Monday, May 25, 2009

MFA and Morandi

When I wander through these shows, I always wonder where the students will be in 10, 15 years. What sort of market is there for huge installations like the one put up by Suzanne Kehr or John Melvin? I’m not a fan of installation or conceptual art but I respected their efforts while finding them big big, shiny and ..well, big and shiny. That always speak to me of “doing the MFA” thing to impress your peers and your teachers. But everybody has to follow his or her own muse and the SFAI is famous for letting students do just that.

The paintings were more interesting – I particularly liked Randall Miller’s Tooker-like figures of middle-aged men in a clumsy embrace and Minervini’s neon-pink and candy colored palate paired with strong geometric forms.

JD Beltran did a more thoughtful (and appreciative) job of covering the show:

Julian Myers at the SFMOMA blog has a nice essay on the origins and meaning of MFA shows - putting it in a wider context and linking it to the early days of the salon in 19th century Paris. He compares MFA shows to a secular Bar Mitzvah for artists, which is a very astute observation.

After that visual noise, it was a pleasure to ‘escape” to the Italian Cultural Center where they are currently hosting a small show of Morandi drawings from the Estorick Collection.

Although still little known outside a small circle of admirers, Giorgio Morandi is one of the most admired Italian painters of the 20th century. He lived in Bologna all his life and mainly worked in a tiny room containing a bed, writing desk, drawing table and bookcase. He rejected the size, bluster, novelty and often fatuous taste of contemporary art, preferring to focus on contemplative paintings of humble objects such as vases, bottles, jugs and boxes. Painting with a subtle and muted palate, Morandi infused these ordinary articles with an inner light, the simplicity that the Japanese equate with Wabi-Sabi.

“It takes me weeks to make up my mind which group of bottles will go well with a particular colored tablecloth. Then it takes me weeks of thinking about the bottles themselves, and yet often I still go wrong with the spaces. Perhaps I work too fast?”

Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco
425 Washington Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, California 94111 - USA
Tel. (415) 788 7142 | Fax.(415) 788-6389
Thursday, May 07, 2009 - Tuesday, June 30, 2009

All proceeds from the sale of the Morandi catalogues and other IIC events in the month of May will be donated to the victims of the earthquake in Abruzzo.

1 comment:

Liz said...

As always thanks for the "Namaste" on the alternative spots to see art in SF. I might have missed this exquisite Morandi show, were it not for your diligence covering SF scene.