Robert Frank, who has the keen eye for the significant and often storytelling moment, has taken many arresting photos. Here the fascination is in the disconnectedness of all the bits of information–the naked child, the flag, the headline–the absence of any coherent narrative–the complexity of a moment in the world.
One remarkable aspect of the work of John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) is his astonishing range—so great that you have to wonder where the essential Sargent is to be found. His portrait of Dr. Pozzi isn’t the most vulgar portrait in American art (that would be William Merrit Chase’s “Miss Dora Wheeler”) but it’s in contention.
And this from the artist who would paint the engaging “Isabella Stewart Gardner” (1888).
To say nothing of the brisk and decisive “Monet Painting” (1885), or “Siesta”, albeit twenty years later, in 1904.
This post was stimulated by the New York Times review of “Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: nytimes.com/2015/07/03/arts/design/review-sargents-intimate-portraits-of-friends-at-the-metropolitan-museum.html?_r=0
I’m quite taken with the work of the Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui. He does big pieces assembled from aluminum strips taken from empty liquor bottles, punched and pieced together with copper wire.
So far, so good. But I wonder whether, as one museum label asserts, these pieces offer “a commentary on our global economy of consumption, obsolescence, and recycling.”
Really? I wonder what the “comment” might amount to. He’s done a lot of these pieces, and can’t be cranking them out all by himself–all those strips peeled off all those bottles; all those holes and little copper knots attaching the pieces. I wonder if the more pressing commentary would have to do with the availability of cheap labor in his neck of the woods.
Or perhaps the significance of the work isn’t enhanced by digging for “commentary.” It’s striking work; you’d think that would be significance enough.
One of the wonderful things about old Brooklyn houses is the way they slowly soften and relax. This doorway started as crisp shapes, but it has been trimmed and painted many times until even that wandering electric wire stapled to the right side has slowly become an organic part of the whole.