Exhibition Inquisition

The stuff you look at, but don't see.

Posts Tagged ‘twitter

Christian Marclay’s The Clock (Part 2)

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SFMOMA

“Everybody is concerned about time. You know we never have enough time to do anything, and especially to see art.” – Christian Marclay.

[Insert mandatory clock pun here.]

[Insert mandatory clock pun here.]

Well I got PLENTY of time to see your art Mr. Marclay.  Cinephiles of San Francisco rejoice! Christian Marclay’s The Clock is at SFMOMA through June 2nd, when the museum closes for those massive expansions you may have heard aboutThe Clock made big news two summers ago, when it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale.  The 24-hour-long video piece has been heralded as a masterpiece of time-based media, and has been show all over the country (New York, Boston and Los Angeles) and the world (Russia and Israel).  Finally Norcal gets the opportunity to see this life-changing (I don’t use that term loosely) video piece.

My life was changed last year when I saw The Clock multiple times at LACMA—the museum purchased an edition of The Clock and had it on view during regular hours, as well as organized several 24-hour screenings. I went to one of the 24-hour screenings and stayed from 8:00PM till 12:15AM. This week, I went to SFMOMA and took in a mere two hours and 15 minutes of The Clock—from 2:45 till 5:00PM.  Taking in another chunk of The Clock allowed me to see how the work varies at different times of day.    SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS AHEAD. Read the rest of this entry »

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Museum Marketing: Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France

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Art Institute of Chicago

If you’re like me, you already check out your reflection in the huge windows of ground floor lobbies in downtown.  Don’t lie; it’s impossible not to when faced with such large expanses of glass.  The Art Institute’s marketing campaign for its current temporary exhibition, show Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France only makes things worse (or better).  Better.  Museums in Chicago love a creative marketing campaign (see previous post on The Horse at the Field).

Look at yourself, just look at yourself!

Why this campaign is better than the Horse campaign: The campaign uses artwork in the exhibition.  Both Jean Bourdichon’s Louis XII Kneeling in Prayer (1498/99) and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Madonna of the Yarnwinder are used.  (The latter is the clear superstar of the show.)  The marketing campaign pairs these paintings with large, silver, reflective material, on which are printed crowns and scepters.  The idea is to look into these mirrors and picture yourself as a King or Queen, or as a Madonna…

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I Went to Confirm What I Already Feared

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Field Museum

Let’s teach kids about the circle of life!

I felt the need to be a responsible journalist blogger and actually check this place out.  I’m not going to bash a museum for using sponsors (check previous post), but the Field Museum has struck me as a strange place since I came to Chicago.  As a natural history museum I’m unsure as to why they organize pay to have exhibitions about  pirates, mythical creatures, and Jacky O.  The mission of the Field Museum (courtesy of the Field’s website):

The Field Museum is an educational institution concerned with the diversity and relationships in nature and among cultures. It provides collection-based research and learning for greater public understanding and appreciation of the world in which we live. Its collections, public learning programs, and research are inseparably linked to serve a diverse public of varied ages, backgrounds and knowledge.”

Nowhere in this mission statement is the word exhibition mentioned; so why does the Field pay so much for these questionable shows?  One argument is that it gets people in the door and that the museum benefits financially from admissions from these shows.  But when admission fees don’t even cover the cost of the crap plastic unicorn, I begin to question the Field, and whether it is actually upholding its mission.

Gold is not free.

The pricey cost of admission was a major factor for why I chose to go on a Free Day.  Museums in Chicago are required by law to have offer 52 free days (12 of which are sponsored by Target), so I decided to take advantage of what the Field is required by law to do.  It’s hard as hell to figure out when these days are because the Field (shockingly) does not advertise them, but I finally found the free days on their webpage.  Also, general admission is free on these days; so don’t expect to be seeing pirates, dragons, or Gold, for free.  If you want to see the special exhibitions you have to pay.

So I didn’t get to see Gold (I kept saying “GOLD!” very dramatically all day long), but there are literally acres of other things to see in the Field Museum, and not just rocks and stuffed animals, although there is a lot of that too.

Holiday decorations—I was surprised they hadn’t put a Santa hat on Sue.

The first thing I saw was Sue.  She’s a T.Rex and she has a twitter.  The Field Museum paid major buckets of ducats to get her, and has since made a pretty penny off of her, from tours to insane merchandise (there is HelloKitty Sue merch). Sue is effing huge, and overshadows the adjacent warring African bull elephant tableau.

It’s hard to know where to begin in the Field, but my friends and I started with the Egyptian tomb which led into the Hall of African Mammals.  The Field museum rationalized this organization because, “Did you know, Egypt is in Africa?” For real there is a text panel that says this.  The rooms of stuffed animals were fun, I love stuffed animals.  Yes, this is a musty natural history museum tradition, but it’s also well loved.  The Field has also put showrooms full of couches all over the place, so if you get tired you can take a load off and watch the baby orangutans play, it’s almost like TV!—except they don’t move.   It’s not all fun and games though, there are some disturbing things happening with the stuffed animals.

This panda is dead, he is stuffed, and he had a name.

For example, there is this taxidermied panda, and we all know how I feel about pandas…and this panda has a name, Sue Lin. I didn’t like that this panda had a name, didn’t like that the label told the story of Sue Lin’s life in a zoo, then Sue Lin died, then Sue Lin was stuffed and put on display in the Field.  Call me crazy, but this is just too personal.

There is also some less disturbing stuff, like the short-beaked echidna.  There are these text panels around the museum that offer facts about the history of the museum, and one of them informed me that the display of Australian marsupials contains some of the original animals from the World’s Columbian Exhibition. The short-beaked echidna has an acquisition number 3. How cool is that!

Entrance to the less-civilized world of Pre-Columbian civilizations

I like to compare how displays of the same kinds of objects from Pre-Columbian cultures are displayed in natural history museums, compared to how they are presented in fine art museums.  LA’s Natural History Museum has a Visible Vault which contains the leftovers of the collection LACMA took when it succeeded.  The Visible Vault couldn’t be more different from LACMA’s Jorge Pardo designed display.  The Field’s Pre-Columbian display is massive and overwhelming, but has several elements that really shine. Like a video that explains through a fictionalized culture the pillars of civilization (faith, military, and money).   The entrance to this display is overly dramatic though; you enter through a curving hallway full of projections of a swamp and with audio of claps of thunder.  How does this mediation preface the information that follows?

OMG Shoes!

Back outside in the main hallway is a floor to ceiling display of shoes, just shoes.  The idea is to show that there are some things that unite all people across all of time.  One of the fundamental elements of the human condition is apparently stylish footwear.  From ancient Egyptian sandals, to Eskimo snow shoes, to ugly bridesmaid heels, to gogo boots, people love them their shoes.

There is a lot to see at the Field, so I can’t really cover it all in one post.  I didn’t even get to cover the Grainger Hall of Gems, the Hall of Jade, the rooms full of American Indian costumes, or the spooky high-ceilinged halls full of Alaskan totem poles.  There are also a lot more things to criticize believe me, but those too probably need another post.

“Research” scrutinizing the temporary exhibition halls.

One last fun thing for this post: There are two drastically different sets of sculptures in the Field.  The first set is actually part of the architecture of the museum.  In the main hall, up above on the second story, in each of the four corners, is a personification.  These four women, called the “Silent Guardians” were commissioned by the museum in 1915, from the artist Henry Hering.  The one pictured above holds a magnifying glass and represents Research.  The other silent guardians represent Record, Dissemination of Knowledge, and Science.  These four ladies are supposed to be representative of the museum’s mission…oh the mission again.

Can you find this sculpture’s erogenous zones?

The other set of sculptures aren’t a bunch of white broads in flowing togas.  The other series of sculptures are bronze ethnographic (read racist) depictions of “primitive peoples” created by Malvina Hoffman.  There is no sign explaining the original purpose of these works, nor anything apologetic. The only sign accompanying these horrid bronzes reads as follows: “Look all you want, but please don’t touch this sculpture.”  A brief glance at the sculptures reveals people don’t give a shit about these signs and are rubbing them a lot.  The bronzes have a dark patina, except in certain places were excessive touching has worn down to reveal the metallic layers beneath.  The sculpture of a female pygmy from Madagascar has clearly been getting a lot of action; her nipples are practically blinding they’ve been rubbed so much.

– H.I.

P.S. Did you know that a group of porcupine is called a PRICKLE of porcupine?—See, this blog can actually be educational sometimes.

This guy also inspired my current haircut.

Donors: Lynda & Stewart Resnick

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Vanity Fair

As promised in my post about the new pavilion at LACMA which bears their names, I present to you the fabulous Lynda and Stewart Resnick.  How glamorous is this picture!? I’m going to admit it right now: I love Lynda Resnick, she’s the pomegranate queen after all, and her fashion choices are daring and faboosh!  This post is getting pretty gay, but I’m trying to insert a bit more personality into these posts (while at the same time not going over the top homo).

Carrie Bradshaw moment: Hello, Lynda Resnick lives here.

And let’s take a look at that Sunset mansion she is so lounging in front of.  It’s hard to find great shots of this house, but there are some aerial and street shots, and I’ll never pass up an opportunity to link to Curbed LA.

Oh and one of the three inaugural exhibitions in the Resnick Pavilion is from their collection—Eye for the Sensual.  I bet my bottom that Lynda Resnick does indeed have an eye for the sensual.  Below are some works from their collection.

Francois Boucher’s Leda and the Swan, sensual indeed.

Okay I know I’m going into a tizzy about Lynda Resnick, but really the woman is pretty amazing.  She’s been massively successful in her public relations business (oh hey I’m an Annenberg Public Relations program graduate), and is even pretty suave with the social online media, she has a blog and of course a twitter.

“Warring Angeles” not my words.

Above is a full page spread featuring some of the characters involved in this saga as told by Vanity Fair.  Look, Michael Govan’s daughter loves the Robert Irwin palm garden! Based on these photographs I’d much prefer to housesit for the Resnick over the Broads. I’ve always found that Jeff Koons Rabbit really, really terrifying. Can you image living with that thing?  Oh, and some more press about Deitch as the new director of MOCA. As if no one had heard the news.

– H.I.