, for that matter). the concept resonates for me - drawing direct lines between magritte and bochner, ruscha and baldessari. I think where the exhibit failed for me is in execution. not all the time - sometimes it worked exceeding well. especially in the case of ruscha (especially Actual Size and Lion in Oil) and magritte - not exactly an obvious pairing. (on a side note, I developed a crush on ed ruscha's work at his lacma show last summer. I' m happy to report it 's blossoming into a full-blown love affair.)
Actual Size, Ed Ruscha, 1962

but in too many cases, it felt like the curators were far too literal in their attempt to connect more modern artists to Magritte. case in point: Koon's Train and Magritte's Time Transfixed.

Rene Magritte, Time Transfixed, 1938

Jeff Koons, Jim Beam J.B. Turner Train, 1986

Ok, so they both feature trains. other than that, its sort of difficult to discern the connection between the two pieces. Particularly since Koons modeled his train not as an homage to magritte but to scotch. the connection is tenuous at best. the inclusion of Koon's Bunny is a little easier to stomach. after all, the subtitle to the exhibit is "the treachery of images" and Bunny captures that - it looks weightless but its made from stainless steel. Even Koon's outsized sculptures like Balloon Dog or Moon would make more sense here - and connect to magritte's tendency to play with size and scale in his work to evoke the "uncanny" (yes, it must always come back to freud one way or another).

despite my misgivings, its a fun exhibit (is it ok to describe Art-with-a-capital-A as fun?). its also not traveling - making it just that much more special. it belongs to LA.

I had also wanted to write in this post about Pandora, since that service is also about uncovering non-obvious connections and I've been using it all weekend instead of my ipod. but now I'm too tired from thinking about magritte. maybe I'll write about that in another post, although aram will probably bitch if I write about it here, rather than on the company blog. so I'll save it for another day.

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At 12:25 PM, Blogger maxwell said...

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At 7:19 PM, Blogger maxwell said...

I totally agree about the Magritte exhibit. It's fun, but a lot of the connections to other artists seem really contrived (like the David Salle "connection") or redundant (is it really necessary to point out that someone whose painting is called "Magritte" is influenced by Magritte?). I like your blog a lot. I'm going to link to it on my page.


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