2004-01-09 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists Alliance
by Susan Hartenstein
From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance by Susan Hartenstein

“Soft Hamburger, by Claes Oldenburg.“Soft Hamburger, by Claes Oldenburg.

This last Rockaway Artists Alliance Test Your Art Knowledge Quiz was a bit of a "toughy," n’est pas? Hope you had fun trying to figure out and/or research the answers.

1. That uptown museum is the Whitney Museum of American Art. Its permanent collection contains over 12,000 pieces of art rendered in various mediums, created by almost 2,000 artists. This is considered "the most complete overview of 20th century American art of any museum in the world." The Whitney also features special rotating exhibitions.

2. Louise Nevelson was a sculptor unlike contemporaries, such as Mark di Suvero, who constructed large, permanent structures of welded steel. She chose to include more malleable mediums such as wood, paper and fabric in her art. Her working methods were more fluid and spontaneous, reflecting her stage and modern dance background. "Moving-Static-Moving Figures" is a dynamic sculpture in which terracotta masses are interchangeable and can be rotated on their axes to achieve an infinite number of orientations.

3. Say the name Alexander Calder and the word "mobile" jumps instantly to mind. Considered this country’s first world famous abstract artist, Calder (who originally studied to be a mechanical engineer) invented this form of kinetic sculpture.

4. Reginald Marsh was the painter, illustrator and scenic designer who recreated scenes of Manhattan street life in many mediums. "Why Not Use the ‘L’?" is one of these and is in the Whitney’s permanent collection. Both Marsh’s parents were artists.

5. If you’ve ever seen those famous paintings of "Eggbeaters," you’ve seen Stuart Davis. While still a teenager, he did drawings and covers for "The Masses" and exhibited at the Armory shows. A lover of jazz, that art form clearly influenced the vibrant patterns in his paintings. In the 30’s he was active in the Artists’ Congress and edited "Art Front."

6. Agnes Martin is the American artist known for those abstract grid paintings. Her later works are usually composed of vertical bands in soft-paletted colors that suggest an oddly lit limitless space. "Tree" and "Mill River" are two of her works. The latter is at the Whitney.

7. Claes Oldenburg is the pop artist who explored the humorous and ironic character of common objects in his "soft sculptures" ("Soft Hamburger") and monumental sculptures ("Lipstick").

8. If there is one artist most associated with the Whitney, it is Edward Hopper. Hopper’s first one-person show was at the predecessor of the museum, the Whitney Studio Club, in 1920. His work was exhibited many times in the museum in retrospectives and Annuals and Biennials. Hopper’s entire artistic estate was bequeathed to the Whitney in 1970. The world created in Hopper’s works is often one of isolation and singularity. The strong and subtle lighting, marked geometry and starkness of setting make for a unique and powerful vision. His works include "Early Sunday Morning" (1930) "Seven a.m." (1948) and "A Woman in the Sun" (1961).

9. Remember those paintings in front of which your Dad would stand, shaking his head and saying, "I don’t get it – it’s just a canvas painted black. Is this guy kidding?" Well, that was the work of Ad (Adolph) Reinhardt and he wasn’t kidding. An art theorist as well as a painter, Reinhardt was trying to abstract the contemplative aspects of Eastern art and reject the conventional aspects of Western art. The paintings appear all black but have slight variations in tone and some geometric form, evident only on very close examination.

10. The last artist in this quiz has appeared in this column before. I confess, she is one of my favorites. Georgia O’Keefe lived for almost a century. She was a commercial artist, studied abstract design, taught art and was one of this country’s most enduring artists and women. Her work was both intimate and monumental; abstract and detailed. Even those who don’t know the name of the artist know the images of sun-bleached bones and exquisite, giant flowers.

OK, how did you do? You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. After all, these quizzes are for you. Hope it was fun and (dare I use the "e" word) educational. Hope this also makes you want to explore more about these men and women.

The artists in this quiz are all represented in the permanent collection at the Whitney. More next week about
a special exhibit presently at this museum.

RAA general meeting: Monday, January, 12 @ 7:30 p.m., building T-149 in Fort Tilden. Presentation from the Nominating Committee. Scheduled Guest Presenter: Don Riepe, Jamaica Bay Guardian and photographer presenting a talk and slide show.

Two RAA quickies: This is the last weekend you can enjoy "Gifted: A Holiday Member Exhibition" at sTudio 6 in Fort Tilden.

See this exhibit, featured in the December 28 issue of "Queens Life" in Newsday. Gallery hours: Saturday 12-5 p.m., Sunday 1-4 p.m. Free Admission.

See you @ RoCA.

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