Venetian Red Salutes the Decade

We thought a Venetian Red salute to a decade of art would be a fitting subject for a final post in 2009.  Admittedly, we weren’t interested in throwing up an amalgamation of critically-lauded highlights of the decade. Rather, we wanted to share with you our own very personal short list—a selection of artists, whose work when we were able to see it during the past decade inspired us emotionally and artistically. We hope that our list will motivate you to collect and share your own list of “art in the aughts.”

William de Morgan, Vase, 1888-98,
earthenware painted with luster glaze. (V&A Museum.)

2000
This little vase opened up two big worlds to me—William Morris and the Ottoman Empire.  In the winter of the Millennium, I didn’t know much about Morris, his workshops, or devotees. My education began unexpectedly on a visit to the V&A one morning. As the textile galleries were closed, I ambled through the V&A’s cavernous rooms, eventually ending up in the ceramics galleries. After hurrying by the cases filled with fussy 18th-century pieces, I came to this gem, a small vase by William de Morgan. Such a gorgeous design and luxurious glow! I later learned a great deal about de Morgan, including his passion for things Middle and Far Eastern. Lusterware was one of his  enduring interests.

As the Ottomans before him, De Morgan made luster glazes by mixing metallic oxides with white clay and gum arabic. He would have packed the painted pieces closely in a kiln and fired at a low heat. At the critical moment, he would have added dry material, such as sawdust, and after a brief, but intense firing period, the kiln would have been shut down, closing off the source of oxygen. The resulting smoke-filled environment produced the irresistible iridescence. —Liz Hager

Henri Michaud, Untitled, 1968.
Collection of Catherine Putman, Paris.

2000
My pick for 2000 is Untitled Passages, a show of work on paper by Henri Michaud at the Drawing Center in New York. Henri Michaud (1899-1984) was born in Belgium and was mostly known as a poet. In his youth he was attracted to the Surrealists, and he admired the work of Paul Klee, Max Ernst and Giorgio de Chirico—but his independent nature kept him apart from all movements and isms.  Michaud felt there were things beyond words that he could not capture in his poetry, and his drawings were experiments with creating work that hovered between writing and drawing.  He drew, scratched and threw ink on to paper to make illegible marks, letters that were part of no alphabet, simple calligraphic marks that had no conscious meaning—Michaud was drawing from l’espace du dedans (the space within). In the 50s and 60s, Michaud also experimented with the drug mescaline and his “mescaline drawings,” done under its influence, using ink, acrylic, watercolor and gouache and collage, represented this state of intense, heightened awareness, the fluidity of time and space, the bridge between control and abandon. Michaud’s drawings and paintings are about the journey, the passage of time and life. From his unconscious, under the influence of drugs or not, his work  reveals itself as part lexicon, part landscape, with evocations of cellular structures, maps, water, membranes, clouds, planets, beasts and insects—a hidden, interior universe made visible. —Christine Cariati

Albrecht Dürer, Self Portrait, 1500,
oil on limewood, 26.38 x 19.25 in.
(Alte Pinakothek, Munich)

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Seated Woman, 1907
oil on canvas.
(Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich)

2001
The two paintings above hang in buildings across a plaza from one another in Munich. Although it didn’t strike me at the time, juxtaposing them in this setting amply demonstrates the evolutionary paths that painting traveled during the four centuries that separate the two portraits.

When I was learning to paint as a teenager, the Dürer self-portrait was one of my favorites. That gaze casts a powerful spell. The incredible precision with which Dürer elaborates every strand of fur, every lock of hair, garnered my respect (still does). When I was finally able to see the portrait in the flesh, although I hadn’t thought about it for years, it still packed a mighty punch.  And yet, for all the pyrotechnics of the Dürer, my older self favors the Kirchner for its electrifying color palette. —Liz Hager

John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Pauline Astor, 1898/9
oil on canvas, 96 x 50 in.
( The Huntington Library.)

2002
Sargent has always been one of my favorite painters for the sheer virtuosity with which he applies paint, particularly in the depiction of fabrics. The strong connections between Gainsborough and Sargent had somehow eluded me until a 2002 trip to the Huntington.  Gainsborough’s Blue Boy also hangs there and the luxury of viewing the two in such proximity demonstrated how much Sargent ‘s portrait owes in form and style to Gainsborough’s. And how much they both owe stylistically to Van Dyck.

The connections among the three are freaky. To wit: Pauline Astor was 18 years of age, the same age as Jonathan Buttall when Gainsborough painted The Blue Boy. Sargent was 43 years old at the time he painted Pauline, the same age as Gainsborough when he painted The Blue Boy. It was 129 years after the death of Van Dyck that Gainsborough painted The Blue Boy; and it was 129 years after the creation of The Blue Boy that Sargent began painting Pauline.  —Liz Hager


Mark Lombardi, World Finance Corporation and Associates, 7th version,
1999, 69 x 84 in.

2003
An exhibition of Mark Lombardi’s drawings, Global Networks, was at The Drawing Center in New York in late 2003. In his drawings, Lombardi kept track of political and financial misdeeds on a global scale, linking people and events related to various scandals from the 1960s-1990s. Politics aside, Lombardi’s drawings are things of beauty in themselves. His work was art, not political reporting. Lombardi’s drawings, often very large and delicately drawn in pencil, call to mind the charts of the ancients that delineated arcane knowledge. These works portray webs, networks, labyrinths. The lines arc and loop and intersect, creating order out of chaos. His work seems to be about elusive connections, the flattening of time and space and the fleeting nature of truth. Lombardi’s reputation as an important artist was beginning to take hold when he committed suicide in 2000, at the age of forty-eight. —Christine Cariati

Diane Arbus, Boy with a Toy Hand Grenade, 1962.

2004
Because it included all her published works, many photographs never before exhibited, diaries and other paraphernalia, SF MoMA’s 2004 show “Diane Arbus” was the most complete survey of her work—no, her life—ever assembled. Arbus’ work kindled my early photographic fires; in fact, she was the first artist to inhabit my consciousness. (A copy of the catalog of her small posthumous 1970 show at MoMA is still a prized possession.) The SF MoMA did not disappoint. Arbus’ iconic pictures looked every bit as unconventional as they did in the 1960s. But the truly exciting elements for me in this show were her diaries and the pictures of her studio; they added a dimension of insight I couldn’t have possessed earlier.

Larry Sultan, Boxer Dogs Mission Hills, from the “Valley” series, 1998-2002.

Additionally that year, MoMA mounted an exhibit of Larry Sultan’s Valley series—shots taken inside SoCal tract-homes turned pornographic studios. Though Sultan sought a different message through his work, these photos of a hidden world owe a lot to the territory uncovered by Arbus.  Sultan died earlier this month. He was only 63. —Liz Hager

Maggie Orth, Leaping Lines, 2005
woven circuitry in Jacquard weave, 16 x 72 in.

2005
As a design museum there is none better than the Cooper Hewitt. The “Extreme Textiles” exhibit in 2005 presented a large and fascinating array of cutting-edge textiles. Loosely grouped into categories—stronger, faster, lighter, smarter and safer—the exhibit demonstrated resolutely that fabric isn’t just for making clothing. Maggie Orth’s electronic fabric, designed with an ever-changing surface pattern controlled by software, struck me as one of the most interesting combinations of art and technology I’d ever seen.—Liz Hager


Hans Memling, Portrait of a Young Woman (‘Sibyl’), 1480
Panel, 46.5 x 35.2 cm.
(Stedelijke Musea, Memlingmuseum – Sint Janhospitaal, Bruges.)

2005
Memling’s Portraits, an exhibition of 20 of the 30 existing portraits by Netherlandish painter Hans Memling (c.1435-1494), was at The Frick Collection in the late fall of 2005. Memling was an apprentice to Rogier van der Weyden in Brussels, where he learned the still-new technique of oil painting from van der Weyden, the first Netherlandish painter to master the medium. Memling is more famous for his religious paintings than his secular work—his superb Nativity and Virgin and Child paintings are masterpieces of tenderness and true religious feeling. In 1465 Memling moved to Brussels, where he did very well painting portraits of wealthy Flemish and Italian emigré families. As in all his work, the exquisite detail and use of glazing showcase Memling’s mastery of technique. In the middle ages, when life was fleeting, and death often came early, portraiture was a means of providing a record, proof of existence. By the 15th century things had changed a bit and portraiture also became a way of  documenting one’s wealth and status. Memling’s portraits are criticized for being cool, because the subjects rarely look at the viewer, and are lost in introspection. While it is true that the portraits are not easy-to-read psychological studies, I felt strongly that Memling’s attention to detail, his faithful recording of what he saw in these faces, made them quite revealing. The subjects are undeniably serene and enigmatic, but I felt that I came to know something very significant about these people. In many of the portraits, Memling placed his sitters by a window, through which we see landscapes and glimpses of buildings and activity that add another very interesting dimension to his work, an innovative device that later Italian painters admired and emulated. —Christine Cariati

Loretta Pettway, Quilt, ca. 1960,
corduroy tied with yarn, 84 x 84 in.

2006
I can vividly recall the moment when I turned the corner into the first exhibit room at the de Young’s exhibit of “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend. A group of stunningly-bold pieces nearly took my breath away.  I was dumbstruck: how could so traditional a folk form created by a group so isolated from the modern world appear so strikingly modern? In their abstracted and geometric patterns, the quilts displayed an uncanny kinship to the paintings of Frank Stella or maybe even Barnett Newman from the 60s and 70s.

I felt deep emotion basted into the panels of these quilts. As I moved through the exhibition, the pieces offered me something the work of the Minimalists never has—quiet but intense joy. The reverence and love was palpable. They emanated a kind of spirituality. —Liz Hager

Fra Angelico, The Coronation of the Virgin,
tempera on panel, 10 5/8 x 14 5/8 in.
(Cleveland Museum of Art.)

2006
The work of the Italian Renaissance master, Fra Angelico (c.1395-1455) was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from October 2005 through January 2006. This exhibition of 75 paintings, drawings and illuminated manuscripts was the first comprehensive show of Fra Angelico’s work since 1955.  Much of his later work, the altarpieces and frescoes, are not movable, so the work in this show was on a small scale—such as portraits of the Virgin and Child and intimate narrative scenes. Many of these were fragments from larger works, which gave the viewer an opportunity to study them closely which would not have been possible in their original locations. Fra Angelico, a Dominican friar, was long mythologized, by Vasari and others, as merely saintly, humble and devout. Recent scholarship gives us a fuller picture of the man, and what is now known about this tremendously intelligent painter—who learned much from Masaccio’s masterpiece, the Brancacci Chapel frescoes—only enhances our appreciation of these luminous, color-saturated, intensely gilded, works of art. Fra Angelico is often considered a transitional painter, but he is more than that—his work anticipates the late Renaissance while in a sense perfecting the Gothic. He continues to use the sumptuous pinks, blues and reds of the earlier period, and perfected the Gothic love of gold leaf—using it masterfully not just for halos, but stamped and engraved as draperies and clothing. It was a transporting show, Fra Angelico’s masterful technique enhances the deeply felt spiritual quality of his work. —Christine Cariati

Francis Bacon’s studio.

2007
While in Dublin in 2007 I did make a pilgrimage to see the famous “lost” Caravaggio (spurred on by a reading of the The Lost Painting
which is a most readable book about a work of art). In the process, I stumbled upon an exquisite Vermeer.

But it was at the Hugh Lane Gallery where the faithful and permanent re-creation of Francis Bacon’s studio (i.e. 7 Reece Mews in London)  cast its indelible spell on me.

What a mess! At first scan, I was tempted to conclude that Bacon was a deeply-troubled hoarder. How in the world could he have painted here? And there, amidst the horrifically gargantuan piles of debris—newspapers, photographs, magazines, paint cans, rags, old socks, trousers, a shirt or two—I saw an answer. A carefully-cleared path makes its way through the piles from the door to his easel. It seems as if Bacon knew after all exactly what was most important. . . focus. —Liz Hager

Mauerweg ©2008 Liz Hager

2008
Berlin is a city chock full of museums and galleries, so there was a lot of art to see there in the Fall of 2008.  Curiously, however, it was the Berlin Wall that made the deepest impression on me.

Even in its remnant state, the Wall inspires awe, not just for the wealth of its symbolic meaning, but for the sheer enormity of its once considerable physical presence. Since the Wall came down in 1989, points along its former path are marked by ceremonious memorials—public facilitators of a collective remembrance.

Other segments, however, have been marked by an unobtrusive path—two parallel lines of cobblestones—embedded by turns in asphalt or earth. It struck me that the path was a powerful work of art, although it wasn’t billed overtly as such. Though physically subtle, the message it conveyed was in some ways more compelling than the public memorials. The path too reminds us of the demarcation of a country and the collective pain of a people separated from itself. Given its horizontal nature, however, the path invites one on a personal journey.  I walked the line, traced the past, and in doing so, I couldn’t help but meditate on what that past meant to me.

Finally, like all great works of art, the path embodies a potent axiom of the cosmos.  These cobblestones, already wearing a mantle of moss, gently reminded me that all things irrevocably return to dust. —Liz Hager

Giorgio Morandi, Natura Morta (Still Life), 1954,
oil on canvas, 40 x 46 cm.
(Private collection.)

2008
My top pick for 2008 was Giorgio Morandi, 1890-1964, a retrospective of his work  at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the fall of 2008. I went back to see this show over and over. These small paintings, so similar in subject matter and painted in an extremely limited palette, open up as you look at them—the seemingly simple color scheme expands and deepens, and they become monumental in scale. They are very personal paintings, full of mystery—meditations on loneliness, stillness, perseverance. The cumulative effect of seeing so many paintings of Morandi’s at once was astounding. I started to see them as sections of one continuous painting and I’d find myself watching the progress of certain favorite vessels as they changed bearing and grew in presence, dignity and meaning from painting to painting. In fact, for days afterward, every time I looked from my window out at the New York skyline, the rooftops and water towers, in the winter light with a dusting of snow, took on a Morandi-like existence. The quiet, the self-sufficiency, the balance, the stillness of these works put me in a meditative state that lasted for days. —Christine Cariati

2009
William Kentridge is quite possibly the most gifted artist and original thinker working today. From the mail we received in response to our Kentridge post this spring, it’s safe to say that we were not alone in being blown away by the “Five Themes” exhibit at SF MoMA.  In a way, this exhibit does define the decade, for much of the artist’s prodigious output on view was completed in this decade.

A magnificent draftsman, Kentridge might have been content with just producing his drawings. But thankfully, theater is in his DNA, and his drawings are but vehicles for his inventive and intriguing animated films—What Will Come, Artist in the Studio—as well as his tour-de-force staged pieces—The Magic Flute, The Black Box, and the upcoming Shostakovich opera of Gogol’s The Nose.Liz Hager

William Kentridge in his studio

2009
I have to second Liz’s appreciation of William Kentridge. From the first time I saw his work a decade ago, I have wanted to see more, and Five Themes provided that opportunity. In fact, I’d put Five Themes on my best of 2009 list five times, one for each time I went to see it. The work is so rich and deep, every time you view it, it gets more interesting. Kentridge’s work is inspiring and completely original—thoughtful, personal, political, humorous, satiric and filled with meaning—and with an almost unimaginable level of skill. His sense of stagecraft and the integration of music into his work is masterful. I love the way he crafts his animated pieces, fearless about erasing one image as it morphs in to the next—he’s not worried about holding on to anything, there is always more in the well. I also love the way he involves you in his process, you see and feel his creative process unfolding, literally in the case of Artist in the Studio. I can’t wait to see Five Themes again at MoMA this spring in New York—I am sure the work will reveal itself in new ways in a different location and installation. — Christine Cariati

Wider Connections
Francis Bacon’s Studio
Narrative & Ontology—More on The Boy with Toy Hand Grenade
Inner Sympathy of Meaning—The Quilts of Gee’s Bend
William Kentridge—William Kentridge: Five Themes (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) catalog
Antony Beever—The Fall of Berlin 1945

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23 Responses to “Venetian Red Salutes the Decade”

  1. This was a very interesting collection of favourites from the last ten years. I feel like I was whirled around the globe and dropped down here and there just long enough to feast my eyes on your chosen few. I couldn’t help thinking how fortunate you both are to have seen so much exceptional art with your own eyes. Then I realized that I had a pretty spectacular ten years of travel and art myself. I wish now I had kept notes. I can only discuss what I saw in generalities. Your descriptions supporting your chosen few were very expansive and helped me gain new appreciation for the artists and their works.

    Morandi has always been a personal favourite of mine because of the quietness of the work and the intimate scale. When I saw the real thing it certainly paled in comparison to my first introduction in a book. I long to visit the V&A Museum, but , alas I ‘ve only seen some of its collection online.

    A highlight for me in the last decade were the remaining murals in Pompeii which I recently wrote about on my blog. While what remains is close to abstract art, and they have the most exquisite surface qualities in terms of colours and texture, the appreciation of how long they have existed in the world is the aspect that is most mind boggling.

    This summer I experienced the lavishness of previous eras in Russia juxtaposed with the starkness of Communist Construction. The interiors of Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin, Russian and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg were works of art in themselves. It was difficult to keep your attention on the actual art work on display. I have never seen so much gold leaf in my life.

    Thanks for compiling this informative grouping . Finding your blog was a great treat for me this year. I hope of be educated further in the next year. Keep it coming.

    • Margaret
      I think you’ve described an experience a lot of people may have had, which is what caused us to compile our lists—i.e. that once you start thinking about the subject, you realize you did in fact see a lot of memorable art in the past decade. I know it sounds trite, but art IS all around, and sometimes it doesn’t require that much effort to see it.

      PS I’ve always wanted to go to St. Petersburg, so thanks for your report!
      Happy New Year, and here’s to mo’ better art in the coming decade.

      PSS Did you mean that your introduction to Morandi in a book paled in comparison to the real thing, or vice versa, as you seem to be stating here?

      • Christine Cariati Says:

        You are absolutely right, Liz, once you start thinking about it, the images keep coming. The Andy Goldsworthy in the Presidio, that wild little 15th century Annunciation at the Legion of Honor with that crazy hit of Carthamus Pink, Cy Twombly at Gagosian, the renovated Greek and Roman wing at the Met, the Mark Rothko at SFMoMA that you’ve seen a million times that one day just stopped you in your tracks, the history of wallpaper show at the Cooper Hewitt. On and on. Here’s to the next decade looking at art!

      • oops! It should read the reverse. The real thing of course is always the most spectacular. The only disappointment I ever when I saw the real thing was Georgia O’Keeffe. I just assumed her surfaces were thick and juicy and they are sparse and dry. Just the images themselves are juicy!

  2. Wonderful list, Christine and Liz.
    Re Morandi: You might be interested in the interview I did with the NY dealer Stephen Haller, who recollects his time spent with the aging painter: http://joannemattera.blogspot.com/2009/03/stephen-haller-remembering-morandi.html

    Happy 2010!

  3. Ann Benett Says:

    Thanks Liz. I enjoyed the “tour”. Hope you are doing well. Happy New Year! Ann and Sandy

  4. Truly fascinating, and so interesting to see what you had to say about each of the pieces you portrayed. I especially liked the Mauerweg. I think the tension of the parallel lines, and spatial arrangement of the flagstone blocks– where there used to be a wall– are absolutely arresting. It is interesting that you saw it as art, and it seemed sort of like the way some architectural or big geographical pieces are formed, but more interesting, as it arose organically from the people who lived there, and who had remembered all that the wall meant in their lives and the history of their country. I thought of Frost’s line (“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”) and how amazing it is to see green grass on both sides of its absence! Also, it was wonderful to see the autumn leaf blown into a perfect position on it.
    I would like to say that the photo in “Diary of a Filmmaker” blog by Tom Ball is still gripping me as one of the most interesting things I have seen lately. A daughter has inserted herself into old photos from her mother’s life. It is riveting, and worth seeing. I believe her name is Ricci, and it is from a show he saw recently in Florence Italy. Another visually riveting moment for me was seeing Frank Gehry standing on a sailboat between two moving sails, against a blue sky, in the film Tom made. The walls he has built, with their beauty undulating almost like cloth, made perfect sense, after seeing that.
    And the posting you had about the big willow-basket woven creations in the formal trees in San Francisco were echoed when I was last at Esalen– there is a big nest next to the main hall, which a person could climb up to and sit in. I didn’t know if the same artist built it, but I got the feeling of being in a space like a deer in a thicket, hidden away and also protected. I enjoyed a little of the same feeling in front of the Mission San Antonio, near Salinas, which is a pristince California mission. In front, there is a wattle-and grass hut such as the native California tribes people lived in. It would be a perfect child’s play house. The feel of play was quite strong in these places! Thanks for a stimulating exhibit!

  5. HI LIZ – THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES — SOME ARE MY FAVES TOO –LARRY SULTAN IS ONE OF MY IDOLS BUT I DO LIKE THE SERIES ABOUT HIS FAMILY BETTER–SO INTIMATE & INTENSE & INTRUSIVE WITH BEAUTIFUL SUBTLE COLOR BALANCES- DONE WITH SUCH OBSESSION & LOVE–I WAS STUNNED TO HEAR THAT HE DIED A FEW WEEKS AGO –NPR RAN AN INTERVIEW WITH HIM WHICH I HEARD TWICE–SO WONDERFUL FOR ME TO HEAR HIS THOUGHTS ON PHOTOGRAPHY–HOPE YOU HEARD IT TOO-ALSO IMPRESSED BY YR THOUGHTS OF THE BERLIN WALL & ALSO OF YR TRAVELS–SO MANY TIMES TO THE DRAWING CENTER & THE FRICK-WHY HAVEN’T WE SEEN YOU? AND THE SARGENT –ALWAYS MY FAVORITE WITH HIS LUSCIOUS FABRIC DEPICTION & GORGEOUS COMPOSTIONS WHICH I HAVE ALLUDED TO SHALL WE SAY IN MY PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY — THE DURER SELF PORTRAIT-SO RICH RICH RICH WITH DETAIL AS YOU SAY -I HOPE YOU MAKE A BOOK OUT OF ALL THIS YOU ARE SUCH GOOD WRITERS–PERHAPS YOU SHOULD BE WRITING MORE ABOUT ART? PLEASE MAKE A BOOK OF THIS & THANK YOU FOR BRINGING THESE IMAGES TO ME IN THE NEW YEAR HAPPY 2010 GINNA

  6. Thank you for the tour! Your eclectic review of these images kick-started my day. May the new decade hold such treasures in waiting for your discovery.

  7. John Boone Says:

    Liz – Thanks for opening all those windows. You mean you have been slipping in and out of NYC without saying boo. Next time, give a holler, we could see a few things. Meanwhile, you have offered an inspired format for the telling of the art tale. I really enjoyed it. A few minutes ago I finished reading, “Seven Days in the Art World,” you may have fun with it.

  8. Greetings, and thanks, for this stretch from Sultan to Sargent, Duer to Arbus, walking along the wall into memory for my Berlin of earliness in which I lived before the wall, and returned, shocked, during the wall, and see now a symbolic double line of stone, as though to keep an edge to our song of being. I look forward to the present and now the year to come! namaste

  9. John Field Says:

    Liz: Thanks for the decade of art experiences —- not so much about what you saw which was interesting but real thanks for what you felt in the seeing.

  10. Thomas Ball Says:

    Dear Liz,
    Thank you for the wonderful review of your well-informed and so interesting picks of the best in so many different kinds of art in the past decade. I had not seen many of these and am so glad to have them on the radar now thanks to you and Christine and Venetian Red.

    Your posts chronicle not only the art of the decade but also your travels. Some of my favorite museums are listed in your review (like the Frick and the V&A). I like the pendulum swing in your choices from old to new. It seems to me looking at one certainly enhances your experience of the other. I’m shocked when I find people stuck in one time frame or the other. It seems to me there is a richer experience when you can enjoy art from any time frame. (All art was contemporary when it was made – wasn’t it?)

    I have been reading a bit of the French critic Roland Barthes and he has a marvelous structure which he applies to photography but these ideas, for me, really informed your tour of the decade. Barthes talks about two ideas the “studium” and the “punctum”. In the context of your fascinating post I guess that all the art you saw in the past ten years would be the “studium” in Barthes construct. I don’t know for sure but I think “studium” can be loosely translated from the latin as “field of study.” What you put down are the pieces and ideas which pierced your heart. Barthes calls this the “punctum.” Your descriptions of these works further define the “punctum”. You and Christine talk about how these works changed you! I think this is the most exciting reason to travel to these treasure troves and explore.

    Thank you for the highlights from your decade long adventure.

    Tom

    • Christine Cariati Says:

      Tom
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. It was really interesting to look back and figure out what it was about those shows that made them linger in the mind, what was so important, so vital, that they reached out, in some cases over quite a few years, and still grabbed me. Another whole layer to looking back is that you realize that in some ways what you took away from the work then has changed, grown, been transformed with the passage of time. So looking back is far from an exercise in nostalgia, it brings you right up against where you are now, how all this stuff you see and digest has brought you to where you are this minute. And, of course, we all hope that some of this growth and transformation shows itself in our own work, right?
      Christine

    • Tom,
      Your wonderful post (http://telos.tv/blog/?p=1036), which applies Barthes principals to the trompe l’oeil show at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence (oh if only I could get there before it closes!), opened my eyes to the useful structure you describe above. While not claiming to be any kind of Barthes afficionado, I would agree with you that the Venetian Red “studium” is indeed all of human culture as seen through the lens of art. Pretty broad, yes. But within that field of study, each post tries to pull out the “punctum”—i.e. what about the work pierced our artistic hearts…

      Onward into a new decade full of art!

  11. Leslie Lowinger Says:

    I like your blog, and I wish I always got an email notice when a new addition comes out.
    Leslie

    • Thanks for posting this comment. It occurred to me that a lot of people might have the same question and, for those of you who don’t know, there is a way to get an email in your inbox, every time a new post is published.

      First make sure you are on the Blog’s “homepage.” If you are unsure, click on the Venetian Red header, just to make sure the page you are looking at has a column on the right-hand side. (At the top of this column, you should see “Search” box…) Scroll down this column until you see the “Subscribe by” section just below the “Readability Tip.” Click on “Subscribe by email” and follow directions from there. Be sure to check your email inbox (sometimes it ends up in junk mail…) for “activation email” after you have completed above process.

      Voila, you should have announcement in your inbox whenever a Venetian Red post is published.

  12. Christine and Liz,
    You add an important and valuable voice to the art world with your wonderful writing and unique reviews. I hope you know that your blog is ART! I loved your list for the decade. Several of your picks were also on my top 10, William Kentridge, Gees Bend and the Diane Arbus show. I would add the show of Fernado Botero’s Abu Ghraib paintings at Cal Berkeley, 2007, as a historical note of the dark underbelly of the past decade. You have inspired me to keep an art show/exhibition journal for the next decade, not just trusting it to memory.
    Keep up the good work of sharing your vision with those of us who love art in all forms.

    • Christine Cariati Says:

      Susan
      Thanks for joining the conversation on Venetian Red this past year, we’re happy to have your readership and your input.
      Thanks also for drawing our attention to the Botero. Here’s to another year of looking at, thinking about and making art.

  13. I too wish I had kept a journal of exhibitions and my reactions to them. Reading Venetian Red’s review of the decade is not only a window into your tastes and reactions, Christine and Liz, but it also stimulates my memory. In the last few minutes several shows have appeared in my mind’s eye that I had set aside — the quietude of Ruth Asawa’s weavings in contrast to the sheer volume and sometimes garishness of the Chihuly show. The highlight of my decade was spending a week at the Met in 2008 — every day from 9-5. In addition to satisfying a dream it left me hungering for more. Here at home in San Francisco, Kentridge was new to me — what a revelation! Thank you Venetian Red for your introductions and inspirations.

    • Christine Cariati Says:

      Mimi
      As you know, I completely agree about the Met, you can never spend enough time there. Predictably, after I compiled my list I realized I had left so many things out—and many of them were shows, particularly small shows, that I saw at the Met. Like the 18th century French and English drawings they had up a few years ago. And something that I know blew you away too—the renovated Greek and Roman wing. I wish I were sitting there right now!
      Looking forward to your 2010 show of paintings inspired by your week at the Met.
      Christine

  14. Dorsey Boatwright Says:

    Congratulations! An excellent Kings’ Day present.

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