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The Giver of Fearlessness

The sign that we have encountered truly great art is the sense we get that the work is experiencing us rather than the other way around. I'll give you an example. When I was in my teens the MOMA book on Marcel Duchamp showed up around the house. Mona Lisa with the little mustache was on the cover and inside you could see most of Duchamp's work along with essays by writers like Andre Breton and Octavio Paz. Looking through the book, casually at first and then with greater absorption, I experienced for perhaps the first time the transgressive elation produced by the Great Art Encounter. It was a bit like loosing my virginity only less hectic, and that little piece of ecstasy, that release from weight, is still there for me whenever I … [Read more...]


There has been much said about the satire and punster atmosphere of the work of Adrian Saxe. But when asked point blank "What interests you about your work?" Saxe responds without pause, "the space, how you operate it... you know, how you drive the car." Like most, I have have focused on the shear visceral and astounding technical prowess of Saxe's ceramics. His mastery of historical appropriation played against tongue in cheek post-modernism is what catches our attention, but for Saxe it is covert feasibility that keeps him up at night. Saxe's vessels are operational. His ewers pour, maybe only for the most rarified of ritual, but that is up to the collector's discretion. “...operation … [Read more...]

Richard Serra Serves His Goddess

By Guy Zimmerman In various spiritual traditions it's common to hear the feminine identified with some version of open-ness or space, while the masculine is identified with form or substance. In Buddhist iconography, for example, wisdom is viewed as a quality of open space and as a feminine attribute. The womb, with its potential for birth, is evoked as an image. But in certain esoteric tantric disciplines Shiva, the masculine principle, is identified with root awareness - the ground out of which experience arises - and his consort Shakti is identified as...well...everything else. The feminine here is the profusion of all that can be experienced. A recent encounter with two sculptures by Richard Serra underscored for me what this shift … [Read more...]

Martin Puryear Installation SFMOMA

I was in San Francisco in October 2008 visiting SFMOMA where I was astounded by the Brought to Light, Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900. It was an exhibiton that highlighted early photographic work exploring micro and telescopic investigation. Delicious. When I emerged I was a witness to the installation process of Martin Puryear's Ad Astra (2007), a 63-foot-tall work that rises to the museum's fifth-floor bridge. I hope these photographs give you a good sense of the shear scale. This is SFMOMA's Haas Atrium and the crane that you see extends 2 floors. The title derives from: Ad astra per ardua, meaning “to the stars through difficulty,” and Ad astra per aspera, which translates as “to the stars through rough things or dangers.” … [Read more...]