The role of the written word in/as art is of abiding interest to me. Whether it be language as artmaking material (as is the case with Lawrence Weiner’s work), the wall drawings of Sol LeWitt (where the instructions for carrying out a piece are as crucial as the drawing itself), or the often dense and always rich writings of the British group Art & Language (their essays being best understood as art), recent art history is brimming with artists engaging with language in order to better elucidate a specific conceptual and aesthetic sensibility.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it is clear that the New York gallery world has suffered a colossal blow, with scores of galleries devastated, countless works of art destroyed, and heaps of historical material washed into the Hudson. It is impossible for these events not to prove the ultimately ethereal and fleeting nature of artworks. It is from this perspective that I started to rethink one of the Modern’s recent acquisitions that is currently on view, Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #50 A, 1970.
Just as Lucian Freud: Portraits closed, the Modern’s Education Department wrapped up our final class for The Muse, a studio course where participants enjoyed a hands-on approach to studying the special exhibition. Led by renowned local artist Matthew Bourbon, the class spent time in the galleries discussing the muse and its function in Freud’s practice, as well as its historical role in painting. Matthew also introduced the work of some of Freud’s contemporaries, discussing alternative ways of dealing with the figure on the canvas.