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Art Beat- August 2011

by Lindsey Peckham

Rodin at the Brooklyn Museum

rodin at th brooklyn museum

I am an unabashed Rodin super fan. As such, I was thrilled to hear that the Brooklyn Museum has twelve sculptures by the French master, and the exhibit certainly doesn’t disappoint. On display are works from some of his most famous commissions of all time, including the Gates of Hell (the original of which, in the Rodin Museum, is in itself well worth the plane ticket to Paris) and the Burghers of Calais.

If you’ve never seen a Rodin sculpture in person before, it is truly a magnificent experience. Praising the level of detail involved is one thing, but it is an entirely different opportunity to see bronze truly come to life in a twisted, stretched, and almost tormented way. The works are both heartbreaking and awe-inspiring, and I can’t encourage you enough to get this long-term exhibit.

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit
September 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 10th, 11th

washington square art exhibit

As an NYU student, the Washington Square art fairs were always a great place for fun, eclectic, and college-student-budget-friendly shopping trips. Featuring dozens of local artists, this is an incredible opportunity to get your hands on some on-of-a-kind pieces. There’s always enough tourist fodder to keep the booths busy, but it’s worth combing through every nook and cranny of this exhibit to find the real hidden gems, which are often the eccentric artists themselves. If you’re interested in immersing yourself in what remains of the great art scene of Greenwich Village of the 60s and 70s, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better opportunity.

Sarah Sze on the High Line

sarah sze on the high line

The High Line is spectacular in and of itself, that much is for sure. The ambitious urban renewal project is one of my favorite (relatively) new things about the city. While you’re strolling along the elevated tracks on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or hunting for the roller rink on a Saturday night, be sure to stop by the stretch of park between 20th and 21st Streets, where an incredible linear installation by Sarah Sze transforms the space into something incredible.

It’s practically an aviary, with a plethora of perches and nooks and crannies for butterflies and birds to take refuge. Its benign occupants belie the acutely linear and graphically arresting lines of the installation itself, and it’s a lovely dichotomy between the work’s geometry and its inhabitants. Much like the greater city itself, the exhibit brilliantly juxtaposes harsh, angular design with a touch of personality leant by the birds and insects. This is an amazing addition to an already exciting space, and well worth a trip to Chelsea.

Taino Collection at el Museo del Barrio

As a former student of Latin American and Caribbean culture, I have a certain affinity for el Museo del Barrio’s permanent collection of Taino artifacts, but their appeal is wide-reaching. Our history, both cultural and evolutionary, is inextricably tied to the pan-Caribbean Taino culture, and the artifacts on display are a fascinating look into history.

Taino was the dominant culture from 1200 A.D. to when Columbus arrived, and despite its quick dismantling by the European culture, the artistry and usefulness of the artifacts in the exhibit can’t be denied. It’s transformative, really, to look into a culture that shared so many elements with its contemporaries in both North and South America. Though less well known than the Mayans or Incans, the Taino were no less inventive or creative, and the exhibit certainly does them justice, both artistically and historically.

Lyonel Feininger at the Whitney

lyonel feininger at the whitney

What I took from the new Feininger exhibit at the Whiteney, more than anything else, is the artist’s fabulous sense of humor. Even within the sharp color contrasts and bold lines, there is innocence and a sense of humor that is impossible to ignore. A contemporary of Kadinsky who taught at the school of Bauhaus, this particular show is an excellent introduction to his evolution as an artist, from his caricatures in German newspapers to his more serious landscapes. What struck me most though, were his human figures, both spastic and elegant, extended and shrunken, rich and stark. Do yourself a favor and spend an afternoon with a German master with a sense of humor.

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