National Gallery of Art, East Building

Today, I visited the East Building of the NGA. I have been there several times when we last lived in the area, but much of what I saw was new or was seen with new eyes. I will write another post about the Ballet Russes exhibit that you have seen advertised on the sides of buses if you live around here, but this post is going to be about just a few pieces that captured my attention in this home for modern art designed by I.M. Pei.

I visited the gallery today to hear a fellow artist give a tour, but arrived late (long story) and only caught the last Nan Morrison's insights. That's okay; I enjoyed seeing her and hearing about the gestural side of abstract expressionism and its other branch, the Color Field movement. I am familiar with these areas of art, but I always pick up on something new. Today I learned about the Rothko Chapel in Houson, Texas. It has also been a very long time since I thought about the shift of the global art world from Paris to NYC. I enjoy looking at something I've just accepted for a long time with fresh eyes. It brought to mind this magazine cover:

After the tour ended, I continued to explore. I had more questions than answers about most things and took many notes about artists to explore further and pieces that I needed more insight on than just the artist, title and date on the wall. That is what follows...

I spent quite a bit of time looking at Glenn Ligon's piece shown below.
I had no idea the context. The museum has the original artwork on display and the printed copy complete with artist's proof marks. As a printmaker, I looked them over carefully, but was no less confused. Once home on my computer, I discovered that this phrase was a common one from the civil rights era. I found an article by BVA very helpful in explaining the piece. I do think it speaks to all of humanity and exemplifies the need to be heard by all in society.

A piece by Byron Kim also perplexed me. Synecdoche looked "interesting" and I was convinced immediately that there was a concept behind it other than a bunch of painted wooden rectangles.
The placard next to it had a diagram of the squares, each containing a name. No lightbulbs illuminated. I felt a little stupid to learn that each was painted to represent the skin color of the person whose name was in the rectangle. I should have been able to figure that out (or should have rented the audiotour).

I was happy to rediscover Robert Delaunay today, too. I remember his work from school, but had forgotten his name and spent quite a bit of time trying to come up with it a few months back while writing my artist statement a few months ago. I occasionally hear comparisons between our work.
My BAR Tower 2012
His Eiffel Tower 1926
I also enjoyed being reacquainted with Lyonel Feininger;
I've always liked his work. Modigliani and Giacometti always bring me joy as well.

Get over there and see everything. The East Building is scheduled to be closed for renovation beginning in January 2014. Time is of the essence. Besides, how can you resist the sparkly and bouncy moving walkway that takes you under the road between the East and West Buildings? They had better be keeping that!