Saturday, July 2, 2016

A So-So Show

Where: Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

When: through September 5, 2016

I'm writing this on July 2 - how has half of 2016 gone by already?  I've seen some very fine things this year - WONDER stands out especially.  I wish I could tell you that this major exhibit of Robert Irwin works is another highlight of the year, but I am unable to do so.

It's certainly not the worst thing I've seen at the Hirshhorn, not by a long shot.  What it is, is forgettable.  I saw this just a few days ago, and I had to consult my notes to recall what I saw.  Usually, I look to my notes to remind me of the title of a particular piece or how to spell an artist's name, not to conjure up any recollection of the show at all.

There are a couple of works like the one pictured - they're really more shadow than anything else.  Not awful, not great.  Then there are some paintings with slashes of color across them; they're known as "pick up sticks" works.  Again, okay, I guess.  Eventually, there are fewer and fewer lines, until we're left with just a painted canvas in a solid color.  Sigh - I call this painting the living room, not art.

Then, we move on to "dot paintings."  These are exactly what you think - tiny dots.  You have to get very close to see them, and then all you're seeing is dots.  It's like some sort of anti-Seurat.  You have the dots, but no overall picture.

The show ends with something that is memorable, but very difficult to describe.  It's a site specific installation that I think is called something like "Squaring the Circle."  The idea is that it's a phony wall, made of scrim, that "squares" the circle that is the Hirshhorn building.  I wasn't sure what I was looking at, and the guards were so concerned that you not touch anything, that I felt sort of uncomfortable walking around it.  I noticed that at the ceiling, the wall seems to appear and fade as you approach and walk by.  Not a good description, I know.

Verdict: If you're at the Hirshhorn for something else, that final room is worth seeing.  Otherwise, you can skip this.  

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