Monday, June 9, 2008

Guard Keyed Painting & Art on Ignore

Budding art critic/full time guard, Timur Serebrykov, looked at the painting, Night Sky #2, one too many times or it screamed at him working his last nerve in some weird way. A stressed out, engaged immigrant from Azerbaijan due to become a dad any day, destroyed a $1.2 million dollar painting from a Latvian artist, Vija Celmins, on 16 May, 2008. He didn't like the piece - a blinding glimpse of the obvious. The Art Institute of Chicago loaned the prestigious museum the piece. Surveillance cameras captured the keying of the artwork leading to the arrest of the guard who is now under a psychiatrist's care after confessing and expressing regret.
The attorney also squelched questions about whether Serebrykov was making a political statement.

"There is no political element to this," Sheets said. "He's from a country that used to be part of the Soviet bloc and (the artist) is from Latvia."

"A lot of Eastern European countries have conflicts with one another, but that is not the case here," he said. "He doesn't know the artist or her work, and it was not directed at her personally. He feels terrible about this."
The meditative or reflection inspiring art piece is considered a total loss as it has a spit in it from top to bottom from a key. Carnegie Museum of Art is home to works from Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, and more recent works from Marsden Hartley, Mark Rothko and the inscrutable Jackson Pollack. Even amongst all that art, Carnegie's own survey is showing it is not the center of the hip art universe as it may have believed prior. Since 1896, a survey kept curators, patrons and donors alike apprised of their exalted standing in the art world based on exhibits. Displayed were 200 works of which 6 drew attention - not in the manner of the guard with the keys, but honest to goodness praise. Such a meager group of shining art examples is par for the course though in the art world's longest running survey. Seems everybody's a critic and Carnegie patrons keep shining a light on about 6 pieces of art year after year.

That may be why, on a visit only four days after its opening, the International's galleries were almost empty.

Douglas Fogle, the curator of the International's latest edition, may sense there's a problem. For the first time, the show has been given a title ("Life on Mars") that goes with some kind of a theme ("the nature of humanness in this radically unmoored world"). But that theme is so vague as to include almost any artwork you could think of. When have humans not felt adrift in the universe, and made art about it? The show's premise feels like it was stuck on after the fact, rather than like an urgent issue that demanded exploration from the start.

Ouch, one of the viewers who saw night Sky #2 one too many times, destroyed it. Now folks that actually enjoy art need to get out and see it a bit more often.

For those who are not in Pennsylvania to see the magnificent collections at the many Carnegie venues, comes a book focusing on the art collection from curator Sheryl Conkelton, Elizabeth Thomas and Richard Armstrong. Entitled, An International Legacy: Selections from Carnegie Museum of Art showcases beautiful illustrations of past Carnegie International offerings. The survey demonstrated 6 pieces garner attention and this book shows why more deserve accolades.

No comments: