Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chicago Art Institute, or: the part where I get inspired

*This should've been posted a while ago, but I can't finish it on my supid iPhone. So here it is in part, I'll add to t while it's live.

Jen & I were in Chicago for a few days following my cousin Jesse's wedding in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Staying with another cousin, Ben & his wife Michelle's amazing apartment in the Lakeview section of town, a great launching pad to see the city. We walked to Wrigley last night for the Cubs game vs the Pirates and managed to get three 200-level tickets together for $30! Wrigley is a dainty little park compared to the gigantor-sized new ballparks in NYC, but it is full of character and charm, and the fans were great.

The best attraction we saw while there was without a doubt the Art Institute of Chicago: the permanent collection, the special exhibits and the new (to me) Millenium Wing were all amazing, and I was totally wowed the entire time I was there.

Special exhibit of Cy Twombley's recent work was the first thing we looked at, and it impressed. I can't say that I've seen much of his contemporary work, but I have always been a fan of his seminal works; graffito, drips, scratches, and blobs of paint composed on large white canvases that have a visceral impact on the viewer, bringing you into the physical act of creation with Twombley, and into his mind through the lexicon of marks and words he includes onthe canvases. The new works were at once more contemplative with their overall composition and Ross Bleckner-like floral visions, and perhaps more literally poetic with his use of direct quotes from Rilke and others scratched onto the canvases in large and small marks, both full legible and childishly scrambled.

Heading across the hallway was the photo and video recent aquisitions, containing a powerful set of works by the German artist, zzzTkzzz tktktktk. Passages from death row convicts' final statements were hand written onto celluloid and looped from projector to ceiling in a large triangle and projected nonsensically on adjacent walls. The statements could be read on the extended film itself or projected through on the ground by an overhead light, but not on the wall. Knowing the original authors are all dead, does this act as a further cage or are they somehow freed by this piece, and given further life in the work. (The curator's statement on the wall was dissapointing, mentioning the artist's Internet searches, etc.)

*Now it's nearly a week later, and I really should have finished writing this while it was all fresh in my mind. The Richter room was a real treat for me to take in, and it included four new untitled drawings. The drawings, according to the wall info, were started as a memorial to the 9/11 attacks, which is interesting given his usual tendency to avoid a rigid political stance. My first perusal of the drawings gave me the impression that they were studies for his abstract squeegeed paintings, but the text said that they contained their abundance of vertical marks to remind of the towers, the horizontal scratches standing in for the violence.

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