NYC-ARTS Choice: The Met, "Epic Abstraction"
Guided by Randall Griffey, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC-ARTS takes a fresh look at the museum’s collection, paying particular attention to works by Jackson Pollock, Louise Nevelson and Joan Snyder.
Coming up next, a tour of the Met's collection
of post-war and contemporary art,
"Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera"
explores large scale abstract painting, sculpture
and other works of art.
The exhibits seeks to broaden the narrative of abstraction,
bringing together some 50 works from the Met's Collection.
Represented here are such iconic artists
as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Isamu Noguchi,
Carmen Herrera and Mark Bradford.
Randall Griffey, curator of modern and contemporary art
at the Met, is our guide for this tour tape, last year.
Time tickets and maskls are now required for all visitors.
(soft, classical music)
We're looking at Jackson Pollock's Autumn Rhythm, from 1950.
The painting came into the collection
in 1957 and it's one of the treasures
of the Met's Modern collection.
Pollock is most remembered
as a key figure in American art of the 20th century
for these large scale so-called drip paintings;
which he started to do
in the late 1940s and into the early 1950s.
These works have a great sense
of immediacy, for a range of reasons.
One is that they're large, which relative
to your own scale makes you feel a little bit small
One of the ways in which Pollock played a key role
in changing, the very concept of painting
is that he moved the canvas from the easel to the floor.
And he also began working
with common household enamel paint.
He liked this paint because it was very viscous.
And so it's the kind of paint that you can throw
and it creates these dynamic drips and dribbles
and these whips of paint that seems to be captured
in space on the picture plane.
In the case of Autumn Rhythm,
some of the paints is thin and elegant and quite graceful.
Whereas other passages are dense,
and more aggressive and thicker.
And there are passages also of impasto,
where he's used parts of the enamel paint that have dried
and created a kind of skin,
a three dimensionality on the surface of the picture,
even as the paint registers is flat.
When people first encounter Pollock's work,
they perceive it as fully intuitive, improvisational,
without any kind of plan or guiding principle.
But in fact,
as you look at multiple works by Pollock, you can see
that each canvas is distinct and different from another.
If you look closely at Autumn Rhythm to the right of center
and toward the bottom, as we see it on the wall
there's a little flick of red paint.
There's a little drop of red paint.
Once you see it you can't unsee it
because it seems so anomalous.
One wonderful thing about Pollock's technique
is his embrace of accident,
and embrace of the effects of chance.
The title Autumn Rhythm.
The word "rhythm" really wonderfully ties
to the sense of rhythm and cadence,
that's part and parcel of his gestural painting style.
And what I love about this work
is that this great sense of growth
and evolution in a way ties to the change of seasons,
and the ebbs and flows of nature in the course of a year.
(soft, classical music)
This spectacular sculpture behind me,
is titled Mrs. N's Palace.
And it's one of the great works
by the American sculptor Louise Nevelson.
It's actually composed
of pieces that date back in time
to as early as 1964,
though, it was assembled as a unique work in 1977.
Mrs. N's Palace is one of Nevelson's greatest works,
but it hasn't been seen at the Met for many years.
Installing it here on the second floor
of the Met's Modern Wing
took quite an effort, but it was well worth it.
The work itself is comprised
of about 130 individual sculptural collages.
These relief collages that then are attached to a large box.
The sculpture is comprised
of scraps of detritus that she collected
all across the city, creating these abstract,
the many cases relief sculptures,
which she then treats primarily by painting in black.
Nevelson, described her materials
as the skin that New York has shed
and that she is scavenging
and then giving new life making art;
that's both in a way about New York, but also of New York.
(soft, classical music)
In many instances,
her original source material
is discernible without much effort.
There are boxes from filing cabinets and from staircases
and balustrades where she's repurposed
architectural salvage parts are quite heavy in appearance
and even sort of aggressive in effect
but other parts are lyrical, elegant, thin,
In other instances, her materials are really difficult
or impossible to discern and register really
as unique abstract sculpture.
The title derives from a couple of sources.
One is that her nickname
in the neighborhood where she lived,
was Mrs. N and Palace is evocative.
She intended this work to be per ideal habitat
or a kind of shrine to herself.
This is Nevelson creating her own universe.
An environment that's based entirely
on her own sculptural practice
and her vision as an artist, which in a way tied wonderfully
to her desire to live her own life on her own terms.
(soft, jazz music)
The colorful and attractive painting behind me is,
Smashed Strokes Hope from 1971 by Joan Snyder.
Snyder is one of the contemporary artists featured
in Epic Abstraction Pollock to Herrera.
The exuberant color, and the sense of experimentation breaks
from the intense formalism of minimalism,
specifically the minimalist grid
was considered to be the most desirable template
or touchstone for composition and design
for so many artists, painters and sculptors coming of age
in the late 1960s and 70s.
This is a painting on canvas, but she's using a wide range
of paint, oil, acrylic, and spray anmol.
She's applying paint very traditionally
in certain instances with a sequence
of very clear brush strokes.
Most of those are with the oil paint.
But the other instances,
she's exploring mark-making in other ways.
Her process is both additive and subtractive.
She makes strokes by adding individual brush marks,
but she also execute strokes in a subtractive manner.
In some cases scraping into thick paint
to make an absence of a stroke.
Part of the appeal of Joan Snyder's painting
is that it almost, expands, blows up in scale,
what an artist's palette might look like.
Where you have globs of paint
and you get a sense of the paint being mixed,
and there's a sense of the full range
of an artist's palette that she's preparing to use.
The paint in certain instances, in certain passages,
is piled up,
it's thick and impastoed and coagulated.
But in another instances, she's experimenting
with the paint diluted and allowing the strokes to run
and to pour over white expenses of the painting.
The painting serves
as a kind of inventory or catalog of painter strokes;
some thick, some thin, some stable, some strong,
others fluid, others weak.
Snyder here walks a very fine line,
between experimentation and deliberation.
(classical jazz music)
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