We Saw It And Loved It: Our Top Art Exhibitions of 2017

Sadly, our Wish List of ‘Must See Exhibitions’ was too extensive to cover. What we saw and loved made our list of Top Art Exhibitions of 2017. Thankfully, most of these shows run through 2018. If you haven’t seen them, here’s your convincer.

 

Third Space, Shifting Conversations about Contemporary Art at Birmingham Museum of Art

January 28, 2017 – January 6, 2019

Ebony G. Patterson Among the weeds, plants and peacock feathers, 2014 (Mixed Media) Photo: Ginger Rudolph for HAHAMAG

Third Space is “an imagined place that ties cultures together by their common experiences and considers the voices of people who are often unheard.”  The exhibition opens up that dialogue with over 100 contemporary art pieces – most culled from the museums’ own collection.

Your journey is tied to reference points that guide you in finding personal meaning within the art. The sections are: representation/agency/gaze, tradition/memory/history, landscape/nature/spirit, and migration/diaspora/exile.

Third Space will run for 2 years, during that time the works of art will change every 6 months, shifting your travels.

Photographs, sculptures, and paintings are just a few of the mediums represented here along with a rich multitude of artistic representation from Alabama, Brazil, Cuba and South Africa – to name a few. We’re talking heavy hitters like Kerry James Marshall, Ebony G. Patterson, Mark Bradford, José Bedia, Thornton Dial, and William Christenberry.

Here are our TOP 10 works of art from the first 6 months of the exhibition.

 

James Turrell at Mass Moca

On view, at least through 2018

Perfectly Clear (Ganzfeld), 1991 Gift of Jennifer Turrell © James Turrell, Photo by Florian Holzherr

MASS MoCA is currently exhibiting Into the Light, a James Turrell retrospective bringing together light installations from every stage of the 74-year-old artist’ five-decade career.

I often say there are only two types of Turrell people: The Believers and the Unimpressed. Even then, I remain unmoved in my theorizing they just haven’t met their Turrell moment yet.

Turrell has often acknowledged this disconnect in contemporary art between the audience and the artist; “Generally, audiences are looking towards what they like, and I can tell you, that’s the last thing on an artist’s mind… I don’t know if I believe in art. I certainly believe in light.” Mass MoCA has laid this exhibition out to dazzle even the unbelievers with Turrell’s intimate relationship between perception, light and time.

There are nine Turrell rooms to experience in the expanded exhibition space of MASS MoCA’s newly opened, Building 6. Perfectly Clear (Ganzfeld), a two-story installation, is hands-down, the centerpiece of the retrospective.

Upon entering the room, you are given paper booties to wear.  Attendants escort you up a flight of stairs to a massive opening with curved walls. You step into a white void gradually filled with light and changing colors. It quickly becomes difficult to discern where the walls begin and the ceiling ends, creating a feeling of walking toward what seems a mesmerizing endless expanse.

 

ITEMS: Is Fashion Modern? at MoMA running through January 28th, 2018

Amanda Lopez; Photo: Ginger Rudolph for HAHAMAG

Let’s start off with the first shocker, this is MoMA’s first exhibition on fashion and design in 73 years– BOY did they deliver the goods (pun intended).

Items: Is Fashion Modern? explores the present, past—and sometimes the future—of 111 items of clothing and accessories that have had a strong impact on the world.

What the curators got right is knowing that while inclusivity is important, so is getting the story right.  The show featured items with histories gave an intensive broad view of the times (Zoot Suit Riots?!), and it dug into the microcosms within urban communities. Chameleons like Door Knocker earrings, Dapper Dan Jackets, Hooded Sweatshirt, the Red Bandana, and the Plain White Tee stood in the spotlight– sans a homogenized version of their backgrounds they could truly travel in the truths of where they originated and what varied meanings they have assumed over the years.

Claps all around for Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, and Michelle Millar Fisher, Curatorial Assistant.  I have never seen museum guards engaging with an exhibition this hard, nor people spending so much time reading the show materials.

 

Show Highlight We Never Thought We’d See

Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait at MoMA running through January 28th, 2018

photo: Ginger Rudolph for HAHAMAG

The French artist and celebrated sculptor Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) had her first real retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) at the age of 71. Bourgeois worked well into her 90s, leaving behind a body of work spanning over 70 years.

A celebration of her life’s work is now showing at MoMA in the new exhibit, Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait.

The prize of the show sit’s in the museum’s Marron Atrium: Spider, one of the series that Bourgeois created over the last two decades of her career, and the only one of Bourgeois’ works that bring together the spider and cell structure.

Nearly 15 feet tall, the steel spider sculpture crouches over a Cell, the door of its caged barrier left slightly ajar. Inside, the upholstery of a chair seems to unfold like a flower, while another tapestry, less vivid and more worn, covers sections of the cell, signifying repair and self-restoration through art.

 

 

Best Show Revival

Video Game @ The Museum of the Moving Image

May 13–January 28, 2018
Changing Exhibitions Gallery

Space Invaders_Video Game Exhibition_Photo: Ginger Rudolph for HAHAMAG

The Museum of the Moving Image brought back last year’s popular Arcade Classics exhibition featuring video arcade games released between 1971 and 1993, drawn from the Museum’s collection.

Though the era of the video arcade game is long gone, arcade games were the grounds for innovation and experimentation that informed the genres, conventions, and play mechanics of the video games that we know today.  This arcade allows visitors to play 23 of the era’s most beloved games (old school tokens & token machines included), in their original form alongside well-researched descriptions of the games origin, creator and notes it’s space in popular culture.

The earliest game on view in Arcade Classics is Computer Space (1971), the first coin-operated video arcade game, created by Nolan Bushnell. The 23 games on view in the exhibition range in genre from early sports games (Atari Football, NBA Jam, Track & Field); fighting games (Karate Champ, Mortal Kombat); driving games (Pole Position, Out Run); puzzle and platformers (Donkey Kong, Frogger, Q*Bert); and a diverse array of “shooters,” many set in space (Asteroids,Galaxian, Defender, Space Invaders, Zaxxon), but also earthbound variations like Centipede.

 

 

 

 

Best Local Show

Reclaimed at The Art Dept 

Philadelphia, PA

Show ended on October 28th, 2017

Suture Self by Emily Carris, Photo: Ginger Rudolph for HAHAMAG

It took a year and a half for the artist, Emily Carris to research and make the objects for her solo show ‘Reclaimed’.

The show hit a nerve, intensifying the narratives of slavery with artifacts and mixed media pieces layered, stitched, dyed and laced with materials we still use in our everyday lives– commodities that lay claim to past and modern-day slavery.

Her show reaffirms that this conversation is still relevant.  We need to lay claim to/understand the history so we know where to find the light to pave our way into an enlightened future.

Our Top 5 Art Installations of 2016

You hit the end of the year and start prepping for new exhibitions and suddenly your IG stream starts reminding you of all the amazing installations that you experienced just months ago.  We spend a lot of time posting the art we see on the street, in our neighborhoods.  Sometimes we don’t get around to posting all the wonderful art we saw within the walls of art institutions.  So before we step into 2017 we’re going to take this opportunity to reminisce and share what we loved.  Sigh. 2016, you were a very good year – at least for art.

 

5. Museum of Ice Cream

This was the hottest ticket of the summer. People coordinated their outfits to match the pastel décor and apparently broke their necks trying to get a shot of musician Usher lounging in the rainbow pool of sprinkles. The interactive ice cream-centric experience also included edible balloons, a chocolate room and plenty of selfie ready goodies that live on under #museumoficecream.

The inaugural iteration of the museum in New York has everyone clamoring for the next one. Well the word is out, the next incarnation of the museum will be in D.C. summer of 2017.

#TBT to sprinkle pool heaven and an our NYC instagramable wonderland (: @businessinsider) #museumoficecream

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4. Classic Arcade Games at Museum of the Moving Image

When museums started acquiring video games for their collections there was finally an acknowledgement that video games use images, actions, and player participation to tell stories and engage their audience in the same way as film, animation, and performance. These influential forms of narrative art get their due now under the label ‘artistic mediums’.

The Museum of the Moving Image dug into their archives and pulled out over 30 original games putting on a interactive exhibition that explored the evolution of the video game in the way the gamer gods intended, in dim lighted rooms under the glow of screens and token machines.

So this happened today! Lost my mind at the Arcade Classics Exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image. There were audible heart palpitations as I put my money in the vintage ( can’t believe I just called my childhood vintage) token machine. I recorded the sound the tokens made as they fell into the well. 30 classic arcade games lie in wait (donkey kong, mortal kombat, ms pacman, frogger, pole position, to name a few) in a dark room, devoid of sun, just like its supposed to be . I’m sure I frothed from the mouth in front of asteroids. So forgive the next onslaught of videos and pics – this is what geeking out is. Guys, the exhibit is up until the 30th of Oct. You really should go. #museumofthemovingimage #arcadeclassics #videogames #tron #tokens #design #binarycode #arcade

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more here.

 

3. Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters at LACMA

LACMA’s exhibition revealed the filmmaker’s creative process through his visually stunning collection of paintings, drawings, artifacts, and concept film art. The exhibition was organized thematically, beginning with visions of death and the afterlife; continuing through explorations of magic, occultism, horror, and monsters; and concluding with representations of innocence and redemption. No shortage of visitors for this one.

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2. OSGEMEOS ‘Silence of the Music ‘ at Lehmann Maupin

Twin brothers Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, known as the Brazilian artist duo ‘OSGEMEOS’ had their first New York solo show at the Lehmann Maupin gallery.  They transformed multiple rooms into an immersive installation of drawing, painting, collage, mixed media sculpture, and kinetic and audio elements that often combined the colors, sights and sounds from the streets of Brazil fused with the graffiti and breakdancing scene of the 80’s.  The rooms took on an energy that expounded on the feels you get when stumbling onto their brilliant work in the neighborhood.

OSGEMEOS 'Silence of the Music ' at Lehmann Maupin

Osgemeos exhibit

 

1. International Pop at Philadelphia Museum of Art

International Pop highlighted influential artists from twenty different countries, this show was ambitious, to say the least, with 150 works, including paintings, sculptures, prints, collage, assemblage, installation, film, and ephemera. The exhibition chronicled Pop art’s emergence as an international movement, exploring its take on politics, mass media and consumerism from the UK and the US to western and eastern Europe, Latin America, and Japan.

What could be more POP then commercial brands & consumer goods emblazoned on canvas in insanely brilliant colors? American capitalism, commercial excess — artists like Tom Wesselmann (Still Life #35) were likening the consumption of brands to our appetite of the new ‘prevailing’ culture norms. You’ll find this massive beauty in the Distribution & Domesticity section of #InternationalPop at the @philamuseum. — International Pop runs from Wednesday, February 24, 2016 to May 15, 2016. Fun Facts: Wesselmann never like being attached to the American Pop Art movement. He stated that his work was not intended as social commentary, but that he merely made aesthetic use of everyday objects. Still Life #35 was painted in 1963, shortly after, he started painting a series of highly sexualized nudes that have become the highlights of his artistic career. #popart #philamuseumofart #tomwesselmann #presspreview #art #visitphilly #whyilovephilly #IGers_Philly

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