In Retrospect…

I do not write about every show I see, but I do tweet about them (@evolvingcritic). This summer I have seen some outstanding and some not so outstanding shows, here I go:

Cocktail Culture: Ritual and Invention in American Culture, 1920-1980 at the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. I briefly drooled over this show earlier this summer, but I loved it so much I went to see it again with a friend. I thought it was well researched and the exhibition design by Nader Terahni was truly an artwork in it of itself. If you missed this show, you missed out on some amazing gowns, jewelry, shoes, barware and so much more. RISD published an exhibition catalog which is on my list of books to get.

MassArt had a really great show titled Flourish: Alumni Works on Paper. Sorry, I can’t remember any names, but I did tweet about those works that were interesting.

I thought The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl at the ICA was good. There were some standout pieces by Xaviera Simmons, Carrie Mae Weems, Christian Marclay and David McConnell, but not everything in it was really outstanding.

Catherine Opie: Empty and Full is just that, empty and full. For the most part, I felt like I was in a Roni Horn exhibition with Catherine Opie in the center portion of the gallery. There’s a disconnection between Opie’s landscape images and her images of community and politics. I loved her images depicting sunsets and sunrises, but other than this, the exhibition is empty.

I was extremely disappointed and sad when I saw Eva Hesse: Studioworks at the ICA. Four large cases and a table surrounded by mostly empty white walls display “experiments” by Hesse. Hesse was an amazing and influential artist, but this show doesn’t really do much. It’s sad and It’s boring. This show had been traveling for a long time, and it finally made it to Boston. Sebastian Smee of the Boston Globe sums it up nicely.

Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass. It only took me less than 10 minutes to walk through the entire exhibition. Dale has definitely carved out a name for himself in the glass world, but this stuff isn’t fine art. And for the record, I think craft is underappreciated and frowned upon in the art world, but there are museums out there dedicated to works like these. He’s a crowd pleaser and those who went to see this show at the MFA loved it. The MFA is asking people to donate money to purchase the giant lime-green icicle tower for their permanent collection. That was one excellent move on behalf of the MFA, in my honest opinion.

The one exhibition that truly stole my heart this summer was Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I waited an hour just to get in line and another 3 hours in line to see the exhibition. The gallery was so crowded it took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to walk through it. All that said and done, it was one of the most thrilling, moving and memorable exhibitions I have seen this year. McQueen’s designs are breathtaking and the Metropolitan Museum elevated his craft through heart pounding displays, haunting musical scores, seductive lighting and special effects like a hologram of Kate Moss. It was as dramatic as McQueen’s runway shows were known to be. I couldn’t forgive myself, ever, had I missed this exhibition in person but I WILL NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO SEE AN EXHIBITION EVER AGAIN.

I also caught Vienna 1900: Style and Identity at Neue Galerie. I thought it was a very fascinating exhibition and had I also seen it when it first opened, I would have gone back to see it again and again. Otto Wagner’s furniture, Egon Schiele’s drawings and Klimt’s portraits stole the show for me.

Summer is almost over, but I have yet to see the Man Ray/Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism as well as Painting the American Vision both at the Peabody Essex Museum. I’m looking forward to Ellsworth Kelly: Wood Sculpture, Degas and the Nude both at the MFA this Fall. I need to head to the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford to check out the Matrix 162 Shaun Gladwell as well as their outstanding collection of American Art. The Portsmouth Museum of Art has an exhibition of street murals which has been driving those who live in Portsmouth crazy, this show is calling my name.

Any must see shows before the summer ends?

Image: Alexander McQueen (British, 1969–2010). Dress, autumn/winter 2010–11. Courtesy of Alexander McQueen. Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce

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