Sunday, March 3, 2013

Out of the Ordinary

Where: Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

When: through May 19, 2013

I went to see this exhibit on a Saturday, the first time I'd been to the Hirshhorn on a weekend.  I found it far more crowded than usual, so my guess is that modern art appeals more to locals, who are working during the week, and less to tourists who don't have such restrictions, as they are on vacation.  The number of people didn't really change my view of the Hirshhorn - an ugly building filled with some very questionable artistic choices.  This show, although no where near so ridiculous as some I've seen here, didn't prompt me to alter my views.

The exhibit, composed entirely of works in the Hirshhorn's own collection, demonstrates that copying, faking and duplicating are works of art in and of themselves, and I was, of course, reminded of the National Gallery show I'd just seen on manipulation in photography.  One of the first pieces I saw was Katharina Fritsch's "Display Stand with Madonnas."  It's hard to improve on the title's description, but I'll say that there were LOTS of Madonnas, and they were all painted bright yellow - I couldn't help but think that they were terribly festive and Easter-y looking.

I was puzzled over Rachel Whiteread's "Untitled (Yellow Bed, Two Parts)" which is made entirely of dental plaster.  Okay, I thought, it's certainly well done - one would never guess that what looks like a bed is really made of dental plaster, but WHY?  Why make a bed out of dental plaster?  Who wakes up one morning and decides - that's what I want to do today!

Christo made an appearance - if only a small one.  His "Green Storefront" is a shop window which is wrapped so you can't see what's in the window.  Quite small potatoes for Christo; I think the wrapping as art only works if it's on a monumental scale.  I also saw a video (?) by John Gerrard entitled "Grow Finish Unit (Eva, Oklahoma)."  This is really a 3D animation, so I'm not sure video is the right word.  I'm pretty sure I saw a show of his work at the Hirshhorn several years ago; it's interesting as a technique, but nothing happens, and after a while, you just lose interest and walk away.  I can't quite remember what the point of it was, but I'm sure there was one...

Finally, several photographs by Nicki S. Lee were on display, including a couple I'd seen in a National Gallery show just a couple of months ago.  I like her stuff, so I was happy to see it again, as well as some pieces that were new to me.  The only problem is that there was no explanation of her work given.  If you didn't know that she disguises herself and joins various societal sub-groups, you wouldn't understand the photos.  I guess that's the advantage of being able to see lots of shows.

Verdict: It's the Hirshhorn, so you know I won't be telling you to rush right out and see this, but if you're there anyway to see DEMOCRACIA, you can add this on easily.

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