Caught on Camera
ca. 1963: Gypsy Rose Lee
Gypsy Rose Lee (1911–1970), an American burlesque entertainer, actress, author, and playwright, visited the Albright-Knox with Lee, her Chinese Crested dog. Ms. Lee was an avid collector and art lover. Her collection included works by Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893–1983), Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Marc Chagall (French, born Belarus, 1887–1985), and Max Ernst (French, born Germany, 1891–1976), all of which were reportedly gifts to her by the artists. After extensive research, we cannot identify a particular event or exhibition that prompted her visit to the museum. The date of the above photograph is unknown but it is believed to be from 1963. We can only guess that she greatly admired our Fine Art Collection and perhaps made several connections with her own.
Above, Gypsy Rose Lee tours the galleries with Albright-Knox Director Gordon M. Smith. Image courtesy of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Archives, Buffalo, New York. © 2014 Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Recent Acquisition Highlights
The Recycle Group’s Black Friday, 2013
Black Friday, 2013, reminiscent of a marble frieze but completely constructed from plastic mesh, deconstructs the dichotomy between classical architecture and contemporary recycled and non-permanent materials. The sculpture resembles a classical composition with seven figures dressed in ancient Greek attire scrambling to gather bottles and boxes off shelves into shopping carts and baskets. Learn More
The Recycle Group. Black Friday, 2013. Plastic mesh, 91 1/4 x 190 1/4 x 8 inches (231.8 x 483.2 x 20.3 cm). Bequest of Arthur B. Michael, by exchange, 2013. © 2013 The Recycle Group
GERMANY triumphed in #WorldCup2014 and #ArtWorldCup this weekend! Thank you to everyone who participated and voted in our #ArtWorldCup competition. It was a fun month for fans of soccer and art!
Paul Pfeiffer, Caryatid (Red, Yellow, Blue),2008
Paul Pfeiffer (American, born 1966) explores the relationship between iconic images in mass media and us, the audience, and examines society’s obsession with sports celebrities. As fans gathers to watch the World Cup, we would like to share with you an alternative perspective on sports, culture, and spectatorship.
Caryatid (Red, Yellow, Blue) is one of Pfeiffer’s “video sculptures,” which he creates by manipulating still and moving imagery from popular culture. His works involve an analogous labor-intensive process required in traditional media, such as painting and sculpture, but also require sorting through and crafting contemporary material.
This tri-screened artwork displays a sequence of three collapsing soccer players as they crash to the ground after a foul, feigning injury. Each player has been isolated based on the color of his jersey, in this case the primary colors red, yellow, and blue. Pfeiffer reduces the image down to the technical foundations necessary for both painted and televised works, like a painter who methodically builds up the layers on a painting. As such, the artist must be extremely meticulous when erasing or otherwise manipulating an image.
Along with synthesizing the process of creating art, the chosen imagery is deliberate. The title of the work references the caryatids of antiquity, sculpted female figures that support architectural framework in place of a column. These figures, used to hold up monumental Greek temples and structures, exist throughout history.
The three images in Pfeiffer’s work, permanently immobilized like the sculpted caryatids, highlight the rise and fall of contemporary sports heroes in what Pfeiffer calls an “eternally recurring moment of their tragic and ineluctable failures.” They appear to be competing against themselves as they writhe around on the field, seemingly defeated. By erasing other players on the field, Pfeiffer creates a beautifully choreographed sequence of events that focuses on the complexity and athleticism of the players’ movements. The repetitive sequence of the work calls attention to our observation and allows us to question in what way we view these contemporary heroes.
Image: Paul Pfeiffer (American, born 1966). Caryatid (Red, Yellow, Blue), 2008. Three-channel digital video loop. and three customized CRT monitors with embedded media players, overall: 24 3/8 x 96 1/2 x 23 1/4 inches (61.9 x 245.1 x 59.1 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Edmund Hayes Fund, by exchange and Gift of Dennis and Debra School, 2010.
Printed Editions in the Sixties and Seventies: LeWitt, Roth, Ruscha
Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip
Printed Editions in the Sixties and Seventies: LeWitt, Roth, Ruscha, which opens today, features a selection of artists’ books and prints from the Albright-Knox’s Collection by three pioneering artists who reenvisioned what a book could be. Focusing on seriality, Ruscha’s twenty-five-foot-long, accordion-folded book Every Building on the Sunset Strip meticulously captures the character of his adopted city, Los Angeles. Ruscha used a motorized camera in a slow-moving pickup truck to photograph every single building over the two-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard. His images create an indexical and minimalist record of previously unexplored and often overlooked aspects of the urban experience. The photographs are printed in order and identified by their street number. Ruscha’s books, particularly this one, were highly influential in the Conceptual art movement.
This exhibition is on view in the Gallery for Small Sculpture through Sunday, January 4, 2015. A digital version of Every Building on the Sunset Strip will be available on an iPad so that visitors can view the work in its entirety.
Image: Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937). Every Building on the Sunset Strip (Los Angeles, 1966). Collection G. Robert Strauss, Jr. Memorial Library, Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Photograph by Tom Loonan.
Caught on Camera
May 1957: Philip Guston
Philip Guston (American, born Canada, 1913–1980) was a friend of Jackson Pollock, who convinced him to move to New York and introduced him to other artists including Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. Despite his proximity to these artists and their bold, gestural works, Guston’s style became characterized by floating color forms and bright, luminous energy. Voyage, 1956, is an example of this nonobjective trend, in which areas of color cluster toward the middle of the canvas. The artist was influenced by Chinese art and calligraphy, the tenets of Buddhism, and works by Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872–1944) in developing this style, one that some critics called “Abstract Impressionism.”
Above, the artist stands in front of Voyage at the opening of Contemporary Art—Acquisitions 1954–1957 on May 15, 1957. Voyage, along with works by Pollock, de Kooning, and Kline, are on view now as part of Sincerely Yours: Treasures of the Queen City through September 14, 2014.
Content adapted from The Long Curve: 150 Years of Visionary Collecting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (published by Skira/Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 2011). Image by the Towne Studio, Buffalo, and Courtesy Albright-Knox Art Gallery Archives, Buffalo, New York. © 2014 Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Recent Acquisition Highlights
Tony Conrad’s Yellow Movie 2/23–24/73, 1973
The artist experiments at the intersection of filmic processes and painting—which were part of the broader 1970s postmodern trend toward the cross-pollination of media—resulting in works like Yellow Movie 2/23–24/73, 1973. This work hails from a series Conrad made with house paint; in the series, blocks of color framed by black borders yellow over time through a destabilizing process that mimics photographic development or the changing frames of a film. The series was inspired by a revelation Conrad had while staring at the yellowing paint on the ceiling above his bed. Learn More
Tony Conrad (American, born 1940). Yellow Movie 2/23–24/73, 1973. Emulsion: sterling gray low lustre enamel (water base), thick textured; base: dusty rose seamless paper, 92 x 107 inches (233.7 x 271.8 cm).
Charles Clifton Fund, by exchange, 2012.
Anselm Kiefer, die Milchstrasse, 1985-87
Upon first encountering Anselm Kiefer’s large-scale painting die Milchstrasse, 1985-87, one could easily be struck with a feeling of despair or loss upon viewing a seemingly barren and desolate field. Having been born amidst the bombing of Germany in 1945 and grown up in a land ravaged by World War II, it is easy to see how this landscape could be based on what the artist saw around him during his childhood in western Germany.
As is true with many of Kiefer’s works, however, there is more to this landscape than simply a barren field. This work is not only a painting, but includes many objects the artist has incorporated into the work and adhered to the canvas. One such object is the lead funnel seen hanging in the middle of the canvas. The funnel is intended to refer to the medieval practice of alchemy by which it was believed that lead could be transformed into gold. This idea of something simple changed into something extraordinary reminds the viewer of the possibility of transformation.
The funnel leads into a white gash near the center of the painting that also includes the title, die Milchstrasse, or “the Milky Way.” The white gash brings lightness to the painting and makes a reference to the heavens. The funnel has often been used in art history to reference to the voice of God. In this painting, a glow seems to spread out across the barren landscape from the funnel, anchored in this white gash as if God is renewing the land.
Upon closer viewing, one can see that the landscape is not completely desolate: there is hope represented through some light spreading across the center of the field. By using landscape as a vehicle to address larger themes, Kiefer could be making the statement that while Germany suffered great loss and was responsible for great atrocities, it can rebuild itself and start again—an important statement for Kiefer to make as one of the first generation of German citizens living with the atrocities of what his country did during World War II.
This work is on view as part of Anselm Kiefer: Beyond Landscape through October 5, 2014.
Anselm Kiefer (German, born 1945). die Milschstrasse (The Milky Way), 1985–87. Emulsion paint, oil, acrylic, and shellac on canvas with applied wires and lead, 150 x 222 inches (381 x 563.9 cm). In Celebration of the 125th Anniversary of The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, General and Restricted Purchase Funds, 1988.