The gallery season runs only through June, but it is clear that many galleries have saved their best for last. Highlights of my ALL-NEW Chelsea “Best Exhibits” gallery tour on Sat. June 4 will include: (1) a British artist’s show of ROBOTS that move and perform tasks, including artistic ones, (2) a breath-taking computer art animation that is set to gorgeous newly-commissioned music by legendary composer Philip Glass, and (3) Brooklyn-based artist Sonya Blesofsky, who will speak to our group when we visit her haunting and exquisite exhibit of life-size architectural elements constructed entirely from animal skin parchment. These are 3 of just 7 exhibits we’ll visit that day. In my opinion, this is one of the 2 or 3 highest-quality gallery tours of the current 10-month season!
Though I visit 3000 gallery shows a year, I’ve never previously encountered robots as art, so I’m especially eager to bring you to one extraordinarily forward-looking exhibit. A British artist has created around a dozen robots that operate mechanically, all of them performing tasks. Amazingly enough, there are no computers or software involved – the pieces run by having electricity activate cogs that propel the machines to achieve their actions. Some of the robots are in the shapes of arms that hold pencils to make drawings before your eyes. Therefore, the art objects are not just robots, but are also stand-ins for the artist himself. Besides the robots, the artist is showing two “stroboscopic” artworks that spin light and explode with movement, capturing motion in its organic form. I love art that doesn’t just comment on the present but thrusts us into the future.
One exhibit we’ll visit that DOES utilize computers is a show of photographs and video animation by an American landscape artist. Having previously become famous for large-scale film photography, this artist has now turned his attention to the digital realm. For the current show, he started with one photograph of a mountain in Colorado, then took just one section of this photo and transformed it in myriad complex ways. The highlight of our visit will be a breath-taking compendium of these landscape image fragments into a 5-minute computer animation that will change your view of landscape art forever. Further adding to the splendor is that the work is set to original music created by renowned composer Philip Glass just for this piece. I believe you will find the combination of cutting-edge computer art and state-of-the-art post-modern music to be transcendent.
If that’s not enough, one artist – Sonya Blesofsky – will address our group in person when we visit her show of delicate sculptures made entirely of vellum, which is a kind of parchment made from animal skin. The works are life-size architectural elements motivated by the New York Public Advocate’s compendium of buildings owned by the city’s worst landlords. The artist visited several of these locations and photographed facades and interiors of these decrepit buildings, then created life-size mock-ups of selected elements, using vellum. Even though her exhibit is ostensibly about decay and ruin, the artworks are so beautiful that they belie the tragedy of their environs. I look forward to hearing what Blesofsky has to say about her inspiration for the project, as well as her artistic process.
It has been a long and rewarding art season, and there is still much magic to see. This particular tour will be among the most magical of all.
Rafael Risemberg, Ph.D.
Founder and Director
New York Gallery Tours