Wednesday, October 25, 2006

so, surrealism?

Jacques-Louis David, Madame Recamier (from the Artchive)

Kurt Schwitters

From my latest Times review:
The Museum of Modern Art had a big blockbuster show this summer, featuring one of the most radical and iconoclastic movements in early twentieth-century art. Dada, the name of the show and the movement both, was jam-packed with artworks of wildly differing characteristics. It captured the eclectic funhouse atmosphere of the movement, its loudness and vibrancy. At times however, it had the feel of a theme park, or a sort of Dada's Greatest Hits. In addition, much of the quieter or more reflective material was buried amidst the spectacle.

A Private Eye: Dada, Surrealism, and More, now showing at the Johnson Museum, serves as a welcome companion piece. Gathering works from the collection of Cornell alumnus Arthur Brandt, this show highlights lesser-known work by well-known Modernist icons. In addition, more obscure names are given their day in the sun, often outshining their canonical counterparts. Dada and its successor movement, Surrealism, are complemented by work from other avant-garde movements of the time. The show, although large by Johnson standards, is dominated by small, delicate work, art that doesn't scream.
If it isn't clear enough in the article, I'd like to reemphasize the obvious, namely that the Johnson is a small university museum, here drawing off of the collection of a single individual. My comparison with the MoMA show was intended not to hold the Johnson to an unreasonably high standard, but rather as a way of thinking about different ways of showing similar work. While I'm not familiar with the Mr. Brandt or his collection, I imagine that curator Andrea Inselmann was working within some serious constraints. She seems to have done a respectable job, considering.

There are a number of worthwhile looking events connected with the show (which is up through Christmas Eve):
*Francis Naumann, a scholar and gallerist, will talk on Thursday, November 2 at 5:15 p.m.

*Arthur Brandt himself will show up to talk about his collection with the two "men" (Francis and Andrea) on Saturday, November 4. That's at 4:00 p.m.; the Johnson's late fall reception will follow at 5.

* Andrea will be giving two exhibition tours: one on Sunday, November 5 at 3:00 p.m. and another on Thursday, November 30 at noon.
Do enjoy the show.

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Blogger arthur said...

If anybody could get me a image of "Homage to Sir Herbert Read", I would be grateful.

11:51 AM  

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