If you missed the James Turrell show at Pace Gallery, you missed a visual treat- but there is still time to catch five great summer shows! If you are walking around Chelsea in August, you might notice that it seems a little less lively than usual. Some of the galleries have their blinds drawn their owners having gone off in the Hamptons, Fire Island or wherever gallery owners go. HOWEVER: there is still some great art to be seen! Here are five summer shows not to be missed:
Richard Serra at Gagosian Gallery
The monster show is, of course, the Richard Serra show at Gagosian. The show features some of Serra’s most monumental pieces. The showstopper is Serra’s Silence for John Cage. It is a solid slab of steel that is sixteen inches thick, nine feet wide and thirty feet long. The guard told us it weighed 60 tons (we are not sure why a sixty-ton slab of steel needed a guard but it had one!) Once you get your mind past “how the … did they get that in here?!” (Note the door opening is smaller than the piece), you begin to reflect on why an enormous slab of steel is art. Serra named the sculpture Silence (for John Cage). Cage a minimalist 20th-century composer who once “wrote” a composition called 4′33″. It is musical piece in which the musicians don’t play a single note for four minutes and thirty-three seconds and the ambient sound is the music. If you are lucky like we were, the gallery will be empty, and you can contemplate the silence and the weight of this profoundly massive piece of art.
In the next room was Serra’s Every Which Way. This room was filled with multiple large solid steel slabs standing on their ends like dominos. Our minds immediately imagined the chain reaction of these behemoths falling. We wandered amongst the slabs and for us, they called to mind pre-historic megalithic structures like Stonehenge.
Gagosian Gallery, 555 West 24th St. through Oct. 22
Blackness in Abstraction at Pace
Do you have trouble finding that particular piece of clothing in your closet because so much of it is black? Then this show is for you. Blackness in Abstraction is another museum-quality show. It is centered on various artists’ use of the color (technically the absence of color) black. The show includes some of the icons of modern art Sol LeWitt, Louise Nevelson, and Robert Rauschenberg. However, a third of the show is art made by contemporary artists for this show. Nevelson is represented by a huge wall sized relief sculpture, a small wooden sculpture aptly named Moon Spikes and, unusually for her, a biomorphic painted terra cotta sculpture. The most striking duo, however, was a site-specific action painting by Wangenchi Mitu entitled Throw, which is black paint thrown against a white wall, contrasted by the placement of a small minimalist rectangular wood block by Sol Lewitt in front of it. We also enjoyed the series of small paintings by Fred Wilson. Wilson’s paintings are cleverly reminiscent of maritime signal flags. Once you are done enjoying this show shake off your Wednesday Adams and step out of the blackness and back into the sunlight.
Pace, 510 West 25th St. through Aug. 19th
Summer Breeze at Margaret Thatcher Projects
Head two blocks south to Margaret Thatcher Projects on 25th St. and be transported by MTP’s Summer Breeze show. (hint: the gallery owner is not being ironic- Margaret Thatcher is her real name). Upon entering the gallery, a small blue and white painting by Teo Gonzalez mesmerized us. We don’t know if it was artist’s intention, but the painting transported us immediately to the beach, and we imagined our feet in the fresh cool bubbly water. Maria Park’s Bookend Set 8 is an abstracted blue and gray landscape painted on an acrylic cube with four books stacked next to it. It conjured images of a seaside B&B on a lazy summer morning. Color infused the show, most strikingly by Heidi Spector’s two paintings Cakewalk and Brain Storm. The columnar Cakewalk, which is painted with brightly colored rectangles, is brilliantly situated in a small niche next to a concrete column that is part of the architecture of the gallery. It’s more feminine counterpart Brain Storm is brightly colored mirrored chevrons. The craftsmanship on Spector’s paintings is immaculate, and a must see!’
Margaret Thatcher Projects, 539 West 23rd St. through Aug. 19th
Don Nice: The Presence of Emblems at Driscoll|Babcock
Nice’s paintings delighted us with their vibrant colors and carefree subject matter. His style could only be described as painterly pop art. His oil paintings of Converse high tops, Starbucks coffee cups and bent up Coke cans are painted in a colorful thick impasto style wryly echoing Andy Warhol’s flatter silkscreen paintings. Our favorite was his painting Ray Gun. It is a painting of a toy “Ray” gun that epitomizes the mood of the show, carefree, nostalgic and wistfully summery.
Driscoll|Babcock, 525 West 25th St. through Aug. 12th
Simen Johan At Yossi Milo Gallery
If you really want to feel like you are escaping the city’s confines walk around the corner to Yossi Milo Gallery, and you will enter Africa by way of Simen Johan’s photographs. You will be confronted with Zebras, Leopards and African-inspired sculptures. We loved the fact that this Photoshop geek got his hands dirty and made some 3D objects!
We learned from a gallerist at Yossi Milo that Simen Johan is a PhotoShop Jedi and one of the groundbreakers of digital manipulation. His Untitled Zebra photograph greets you as you enter the gallery. It is a tour de force in light and shadow. The sunlit palms surrounding it echo the patterned Zebra. Push further into the gallery past the Leopards and the African-inspired sculptures and you will confront a wall-sized print of a dozen or so Zebras set in a Photoshop constructed jungle that astounded us!
Yossi Milo Gallery, 245 Tenth Ave. through Aug 19th
So if you think that there is no interesting art left to see in the waning days of August head to Chelsea and check out these shows!
Photos // Michael Wolf
Top image // courtesy of Yossi Milo