Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Whitney Museum Response

I thought most of the art we saw at the Whitney Museum was worthwhile. It was hard to try and cover everything, even without a time limit. I found Georga O’Keeffe’s paintings probably the most visually appealing. And they were probably most closely related to the kind of work I’m looking to produce this semester in the class. The number of paintings on display however was somewhat overwhelming, so I regret not having spent more time with a greater number of the works. I think the museum should have chosen a selection of the pieces to show rather than everything it had.
Dan Graham’s work was probably the most fun for me. His exhibition offered up a lot of very minimalist pieces playing on form, space and reflection. I thought his execution of idea was very well done, and I can appreciate the museum’s collaboration with the artist and the amount of work that goes into setting up an exhibition like his. The work was playful, and I wasn’t the only one who seemed amused by some of the work. Even one of the museum attendants was jovial in informing me that I could actually walk into one of the works.
The most thought provoking piece of the trip for me was my last stop back on the first floor – “Play Pause”. It was thought provoking for me not because of its content, but again in execution. The content itself was entertaining, but I sort of lost the artist’s track after a little past the halfway point of the movie. What really caught and kept my attention was Saide Benning’s implication of video as a medium. There was very little actual motion picture in the movie at all. It was mostly crude and simple hand drawings in slides timed to the soundtrack (whose acoustics greatly enhanced the piece overall). Even color was used sparingly. I was therefore surprised at how incredibly effective the movie was with such an elemental approach, and I’ll certainly keep this in mind in my own work in the future. It’s no secret that effective art isn’t necessarily complicated. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen video employed this well with such simplicity before.

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