Walking up the Bowery recently, on an incredibly cold day, I was stunned to see a huge line of visitors waiting to get into the New Museum. Quickly, I remembered that Carsten Holler’s Experience exhibition was on, with his famous slide and tank. I doubted that 99% of the crowd had heard of Relational Aesthetics, Bourriaud or anything of that sort. Bottom line, what really counted was to tell you’re their friends that they haven’t been to slide in the museum. Good luck in getting strange diseases.
Anyhow, a few meters north, at Sperone Westwater, two other – much more interesting – exhibitions had just a handful of visitors. On the top floor, “Portraits/Self-Portraits from the 16th to the 21st Century”, while on the two first floors “Marble Sculpture from 350 B.C. to last week”.
The first had some truly word class works – the portraits by Ghirlandaio and Palma, the Younger were fantastic – but it lacked a sense of unity to the overall exhibition. Having separated the 20th and 21th century pieces in one floor and the rest in another, not only re-enforced this idea of being a random selection of wonderful portraits, but also diminished, in our opinion, the energy of the modern works, that lacked the gravitas of the traditional paintings.
The exhibition dedicated to marble sculpture was intriguing, surprising and very enjoyable, exploring several routes of the expressionistic qualities of the material and with a much better dialogue between the different chronological periods. Highly recommended.