The Jewish Museum was an interesting contrast to a lot of the art we have saw this semester. Learning about the installation process of art pieces was fascinating, especially because there is so much that goes into the process. When Douglass Caulk was discussing the 18-month process that it took to replace an internal part of a sculpture, I was astonished. I did not realize how many people it took in the process, or how specific and niche the piece was to find to replace the sculpture. This also led me to think about the long-term effects of artworks and how they are often not made as durable, either for aesthetic or cost purposes. Overall, this made me think about how difficult it is to be a conservator. I thought it was great how Caulk was able to incorporate so many distinct aspects into his company, and can imagine it would be convenient for many museums to work with him because he is able to cater to many different types of work. Hearing about his perspective on the New York Semester opened my eyes as well. I did not realize that in the past students traveled to Drew specifically for this semester. I liked to see how the semester has developed over the years.
Visiting the Met Breuer for the second time felt quite different than the first. Vija Celmins’ exhibition felt very different than Mukherjee’s that we saw in September. The museum transformed the space and the walls were updated to enhance the new show. Seeing the differences that existed within the two exhibitions showed the curatorial process and decisions made to create a different experience for viewers.
Celmins’ work was mostly monochromatic, but differed in terms of scale and medium. The museum chronologically set up a timeline of Celmins’ work, from early in her career to ones made in 2019. I thought that the way of displaying the art made sense and gave context to the latter part of the exhibition. I was amazed at how Celmins’ large scale sculptures of erasers were actually made out of balsam wood and acrylic paint. They looked so realistic and tangible. Her paintings were also very focused and calming. Some of them reminded me of newspaper prints, others felt like photographs.
My favorite work of Celmins was probably her spider web series. There was an aquatint print next to several charcoal drawings which I thought was interesting to see next to each other. They each had a different quality and I was amazed at how precise and uniform the artist was able to get each piece. Working in either of these mediums is challenging and welcomes many flaws easily. Therefore, I was really impressed at how Celmins was able to be so precise, yet delicate with her pieces. Still, they were not flat and felt dynamic and engaging. Overall, her work seemed to permit the viewer to focus on the technique and skill of the artist. I found myself almost hypnotized by the detail of each piece.