Saturday, October 17, 2015

When Once Isn't Enough

Where: National Gallery of Art

When: through February 7, 2016

Repetition is the name of the game in this exhibit of works from the renowned Los Angeles print workshop and publisher Gemini G.E.L. (Graphic Editions Limited).  Each work is a series of pieces, so you're seeing both the whole and  the sum of the parts.

This is the sort of show that I think will appeal to many visitors, as the type of art on display really runs the gamut.  I don't see how anyone could like everything, for the same reason.  The picture posted here is from the first room which has this Jasper Johns set of colorful numerals, along with a Roy Lichtenstein series of paintings of a bull.  I'm not a big fan of Johns, but I did like the Lichtenstein.  The first piece is a bull - clear and simple.  No need to scratch your head and ponder.  As the series progresses (or regresses, depending on your point of view), the bull becomes steadily more abstract, until, by the final piece, you could have no idea what it was unless you'd seen the whole set.  It gave me a greater appreciation of abstract act; it's not just random line and squiggles - it really is something.

I was far less impressed with the room of Ellsworth Kelly pieces - all just monochromatic shapes.  How is that different than painting your living room?  By my rule of "If I can do it, it's not art," this is definitely not art.

My favorite piece in the show was a David Hockney work called "Snow," part of his "Weather" series.  It's something that would be right at home at the Freer.  Snow covered mountain and tree branch - one expects a Chinese scholar to come out of the corner, on his way to visit a friend.  Lovely: spare, simple and restful to view.

Verdict: Worth a look - there's bound to be something that pleases you.

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