Friday, July 27, 2007

Big Boy Art

Pretty Lady confesses that she has been looking forward to the Richard Serra Retrospective for yonks. Any time she has ever tripped over a creation by dear Mr. Serra in the past, whether it has been a corner full of hot lead in the SF MoMA, or a solemn, prison-like construction reaching skyward outside the MoMA Fort Worth, she has been Deeply Awed. Such simplicity, such monumental weight, such mass, such Brute Force of Construction! They make everything around them look fiddly.

It was somewhat confounding, then, when it gradually dawned upon her that two floors and a courtyard full of Richard Serras are not necessarily superior to a single Richard Serra surrounded by fiddly things. In fact, they tend to lose a lot of their force when viewed in concert. When a person has seen one lead wall balanced in a corner, it seems, a person has more or less seen them all.

Moreover, the setting of the Contemporary Galleries did not do his Late Works any favors, despite being the best the MoMA could offer. Pretty Lady felt that the gargantuan Torqued Ellipses ought to have been experienced standing in a desert, with mountains ringing the far horizon, lighted by a silent sky so blue that it verges toward purple, accentuating a vast and solemn stillness; grey concrete flooring, white department-store sheetrock and a ceiling full of can-lights did not approximate this experience. And do not even speak to Pretty Lady about the acoustics. Acoustical magic does not occur in a shopping mall.

Pretty Lady then found herself thoughtfully contemplating the lovely marble of the new MoMA sculpture garden, and the incipient cracks and rust stains thereof, and wondering whether even the most impressive Torqued Ellipse was worth it.

The obvious problem with placing a Richard Serra Retrospective in the desert where it belongs is, of course, Status and Recognition. It is difficult to maintain one's position as King of the Art World from the middle of the Sahara. Foot traffic is minimal, and journalistic coverage is bound to be sketchy. Artistic integrity must always be balanced by Visibility; as a Los Angeles artist once exclaimed to Pretty Lady, when she announced her desire to live and paint in Distant Lands for six months out of every year--"That's insane! People will forget who you are!"

And in the long run, as Pretty Lady made her jaded way through the sixth floor full of weighty, laconic works of lead and rubber, she realized that Alpha Male art is displayed to its best advantage under conditions of Extreme Dilution. Too much ponderous simplicity becomes simply ponderous. She is thrilled to have an Alpha Male deliver her refrigerator, but she wouldn't want to live with one.


Kesha Bruce said...

Ahh. Status and recognition....if only they were edible.

Anonymous said...

Ahh. Status and recognition....if only they were edible. - kesha bruce

In that case, they would no doubt be fattening.

k said...

Your humor is positively delicious. And satisfying. Sticks to my ribs without being the slightest bit weighty.

Whether fattening or not, I'll leave to others to determine.