Saturday, August 3, 2013

Peter Coffin: Here & There

Where: Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

When: through October 6, 2013

Imagine my delight long-time readers, two shows at the Hirshhorn in one week!  I combined them into one trip, but even so, it's a lot of Hirshhorn in a short period of time.

I always think this museum has nothing more to throw at me in the way of nuttiness, but then I feel my eyes rolling back in my head over an entirely new ridiculous idea.  This time, they've decided to have an exhibit without putting the pieces in one space.  Supposedly, the idea is to demonstrate the relationship that Peter Coffin has with other artists, by showing his work throughout the museum, and if you don't have space to put on a show, I guess that's a pretty good rationalization, but my guess is that this was more about logistics than artistic theory.

The show isn't very large, in the sense that it's not composed of very many pieces.  Just to give you a heads-up, there's one piece (actually a series of lithographs) on the 3rd floor, one piece in the outside atrium and two pieces on the Lower Level.  I spent quite a bit of time wandering around the second floor, thinking there might be something there, so if you go to see this, you can skip that floor entirely.

The lithographs on the 3rd floor, a series of designs for a poster company, are quite colorful, and I like color in my art.  Putting them all together seems to enhance the colors of each one, so I liked this just fine.  The piece outside is a spiral staircase that turns in on itself, think of an Escher print in three dimensions.  Interesting enough, but not something I'd want in my living room.

The lower level works include the big dog pictured above, and big is the word for him.  He's taller than I am, even though he's lying down, and I was a bit startled by just how big this work is.  Somehow, the pictures don't convey the monumental size.  The other piece on the lower level is a dim room, with pieces from the Hirshhorn's collection hanging on the walls.  Colored light is projected on the pieces.  I can't really tell you the point of this, as I couldn't quite figure it out.  Part of the problem, in my view, is that the room is so dim, that you can't make out what the pieces on the wall are.  I'm not sure if that would have made the work more self-explanatory, or if it's just weird, and no amount of further explanation is going to help.

Verdict: The individual pieces are okay, but having to trudge all over the museum to see them is an annoyance.

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