New Museum of Hubris?

Last night the downtown/Brooklyn art crowd was out in full force for the opening of the New Museum on the renovated and revamped Bowery.

The show lived down to it’s unremarkable name, “Unmonumental.” Now that the New Museum was gone über-corporate (the weekend is sponsored by Target) it felt like the curators were trying to prove how edgy and cutting edge the New Museum (which is actually quite old) can still be…the result? Hermeneutic works by predominantly European and American artist that demonstrate some parts of the mainstream art world, like the Bush administration before it, is falling victim to hubris.

cagebove.jpgThis slacker show was more about pushing the boundaries than curating a show about really amazing art. The funniest (or is it the saddest) moment was when the Carol Bove sculpture went crashing down and museum (and non-museum) people scattered to collect the pieces.

Check out my random pics from the night…random because I was told I couldn’t take photos by the security guards but I snapped a few pics on the down low regardless….what is up with New York art venues and cameras?

The truth is the 25% of the work was pretty insightful [Marc André Robinson’s Myth Monolith (2007) was thrilling], but most of it was….if the truth be told…bad

I did get to speak to one of the architects (Ryue Nishizawa) who was well-spoken and gracious. He mentioned that the bookstore was a hard sell but the final result encased in metal mesh is quite lovely (which is absolutely true). The rest of the building was dominated by clean lines but I was a little upset that the museum didn’t have a grand staircase of any kind and preferred to save space by making the elevators the primary means of getting from floor to floor. There is one small staircase that the New Yorker’s Paul Goldberger likes a lot, but otherwise nothing.

Everyone has been writing about the museum’s unconventional facade on Bowery but I thought it was the least interesting thing about the building….did I mention the view from the seven floor balcony was really delightful?

The building is the first New York structure by the Tokyo partners Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, who are jointly known as Sanaa. Check out this interview with the architects that includes samples of their past work.

I’ll probably head back to the museum this weekend to see the works another time and who knows, maybe I’ll change my tune, but don’t count on it.

Check out some good pics of opening day at Curbed, and some commentary on the building by Time‘s Richard Lacayo and James Wagner and Bloggy.

2 responses to “New Museum of Hubris?”

  1. Barry Avatar

    The good-looking guy in your elevator photo works at the museum and was putting up wall labels when I was at the press preview. A middle-aged man (no it wasn’t James) was taking photo after photo of him!

  2. hv Avatar

    The woman with him also works at the museum and is a talented artist…I thought the image captured the evening rather well.

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