Saints in the ‘Hood in Brooklyn

Kehinde Wiley’s Saint Amelie in stained glass, 2014

Kehinde Wiley’s Saint Amelie in stained glass, 2014

Take a look at the saints as you’ve never seen them in Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic through this weekend at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

They’re not saints, exactly, but Mr. Wiley is asking you to look at the young African American men you pass in your everyday life in a slightly different way – through the lens of Byzantine icons and Medieval stained glass. The icons and would-be saints are magnificent, proud, and mysterious, just like his slightly earlier portraits that are grace the walls of Lucious Lyon’s mansion in the hit series Empire.

The Cantor Gallery is filled with these men of higher purpose, and the crowds love it. Bronze busts echo the 18th century marble work of Houdon, and visitors check them out from all angles.

The Archangel Gabriel, Wiley’s 22-karat gold leaf and oil on wood painting from his Iconic series

The Archangel Gabriel, Wiley’s 22-karat gold leaf and oil on wood painting from his Iconic series

Beyond this gallery, the curators have assembled a survey of Mr. Wiley’s 14-year career – dominated by his giant canvases in which guys from the neighborhood take on the heroic poses of European aristocrats and conquerors. In fact, when he began, Wiley would scan neighborhood streets for handsome, statuesque subjects and ask them if they would feel comfortable posing as other-era men of means in his painting studio. Those who said yes were asked to select the person they felt comfortable emulating from Wiley’s library of art books on European portraiture.

Elsewhere in the show are Wiley’s first-ever bronze sculpture of female subjects and selections from his world tour, where he found portrait subjects in Israel, Palestine, Africa, and the Indian subcontinent. Check out some of the works in our Flickr feed and on the museum website.

Although it’s common to see a gigantic Wiley portrait in another museum these days, Brooklyn is proud that it was among the first to collect his work. If you journey to another floor, you’ll see a five-panel painting installed on a ceiling like some Renaissance master’s and several portraits from his Passing/Posing series in 2003.

If you can’t get to Brooklyn to see this show, let Mr. Wiley take you through the exhibition via video:

Plains Indians Wearable Art at The Met

1780 Plains Indian horned headdress assembled from a powerful mix of materials including bison horns, deer and horsehair, porcupine quills, glass beads, wood, metal cones, cotton cloth, silk ribbon, and paint. From the Musée du quai Branly in Paris

1780 Horned headdress assembled from a powerful mix from mighty bison , deer, and horse. From Musée du quai Branly in Paris.

With all the attention this week on the couture gowns at the Metropolitan Museum of Art ball and Costume Institute show, don’t forget that some of the most elaborately embellished mixed-media wearable art is installed on the second floor in the expansive tribute, The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, through this weekend.

The masterworks have been gathered from select European and North American collections and feature beadwork (mostly on leather), symbolic headdresses, and magical objects that directly telegraph the wearer’s connection to nature, the universe, and supernatural power.

The show was organized by the Musée du quai Branly, Paris, in collaboration with The Met, and in partnership with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, and features works from the 18th century through today (like the China exhibition in the other wing).

All-over beading on contemporary platform shoes by artist Jamie Okuma, 2014.

All-over beading on 2014 platform shoes by artist Jamie Okuma.

The curators track changes in materials, styles, and concerns of the Osage, Quapaw, Omaha, Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Lakota, Blackfeet, Pawnee, Kiowa, Comanche, and Meskwaki nations from the time they dominated the Midwest through the demise of the buffalo, the great wars, the transition to reservation life, and participation in 21st century art and culture.

Take a read through the curators’ story on this exhibition site and see some of our favorite looks on our Flickr feed, where we’ve organized the pieces in chronological order. We’re giving you a close-up view of some of the bead, quill, and embroidery work. You can see the transition from more shamanistic embellishment to use of imported Venetian glass beads, to the all-over bead style, and finally to current creations, such as Jaime Okuma’s beaded platform shoes.

Central painting on large-scale Mythic Bird robe from the Illinois Confederacy, 1700-1740. Courtesy: Musée du quai Branly in Paris

Central painting on Mythic Bird robe, Illinois Confederacy, 1700-1740. Courtesy: Musée du quai Branly in Paris

Much of the painting and handwork was divided according to gender – men painted figures and women did the beadwork and painted the geometric forms. This beautiful robe with a geometric mythological bird is one of the earliest surviving large-scale paintings from Plains tribes, and the beaded geometry of the 1895 Crow wedding robe is another marvel.

Compare the mixed-media horned headdresses from 1780s Missouri with Chief Red Cloud’s dramatic all-business trophy-feathered war bonnet of 1865. The fluffy-feathered 1925 creation from Cody’s Buffalo Bill Center almost makes you wonder if that version were strictly for wild west shows.

It’s also interesting to learn that the powerful symbolic paintings on shirts and shields were essentially “owned” by their creators.

Close up of the tiny Venetian seed beads used to decorate a Lakota woman’s dress (Teton Sioux), 1865. From the Smithsonian’s NMAI

Tiny Venetian seed beads decorate a Lakota woman’s 1865 dress. From the Smithsonian’s NMAI

Similar to what we learned about 1920s French couture designers’ concerns about unlicensed copies in FIT’s recent Faking It show, anyone wanting to replicate a particular war shirt or shield, had to be granted formal permission. The Met exhibition explains that replication permission of Plains Indian designs were closely held and protected for generations.

A full database of the amazing objects in the show is on the Met’s website, as well as the complete audio guide to the exhibit on the museum’s Soundcloud site. As you click on the audio tracks, you’ll see a small thumbnail of the object.

Listen to curator Gaylord Torrence, explain how French culture and embroidery techniques collided with Plains Indians culture three hundred years ago to such magnificent result:

 

Bird Watching with Audubon: Forget the Binoculars

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), Havell plate no. 307, 1832

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), Havell plate no. 307, 1832

If you climb up to the second story of the New-York Historical Society to see Audubon’s birds, grab the magnifying glass right inside the gallery door. See the magnificent details painted by the watercolor master of all time in  Audubon’s Aviary: The Final Flight (Part III of The Complete Flock), running through this weekend.

NYHS is the lucky owner of every watecolor JJA produced to make his historic Birds of America subscription project in the early 1800s, which documented over 700 species.

Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber), Havell plate no. 397, 1837

Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber), Havell plate no. 397, 1837

The watercolor collection – from which engravings were made – is so large that NYHS had to split the exhibition into three parts. It’s a joy to look at the life-size paintings that Audubon produced through the magnifying lens, seeing the tiny brushstrokes on lush feathers and miniscule detail on the small hummingbirds.

Paintings featured in all three shows are hung in the sequence that JJA painted them. Although JJA traveled extensively throughout the East and South, he never actually saw birds west of the Missouri in the wild.

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), Havell plate no. 311

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), Havell plate no. 311

By the time Audubon began cranking out the watercolors needed for his final installment of his masterwork, lots of new birds were being discovered out West. Scrambling to keep up – after all, he committed to documenting every American bird – he accessed specimens collected by recent Western expeditions, Lewis & Clark’s trove, and other American specimens archived in Europe.

He holed up in Charleston, South Carolina in the winter of 1836 and worked, worked, worked to finish all the watercolors, which would be shipped to Mr. Havell in the UK for engraving.

How did Mr. Auduon’s studio work compare to the real thing? See for yourself in this bird-watching documentary shown inside the gallery. The birds featured are from the previous installation of the exhibit, including the rare, rambunctious Prairie Chicken at 1:25.

For more, go to the show’s excellent website, explore some of JJA’s works in more depth, and listen to the bird calls for the exhibition, courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

On Kawara: Time and Life as Art

On Karawa always wanted to see his work on the timeless, spiritual spiral ramps of the Guggenheim and got his wish. Photo by David Heald

On Karawa always wanted to see his work on the Guggenheim’s timeless, spiritual spiral ramps. Photo by David Heald

Back in the 1970s, you couldn’t find a language-art or Conceptual art exhibition without the enigmatic world traveler On Kawara. Sometimes you would see canvases with a single day’s date, but other times you might encounter a single telegram sent from a major world city with simply the message: “I am still alive.”

The Guggenheim is paying tribute to this favorite through the weekend in its show On Kawara – Silence, and has done a magnificent job of displaying and interpreting the life work of an artist who always appeared barely there. Although he was fully immersed in the New York art scene, he seemed always to be on the go, traveling to some other major world capital. He managed to make art out of this peripatetic life.

Visitors peruse On Karawa’s Today series paintings and peer into their newspaper-lined storage boxes below. Photo by David Heald

Visitors peruse On Karawa’s Today series paintings and peer into their newspaper-lined storage boxes below. Photo by David Heald

Indeed, at one point in his early life he thought he might like to be a travel agent, but an immersion in the ancient cave paintings of Altamira changed that. He decided to dedicate himself to art and set upon a unique course.

At the start of the walk up the spiral ramp, you encounter his Today series – a continuous set of rectangle canvases, painted each day with the day’s date, beginning with January 1, 1970. Over the next four decades, he would create more than 3,000 of these. In a twist, the Guggenheim displays many with its associated storage box that the artist assembled each day when he was done, lined with the newspaper from the same day.

From the I Got Up postcard series. Photo by David Heald

From the I Got Up postcard series. Photo by David Heald

Although the artist never intended the paintings to be shown with the storage boxes, the throngs of visitors have quite a time looking at the date and then peering down to see what else was happening in the world that day – for example, Golda Meir’s proclamations about Israeli-Egyptian standoffs, desegregation in the South, the Chicago Seven trial, and Vincent Canby reviews.

It’s stunning to see the assemblage of tourist postcards that he sent at the rate of two per day to friends and colleagues with the stamped inscription I Got Up Today with a time stamp of his rising. Travel and personal routine systematized and packaged into a series of projects he carried out from 1968 through 1979.

He didn’t want the moments or people to pass as he journeyed throughout the world, so he began the series I Met. He noted every single person he met every day for twelve years – friends, artists, waiters, store clerks – and typed their names on pieces of paper that were time-stamped and bound into books.

Viewers peruse a fraction of the 1,800 postcards that On Kawara sent to document the time he got up at various cities in his travels. Photo by David Heald

Viewers peruse a fraction of the 8,000 postcards that On Kawara sent to document the time he got up at various cities in his travels. Photo by David Heald

It’s amazing to encounter the bound volumes on the ramp, visitors circling the extensive set wondering what it must have been like to carry out this level of life documentation.

The curators explain more in the video below about how On Kawara took on monumental projects to translate his day-to-day life, travels, and schedule into the art that fills this meditative, peaceful, and mind-expanding show:

See more views of this thought-provoking installation here. For more curator videos, click here.

Benton’s Freebie Masterpiece at The Met

Viewer contemplates “The Changing West” panel of Thomas Hart Benton’s America Today mural (1930-1931)

Met visitor contemplates “The Changing West” panel of Thomas Hart Benton’s America Today mural (1930-1931)

When times get tough, did you ever take on a job or make something for free just to build up your resume and showcase what you could do? That’s exactly what one New York up-and-comer did, and it really paid off. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s show, Thomas Hart Benton’s ‘America Today’ Mural Rediscovered, tells the story.

Back in 1930, the New School was just completing its modern building in the Village on West 12th Street and was seeking something to jazz up the boardroom.

“City Activities with Subway” portion of America Today based on his portrait sketches

“City Activities with Subway” portion of America Today based on his portrait sketches. (It’s Pollack’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth)

Mr. Orozco, the famed Mexican muralist, had already been commissioned for the more visible dining room/lounge, and Mr. Benton, who was teaching at the Art Students League, saw an opportunity to showcase his painting chops.

Social realist chronicler Reginald Marsh had introduced Benton to the mysteries of mastering egg tempera, and Benton felt ready to go to town on a large-scale portrait of American life in all of its regional glory. Here’s the deal: no pay, just loft studio space about a block away.

Twenty years earlier, Benton had hung around Paris, soaking up the birth of the French Cubist and Italian Futurist movements in Europe. Ten years earlier, he roamed around the back roads of the United States, filling up sketchbooks with steel town landscapes, lumber camps, oil derricks popping up in Los Angeles, dives, diners, and small town stuff.

“Steel” portion of the mural, featuring model Jackson Pollack, Benton’s student

“Steel” portion of the mural, featuring model Jackson Pollack, Benton’s student

The mural began taking shape, crammed to the gills with swirling activities, people, industry, and pop culture that he saw. Need models? Why not ask Jackson Pollack, his art student, and his sister to pose?

It’s hard to imagine serious board meetings taking place in a room so alive with oversized ambition and action. Over the decades, the New School repurposed the room for classroom lectures, and over time, the scuffed mural was removed completely.

Lucky for us, Benton’s 1930s historic masterpiece found its way to the Met, which has lovingly restored and installed it in a rectangular room just beyond the Frank Lloyd Wright room.

The curators have filled the adjacent galleries with extra treats: the inspirational sketches from Benton’s earlier road trips and works by Mr. Pollack and Benton’s Village contemporaries.

See our Flickr album to glimpse the installation (and works by early Pollack, Abbott, Marsh from the Met’s collection), and watch the Met curators tell the story of how Mr. Benton’s freebie paid off and their joy in giving this ten-panel chronicle a new home.

Reverent Ceramic Master Honored in NC

Hiroshi’s “Twin Vase”, a monumental 2002 stoneware sculpture with crawl glaze

Hiroshi’s Twin Vase, a monumental 2002 stoneware sculpture with crawl glaze

Known for a strong pottery tradition, North Carolina’s Cameron Art Museum is paying tribute to a Japanese ceramic expert in Hiroshi Sueyoshi: Master of Reverence through September 6.

As a young artist who apprentices with ceramic masters of 1960s Japan, he was advised by folk artist Shoji Hamada to see as much of the world as he could before he turned 25.

In the early 1970s, he came to Asheboro to help build a pottery, trained with Japanese ceramic-artist ex-pats, worked at Seagrove, and landed teaching jobs at several North Carolina colleges.

By the end of the decade, he relocated to Wilmington, teaching and serving as an artist-in-resident at the Museum.

Although the show features the full scope of Hiroshi’s work, it exhibits the work of the ceramic artists who influenced him. Works by Rita Duckworth, Isamu Noguchi, Peter Voulkos, and Shoji Hamada are shown side-by-side with his own, demonstrating the tradition upon which he draws.

Rock Garden, a 2014 interpretation of a Zen garden made with hand-built “rocks”. He wants the viewer to be conscious of their surroundings

Rock Garden, Hiroshi’s 2014 interpretation of a Zen garden made with hand-built “rocks”.

Landscapes, biomorphic shapes, streams, voids, spirals, crackled surfaces, and Zen gardens – you’ll see and feel it all as you slowly work through the galleries. Find power in Hiroshi’s simplicity and lots of detail upon closer inspection.

The sculptures echoes of the primitive power of Brancusi and installations evoke the meditative calm of the Rothko Chapel. The museum has even hung up some of the coverings that Hiroshi uses for his pottery tables on the wall in the back gallery. Their subtle dust-ground, worked surfaces feel like subtle, magical Twombly atmospheres. So, even Hiroshi’s work cloths feel like art.

If you can’t make it to see this beautiful work in Wilmington, take a stroll through our Flickr site.

Biomorphic 2009 wall sculpture Blossom. Stoneware with crater and crawl glaze. Courtesy: New Hanover Library

Biomorphic 2009 wall sculpture Blossom. Stoneware with crater and crawl glaze. Courtesy: New Hanover Library

Ennion: Luxury Tableware at The Met

Two identical one-handled Ennion jugs from different sites. On right, the only Ennion piece with an intact foot, 1st c. A.D.

Two identical one-handled Ennion jugs from different sites. On right, the only Ennion piece with an intact foot, 1st c. A.D.

It’s unlikely that you have any of this sought-after designer’s pieces accompanying your best table setting or that the MAD Museum has any of his hand-blown, molded glassworks in their collection.

Two thousand years before ABC Carpet began retailing high-end home goods on Broadway and Martha Stewart branded her at-home lifestyle line, a Mediterranean craftsman in Sidon, Lebanon (then Phoenecia) created a line that every aspiring tastemaker in the Roman Empire just had to have. The Metropolitan Museum of Art pays tribute to his output in Ennion: Master of Roman Glass, on view just off the Greek-Roman study galleries through April 12.

Who needs old-fashioned metal cups or pottery jugs on the well-laid Roman table when Ennion was creating stunning cobalt-blue and transparent glass equivalents?

Two-handled cup, with Ennion’s Greek brand (“Ennion made this/it”). Blown glass into mold, 1st c. A.D. Courtesy: Turin museum; other by private collector

Two-handled cup, with Ennion’s Greek brand (“Ennion made this/it”). Blown glass into mold, 1st c. A.D. Courtesy: Turin museum; other by private collector

Ennion’s workshop was on the cutting edge of a manufacturing-and-craft revolution – blowing glass into decorative molds (which took the guesswork out of creating place settings for four, six, or ten) and exporting sets for sale throughout The Empire.

Ennion’s competitors were doing the same, but Ennion of Sidon had the big brand emblazoned on his work, working it into the design in the same way that MK, DKNY, DVF or YSL do today. His logo was written in Greek, the universal language of the first century: ““Ennion made me/it.” Scholars reckon that it was all made and exported from Sidon, a first-century glassmaking powerhouse, since none of Ennion’s molds featured a bilingual brand.

After two millennia, only about 50 of Ennion’s gorgeous works remain, and the Met’s show has assembled about half that amount from its own collection (courtesy of master-collector J. Pierpont Morgan), the Corning Museum, private collections, and other museums of antiquities in Israeli and Europe.

Non-Ennion glass jug made in a four-part mold; right, a two-handled amphora blown into a three-part mold, ist c. A.D. Source: The Met

Non-Ennion glass jug made in a four-part mold, 1st c. A.D. Source: The Met

In addition to Sidon, Ennion’s output has been found in excavations of ancient homes in places as far flung as Jerusalem, Croatia, Italy, and Spain. The Met’s team has had fun displaying glassware from identical molds next to one another, despite the fact that pairs were discovered thousands of miles from each other at different archeological sites.

Check out the Met’s beautiful tribute to a master artist on our Flickr feed.

FIT Tribute to Lauren’s Look

18-year-old Bacall poses as a Red Cross WWII nurse on Harpers Bazaar cover, March 1943. Cover photo: Louise Dahl Wolfe

18-year-old Bacall poses as a Red Cross WWII nurse on Harpers Bazaar cover, March 1943. Cover photo: Louise Dahl Wolfe

What’s a New York City style icon to do when you run out of room at the Dakota but can’t bear to part with 700 of your favorite designer dresses, gown, daytime wear, and accessories? Give them to FIT, of course.

The FIT graduate students are paying tribute to the classic simplicity, clean lines, and casual elegance of a particularly generous donor in the capsule show, Lauren Bacall: The Look, on view at The Museum at FIT through April 4.

The show chronicles Bacall’s start (under the watchful eye of Ms. Vreeland) as a Forties’ cover girl and her quick ascent into the Hollywood pantheon as a 19-year-old leading lady in To Have and Have Not with her soon-to-be-husband Mr. Bogart.

The students have unearthed an early studio photo-test of various hairstyles for the Hollywood newcomer – revealing the casual, wavy down-to-the-shoulder look that would be her signature look for the rest of her life.

1968 Cardin dress of Dynel, which can be crushed and washed without losing its shape. Worn in the 1968 CBS fashion special, Bacall and The Boys

1968 Cardin dress of Dynel, which can be crushed and washed without losing its shape. Worn in the 1968 CBS fashion special, Bacall and The Boys

Take a look at clips of Lauren at her best in snippets from famous films, including How to Marry a Millionaire alongside Ms. Monroe and Designing Women.

On to the clothes: The narrow gallery displays a hot pink Norell coat from Sex and The Single Girl, but the focal point of the show is in the back room — an array of frocks custom-fit for Bacall from the leading Sixties designers as part of a 1968 CBS special, Bacall and The Boys.

The wall-size projection shows Bacall modeling the outfits you’ll see right in the gallery – looks from Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Mr. Ungaro, and Marc Bohan of Dior. All of the designers make appearances and clearly Ms. Bacall has an artist-muse connection with each of them.

The back wall features a silk Ungaro pantsuit with sleek dresses that became Ms. Bacall’s day-to-day “uniform” around town – most by Norell and Miss Dior. There’s also an iPad featuring close-ups of outfits that don’t appear in this capsule show (but do appear in the FIT show downstairs on Halston and YSL).

1968 CBS special Bacall and The Boys showing Yves Saint-Laurent with Lauren Bacall. Nearby are ensembles and dresses by Marc Bohan of Dior, Cardin, Norell, YSL, and Ungaro.

1968 CBS special Bacall and The Boys showing Yves Saint-Laurent with Lauren Bacall. Nearby are ensembles and dresses by Marc Bohan of Dior, Cardin, Norell, YSL, and Ungaro.

As always, the students have provided some digital punch to the show on line: Click through the FIT timeline, loaded with great 1960s-style fashion illustrations.

See what’s on the iPad by clicking here and enjoy looks from Ms. Bacall’s closet by Ossie Clark, Halston, YSL, Norell, Chanel, and Pucci.

For more of Lauren’s looks, visit the exhibition website, FIT’s Flickr website and our own Flickr site.

Norell’s 1956 “Subway” cashmere silk ensemble.

Norell’s 1956 “Subway” cashmere silk ensemble.

Killer Heels as Art in Brooklyn

Gaultier’s 2012 Nude Tattoo Boot displayed next to its inspiration, a Chinese porcelain Ming vase (1573-1619)

Gaultier’s 2012 Nude Tattoo Boot displayed next to its inspiration, a Chinese porcelain Ming vase (1573-1619)

The hottest show in New York right now is Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe, a curatorial masterwork that the Brooklyn Museum has decided to extend through March 1.

As soon as you enter the first-floor gallery, you’ll encounter Zach Gold’s mesmerizing Spike video, a wall-sized video extravaganza of high fashion, high glamour, and high heels. Why rush into the first room of the exhibition when your eye is trying process all the lush details? This digital kaleidoscope genuinely sets the tone for what lies ahead – an historical mash-up of style, fashion, and design all seen through the lens of ladies’ shoes.

What an eyeful – carefully composed vitrines where you can behold golden Baroque curliques on Prada platforms, 1920s evening shoes, and a 19th century gilded table. What about silver-and-pearl Chanel boots whose heels mimic the 1890s Gorham candlestick right next to them? Or the red-hot strappy Miu Miu shoes whose ornament is identical to the handles on a 18th-century Wedgewood ice cream cup? Check out our Flickr feed to see some of our favorites.

2008 Heels by Miu Miu next to a Wedgewood ice cream cup and saucer (1790-1800)

2008 Heels by Miu Miu next to a Wedgewood ice cream cup and saucer (1790-1800)

Everywhere you look, there are delightful juxtapositions across time, culture, and material – embellished pointy-toed heels from the 1690s, iron-and-leather pallets that boosted the feet of ladies above the muck of 18th-century city streets, and sky-high mother-of-pearl-inlay stilt shoes that Syrian beauties sported in the Twenties. It’s interesting that the latter are displayed in proximity to those dangerous purple Vivienne Westwood gillies that gave Naomi Campbell such problems on the runway.

Nothing’s chronological. It’s all designed to unfold in your mind by pinging unexpected references and associations – designer shoes next to concoctions from another place and time, fantastical embellishments, and streamlined perfection.

Fashionable, embellished pointy-toed 1690 French and 1720 British heels

Fashionable, embellished pointy-toed 1690 French and 1720 British heels

Provocative, room-sized videos commissioned for this show and small historical films only heighten the pizzazz. Check out Edison’s 1903 short, The Gay Shoe Clerk, or snippets from Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette or other Hollywood classics. Don’t miss Eve A.D. 2000, shot in 1939 to predict what fashions and footwear of the future would look like. You’ll have fun evaluating whether those Thirties visionaries got it right.

There’s simply too much to describe – glass slippers by Georgina Goodman, political-statement heels, shoes that seem to take Metamorphoses at its word, and architectural-engineering wonders. Go see for yourself. You’ll find shoes by Ford, Ferragamo, Prada, Gaultier, and unknown Italian, French, and British craftsmen of long ago.

Watch curator Lisa Small’s video but make the trip out to Brooklyn to immerse yourself in one of the best adventures of the season:

Sturtevant’s Mini-MoMA Imitation Game

Sturtevant’s 2004 piece — a reproduction of an light bulb and cord installation “ Gonzalez-Torres Untitled (America)”. On far wall, “Study for Rosenquist’s Spaghetti & Glass”, an oil painted in 1965-1966

Sturtevant interprets Gonzalez-Torres Untitled (America) (2004). On far wall, Study for Rosenquist’s Spaghetti & Glass, an oil painted in 1965-1966

The free Friday night crowd at MoMA could not get enough of the Elaine Sturtevant tribute, Double Trouble, closing this weekend. Sturtevant spent her long career creating ready-mades out of other people’s art.

The show is a who’s who of 20th century art, except that all the pieces were done by Ms. Sturtevant. The show has it all – an entryway plastered with Warhol’s cow wallpaper (done by her), Lichtensteins, Rosenquists, Johns oil paintings – all done in her hand. Take a walk through our Flickr site and see more in the photos on the curator’s blog.

It’s all imitation, except that Elaine’s versions are really, really good. It’s hard to tell them from the originals displayed through the rest of the museum. Nothing in the show is a line-by-line copy, but you’ll have to go MoMA’s permanent galleries to compare them with the real thing.

Sturtevant’s 1967-1968 oil on canvas,Study for LIchtenstein’s ‘Happy Tears’

Sturtevant’s 1967-1968 oil on canvas, Study for LIchtenstein’s ‘Happy Tears’

In fact, MoMA encourages a trek upstairs to compare Duchamp’s own ready-mades and whirligig. Or Mr. Beuys slabs of fat with those sitting on Sturtevant’s chairs in the darkened gallery.

Can anyone distinguish the Warhol Wall Flowers that Elaine made from the reproduced images of the originals on the stuff all over the gift shop?

The Gonzalez-Torres installation was the dramatic high point, all flashy bulbs in a charismatic, mysterious circle near the pretty perfect interpretations of early video games. Everyone is having a blast lining up to contemplate Sturtevant’s walk down digital memory lane with her interpretation of Pacman 1.0.

Is that Sturtevant’s Duane Hanson museum security guard reproduction in the corner? Oh, no, it’s an actual MoMa guard! Sorry. Just about everything else is a fool-the-eye art encounter. Total fun in the white cube.

Sturtevant’s 1990 vision of Warhol’s Flowers alongside her 1968 Duchamp film with interpretations of three Beuys chairs

Sturtevant’s 1990 vision of Warhol’s Flowers alongside her 1968 Duchamp film with interpretations of three Beuys chairs