Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Museum

I was really looking forward to seeing Mary Heilmann's work in person -- her work looks great as jpegs and is right up my alley. But sadly, I was super disappointed at the surfaces. The acrylic really kills the painting surface and makes them feel really lifeless and her hand seems really lazy to me. I did like the pieces where her hand was less evident, like some of the ceramic tiles, but overall, huge disappointment. I wanted to like her so much :(

The Elizabeth Peyton show was surprising in a couple of ways. First, I was surprised at how crappy our Philadelphia Museum's Peyton is. I used to like Peyton a lot, but I guess from only being exposed to the Philly Museum one over and over again, I kind of stopped liking her. I was also surprised at how object-like the small paintings on board were; the surfaces are coated in a super thick oil ground and the frames themselves are pretty deep. It was interesting to compare her hand to Heilmann's -- some might call Peyton's hand lazy as well, but I think there is a grace in Peyton's hand that I really like. Finally, I was surprised at how bad the paintings became when she stopped working from photos and worked from life instead. Her brush strokes almost seem to become trapped on the figure she is painting and doesn't wander and have as much fun as in her earlier work.


Anonymous said...

Heilmann's show is mainly oil paint except the earlier pieces where using acrylic was fairly radical given the historical context.
Too bad you didn't like it.
I happen to disagree about the lazy hand. I think the paintings are actually quite developed and gradual in pace. Calling them lazy seems more like the critique of a lazy eye.
Although I'm not a fan, I don't think Peyton's work is particularly lazy either. Boring yes, but not lazy.

Alex Paik said...

You're right -- "lazy" is a really dumb way to describe her hand. Perhaps I'm not looking at the work within it's proper context, but Heilmann's work seemed much more exciting as jpegs and reproductions. LIke I said, I really wanted to like the work, but something about the surfaces bothers me and I can't really put my finger on it.

Peyton is kind of a one trick-pony, I'll give you that, but there were some really nice paintings in the show.