Sunday, March 11, 2012

Claire Fontaine "working Together" November 3 - December 10, 2011 Metro Pictures 519 west 24th Street New York 10011, by craniv boyd.

Claire Fontaine "working Together" November 3 - December 10, 2011 Metro Pictures 519 west 24th Street New York 10011, by craniv boyd.

Difficult art work that looks as if it is protest of being art objects. A recent exhibition by the Paris based, artist collective called, Claire Fontaine, after a brand of stationary, was that in fact, difficult. One of the most memorable moments of the exhibition were the semi transparent plastic bags hanging from the ceiling with the content of, empty beer and soda cans. The refuse as component, of an installation lending an insider feel to a hermetic exhibition that had the appearance of a private joke, or a party, held on an industrial urban rooftop that one has missed.

in the front room of the Gallery Metro Pictures, was a silk screen painting that, bared the appearance of a 60-s vintage Warhol painting,  think of Nose Job from the year 1963 in the collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art. On this diptych was a line drawing of a wolf, growling on one panel cowering on the other, the poles of aggression and obedience both images. The heading in french codified the images as that of having an appropriated provenance, most likely from a textbook in french, about the socio-biology or behavior of wolves.

Past this room with the wolf paintings, was a iron scaffold, and numerous paintings of written words from snatches of conversation, between, Jay -Z, an American multi millionaire entertainer, and more recently art collector, and Richard Prince, an American artist, born in the Panama Zone, who has had the distinction of a retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. These paintings are jokes, and blatantly refer to the joke Paintings series by Richard Prince. Familiarity with the names of Jay-Z and Richard Prince precludes understanding of the super-flat art work, in short this room of Claire Fontaine's "working Together" is art work about dry tastes in the art world, that strange global village of  Art Basel, Art Basel Miami, New York City, London. The scaffolding makes the weak paintings with horrible content, part of an ironic installation, the apathetic placement of the trash, and aluminum cans, only helps to fuel an expression of intellectual despair, dismay perhaps at the acceptance of terrible Joke paintings by a celebrated artist like Richard Prince, or a more general seance of existential discomfort with the role of being a Paris based art collective, and performing a gallery show, in New York. 

In another room was a self-defense instructional video, of impeccable quality, superior lamp projection, appropriate sound befitting the gallery space. Claire Fontaine may be truly, careless in their "paintings" however, their video art was nearly faultless in its presentation. Viewers were left with the concerns of: what does this instructional video of clothed middle aged men on a gymnastic mat, mock fighting, have to do with the conceptual concerns of the other art objects, in the other rooms of Metro Pictures. By-in-large "working together" had the appearance of a collective artistic effort of conceptualized confusion, where the one thing that was spot on, was the installation of the video work. by craniv boyd. 

Maurizio Cattelan: All. November 4th, 2011, January 22, 2012, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York, by craniv boyd.

Maurizio Cattelan: All. November 4th, 2011, January 22, 2012,  Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York, by craniv boyd

You are an artist, half a century old, and a prestigious, branded museum in New York City, with a gaping wide atrium asks you for a retrospective of your art. If you are the Italian Born Maurizio Cattelan, your answer is to match the nearly impossible exhibition environs of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, on Fifth Avenue, with an equally improbable hanging solution, dangle all your  artistic out put from 1989 onwards, from the central void in Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Museum building. The retrospective, All , may well have been a riggers nightmare, yet it was dazzling to see, so many art works, that have graced the covers of contemporary art magazines, in the real, precariously hanging, and out of reach in spectacular fashion. 

Early work of artist, Maurizio Cattelan, born in Padua, 1960, gained fast recognition, in the late 1990's, for his cynical approach. Articles in the French press, branded him thus, when they wrote about his debut exhibition, for his Paris Gallery, Emmanuel Perotin, where Cattelan fabricated life-scaled mannequins of vagrant people, setting them out side, on the streets of Paris where they could be mistaken for actual people with out homes. This series, of fake indigent poor of Paris, along with, a wax figure of the Late Pope John Paul II,  being struck by a meteor, are stations of the oeuvre of Cattelan that are hung from a rotund aluminum lattice, rigged to the central  occulus of the Guggenheim museum.

The oeuvre is presented, seemingly random, chandelier style, there is no immediately apparent linear chronological pattern in terms of series that Cattelan, has made. Interspersed in jumble of 130 art works, are scale wax figures of children with rope nooses around their necks, There are also smaller scaled self portraits in a similar vein, the artist himself, child sized, hanging by the neck if he were in the gallows.

 Him (2001) is an art work, consisting of a mini scaled Adolph Hitler, with a large bobble head, on his knees in a votive gesture.  Clearly, Maurizio Cattelan is an artist that is attempting to shock people with difficult and controversial figurative imagery. An nonthreatening diminutive Hitler in a pose, where the notorious Reichskanzeler is seeking forgiveness, children that look as if they have been lynched, and the Pope struck down by a loony-toons boulder, three dimensional images that look tremendously wrong. in some ways, Maurizio Cattelan: All is a unsettling Disneyland of the mind, wax figures of known people, and unknown people presented in a way to start a conversation, and or provoke controversy.

It would be hard for me to imagine a, New York Police Officer, seeing a hyper realistic portrayal of, uniformed Police men from the same department, hanging upside down,( trussed up by the feet in a posture unbecoming, of the authority they represent) and not being provoked. Like wise a practicing catholic or good christian might have some issues enjoying an art work, with a taxidermied horse lying prone on it's side with a wooden steak driven through it with a painted sign on it, INRI

Maurizio Cattelan's work can be said to vacillate between, the out rightly controversial, and the mildly amusing adaptation of something, someone, or some story well-known . Take for instance, a local fable of the town musicians of Bremen, a German city state where Maurizio Cattelan,  had an exhibition some years ago. According to the folk tale, a Donkey, a hound, a cat and a Hen, sang in unison, standing from biggest to smallest on the backs of one another. In Cattelan's interpretation of this tale, the town musicians of Bremen are skeletons, this fable, after Maurizio Cattelan got to it, is either dead, perverted or both. Other works where animals, are shown to feel angst, is the model of a squirrel in a pristine suburban kitchen, the moment after he has committed suicide with the aid of a revolver. The work titled Bidibidibidiboo(1996), shows squirrel blood on the linoleum suburban kitchen floor, the absurd firearm, rodent scaled, accompanies a suicide note.

An unorthodox presentation of the life's art works, so far, of a living artist, desperately working to be unorthodox. Maurizio Cattelan: All was spectacular, and the thousands of photographs taken by the spectators who visited the Guggenheim shall attest to this. The decidedly cavalier approach of letting it all hang loose from the ceiling, was counter balanced by the austerity of the rotunda it's self, no art was hung on the walls of the ramped spiral walkway, thereby accomplishing a fun house style reversal, of the visitors expectations, of where to see the art in a museum for Modern Art. The tabloid and radical sensationalist overtones that underpin much of Maurizio Cattelan's art, appeared to be one large deliberate sensationalistic morass, when strung up from a girder at the ceiling. The dizzying chaotic presentation underscored that there was one, artistic sensibility that authored these scandalous art objects. by craniv boyd.