Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Foreground and Background

This striking image by Kay Riechers juxtaposes two works of minimalist art. In the foreground, Magpie Line by Richard Long (1985); in the background, Channel Painting No. 3 by Alan Charlton (1975). Sometimes visiting a gallery and being surrounded by art is a completely different experience than seeing the works one at a time, especially with spare pieces like these.

Another view of the same gallery (in the Hamburger Kunsthalle) showing Coded Language Hardliner by Frank Gerritz (2002).

About 20 years ago I saw an exhibit that tried to recreate gallery shows staged by Alfred Stieglitz in the 1910s and 1920s, when he introduced many European avant garde artists to America. Until then I never much cared for Constantin Brancusi's sculptures, which I had seen only in photographs, one at a time. Seeing them the way Brancusi himself first displayed them, at least a dozen together, in one room, placed next to African masks and pieces of natural stone and wood, I suddenly liked them much better.

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