I am a little late to the party checking out the New Museum on the Bowery. The museum is only open Wednesday- Sunday. There was a lot written, mostly negative, when the museum first opened. Basically that they had someone missed the boat on the collection they opened with. Now I get to look at the place as the chatter has died down.
My guess is the concept was to build this "downtown" museum and create something very different than the other cultural institutions in town. They might have looked to what has worked and why in places that have been standing for years and years. The elevator is large and green but then there are others in a different location. The floors where the exhibits are shown have high ceilings that are a strange height. Also, the walls are very white and the floor layout is like a donut. I sort of felt like I was in the white room from Clockwork Orange.
I saw the Elizabeth Peyton exhibit. Peytons works are basically paintings of popular culture characters from Kurt Cobain to Marc Jacobs to Lady Diana. She grew up in NYC and started to paint her close circle of friends. I was really looking forward to seeing the work. I am a fan of portrait type painting. There is something about the old style concept mixed together with the modern. Think of Eric Fischl as one extreme and then Alex Katz on the other. There have been times when people have sent me jpegs of work and my reaction to them was stronger than seeing them in person. I felt the same way about Peytons work. The work, at least to me, didn't strike me any better than a really good college artist. Just didn't see the genius behind the work.
The other exhibit was of Mary Heilmann. She was a potter who became influenced by other sculptors
such as David Smith and Donald Judd. She then began to paint abstract paintings. Squares, circles, triangles, etc. It am making it sound trivial but to me it was. I am not sure I saw the genius here either.
Maybe it had to do with my mood. Maybe it had to do with the stark white antiseptic spaces that I guess are supposed to be chic, maybe it had to do with the curator. I found both exhibits akin to walking into a gallery that has work hanging up that is priced so ridiculously for art that isn't so great and you wonder who drank the kool-aid first….the artist or the curator?