Wednesday 25 September 2013

BALTHUS & INDIANA.  Which to tell you about first??

For 2 weeks in NYC there is an important exhibition opening event every day - sometimes 2 or 3,  plus the Christies & Sotherby auctions plus performances, art book fairs, art fairs, United Nations causing traffic standstill. Where to start?! So I will entice u with 2 images, both well known but one perhaps the most iconic, famous image of the 1960s - 
                                                            Indiana's Love from 1966
"Some people like to paint trees. I like to paint love. I find it more meaningful than painting trees." —Robert Indiana, 


INDIANA, born the same year as Warhol, is that most American of Pop artists. Inspired by highway signs, pinball machines, roadside neon and flashing slot machines, his big, bold. hard edged, colourful graphics are mesmerising. 
This is the largest ever show of his work. I wrote about Indiana's 2004 show, "Peace Paintings" for the Financial Times, financial times . Politics often inspire his work, in this instance the Iraq war produced a heartfelt cry WHY OH WHY in strident hues around a CND logo. The last oil there was HOWL, SHRIEK, SHOUT, SCREAM FOR PEACE. Nothing changes. He is still a master of of eye-catching mottos & slogans.

Sadly the show lacks any drawings or note books, which I am told by Simon Salama-Caro who is doing Indiana's catalogue raisonne, are beautiful. But the 100 works here - many large 8 ft paintings and lots of little known obelisk totem sculpture, fill an entire floor with vibrant 60s Pop style colour, design and stencilled lettering:  HUG EAT SIN DIE.  And of course LOVE with its slanted O, an image ubiquitous from millions of mugs, key rings, T shirts, even doormats.

Whitney Indiana installation 

Big surprise is the number of vertical wooden columns or herms and constructions of wood n' metal which start early - in 1959. Lacking cash for paint & canvas he began collecting old metal wheels and rubbish from the NY warehouses being demolish for Wall St's expansion. He said he made "The Lost into Found. Junk into Art. Neglected into Wanted. Unloved into Loved." He was soon putting short everyday words onto these via found stencils. At this time text like this was unprecedented, and says Barbara, "Audacious."
PS. For Scots - Indiana learnt to set metal printing type at Edinburgh College of Art in the 1950s. 

Director Adam Weinberg & eminent curator Barbara Haskell

                                   Simon Salama-Caro, director of the Indiana catalogue Raisonne

Back in Scotland it's  Open Doors day in Edinburgh - 127 places. Take advantage. I will report on Glasgow's events later. 

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