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Facebook Portraits

Sadly I’m missing the energy and the crowds of the season openings in Chelsea and the Lower East Side, but I’ll get back to see the shows before they close. I did get to see some of the shows that are already open, or in some cases the door was open.

I've been wondering where Facebook will be in a year: will it be as popular as it is now, or will we have moved on to completely new options? In any case Matt Held’s portraits of Facebookers, up now at Denise Bibro’s Platform space, is an archive of a moment in time. You may not recognize any of the faces, but Held certainly captures the essence of the Facebook icon images we have become accustomed to seeing every time we log on to our accounts: the sexy look, the "at the beach" look, or the family group shot. The portraits in this show are more edgy than most may be used to, depending on the characters that you choose to friend: I happen to have a few of them. If you’re a Facebooker you are sure to enjoy this exhibit. Matt is on to something here that goes beyond mere portraiture: he’s capturing a moment in the era of electronic social media, giving it a human face.

In 1971, Geoff Bardon, a 30-year-old white Australian artist, took a job at the Aboriginal relocation community of Papunya, teaching art to the children. Bardon encouraged his new students to paint in their traditional indigenous style, mark making that dates back to well over 10,000 years, instead of the western cowboy and Indian scenes they had been taught. They did, with great enthusiasm. Soon the elders of the community came to Bardon to ask if he would also supply them with art supplies so they too could record their own stories in the traditional manner.

By now we have all seen examples of this work, reproduced in the thousands -- paintings, prints, posters, and all sorts of gift items. It has become a multi-billion dollar business. Icons of the Desert: Early Aboriginal Paintings from Papunya, now at NYU's Grey Art Gallery is an exhibit of some 50 of the finest examples from the original group of artists, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Shorty Lungkarta Tjungurrayi, Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula, and Mick Namararri Tjapaltjarri -- the real deal. Many of them are now gone, but they used paint and brushes on wood and canvas, where traditionally they would have made impermanent sand or body paintings. Thus they left us a more permanent record of their dream states and life experiences (finding water in the desert is a common image), using highly personal coded sequences of line and patterns of dots. It literally traces back to the origins of visual language.

Another addition to the Fall Museum Roundup that I look forward to seeing is William Blake's World: A New Heaven Is Begun at the Morgan Library. The Morgan has an amazing collection.

This post was compiled by Wifi @ 30,000'.


linell said...

Fascinating post, especially the aboriginal paintings. Looking forward to your take on Blake.

Mark Barry said...

Love Blake! I owe it to George Cissle for reminding me about the aboriginal exhibit, it was quite a collection and the video stories of the artists fit perfewctly.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the big Aboriginal art show that just opened at the Katzen. It's spectacular.

Mark Barry said...

I know Jack! I hope to get down there too.