Monday, December 17, 2018

KEVIN BEASLEY: A View of a Landscape: Review By Polly Guerin

Kevin Beasley
"Artists are a unique breed. They search the inner circle of their soul to inspire creativity. They work alone, their ideas grow out of the depths of their imagination. They are innovators, risk takers who create works defined by their personal history. Like solo fliers, they have the courage to take flight  with new ideas and on the path of creativity they never stop until the work is done. They work around the clock to create something rare and unexpected, yes--something never done before. (Quote from Dynamics of color by Polly Guerin)l
      For his most ambitious exhibition to date, Kevin Beasley confronts the legacy of the American South in a powerful new installation that explores the intersection of history labor, land, and race.  Reclaiming a 1915 electric motor that once powered a cotton gin on an Alabama farm during the middle of the twentieth century,  Beasley creates a multipart installation in which he distills the visual and auditory experiences of the machine. KEVIN BEASLEY: A VIEW OF LANDSCAPE opened recently in the Whitney museum's eighth floor Hurst Family Galleries                                                                        
Rebuilding of the Cotton Gin Motor

and runs through March 10, 2019. 
       THE ARTIST SPEAKS; "For me, this exhibition embodies a continued reconciliation that can extend to the broader public. Are we reflecting on this history collectively," said Beasley "And are we taking the necessary steps to generate a fresh approach and change to systemic issues that persist today?"
      Through the use of microphones soundproofing, and audio hardware the installation detaches the physical motor from he sounds it produces, enabling visitors to have distinct sensorial experiences. There, the motors sounds, heard through an arrangement of speakers set at different amplifications, form a sonic landscape. A series of performances by Beasley and other artists whom he has invited to perform will take place in the galleries throughout the run of the exhibition.  Currently scheduled, Saturday January 12, Kevin Beasley with Taja Cheek, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist. Saturday, Jan. 26, Eli Keszler, artist, composer, and percussionist.  For other performance times and ticketing, visit Beasley.
Left: The Reunion Right: Campus 
"SLAB" SCULPTURES: The exhibition also includes new large-scale "slab" sculptures made with a range of materials central to Beasley's practice such as polyurethane resin, housedresses, electric appliances, and raw cotton from the artist's native Virginia, where his family has owned land for generations.  The sculptures suggest a narrative in three parts, beginning with image Left:The Reunion, 2018, Polyurethane resin, raw Virginia cotton, Virginia soil, Virginia twigs, Virginia pine cones and needles, housedresses, kaftans, T-Shirts, du-rags, HID light bulb, guinea fowl feathers, cotton bale strap, aluminum, and steels. Right: Campus, Polyurethane resin, raw Virginia cotton, housedresses, kaftan's,T-Shirts, du-rags, select pages from the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Charles Joseph Minard Civil War-era cotton trade map, painted clown masks, Yale University School of Art graduation collar, graduation cap, graduation gowns, Yale University sweater, Campus duffle bag, aluminum and steel. Both from the Collection of the Artist, courtesy of Casey Kaplan, New York.

        Ta Ta /Darlings:  This solo flier makes a bold historically fused statement. Through the use of these materials, the works account for the lived histories shared by he artist, the continued journey of the machine, and the greater context of the American landscape. Fan mail always welcome at  Visit Polly's other Blogs at and click in the left-hand column to access the Blog that resonates with your interest. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

EPIC ABSTRACTION at The Met Fifth Ave: Review by Polly Guerin

Jackson Pollock 
If you have ever been bewildered by the message the abstract painters were projecting on canvas you need to no further for creative clarification than The Metropolitan Museum of Art, opening Monday, December 17th with EPIC ABSTRACTION: Pollock to Herrera.  
      The exhibition begins with the 1940s and extends into the 21st century and explores large-scale abstract painting, sculpture, and assemblage through more than 50 works from The Met collection and includes a selection of loans, promised gifts and new acquisitions. Iconic works from The Met collection, such as Jackson Pollock's classic "drip" painting and Louise Nevelson's monumental Mrs. N's Palace highlight works by international artists, such as, Japanese painter Kazuo Shiraga and the Hungarian artist IIona Keseru.
Image: Jackson Pollock (American 1912-1956) Enamel on Canvas 1950, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection. Gift of Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman, in honor of her grandchildren, Ellen Steinberg, Coven and Dr. Peter Steinberg 2006. Artists Rights Society (ARS) 2018 New York.
      In the 1940s Pollock developed the "drip" technique for which he became renowned and his work grew to monumental sizes; he eventually discarded the easel to paint on and around unstretched canvases splayed on the studio floor. The drips, splatters, and whips of paint record his bodily experience in the process of painting, but they also evince a high degree of control and intentional effects. Abstract Expressionism was promoted as exemplary of American democracy and freedom during the early years of the Cold War, and Pollock's art began exerting an international influence in this context. He reinvented the medium of painting as experimental, a kind of performance. Well over fifty years after their creation these works retain their audacious dynamism and sense of daring.
      THE ARTISTS REACT: In the wake of unprecedented destruction and loss of life during World War II, many painters and sculptors working in the 1940s grew to believe that traditional easel painting and figurative no longer adequately conveyed the human condition. In this context numerous artists, including Barnett Newman, Pollock and others associated with the so called New York School, were convinced that abstract styles---often on large scale---most meaningfully evoked contemporary states of being. Many of the artists represented in Epic Abstraction worked in large in large formats not only to explore aesthetic elements of line, color, shape and texture but also to activate scale's potential to evoke expansive---'epic' ideas and subjects, including time, history, nature, the body, and existential concerns of the self.        
Carmen Herrera
      "The Met's great holdings of
 post-war art include some of the most celebrated examples of Abstract Expressionism. This exhibit is an important reinterpretation of a core area of the Museum's collection as it expands beyond the familiar to include fresh and perhaps surprising perspectives of artist's who have adopted, adapted, and even critiqued the precedents established by the well know New York School," said Max Hollein, Director of the Museum. "These monumental works also offer a powerful---even mesmerizing---experience." Image: Carmen Herrera, Cuban born 1915, EQUILBRIO 2012 Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60." The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Promised gift of Estrellita and David Brodsky. (c) Carmen Herrera.                                   
Louise Nevelson
The exhibition also includes a range of major works composed of found objects and repurposed materials, including the installations centerpiece Louise Nevelson's Mrs. N's Palace, Chakala Booker's Raw Attraction and Thornton Dials elegiac Shadows in the Field, which evokes the history of American slavery. The exhibition also features a gallery of works by the next generation of artists, including Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Marigold, Alejandro Puente and Anne Truitt, who worked in the hard edge, minimalist styles that came to define modern art in the 1960s and l970s. Image: Mrs. N's Palace (1964-71) Painted wood. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gift of the artist 1985. (c) 2018 Estate of Louise Nevelson/Artist Rights Society (ARS) New York.

CONCERT PROGRAM: In conjunction with the exhibition, a concert in the MetLiveArts Sight and Sound series, "Abstraction in Music and Art" will feature Leon Botstein and The Orchestra Now performing works by the radical modernist Anton Webern and experimental composer Morton Feldman, who mirrored the Abstract Expressionist painters and took his inspiration from their work. Performance on May 19, 2019, at 2 p.m. in The Met Fifth Avenue Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, will be preceded by a discussion accompanied by musical excerpts performed alongside on-screen artworks.  Tickets start at $30. Bring Kids for $1 are also available. Info: (
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! Come in out of the cold and visit Epic Abstraction's iconic artists. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the
link in the left hand column to the Blog that resonates with your interest.