Art News Headlines: April 2, 2011

The Waiting Room, George Tooker

One of the most acclaimed painters of his generation, George Tooker (1920-2011) possessed an originality and depth of vision that is unsurpassed in modern American art. For over sixty years, he has been highly regarded for his luminous and often enigmatic work. Tooker died at his home in Hartland, Vermont, on Sunday, March 27 at the age of 90. The cause was kidney failure according to DC Moore Gallery, New York, which represents the artist. His themes ranged from alienation and the dehumanizing aspects of contemporary society to personal meditations on the human condition. By reducing action and anecdote to subtle gestures and juxtapositions that carry meaning and express essential truths, Tooker created modern allegories without traditional narrative content.

The majestic main branch of the New York Public Library is seeking 500 people to spend the night there on a scavenger hunt in late May designed to tap into their inner creativity and potential as they explore its miles of rare treasures. The hunt, called “Find the Future: The Game,” was created for the library’s centennial celebration by Jane McGonigal, renowned for designing games that tackle real-world problems. Would-be scavengers at the midtown Manhattan library can register online by completing a written challenge, or quest, for the chance to play the game, which starts on May 20 at 8 p.m. and ends the next day at 6 a.m. “The goal of the game is for people to write stories about the kind of future they want to see and the kind of world they envision,” McGonigal commented. She went on to say, “It’s an opportunity for people to leave their own legacy.”

One of Impressionist Master Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” triptychs, separated 50 years ago and sold to three museums, has been reunited in a multifaceted exhibit that highlights not only the three-panel artwork, but the artist too. Monet’s “Water Lilies” opens April 9 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and will later move to the St. Louis Art Museum and then to the Cleveland Museum of Art. The respective panels, each 6 feet tall and 14 feet wide, languished in Monet’s studio at Giverny outside Paris after his death in 1926. The pieces on display at the Nelson-Atkins comprise one of two of Monet’s Water Lily triptychs that reside in the United States. The other is at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where they remain a crowd favorite. Each of the museums also collaborated to X-ray for the first time sections of their panels, giving a better sense of what each painting looked like in 1921, and what they look like today, showing surprising substantial changes. It is unclear if Monet ever considered the three panels finished.

A Sense of Perspective” deals with the in-between and the undefined, in a groundbreaking exhibition developed and curated by young people in Liverpool, Helsinki, Paris and London. The exhibition is on view through June 5. Members of Young Tate are working with counterparts from major European galleries to curate the exhibition at Tate Liverpool, using fourteen key works selected from the Tate Collection. The display includes new acquisitions, including Chen Zhen’s sculpture Cocon du Vide 2000, never before seen in the UK. The exhibition reflects on the state of being ‘in between’: the idea of youth as a period in between generations, and the idea of migration as the experience of living between cultures.

On March 26, the de Young Museum in San Francisco opened “Balenciaga and Spain,” an exhibition curated by Hamish Bowles, European editor at large of Vogue, featuring 120 haute couture garments, hats, and headdresses designed by Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895–1972). The exhibition illustrates Balenciaga’s expansive creative vision, which incorporated references to Spanish art, bullfighting, dance, regional costume, and the pageantry of the royal court and religious ceremonies. Cecil Beaton hailed him as “Fashion’s Picasso,” and Balenciaga’s impeccable tailoring, innovative fabric choices, and technical mastery transformed the way the world’s most stylish women dressed. The exhibition closes on July 4.

Laura Lawson paints when writer’s block strikes and writes when painter’s block strikes. She has studied fine art at LCAD and is pursuing a degree in journalism. Recently diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, she strives to bring hope to those without vision through her blog. She is currently working on her first book about coping with vision loss.

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