I recently got back to Chicago from three weeks on the road. The semi-annual Christmas trip home to Denver, by way of Dallas for other family and friends, with a sanitizing few days in Northern New Mexico.
I casually tossed in a couple museum visits. Seeing art can sometimes seem more like work, which is maybe why I seem to write about it so infrequently anymore. I’m somewhat adverse to the idea of work, I guess, though I like to be busy. And I like art that doesn’t feel like work to unravel, though I like a bit of a challenge.
I caught Olafur Eliasson’s “Take Your Time” in Dallas, before it makes its way up here to Chicago this Spring. I talked to Rainey on my way there, who listed it among the litany of stinkers she’s seen the last few years at the Dallas Museum – predictably, I liked not only many of those previous shows (including Richard Tuttle and Robert Smithson retrospectives) but Eliasson’s especially. I’ve not talked to any other "art people" who actually liked it (including a number who saw it in New York), further confirming a long-held supposition that art people are generally jaded, overstimulated, and often too clever for their own good (myself included – it’s an internal struggle). Maybe when it’s your business, you’re inescapably wrecked. Rainey even recently dissed Giorgio Morandi. Of course, I love Giorgio Morandi. The climate just ain’t right for us contemplative types.
I missed the King Tut show. Though told by a museum staffer friend there was little-to-no chance, I went ahead asked for a press pass. Denied. You see, the whole thing is run independent of the museum. They’ve more or less taken it over. Staff even lost their parking privileges. And even they don’t get in to see Tut for free, after a one-time walk through. It’s $32.50 to get in Friday to Sunday. That’s on top of your museum general admission.
(I think Tut still looks pretty blase about it all…)
They open the museum an hour early just for Tut, while the rest of the museum remains closed. I got there early and was pleased to be among a large crowd waiting to get into “Take Your Time” while the ½ mile labyrinth of theater queues for Tut stood glaringly empty. I hear the museum and Tut organizers are taking a real bath, with attendance way below expectations. Ha.
The DMA is undergoing some radical changes, as many will be aware even from following the newsfeed on this site. Many of the staff who had real connections on the ground in the Dallas art scene are now gone. The education department has won the war with the curators. I don’t know, but I’d expect to see fewer daring signature shows (like Tuttle, or 2008’s On Kawara) in the future, and more like Tut. Which feels about right for Dallas.
Eliasson’s show was just a big pleasure. I found myself wondering what his collaborative staff of thirty genius architects, engineers, and big thinkers do. The work seems (probably deceptively) pretty simple. But at one point I had this distinct sensation, making me smile not for the first or last time, that “this art is going on in my head.” Dude. His stated goal is to get the audience to perceive themselves perceiving. And even if that consciously remains an elusive sensation to many, I saw a lot of people having a very good time, while having their conception of art, if not obliterated, at least radically contorted.
I noticed a lot of kids asking “Hey Ma, what’s this supposed to do?” as they stood in empty rooms of light, pictures of glaciers, and water mist. Ma usually didn’t have a response, except for “I don’t know. Don’t touch that”. But nearly everyone had smiles on their faces. I know I did. I even said “wow, cool” a couple times – probably just in my head.
Next, I wax rhapsodic about the Daniel Richter show at the Denver Art Museum, and finally seeing the Agnes Martins in Taos.