To begin with, the word infinity needn’t be capitalized as I’ve done here. Infinity is everywhere―which is the key to understanding what this show is about. In the 1980’s Douglas Hostaedtler in Goedel, Escher, Bach, devoted an entire chapter to why infinity ought not be capitalized, that may be why we decided to name the show finite infinity.
Adapting the themes of this exhibition to the space at Greylock Arts has been a joy. My goal was to be minimally intrusive to the stunning integrity of the materials of the gallery space which are almost all original to when the building was made in the 1920’s. The ornamental high tin ceiling, period cabinetry, hardwood floor, original deep jamb windows, ornamental light fixtures, and clear uncluttered walls make artwork shine. In short, its magnificence is quite a bit more than a clean well-lighted space.
I’m also inclined to believe that the less you try to do the better. This “bias” has come from many encounters where trying to do “more” has always resulted in disaster. So there is also an inclination on my part to use less light, rather than more.
Amidst recent debate over whether the “blockbuster” art show is dead, alive, dying, waning or mutating, it takes a blockbuster to appreciate the value of a blockbuster. This is especially so in Australia, whose several fine museums all started collecting way too late to acumulate many of the great masters. As Edmund Capon said in a recent interview, the quirky array of names along the sandstone frieze of the Art Gallery of New South Wales — Raphael, Michael Angelo (sic), Bellini, Titian — are aspirational, a list of all the artists whose works “we don’t have.” He didn’t add that we never will have them, but there is a poignance to that list of names in bronze, a reminder of one “tyranny of distance” which was untraversable at the time of the gallery’s construction and remains so. Whether or not one of Australia’s mining billionaires ever finds the taste and generosity to buy one of our public galleries some minor Titian, Capon, retiring after thirty very successful years as director of the Gallery, can now justifiably brag that he leaves it “full of Picassos.”
Nearly to the point of self-parody, Sculpture by the Sea is the quintessential Sydney art exhibition. Every spring for fifteen years, the cliff top walk between Bondi and Bronte beaches has become an appropriately sculptural place to view sculpture. The weathered sandstone of the cliffs, sometimes smooth and rounded, sometimes broken and angular or pitted with lacy indentations, is already a kind of found sculpture, its grace clashing with the boxiness of so much Sydney architecture. Along the two kilometer walk, itself one of the city’s unmissable experiences, are a variety of natural “galleries” — works can be perched amidst the mineral minimalism of the cliffs with ocean as backdrop, tucked into lush grottoes on the inland side or clustered in the parks and beaches, either on the sand, on trampled lawns or along concrete paths. Everywhere, limpid sunshine pours down, mercilessly chiseling the surfaces of the works.
Richard Harrington is a visual artist whose career has spanned several decades. He has exhibited sculpture and light installations in addition to environmental works both in the United States and Europe. Several years ago Harrington returned to the Berkshires after living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The sculptures in ZERO SUMrepresent a recent body of work, with nearly all the sculptures included in the exhibition built from screen tetrahedrons, or four sided pyramids.
Ship of state. In his long lifetime, which spanned the buggy whip and the atom bomb, Henry Moore’s sculptures were never derided for being “lumpy, swollen, etiolated, hunched, extruded, squashed, and dismembered” by anyone who championed modern art. Such disdain has been saved for our time. The quote is from a London daily’s art critic on the opening of Tate Britain’s large Moore exhibit, and she has no patience for the artist’s repetitiveness, lack of originality, overproduction (the museum culled over a hundred sculptures and drawings from a possible 11,000), endless borrowing from his betters (particularly Picasso), ubiquity as a favorite of corporations and colleges that need to art up the place (my college boasts a large, expensive Moore outside my old dorm), and so on. Such are the whines of twerpdom, which every iconic artist endures as the generations change. The only exception I can think of is the Teflon-coated reputation of Cezanne.