Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Hessell Museum at Bard

view of the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College

I need to get out of Hudson at least one day a week, so either I go to the City, or take a day trip in the region. This week it was an afternoon outing to down to Poughkeepsie to see The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar. As I was driving south on Rt. 9G, I realized I would pass by Bard and that I had not seen the latest show at their museum, the Center for Curatorial Studies, Hessel Museum of Art. I had seen the first installation of the collection, this fall they reinstalled it with a different part of the very large collection, and had an exhibition of an artist who I did not know before, Keith Edmier.

First let me briefly talk about the Marieluise Hessel Collection. Last year what was exhibited was a wide range of contemporary art, much of which I was not familiar with. This year they brought out another group from the collection which they have titled, "Exhibitionism", which the museum describes as an exhibition of exhibitions, autonomous displays and installations. Much of the art in this show was from the 80s, and so some of the artists I recognized. However I have to admit that much of this art has not aged well, a lot of it seems slight, shallow, and not very interesting. Very little from the show has stood the test of time in my opinion. Of course I didn't like much of the art when it was created, but at least then it had relevance as being of our time, now, it seems irrelevant to me. Harsh I know. There were a few things that I liked, and I will share some pictures I took. Most impressive are the galleries themselves, it is a beautiful building with great spaces.

view of a piece by Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, from the "For Holly..." installation, a room devoted to pieces purchased from Holly Solomon. I remember Holly well, in my days when I ran Daedalus, I went to a number of parties at her apartment. I remember Thomas's work from that time, I like it, it is fun, but it seems really insubstantial and fleeting. This piece for example looks like it is made of glitter and tin foil, hardly materials that will last, and must be a nightmare to store and transport. But at least it is pretty and fun.

bench by Jenny Holzer, marble inscribed with truisms, I believe many of her own invention. Her work I like, and the benches are beautiful objects on their own, and the words are intriguing. I cannot remember who the colorful piece in the background is by, and I don't like it.

The Hessel collection is interesting as a document of a moment in the art world, not one I personally like much, but fortunately many others do. For more information on this particular exhibit go to the website here:

In the other half of the Hessel Museum is the Keith Edmier exhibition. Again, I really don't connect with much of this, although some of the works are impressive. But I remembered him when I got to two strangely realistic sculptures that he did in collaboration with Farrah Fawcett, and then I remembered when they were working together and I think they were also romantically involved. They got allot of press at the time. See the pictures below.

Farrah Fawcett in marble by Keith Edmier. This life sized marble is quite well carved, although it looks more like a Lladro piece than a work of serious art. Mostly its interest lies in the subject.

Keith Edmier, statue in bronze by Farrah Fawcett. Certainly a loving portrayal of the subject, again sort of tacky but fun, and sexy. Not great sculpture though, the modeling of the body is not particularly good. But one forgives the flaws for the sheer bravado of it.

Keith Edmier, I don't recall the title, this is a resin sculpture that recedes into the wall and is very hard to photograph in that the color came out wrong, it really is a translucent purple, and I think it depicts a huge vagina.

Keith Edmier, Victoria Regia, a pretty impressive installation in a beautiful gallery. This depicts the huge waterlily, and the viewer is put in the position of seeing the plant as if we were in the water, looking at the stalks as the huge floating leaves rest on the surface above us. It is fun certainly.

view of Bremen Towne.
Here is a quote describing the piece:
"Bremen Towne is a full-scale sculptural reproduction of the interior spaces from the ranch house where I grew up in the southwest Chicago suburb, Tinley Park. It is made to resemble what it would have looked like when I first moved there with my parents in 1971. Essentially, it is a brand new home," explains Edmier.

Fun, it looks like some of the houses for sale up here in Columbia County.

another view from Bremen Towne, this showing the shocking wall paper, high 70s tack.

another view of Bremen Towne, gold and black wallpaper!

the kitchen of Bremen Towne. I actually see these kitchens in some of the houses for sale up here, they really are incredibly ugly.

The coolest thing in the Hessel Museum:

flushless urinal, I had not seen one before, although have read about them. It actually works well in that the urine goes right down, does not stick to the walls and disappears, with no residual smell. Pretty amazing technology.

All in all, the CCS Hessel Museum is well worth a visit, but I cannot say I particularly like or understand this type of contemporary art. It is too conceptual for me, it is all about the idea, expressed in some cases like the Edmier show, in painstakingly well done pieces on a grand scale. But, it all sort of misses me, and fails to move me.

1 comment:

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.