One last complaint: The prime grand gallery space given to the larger than life statue of the artist Julian Schnabel. These days, I have had my fill of larger than life male figures. The only thing that drew a smile (or maybe it was a smirk) is that the statue is actually a burning candle and will someday melt down to nothing. But then, when it does, the curators with replace it with yet another larger than life male figure. At least, I can be thankful that the statue candle doesn't have orange hair.
All that said, I can't say I wasn't glad to have seen the show. There were some pieces that inspired long looking and new ways of thinking and feeling about how people depict other people; pieces that I wanted to learn more about after leaving the museum. Here are just a few of those from the exhibit.
"Somehow, in painting I try to make some logic out of the
world that has been given to me in chaos."
"...painting a portrait is already political."
"For me painting the portrait is about recreating
the sensation of presence, the experience of having
the sitter in my studio."
And then, there was this portrait:
Andrea Zittel (1965-) is an artist living in California who explores objects and spaces for living, interested in displaying structures that speak of who we are through what and how we live. I am intrigued by this as a form of portraiture -- a person depicted through the objects that constitute her or his living environment (remember the suitcases in the Sonsini painting). For Zittel, who was living in a 200 square foot Brooklyn apartment when she made this piece, the installation represents the necessities: Only just what one has to have in a living space (folding bed and seat, toaster oven, two notepads, a sweater, digital clock, two bowls, etc.).
There are anti-materialist, anti-consumerist statements here that are well spoken to a society that needs to hear them. And Zittel's portrait provokes other political questions and the hope for other political statements through portraits.
Here are my musings. This piece was done in 1993, many years ago, when there were not as many people forced to live nomadic lives, forced to carry only just the essentials with them, if they are lucky enough to do that. What might a portrait dedicated to the living environments of refugees look like?
"Art, to me, is all about perception. Historically, it
was usually a form of visual perception, but now this has
expanded to a more cognitive kind of perception. An artwork
allows you to understand something in a new way."