Michael Kimmelman’s review in the New York Times of the Velasquez to Picasso exhibition at the Guggenheim gushed with praise. I went to it yesterday and I have to say, even though my knowledge of art is limited, there are pictures in the exhibition that will stay in my mind for a long time. Spanish artists took the power of their art very seriously as they revealed their subjects in ways even the sitters might not have realized.
I cannot condemn contemporary art as there is probably a great deal out there that is superb. Bill Jacklin, for example who exhibits at the Marlborough Gallery. What I am mystified by is a great deal of installation and/or conceptual art. This is not to question the artists, but instead to try and understand why our culture seems so enamored by what is often, in essence, relatively obscure cultural references. I remember an isntallation of a brick wall at the Tate. Huh?
I bumped into an old master drawing dealer friend at the Guggenheim and he was beside himself with what he was looking at. “Phenomenal, spectacular, once in a lifetime” were his words. He then said he was going to see the greatest collection of art in the world shortly. I missed the irony and exhausted the obvious locations quickly. “Art Basel in Miami” he said with a chuckle. He shrugged and walked to the next painting.