"In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears..." - The Beach Boys
Stella at The Whitney
For me, art is my version of The Beach Boys' room but that wasn't always the case. I liked art class in school, was a creative and crafty child, and have always fallen squarely in the camp of The Met (vs. the American Museum of Natural History), but I didn't really appreciate art, nor could I understand a lot of it. My sophomore year at Brown, I needed a fourth class. Introduction to the History of Art and Architecture fit in my schedule so I went to the first class. I walked out and promptly registered. I can't fully explain what art does for me. It's calming, thought-provoking, transcendent, and makes me feel deeply connected to my family as we have a long and rich history with the New York art world. I guess it was in my blood.
This past weekend I was feeling the need to escape a bit so I took myself to the Frank Stella exhibit at The Whitney. I cannot express enough how incredible it is to have a major museum downtown! As New Yorkers we are spoiled with the institutions we have, but to have one in easy walking distance from my apartment is a joy! For anyone who hasn't yet been to the new Whitney, it is worth braving the tourist trap that is the Highline and the very not my scene brunch crowd that frequents the surrounding Meat Packing establishments. The galleries themselves are evocative of Moma's "white box" galleries but unlike Moma, the western facade is windows with a stunning view across the Hudson. Go on a clear day and the backdrop almost rivals the art.
Of course I couldn't limit myself to just the Stella and I had sprung for the audio tour so I looked at nearly everything.
Like most people, I am mainly familiar with Stella's paintings, particularly his protractor series. The rest of the works did not disappoint. Standing only five feet tall, I'm a big proponent of the phrase, "size doesn't matter" but here, it mattered. Imagining the logistics of painting on canvases that stretched well over ten feet, was mesmerizing. I was equally drawn to Stella's later, more sculptural works (he doesn't consider them sculptures, or so said the audio guide, so we'll go with "sculptural"). While many of these did not have the same bright colors as his earlier paintings, they were nonetheless compelling in their scale and undulating curves, as if in his hands the metal had turned to wax.
An extra treat...
Stella was not the sole reason for my outing. I have the divine privilege of having known Rachel Rose since we were three so I was, obviously, thrilled to learn she would be having a one-woman show at The Whitney! Can I repeat that for you. She's 29 and has a solo show at The Whitney! My middle-school bff and long-time close friend is at a major museum! Ok, fangirl moment over. It's on the same floor as the Stella and quite frankly, blew me away. My relationship with her aside, the piece is awesome, and I do NOT like video art. It's so wonderful to see people you love following their passion and having success! Her exhibit closes the same day as the Stella (Feb. 7th). Get thee there stat!
How do you feel about art? Do you have a favorite museum?