Made a visit to the Judith Neisser Collection on display at the Art Institute of Chicago Museum. The title of the display is “Less is More”, which I thought was kind of cliché and a little pointed at minimalist artists – but I love minimalist work, so it’s a display I’ve wanted to see.
The exhibit introduces itself with a piece by Jannis Kounellus entitled “La Rosa”. And yes, as you may suspect, it is the dark rose silhouette above. Actually, that image was probably taken a long time ago. The piece on display shows a significant amount of the unfortunately real force of wear and tear. While first viewing it, I didn’t have a clue that the rose was as flat as it appears in the image above. The sides of the fabric are now curled and frilled. While I observed them, I thought textures to be interesting oppositions to one another. I enjoyed the play of the now-wrinkled black fabric upon the warm-neutral, flat canvas.
So I guess this piece has been like a fine wine. I can’t imagine a flat rose on a flat background, no matter how dramatic the color and temperature differences, would be as interesting as it is now. I found the now-disassembled pieces of the rose especially interesting, which may not have been something Kounellus was intending at all. The rose called attention to being deconstructed a third time – it is observed in two dimensions with the eyes of the artist, translated onto the canvas and the separations of these pieces called to mind the third process of reinterpreting the piece by the viewer.
Another artist in this first room (actually, right next to Kounellus) caught my eye with some really interesting decomposition of the canvas. Lucio Fontana painted this series called Concetto Spaziale (Spatial Concept) between 1956 and 1966. You can see in the above and below images, the canvas does not function as we expect it to. What we want to be a painting is suddenly an object in and of itself – and I would assert that those are two very separate things.
I should note that these two images are very similar to those on display in the Neisser gallery, but I guess Judith didn’t want them all floating around the Intertubes, so I picked these. And I think they pretty well represent the subtle differences in the two on display. I digress – although they are in a sense quite similar, the interaction with these two objects is achieved differently in either. In the top image, the imagery formed around the holes in the canvas come secondary visually to the holes themselves. The hole interacts with the space behind it, which I thought was an interesting concept.
In the bottom image, the holes are visual elements among the textures of the canvas. Their disobedience of the canvas is less obvious – they seem to ask “What is behind the canvas?” while the top image said plainly “Here’s what’s behind the canvas.” I do think the bottom image is more visually interesting in its subtleties than the top image, but I think they’re both well executed.
The last image I’ll ramble about is this piece by Rosemarie Trockel. This is the part where I encourage you to go see the exhibit – seeing this piece as an image doesn’t come close to how interesting it is. The black wool strings are stacked in places (the one above is similar, but the one on display here in Chi was more thickly covered in wool strings). As you move around the black wool, it allows slivers of the white canvas through and appears visually as this very rich textile – something like velvet. It’s a very clever and quite thought provoking piece.
Anyway, go see the exhibit, definitely worth the trip (especially on free Thursdays) #winning