Friday, January 4

New York City Update

I took the past few days to see three important exhibitions in New York. All centered around black artists. This is a rare once in a lifetime moment where three major museums are exhibiting the art work of Africa at the same time.

My first stop was the MOMA to see the Martin Puryear. The exhibitions is one of the best in city-- because Puryear is possibly one of the all time great sculptors. He is so careful and reserved that seeing his works together in one place gives you a better sense of his aims as an artist. On the main mezzanine of the museum is a perfect grouping of three free standing sculptures that enhance, compliment and dance off each other in perfect balance. This is culmination of the entire exhibition.

The best sculpture in the show, and one of the best in the museum is the piece "Ladder for Booker T." Technically this is not a free standing sculpture because it is suspended from the ceiling with thin cables which are easily ignored for the illusion of a floating ladder. This is one of Puryear's few daring works and after seeing the entire exhibition one can sense he took a chance on this piece and it was well worth the risk. One other risky work is right next to the ladder and is giant animal machine with huge wheels and a stick reaching to the sky. Actually, Puryear brings life to many essential forms taken from rural life which are also African hunting symbols. From Africa he also takes his most lasting image. The abstracted face that come from a gibon mask, with only enough markings to recognize features-- he exaggerates the essential and adds his own voice by making the huge mask into an explosion on a wheelbarrow.