Author Archive for John Anderson

Piece of Work: Billy Friebele’s “U Street Chromatic (for Duke)”

Standout Piece: Billy Friebele’s “U Street Chromatic (for Duke),” a machine and mapping project mildly packaged as a U Street identity piece, contrasting Duke Ellington’s heyday with today. Friebele has created a drum kit that resembles a crude first draft of Short Circuit’s Johnny 5. Mounted on a hacked shopping cart, Friebele has assembled a [...]

Robert Irwin’s Future Hirshhorn Scrim is Tested for Wind Resistance in California

On Sunday, San Luis Obispo, California's Tribune reported that artist Robert Irwin and his assistant, Jeff Jamieson, are preparing for a site-specific scrim installation at the Hirshhorn in 2015.
"Right now it is a proposed site-conditioned project," confirms Glenn Dixon, public information officer at the Hirshhorn (and former WCP staffer). The scrim is intended to be placed under the drum [...]

“Washington Art Matters II,” Reviewed

The first "Washington Art Matters" exhibit, mounted last summer, was an incomplete thought: a colon, desperate for an exclamation point. Though were several remarkable works in the exhibition at the American University Museum—a 90-artist show assembled in less than two months by a skeleton crew and a shoe-string budget–something was missing. Perhaps the digital suggestion [...]

Vitamin A: Fasting Buddha at Sackler Gallery

Yoga is now better known for its pants than its spiritual enlightenment. But yoga's 2,000-plus-year history has much more to do with transforming the mind, predominantly through meditation. In fact, the early yoga art on view in the Sackler Gallery exhibit closing this weekend depicts mostly meditation, and none can be more disturbing or enchanting as the [...]

Vitamin A: The Dying Gaul at the National Gallery of Art

Students of Western art history generally appreciate the art of Greece and Rome as the pinnacle of achievement in the ancient world. The art of earlier civilizations was heavily stylized or idealized. The Romans tended to strip that idealization away, creating works that mirrored the subjects they represented. No one would describe the overweight portraits [...]

How to View Ellsworth Kelly at the Phillips Collection

Painter Ellsworth Kelly recently turned 90, and to celebrate, the Phillips Collection has mounted an exhibit of six paintings he made between 2004 and 2009. Taken at face value, the pieces don't seem especially challenging; monochromes never seem to ask for more than an appreciation of color, size, and sometimes shape. But, if viewers are [...]

Yes, Washington Art Matters, But Let’s Make a Better Case For It

"Any show so varied, it is bound to leave a blur," wrote Washington Post critic Paul Richard about "The Washington Show," an exhibit the Corcoran mounted in 1985. The show aspired to establish the importance of Washington artists at the time. "Washington Art Matters," an ongoing exhibition at the American University Museum at the Katzen [...]

Vitamin A: James Turrell, “St. Elmo’s Light”

Occasional considerations of a piece of art on view in town (or in this case, the Eastern shore)
Entering the room that contains James Turrell's "St. Elmo's Light" feels much like entering his installation, Milk Run, at the Hirshhorn. As you step into the darkened hallway, you may feel reluctant to continue, perhaps for fear of tripping or [...]

Vitamin A: Michelangelo’s David-Apollo

Occasional considerations of a piece of art on view in town.
Ahh… Michelangelo. After living in Rome and spending days seated in San Pietro in Vincoli drawing Michelangelo's Moses, it is invigorating to be able to freely walk into a place and see another Michelangelo marble. (Then again, that's the joy of the National Gallery and [...]

How the American Art Museum Acquired and Rehabilitated Nam June Paik’s Work

In 2002, when the Smithsonian American Art Museum acquired Nam June Paik’s "Electronic Superhighway,” a neon-outlined wall of televisions that forms a map of the United States, it didn't arrive in a truck or a van. Instead, it arrived in a box, in pieces: some electronics, videos, broken neon, and most surprisingly, no televisions.
Turns out, [...]