The stars come together with some less familiar names at UAlbany’s Art Museum.
An intimate photo from Helmut Newton of Andy Warhol sleeping in Paris hangs close to a graffiti-style portrait by Phil Frost, an artist who is perhaps not as celebrated as the former two but nonetheless sits among them in “Affinities and Outliers: Highlights from the University at Albany Fine Art Collections.”
The exhibition features 250 works that range in style and medium. It’s not divided up by particular movements necessarily, but by content.
On the ground floor, viewers can travel to realms far away or never seen in a section titled “Lost Worlds.” In it, somber futuristic societies come to life, as is the case with Mark Ferguson’s “Ships Bridge with Horns #2.” The painting is monochromatic, with a gray mist falling over an industrial landscape. Next to it hangs an intricate piece in which a vintage map of Florida and Cuba unfolds out of a human head that is gushing dark, possibly oily tears. The screenprint/woodcut, called “Lagrimas Negras [Black Tears],” by Ibrahim Miranda does indeed feel like another world, one borne from the imagination.
The exhibit turns to the everyday in the following section, with more ubiquitous-looking sculptures and still lifes. In “Tug of the Ordinary,” the curator has collected works that take the familiar and make it unfamiliar.
Take Scott Brodie’s looming still life for example. Stretching nearly from floor to ceiling, the work (called “Project Lamentation Discard: Decommissioned after Electric Shock”) demands one’s attention. In a hyper-realistic style, Brodie zooms in on a kitchen counter or table, with buttery yellow tiles and two coffee cups. Two ties lay crumpled beside the cups, with vibrant stripes of red, white, blue and black.
Jutting out from the wall not too far away is a shelf of books (made of resin and found objects) that seem as though they’re melting in some sections.
Created from a selection of books by Stella Waittzkin, they’re a reminder that books are simply ideas or places to store ideas, which can be accessed, interpreted and reinterpreted over the years. The books’ waxy-looking texture adds to the sense that what these books offer is fluid and moldable.
Upstairs, the viewer comes face to face with pop art abstraction with Eduardo Paolozzi’s “General Dynamic F.U.N. portfolio.” In each piece, images of popular figures, from models to politicians, are layered with glowing red colors and juxtaposed with toys, cars, and other consumer products.
Then there’s Jack White’s richly textured “#9 African-American Form #2,” which stretches out across a nearby wall. The artist juxtaposes soft yellows with deeper hues of purple and blue, layering the paint heavily so it brings out a rich, almost chalky texture.
In what seems like a nod to Susan Sontag, the exhibit includes a section called “On Photography” which features haunting works by Manuel Álvarez Bravo. In the black and white “Chamula Landscape,” figures fight against the wind as they walk along a desolate, mountainous path.
Nearby, the exhibition turns to portraiture with a tightly packed wall of stunning figures. There are Andy Warhol works — like “Reigning Queens (Queen Ntombi Twala)” and “Nunsense Party” — and then there’s a sweeping painting by Selina Trieff. In “Acrobat,” the artist creates a mysterious figure, with an inscrutable expression and long dark robe.
Another standout piece in the section is Alex Kratz’ “Five Women.” Each figure is distinctive, from their facial features to their clothing and while they’re placed closely together, nearly overlapping one another, they don’t seem to be crowding each other for space.
The curator’s intent to show off the museum’s collection by placing works by artists who are household names alongside artists who haven’t had as much time in the limelight has paid off.
“Affinities and Outliers,” which runs through April 4, is a wide-ranging and thoughtfully organized exhibit that includes something for everyone.
Public invited to Edit-a-thon
In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum will invite the public to join in an Edit-a-thon today.
Since Wikipedia content is often skewed by a lack of female participation, the museum is recruiting volunteers to help edit, update and add articles on Wikipedia, specifically related to the women artists in the exhibition.
Those interested can bring their laptops and power cords. Organizers will provide a tutorial and reference materials about the women in the exhibition.
The event runs from noon to 3 p.m. today, though attendees can stay for under an hour or over the allotted time. For more information and to RSVP visit artandfeminism.org.