Monday, October 10, 2011

Bureau and Thierry Goldberg on the Lower East Side; Mary Tompkins Lewis on Chardin

Many of Lobster & Canary's favorite art galleries are in NYC's Chelsea, but we're excited by the blossoming of interesting new (or renewed) places on the Lower East Side. Two weeks ago (Sept. 25th entry) we looked at one of those-- the DODGEGallery--and today we will feature two more, both of which nestle in the midst of bustling neighborhoods, cheek by jowl with playgrounds, nondescript apartment buildings, houses of worship, laundromats, barber shops, bodegas and bars: Bureau, and the Thierry Goldberg Gallery.

Bureau is a tiny but well-curated space on Henry Street, currently showing Painted Bones--some reliquaries by Tom Holmes. Click here for more.

[untitled Program (feathers red yellow green blk), 2011]

Thierry Goldberg's space is on Norfolk Street, hard by the ramp to the Williamsburg Bridge. Equally crisp and inviting, the gallery is currently featuring various of its house artists (click here for more). We were especially taken by Marianne Vitale's Model for Torpedo (2011):


Mary Tompkins Lewis, a professor of art history at Trinity College (Hartford, CT), is one of our most astute commentators on painting. In her occasional essays for The Wall Street Journal, she returns our gaze to iconic images from the Western tradition, and never fails to uncover a theme or element that we might have missed in earlier visitations-- she finds something new to say about that which we believed we knew intimately.

Her most recent essay, "A Monumental Moment" (WSJ, Oct. 8th-9th, 2011) is a good example of Lewis at her best, as she unpicks the meaning of Chardin's paradigmatic still life The Ray (1728).

Lewis on The Ray:

"We hardly notice, however, Chardin's studious balance of opposites—the crafted, manmade objects squared off against those of nature; one side carefully orchestrated, the other casually strewn—because our gaze is so riveted by the ghastly specter of the gutted ray fish that hangs from a meat hook on the wall. Butchered cartilage and bloodied entrails spill forth from its luminous, silvery flesh. A hideous, half-human "face" seems to grimace in our direction; drops of moisture glimmer on its sparkling but slimy surface. The painting, closer to 17th-century Spanish scenes of disemboweled martyrs than to the decorous tradition from which it emerged, rejects both the menial stature of still life (and by extension that of its artists) and its subject of conventional beauty to celebrate the painter's virtuoso touch."

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