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Art Beat - FEBRUARY 2011

Art Beat

By Lindsey Peckham

Cézanne’s Card Players at the Met

   It’s no secret by now that I am a devout Francophile and 19th century art junkie, so imagine how tickled I was to learn that Cézanne’s card players were coming to the Met! The exhibit is everything that I’d hoped it would be: beautiful, informative, and intimate. The players in this famous work are depicted several times in oil studies, drawings and portraits, and they perfectly augment the famous painting and make the exhibit a true experience. It is a beautiful, indulgent trip through Aix-en-Provence, a welcome departure from this harsh winter.

Hermann Nitsch at Mike Weiss Gallery

At the Mike Weiss Gallery this week, one of the world’s most controversial avant-garde artists performs for the first time in the United States. While age seems to have slightly tamed Hermann Nitsch, founder of Viennese Actionism, he still aims to shock with his large scale, brightly-colored works. Although Nitsch has traded the gratuitous animal blood and mutilation in the name of art for bright paints and more subdued performance artists, this event is absolutely a can’t-miss.

He and his assistants will be in the process of creating an enormous, messy, intriguing work on both this Tuesday and Wednesday, which, along with a few others, will be on display through March 19th. Be sure to do your homework though: Nitsch’s storied career is a fascinating one, and worth exploring before you experience the madness.

Jasper, Texas: The Community Photographs of Alonzo Jordan at the International Center of Photography

Before Jasper, Texas became the notorious site of a horrible hate crime in 1998, in which three white men dragged African-American James Byrd, Jr. to his death,    photographer Alonzo Jordan was busy chronicling the town’s simmering racial tensions. This poignant photographic study shows the vibrant life in the African-American neighborhoods, from their schools to their social events to their churches. It is a chilling (yet apt considering it is Black History Month) reminder of the persistence of racial tensions when many consider - or simply hope - this to be post-racial America.

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera at the Brooklyn Museum

Norman Rockwell’s works never fail to put a smile on my face. They remind me of my childhood doctor’s office, my elementary school, and my grandmother’s house. So what fun it was to see the pictures that I had grown up with in a completely different light at the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibit featuring the photographs that Rockwell used as a point of reference for some of his most famous paintings. The side-by-side display caused me to laugh to myself several times in delight that Rockwell was so particular: every detail, angle, and nuance was accounted for in the photographs before he ever put pen to paper, or brush to canvas. It was like looking through a family photo album, and certainly warmed my heart on a frigid February afternoon.

Piotr Uklanski at Gagosian Gallery

When I read that Uklanski’s exhibit was meant to be anti-painting, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. And painting it absolutely is not. The Polish artist dyed bedsheets vibrant colors and then removed the dye deliberately and precisely with bleach, leaving immense, intense geometric shapes that are confusing at times and hypnotic at others. The Gagosian’s press release calls it the “intertwining of irreverence and sincerity.” I call it a great way to pass an afternoon.

Lindsey Peckham is a recent graduate of New York University with degrees in both Liberal Arts and Business.

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