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Friday, January 25, 2013

Museum Review: The New Museum

The New Museum on the Lower East Side New York NY

Museum Review
The New Museum
L.E.S. New York, New York

Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos (closed)

Prime Age, photograph by Rosemarie Trockel

  I'm not sure there is much value in reviewing a now closed museum exhibit, but the same could be said for this entire blog so.  First thing about the New Museum: No permanent collection so it's a very WYSIWYG kind of scenario.  The exhibit on display while I was visiting was Rosemarie Trockel, a German Artist who is notable for her refusal to stay in a single media or discipline.  The exhibit contained everything from punk style Zines, to knitted "paintings", to sculptural assemblages with a sprinkling of non-Rosemarie Trockel outsider Art/non-art "pieces" selected by the Artist.

Rosemarie Trockel

  Trockel's refusal to "settle down" and pick a studio art discipline is a primary reason that her collected output deserves a career retrospective at an NYC museum.  It also places the question of "what is art?" into a sharp focus- both by the width and breadth of "things" that Trockel has transformed into art through her vision, but also by the "non-art" objects that Trockel selected to stand along aside her artwork.  One "non-art" object is an amazing botanical illustration made by a woman in the 17th century- the woman was long overlooked because it was thought that a woman "couldn't" make such an accurate drawing of a living thing.

Rosemarie Trockel portrait

  There was an unexpected overlap between the Trockel retrospective and recent conversations I've had about the business of music, where people have emphasized the transformative aspect of digital reproduction in freeing specific Artists from formerly difficult to cross artistic boundaries.  For example, a Musician publishes a book instead of a record.  Such cross-marketing has always been an integral part of the upper layer of the Art-Industrial Complex, but digital distribution extends this layer downward to the very floor.

  What's lacking in that realm is the existence of Artists who are sufficiently keen enough to grasp this new freedom AND make Art products that people want to buy/put in museums to look at.

Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos exhibition lay-out

  I'm sure that Trockel has had people asking her for her entire career, "But what kind of Artist are you?"  Are you a painter? A sculptor?" etc.   Young Artists would be smart to a take a cue from the diversity of Trockel's output- and imitate her- not the specific artworks obviously, but the practice.

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