Monday, November 29, 2010

Hot off the press!

Pierre Le Guennec with his wife: Le Guennec contacted the Picasso estate about the previously unknown works. Photograph: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images
From the Guardian:
An extraordinary cache of hundreds of works by Pablo Picasso, painted during his most creative period and worth a conservative estimate of €60m (£50.5m), has been uncovered at the home of a retired French electrician.

And the Hudson Reporter stalwart, Ricardo Kaulessar, reports that the former C.A.S.E. Museum in Downtown Jersey City is re-opening as the Museum of Contemporary Russian Art:
At first, the museum was a repository of art produced by Soviet underground artists of the 1950s-1970s as part of the Soviet Nonconformist art movement, which rebelled against the restrictions of a totalitarian regime. But [museum founder Alexander] Glezer’s dream slowly evolved into a nightmare as exhibits became more haphazard affairs. Stories emerged of artwork being put on the walls at the last minute, and drunken brawls breaking out during parties. The building fell into disuse as many of the émigrés moved away from Jersey City.
I love this city!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


This is more than a map of the galleries -- it is a route to follow that will make your gallery-going more efficient. For technical reasons it was necessary to break up the area into four separate quadrants: West of Roosevelt Park, Orchard Street, Above Grand and East of Orchard Street. By combining maps it's possible to create different routes for yourself. A PDF of the maps and gallery details is available for download and can be found on the right sidebar.

Most galleries are open Wednesday - Saturday, 12 - 6, and many are also open Sundays; but if you're schlepping down to see a particular show it's a good idea to call first to confirm. Thursdays, especially the first Thursday of the month, are when many galleries close for the installation of new exhibitions.

Galleries are still popping up like mushrooms (and closing almost as fast). I've tried my best to be inclusive, accurate and current, but I'm sure I've made plenty of mistakes. Please post comments about changes you think necessary, or email them to me at, and I'll try to update this guide on a regular basis.


Canada (R) - 55 Chrystie St, 212-925-4631
NOTE: The gallery is out of the way, and you need to walk down a long corridor to the back of what seems like an office building or residence, but it’s well worth the effort.

Charles Bank Gallery (L) - 196 Bowery, 212-219-4095

Christopher Henry Gallery (O)  - 127 Elizabeth St, 212-244-6004

DCKT Contemporary (K)  - 195 Bowery
NOTE: On January 1st they will be moving to 237 Eldridge Street, south storefront
(between Stanton & Houston)

DODGEgallery (F)  - 15 Rivington St, 212-228-5211

Eleven Rivington Gallery (G)  - 11 Rivington St, 212-982-1930

Gallery Nine5  (N)  - 24 Spring St, 212-965-9995

Hendershot Gallery (E)  - 195 Chrystie St, 212-239-1210

Jen Bekman Gallery (M) - 6 Spring St, 212-219-0166

Lehman Maupin Gallery (D)  - 201 Chrystie St, 212-255-2923

The New Museum (C)  - 235 Bowery, 212-219-1222

NP Contemporary Art Center (Q)  - 131 Chrystie St, 212-226-4552

Salon 94 (H) - 1 Freeman Alley, 10002, 212-529-7400Salon 94 (B) -  243 Bowery, 646-672-9212

Sperone Westwater Gallery (A)  - 257 Bowery, 212-999-7337

Sue Scott Gallery (J)  -  1 Rivington St, 212-358-8767
NOTE: Second floor.

Thierry Goldberg Gallery (I) - 5 Rivington, 212-967-2260

White Box (P)  - 329 Broome St, 212-714-2347


Bridge (J)  - 98 Orchard St, 212-674-6320

Invisible-Exports (A) - 14A Orchard St, 212-226-5447

Krause Gallery (L) - 149 Orchard St, 212-777-7799

Lesley Heller Workspace (I) - 54 Orchard St, 212-410-6120

Lisa Cooley Gallery (E) - 34 Orchard St, 212-680-0564

Miguel Abreu Gallery (F) - 36 Orchard St, 212-995-1774

Nicelle Beauchene Gallery (B) - 21 Orchard St, 212-375-8043

On Stellar Rays (K) - 133 Orchard St, 212-598-3012

Rachel Uffner Gallery (G) - 47 Orchard St, 212-274-0064

Rooster Gallery (M) - 190 Orchard St, 212-230-1370

Scaramouche (H) - 52 Orchard St, 212-228-2229

Stephan Stoyanov Gallery (C) - 29 Orchard St, 212-343-4240
NOTE: Formerly Luxe Gallery.

Untitled (D) - 30 Orchard St, 212-608-6002


DACIA Gallery (B) - 53 Stanton St, 917-727-9383

Feature Inc (E) - 131 Allen St, 212-675-7722

Frosch & Portmann Gallery (B) - 53 Stanton St, 646-266-5994

Fusion Gallery (C) - 57 Stanton St, 212-995-5290

Horton Gallery (A)  - 237 Eldridge St, 212-243-2663

James Fuentes Gallery (F) - 55 Delancey St, 212-577-1201

Laurel Gitlen Gallery (J) - 261 Broome St, 212-274-0761
NOTE: Formerly Small A Projects.

LMAK Projects (G) - 139 Eldridge St, 212-255-9707

Simon Preston Gallery (I) - 301 Broome St, 212-431-1105

Tallybeck Contemporary (D) - 42 Rivington St,  212-677-5160

Woodward Gallery (H) - 133 Eldridge St, 212-966-3411


Allegra LaViola Gallery (M) - 179 E Broadway, 917-741-8949

Blackston Gallery (I) - 29 Ludlow St, 212-695-8201

Bureau (L) - 127 Henry St,
NOTE: Formerly Dispatch.

Collette Blanchard Gallery (B) - 26 Clinton St, 917-639-2912

Cuchifritos Gallery (F) - 128 Essex St, 212-420-9202
NOTE: The gallery is in the Essex Market.

Dexter Sinister (H) - 38 Ludlow St, 917-741-8949
NOTE: They are in the basement. Only open Saturdays from 12 - 6 pm. They're a very hip book publishers.

Forever and Today, Inc. (J) - 141 Division St
NOTE: They are not always open, but they do excellent shows when they are.

Gallery 128 (E) - 128 Rivington St, 212-674-0244

Gallery SATORI  (C) - 164 Stanton St, 646-896-1075

Ludlow 38 (H)  - 38 Ludlow St,  212-228-6848NOTE: They are the contemporary art satellite for the Goethe-Institut New York.

New York Studio Gallery (D) - 154 Stanton St, 212-627-3276

Number 35 Gallery (G) - 39 Essex St,  212-388-9311

Participant Inc. (A) - 253 E Houston St, 212-254-4334

Ramiken Crucible (N) - 221 E Broadway
NOTE: Open by appointment only.

Reena Spaulings Gallery (K) - Rutgers St, 212-477-5006
NOTE: They are below E. Broadway, second floor - look for the red awning.

Sloan Fine Art (E) - 128 Rivington St, 212-477-1140

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Some Worthwhile Links

It seems the Gift Economy applies to forgers too: Jesuit priest’ forger has fooled US museums for more than 20 years “A picture is emerging of one of the most bizarre cases of deception in art history. Unlike other forgers, the ‘priest’ does not ask for payment of any kind for his Picassos, Signacs and Daumiers which have been described as ‘masterful’. It seems the alleged fraudster simply enjoys fooling museum experts who have not only accepted his fakes as cherished gifts but invited him to ‘special donor events’ in the belief that he has more to give.”

After 13 Years as One of Jersey City’s Cultural Leaders, Lex Leonard Moves On
From the Jersey City Independent:
My generation and I possessed a sense of nihilistic lawlessness and decadence that made us special. Those that were part of the scene know what I mean. And by my generation, I mean the folks that spawned the 111 building and Jersey City arts stars that inspired me and those that helped me establish the scene which centered around the 143 Building — the four floor brick mastodon that housed the gallery, the first Waterbugs, my late night events, etc. All of this is Jersey City “underground” lore that someone should really write about — and I’d love to collaborate.
Any takers?

I knew Jeffrey Deitch would spark things:
MOCA’s gala as ‘happening,’ with country auctioneers as performers | Culture Monster | Los Angeles Times: It was clearly an experiment. Could Doug Aitken transform Saturday’s MOCA gala into something that did not feel like a gala but an artistic experience that he called a ‘happening’? And could the improvisatory, participatory spirit of a happening survive the fact that it was being promoted as such by a museum trying to sell $5,000 seats for it?”

Artists fleeing the city - Crain’s New York Business: “Industry experts worry that New York will become a place where art is presented but not made, turning the city into an institutionalized sort of Disney Land. One arts executive says it could become “a Washington, D.C.,” a sterile, planned city with a number of cultural institutions but few artists—certainly not a place known as a birthplace for new cultural ideas and trends.”

Some absolutely beautiful animation here:
Molecular Animation - Where Cinema and Biology Meet - “Building on decades of research and mountains of data, scientists and animators are now recreating in vivid detail the complex inner machinery of living cells.”

Well this explains a lot:
Incompetent People Really Have No Clue, Studies Find / They’re blind to own failings, others’ skills - SFGate: “People who do things badly, Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities — more confident, in fact, than people who do things well”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Pollock's Classic Drip Paintings

Jackson Pollock, One (Number 31, 1950), 1950. Oil and enamel paint on canvas, 8' 10" x 17' 5 5/8" (MoMA)
By Charles Kessler

Sometimes preconceptions can really screw you up. That’s what happened to me with Jackson Pollock’s classic drip paintings of the 1950’s.

I always knew these were “all over” paintings. That is, they treated the entire surface of the painting in a relatively uniform manner with no obvious differentiation between the top, bottom, or center, and therefore with no dominant point of interest. Of course, I didn’t think they were truly “all over” the way Stella’s black paintings or Agnes Martin’s paintings are, or the Pattern Painters, but I thought they came pretty close.

And I never believed Pollock’s classic drip paintings were “all over” in the sense that they seemed to be a slice of a larger “all over” universe that continues indefinitely in all directions. On the contrary, like Monet’s Water Lillies, Pollock’s classic drip paintings always have a border of unpainted canvas around the outside edges, and, as a result, they always struck me as self-contained worlds — worlds fully contained within the rectangle of the painting.*

More important in this respect, the canvas is transformed into a backboard of sorts, and the drips appear to be moving in a space IN FRONT OF the canvas/backboard, i.e. in our space. (See my post Les Demoiselles d'Avignon). Pollock reinforces this illusion in the case of Number 1A, 1948 by placing hand prints around the top right edge (see photo below), affirming the physicality of the canvas and, almost literally, pushing everything forward. 
Jackson Pollock. Number 1A, 1948.1948. Oil and enamel paint on canvas, 68" x 8' 8" (MoMA)
Detail upper right: Number 1A, 1948, showing hand prints.
This I already knew, but to the extent I bought into the notion that this work was “all over,” I saw them as monotonous, decorative and lacking the pictorial drama of his older work like Guardians of the Secret, 1943, or his later work like Easter and the Totem, 1953. 

I was determined to find out what people I respect saw in them, so last week, and again yesterday, I went to the Modern's Ab Ex New York show during early viewing hours for members, and had the show pretty much to myself for the entire time. I stood in front of Pollock’s classic drip paintings and looked at them with soft eyes, allowing the drips of paint to dart around in their illusionary space. Sometimes I focused on one color for a while, and other times I experienced the different speeds and rhythms of the lines.

Eventually I became aware that these paintings in fact do NOT repeat the same basic riffs and patterns evenly throughout the surface of the painting. The surface isn’t uniform at all, instead there’s an energetic and dramatic composition  — one that isn’t “all over.” Patterns formed —  one side of the painting might have more vertical lines, other areas more curved ones. Sometimes the curved lines would consolidate and form volumes with some volumes falling back into space (but the space almost always stayed in front of the canvas) and others (usually the lighter ones) advancing.  
Jackson Pollock. Number 1A, 1948 marked in green to show the dominant compositional elements.
In the case of Number 1A, 1948, for example, the black drips on the left coalesce to form a prominent vertical element, very similar to what Pollock did in his Guardians of the Secret, 1943, and Easter and the Totem, 1953 (see photos above). And like those two paintings, the central area is significantly lighter and recedes in space (except for two conspicuous round volumes that advance significantly). If it weren’t for the hand prints pushing everything out, this space would probably seem to recede well into the canvas. Also like Easter and the Totem, the bottom right side bulges out diagonally, slanting from left to right.

A similar composition can be found in Pollock’s famously “all over” painting, One (Number 31, 1950).  It’s more difficult to see because the painting is so large (more than 17 feet wide) that you can’t take it all in, and Pollock did a good job of disguising the composition by covering it with drips. Nevertheless, here’s the way I saw it:
Jackson Pollock, One (Number 31, 1950), 1950. Oil and enamel paint on canvas, 8' 10" x 17' 5 ⅝ " (MoMA) - marked in green to show the dominant compositional elements.
Finally, there is another point that reinforces my belief that these are not "all over" paintings. Pollock was known to spend hours studying a painting as he worked on it, what he called his “get acquainted” period.  In his own words, from "My Painting" Possibilities I, New York, Winter 1947-8:
When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.
If it were just a matter of evening things out by, say, putting more black somewhere, he certainly wouldn’t need to struggle to stay in contact with the painting — it wouldn’t involve much thought at all.

* BTW, this is additional proof that Pollock didn’t crop his paintings or, even worse, cut up large paintings to make several smaller ones -- a myth probably perpetuated by the movie Day Of The Painter (1960).

Charles Kessler is an artist and writer based in Jersey City

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Some Worthwhile Links

Some of the best art writing can be found in London newspapers, especially by Adrian Seale and Jonathan Jones of the Guardian and Richard Dorment of the Telegraph. Here's a taste of some of their recent work:

Adrian Seale:
Frieze art fair 2010: the verdict: "What is it about contemporary art? Last year's good is this year's bad. There are lots of tacky mannequins dotted about the place this time, some more human than others, and the occasional dealer so badly dressed and so transfixed by the lack of action that you think he's a shop dummy."
Jonathan Jones:
Jonathan Jones on art: "Art is an ambiguous and evasive way of communicating. A vast field of porcelain sunflower seeds may indeed be a political metaphor. But just because the artist intends it that way does not mean it will be understood that way."
Richard Dorment:
Paul Cezanne: The Card Players: "In what other subject could several men be shown sitting around a table facing each other without talking, gesturing, or even looking up? In a card game, each player studies the hand he has been dealt so intently that his lack of movement and the absence of even the slightest expressive reaction to his opponents, looks quite natural. The subject of a card game was as close as Cézanne could find to a human still life. "

Other worthwhile links:

John Richardson, the foremost Picasso scholar, wrote a tough and informative article in the New York Review of Books entitled "How Political Was Picasso?". Basically not so much.

John Gapper in FT Magazine wrote a revealing piece on why Annie Leibovitz, as famous and great a photographer as she is, cannot find acceptance as an art photographer, and as a result her earning power is less than it would be.  

The Los Angeles Times has a funny article, "Art Magazine to artists: Drop Dead", about how London's Art Review doesn't have any artists in the top ten of their annual "Art Power 100."

Jersey City take note: via The Jersey City Independent comes this report --  San Francisco Is 2010 City R D Winner - Cities - GOOD: "'Feasible,' 'relevant,' 'inspiring,' 'focused,' 'achievable,' and 'shareable,' were all words our City R D judges used to describe the Walk Stop proposal aimed at making the Midtown area of San Francisco safer and more walkable."

Finally, The New York Times reports on the real estate ambitions of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Jersey City Museum take note: "'The arts center has to be the town square of New Jersey,” Mr. Goldman said. “Corporate events, weddings, bar mitzvahs, poetry festivals, other nonprofits doing their fund-raisers here, graduations, job fairs. It has to be more than what’s on your stages.'"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Curatorial Flashbacks #8: Closet Artist, The Sequel

Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University
By Carl Belz

I made a career change in 1974 when I was denied tenure in the Department of Fine Arts at Brandeis and instead offered the directorship of the Rose Art Museum. It was a surprise move, angering me on the one hand and appealing to me on the other, a can’t-refuse proposal that—irony of ironies, as only the gods could have known—would be book-ended 24 years later by a like proposal to take early retirement. I stewed about it, and I talked to a few artist friends whose opinions I respected. They said I’d be fine without tenure, they said its comforts would just be confining. I listened, and I decided to run with the offer.

The Rose, you see, wasn’t exactly a plum I’d been tossed, not back then, not in 1974. Its program budget had been slashed in 1971-72 from $20K to $4K—that’s an 80% cut! — prompting director Bill Seitz—one of my Princeton mentors who’d also encouraged me to come to Brandeis in the first place—to depart for greener pastures at the University of Virginia. The high profile enjoyed by the museum throughout the 1960s had accordingly, even dramatically, receded. Still, the Rose had a lot going for it. There was the permanent collection, for instance, most noticeably the 21 new pictures—including the Warhol, the Johns, the Louis, the Lichtenstein, and the Rauschenberg—that director Sam Hunter had famously put together in 1962-63 with the Gevirtz-Mnuchin Purchase Fund, and that had put the Rose Art Museum on the contemporary culture map within a year of its opening. Whatever shows we couldn’t afford, we could always show the collection.

Also positive was the impact of a new addition to the museum that had been completed just months before I took over as director. It gave us a couple of modest galleries, but its primary purpose was to provide storage and work space for the collection and professional staff that had been desperately needed—no kidding—since the day the original building opened in 1961. What this meant to me personally was that my first job would be to move the permanent collection, at least the bulk of it, out of the makeshift, inadequate campus sites where it had for years been lounging and into the museum proper. Which meant getting to know the collection in depth, piece-by-piece, and not just the famous pictures, the Pop masterpieces, but all of them.
Roy Lichtenstein's Forget it! Forget me! 1962 (Rose Art Museum)
Which was in turn an eye-opening experience for me, arriving as I did with the baggage of an art historian, for as an art historian I had regularly dealt with a number of the artists represented in the Rose permanent collection, with Lichtenstein and Louis, for instance, with Kline and de Kooning, with Warhol and Wesselman, but that number was nugatory and insignificant in relation to the number of artists otherwise comprising the collection. In addition to those art historical peaks that I taught in the classroom, I came upon the seemingly countless artists who occupied the spaces in and around the peaks, the artists who were mentioned but once in the canonical texts, or maybe weren’t mentioned at all. Hey, there’s Milton Avery and Hyman Bloom, Ilya Bolotowsky and Bruce Conner, Max Ernst and Fritz Glarner, Philip Evergood and George L. K. Morris, and on it goes, on and on—OMG, I didn’t know we had a John Graham! An early Marsden Hartley, too! But who’s David Burliuk?  And who, for that matter, is Nicholas Vasilieff? Hold it, there’s Stephen Greene, artist-in-residence at Princeton whose drawing class I took, and it actually changed my life! Wow!

So I went on to mount many collection shows over many years, and in the process I increasingly saw the collection as an alternative to the history of art that I had brought to the museum. I began to see it as constituting a history of art in and of itself—or, more accurately, as constituting any number of histories, depending on which aspects of the objects’ content you wished to emphasize via any particular collection exhibition. Far from arranging themselves in a linear or arboreal pattern, which were the formalist models I’d learned via Clement Greenberg and Alfred Barr, the objects seemed at times to encourage connections among one another that, depending on how you turned them to the light, were more conceptual than visual, allowing the disconcerting impression that everything is connected to everything else.

Such thoughts were still buzzing in my head when I came out of the closet to perform my 2nd IC installation, which was in the early winter of 1991-92. I decided to cover the side walls of our two principle galleries—they measured 12 by 45 feet upstairs and 10 by 45 feet downstairs—top to bottom and end to end with pictures taken from storage racks and bins without regard for anything but the size and shape required to fill the next available space after the installation was started in the upper left-hand corner of the first wall. The effect was of a salon hanging—but with a vengeance, meaning the pictures were too tightly abutted to allow even minimal informational labels. To finish off the installation, I planned to hang a lone picture dead center on the back wall of each gallery to signal its privileged status, though I held off deciding which pictures they would be until the rest of the installation was complete. Otherwise, the show was set to go.

Except that it wasn’t, because our registrar, friend Lisa McDermott Leary, voiced deep concern that the installation was over-the-top outrageous, that it was going to be excessively demanding on our audience, and that it was even a bit aggressive—a response that had never even occurred to me. Then she insisted that we at least provide a few minimal clues about what was taking place on the walls, which I (somewhat reluctantly) agreed we would do.

First, we found a student who volunteered to make a diagram of each wall display, accurately outlining each object in terms of size and scale in relation to the other objects on the wall, and then adding to each a number corresponding to an informational master list that would be available at the front desk for anyone who wished to know the artist’s name, the title, and the date of the picture. (As it turned out, I loved the wall diagrams, they reminded me of photographs of members of the New York School that you’d see in old magazines—a picture of the artists on one page and on the page opposite a diagram outlining and numbering each figure, plus a caption that identified #4 as Jackson Pollock, #7 as Barnett Newman, and so forth. I thought it was a fun reference.)

And second, I wrote an explanatory wall label about the installation, a statement about how the objects resting in storage—which is the way they were presented in the show—are filled with potentials for interpretation and meaning, and how our curatorial responsibility in exhibiting them is to enable their voices to soar, to yield their bountiful pleasures. Implicit in the statement was the assumption that, freed from the baggage associated with names and dates and titles, our viewers would experience the exhilaration of pure looking. (If I were writing that text today, I would liken the installation to the albums we see on Facebook—gridded arrays of images, often unidentified, which suggest kinships and comparisons and are presented solely for visual delectation, along with the hope of maybe prompting a comment or two.)

As to the finishing touches, the lone pictures on the two rear walls, I vacillated among a bunch of options—best picture in the collection, most important picture, most valuable picture, and so on—but they all seemed pretty conventional, so I decided to finesse the big questions having to do with some kind of worldly significance in favor of a couple of pictures that just meant a lot to me personally, maybe even encourage me to take the dreaded risk of walking the line between feeling and sentiment.

One was a 1983 photograph I bought for the collection by John Kennard of a little league baseball field in upstate New York. It was taken looking out from behind home plate, and the field was empty. But it wasn’t empty for me, it was filled with the ghosts of the guys I had played with and against on fields just like that from the time I was 11 or 12 until I graduated from college—it was a haunting picture of my growing up.

The second picture was a 1979 watercolor called Service by Catherine Bertulli of her then-husband Roger Kizik, seen from above, serving up a tennis ball. Roger donated the picture to the collection, he framed it, and he installed it. He was our preparator at the museum for many years, he was a terrific painter as well, and he was also a close friend. We’d been through some things together on Team Rose—you could say we shared trunks of memories—so showing the picture of him was also my way of saying, Long may you run.

There’s an afternote to this story that I can’t resist including. During the course of the exhibition, John Hanhardt, Curator of Film and Video at the Whitney Museum of American Art, came to campus to deliver a lecture on a video presentation that had been guest-curated by colleague Pam Allara from the Department of Fine Arts and installed in the two galleries in the new wing I mentioned earlier. He arrived early to review the video, we met, we chatted, and he strolled—politely, I thought—along the walls I’d covered with pictures from the collection. When he started his lecture, however, the first thing he said was that the collection installation provided a perfect context for the video art—it reflected the visual cacophony of our culture, the cascade of images everywhere dazzling us, the improbable montages we’re daily confronted by and grope to explain.

How terrific was that? He got it, that’s exactly what I was thinking! I felt vindicated. What more could I ask? Standing at the back of the auditorium with my museum colleagues, I caught Lisa’s eye and nodded—not with a smirk, but with a modest smile of satisfaction. Which she acknowledged with a smile of her own.

Carl Belz is Director Emeritus of the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Open Road: John Baldessari at the Met

John Baldessari, Aligning Balls, 1972(Photo from
By Kyle Gallup

We are at the crossroads of new ways of thinking about art, and the making of art. Boundaries that have delineated traditional art practices, and so many of the art movements of the last century—Modernism, Conceptual Art, Pop Art, Formalism—to name four — are outmoded. Walking into the John Baldessari exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, the viewer enters an expansive world, a country waiting to be discovered. Though he is known as a conceptual artist, he uses traditional forms—photography, painting, collage and video—in his work. He finds a perfect tension between the idea and its manifestation as an object in the world.

For me, viewing so much of his work in one place was like diving into a crystal clear pool. His deeply honest and transparent approach to art-making sets him apart from his peers, students and followers. His concepts dictate his use of materials. Baldessari focuses on a few things most important to him: ideas, words, and photography. He steps back, taking his hand out of the art-making process but without sacrificing his sharp eye for putting disparate elements together.

I liked many of the works in the show; one of my favorites was “Aligning Balls” (1972). Baldessari sets himself the task of photographing a red ball thrown up into the air. This forces him to act quickly without regard to properly composing a photo. This piece is a selection of more than thirty small snapshots of a tiny red ball suspended in a calm field of blue. Sometimes there is a cloud afloat in the sky or a treetop nestled on the edge of the image. The pictures are delicately strung together with a drawn dark chalk line on a wall. One must get right on top of the pictures in the small-scale work, creating intimacy with the piece as an object. This is in contrast to the expansive space within each photograph. Round-headed nails, the same size as the red balls, pin the glass-covered photos in place, reinforcing the reality that the installation is itself an object in the world.

His video pieces, though appearing rough and gritty, have a beauty in their repetitive simplicity and honesty. They have a thing-ness about them, much like watching a firefly trapped inside a jar with air-holes punched in the lid. (Baldessari's 1971 video I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art can be seen on vodpod's website.)

As an artist, I am still in the process of making sense of Baldessari’s work and the meaning it holds for me personally. For others who plan on seeing ”Pure Beauty” my advice is to take your time, go slowly, and surrender yourself to each of the works as you come upon them and you will be rewarded over and over again.

Kyle Gallup is an artist who works in collage and watercolor.