Comic Abstraction at the MoMA
After seeing the excellent Jeff Wall show last weekend, Debbie and I got a members-only (thanks, cutie!) sneak peek at the Museum of Modern Art's Comic Abstraction exhibit. This is a small show—maybe 25 pieces by 13 different artists—and we weren't totally convinced... neither by the work itself, nor, really, by the premise of the exhibit: art that uses slapstick, cartoons, comic strips, animation, etc., as "springboards for abstraction." Nevertheless, there certainly are a few appealing, engaging works here, and if you're at the MoMA already, it's definitely worth stopping in the I think second-floor gallery (the one at the end of that long hallway, heading east) for a look. Anyway, here's a few of our favorite pieces from the show. You can find more images at moma.org, as well as lots of in-depth commentary.
Phillipe Parenno's fun and clever Mylar Word Bubbles cover the ceiling as you enter the gallery.
Just a small sample of Rivane Neuenschander's striking contribution to the exhibit: a wall filled with these spreads, which she created by taking an actual copy of a classic, 1940s Brazilian comic book—Zé Carioco, about a green parrot who embodied all the stereotypes of the Rio de Janeiro dweller: "street-smart, lazy, a lover of soccer and samba, a flirt and a swindler"—and overpainted the word balloons in white, and the figures in bright, solid colors. Debbie and I agreed that this was the best thing in the show.
We both really liked this floor piece—called Blossom, in a nod to the Power Puff Girl—and were fascinated by artist Polly Apfelbaum's technique (how did she get each of those small sections to have the exact same sized white border?)... and not just because Polly is a good friend of gallery expert Eric!
We didn't really get this piece at all—Franz West's Mirror In a Cabin With Adaptives, in which you grab a weird, maybe Flintstone-looking "tool" and enter a newspapered chamber—but it made for a good photo-op.
Finally, this cracked me up. Juan Munez's Waiting for Jerry sits by itself in a dark room with a loud, cartoony, sound-effects soundtrack. The noise and the darkness make you think you're walking into a video installation, but all there is this mousehole... and your own dashed expectations of cartoon mayhem.