Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chelsea Galleries: Limbs, Clouds, and Excess, 12/3/10

Chelsea Galleries, and Lee Krasner at MOMA

Lee Krasner, "Flowering Limb," 1963 Oil on canvas 57 3/4 x 45 3/4 inches, 146.7 x 116 cm. Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Courtesy Robert Miller Gallery.
Two of the most compelling gallery shows on view in Chelsea resonate with simultaneous museum exhibitions at MoMA. One is Lee Krasner Paintings 1959-1965 at Robert Miller Gallery through January 29, a great complement to the AbEx show at MOMA, where she is represented. The paintings in the Miller exhibition were created by Krasner during a long period of insomnia, when she worked primarily at night under artifical light. They tend toward black & white and monochromatic palettes, since she preferred to work with color in daylight. However, one painting in particular (Flowering Limb,1963), bursts with the pink, yellow and red hues of its subject, anomolous for Krasner also because the subject is closer to a depiction of nature, rather than an abstraction. It sits at the fascinating tipping point between being inspired by nature, and being a stroke of inspiration — a source revealed.
Tomas Saraceno’s exhibition at Tonya Bonakdar,Clouds Cities Connectome (through Dec 18) relates strongly with the concepts in MOMA’s On Lineshow, in which he is not included.) Saraceno has created clusters of multi-sided spherical shapes, a bit resembling chemical molecular diagrams, using fine black rope (which defines the shapes) and nylon monofilament (which supports and disappears) miraculously arranged and held in tension by grommets in the surrounding room surfaces. Also on view are drawings and a tree-shaped work titled Space Elevator/Spark 460 (which incidentally relates to Roxy Paine’s impressive show at Cohan, an extension of his Met roof opus). There is ample scientific theory behind Saraceno’s works, which evoke Bucky Fuller’s utopian visions, but absent the theory, they are visually and structurally sublime.
Gagosian Gallery’s two Chelsea shows must be mentioned, for different reasons. The Robert Rauschenberg installation (21st St, through January 15) is an impressive selection of paintings and combines, many from the 1950s and 60s, that feels — yes — like a museum show. Anselm Kiefer’s Next Year in Jerusalem (the 24th Street gallery, through Dec 18) is proof of the capacities and potential excesses that can result when ego meets capital. A central lead-walled room houses huge photographs on meat hooks; you can really only see a few. Multiple vitrines up to 20 feet high imprison ruined and burned artifacts of civilizations past, or nature sacrificed. Mural sized paintings line the walls, but quite frankly, I was so stunned by the sheer fall-of-Rome feel of the show that I couldn’t focus on them.

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