Saturday, December 01, 2007

School of art school

The New Museum opened today with a burp. You've seen the building--a stack of off-kilter boxes, like in a child's room, wedged between solid, old brick structures. Besides being incongruous (but it's new!) the facade has all the appeal of a prison, its industrial aluminum mesh encasing, and ultimately strangling, the structure. Windows? A bank of them adorn the fifth floor, but you're still behind that brutal grille: purdah. The double-height galleries -- devoid of interior walls -- dwarf the art. A waste of space except where it's really needed--the one sculpture on the second floor that towered above the rest appeared cramped. The lights are bare fluorescents, symmetrically arranged in overhead tracks. Wal-Mart lighting in a warehouse. Concrete floors complete the effect.

The seventh floor terrace makes the building. Unemcumbered by that grating, one has the sky above and the stunning view ahead. A glass fence, high enough to deter the impromptu jump, girdles the walk. Inside, the glass-walled bare space (used as a dance floor on opening day) is comparably intimate. It's begging for an installation that expands on this, but tellingly, is "primarily" for rent.

And the art? See the title of this post. The exhibit is called "Unmonumental." "Non-Olympic," quipped art critic Julia Morton.
There's a photo of the museum all lit up at dusk. It appears eerily, but not redeemingly, beautiful.

Goes with: Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?"

"Unmonumental" at the New Museum
235 Bowery, at Prince
through March 23, 2008

p.s.--for the unexpurgated/blasphemous/vituperative version, contact me.


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