After my NYC day of exploring SPRING/BREAK and The Armory Show, I headed north to hang with my good friend Cody. She lives in a quaint mountain cottage that’s the kind of place in which you can easily lose your sense of time (I swear 12pm seemed almost like 9am when I visited this past summer). It was at her recommendation that we zipped on over the Hudson to Dia:Beacon for yet another art excursion.
The campus of Dia:Beacon is absolutely breathtaking. Once an old Nabisco box factory with almost 300,000 square feet, the Dia Art Foundation has repurposed this glorious space into an airy cathedral of art with an endless supply of natural light. It has a beautiful location as well, looking out over the Hudson, and has city access with a commuter rail stop not far away. Fun story: I saw that Roberta Smith, art critic for the New York Times, was heading up on the same day that I was and I must admit I was quite thrilled by that! (No… I didn’t hunt her out, but I did tweet at her later) It was truly a fantastic art day with great company. If only I was thrilled by the art.
Dia:Beacon exhibits primarily art from the late 1960’s to the present. They say that the work is contemporary on their site, but from the state of what I had just seen in The Armory Week flurry, I’d say that it’s not necessarily as current as the work seen just the day before in NYC. Most of the artists are very minimalistic in aesthetic and the visit to Dia:Beacon solidified my general lack of enthusiasm for art of this particular time period. This is not to say that there wasn’t work on display that I didn’t enjoy.
Call me a moth to a flame, but I really did enjoy the Dan Flavin florescent tube installations. I’m a sucker for the use of light in art and I found his work oddly meditative. His was one of the TWO exhibitions that I could not photograph (of COURSE) and I really learned something from not being able to whip out my phone (yes… I use the 4S for all blog images). My overall engagement with any piece relies HEAVILY on how I can photograph it. It comes from my budding photographer days and I guess it’s never left me in that sense.
Richard Serra’s large scale steel sculptures were easily the most engaging of the works I saw. These behemoths invited you into their inner sanctums and some had elements of a labyrinth at play. Agnes Martin’s paintings were symmetrical, soothing, yet so textural in her brushwork. Louise Bourgeois has an airy nook on the second floor with a imposing arachnid that surprisingly I crawled through (I’m quite afraid of spiders). John Chamberlain’s sculptures practically begged to be photographed in the most unique way possible (say from the inside), even if the layout seemed a bit cluttered.
It was the last day of the Carl Andre show (The OTHER “No Photographs Allowed” exhibition) and I wandered through many of his floor installations until a guard called me off a questionable one (same guard that called me out for trying to take pictures in the Dan Flavin wing). What I found to be the most interesting tidbit later was that there had been a protest of his retrospective just the day before in honor of his late wife, Ana Mendieta. I highly recommend reading the article on Hyperallergic as it provided quite the different light on his legacy.
Dia:Beacon, as previously stated, has an amazing space. The kind that many dream of, though I could do without the pulsing sound outside the doors (it shuts off exactly at closing time). It’s a bit more polished than Mass MOCA, but the art work in both is quite different in nature with only Sol LeWitt to unite them in any way. I would recommend the trip there just to see the space, but also to gain more insight and respect for the minimalist visual vocabulary. We all express ourselves in such unique ways , so perhaps the only way these artists could truly voice what’s inside was through these various media. It certainly has continued to resonate with people over time.