For five days I’ve been stuck as fuck while writing about “Mastry,” the Metropolitan Museum of Art retrospective of the work of Kerry James Marshall. This is a stressful time in my personal life, and a more stressful time in our young country. Right now what’s saving a lot of us is art. For sure that’s true for me: film, dance, music, and fine arts, especially this retrospective, which I’ve seen three times. So it seems fitting that in the same week that an evil empire is entering office and we are commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I’m struggling to do justice to the brilliance of Marshall, who grew up with the civil rights movement and who doesn’t labor to fit black folks into the Western art canon so much as to fit that canon into the larger context of the African diaspora. Continue Reading →
I want to resist wherever resistance is possible, to stay alert to the idiocracy of greed and hatred building in our nation. But I don’t want to let it debilitate me, nor blind me to the beauty that flourishes all around us. On a day like today in NYC, when a cold rain poured down upon our heads and most of Manhattan was held hostage by our new oligarch, it was fine art that I found most healing. This painting by Édouard Vuillard—really, his whole body of work—fills my heart whenever I gaze at it. Olive and pine, lapis and beryl, sea moss and sky marine: these are life colors, Mother Earth colors. Good colors. Some people consider the Jewish Frenchman a mere society painter, but I see him as subverting gentile gentility by casting their machinations in colors they never could’ve imagined, let alone seen. It’s a thin line between dissociation and self-flagellation, and somedays that line is every shade of green.
To experience the work of performance artist Marina Abramović is to step outside of the time-space continuum. That’s how she likes it, I think, and that is why we flock to her unblinking gaze. This was most literally true at her “The Artist Is Present” show, which exhibited at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in the spring of 2010 and to date may be the most famous performance art piece of this millennium. In it, she took over the museum’s atrium and, adorned in a floor-length dress of wool and cashmere, sat eight hours each day in an armless chair as she silently held the gaze of every visitor who sat opposite her. Continue Reading →