art news & reviews & Interviews. jeff bergman, editor

63rd – Balthus, Held, Kentridge and Ink Art at the Met, Spiegelman at the Jewish Museum


There are many great shows on at the Met right now.  Do your best to see as many of them as you can.

William Kentridge “The Refusal of Time” at the Met and the small print and drawing show associated with it are very good.  Marian Goodman’s Kentridge show a few months back was actually quite a bit better.  In fact, while I dislike the notion of “best of” lists, Second Hand Reading, 2013 is the piece that affected me most and stuck with me the longest.  At the Met, the full room installation with 3 walls of projected animation and an atonal score is, lets say, a little bit more than the Met usually offers for contemporary art.  A metronome becomes a beautiful abstract animation becomes a series of animated performance pieces by the artist.  Finally a procession of real and animated silhouettes are combined yielding a kabuki theater akin to Kara Walker’s animation pieces in her Whitney survey.   It is 30 minutes long, starting on the 10’s and 40’s.

Just outside Kentridge is a small Al Held show focused on a large Taxi Cab III and a series of studies.  It follows the Cheim and Read Alphabet Paintings show as a smart addition to the story being told about Held’s work.  Painters, go see these.  Downstairs you can see Balthus, Cats and Girls.  It is a strange, enchanting and deeply personal show.  I think I like Balthus more the more he disturbs me.


Ink Art is a maddeningly disparate show, but it has so much great art that its worth the treasure hunt.  I am not going to attempt to offer a review here, but I am going to try before it closes.  Contemporary Chinese art has been a major force in the art world of the last 15 years.  The Met has made an argument for themselves as a singular venue for this show by having shared the space of it’s antiquities and period rooms with the Contemporary art.  As an aside, the Met has installed a viewing room for a series of 10 videos as part of the show.  There is a screen to the side stating which video you are watching and at what point the video is.  It is a small thing, but immediately provided thoughtful context.

video ink art screen

If that’s not enough for you, walk up to the Jewish Museum and see Art Spiegelman’s Co-Mix: A Retrospective.  It was worth the $15 and hour of close reading to get a sense of the man who has been a champion for the medium while exploiting it in a variety of ways.  When I was taught Maus in a course on Art and the Holocaust, my professor failed to mention that Spiegelman invented Garbage Pail Kids.  Cartoons became many things to my generation, and the graphic medium was just starting to leap off the page and the movie screen and into trading cards, video games and movies. Now as the major box office draw, classic characters battle with modern animation.  Spiegelman has much to say about the world through his images and text, but his roles as the cover artist for the New Yorker and the creator of subversive gross-out trading cards will be his public legacy.


Happy New Year to you all.  I want to thank you all for your continued support.

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