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Saturday, November 26, 2016

With cacao as my hot chocolate I'm writing about today, where we found that a double feature of gallery exhibits exists here in New York, at the Breuer and the Guggenheim.  First it's good to report that the old Whitney is the Breuer, curated through the Met to keep the Old Whitney Americana alive. (Breuer designed the building in the Bauhaus style?) The Breuer exhibit has solo artist Kerry James Marshall, filling two floors with his own, and his selections from Met, art.  His is the double feature's black exhibit.  At first I thought he depicted Nigerians in American settings but he is choosing black as a skin color shade, while Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim, chose, as her canvas shade, white.
Marshall sets against a black base light reflected outlines of expression and detail, upon a large canvas composition informed by art history.  The work is representational, often realistic, completed majestically, and then, by glitter or paint, scorched and graffiti'ed.  Ms. Martin's designs are more like beautiful handkerchief designs, although I suppose there is no limit to the depth or height of appreciation they offer.
We began the Breuer visit with Diane Arbus, impressing me with her printing.  She so clearly focused on the 400 tri-x grain in the negative as she took the photo twice, first through the camera, and second through the enlarger. Is the work's content soul-less or simply random chance re-defined as perfection?  The photo of two children, "one teasing the other" is the caption, was my highlight.  She also redefines rectangular composition, again because there is a natural order in the universe.  She is a documentarian of her time; the value of her work increasing the more of the past it becomes.  (The photographer takes the picture twice, once in the camera and once in the darkroom.)
The Breuer's top floor was filled with the oddly familiar territory of Paul Klee humor, a humor which continued into the end of his life.
When we visited the Guggenheim, which does resemble a toilet bowl in a spiral flush, I had to go to the bathroom, so we went in.  This is where the gold toilet is currently on display, as well as works by 6 Chinese artists in the offshoot rooms (am I mistaken to see frustration in the actions of a robot gathering an ever seeping away red liquid?  Yes.), with Ms. Martin's art a solo show in the spiral.
Next we met friends at the Central Booking Art Space at 21 Ludlow Street, where the exhibits included books, African explorers (in harm's way) and Ornament, small pieces.