Monday, June 23, 2008

sunday downtown


We went to the lecture that introduced the Martin Puryear retrospective which is open now in both East and West wings of the NGA (National Gallery of Art). It was an informative lecture and slide show. Martin is a local DC boy (b.1941) and lived here until he went away, after graduation from Catholic University as a painting major, to work for the Peace Corps for two years in Africa. He grew up playing on the national mall and visiting the NGA and the speaker liked to compare his sculptures to the domes and obelisk on the national mall. As a teenager Martin used to make wooden things that he wanted in his father's wood shop. Guitar, canoe, and bow and arrows were some of the things he told her he built and learned to use. Visiting his exhibition you see lots of attention to details that a furniture maker uses in the art works. I enjoyed the largest of the sculptures called Ad Astra, which is an antique set of wagon wheels from France that have a cart built for them that holds a big wooden polyhedron and a pole that would be the "hitch" for the oxen which is 63 feet long. This hitch pole looks like a long sapling tree going right up to the roof of the East wing. This tree is only in two parts. The first of which is 45 feet in length  and the attached tip is another 18 feet and the joint can be seen up close on the third story bridge. It is amazingly long and delicate standing in that void and we were told it was made expressly for the new atrium at the MoMA in NYC also a large open space. Another work I liked was titled Desire. 1981 It was a great wheel and axle attached to a lattice like bell in the west wing galleries where the bulk of the show is housed. I think it is great to see all that wood, tar, rawhide and wire in those galleries with their beautiful hard wood floors. It is quite different from the norm for NGA west wing to have such contemperary works housed in these galleries. The curator told us one of the installation people who has worked there for 20 years said while they were putting up the show that he thought after the Vermeer show this was the best he had seen in the NGA. I am not quite that excited about it but would highly reccomend this exhibit to my friends. Keith and I met Susan and had drinks and enjoyed some of the gallery and later the sculpture gardens and a bison burger over at our favorite NGA neighborhood restaurant Teaism before the rains came but this was a Sunday to remember. No photos were allowed of the sculptures in this show but I did make some nice shots of the "weeds"  in the field by our Brookland Metro station. Chickory blue flowers and tall Queen Anne's Lace white against the tall staff of the Mulleins.


1 comment:

woodcut55 said...

I should say that although I liked the show of Martin Puryear's sculpture I didn't love every single piece. I tend to over state my first reaction. It is a good show and quite lovely to walk through so go if you can.