Beautiful Picture: Turrell at the Guggenheim

The Guggenheim has been taken over by the mind-bending explorations with light of James Turrell. Both the NYTimes’ Roberta Smith and that picky eater over at the New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl, seem to have flipped their wigs over it, in particular “Aten Reign” which takes over the spiral and bathes it in a 60-minute light show.

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James Turrell’s exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum will probably be the bliss-out environmental art hit of the summer. This is primarily because of the ravishing “Aten Reign,” an immense, elliptical, nearly hallucinatory play of light and color that makes brilliant use of the museum’s famed rotunda and ocular skylight. The latest site-specific effort from Mr. Turrell, “Aten Reign” is close to oxymoronic: a meditative spectacle.



Imagine this summer’s show at the Guggenheim Museum as air-conditioning for the eye and, if you’re gamely susceptible, the soul.

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Definitely seems like something to see. Years ago, I caught an Ellsworth Kelly show at the Guggenheim in which the ramp was aglow with reflections from the wonderful primary colors in his paintings. But Turrell takes that idea to a new dimension.

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Ellsworth Kelly at the Guggenheim.

Commonplace Book: Impressionism and Couture at the Met

NYTimes fine art critic Roberta Smith kind of flipped her wig Friday about the new “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity” show at the Met. (And it sounds like it justifies every bit of praise she showered on it.)

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A nicely-crafted bit from her review:

The show tells its tale through a dazzling surround of visual culture high and low, small and large, flat and round. I recommend not missing a thing: not a pleat, ruche or lace parasol; not a painted background, glove or slipper toe; not a photograph or magazine; not a corset, fan or black choker, whether depicted or actual. Such attention reveals frequent similarities of garments (and poses) in the magazines, photographs, paintings and costumed mannequins. A result is an intense, almost hallucinatory swirl in which art and artifact continually change places, and a basic wisdom is demonstrated: any well-selected thing can illuminate any other.

Such a well-managed example of one of the hardest things in writing, (oddly not much taught) handling a list with elegance, detail and rhythm. And that last line, “any well-selected thing can illuminate any other,” Tumblr’s motto perhaps?

More seriously, whoever at the Met or Art Institute of Chicago is encouraging all these brilliantly curated fashion and art shows, and managing to get them funded, bravo! They are like the best engrossing arts documentaries, making you look at something in a completely new way.

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