At Hyperallergic, a new NYC art blogazine, it's Big Show Review Week. Brent Burket is in the process of reviewing the Brucennial piece by piece, and I checked out the National Academy Museum's 185th Annual Exhibition. Here's an excerpt from my post, which went on line earlier this week.
'Contemporary artists -- especially those who make objects, like painters and sculptors --live in the past. We study art history, freely friending artists from different generations, appropriating styles, and creating imaginary salons of like-minded spirits both living and dead. The National Academy Museum's Annual Exhibition, often seen as the Whitney Biennial's dowdy cousin, still privileges the rich traditions that bigger museums, galleries, and curators often overlook when they focus on younger, sexier media like video, installation, and social sculpture. This year, due to the economic downturn, the 185th NAM Annual includes less art than usual, but has continued to choose outstanding artists deeply engaged in traditional studio practice.
"At first glance, the show looked so awkward I worried that the exhibition diminished the work selected. Since 1942, the museum has been housed in a Beaux-Arts style mansion on the 'Millionaires Row' portion of Fifth Avenue at 89th Street. The galleries, originally living quarters for the philanthropic Archer Milton Huntington family, were renovated for exhibition use years ago, but much of the original architectural detail and hardware remain intact. The walls were designed to hold small-scale easel paintings in heavy frames, perhaps stacked salon-style to the ceiling. They don't work so well for six-foot tall abstract work that begs for breathing room. Large-scale paintings like Judith Bernstein's aggressive "Dick on a Head #1" hang incongruously on drab curving walls, overlapping the waist-high wooden molding...." Read more.
185th Annual: An Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary American Art, National Academy Museum, New York, NY. Through June 8, 2010.