Monday, September 21, 2015

There and Back

Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella
paintings on view at The Albright Knox Art Gallery
Buffalo, New York

I spent some quality time with students at The Albright Knox Art Gallery and upon entering the museum I noticed that everything they had hanging on the walls when I last visited had been changed.  Where did Clyfford Still go?  And who is Dan Colen?

Half of the museum had been closed when I returned because they were busy mounting new shows upstairs.  I was attracted to the new selection of paintings in the galleries and it seemed that I was seeing works I was not familiar with.  The new hanging had an accent on constructivist abstraction and abstract expressionism - all the way up to the present.

As I wrote in my last post, I was interested in going to Buffalo to see a show devoted to Robert De Niro, a painter who taught at The Cooper Union in the late 1960's and early 1970's.  I attended his class and also that of Hollis Frampton - a photographer and film maker devoted to the art of cinema.  Hollis Frampton always had a pack of Pall Malls in his hand and he would chain-smoke his way through our class.  I didn't know at the time that he was also a gifted documentary photographer who had many deep friendships among some of the iconic artists of mid 20th century.

Hollis Frampton's photo of Frank Stella
at work in his studio 1958-62

At the Albright Knox they have a show of photography where artists photograph other artists  ( sometimes at work in their studios ).  My teacher,  Hollis Frampton is represented in this show with at least three photos of important artists such as Frank Stella, Carl Andre, and James Rosenquist.  It is really interesting because you can see these photos of artists at work and then in the next gallery you can see their actual paintings on view.

There is a special exhibition of the work of Dan Colen, and I was surprised to read about his art and the radical materials he uses on his canvas: chewing gum!  I wondered how he gets the gum to stick to the canvas?

Dan Colen in "Shake the Elbow"

If you get too close to these "paintings" they smell sweet, and the imagery is of a raucous food fight. I am not sure that we need another re-hash of abstract expressionism.  There is no new formal ground won in this battle on canvas, and I was surprised to see the space devoted to this artist at this time and place.

When I was back at work at R.I.T. I visited The University Gallery in the Vignelli Center and saw wonderful paintings by Benigna Chilla, and ceramics by Vera Vico.  The layered abstractions  alone are worth seeing, as they weave space together in a unique way.  Why weren't these on view at The Albright Knox?

Works by Benigna Chilla

The ceramics of Vera Vico are inspired by the Mediterranean culture and she navigates these ports of call with a deftness that is impressive.  I love the colors and the forms that she explores.  You can revisit the historic Amphora, and her application of color and feeling for form is the work of  a gifted artist.

Amphora by Vera Vico