Saturday, November 23, 2013

MoMA to Flavin: Drop Dead, Again


A few weeks ago, I used this forum to extol the marvelous  Judd installation by Robert Mnuichin and his Mnuichin gallery on the Upper East Side.  That is a gallery that although dealing in strictly dead or near dead artists knows how to present works of art. This past Wednesday, however, I was once at the temple of Modernism in Midtown Manhattan, MoMA and once again saw how not to treat art.

Above is an image from the MoMA website of their 1969 Donald Flavin corner piece. Below are photos from my visit to MoMA on Wednesday of the same Flavin work. Apologies for the limitations of the IPhone 4 in terms of color, but if you look closely at the images below, you will notice a huge hole on the left side in the drywall. 

 I have seen Flavin installations all over the world--Frankfurt, Rio, Houston to name a few--and I have never seen the drywall exposed. I have never seen a cord esposed. Yet look below and you will see a cord sticking out of the bottom of the wall on the right side of the sculpture. Isn't there a Flavin Foundation to raise holy hell? Doesn't the MoMA owe it to the artists whose work is in there care to protect it and exhibit it the way the artist intended it?
This kind of shabby schlocky installation is really beneath the MoMA. Isn't there someone there to look after these things? In the meantime, the bottom floor has thousands of square feet of recent acquisitions; all with the pallor of 1975 written on them. Almost all the work a dreary black, white and grey. Ughhhhhhhh. The MoMA needs a housecleaning,  but then how could they when this museum NEVER closes. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Judd at Mnuchin

The Mnuchin Gallery on East 78th Street has an exhibition of Donald Judd "Stacks" that runs until December 7.  There are 10 sculptures in all,  some better than others but any single one of them is a commanding presence. But the most interesting aspect of this exhibition is the space itself and the installation. At a time when the de rigueur  look of the commerical art gallery has been an industrial space with concrete floors and fluoresent lighting (the Chelsea chop shop makeover) there is something majestic about modernist art in a grand 19th Century townhouse.
In this show, each stack is given lots of space and the contrast between the warm, immaculate dark wood floors and Judd's shiny metal sculptures is invigorating. They know how to handle art at Mnuchin. They also know how to make even the announcement card special--the ones for this show were the thickest  exhibition cards you will ever see. They probably cost a dollar each to print.  Equally noteworthy is the catalogue which features essays from a few past associates of Judd along with excellent archival photos of the stacks. 
With all of this precision and care it was funny to see the 80 year-old gallery owner Robert Mnuchin conducting business from the sidewalk handing his staff notes through the ground floor window into the gallery offices.