Tuesday, May 06, 2014

What the hell did we know?

The last time we posted about the Museum of Modern Art we were bitching about the crowds and claiming they were completely out of control. The airline industry has a wonderful term for those passengers who nudge their way to the front of the line when the gates open for boarding – Gate Lice. Now the last time we were at MoMA it had a big Gallery Lice problem, but they were not to be seen this time. This was thanks to a simple fix: there are significantly reduced crowds if you head in at 3pm on a week day. And then there was the show. 

However much you travel you get a fragmented view of even the most celebrated artists. For us the Sigmar Polke retrospective Alibis at MoMA was a revelation. The exhibition opened with a very smart selection touching on all periods of his career and then offered a compelling view of this restless artist. Polke’s urge to experiment with formats and materials and his conviction that the personal is political certainly tilts your (well our) perspective on what was going on in art in the sixties and seventies in Europe. Not that Polke didn’t do some exceptional work later but those two decades were astonishing to a couple of NZers somewhat blinkered by an American-centric history of post sixties art. Unsettling and exhilarating.

Image: Sigmar Polke’s Plastik-Wannen (Plastic Tubs) 1964