On the first floor of the Metropolitan Museum, past the Greco-Roman relics and on your way into European sculptures, is the airy but contained gallery housing Max Beckmann in New York through February of next year. Compact, light, and unassuming, the show is rather excellent: the wall text adequate and not too imposing, the paintings both palatable and intense. It is exactly the kind of exhibition that is easy to digest and worth digesting. The history behind it is simple: Beckmann, typically classified as a German Expressionist, resided in New York from 1949 through his death in 1950, having originally fled to Holland from his native country under Hitler’s regime. Fourteen of the 39 pieces were created in this brief interlude, while the 25 others are earlier works from New York collections. The paintings’ subjects are the artist himself; various interiors and landscapes; nightlife spectacles; voluptuous figures, mostly female; artists or performers; and strange, chimerical scenes. Common devices include Beckmann’s trademark broad, black strokes, strong color pairings, and emphasis on large, jointed body parts, especially the hands. (more…)
Artist of the Month (November)
No title (1969-1970)here).Copyright belongs to the estate of Eva Hesse; courtesy of Hauser & Wirth (see
November is a month of struggling. We wake up from October’s slumber to a world cruel and cold. I was having trouble making art and I listened to Benedict Cumberbatch performing Sol LeWitt‘s profanity-ridden letter to Eva Hesse about what to do when this happens: just go for it, create. So I read up on Eva, elusive character that she is. There’s a lauded documentary about her, and if you like her work, you’re probably more “in the know” than not. It’s complex and confusing, centered on abstract concepts like sensuality and mortality in her manipulations of material, tangible things. I wanted to understand her to tap into that, myself. Her childhood suffering and tremendous trauma (see below) shaped all that she did. But Eva went beyond her pain. I wanted to use her strength as a roadmap for attempting transcendence, too. I have so much to pour in but often feel impotent, artistically blocked. I’ll share with you what I’ve found on Eva, what’s guided me this past week to finally do.
Here is her bio, by Artsy:
One of the first to work with synthetic materials like fiberglass, latex, and plastic, Eva Hesse is best-known for her innovative sculptures, dubbed Postminimalist for the time and style in which they were made. Reacting to the rigidity and uniformity of Minimalism, Hesse’s sculptural forms appear soft, slack, and uneven, conveying a human sensibility. A pioneering feminist artist, Hesse desired, in her own words, to “challenge the norms of beauty and order.” Hesse’s painful childhood—having fled Nazi Germany followed by her mother’s suicide—significantly impacted her artmaking, prompting close friend and art historian Lucy Lippard to describe Hesse’s work as a “materialization of her anxieties.” Hesse’s artistic engagement with her own psychology is apparent in her Spectre paintings, where she uses muted tones and a thick and gestural application of paint to create haunting pictures reminiscent of Munch.
The Art Story website has an equally excellent version, which includes a timeline and some of her best works.