I finally got around to seeing the "Sensation" exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum today, the penultimate day of the exhibit. On every previous visit, the lines had been long enough to put me off; today was no exception, but I knew it was either see it this weekend or never see it. Once I got there, it turned out that as a member I can waltz on in past the lines. Wish I'd known that months ago.
The two artists who impressed me the most were Jenny Seville and Ron Muenck. Muenck does amazing sculptures in polyester resin, detailed enough that they seem real despite being five-foot-tall disembodied faces or foot-tall angels.
Seville paints bodies. She works in oil paint, and paints images of bodies (I think all the works shown were of women) in a painterly style that shows lots of brushstrokes but also fully realizes the flesh, in all of its tones, with cuts and bruises and mass.
A pair of artists named Chapman created nearly-identical life-sized figures of small girls with their bodies melded together and bizarrely sexualized features -- penises for noses, anuses for mouths, vaginas at the intersections where their faces melt together. And wearing brand-name sneakers (I forget the brand; not Nike). Creepy.
I find Damien Hirst boring. The split animals in formaldehyde are almost interesting, but his paintings don't do a thing for me; neither do his drug cabinets.
Lots of other great works that have to be seen to be appreciated -- Sarah Lucas's "Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab," Simon Patterson's "The Great Bear," Jane Simpson's "Sacred." That last made me realize that our own culture is producing alien artifacts as strange as anything in an SF story.
My favorite part of the exhibition wasn't actually part of it. The exhibit was spread across a number of galleries, and split into two parts (but not suspended in formaldehyde). Leaving the first part, viewers crossed through another gallery to enter the second. What was in that gallery? The museum's regular display of Rodin sculptures -- complete with lesbians, and the damned writhing in Hell! Just the sort of stuff that bluenoses would consider offensive art if it weren't done by a widely acknowledged old master.
There were a few paintings there by Chris Ofili, including the infamous "The Blessed Virgin Mary." Due to Giuliani's hissy fit and the resulting fury of assorted religious maniacs, "The Blessed Virgin Mary" was being displayed behind a sheet of protective plastic and a railing that kept viewers well away from it, too far to see any of the details. A shame, since it looked like it had a more elaborate use of the texturing that showed in his other works.
<< 2 Jan 2000