This week I took advantage of being momentarily kidless to hit a few expos at the Centre Pompidou. There are currently two major temporary exhibits: an Arman retrospective and a joint Mondrian / De Stijl expo.
The Arman exhibit was more interesting than I expected. I suppose I confuse his work with that of Cesar (the crushed cars, etc) and in fact it is quite different. I can’t say that the burning of chairs and such talks to me all that much but the pieces such as Janus (a wall of saws) were thought-provoking. His reflections on garbage (large blocks of preserved raw garbage and a video of the massive garbage heaps in and near Manhattan) were also interesting. I think that it is all quite bourgeois though because I think you’ve got to have a pile of cash if you are going to spend your time cutting baby grands, violins, cellos, and cars into little pieces. Nonetheless, it is an interesting reflection on our consumer society.
I am probably not all that alone in having learned of the existence of the De Stijl movement thanks to the title of the White Stripe’s second album. This was the first expo of De Stijl that I have visited (although I have seen one or two other Mondrian exhibits). It remains quite cold overall. Like Mondrian. I appreciate the massive impact on industrial and domestic design that Mondrian and his friends had on the 20th and early 21st century. I am not sure IKEA would exist without them – well, at least the “look” of IKEA would be completely different I think. I can more fully appreciate some aspects of both Belgian and Dutch design and architecture as well. But, it is hard to say that I was “moved” by the work. If I compare my impressions to those I had at the Basquiat exhibit or even the Avedon one, I’d say that I was much less blown away. Worse, I think that aspects of Arman’s work tickled my curiosity more than those in the Mondrian / De Stijl expo. As a matter of fact, I think (and this despite re-visiting it three times), I spent probably less than an hour before actually going downstairs to the permanent collection where I was (as always) happy to see their Rothko and Klein which despite their simplicity (which is a point in common with Mondrian) move my soul perceptibly with each viewing.
Given the choice, I’d say that the Monet or Basquiat exhibits are more of “musts” then these exhibits at the Beaubourg.
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